Wednesday, May 31, 2006

FAA sucks air out of wind farms

With gasoline prices around $3 a gallon, lessening our dependence on oil, specifically foreign oil, should be a national priority. Fossil fuels pollute, but wind farms don't.

This is a story I've been keeping an eye on for a while. It's clear that there is an anti-wind farm faction in Washington. Who could be behind such benevolent things?

Well, the Kennedy family for one.

From the Chicago Tribune, free registration may be required:

The federal government has stopped work on more than a dozen wind farms planned across the Midwest, saying research is needed on whether the giant turbines could interfere with military radar.

But backers of wind power say the action has little to do with national security. The real issue, they say, is a group of wealthy vacationers who think a proposed wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts would spoil the view at their summer homes.

Opponents of the Cape Wind project include several influential members of Congress. Critics say their latest attempt to thwart the planting of 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound has led to a moratorium on new wind farms hundreds of miles away in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Federal officials declined to reveal how many stop-work orders have been sent out. But developers said that at least 15 wind farm proposals in the Midwest have been shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration since the start of the year.

The anti-wind farmers faction includes Senator John Warner, (R-VA), who makes that questionable claim that wind farms disrupt the ability of radar to pick up the signals military aircraft and small planes.

Cape Cod is the epicenter of the anti-wind farm debate. A company called Cape Wind wants to build a wind form offshore from the popular playground of the rich.

I've used this excerpt before, but it's so good, I have to repost it again:

Here is a passage from Peter Schweizer's Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy:

But from the moment the Kennedy family got wind of these plans (so to speak), they came out in strong opposition. Their complaint: The wind turbines would be built in Nantucket Sound, about six miles off the coast from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis. The problem was not aesthetic; the Kennedys wouldn't be able to actually see the turbines from their home. Instead Robert Kennedy Jr., who had been beating the drum for alternative sources of energy for more than a decade, complained the project would be built in one of the family's favorite sailing and yachting areas. The Kennedys were quickly joined by other affluent environmentalists with homes in the area, including newscaster Walter Cronkite and historian David McCollough, and the media war began.

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Paris burning again

Here we go again. More riots, more torched cars in suburban Paris. Eventually this spate of violence will taper off and stop. And then it will start up again.

France has a long term problem on its hands, and there is no easy solution.

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Running ass-backward

(Photo by Stephen Morton / Associated Press)

As a runner and a blogger, I regularly get accused of being a ass-backward thinker, but no one has called me an ass-backward runner.

"Bud" Badyna is an ass-backward runner.

From Fox Sports:

Timothy "Bud'' Badyna has broken world records. He ran a marathon in under four hours. He finished a 10K race in 45 minutes.

Wait a minute, you say -- that's not so fast. Right. But Badyna set those records running backward.

Timothy "Bud" Badyna looks over his shoulder while running backward in St. Simons Island, Ga. Badyna holds the Guinness World Record for fastest backwards run in a 200-meter race which was set in January 2001.

Badyna, dubbed "Backwards Bud'' by fellow runners, holds the Guinness World Record for fastest backward run in a 200-meter race (32.78 seconds), set in 2001. In the early 1990s, he held the record for backward marathon (3 hours, 53 minutes) and 10K (45 minutes, 37 seconds).

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

East Timor humanitarian crisis long in the making

The gang-led violence in East Timor has become a humanitarian nightmare.

From Australia:

East Timor is suffering a humanitarian disaster, the Australian-born wife of President Xanana Gusmao said today.

Kirsty Sword-Gusmao said 50,000 hungry people were still displaced by violence in the capital Dili.

"Less than 48 hours ago there were 1000 people sheltering at the airport and eating grass for lack of any other food," she said to Channel 7.

Troops from Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia are attempting to restore order. It won't be an east task. The problems in East Timor go back centuries. It's colonial master was Portugal, and almost as a rule, former Portuguese colonies become failed-nations.

A few days after becoming independent from Portugal, Indonesia invaded and annexed East Timor. After over a quarter-century of brutal Indonesian-rule, independence from Indonesia was obtained a few years after a UN-sponsored referendum. But international support of East Timor may be at the heart of the current troubles there.

From the New York Times:

More than half the foreign assistance was spent on salaries and consultant fees of the foreign advisers, according to the East Timorese government.

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Daniel Pipes on illegal immigration in Europe

In today's New York Sun, Daniel Pipes has an interesting (what else is new?) article. For a couple of decades at least, illegal immigration from Muslim countries to Europe may be entering a new and frightening phase. His article is well worth reading, the excerpt below is mostly from the work of Rickard Sandell, the Senior Analyst, Demography and Population, Elcano Royal Institute

Rickard Sandell of the Royal Elcano Institute in Madrid has predicted that the migration now under way could signal the prospect of an African "mass exodus" and armed conflict. What one sees today "is only the beginning of an immigration phenomenon that could evolve into one of the largest in history. The mass assault on Spain's African border may just be a first warning of what to expect of the future."

Taking this scenario in a different direction, an easy salve to Europe's demographic problem can be found south of the Rio Grande. During America's industrial revolution, factory owners would send recruiters to European villages looking for workers. Although I've seen this idea mentioned a few times (but not a lot), by other writers, the EU should seriously consider sending immigrant recruiting missions to Mexico, Central America, and South America. Most of the people there speak a Romance language, and their cultural values, while somewhat different, still have a great deal in common with Europeans, in marked contrast to potential immigrants from Muslim nations.

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Light blogging day...

Yes, the blogging has been a little lighter of late. And there's a reason, but I can't really get into why. It's got nothing to do with my homelife. I haven't been arrested and no one is suing me. When the all clear has been sounded, I'll let you know.

Snow iced, Paulson in as Treasury Secretary

John Snow resigned this morning as the Secretary of Treasury. Since Bush already has a replacement set, it's a pretty safe assumption that his resignation was "requested."

And how about this unbiased opening paragraph about the move from AP:

Treasury Secretary John Snow resigned Tuesday, allowing President Bush to nominate Goldman Sachs Chairman Henry M. Paulson Jr. as his replacement — another chapter in the shake-up to revive Bush's troubled presidency.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Pajamas Media podcast #5

It took me a few days, but I finally got a chance to listen to the fifth version of Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review. Joining the usual panel is Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom, who explains the origin of his blog's name. Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit, Eric Umansky, are back, with Austin Bay moderating, and Ed Driscoll doing the George Martin thing.

Lying is again one of the topics. Phony Iraq war veteran Jesse MacBeth, who couldn't wash the lies out of his hands, was unmasked by the blogosphere. Iowahawk, Mudville Gazette, and Blackfive are credited for their work in exposing this fraud. I'd like to add that friend-of-the-blog Brainster also did some excellent blogging on MacBeth.

The controversy surrounding the FBI search of Congressman William Jefferson's Washington office and the possible Palestinian civil war between Fatah and Hamas are the other topics.

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Watching Wal-Mart Watch

Wal-Mart Watch, the union-backed anti-Wal-Mart group that wasted about $150,000 in dues money to place a full-page ad in the New York Times last week, proved that it wasn't acting in good faith when proposing a "good faith" offer to the retail king in that same pricey ad.

The ad, available in PDF format here, used various statements made by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton as possible bridgeheads for Wal-Mart Watch and the retailer to establish dialogue.

So far so good. But Marshall Manson of Edelman PR late last week e-mailed me that he captured a screen shot of an ad with the "Handshake ad" next to a Battle-Mart ad.

The Battle-Mart is a Wal-Mart Watch war plan site (Hey, I'm not overreaching with my metaphor, they call it "Battle-Mart"), instructing people on various methods to keep Wal-Mart out of communities.

So I have no faith in Wal-Mart Watch's "good faith" efforts--they're hypocrites.

Wal-Mart, for those who are unfamiliar the firm, owns stores that sell stuff pretty cheap.

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Blogger Dan Curry hits a hole-in-one

Congratulations to my good friend Dan Curry of Reverse Spin who hit his first hole-in-one in Wheaton over the weekend.

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The O.C's UC Irvine--O.C. for "out of control"

The University of California-Irvine, located in Orange County south of Los Angeles, is getting publicity it doesn't want to receive. And wouldn't you know, our old pal Norman Finkelstein figures into the OC mix?

From KTLA-TV in Los Angeles:

The campus' Muslim Student Union has drawn harsh criticism for last week's "Holocaust in the Holy Land" programs. Events included a speech titled "Israel: the 4th Reich" and the construction of a mock Israeli security wall with students dressed as Israeli army officers conducting aggressive checkpoint searches.

The events at the public quad prompted a strong reaction from members of Jewish groups, who called it highly offensive to equate Israel with Nazi Germany.


In 2003, a memorial to Holocaust victims was vandalized. The next year, an anti-Zionism mural erected by the Society of Arab Students was burned down. No arrests were made in either case.

Then, a group of Muslim students made headlines with their plan to wear graduation stoles of green — a traditional color of Islamic identity — as a show of Islamic unity. Jewish groups on and off campus decried them as a show of support for Hamas, a militant Palestinian group responsible for dozens of suicide bombings in Israel, which also uses green as its signature color.

And as I reported a couple of weeks ago, the featured guest speaker was DePaul University's Norman Finkelstein.

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Another Memorial Day in Illinois photo

I took this photograph about two hours ago while in front of the Morton Grove Public Library, I used my Treo 650.

The statue was erected in 1920 to honor the local soldiers who served our country in the Great War.

And in the spirit of the National Review listing of the 50 Greatest Conservative Rock Songs Ever, here is one more great conservative rocker, Paul McCartney's Freedom:

This is my right, a right given by God
To live a free life, to live in Freedom

We talkin' about Freedom
Talkin' bout Freedom
I will fight, for the right
To live in Freedom

Anyone, who wants to take it away
Will have to answer, Cause this is my right

We talkin' about Freedom
Talkin' bout Freedom
I will fight, for the right

To live in Freedom, ah yeah, come on now...

You talkin' about Freedom
Were talkin' bout Freedom
I will fight, for the right
To live in Freedom

Everybody talkin' bout Freedom
Talkin' bout Freedom
I will fight, for the right
To live in Free----------dom

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Regime Change Iran blog looking for help

Dr. Zin posted this message on his blog, Regime Change Iran:

I apologize for getting behind again. Since this site is self funded it requires that I take every opportunity to work. This occasionally puts us behind the news cycle. For this I am sorry.

I hope soon to make an announcement of several campaigns to take this work to the next level. But it requires that those who support the Iranian pro-democracy movement inside of Iran to join us in the work. At the moment the most important way you can help is to contribute to our efforts. Your support will make a difference.

Bloggers blog for different reasons. Dr. Zin shouts out from his site to change Iran, and consequently, the world.

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Memorial Day in Illinois

In the last ten yeas or so, I've noticed more road side memorials for victims of automobile accidents. From what I've read, this tradition originated in the Southwest.

Stevan was killed in a crash on March 3, 2006 on Interstate 94 just a couple of blocks from my home in Morton Grove.

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Romania, 1989. Iran, 2006?

I found this bit in Wikipedia about what Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu said about the spreading unrest in Romania on December 20, 1989--five days before he was executed.

He blamed it all on "interference of foreign forces in Romania's internal affairs" and an "external aggression on Romania's sovereignty".

Yesterday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, said that "trying to provoke ethnic and religious unrest is the last desperate shot by enemies."

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Riots sweep Iran

A little over a week ago, an Iranian newspaper published a cartoon that gave the impression that Azeris, the largest minority in Iran, are stupid.

Just as the Danish Muhammad cartoon riots inflamed people in Iran and elsewhere, this cartoon is inciting people to riot throughout Iran. The photo courtesy of AP, shows Azeris protesting in front of the Iranian parliament building.

Gateway Pundit has extensive coverage of the riots.

Pajamas Media has a lot more here.

Dr. Zin at Regime Change Iran has photos from demonstrations in Tehran.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Timing poor as Barry Bonds hits homer number 715

Barry Bonds finally passed up the legendary Babe Ruth in career home runs when he hit his 715th four-bagger in San Francisco today off of pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim of the Colorado Rockies.

Ironically, the Babe's last home run was also a late May blast, although no one knew at the time it would be his final homer.

Meanwhile, the investigation of Bonds and BALCO continues.

I remember watching Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run in 1974. It was an exciting event, the game was nationally broadcast during prime time on NBC with the hope that Aaron would deliver. He did, and fairly early in the game--before most people turned in for the night. Bonds 715th happened with only local TV covering the shot, on a holiday weekend, and on the time-zone challenged West Coast. So a lot of people didn't see the homer.


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Mr. Right has his new caption contest up

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and some congressman from South Carolina named James Clyburn are the targets of this week's photo caption contest put on by fellow White Sox fan Mr Right. Sharpen your daggers and enter the contest here.

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A bikes-only morning on Lake Shore Drive

The annual City of Chicago "Bike the Drive" has held this morning. Media reports estimated 25,000 cyclists took part in today's ride. Chicago's world famous Lake Shore Drive was closed to cars, only cyclists were allowed.

I took the photo with my Motorola RAZR phone from the North Avenue footbridge between Lincoln Park and North Avenue Beach during my morning run.

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Pete Townshend responds to "Won't Get Fooled Again" being named the greatest conservative rock song

It's not just Beatles' songs that get interpreted, reinterpreted, or in some cases, misinterpreted.

Won't Get Fooled Again by The Who is one of those songs, says the man who wrote it, Pete Townshend.

From that skinny bloke's web site:

I am just a song-writer. The actions I carry out are my own, and are usually private until some digger-after-dirt questions my methods. What I write is interpreted, first of all by Roger Daltrey. Won't Get Fooled Again - then - was a song that pleaded '….leave me alone with my family to live my life, so I can work for change in my own way….'. But when Roger Daltrey screamed as though his heart was being torn out in the closing moments of the song, it became something more to so many people. And I must live with that. In the film Summer of Sam the song is used to portray white-boy 'street' idiocy; a kind of fascist absurdity, men swinging their arms over air-guitars and smashing up furniture. Spike Lee told my manager that '…he deeply understood Who music….'. What he understood was what he himself - like so many others - had made it. He saw an outrage and frustration, even a judgment or empty indictment in the song that wasn't there. What is there is a prayer.

Later today I'm going to post some lyrics from a Who song which I don't think I'm misinterpreting.

Hat tip to The Corner on National Review.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

This weekend in Chicago: International Mr. Leather contest UPDATED!

Before I do what I presently do for a living, I was employed in sales and convention services at several downtown Chicago hotels. I worked with a lot of off-the-beaten-track organizations during my 13 years in that business.

One that stood out among that distinct group was International Mr. Leather. IML is centered on the contest that annually anoints a lucky leather clad male as that year's International Mr. Leather. Last year, Michael Egdes who entered the event as the 2005 Mr. Ramrod, walked away with the champion's leather sash. It's pretty much run like a beauty pageant, although the IML guys don't like it being called that.

They have a trade show, called the Leather Market, where whips and chains, sex toys, gay porno videos, handcuffs, muzzles, and even a human cage are available for purchase.

IML is not held in a back alley or some sleazy bar, the world famous Palmer House Hilton and Towers--yes, a Hilton property, hosts the event. The picture was taken Thursday night in the lobby of the Palmer House.

Sunday night at the Chicago Theatre Mr. Leather 2006 will be chosen.

Related Hilton post: Hilton Corp. not renewing lease of pro-troops restaurant

UPDATE May 29: And we have a winner! Some guy from Montreal named Bo, pictured here, is the 2006 International Mr. Leather.

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King Tut exhibit: BCE trumps BC

Hmmm....Yet another King Tut post, the fourth in three days.

Saturday's entry into the King Tut journal documents the strangling weed smothering our society, political-corrrectness.

The dates accompanying the artifacts in the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs at Chicago's Field Museum use the designations BCE, short for Before Common Era. Instead of BC--Before Christ.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The changes -- showing up at museums, in academic circles and in school textbooks -- have been touted as more sensitive to people of faiths outside of Christianity.

The terms BC and AD were created in the 6th century by the Roman Catholic monk Dionysius Exiguus.

The use of BCE and CE have rankled some Christians. In 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention criticized the use of BCE and CE, calling them "the result of secularization" and "political correctness."

A Field spokeswoman said the museum uses both the old BC and AD and the new BCE and CE designations in other exhibits.

Keep in mind that BC has been used for centuries, the full designation, Before Christ, is almost never written in full or spoken out loud.

Political correctness run-amok again.

Related post: Political correctness at Chicago's Adler Planetarium

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National Review has the 50 greatest conservative rock songs ever

John J. Miller of the National Review--who wrote a great story about the Thomas Klocek case last fall--writes to a different beat this time, as he picks the 50 greatest conservative rock songs ever.

From NRO:
What makes a great conservative rock song? The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values. And, to be sure, it must be a great rock song. We’re biased in favor of songs that are already popular, but have tossed in a few little-known gems. In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don’t hold any of this against them. Finally, it would have been easy to include half a dozen songs by both the Kinks and Rush, but we've made an effort to cast a wide net. Who ever said diversity isn’t a conservative principle?
Number one is an excellent choice by one of my favorite bands, The Who, Won't Get Fooled Again.

From Miller's article:
The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all. “There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.” The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.

(Links go to Amazon where you can find the album the song is on).

The Beatles' Taxman, Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama, and the Beach Boys pop classic Wouldn’t It Be Nice round out the top five.

Of course the fun part about lists is to add your own picks, which I'm going to do right now.

Bob Dylan's Neighborhood Bully. A pro-Israel rocker about fighting for what is right. Neo-con before there were neo-cons. That bomb factory was a Saddam Hussein nuclear plant that was believed to have been able to eventually produce weapons-grade plutonium.
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.

Get Back in Line by the Kinks: From 1965-1969, the Kinks were banned from performing in the United States because they offended the American Federation of Musicians. This song describes union abuse of power:
'Cause that union man's got such a hold over me
He's the man who decides if I live or I die, if I starve, or I eat
Then he walks up to me and the sun begins to shine
Then he walks right past and I know that I've got to get back in the line
Cheap Trick's Scent of a Woman. Women aren't just for sex says a man's man band:
Well a man is a man is a hell of a man
A man ain't a man in a one night stand
A man just don't stack up next to a woman
A man can't see what a woman can do
The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash: Country music left Johnny Cash sometime around 1980, this 2002 rocker about the rapture probably encouraged a few trips to the confessional booth.
There's a man going around taking names and he decides
Who to free and who to blame
Everybody won't be treated quite the same
There will be a golden ladder reaching down
When the Man comes around
Joe Jackson's Cold War nugget, Evil Empire:
There's a country where no one knows
what's going on in the rest of the world
There's a country where minds are closed
with just a few asking questions

Like what do their leaders say
in sessions behind closed doors
and if this is the perfect way
why do we need these goddamn lies
Hat tip to Backyard Conservative.

UPDATE Sunday May 28 12:00AM: I don't know how I overlooked it, but Dylan's Neighborhood Bully is on the NR list.

Jon Swift has his own list of 50 conservative rockers. Obviously he's a big Kinks fan, he's got the obscure but precious Village Green Preservation Society on his list. Animal Farm from the same album is also fits in this category.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Marathon Pundit exclusive: Chicago Marathon to close registration at 5pm

A tipster who wishes to remain anonymous informs me that the Chicago Marathon has reached its cap of 40,000 entrants and will close registration for the October 22 race at 5pm CDT tonight.

Marathon Pundit has run every Chicago Marathon since 1990, and I'm entered in this year's 26.2 miler.

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Dozens of Coptic Christians protest outside Chicago King Tut exhibit: UPDATED!

Yesterday, in my second Egyptian post of the day, I made the point that protesting outside the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs exhibit about the plight of jailed Egyptian blogger Alaa was definitely fair game, since the government of Egypt is collecting about half the gate receipts from this lucrative show.

As I was typing that post, a group of Coptic Christians were outside Chicago's Field Museum drawing the attention of the plight of the members of their faith in Egypt.

From the Chicago Tribune, free registration may be required:

Discrimination and human rights abuses against Coptic Christians remain widespread in Egypt, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Copts face societal intolerance, and Egyptian authorities have been accused of being lax in protecting their rights.

No Christians serve as governors, presidents or deans of public universities, and very few Christians hold positions in the upper ranks of the security services and the armed forces, Coptic community leaders said. A 14th Century law bars Christians not only from building new churches, they said, but also from performing necessary maintenance on structures without government approval.

Recent violence in Coptic churches in Egypt has renewed fears of escalating religious strife. In April, a Muslim man was accused of knife attacks at three Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria that left one man dead and about a dozen others wounded. The incident unleashed three days of rioting on the same weekend Christians were observing Orthodox Palm Sunday.

Anissa Essam Hassouna, an official with the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and part of the Egyptian delegation visiting Chicago, said Thursday that the government has "neglected" the issue of how Copts are treated in Egypt but "is trying to do better."

Well, Egypt has to do a lot better. Besides the mistreatment of the Copts, last month Egyptian blogger Alaa was jailed while attending a peaceful protest. He's still incarcerated.

People shelling out at least $31 per ticket to see the King Tut exhibit (again, about half goes back to Egypt) deserve to learn about Alaa.

Related posts: Egypt, King Tut, and blogger Alaa

Alaa in prison: Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review #4 follow-up

UPDATE May 29: TigerHawk found one of the few MSM articles to cover Alaa's plight. Along with Sandmonkey, TH has been aggressively following this story.

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No gender equality at Chilean president event in Washington

Could you imagine the uproar if a bunch of men tried to put on an all guys function for a world leader?

From Thursday's Washington Post:

No boys allowed! It's "women only" at a dinner next month honoring Chile's new president, Michelle Bachelet. Invitations to the June 8 gala at the Ritz-Carlton are nontransferable -- and the only guests are women.

"She wanted to meet with the women of the U.S.," says Irene Klinger of the Organization of American States, a longtime friend of Bachelet. "The men are a little bit upset. They have been accustomed to [being] included for the past thousand years. We're saying, 'This one is not for you.' It's interesting to see their reaction."

"A Celebration of Women's Leadership" is hosted by the White House Project, an advocacy group for alpha females. The dinner for 200 is chaired by Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Jan Schakowsky and features "Commander in Chief" actress Geena Davis.

Jan Schakowsky, (D-IL) is my congrescritter. Around the time of the Bachelet reception, Jan's home will also be man-free for a few months. That's because her husband, former political consultant Robert Creamer, will begin serving his sentence for bank and tax fraud.

I wonder who's going to bring up that bit of irony to Jan when she stands in the receiving line with the Chilean president at the "girls only" party.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Crazy Iranian group sending suicide attackers against Israel and Rushdie

Although the Committee for the Glorification of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement is not sanctioned by the Iranian government, the group, according to AFP, does appear at Islamic Republic events.

As with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organization, the Committee for the Glorification of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement has a large agenda.

From AFP:

A hardline Iranian group announced the creation of a new "battalion" of "martyrdom seekers" -- or suicide attackers -- ready to carry out operations against targets including Israel and author Salman Rushdie.

When volunteers sign up to join the group, they can choose to attack British author Salman Rushdie, who sentenced to death by Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 over his book "The Satanic Verses," or join an operation against Israel or foreign invaders.

"I want to defend Islam, so I signed up for all three," enthused one volunteer, 27-year-old Meghdad Hamedinia. "All the American presidents are rascals. I'll give my life for Islam."

Of the volunteers, 30 percent are women, according to the same article.

These registration rallies must be interesting. Do they have tables with banners above each? Death to Israel on the left, Death to Rushdie in the middle, and Death to America on the right?

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Egypt, King Tut, and blogger Alaa

As I wrote in the prior post, tomorrow the big King Tut exhibition opens up at Chicago's Field Museum.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the nation of Egypt will reap inabout half of the gate receipts.

So it is not out of line to protest the detainment of Egyptian blogger Alaa at the mueseum.

And who is Alaa?

From the Middle East Times:

As internationally acclaimed blogger Alaa, of, sits in prison waiting to be released, bloggers in Egypt have begun a new campaign to educate Egyptians and the entire world on the situation facing Egyptian bloggers.

"Blogs reflect who we are as people and as we get more active it shows in our blogs."

Manal, the other half of and Alaa's wife, tells the Middle East Times. "Lots of bloggers find freedom of expression attainable with blogs," she adds.

Last year Reporters without Borders awarded Manal and Alaa the freedom of expression award for their blogging efforts in Egypt. At the time, Egypt had only a few dozen blogs, but since then, an explosion of bloggers has been witnessed in Egypt. The number is now thought to be in the thousands.

Here is Alaa's blog.

Rantings of a Sandmonkey has been leading the charge to get Alaa freed.

Previously on Marathon Pundit: Alaa in prison: Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review #4 follow-up

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Biting the hand that feeds him: UPDATED

Tomorrow at Chicago's Field Museum in Chicago, a major special exhibition, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs, opens.

Yesterday was the exhibit's unveiling, and there were some Ancient World fireworks.

One of the show's major sponsors is the energy giant, Exelon. Its CEO, Robert Mehrberg, spoke with pride about the ancient Egyptian coffin, or sarcophagus, that he has on display in his office.

Here's the Chicago Tribune link, free registration may be required:

Zahi Hawass is the secretary general of Egypt's Council of Antiquities. And when his turn came to speak, this is what he said:

I don't think this is right. An artifact like this is not supposed to be in an office or a home, but in a museum. How can he sponsor an exhibit like King Tut and keep an artifact like this in his office?

I will see if it could be placed in a museum or returned to Egypt. And if not, I will see what action we can take.

Egypt, according to the Tribune, is expected to receive about half the gate receipts from the exhibit.

UPDATE Sat. May 27, 2006: Robert Mehrberg has agreed to loan the artifact to the Field on an indefinite basis.

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Canadian newspaper retracts Iranian infidel badge story

Last week Canada's National Post published an article stating that Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians would have to wear a badge on their clothing identifying themselves as a member of their faith.

Yes, just like in Nazi Germany.

But today, the National Post has retracted that story.

Still, I wouldn't rule the Iranians trying something like this a decade to two from now--assuming the current regime is still in power, of course.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Once poor Ireland envied by Latvia

A generation ago, the the standard of living in Ireland was maybe lowest in Western Europe.

As the fictional bandleader Jimmy Rabbitte quipped in the film The Commitments, "The Irish are the blacks of Europe."

Fast forward the tape to 2006. Ireland is now the Celtic Tiger, and Latvia wants to be the next Ireland.

From the Baltic Times:

In an ambitious effort to gain the favor of voters, the alliance of Latvia’s First and Latvia’s Way (My note: two political parties) announced a bold goal – to raise Latvia’s living standards to the level of Ireland within 10 years and increase the average salary to at least 500 lats (711 euros) in half that time. Speaking at a political forum on May 21, chairman of Latvia’s Way Ivars Godmanis said the alliance strove to achieve the "general prosperity of the nation, which is what people expect from politicians."

A Celtic Tiger in every pot could be their slogan.

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Cong. LaHood of Peoria opposess Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006

It's time for some Ray LaHood blogging; LaHood is a Republican Congressman from Peoria, home of the Caterpillar Corporation.

Peoria Pundit Bill Dennis has the scoop on LaHood:

Flag-burning Hamas supporter Rachel Corrie, who died trying to keep the Isreali Defense Force from demolishing tunnels being used to smuggle weapons, no doubt would have approved of U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood’s opposition to the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which ends U.S. government financial aid to the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority.

And I hear through the grapevine that another protest is being planned outside Caterpillar World Headquarters here in the River City by those people who blame Cat for manufacturing the dozer used to demolish the tunnels Rachel was protecting. They say Cat should know better than to do business with the Zionist Entity.

Perhaps these protestors—or perhaps Rachel’s parents—might want to stop by LaHood’s office and thank him in person for his ideological support and offer their support as he tries to gain re-election against the onslaught of his Democratic challenger … whatever his name is.

That bulldozer was the D-9 model. Corrie was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a vile group of terrorist sympathizers who delude college-age students from Western countries into believing their citizenship gives them some bizarre form of immunity from prosecution in Israel and the occupied territories.

Corrie found out that it wasn't true.

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Hastert wrestling with FBI probe: UPDATED!

Not "the coach?"

Yep, the one-time wrestling coach.

I really don't know what to make of this story. It could be a big "to-do" over nothing, but Illinois' most prominent Republican, Dennis Hasert, is facing news that no one wants to deal with, ever.

From ABC 7 Chicago:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation. According to ABC News, the FBI wants to determine the Illinois congressman's role in an ongoing public corruption probe. That's the topic of this intelligence report.

The Indian casino case has been under investigation by federal authorities for months, and House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been connected to the case for as long as it's been underway.

Nearly three dozen members of Congress, including Hastert and leaders from both parties, pressed the government to reject a Louisiana Indian casino while at the same time they were collecting large donations from rival tribes and their lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Many intervened with letters to interior secretary Gale Norton within days of receiving money from tribes represented by Abramoff or using the lobbyist's restaurant for fundraising, according to an Associated Press review of campaign records, IRS records and congressional correspondence.

The congressman from Plano has a lot of explaino to do. If he doesn't want to talk, he could hire "Native American" Ward Churchill to be his spokesman.

UPDATE 9:30PM CST: Well, ABC is retracting the story.

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Unions spend $150,000 in dues money for full-page New York Times ad

Marshall Manson sent this information to my e-mail box, although, since the site he referenced linked to Marathon Pundit earlier this week, I probably would've found this story anyway.

The anti Wal-Mart group Wal-Mart Watch paid about $150,000 to place this ad in yesterday's New York Times.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, free registration may be required:

Working Families for Wal-Mart, a group organized with funding from Wal-Mart and its suppliers, issued a statement saying that "Americans have to question why the same union leaders who are failing to address diversity, transparency, accountability and sustainability in their own organizations are spending millions of dollars in union dues attacking a company that is committed to these principles and creates tens of thousands of jobs per year."

Politically, union leadership is monolithically Democratic. However, in 2004, President Bush received about 40% of the union vote in his re-election effort.

As for union members' opinion of Wal-Mart, there is a greater disconnect between what the union leaders push to those they represent, and what the union members actually believe.

From Working Families for Wal-Mart:

Clear majorities of Americans support Wal-Mart and disagree with the Washington, D.C. union leadership-funded attacks. Specifically, the poll shows that of those surveyed:

71 percent of Americans believe Wal-Mart is good for consumers while 63 percent of union households hold the same belief

58 percent of Americans and 54 percent of union households believe union leaders should make protecting union jobs a higher priority than attacking Wal-Mart

60 percent of Americans say the campaign against Wal-Mart is not a good use of union dues and 44 percent of union households agree

54 percent of Americans and 42 percent of union households believe the campaign against Wal-Mart makes labor union leaders less relevant to solving the economic challenges facing working families today.

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Bob Dylan's 65th birthday is today

Sixty five years ago today, Robert Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota, in the north country, not too far from Highway 61.

Of course about twenty years later he changed his name to Bob Dylan.

Music and society would never be the same.

Here are some appropriate lyrics for the occasion, from his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Well, if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm,
When the rivers freeze and summer ends,
Please see if she's wearing a coat so warm,
To keep her from the howlin' winds.

Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That's the way I remember her best.

I'm a-wonderin' if she remembers me at all.
Many times I've often prayed
In the darkness of my night,
In the brightness of my day.

So if you're travelin' in the north country fair,
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline,
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mr. Right's new photo caption contest is up!

Mr. Right has been busy, but his new photo caption contest, featuring William "Freezerman" Jefferson, (D-LA), is up at The Right Place.

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Jews are apes, Christians are swine

In most of the world, in eighth grade kids learn about other societies in the harmless settings of social studies. But not in Saudi Arabia, as this passage from a textbook shows:

As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.

Robert Spencer has more in his FrontPage Magazine article.

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A nation once again

It looks like little Montenegro is the planet's newest nation. Despite the name, Montenegrins aren't an ethnic group, they're Serbs. And Serbs in Serbia have a lot of soul searching to do, since their fellow Serbs don't want to be part of Serbia.

Montenegro was independent before becoming a part of Yugoslavia in 1918.

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Monday, May 22, 2006


A couple of posts down, this was posted in the comments section...

John, as for NAMBLA... it's so nice of you to just drop a cheap jab and run away (you really should change your name to "hatchet man pundit" -- that was a good suggestion).

When the ACLU defended NAMBLA in 2000 it did so for the same reason they defended right-wing darling Ollie North and the Krishnas -- **free speech**.

NAMBLA is the acronym for the North American Man Boy Love Association. Yes, they have a web site somewhere, but I'm not going to link to it. If there is just one web site that is NSFW, NAMBLA's that site.

The National Review Online site is safe for work. Here is what Delroy Murdock wrote in 2004:

(The American Civil Liberties Union) is defending the North American Man-Boy Love Association in a $200 million civil lawsuit filed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Curley. The Curleys claim that Charles Jaynes was driven by the literature and website of NAMBLA, an outfit that advocates sex between grown men and little boys, reportedly as young as age 8.

Jaynes did not simply read NAMBLA's materials and ponder its message. He and Salvatore Sicari actively sought a boy with whom to copulate. They picked 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley of Cambridge, Massachusetts. They lured him into their car as he played outside his home in October 1997. When Curley resisted their sexual advances, they choked him to death with a gasoline-soaked rag. Then they took the boy's body across state lines to Jayne's apartment in Manchester, New Hampshire. They molested the cadaver and stuffed it into a cement-filled Rubbermaid container. Finally, they crossed state lines again into Maine, whereupon they tossed Jeffrey Curley's remains into the Great Works River, from which it was recovered within days. Jaynes and Sicari were convicted of these crimes in 1998, for which they are serving life sentences.

So why blame NAMBLA? Is it any more responsible for this atrocity than is Vintage Books, the publisher of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita? Imagine that Jaynes and Sicari had read that 1955 novel about a middle-aged intellectual's affair with a 12-year-old girl. What if these two men found an equally young female who they abused and killed, just as they murdered Jeffrey Curley in real life? Putting aside the fact that Lolita is a work of fiction, would Vintage Books face civil justice?

Probably not, nor would NAMBLA if it limited its output to fictional depictions of "man-boy love." It is difficult to pin imaginary crimes on actual criminals who turn make-believe into mayhem

From CNN in 2001:

Police found publications from NAMBLA in Jaynes' car, where Jeffrey was killed, and a diary in Jaynes' apartment where he had written about seducing young boys and told how NAMBLA changed his life:

"This was a turning point in discovery of myself.... NAMBLA's Bulletin helped me to become aware of my own sexuality and acceptance of it," Jaynes wrote.

"As a result of reading a NAMBLA bulletin, he came to cope with his feelings and his desires and then he came to realize it's OK to rape little boys and that's what he went and did," Frisoli (the attorney for the boy's parents) claims.

So the ACLU is representing NAMBLA, claiming the Curleys suit violates the group's First Amendment rights. I'm not an attorney, but I don't believe the First Amendment protects speech involved in encouraging felonious behavior.

Here's an excerpt from Alan Sears and Craig Osten's The ACLU vs. America: Exposing the Agenda to Redefine Moral Values

One of NAMBLA's publications is titled The Survival Manual: The Man's Guide to Staying Alive in Man-Boy Sexual Relationships. According to to Frisoli, "Its chapters explain how to build relationships with children. How to gain confidence of children's parents. Where to go to have sex with children so as to not to get caught." Bill O'Reilly of Fox News added that the NAMBLA web site "actually posted techniques designed to lure boys into having sex with men and also supplied information on what an adult should do if caught."
(One paragraph later.)

Incredibly, the ACLU's Massachusetts executive director, John Roberts said,"There was nothing in those publications [of NAMBLA] or web site which advocated or incited the commission of any illegal acts, including murder or rape." ACLU Massachusetts Legal Director John Reinstein added, "Regardless of whether people agree or abhor NAMBLA's views, holding the organization responsible for crimes committed by others who read their materials would greatly endanger First Amendment freedoms.

Then in an incredible leap of logic, Reinstein said, "The Supreme Court has made it clear that a speech or publication is protected under the First Amendment unless it is 'directed to inciting or promoting imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.'NAMBLA's materials are simply not in this category. (Emphasis mine.) While NAMBLA may extol conduct which is currently illegal, its materials fall far short of speech that may be prohibited.

The authors of this book are senior members of Alliance Defense Fund, a group determined to stand up to the radicalism of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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And speaking of the ACLU....

Studs Terkel and the Ill. ACLU filed suit in federal court today to get AT&T to stop (assuming they're doing that) sending its customers phone records to the National Security Agency.

From AP:

A lawsuit filed today on behalf of author Studs Terkel and other Chicago-area professionals seeks to stop AT&T from giving customer phone records to the National Security Agency without warrants.

USA Today reported on May 11th that AT&T and other phone companies complied with an NSA request for millions of phone records after the September 11th attacks.
AT&T has said it's obliged to assist government agencies responsible for protecting the public, as allowed within the law.

Harvey Grossman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois says the NSA program could interfere with the ability of lawyers to deal with their clients and doctors to communicate with patients. He says people will be less inclined to speak by phone if they think the government collects lists of the numbers they are calling.

I have a correction to make. Studs Terkel is a tape-recordist, not an author.

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Noam Chomsky: Not making sense

Oliver Kamm picks apart Noam Chomsky here.

Kamm found this Chomsky explanation for the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999.

Serbia was not adopting the proper social and economic reforms.

So we bombed them, according to Chomsky.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Separation of church and state, but not the separation of mosque and state

My daughter's annual dance recital brought Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I to Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois this afternoon.

Assuming we live in the same place, Little Marathon Pundit will be a student at Niles West in six years.

LMP danced wonderfully, by the way, as if you expected me to believe differently!

But after the show, I saw something which caused me to suddenly halt and take notice.

Yep, that sign, which I found amongst other placards for the French Club, the Chess Club, and the like, is for the Niles West Qur'an Study group. The little graphic on the righthand corner is the high school's logo, the nickname for its teams is the Wolves. They were the Indians until 2000, but that's another story for another time.

There is a Qur'an Study group, but I saw no evidence of Bible or Torah Study Group. Niles West has an Israeli Club, but not a Jewish Club.

Here's the copy from the Qur'an Study sign:

Every Friday at 2:45pm, Niles West Qur'an Study gives students the opportunity to perform Friday prayer and to increase their knowledge about Islam. All students, regardless of religious orientation, are encouraged to attend.

Meetings, Friday 2:45 Rm 2225

Is the ACLU aware this is going on at a public high school? Do they care?

Would the ACLU care more if this was a Bible Study group performing prayers on school property?

UPDATE May 22, 11:45PM CST: Michelle Malkin has a similar post, GOD - NO; ALLAH - YES

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Crosstown Classic: Chicago Cubs avoid sweep, beat White Sox

Okay, the Cubs won today over the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, 7-4.

However, the Cubs are having a tough century. Their last World Series title was in 1908.

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Mexico: For many positions, immigrants need not apply

Hmmm...Maybe the United States isn't as xenophobic as some think. Mexico appears to be, though.

From AP:

If Arnold Schwarzenegger had migrated to Mexico instead of the United States, he couldn't be a governor. If Argentina native Sergio Villanueva, firefighter hero of the Sept. 11 attacks, had moved to Tecate instead of New York, he wouldn't have been allowed on the force.

Even as Mexico presses the United States to grant unrestricted citizenship to millions of undocumented Mexican migrants, its officials at times calling U.S. policies "xenophobic," Mexico places daunting limitations on anyone born outside its territory.

In the United States, only two posts - the presidency and vice presidency - are reserved for the native born.

In Mexico, non-natives are banned from those and thousands of other jobs, even if they are legal, naturalized citizens.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Latest Pajamas Media Blog Week is available for download

I was able to listen to this week's edition of Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review this evening.

This week's topics include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Net Neutrality, and the General Michael Hayden's nomination to head the CIA, the turmoil in Egypt, as well as this unlikely trio: Harper's Magazine, Border's Books, and the Danish Muhammad cartoons.

Tammy Bruce weighs in on the questions surrounding former Dutch member of parliament and self-professed lapsed Muslim Ms. Ali:

My first complaint, heartbreak really, is that if you were to search her name on NOW's website,, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever.

As usual, Austin Bay moderates and Ed Driscoll produces. Joining Tammy Bruce on the panel are Ed Umansky and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit.

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Chicago's "big box" anti-jobs ordinance

Alderman Joe "No Foie Gras for Me" Moore is a busy man these days.

Now that he's purged foie gras from the dozen or so Chicago restaurants that served the expensive delicacy, he's setting his sight on less fortunate Chicagoans, those he claims to be the champion of as a member of Chicago's City Council.

Moore has been affected by Wal-Mart Derangement Syndrome, an illness to the affliction identified by columnist and psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer.

From a 2003 Krauthammer column:

Bush Derangement Syndrome: the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.

For some people, Wal-Mart, and to a less extent Target, brings out similar symptoms to BDS for those sufferers.

This summer, Chicago's first Wal-Mart will open in the Austin neighborhood, an impoverished part of Chicago's West Side.

This story comes from not from the Wall Street Journal, but the Chicago Defender, which describes itself as "Honest. Balanced. Truthful. Unapologetically Black."

The proposed ordinance would mandate retailers occupying at least 75,000 square feet and grossing $1 billion or more in annual revenues to pay all employees $10 per hour, plus $3 per hour in benefits, if they work at least five hours per week.

The current version of the ordinance, introduced in March by Ald. Joe Moore (49th), would apply to new and existing stores. It would reportedly impact at least 35 stores currently operating in Chicago--not only large discount chains like Target and Wal-Mart, but also stores like the Nike Town on North Michigan Avenue.

"I believe it's important that we set a floor beneath which no one can drop," Moore said. "Everyone deserves to be paid a decent wage and benefits that are sufficient to support themselves and their families, and keep them out of poverty."

Community leaders there view things differently:

"The communities, especially on the West Side of Chicago, are excited about opportunities for jobs. We need jobs. Our communities are filled with the young and the old standing on corners with nothing to do, some laid off from companies that have closed down or moved away, some ex-offenders looking for a new start," said Frankie Freenie of the Nobel Neighbors Association in Humboldt Park.

Rev. Joseph Kyles of the 37th Ward Ministerial Association agrees with Freenie.

The Austin Wal-Mart will be a boon for the neighborhood. Moore, who claims to represent "the people" should know better, but of course guys like Moore never bother to ask "the people" what they really want.

For more on Ald. Joe Moore, visit the Broken Heart of Rogers Park.

A big hat tip to Bill Baar's West Side, Bill is more familiar with that part of the city than I am, and he offers his insight on this story, such as this nugget:

Drive around Austin and you'll see housing stock is in pretty good shape but the local retail is devastated. There's no local retail for Wal-Mart to put out of business. Any kind of investment can only do good for the neighborhood.

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