Tuesday, January 31, 2006

John Keegan on Iraq

Author and military historian John Keegan again writes about Iraq for London's Telegraph newspaper. There are paragraphs in the article that President Bush and Tony Blair won't like, but this part of his piece deserves to be singled out:

Critics should remember that, in nine tenths of Iraq, peace reigns. Thousands of Iraqi towns and villages are untroubled by insurrection and continue to regard the British and Americans as liberators. They cannot be abandoned to terrorists, fanatics and friends of the defunct dictatorship. To urge that we should go on as we are is an unpopular line of argument. That it is unpopular does not, however, mean it is wrong.

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Ward Churchill: Not too many speaking gigs: CORRECTED

Controversial University Colorado Professor Ward "Little Eichmanns" Churchill does not seem to have any upcoming appearances according to his agency, Speak Out. In the past, Speak Out listed Ward's speaking itinerary, those engagements usually took place on college campuses.

Yes, I did find this gig, he'll be in Toronto this weekend at some anti-globalization event sponsored by the Conference of the Student Anti-Imperialist Network. Tickets just are $2 to $5 (Canadian), so it's a good assumption that Churchill is not getting his usual $5,000 to give his typical anti-American rant.

(Note, an alert reader informs me this event was last year!)

But other than that, there is nothing I can find regarding Ward's speaking schedule. Relax, America's universities haven't turned conservative, it's more likely that Ward is viewed as too hot to handle by university special events departments.

Ward's speaking engagement at DePaul University last October was a debacle for that school, further damaging the tattered reputation DePaul has in regards allowing non-politically correct opinions to be expressed: Students who wanted to protest Churchill's appearance were bullied by the DePaul administration.

Churchill was scheduled to speak at the University of Winnipeg in November. Opposition by Canadian Native American groups as well as the family of Ward's deceased wife, Leah Kelly, sank Churchill's trip to Manitoba. He still got paid, leaving the University of Winnipeg Students Association $5,000 poorer for the experience--but maybe a little wiser in thinking through who to invite to speak there.

Certainly, Ward Churchill won't be invited back to the University of Winnipeg.

Also in November, Ward's macho image got him in trouble at Seattle's Shoreline Community College. The AK-47 on his shoulder in the above photo was amputated via PhotoShop. Guns present a bad image at Shoreline.

Yes, Ward Churchill is still a professor at the University of Colorado. But it looks like his days as a highly paid speaker on college campuses are over.

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Bob Dylan's song about Israel, "Neighborhood Bully," 23 years later

Bob Dylan's Infidels album came out in 1983. After three straight Christian-themed albums, this release was a return-to-form for the one-time Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minnesota.

It's a great album, even considering the incredibly high standards Dylan has set for himself. One "Infidels" song in particular stands out, Neighborhood Bully, in which Dylan rediscovers his Jewish roots with a song about Israel. The lyrics, courtesy of Bob Dylan.com, appear to have been written just a few days ago, instead of during Ronald Reagan's first presidential term.

The fourth stanza refers to the Israel's 1981 bombing of a nuclear reactor in Iraq, one that was believed to have had the ability, once completed, to make nuclear bombs.

Gee that sounds familiar.

The bombs were meant for him.

Neighborhood Bully
Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,
His enemies say he's on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He's wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He's always on trial for just being born.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody, under no one's command.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin', they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,
Running out the clock, time standing still,
Neighborhood bully.

Copyright © 1983 Special Rider Music

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Cindy Sheehan coming to Chicago's St Xavier U Feb 16

Fresh from a trip to the World Social Forum in Venezuela--where she met with President Hugo Chavez, "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan has a visit to Chicago's Southwest Side coming up, the Daily Southtown reports.

St. Xavier University will host Cindy Sheehan on February 16 at 7:30pm at the school's Shannon Center.

Expect a lot of Code Pink activists and their ilk prowling around St. Xavier that night.

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Senate confirms Alito

The Senate voted 58-42 to confirm Judge Samuel Alito as the successor to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor this morning.

In related news, the sun is expected to rise in the east tomorrow, and the weather will be warmer in March than it's been in January--unless you're in Australia.

In short, the world won't end just yet.

Monday, January 30, 2006

FIRE prez: "Fighting repression at DePaul is becoming a full-time job”

It's been almost a year since my first post about Chicago's DePaul University and it's suppression of free speech--I reported on a press conference at DePaul calling attention the Thomas Klocek case. Continuing misbehavior by the administration of DePaul has compelled me to regularly comment on the misdeeds of America's largest Catholic university.

In the fall of 2004, Professor Thomas Klocek was suspended for defending Israel from some outlandish claims made by some DePaul Muslim students--Israel is worse than Nazi Germany type of stuff.

A year after that, DePaul invited accused plagiarist and fabricator Ward Churchill for a paid speaking appearance. Churchill was expressing his free speech rights there, but the DePaul administration threw several roadblocks at the DePaul College Republicans when they tried to use the same free speech rights Churchill enjoys, when the CRs made clear their intentions to protest Ward Churchill DePaul visit.

Last week I blogged about the latest incident of DePaul trampling free speech rights, when Greg MacVarish, Dean of Students for DePaul's Division of Student of Affairs, shut down a mock "affirmative action bake sale" held on DePaul's Lincoln Park campus.

The below article is from FIRE's publication "The Torch." FIRE is an abbreviation for Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

DePaul's Sordid Legacy Continues

Yet another incident of censorship and administrative abuse has arisen at DePaul University. This time, as today's press release explains, the DePaul Conservative Alliance (DCA) protested affirmative action by holding an affirmative action bake sale, which was intended to spark debate. Before an hour had passed, however, the Dean of Students, in true DePaul style, shut the bake sale down.

The students who organized the bake sale are now under investigation for possible violations of DePaul's Anti-Discriminatory Harassment Policy and Procedures. First, DePaul spokeswoman Denise Mattson said that the bake sale was held in an inappropriate location, yet FIRE has proof that the PETA student group was allowed to hold an anti-fur protest in the exact same location a week later. Then, when student organizer Michael O'Shea asked why he was under investigation, Assistant Vice President of Community relations Cindy Summers replied that "t]here is no 'because' for the investigation that is pre-determined." In short, administrators stopped the bake sale for some reason that they cannot defend, and are now hunting for an excuse to persecute the DCAs even further.

I wish I could say that this behavior is surprising, but FIRE Interim President Greg Lukianoff got it right when he said that "f]ighting repression at DePaul is becoming a full-time job." FIRE first got involved with DePaul last march when the university threw due process to the wind and fired Professor Thomas Klocek for arguing with students outside of class. FIRE then intervened when the College Republicans were prohibited from protesting a visit to campus by controversial Professor Ward Churchill, then again when DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider lied to FIRE about DePaul's policies.

Despite these blatant abuses of power to chill debate on campus, silence conservative speech, and intimidate students and faculty who disagree with the administration's views, DePaul's Mattson has stated that "[t]he university absolutely firmly believes in free speech for students," and even went so far as to say, "[t]hat's what the university is about: giving students the opportunity to explore different point of views." But with DePaul's track record, Mattson isn't fooling anyone, and promises like this one seem more like a punch line than an actual commitment.

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"Da Coach" Ditka urges toilet flushing discipline

Twenty years ago, legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka was leading the "Monsters of the Midway" to victory in Super Bowl XX.

Now "Da Coach" is advising viewers of this Sunday's Super Bowl XL to watch their toilet usage. Hey, it's an honest living.

From NBC 5 Chicago:

Ditka has been hired by Scott Tissue to urge Americans to stagger their trips to the bathroom during halftime of the Super Bowl.

"It's better known as the 'Great Halftime Flush,'" Ditka said during the commercial. "It's equal to all the water which tumbles over Niagara Falls in seven minutes.

Ditka is also promoting a Web site, which has tips on preventing clogged toilets.

"The Halftime Flush -- that's very serious business," Ditka said. "I mean, you've got 90 million Americans flushing toilets. You could have a tragic clogging problem in America."

Okay, you've all been warned.

Breaking: Two East St. Louis Democrats sentenced in vote fraud scheme

Last June, five members of the East St. Louis Democratic Party were convicted of taking part in a vote fraud scheme. Votes were purchased for $10 each. The original price for a vote was $5, but the top of the local ticket, Democrat Mark Kern, was viewed as racist by the East St. Louis Democrats. So the price-per-vote doubled.

Vote buying, by all accounts, had been going on for years in East St. Louis.

Today, two of the five guilty were sentenced in federal court, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.

Sheila Thomas received a sentence of 18 months, Yvette Johnson got off with just probation.

Saudi Arabia pushes boycott of Denmark over Muhammad cartoons, while Saudis shred Bibles

The furor over the months-old satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, pictured here, that appeared in a Danish newspaper, continues to spread. The epicenter of the anti-Danish sentiment seems to be Saudi Arabia. Last week, the Kingdom recalled its ambassador to Denmark.

Friday services at Saudi mosques were dominated by denunciations of Denmark, as well as a call for a boycott of Danish products.

The Saudi government, on the other hand, is silent on the issue of Bible shredding. Wahhabi Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. And the Saudis don't allow the Holy Book of Christianity into their nation.

What happens if someone is caught with a Bible by a Saudi customs agent? Often, the Bible is shredded.

From CNS News:

Bibles found in the possession of visitors to Saudi Arabia are routinely confiscated by customs officials, and in some cases copies allegedly have been put through a paper shredder, according to religious rights campaigners.

Reports from the Islamic world of the abuse of Bibles and other items important to Christians emerge from time to time, but generally have little impact - in contrast to the wave of Muslim anger sparked by a Newsweek report, since retracted, of Koran desecration by the U.S. military.

Claims of Bible desecration in Saudi Arabia have been made by others.

"One Christian recently reported that his personal Bible was put into a shredder once he entered customs," the late Nagi Kheir, spokesman for the American Coptic Association and a veteran campaigner for religious freedom in the Middle East, wrote in an article several years ago.

"Some Christians have reported that upon entering Saudi Arabia they have had their personal Bibles taken from them and placed into a paper shredder," the U.S.-based organization International Christian Concern said in a 2001 report.

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Chicago World Can't Wait to protest State of the Union at Daley Plaza, Counterprotest planned

A tipster has let me know that the Chicago branch of World Can't Wait (Drive out the Bush Regime) has a series of demonstrations planned Tuesday night while President Bush gives his State of the Union address.

They're goal is to create, literally, a lot of racket, so residents in the below, quite liberal neighborhoods and suburbs, can't listen the Bush's speech.

Evanston: 7:30 PM Meet at Church and Maple

Hyde Park: 7:30 PM Meet at 51st and Lake Park

Oak Park: 7:30 PM Meet at Harlem Avenue and Lake Street

Pilsen: 7:30 PM, Meet at Decima Musa Food & Spirits; 1901 S. Loomis. 312-243-1556
From 18th St. & Blue Island, Loomis is the street next to the Library. Go one block and you're at Decima Musa.

Rogers Park: 7:30 PM Meet at United Methodist Church of Rogers Park, 1545 W. Morse.
(1 block west of the Morse stop on the Red Line)
Co-sponsored by Rogers Park Community Action Network

Wicker Park: 7:30 PM Meet at North/Milwaukee/Damen (the corner near Filter Cafe)
March through neighborhood at 8:00 pm

Prior to all this noise, the World Can't Wait folks will gather at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago at 5pm. The Protest Warriors will be there for the counterprotest.

If you're interested in joining the counterprotest, bring a camera with a good flash.
There will be many excellent photo opportunities.

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Idiocy and elitism from Vermont

A picture similar to this one attracted to me to an op-ed by Jon Margolis, who used to write about politics regularly for the Chicago Tribune. Jon's moved on and out-- he lives in Vermont. An author, he wrote this book, The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964 : The Beginning of the "Sixties" Yes, another book about "the Sixties."

If it wasn't for a picture of Republican rocker Ted Nugent, would've skipped the article, Tribal America defends right to ignore facts.

Free registration may be required.

It's a typical, "Man, most Americans (but not me) are dumb" piece. And among the dummies is Ted Nugent.

Here is a key excerpt:

What seems to excite Nugent as much as hunting--maybe more--is antagonism to anti-hunting, not just the individuals and the organizations, but the mind-set.

Nothing else accounts for the anger. After all, there is no visible anti-hunting movement. Still, some hunters become infuriated about the mere existence of anti-hunting sentiment, impotent though it may be.

Look who's dumb, Jon: Here are some anti-hunting web sites. And no, they're not impotent.

International Fund for Animal Welfare
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Bloody Business
Ban Hunting

For the record, I don't hunt and I don't own a gun.

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Jan Schakowsky, other House Dems, face possible ethics probe

My representative in the House is Jan Schakowsky of Evanston, IL, pictured on the left. Earlier today, Jan was probably at the Democratic Party of Evanston's slatemaking session. But rather pondering just who is the most qualified to gain the local party's endorsement for Cook County Water Reclamation District Commissioner, this Robert Novak column in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times probably dominated her thoughts.

From that column:

House Republicans, wounded by lobbyist scandals, have called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate more than 10 Democratic members headed by Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Nydia Velazquez of New York.

Schakowsky's husband, consumer advocate Robert Creamer, has been indicted in a check-kiting scheme. (My note: Last summer Creamer pleaded guilty to related charges and is awaiting sentencing.) The Republicans contend that because she signed tax returns with him, that she should be investigated by the ethics committee. Velazquez is accused of violating House ethics guidelines by using her congressional office to endorse Judge Margarita Lopez Torres as Brooklyn Surrogate Court judge.

Moron Schakowsky here from a Marathon Pundit post from last week, Cong. Jan Schakowsky: Pot, kettle, black.

Backyard Conservative, another Schakowsky constituent, has additional insight on her blog.

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Blogroll addition: Ed Driscoll

One great thing about blogging is discovering that a real writer, a person who actually writes for a living, linked to your blog. Such was the case when Ed Driscoll linked to my Looks like another fake Indian has been found post last week.

Ed probably saw it on Pajamas Media, Ed's a member of Pajamas too. Here is his blog.

National Review, PC World, and the The Weekly Standard.com are among the publications Ed has written for in his day job.

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Alito contrary to Obama's values

Actually, Illinois Senator Barack Obama didn't say that. He appeared on ABC's "This Week" program this morning, and he did say:

We need to recognize, because Judge Alito will be confirmed, that, if we're going to oppose a nominee that we've got to persuade the American people that, in fact, their values are at stake.

Are you sure you're not speaking of your values, Barack? Or those of the Democratic National Committee?

I don't know how many times the Democrats have to hear this before it sinks in, but if the Democrats want to significantly shape public policy, then they need to get a majority of Americans to vote for them in national elections.

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No violence or riots: Pakistan's Lahore Marathon

Reports are in from Lahore that today's marathon, amid tight security including helicopter surveillance, went smoothly with no outbreaks of violence. As noted Friday on Marathon Pundit, anti-marathon riots Friday led to the arrest of 500 members of Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, a Pakistani Islamic group. Police had to use batons and tear gas to break up the protest.

Liaquat Bloch, a leader of Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, said to a reporter, "The only purpose of the race is to promote obscenity."

Islamists in Pakistan took issue with the "mixed sex" nature of the race, which they called "un-Islamic."

Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal supports Taliban-type laws, and according to AFP, successfully banned men from coaching female athletes in the Pakistani-Afghan border region in 2003.

The winner of the men's 26.2 mile race in Lahore was Helefom Abebe of Ethiopia, clocking in at 2 hours and 16 minutes, which translates into a pace of 5 minutes and 15 seconds per mile.

In the picture on top, a police motorcycle is escorting two female runners.

Also posted on Pajamas Media.

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Lahore Marathon begins, no new violence

So far so good is the word early today out of Lahore, Pakistan. The race has started, and Islamic fundamentalists have not disrupted the event, or attacked any of the runners.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Lahore Marathon update: 12,000 police officers to line route of race

In a few hours, the starting gun for Pakistan's 2nd annual Lahore Marathon will go off. Scroll down three posts to read about the chaos let loose by Pakistani protesters against having a "mixed sex" marathon in Lahore.

Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports that 12,000 policemen--almost one per runner--will line the 26.2 mile course.

Apparently 2005's Lahore Marathon was a peaceful athletic endeavor, but another Pakistani marathon, in Gunjranwala, was disrupted last year when members of an Islamic group through stones at some runners, according to the Khaleej Times.
Proceeds from the Lahore Marathon will go to a relief fund for victims of the recent Pakistani Earthquake.

Click here for more on the Lahore Marathon.

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News from Venezuela: Mother Sheehan may run for Senate against Feinstein

Cindy Sheehan, the so-called "Peace Mom," is in Venezuela at something called the World Social Forum. From the friendly-for-her-environment in South America, she told an AP reporter that she is thinking of running in the California Democratic primary against incumbent Senator Diane Feinstein.

Feinstein is hardly a hawk when it comes Iraq, but since Sheehan's fellow Californian is against an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, Sheehan opposes her.

Not being familiar with election law, I'm curious how this will effect the funding of the Sheehan Enterprise.

Last August, ABC 7 San Francisco's Mark Matthews reported that Ben "Ben & Jerry" Cohen's True Majority's was a big funder of Sheehan's "Camp Casey" in Texas. Among the other financiers of Sheehan-connected activities are MoveOn.org, Howard Dean's Democracy for America, and Code Pink.

Call me a cynic, but does anyone believe Cindy Sheehan is working as the "Peace Mom" for free? A run for the US Senate might complicate things for Mother Sheehan.

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Humuhumunukunukuapuaa no longer the state fish of Hawaii

The reign of humuhumunukunukuapuaa as the offical fish of the Aloha State is over, as AP reports.

When it was designated as the state fish of Hawaii in 1984, what was not known to most Hawaiians was that the long-named fish had a term limit was in place: five years.

Meanwhile, since 1989, the people of Hawaii have obliviously gone about their lives with the false knowledge that they were represtented proudly the humuhumunukunukuapuaa. I'm hope they're adjusting to the shock.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Pakistanis arrest 400 Muslim activists protesting Lahore Marathon

In October, while running the Chicago Marathon, I encountered three or four World Can't Wait--Drive out the Bush Regime protesters trying to draw attention to themselves. No big deal.

Friday in Pakistan's Punjab province, there were mass protests against Sunday's 2nd Annual Lahore Marathon. The Islamic group Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal was behind the unrest, reports the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.

A much bigger deal.

Liaquat Bloch, a member of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, said "The only purpose of the race is to promote obscenity."

If only that was true. I've run 27 marathons, the only vulgar behavior I've witnessed has been the occasional roadside urinator.

More from Dawn:

Over 400 activists of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal were arrested here and elsewhere in Punjab after they clashed with police during their protest against a planned marathon in Lahore on Sunday.

Clashes in the city resulted in injuries to five students and seven police personnel, including an SP. Ten public transport buses were damaged allegedly by the protesters.

According to sources, nearly 215 people were rounded up in Lahore, over 70 in Multan, 35 in Sargodha and as many in Faisalabad and the remaining in other towns of the province. The MMA claimed that over 500 of its activists had been picked up only in Lahore.

In comparision to Nigeria's 2002 Miss World riots, the Lahore unrest is mild. However, 2006 has perhaps its first "first." The world's first Marathon riot.

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Friday prayers in Saudi Arabia dominated by denunciation of Danish newspaper cartoon

Saturday's Arab News carries a story about the continuing controversy about a September, 2005 cartoon collage about the Prophet Muhammad that was printed by Denmark's largest newspaper, Jyllands-Postens. Friday for Muslims is what Sunday is to Christians: the day to visit the house of worship.

Imams in Saudi Arabia not only denounced the Danish cartoons, pictured above, but called for a Saudi boycott of all Danish goods. Yesterday, the Saudi government recalled its ambassador from Copenhagen.

The controversy about the cartoon has been simmering for months.

Muslims in Denmark and now around the world are demanding an apology from Jyllands-Postens for running the cartoons. The paper refuses, citing the sanctity of free speech.

Among Muslims, even deferential images of the Prophet are considering sacrilegious; humorous and disrespectful artistic renditions of the Prophet are viewed as blasphemous by followers of Islam.

One of the drawings of Muhammad gives the Prophet a turban shaped like a bomb.

Well, if you don't like it, then you don't have to look.

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Google relents a bit, allows Chinese searches for beer and jokes

CNET News reports that Google has repaired fixes with its rigid Chinese search engine filters.

Joke sites and beer domains are now accessible through the Chinese version of Google. However, joke sites about communism are probably still off limits.

1985 Chicago Bears: Greatest team of all time

The hardworking Illinois General Assembly somehow found time to unanimously pass a resolution declaring the Chicago Bears the greatest football team of all time.

The Chicago City Council made a similar declaration last month. No word on whether Pope Benedict will rule on this matter.

This case helped empty Illinois' death row: Was it built on fraud?

In 1998, Anthony Porter was just 50 hours away from being executed for the murders of Marilyn Green and Jerry Hillard. Largely because of the efforts of Northwestern University Professor David Protess and some of his journalism students, a year later Porter was a free man.

Four years later, on the campus of Northwestern University, citing the Porter case as an inspiration, outgoing Illinois Governor George Ryan commuted all 156 death penalty sentences to life-in-prison. And Ryan gave Anthony Porter a full pardon.

In early 1999, Protess and his students obtained the confession of Alstory Simon. The real killer of Marilyn Green and Jerry Hillard had been found.

End of story? Not exactly.

Late last year, Anthony Porter's civil suit against the city of Chicago for wrongful arrest came to trial--Porter loss the case.

And Walter Jones, an attorney representing the city, said in court:

We successfully showed that it was truly Anthony Porter that committed this murder.

And now Alstory Simon, the man who confessed to the murders the Porter was originally convicted of, denies involvement in the Green and Hillard killings.

ABC 7 Chicago reports:

In 1999, Simon sat in his home in Milwaukee and confessed on videotape to the murders of Marilyn Green and Jerry Hillard on Chicago's South Side. The confession -- coupled with statements from Inez and Walter -- meant freedom for Anthony Porter, who had been convicted and nearly executed for the crimes. Inez swore last month, she made her 1999 statement against Alstory because she was angry at her ex-husband and had been offered money, movie and book deals by Northwestern journalism professor David Protess. She says Protess also promised to help free Walter and her son, Sonny Jackson -- both of whom are in prison for murder.

In an exclusive interview, Simon told ABC7's Paul Meinke that he confessed on videotape after Paul Ciolino, a private investigator hired by Protess, convinced him that he was about to be arrested but that if he cooperated, he would do at most a couple of years in prison. Instead he was sentenced to 30 seven years.

Professor Protess vehemently denies Simon's assertions.

However, I don't think it's unreasonable Alstory Simon at least gets a hearing in court to tell his story one more time.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Indiana college student uniquely combats high text book prices

Except he got caught. Still, this guy might be on to something. College sit-in protests have gone the way of the rainbow wig, but Timothy Whybrew of Ball State University just may have come up with a way to make a statement against the outrageous prices of college text books.

From AP:

A Ball State University freshman found inside the campus bookstore after hours last night told police he needed to use the books for a class project.

Eighteen-year-old Timothy Whybrew was charged with trespassing.

Police say they decided not to charge him with burglary, because he had "good intentions" for being in the bookstore after it closed for the day.

Police say he stayed in the bookstore after the seven p-m closing because he had a class project due and didn't want to buy the books he needed.

Ball State is in Muncie, Indiana and is best known as David Letterman's alma mater.

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.

Welcome back Pajamas Media readers

The linked Oprah post is two down.

More great blogging can be found at Pajamas Media.

Google: 1.3 billion Chinese can't be wrong

Yesterday Google launched its Chinese-government-approved search engine, Google.cn. Users of the Chinese Google service will have great difficulty finding information on such controversial topics as--well, controversial in China--human rights, Falun Gong, and the Dalai Lama.

Google justifies this kowtowing to Beijing as a positive, claiming that Chinese users of Google will be better off, since the Communist government's own efforts to block Google searches resulted in very slow response times for Google users there using the search engine to research any topic.

Now, with Google's help, search results, unless the term is "Chinese Democracy," will be much faster.

In the United States, Google portrays itself as a defender of free speech and an unbiased dispsenser of information. Last week it told the federal govermnent that it won't cooperate with a Justice Department request to hand over search results records involving porn sites.

The feds want this information to assist in their efforts to shield minors from porn.

But in China, Google sings another tune on internet searches. It looks at those 1.3 billion consumers, and it's googley eyes turn into dollar signs.

Not too many people call mainland China "Red China" anymore. Google just might as well call it "Green China."

Also posted on Pajamas Media.

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Oprah: Kicking James Frey's butt: UPDATED

Fifteen minutes into the Oprah Show (until the Bush press conference pre-preempted it), James Frey told Oprah that "most of" what was in "The Smoking Gun" report about him was true.

Of course, why should we believe him?

Oprah wasn't yelling, but the looks on her face betray deep anger.

Frey kept calling the people in his book "A Million Little Pieces," characters, which Oprah confronted him on.

Memoirs don't have "characters."

More from the Chicago Tribune:

In a surprise reversal, Oprah Winfrey apologized to her national television audience this morning for defending James Frey and said she now feels duped by the embattled author of the best-selling memoir "A Million Little Pieces."

"I made a mistake," a somber Winfrey said at the opening of the live show, "and I left the impression that the truth does not matter, and I am deeply sorry about that because that is not what I believe."

Winfrey's apology and pointed questions about incidents and people in the book appeared to take Frey by surprise as he sat across the couch from Winfrey today as they had done during a much more convivial show four months earlier.

"It is difficult for me to talk to you because I really feel duped," Winfrey told a startled-looking Frey who licked his lips often before speaking. "More importantly, I feel you betrayed millions of readers...As I sit here today, I don't know what is true, and I don't know what isn't."

Also posted on Pajamas Media.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fraud Frey live on Thursday's Oprah

James Frey, author of what was once believed to be a non-fiction called "A Million Little Pieces" will make a return appearance on Thursday's Oprah Show, as AP reports tonight. Oprah's shows are rarely broadcast live.

Expect a lot of crying.

A Million Little Pieces was an Oprah Book Club Selection last year, her choice of the book vaulted Frey's "memoir" into the best seller's list.

Earlier this month, the Smoking Gun web site, in an article entitled "A Million Little Lies," exposed the book as a work of fiction.

Will Frey announce he's writing another book? Don't expect it to sell well. Serial liar Jayson Blair's book was a big flop. Who's going to believe--or pay money--for a book by someone who doesn't tell the truth?

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Looks like another fake Indian has been found

LA Weekly has an article on Nasdijj, a Native American author. Or is he?

In what LA Weekly is calling a Navahoax, it seems that Nasdijj has some things in common with Ward Churchill, he's an F-Troop Indian.

A fraud.

Although Nasdijj goes beyond Ward Churchill; he created a completely new persona for himself.

According to the LA Weekly and others, Nasdijj is actually Tim Barrus. He's got a few other things in common with Ward--born around the same time, 1950 for Barrus, 1947 for Churchill. Both come from blue-collar Midwestern families.

Both Barrus and Churchill have genealogies that go back many generations, and include no American Indian ancestors. And both men viciously insult their detractors.

Of course Nasdijj/Barrus seems to have something in common with James Frey, too. Frey fooled Oprah, and whatever his name is tricked the New York Times, which honored his The Blood Runs Like a River Through My Dreams as a 2001 Notable Book.

Hat tip to Pat at Brainster for finding the LA Weekly piece.

Crossposted on Pajamas Media.

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Solomonia blog awards finalist

Friend-of-the-blog Solomonia is a finalist in the Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards.

Because of the many Chicago area readers of this blog, I have to spell out the rules on the correct way to exercise your franchise. Ballot stuffing is not allowed, voters can make a choice from an ISP address once every three days.

Vote for Solomonia in the Best Designed category.

Vote for Solomonia in Best Politics and Current Affairs category.

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Cong. Jan Schakowsky: Pot, kettle, black

This Hill cartoon is on Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky's campaign web site--right on top as I write this post. The Illinois Democrat, my representative in Congress, joins other liberals criticizing those corrupt Republicans.

Meanwhile in Evanston, her husband, Democratic activist Robert Creamer (not the baseball author), awaits sentencing for bank fraud and tax violations. Creamer drew the attention of federal authorities after a tax kiting scheme was discovered while Creamer was running the Illinois Public Action Council, a consumer advocacy group. While those airborne checks were being circulated, Schakowsky was serving on the board of directors of IPAC.

Jan Schakowsky has not been implicated in any wrongdoing in regards to her husband's financial misdeeds.

Creamer was politically active in his own right, serving as a high-paid campaign consultant for Democrats Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and Rock Island Congressman Lane Evans, among others.

Since the mainstream media hasn't jumped on Jan's hypocrisy, it's up to this citizen-journalist to flash the yellow card here.

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Chicago Tribune blogs still open for comments

Much has been discussed about the Washington Post closing down the comments option on their blogs.

One time zone to the right of the Post, the Chicago Tribune has a number of worthy blogs that still allow (with policing) comments.

The Swamp is the Trib's Washington Bureau's blog. The Tribune's Internet critic, Steve Johnson, just started his blog, Hypertext. I added a comment yesterday to this post that politely disagreed with Steve's view on the viability of citizen-journalism.

Eric Zorn's blog is the best of the bunch at the Tribune. Although I'm biased since I've been a contributor to his blog a couple of times.

UPDATE 11:45 AM: Pat from Brainster in the comments informs me that only a couple of WashPo blogs have had to shut down the comments option. Silly me, I saw the astrology blog didn't have a comments section, but now I realize that blog probably never allowed them.

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Anti al-Qaeda protest in Iraq

Here's some good news from Samarra in Iraq. The report is from Reuters. When I wake up in the morning, I'll be curious how the rest of the mainstream media treats this story.

Hundreds of Iraqis staged a demonstration in the restive city of Samarra on Tuesday in a show of defiance against al Qaeda militants they blamed for killing dozens of police recruits last week.

Nationalist rebels and tribal leaders in the city north of Baghdad had already let it be known they were joining forces to try to expel the foreign-influenced Islamists from the area, part of a trend in Sunni Arab areas that U.S. commanders have pointed to optimistically as a sign of political development.

The protesters, estimated by police to number 700 to 1,000 and organized by the Iraqi Islamic Party and Muslim Scholars Association, major forces in Sunni politics, accused al Qaeda of killing some 40 local men who were hauled off a bus near Samarra last week after leaving a police academy in Baghdad and killed.

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Scalia played tennis during Roberts' swearing-in? Federalist Society has a different story

Monday night, ABC's Nightline ran a story about Justice Antonin Scalia blowing off the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Justice John Roberts last September. Instead, according to ABC, Scalia was at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Creek in Colorado at a conference sponsored by the Federalist Society, where he played tennis.

The Federalist Society has a different take on ABC's claim, as the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Justice Scalia arrived and left Colorado without spending any extra days to engage in recreational activity," Leo's statement said. "He arrived at the hotel the night before the course at 11 p.m., having traveled by car for three hours ... He departed at around 6:30 a.m. the morning after the course ended in order to fly back home. The event started at 8 a.m. each of the mornings, and, despite ABC Nightline's emphasis on Justice Scalia participating in tennis at the hotel, he spent less than two hours playing the game over the course of those two days.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Obama to vote "No" on Alito

No surprise here. Barack Obama has been more to the left lately, so his decision to vote against the Alito nomination is an expected move.

Also of note: Obama depends on a lot of out-of-state fundraising, so he needs to vote the "right way" to keep that cash flowing in his direction.

Bomb kills 8 in Ahvaz, Iran; Ahmadinejad cancels scheduled trip there

Looks like not everyone in Iran is enamored with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The holocaust-denying president was scheduled to visit Ahvaz, a city near the Iraqi border with a large Arab speaking population.

As Reuters reports, Ahmadinejad was scheduled to visit there on Tuesday, his office quickly announced the cancellation that trip, blaming--I'm not making this up--sandstorms.

A Lebanese pro-Hezbollah TV station is claiming Ahmadinejad was the target of the blasts, although as of this writing, no group is claiming responsibility for the bombing, which killed 8 people.

Even if he wasn't the target, not all is well in Iran. This is not the first bombing in Ahvaz.

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Iranian parliament speaker to visit Venezuela and Cuba in February

What, no North Korea stop?

The speaker of the Iranian Majlis, what they call their parliament, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, will visit Venezuela and Cuba next month.

From the Tehran Times:

The visits will give the two sides opportunities to discuss avenues for bolstering parliamentary ties and issues of mutual interest.

Last week, the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, visited Syia.

A theme should be apparent by now.

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Conservative government for Canada

I haven't gone to the liberal message boards yet to see how they're taking the news, but their Valhalla of the north, Canada, just elected a government that will be run by the Conservative Party.

Where will those Kerry (or Nader) voters threaten to flee to now?

As AP reports, the Conservatives won, but they didn't achieve a parliamentary majority. Still, for most Americans it's good news: We have a friendlier government north of the 49th parallel.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Welcome Pajamas Media readers!

The entire DePaul post is here.

And for visitors who came to this blog first, there are plenty of great stuff at Pajamas Media.

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Michael Reagan to visit dad's alma mater, Eureka College

Ronald Reagan's son Michael is coming to northern Illinois to visit Eureka College,
the alma mater of the late president, the AP reports tonight.

While in Illinois, Michael, a conservative radio host, hopes to visit his father's birthplace in tiny Tampico, as well as the Gipper's boyhood home in Dixon.

Dixon is just north of Interstate 88, the recently renamed Ronald Reagan Tollway. Yes, it would be better if it wasn't a toll road. Still, if you're driving on that interstate, visit Dixon. Tampico is not too far away either, it's about 15 miles south of I-88.

That's me in the photo in front of the Reagan Boyhood Home on Hennepin Street in Dixon.

Ronald Reagan was the only president born in Illinois.

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Blogroll addition: Backyard Conservative

Anne of Backyard Conservative lives not to far from me, so it's not surprising that she's chosen to blog about very-liberal Jan Schakowsky, my congresscritter. She discusses other things too.

The blog just got off the ground, she has only four links, and Marathon Pundit is one of them.

I like her writing style and the topics she chooses. Find out if you do too by clicking here.

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Former Gitmo prisoner busted on drug charge

You can't keep a good man down, I guess. I have no proof of this, but I assume a Yemeni prison probably is a worse place to be incarcerated than Gitmo. Karama Saeed Khamsan may soon be in a position to make an informed comparison between the two.

From the Arab News:

A Yemeni man repatriated last year from the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, appeared before a state security court in Sanaa yesterday charged with drug trafficking.

Karama Saeed Khamsan, 33, was accused of traveling to Pakistan to secure the delivery of two tons of hashish for $533,000 for a Yemeni partner.

The consignment was due to be smuggled across the Arabian Sea to the southern Yemeni province of Al-Mahra and then through the porous borders to Saudi Arabia.

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There they go again: DePaul U clamps down on conservative free speech rights

Earlier this month, Chicago's DePaul University, pressured by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), agreed to drop its bizarre "propaganda ban" that the administration used as an attempt to silence DePaul College Republicans last fall. Controversial University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill, in a paid appearance, spoke at DePaul, and the College Republicans faced several school administration roadblocks as they tried to protest that event.

FIRE's interim president, Greg Lukianoff, stated earlier this month on the Hannity & Colmes show that in terms of free speech issues, DePaul was "a basketcase."

Still, with its dropping of the "propaganda ban," it looked like DePaul might finally be turning a new leaf.

Not so.

The latest edition of the DePaul campus newspaper, The DePaulia, just came online. It reports on the "affirmative action bake sale" organized by the DePaul Conservative Alliance.

A few other campus conservative groups have had similar "sales," organized as a humorous protest to college affirmative action policies. The DePaul sale listed prices for brownies and cookies, with white males paying the most for each treat, minorities paying less.

The DePaul Conservative Alliance bake sale lasted about 45 minutes. According to the DePaulia article, students in support of affirmative action started yelling at the DCA members and in the words of Michael O'Shea, a member of the conservative group, "It got a little more out of hand than I would have liked." Tempers were raised, words were exchanged, but that was about it. Greg MacVarish, Dean of Students for DePaul's Division of Student of Affairs, closed shop on the DCA bake sale once the argument broke out.

But that wasn't enough for DePaul. Denise Mattson of the DePaul public affairs department, had this to say:

DePaul permits student organizations to share political views. The expression of those views must take place in a civil, tolerant and respectful manner. Mattson added that although DePaul accepts the opinions and views of all its students, the area DCA chose to conduct its rally was inappropriate. The main hallway in the Student Center is not the proper area for the debate. We need to make sure that there is an environment for that speech that is safe for everyone.

According to the DePaulia, the conservatives were the civil ones, the pro-affirmative action students started the argument. As far where the bake sale took place, unless the DCA was blocking a fire exit, the location of the DePaul Conservative Alliance exercising their free speech rights doesn't really matter in the context of free speech. I would guess the DCA needed a permit for the sale; since their lack of a permit wasn't brought up by the DePaulia, they must have had one.

In addition to his "basketcase" comment about DePaul, during his Hannity & Colmes appearance, Luckianoff of FIRE said in regards to free speech concerns, DePaul "has a nasty history" in that area.

Luckianoff can only have been talking about the Thomas Klocek case. The pro-Israel professor was fired by DePaul University after defending the Jewish state in front of some Muslim students there.

Here's what Klocek view of that incident:

This had nothing to do with religion. It had nothing to do with ethnicity. My side is that it has everything to do with free speech.

This is what DePaul's Mattson had to say about the Klocek affair:

We emphatically reject that this is at all a matter of academic freedom. For DePaul, it was about his conduct, not his content.

There is a disturbing pattern of misbehavior by DePaul in regards to free speech.

Oh, my parting shot will be fired at The DePaulia. Here is the sub-headline of its article about the bake sale:

DePaul Conservative Alliance stirs up the student body with a questionable approach on affirmative action

Headlines, or sub-heads like that belong in the op-ed section of the DePaulia.

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Could this be a trend? Illinois state rep wants to raise minimum driving age to 18

The age of 18 may become the minimum to drive in Illinois, if a bill recently proposed by a state legislator becomes law, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting this morning.

Currently Illinois allows 15 year-olds to obtain a learner's permit, and a license to drive at 16, provided those teens are enrolled in a certified driving instruction course.

John D'Amico, a state representative from Chicago, wants to raise the minimum age for getting a learner's permit to 17--which would be the nation's highest. Only when turning 18, if D'Amico's bill becomes law, will young Illinoisans be able to apply for a driver's license.

Late last year, two teens were killed in a one car accident in D'Amico's district. The driver, who was one of the fatalities, was 16--his vehicle hit a light pole.

That accident led D'Amico to sponsor the bill. Says the state rep:

It's two more years of maturity. I think at 16, we're just not ready to be behind a wheel of a car.

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Canadian national elections Monday

Our ties with Canada may improve in the next few days. The Conservative Party, a group that is more accepting of American foreign policy than the ruling Liberals, is favored to win control of the Canadian Parliament after Monday's national election.

This is bad news for those Kerry voters who keep threatening to move out of "Jesusland" to the "United States of Canada."

The Conservatives have a very right-of-center platform: Get tough on crime, increase defense spending, and back out of the Kyoto Treaty.

There just may be more red in Canada than the red in the Maple Leaf Flag and the Mounties' coats.

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Excellent verb usage

Headline from an AFP story on Yahoo! Asia:

US to prod Pakistan to flush out Al-Qaeda leaders

Read here for the story.

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Marathon Pundit wins Mr. Right's photo caption contest

It's all here. I didn't win a book, but the honor is greater since Mr. R. is fellow Illinois blogger and a Chicago White Sox fan.

Mr. Right has another photocaption contest going on now. Join in!

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Lightblogging Sunday...

I've been up since 6am, but a variety of things has held me up today. More later tonight.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Syria's Assad: Israel killed Arafat

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid a visit to Damascus Thursday to visit his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad. Ahmadinejad is the man who said "Israel should be wiped off the map."

Undoubtedly greatly influenced by his pow-wow with Mahmoud, Assad on Saturday told an audience of Arab lawyers who thought they were going to hear a speech on democratic reform that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was the victim on an Israeli "methodical and organized" killing, according to the British Sunday Telegraph .

More from the Telegraph:

Mr Assad, who himself is suspected of ordering the killing of the Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, said: "Of the many assassinations that Israel carried out in a methodical and organized way, the most dangerous thing that Israel did was the assassination of President Yasser Arafat."

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Osama, Amerika, and Empire

Earlier this month FrontPage Magazine's Steven Plaut discussed the winter quarter theme series at Chicago's DePaul University, "Confronting Empire."

"Empire" not being the Austro-Hungarian sort, but the United States of America.

For the last decade or so, "empire" has been a code word for the far-left in reference to their view that America (or as they like to call it, Amerika, or AmeriKKKa), is the source of all evil in the world.

As Plaut wrote in his article:

According to the Dean (My note, Chuck Suchar), DePaul hopes through the “Theme Series” to achieve the following objectives:

to engage in a College wide (and broader) conversation about the current state of and developing trends in the global order, not only for the purpose of advancing a theme of great interest to faculty and students but also to significantly enhance the community of intellect and engagement in the University;

to promote a wide range of views and participants in this conversation about empire and opposition (bold print mine) in its contemporary and historical dimensions utilizing the increasingly global interests of our faculty and students;

to question the nature of the American role and the role of other nations and interests in the emerging order and consider the forms of appropriate action, engagement and scholarship in light of that assessment.

In other words, it is to be a one-sided campaign of on-campus brainwashing designed to turn DePaul students into Manchurian candidates of radical political correctness.

This weekend "empire" is back in the news. In his recently released audio message, Osama bin Laden gave an endorsement of William Blum's "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower."

Said UBL to America:

"It is useful for you to read the book 'The Rogue State.'"

That book, as Reuters reported earlier today, skyrocketed from 209,000 to 30 on Amazon's top sellers list in just two days.

Oh, I wonder if Osama knows Blum is Jewish? Hat tip to Israelly Cool on that one.

After doing a bit of research on Blum on his website, it's clear he's an anti-AmeriKKKan zealot. "Rogue State" isn't his only book; there is also "Freeing the World to Death : Essays on the American Empire."

Yes, another "empire confronter."

Blum's quite pleased about the Evil One's recommendation of "Rogue State." From the same Reuters article:

"I was glad. I knew it would help the book's sales and I was not bothered by who it was coming from."

Which brings to mind this famous quote by Comrade Lenin. He was wrong about just about everything, but he hit upon one of the darkest corners of human nature with this sentence:
"When it is time to hang the capitalists, they will sell us the rope."

Meanwhile, Bin Laden has a vision of empire as well. His own.

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Spike Lee: Blacks shouldn't support Condaleeza Rice for president

Director Spike Lee, best known for his films such as "Do The Right Thing," and "Malcom X," that explore race in America, told students as Purdue University that they shouldn't vote for Condaleeza Rice if she runs for president.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen becomes a US citizen

Ozzie Guillen, manager of the World Series champion Chicago White Sox, became a US citizen Friday. The Sox hadn't won a World Series since 1917, but it just took two years of Ozzie's hyperkinetic leadership to buck 88 years of South Side Chicago futility.

The Venezuela-born Guillen's unique use of the English language made White Sox post-game press conferences almost as entertaining as the games that preceded them.

There's more to becoming a US citizen than taking an oath the Sox skipper had to take a citizenship test--he passed: English grammar wasn't part of the exam. However, no one should be too tough on Ozzie--he has a better command of the English language than legendary New York Yankees manager, Casey Stengel, "The Old Perfesser," ever did.

Ozzie never said anything as jumbled as this "Stengelese" phrase:

"It's wonderful to meet so many friends that I didn't used to like."

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Welcome Pajamas Media readers!

More excellent blogging can be found on the Pajamas Media web site.

"Captain Hook," ex-Finsbury Park Mosque imam, defends suicide bombings

Abu Hamza al-Masri, the former imam of the radical north London Finsbury Park Mosque, defended suicide bombings in a British court today, saying that they are an appropriate form of warfare and "the highest form of martyrdom," The Times reports.

He's on trial in the UK for inciting murder and race hatred. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

Convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid and the alleged 20th 9/11 hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, are said to be former worshippers at the Finsbury Park Mosque.

Al-Masri's son, Mohammed Mustafa Kamel, served a three year sentence in Yemen for taking part in a bombing campaign there.

"Captain Hook" made the outrageous claim three years ago that God caused the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, saying:

"These missions would increase the number of satellites for military purposes. It would increase the slavery of governance of other countries by America. It is a punishment from God. Muslims see it that way. It is a trinity of evil because it carried Americans, an Israeli and a Hindu, a trinity of evil against Islam. The fact that the motor of the craft fell on Palestine - all these are messages from God. It is a strong message, for the Israeli, to be taken up there to space and he spoke about the Holocaust, to try to make religious advancement from it and gain some moral high ground, hence you have seen this message over Palestine."

Sounds like "race hatred" to me.

Abu Hamza al-Masri also faces terrorism charges in the US.

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Breaking: Four of five Dem activists plead no contest in tire slashing case

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In an unexpected twist in the Election Day tire slashing trial, four former Kerry-Edwards campaign staffers, including the sons of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, have agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanors.

The plea agreements came in the middle of jury deliberations after an eight-day trial on felony property damage charges that carried potential 3 1/2 year prison terms upon conviction.

Michael Pratt, 33, Sowande Omokunde, 26, Lewis G. Caldwell, 29, and Lavelle Mohammad, 36, have all pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property. Omokunde is Moore's son.

Prosecutors will recommend probation sentences as part of the deal, and that the four together pay $5,317 in restitution for the damaged tires.

The surprise resolution was offered by prosecutors at 2 p.m., nearly 7 hours into deliberations and an hour after a jury note complained of an impasse.

Defendant Justin Howell, 21, was the only one of the five charged not included in the deal. The no contest pleas have not been formally made yet, but when they are, jurors will be left to deliberate the felony charge against Howell.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Jury note hints at convictions in tire-slashing (Election 2004)

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
In a possible sign one or more guilty verdicts could be coming this morning, the jury in the Election Day 2004 tire-slashing case sent a note to Circuit Judge Michael Brennan asking whether, when filling out their verdict forms for each of the five defendants, anything should be written in to indicate which of three possible theories of party to a crime a person was being found guilty under.

The jury has now been deliberating for 4 ½ hours.

Indiana serial killer dies after suicide attempt--UPDATED

David Maust of Hammond, IN, accused of killing three teenage boys in 2003, hanged himself yesterday morning in his Crown Point jail cell. He died earlier today, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Maust was court-martialed by the Army in 1974 for killing a thirteen year-old boy.

In 1981, Maust murdered a 15 year-old boy. For this second killing, Maust served just 17 years in prison.

When David Maust was arrested for the Hammond triple murders, there was understandable outrage: Why was he a free man?

UPDATE 10:05AM: Northwest Indiana's Post-Tribune just posted the text of Maust's suicide note.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Milwaukee election day tire slashing trial in the hands of the jury

On Election Day 2004, Republican campaign workers in Milwaukee discovered slashed tires on the 25 vans the party rented for its get-out-the-vote effort.

Five Kerry-Edwards campaign staffers, including the adult children of two prominent Milwaukee politicians, big cheeses if you will, are on trial for allegedly puncturing those tires.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports tonight that jurors deliberated for 2 1/2 hours this afternoon, before heading home. They'll reconvene Friday morning.

AP has more details:

Milwaukee County District Attorney David Feiss told jurors that testimony from several national Democratic campaign workers brought to Milwaukee showed the defendants acted together to cause the damage and then were heard talking about the vandalism once back at the Democratic office the morning of the election.

``If the defendants had not gone back and bragged to their co-workers, they might have gotten away with it,'' Feiss said.

Defense attorney Rodney Cubbie attempted to raise doubts about the credibility of the national operatives' testimony which blamed the defendants, saying each of the witnesses lied to investigators, some more than once.

``These guys got blamed because they're convenient, that's why they got blamed,'' he said.

Despite the well-reported closeness of the presidential race in Ohio--Wisconsin's votes was closer, with Democrat John Kerry edging out President Bush by only 12,000 votes.

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Durbin will vote "No" on Alito, Springsteen among the reasons

Shocking news. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin will vote "No" when the vote to confirm Judge Samuel Alito comes to the floor of the Senate, according to AP.

Says Durbin:

Based on his record, I'm concerned that Judge Alito will not be willing to stand up to a president who is determined to seize too much power over our personal lives.

Who is Durbin kidding! He wasn't going to offend the MoveOn base, as in financial base, of the Democratic Party. I was joking in the headline, it's not "shocking news."

But what about Bruce Springsteen? Maybe Durbin--who by the way is not known for his rollicking sense of humor--was kidding, but the Senator also cited the fact that Alito would not definitely declare to the Senate whether he was a Bruce Sprinsteen fan. Judge Alito, like Springsteen, is from New Jersey. Even considering that (un)important information, how does Springsteen's music become relevant to Alito's qualifications, Senator?

Dick Durbin is the Senate's second-highest ranking Democrat.

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