Archive for September, 2005

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Ceuta and Melilla
A story almost ignored by the American media, but in the headlines in Spain,
Africans die in Spanish enclave

At least five people have been killed during a mass attempt by migrants to get into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa.
“Three died on the Moroccan side of the border and two on the Spanish side,” said Spanish deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.

The BBC video link shows dozens, if not hundreds of men pouring into Melilla, the other Spanish enclave in North Africa.

The NY Times has more details

Five migrants were killed and nearly 100 injured Thursday during an attempt by hundreds of sub-Saharan Africans to cross from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by scaling the razor wire fences along the border, the Spanish government said.

The mass attempt by several hundred Africans to enter the enclave on Thursday follows a sharp increase over the last two months in the number of migrants to attempt crossing the two razor wire fences that separate Morocco from Ceuta and Spain’s other North African enclave, Melilla. Most appear to cross successfully, but many have been injured and nine have been killed, including the toll on Thursday, according to the Spanish government.

Ceuta and Melilla have become magnets for sub-Saharan Africans trying to make their way to Europe, many of them fleeing poverty or ethnic tensions in their own countries. Because the enclaves are Spanish territory, once the migrants arrive they can take advantage of the fact that borders have been virtually erased in the European Union.

Now Spanish newspaper El Pais (link in Spanish, via Barcepundit), states Al menos tres de los cinco inmigrantes muertos en Ceuta fueron tiroteados desde Marruecos. Rabat asegura que los disparos procedían de suelo español.- Zapatero y Jettu anuncian una investigación conjunta (my translation) At least three of the five immigrants that died in Ceuta were shot at from Morrocco. Rabat insists that the shots were fired from the Spanish side — Zapatero and Jettu announce a joint investigation.

Tres de los cinco inmigrantes muertos esta madrugada cuando participaban en un asalto masivo en la valla de Ceuta fueron tiroteados con armas que no se corresponden a a las usadas por las fuerzas de seguridad españolas, según fuentes de la investigación. Así lo revelan las autopsias de los dos fallecidos en territorio español y la información de que uno de los tres muertos en suelo marroquí fue disparado con postas, munición que no usan los agentes españoles, según ha podido saber ELPAIS.es
Three of the five immigrants that died this morning when taking part in a massive storming of the fence at Ceuta were shot at from weapons that do not match those used by Spanish security forces, according to the investigation. El Pais has found that the autopsies of the two men that died in Spanish territory, and information that one of the three that died in Morroccan soil, reveals that they were shot at with postas, ammunition not used by Spanish officers.

Spain had recently granted amnesty to nearly 700,000 illegal immigrants, for which

Spain was royally rapped on the knuckles for its unilateral action at a recent meeting of the interior ministers of the G5 – Europe’s five wealthiest nations.

The European Commission now calls for the European Union (EU) to strengthen legal immigration channels.

Also posted at Blogger News Network

Update Also via Barcepundit, What’s With Those Spanish Enclaves in North Africa? And what’s so special about Parsley Island?

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Friday, September 30th, 2005

The ready for his close-up prosecutor
Dan at Riehl World View finds Prosecutor Earle’s Movie Deal Is Troubling. Here’s why:

Byron York, whose article DeLay’s Prosecutor Offered “Dollars for Dismissals”: How Ronnie Earle works I linked to yesterday, has another article on prosecutor Ronnie Earle’s movie deal: Coming Soon: The Ronnie Earle Movie: The DeLay prosecutor has let a film crew follow him through the whole case

For the last two years, as he pursued the investigation that led to Wednesday’s indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Travis County, Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle has given a film crew “extraordinary access” to make a motion picture about his work on the case.

The resulting film is called The Big Buy, made by Texas filmmakers Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck. “Raymond Chandler meets Willie Nelson on the corner of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in The Big Buy, a Texas noir political detective story that chronicles what some are calling a ‘bloodless coup with corporate cash,'” reads a description of the picture on Birnbaum’s website, markbirnbaum.com. The film, according to the description, “follows maverick Austin DA Ronnie Earle’s investigation into what really happened when corporate money joined forces with relentless political ambitions to help swing the pivotal 2002 Texas elections, cementing Republican control from Austin to Washington DC.”

“We approached him [Earle], and he offered us extraordinary access to him and, to an extent, to his staff,” Birnbaum told National Review Online Thursday. “We’ve been shooting for about two years.”

Birnbaum and Schermbeck showed a work-in-progress version of The Big Buy last month at the Dallas Video Festival.

My question is, is it legal to publicize full details of an investigation prior to any charges being filed?

Yesterday I criticized DeLay’s ethics, but I agree with Dan that

If Delay violated the campaign finance laws, throw the bum out – though at this point there is ample reason to at least suspect he did not. However, to produce a movie so obviously biased according to the title and movie description has no place within our legal or political system.

As for the indictement, Attorney John Hindraker of Powerline (his emphasis) points out that one of his readers

apparently is ignorant of the elementary difference between alleging what the defendant did that was illegal, which is normally done, and pleading the evidence you will offer to prove that he did it, which is normally not done. My criticism of Earle’s indictment was not that he didn’t plead his evidence, but that he didn’t specify what, exactly, DeLay supposedly did. (The indictment does, in contrast, recite specific acts that were allegedly perfomed by the other defendants.)

You can read the indictement here.

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Uncle Fester got married

Uncle Fester in his bachelor days.


Uncle Fester’s wedding.

(hat tip Ace)

Update

The ring bearer and the best man.

Update, Friday Sept. 30
The Addams family waits at the receiving line.

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Thank you
Freedom Center Ends Quest For Home at WTC Site.

If it’s that important to have the Freedom Center, then build it elsewhere.

More from Jeff Jarvis

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

The Democratic National Committee’s comparison of George W. Bush with Bull Connor, yet another dumb move
Just read this at The Anchoress

at the time of the police dogs and firehose incidents, CONNOR WAS A MEMBER OF THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE. He was the single Democratic National Committeeman from Alabama.

In the meantime, Chuck “Where’s the TV camera” Schumer’s illegaly procured a credit report.

On the republican side, Delay’s been indicted by a prosecutor that Offered “Dollars for Dismissals”. The WSJ points out,

Our disagreement with the Majority Leader is that, as the GOP cemented itself in power, he let incumbency become more important than the principles that elected him in the first place.

Mr. DeLay browbeat his colleagues–and kept the vote open for three hours–to pass a giant new Medicare entitlement that will bedevil taxpayers and Republicans for decades. Only two weeks ago, he declared that the GOP had cut everything from the federal Leviathan that it possibly could; a week later he was back-tracking under pressure from his own supporters. His worst ethics problems–at least until yesterday–had developed because he stood by as former aides and cronies made themselves rich as influence peddlers by invoking his name.

And that was DeLay’s dumb move.

Update Roger L. Simon‘s spot-on.

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

I’ve had it both with the ACLU, and with frivolous lawsuits
Back in the olden days I strongly supported the ACLU.

The olden days are gone.

Their persecution of the Boy Scouts of America was definitely the very last drop. They also believe in defending polygamy, child pornography, and pedophiles.

The ACLU receives taxpayers’ money:

For instance, when the ACLU takes a city to court claiming a Christmas display violates the Establishment Clause, if the municipality loses, the city’s taxpayers are often forced to pay ACLU attorneys. This law now creates an incentive for the ACLU to file ever more challenges of this kind. Do you want to know why the ACLU lawyers file these ridiculous lawsuits by the dozens? Because they get paid to do it – by you.

Another way to take the financial incentive out of these suits legislatively is by passing a law that cuts back the standing of the ability to bring Establishment Clause claims. Currently, anyone who is offended by what they see, a Ten Commandments display, a manger scene, a Christmas tree or a menorah, can bring suit.

Nowhere else in litigation is it so easy to make a claim. In most other areas of the law, you need to have a personal, direct injury.

This works as an incentive to bring absurd lawsuits, whether directly funded by the ACLU or inspired by the ACLU’s exemplary bias: In the town of Las Cruces, which literally means THE CROSSES someone’s filed a lawsuit demanding the removal of the three crosses on the city’s official emblem, because

The lawsuit alleges the emblem violates the First Amendment by placing religious symbols on public property and spending public money to promote religion.

The lawsuit also accuses the city of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by requiring prospective employees to sign job applications that include a religious symbol.

Of course, one can’t leave out the “it’s all about me, me, ME!!” aspect of the issue:

Weinbaum and Boyd accuse the city of invading the privacy of their homes with government-sponsored proselytizing.

“This symbol serves no governmental purpose other than to be divisive, to alienate, and disenfranchise Weinbaum, his minor daughter and Boyd,” the lawsuit says.

I have no idea and no desire to know just how old are Weinbaum and Boyd (obviously Weinbaum’s daughter is young), but according to Wilkipedia Las Cruces was incorporated as a city in 1907. Either Weinbaum and Boyd weren’t born yet or they’re approaching Biblical seniority. Going by Weinbaum’s and Boyd’s claim, the city’s founding fathers must have named the town and adopted its official emblem for the express purpose of “alienating, and disenfranchising Weinbaum, his minor daughter and Boyd” a full ninety-eight years down the road.

Snarky comments aside, the problem is not that it’s all about Weinbaum and Boyd. The problem is that the ACLU is eroding civil society.

Readers of this blog might ask what my position is regarding Intelligent Design vs. the theory of evolution: While I oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classes, I also support a scientific analysis of the theory of evolution that would include whatever findings support or contradict said theory. To me, rigorous scientific study can be introduced at a very early age in schools. Embracing either Intelligent Design or the theory of evolution unquestioningly is wrong. Science, by definition, evolves based on the impartial analysis of facts that can be quantified and reproduced. Maintaining science in the science classroom is a top priority in any society.

If you’re a blogger, visit the Stop the ACLU. I’m joining their blogburst today, and quote them

This was a production of Stop The ACLUblogburst. Over 100 blogs are already on board. If you want to join us, just register through our portal. We will add you to our mailing list, and send you the info on how to get aboard and fight the ACLU.

Enough with the ACLU.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

The smuggled bodies of Body Worlds Tour 2 coming to Philadelphia
The Frankin Institute Science Museum will host the controversial (and if you ask me, reprehensible) Gunther Von Hagens’s Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies, from October 7, 2005 to April 23, 2006.

The primary goal of BODY WORLDS and BODY WORLDS 2 is health education. On the one hand, 200 individual specimens are used to compare healthy and diseased organs, i.e., a healthy lung with that of a smoker, to emphasize the importance of a healthy life-style. On the other hand, 25 life-like posed whole-body plastinates illustrate where in our bodies these organs are positioned and what we are: naturally fragile in a mechanized world.

Thus, the exhibitions are targeted mainly at a lay audience to open up the opportunity to better understand the human body and its functions.

Sounds interesting enough. Then, why do I say this is reprehensible? Ah, because it possibly includes the bodies of people executed by Communist China. Lost Budgie Blog has been looking into this very distinct possibility: (emphasis mine)

A Toronto Star newspaper article gloss glosses over past allegations against the show’s creator, Gunther Von Hagens, stating that he was “vindicated” by German prosecutors.

Lost Budgie’s enquiries show anything but “vindication”. On January 22, 2004, during a Body Worlds show in London, England, Von Hagens was forced to return seven corpses to China when a Chinese employee let it slip that two “fresh” executed persons of the “highest quality” were used in displays.

Von Hagens pleaded ignorance about the corpses exhibiting “head wounds” – a euphamism [sic] for “bullet holes in the skull”.
. . .
Von Hagens now lives in the Chinese city of Dalian where his company employs more than 200 people to dissect and preserve corpses. Business is booming, with the travelling shows providing only a part of the revenues derived from the sale of body parts. The company also sells whole cadavers and body parts to medical and educational institutions.

For Von Hagens to locate his business in China and to partner with the Communist Chinese government makes perfect sense – given that the Chinese Communists already sell the organs of executed Chinese for medical transplants, and use the skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to manufacture cosmetics.
. . .
UPDATE: September 28, 2005

An accomplice of Body Worlds owner Gunther Von Hagens has just been convicted in Russia of illegally smuggling corpses to Von Hagens in Germany in 2001. Dr. Vladimir Novosyolov, head of criminal pathology in Novosibirsk, falsely told relatives of the dead that their loved ones had been cremated, and then charged them for “the ashes”. He shipped fifty-six stolen bodies to von Hagens’s Institute of Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany.

Some relatives are still trying to recover their loved ones’ bodies from Von Hagens.

(More on the Russian connection here)

Lost Budgie has been banned in Communist China.

Back in 2003 a top Kyrgyz medical official was fired amid rumours that the bodies in the Body Worlds show were obtained illegally in Kyrgyzstan.

Last year, Gunther Von Hagen was fined 144,000 euros (£96,000) (approx. $170,000) for using the title Professor:

His title was awarded by a Chinese university – but the University of Heidelberg complained that he gave the impression he got it in Germany.

Michael Browning of the Palm Beach Post has more on the Chinese corpse trade.

(hat tip to Sigmund, Carl and Alfred)
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Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Irán a Irán, version 2
(for background, see version 1 here, and prior pondering)
In today’s news, Iran hails Venezuela vote against IAEA resolution

“The vote shows the depth of the two countries’ brotherly and friendly ties,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying during a telephone conversation with his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez.

The 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Saturday adopted a resolution presented by the European Union on Iran’s nuclear case by a vote of 22 to 1 with 12 abstentions. Venezuela cast the only blackball.

Hugo’s working on keeping his wholesaler happy. After all, doesn’t Iran Suggest Axis of Good? (via Hispalibertas)

“We have many friends but would like to express our special gratitude for those countries who were not led astray by the propaganda against Iran: Russia, China, Venezuela, Algeria, the South African Republic, Mexico, Tunisia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Yemen, Brazil, Sri-Lanka and Vietnam,”

In addition to the mullahs, Venezuela’s also cultivating a friendship with Batasuna, the banned political party of the Basque terrorist group ETA, which will feast Hugo and fidel at the upcoming summit in Salamanca, Spain. And let’s not forget those Sandinistas in Venezuela oil deal.

In other Venezuelan news, Venezuela is poorer as Chávez doles out nation’s oil wealth, something TBHB readers have read about.

Hugo expects to be around until 2021, but some think it’ll be more like 2030, along with his best friends

Update Isn’t it precious?

REMEMBER THAT last year US troops were disinvited for the October 12 parade in Madrid? Remember that one year before that, when Zapatero hadn’t yet gained power with the ‘push’ of the jihadists on March 11, he conspicuously refused to stand up when the Stars and Stripes was passing in front of him (“Why should I? It’s not my flag”; see this post for background).

Well, guess which countries are good for Zapatero: he’s inviting for this year’s October 12 military parade… Cuba and Venezuela!

The Spanish national holiday, October 12, commemorating Columbus’s discovery of America, will see all the Latin American countries, including Cuba and Venezuela, participate in the traditional military parade. The holiday is two days before the Ibero-American summit, to be held in Salamanca. The armies of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez will march through the streets of Madrid. In 2003, at the very same parade, then opposition leader Zapatero refused to stand up as the United States flag passed by as a protest against the Iraq war.

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Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson on academic diversity
Ivory Cower: University presidents have lost their dignity

More importantly, we have lost sight of what university presidents are supposed to be. Their first allegiance ought to be to honesty and truth, not campus orthodoxy masquerading as intellectual bravery amid a supposedly reactionary society. In a world of intellectual integrity, Robert Birgeneau would ask, “Why are Asians excelling, and what can Berkeley do to encourage emulation of their success by other ethnic groups?” Denice Denton might wonder whether open hiring, monitored by affirmative action officers, applies to university staff or only those who are not associates of the president. President Hoffman would decry Ward Churchill’s crass behavior and order a complete review of affirmative action and the politicized nature of hiring, retention, and tenure practices at Colorado. And Larry Summers? In the old world of the campus, he would defend free inquiry and expression, and remind faculty that all questions are up for discussion at Harvard. And if self-appointed censors wished to fire him for that, then he would dare them to go ahead and try.

The signs of erosion on our campuses are undeniable, whether we examine declining test scores, spiraling costs, or college graduates’ ignorance of basic facts and ideas. In response, our academic leadership is not talking about a more competitive curriculum, higher standards of academic accomplishment, or the critical need freely to debate important issues. Instead, it remains obsessed with a racial, ideological, and sexual spoils system called “diversity.” Even as the airline industry was deregulated in the 1970s, and Wall Street now has come under long-overdue scrutiny, it is time for Americans, if we are to ensure our privileged future, to re-examine our era’s politicized university.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Will there ever come a time when the United States and the international community concludes that forcing Israel into making unilateral concessions is not a prescription for peace, but a guarantee of more war?
asks Cal Thomas

Here’s a news item that has gone ignored, Hamas releases video of hostage

Palestinian militant group Hamas has released a video of a bound and blindfolded Israeli businessman it says it kidnapped and later killed.
The body of 51-year-old Sasson Nuriel, who vanished last week, was found near Ramallah in the West Bank on Monday.

Hamas said it had planned to trade him for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, but decided to kill him after Israel began raids in the West Bank

Instead, we hear that the Israeli escalation and assassinations represented a grave jeopardy for the peace process and the region