Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Phone Ring Tone Set to Top U.K. Charts

A Cell-Phone Ring Tone appeared set to top the British singles chart Sunday, outselling the new single by the band Coldplay by nearly four to one, a music retailer said. "Crazy Frog Axel F," a ring tone based on the sound of a revving Swedish mo-ped, is the first tune being used on mobile phones to cross into mainstream music charts, said Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV, the British music retailing chain. Coldplay had hoped to go straight to No. 1 (HA, HA!) on this Sunday's British singles chart with its new song, "Speed of Sound." But by Saturday, it appeared that the ring tone - which is available for digital download and as a compact disc single - would prevail, said Castaldo. The ring tone was expected to replace the Oasis tune "Lyla" as the No. 1 hit on the list released Sunday by the Official UK Charts Co. The weekly singles chart, which has been released since 1952, is based on the sales of 5,600 retail shops across Britain.
While "Crazy Frog" and other ring tones do not appear to be much of a hit among adults, so many youngsters are personalizing the sound of their cell phones that such digital music could change world music markets. "Music purists might not be too happy at the prospect of the "Crazy Frog" outselling Coldplay, but it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise when you consider its huge novelty appeal and the massive amount of exposure it is currently getting," (not to mention Coldplay sucks) said Castaldo. The ring tone is based on a song that was recorded in Sweden nearly a decade ago by 17-year-old Daniel Malmedahl, using the high pitched revving of a two-stroke motorcycle, The International Herald Tribune reported Saturday.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Disgusting Child Rapist On The Loose

Ohio lawyer John Dallas Lockhart is accused of Raping A 4-Month-Old Infant and photographing himself during the heinous act — then going on the lam and vanishing in Manhattan, where he's feared to be still preying on little kids, The Post has learned. "He is a very real and dangerous threat to young children," Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Cathy Jones said of John Dallas Lockhart, 36. "We believe he is still in the New York area. We are convinced he is continuing his sexual assaults." Chillingly, Lockhart — a lawyer who records show is the son-in-law of a former Ohio state senator — has young kids, a son, 4, and daughter, 2. His wife, Laurie, is divorcing him. The accused pedophile landed on the marshal's 15 Most Wanted list — reserved for the nation's worst offenders — after he fled his Ohio home in August, steps ahead of cops. They seized his home computer and found sickening pictures of the baby rape among more than 100 porn photos, authorities said. Facing possible life in prison, Lockhart hopped a Greyhound to New York. "What makes him particularly dangerous," said Jones, "is that he isn't what most people think of when they think 'pedophile.' "He's the 'guy next-door' type. He could fit in anywhere, just blend in, without attracting attention. "Our concern is that he may have set up an entire new life — he may have charmed a woman into taking him in." Lockhart's pedophilia was uncovered when cops investigating fraud in his law practice seized his computer and discovered the detestable photos, authorities said. Akron police got a warrant, but Lockhart — who had no previous criminal record — had already fled. He stayed briefly with a law-school pal in New York, cops said. Although he "always said he wanted to go somewhere warm," Jones said, Lockhart has little money, and New York offers access to the bondage and S&M lifestyle he allegedly enjoys. Records show Lockhart was deeply in debt — with foreclosure and bankruptcy actions against him. "He could easily be working in a bar in a fetish or gay club," Jones said. "New York is an easy place to disappear. But anyone who knows where he is should understand he needs to be apprehended." Anyone with information is urged to call the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force at (866) 4-WANTED.

Lowest Of The Low, Flags Stolen From Fort Snelling National Cemetery

At the Avenue of Flags at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery, red, white and blue fills the streets. Beneath those colors is Edouarda and Jean Opatrna, whose husband and father was buried here. Not too far from his gravesite, 13 flags mysteriously disappeared Friday night.
“I think it’s a disgrace and I just hope and pray they find the people that took these flags,” Edouarda said. “After all, it shows very much disrespect for these veterans that fought for our country.” And each one of the flags had a special significance. “The Avenue of Flags is made up of donated casket flags,” said Don Emond, assistant director of the Fort Snelling National Cemetery. “When someone dies, a veteran dies, their casket has a 5 ½ by 9-foot flag and the families donate that for the Avenue of Flags.” Emond said he could not understand why anyone would take Old Glory from a very special place. “I am mad,” he said. “I can’t understand why anyone would do it, especially this weekend, our busiest weekend.” In the meantime, the flags were replaced. Fort Snelling is one of several national cemeteries to have flags stolen. News coverage prompted the return of flags in North Carolina and Denver. “Be anonymous and just return it,” Edouarda said, “Get the guilt off your conscience.
Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Sunday, May 29, 2005

US Deploying Stealth Fighters To South Korea

The Pentagon is deploying 15 F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters and 250 airmen this week from its air force base in New Mexico in the U.S. to the Korean Peninsula, the U.S Forces Korea (USFK) said Wednesday.
The 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico Monday announced the deployment of about 250 air crew and support personnel, along with the stealths, and the USFK said. The F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters are expected to be deployed to either U.S. air bases in Osan or Kunsan, said Kim Yong-kyu, a public relations official at the USFK. ``The current deployment of the stealths is not related to the current situation surrounding Pyongyang's nuclear threat,'' Kim quoted USFK spokeswoman MaryAnn Cummings as saying. ``This is a routine deployment of a U.S. air force unit for training and familiarization.'' However, the U.S. move drew attention as it came as tensions are continuing to escalate over the communist regime's possible nuclear test, worsening prospects of an early resumption of the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear weapons program. ``The deployment is part of an ongoing measure to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence in the region,'' said a news release from the air force base. Speculations over a possible contingency plan against the North by the U.S. have arisen since the U.S. military is beefing up its military capabilities in the Pacific region, by repositioning its sophisticated fighter jets and Navy vessels.
B-2 Spirit stealth bombers
Last February, the U.S. deployed B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and F-15E fighter jets in Guam, the range to strike North Korea's nuclear facilities in case of an emergency, according to the Stars and Stripes, a U.S. army newspaper published in Seoul.
F-15E fighter jet
The Pentagon also plans to introduce two Aegis-equipped warships in Japan this summer. Currently, the U.S. military runs five Aegis-equipped vessels in the East Sea. ``The U.S. government doesn't have intention to attack North Korea and the military beef-up in the Pacific region is not related to the nuclear issue,'' a high-ranking USFK official said in a meeting with reporters earlier this month. ``But we always prepare for the worst-case scenario.'' About 24 stealths and 300 airmen were deployed from Holloman to Kunsan in North Cholla Province last summer, as part of a U.S. military training program on a rotation basis. About 32,500 U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea as a deterrence against North Korea.
F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter

Friday, May 27, 2005

Zarqawi Shot in Lung

Insurgents said Wednesday in interviews and statements on the Internet that the leader of the group al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was struggling with a gunshot wound to the lung. One of Zarqawi's commanders said the Jordanian guerrilla was receiving oxygen, heightening suspicion that the groundwork was being laid for an announcement of his replacement or death. In the volatile western province of Anbar, meanwhile, U.S. Marines clashed with gunmen in their second major offensive there this month. A combined U.S. and Iraqi force of roughly 1,000 troops killed 10 insurgents as it began a sweep of Haditha, the U.S. military said. The offensive followed an increase in insurgent attacks on Marines posted at a dam near that small city, 125 miles northwest of Baghdad. Insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi was reportedly wounded in an ambush over the weekend. Among the 10 dead fighters was a man identified by residents as a cleric who was shot as he fired on troops with an AK-47 assault rifle, the U.S. military said in a statement. On the second day of reporting about Zarqawi's condition, insurgents offered no tangible evidence that he had suffered a potentially fatal wound. Some of Zarqawi's rank-and-file fighters and one of his top lieutenants have said he was wounded in an ambush by U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces over the weekend around the western city of Ramadi. A U.S. military official, Lt. Col. David Lapan, said Wednesday that he had found no record of such an ambush. The insurgents' accounts suggested that steady U.S. and Iraqi military pressure was taking a toll on Zarqawi's group. In an interview Tuesday, the Zarqawi lieutenant, Abu Karrar, said his group was weighing both foreigners and Iraqis as possible successors to Zarqawi if he died. Zarqawi has a $25 million bounty on his head, and he is the United States' most-wanted man in Iraq. He is blamed for instigating many of the beheadings, suicide bombings and other deadly insurgent attacks. U.S. and Iraqi forces say they have captured or killed about two dozen top-ranking members of Zarqawi's network in recent months.
Insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi was reportedly wounded in an ambush over the weekend.

Where Are The Dead Afghans?

Mum's the word from official sources on victims of riots supposedly sparked by Newsweek story

Were 15 to 18 people really killed in Afghan riots sparked by Newsweek's now discredited and retracted story about a Quran being flushed down the toilet by U.S. military interrogators in Guantanamo Bay? That claim, reported as fact by hundreds of news agencies over the last week, is being questioned in a report in a online intelligence newsletter. For more than a week, the Newsweek story has dominated international headlines, but the claim that up to 18 people were killed in riots in Afghanistan in connection with the release of the story remains unsubstantiated. From the beginning, Newsweek's Quran-in-the-toilet "scoop" has been a story with many twists. First, Newsweek's 10-sentence blurb in the May 9 edition claimed multiple U.S. government sources were behind the allegation that a Quran was flushed down the toilet during an interrogation of a suspected terrorist at Guantanamo Bay. Then it turned out Newsweek had only one source – who later denied being able to back up the story. Then there were riots in Afghanistan, the Far East and the Palestinian Authority – all, the international media reported, connected to the Newsweek story.
Its O.K. for islamists Desecrate national symbols
Later, many who had first-hand knowledge of the disturbances said they were planned months in advance and had little or no connection to the Newsweek story. But now there's a new twist. Virtually every major news agency in the world has reported without verification that between 15 and 18 Afghanis were killed in the riots. There's just one problem. There is no more evidence for these deaths than there is that a U.S. interrogator flushed a Quran down the toilet. Not a single name of even one victim has been released. No details of the circumstances of the riots were released from any official sources – either U.S. or Afghan. Who were these victims? Were they rioters killed by police or military forces? Were they innocent victims attacked by fanatics? Were they Afghanis? Were they relief workers? Reporters have examined every English-language news story about these deaths through Lexis Nexis. News agencies scoured the Internet, including foreign and non-English-language news sources for any details of these deaths. And reporters have queried both U.S. and Afghan official sources for any details about these alleged deaths. No U.S. officials contacted can provide any corroboration for any deaths. And Afghan officials uniformly clam up with apprehension at the mere asking of questions. "I have no comment," said one official at the Afghan embassy in Washington who asked not to be identified. When told he wasn't being asked for a comment, just any public information about the casualties in what has become the biggest international news story, he said: "I cannot say anything." "There should be an investigation," he said. "I cannot say any more. Please do not quote me. This is very sensitive." Now, some sources inside the U.S. government are saying off the record that they believe the death toll may have been deliberately exaggerated by Islamists – perhaps even some Afghan government officials – who want to make a point about the grievous nature of the supposed Quran desecration.
Demonstrations were continuing throughout the last week – with protesters lifting photos of Osama bin Laden and denouncing President Bush – even after Newsweek retracted the story. Some participants waved signs including one marked: "Desecrate today and see another 9/11 tomorrow", referring to the 2001 terrorist bombings in New York and Washington. A small group of protesters also set fire to an American flag and a wooden cross, before organizers appealed for calm. One of the event organizers, calling itself Supporters Of Sharia, claimed that U.S. desecration of the Quran happened all over the world, despite the retraction of a report describing such abuse taking place at Guantanamo Bay.
Its O.K. when islamists Desecrate religious symbols

Danica Patrick, The Sexy Starlet Of The Indy 500

This Sunday, a young woman will be among the favorites in the Indianapolis 500-mile race. Danica Patrick will be the only woman racing, and has a good chance of winning; She has consistently posted some of the fastest practice times at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Danica Patrick hopes to be the first woman to ever win the Indianapolis 500. She says, "And I think I was just prepared from the time I was born." At twelve, Danica was already racing, and winning, at the local go-cart track. Even then, Ed Hinton, a Chicago Tribune reporter, noticed Danica's intensity. That same intensity made Danica return to the racing after she was involved in a crash earlier this year.
And Danica is confident she can be the first woman to win the Indy 500. "I wouldn't put my life on the line, if I didn't feel like I could win," says Danica. In recent years, the Indy 500 has been losing its audience to NASCAR stock car racing, which has become more popular with racing fans. Ken Ungar, of the Indy Racing League, hopes that Danica will bring in more male fans. He says, "The demographic that we are seeking to develop, is males 18 to 34." If they like their race drivers young, attractive and female, Indy may have a winner.
Danica Patrick

Tennessee Lawmakers Arrested

Federal officials arrest four Tennessee legislators in Nashville this morning for extortion violations. The legislators were arrested on sealed indictments handed down by a federal grand jury in Memphis. Agents handcuffed Senator Ward Crutchfield, a democrat from Chattanooga, Senator John Ford, a Memphis democrat, Senator Kathryn Bowers, also a democrat from Memphis, and Representative Chris Newton, a republican from Cleveland. Former Memphis Senator Roscoe Dixon, who now works for the Shelby County mayor's office was also taken into custody. Sources say there may be additional arrests.
NOTE TO Representative Chris Newton. Its never a good idea to do what the democrats are doing! They will just drag you down with them.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

It's Official: Kim Jong-Il Is Too Short

North Korea's Kim Jong Il has grown in stature, thanks to a pair of platform shoes that increased the Dear Leader's height by about 12cm. The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper published a recently obtained photograph of a smiling Mr Kim that shows him wearing a pair of platform shoes with heels about 10 cm-12 cm high. Mr Kim's actual height is a tightly guarded secret and Pyongyang seldom releases photographs that show his shoes. He is estimated to stand between 155 cm and 165 cm tall in his stockinged feet. The photo published was taken in 2002 during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A North Korea analyst said that Mr Kim liked to boost his height with platform shoes during his rare meetings with world leaders. "Platform shoes are an essential item for Kim Jong Il who fears being ignored when he meets outside leaders and Westerners", said Sohn Kwang-joo, chief editor of the Daily NK, a website that follows North Korean news. "What would North Koreans think if their leader was such a short man? That's why Kim feels he deserves to wear platform shoes, even if they kill his ankles," he said.
Napoleon Complex

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

al-Qa'eda Leader Zarqawi Wounded

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qa'eda leader in Iraq, has been wounded, according to a posting on a website linked to the terror group. A statement on the website of the Al-Qa'eda Organistion for Holy War called on followers to pray for Zarqawi's recovery. The statement, posted by the group's media coordinator, Abu Maysarah al-Iraqi, said: "Let the near and far know that the injury of our leader is an honor,(and it was a honor for us to cause that injury) and a cause to close in on the enemies of God, and a reason to increase the attacks against them." It's authenticity could not be verified but there have been rumours in the last few weeks that troops were closing in on Zarqawi. Zarqawi, a Jordanian Islamist, is the most wanted terror suspect in Iraq and leads the group that has claimed responsibility for kidnapping and killing several western hostages. It is thought that Zarqawi himself carried out the beheading of three hostages, including Briton Kenneth Bigley. Last month, American troops came close to capturing him after chasing a truck in which he was travelling. They managed to seize his laptop computer but he escaped. A $25 million (£13.3 million) bounty remains on his head.
The Terrorist Zarqawi

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

7 Republican Senators Drop To Drop To Their Knees And French Kiss Democrats Asses

Fourteen moderate US senators reached a compromise over President George W. Bush's stalled judicial nominees on Monday, thus averting a showdown Tuesday over the issue.
Seven Democrats and seven Republicans signed a "memorandum of understanding," declaring that filibusters against judicial nominees will only be used in the future "under extraordinary circumstances." "We have reached an agreement to try to avert a crisis in the United States Senate and pull the institution back from a precipice that would have had, in the view of all 14 of us, lasting impact, damaging impact on the institution," Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona, said. Under the compromise, Democrats agreed to vote for cloture, or an end to debate, for three judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown,William Pryor and Priscilla Owen. The group made no commitment to voting for or against the filibuster on two nominees, William Myers and Henry Saad. The Republicans, for their parts, said they would oppose any attempt to make changes in the application of filibuster rules.
Republicans have threatened to strip Democrats of their right to filibuster, or make an extended debate for delaying legislative action. The White House welcomed the agreement, calling it "progress." Spokesman Scott McClellan said the White House would continue working to push for an up-or-down vote on all Bush's nominees. The Senate will vote Tuesday on Owen, a Texas Supreme Court justice and one of seven nominees Bush re-nominated in his second term, to a seat on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats blocked 10 of Bush's 218 nominees in his first term by using filibuster. Republicans had accused Democrats of unprecedented obstruction, but Democrats said the nominees were too conservative to decide on social and cultural issues.
John McCain a wolf in sheep's clothing

Russian Military Chief Says North Korea Must Be Nuclear-Free

Russia's military chief, General Yuri Baluyevsky, has reiterated international calls that North Korea must remain free of nuclear weapons. Mr. Baluyevsky spoke Monday during a meeting in Moscow with his Japanese counterpart, visiting Military Chief General Hajime Massaki. He said it is the international community's duty to prevent any nuclear tests on the Korean peninsula. On Sunday, North Korea confirmed a meeting with U.S. officials held earlier this month. The statement came days after U.S. officials announced they held a rare meeting with North Korean authorities at United Nations headquarters in New York, to urge Pyongyang to return to talks on ending its nuclear weapons program. South Korea, China, Russia and Japan have also been calling on North Korea to re-join the six-nation talks.
North Korea was warned by a Chinese official not to pursue its nuclear program, a spokesman for South Korea's main opposition party said Monday. "Wang Jiarui said that Beijing's foreign policy toward the Korean Peninsula remains unchanged, and this entails a nuclear-free, stable region," Grand National Party (GNP) spokeswoman Chun Yu-ok told reporters. Wang is head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Monday, May 23, 2005


The Spice Girls are set to reform for a special ten-year reunion show.
The five girls - Geri Halliwell, Mel C, Emma Bunton, Victoria Beckham and Mel B - have finally put their differences aside and will come together next year for the spectacular concert, rumoured to be at the rebuilt Wembley football stadium, in London. Mel B, formerly known as Scary Spice, let slip about the proposed concert during a television interview. She said: "Hopefully it will go ahead next year if we can get everything sorted and together." If it goes ahead, it will be the first time all five members have been together on stage since Geri left in 1998 - which sparked the beginning of the end for the outrageous girl group. Mel B says she has already been in discussions with all the other girls, except Victoria, about organising the show and is confident it will go ahead. She explained: "Emma and Melanie have been to visit me and I'm going to be having tea with Geri very soon. "I haven't seen Victoria because I've been working but everything is cool on that front."
You thought you'd never see them again, but you were wrong. Now it is decided that the Spice Girls are to make a comeback. The girls are going to head out on a world tour with all the original members, including Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell. Scary Spice, Melanie Brown, gave the news to GMTV last night. In addition to the tour, Spice Girls are to release a ‘Best of' album. The tour is also said to ensure the girls a large paycheck.

Mideast Water Shortage Could Fuel Political Tensions

The Middle East is faced with the prospect of a serious water crisis that could lead to political tensions and hamper prosperity, experts told a session of a World Economic Forum this week-end. “We are not secure about water supplies. Supplies are simply not enough ... This is a scary issue,” Hazem Nasser, former Jordanian water and irrigation minister told the session. He said that with the current population growth rate in the Arab world, the picture looks even more gloomier. “In 1950, the Arab population was 75 million. In 2,000, it was 300 million, and is expected to grow to 600 million by 2025.” He said the deficit of water in the region was 30 billion cubic meters (approximately 7.95 trillion imperial gallons) last year and is expected to grow to 175 billion cubic meters (46 trillion gallons) in 2025. “Most of the countries in the region have exhausted their water resources,” he said, adding the only hope is costly desalination of sea water. With new technology advances, desalination costs have dropped to 53 cents per cubic meter from two dollars a few years ago, Naser said. But the cost has now increased again due to skyrocketing oil prices. He said a proposed project to link the Red Sea to the Dead Sea with a canal is “an excellent platform for stability” as it can secure sufficient water supplies to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Avishay Braverman, president of Ben-Gurion University in Israel, said current shortages in those three areas amount to 3.5 billion cubic meters (920 billion gallons) annually. “You have two options, either you import water or desalinate, and I say desalinate,” he said. He said water shortages should not be used as a pretext for war because “investment needed for desalination of sea water for 40 years equals spending on defense for one year.” The experts warned that Dead Sea level has dropped from 392 meters (1,286 feet) below sea level a few years ago to 416 meters (1,365 feet) now. They called for quick solutions.
The Great Lakes from space, A lot of fresh water here!

Hong Kong, A Ray Of Hope

A watchdog human rights agency has condemned the Hong Kong government for dragging its heels in enacting civil rights for gays and lesbians. In a report to the government Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor says that the semi-automatons city state is lagging behind the rest of the world. "Hong Kong's poor standing on the issue of sexual orientation necessitates legal reform," the report's author, Holning Lau told reporters. In Hong Kong the age of consent for heterosexual sex is 16 but for gays it is 21. Anyone convicted of heterosexual sex with a minor is subject to five years in prison. But, those convicted of gay sex face life imprisonment. The report also criticizes the government for not have having hate crimes laws to protect gays or human rights provisions to protect in the areas of employment and housing.
Hong Kong

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Afleet Alex Wins Preakness Despite Scary Stumble

Afleet Alex won by 4 3/4 lengths, marking the fifth straight year the Preakness favorite won.

Preakness Finish

1. Afleet Alex ~ WIN
2. Scrappy T ~ PLACE
3. Giacomo ~ SHOW

4. Sun King
5. High Limit
6. Noble Causeway
7. Greeley's Galaxy
8. Malibu Moonshine
9. Closing Argument
10. High Fly
11. Hal's Image
12. Wilko
13. Galloping Grocer
14. Going Wild

In a miraculous recovery, Afleet Alex kept his balance after being knocked to his knees by Scrappy T at the top of the stretch and won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo finished third, ending his bid to attempt a Triple Crown try in the Belmont Stakes. The frightening scene occurred as a full field of 14 3-year-olds turned for home. Scrappy T, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, went wide off the turn as the jockey was whipping left-handed, and the gelding drifted into the path of Afleet Alex, who was just behind.


The field for Saturday's 130th Preakness Stakes:

PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds,
1, Malibu Moonshine, Hamilton, Leatherbury, 20-1
2, High Fly, Bailey, Zito, 9-2
3, Noble Causeway, Stevens, Zito, 10-1
4, Greeley's Galaxy, Flores, Stute, 15-1
5, Scrappy T, Dominguez, Bailes, 20-1
6, Hal's Image, Santos B., Rose, 50-1
7, Closing Argument, Velasquez, McLaughlin, 5-1
8, Galloping Grocer, Bravo, Schettino, 30-1
9, Wilko, Nakatani, Dollase, 10-1
10, Sun King, Bejarano, Zito, 15-1
11, High Limit, Prado, Frankel, 12-1
12, Afleet Alex, J. Rose, Richey, 5-2
13, Giacomo, Smith, Shirreffs, 6-1
14, Going Wild, Albarado, Lukas, 30-1


WIN - Giacomo, Smith, Shirreffs, 6-1
PLACE - Closing Argument, Velasquez, McLaughlin, 5-1
SHOW - Afleet Alex, J. Rose, Richey, 5-2

North Korea Warns Japan, Sanctions Would Be Tantamount To A Declaration Of War

North Korea said on Friday that its relations with Japan were inching toward a 'dangerous phase of explosion' and reiterated that Tokyo imposing economic sanctions would be tantamount to a declaration of war.
Public anger in Japan over Pyongyang's abduction of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s combined with concern over its nuclear arms programmes have led to calls for sanctions against the reclusive communist state. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, however, has been cautious about Tokyo taking that step unless the United States and other countries also act. 'The DPRK (North Korea) clearly stated more than once that it would regard any sanctions against it as a declaration of war,' said a commentary in the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried by Pyongyang's KCNA news agency. 'Nevertheless, the Japanese reactionaries are contemplating the application of economic sanctions against the DPRK,' the commentary said. 'The hostile relations between the two countries are now inching close to the dangerous phase of explosion. 'Under this situation the DPRK is left with no option but to take a decisive counter-measure. The army and the people of the DPRK value its sovereignty as their life and soul and will never allow anyone to infringe upon it,' it added. With concern mounting that Pyongyang may conduct an underground test of a nuclear device, and with six-party talks on its nuclear programme stalled for nearly a year, pressure has been increasing on the United States to open dialogue with the North. Washington and Tokyo, for their part, have made clear that patience was wearing thin and that they would consider taking the matter to the U.N. Security Council, a prelude to possible economic sanctions, if Pyongyang continued to drag its feet. The six-party talks comprise the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia.
North Korea says Japan ties near 'dangerous phase'

Friday, May 20, 2005

I See London, I See France, I See Saddam Hussein's Underpants

He was once the world’s most feared despot with the blood of innocent thousands on his murderous hands. Now Saddam Hussein is reduced to shuffling around his prison compound in his underpants and washing his OWN dirty socks in a simple bowl.

Whizzinator Sidelined For The Season

Minnesota Viking, Onterrio Smith
Teammates of Minnesota Vikings Onterrio Smith said the running back has been suspended for a year. The team would not confirm Smith’s suspension, but said Smith will be held out of the rest of developmental camp, which runs through mid-June. "He's been excused from the rest of the off-season program and he'll be gone indefinitely," coach Mike Tice said Thursday. "I really can't speak about any reasons why or when he'll be back. It's in the league's hands. We'll leave it at that." The team would not officially confirm if Smith was out for training camp, which begins at the end of July. The reason for Smith's suspension was not immediately released. Smith, 24, rushed for 579 yards as a rookie and led the Vikings last season with 544 yards. Smith spent part of the 2004 season on the bench, serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In the summer of 2004, Smith tested positive for marijuana. At the time, Smith was in the league’s substance-abuse program for at least one other previous positive test. In April 2005, Smith was detained at the Minneapolis/ St. Paul International Airport with a device called “The Original Whizzinator.” Smith reportedly told police the device is used “for making a clean urine test.”
The Original Whizzinator

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Minnesota House Votes To Reinstate Gun Bill

A bill allowing more law-abiding Minnesotans to legally carry a handgun easily passed the House on Wednesday and now goes to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said he will sign it. The Republican-controlled House voted 86-47 to reinstate the conceal-carry law, which has been overturned by the courts. The 2003 law allowed adults with a clean record, no mental illness and proper training to get a permit to carry a gun. After the courts struck down the law, citing the procedure by which it was passed, the state reverted to a more restrictive system where sheriffs and police chiefs had more authority to refuse a permit application. Last week, the DFL-controlled Senate voted 44-21 for identical legislation reinstating the law. That means the House and Senate versions won't have to be reconciled and the bill goes straight to Pawlenty's desk. "This right to own guns is extremely important to the people I represent," said Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji. "This is a fundamental civil right that people in Minnesota expect." The vote came the day after all 134 House members received an e-mail threatening them if they didn't support the legislation. The message seemed aimed at 55 DFL lawmakers who either voted against the bill in 2003 or had no voting record on the gun permitting issue. Capitol security officers have said the e-mail appeared to be a hoax, and were investigating. The debate got underway after Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, asked her colleagues to observe a moment of silence for Billy Walsh, a bouncer shot outside a Minneapolis night club last week. The man charged in the shooting, Zachary Ourada, is believed to be the first permit holder charged with murder since the 2003 permit-to-carry law took effect. More than 25,000 people got five-year handgun permits after the 2003 law took effect and before it was suspended by a Ramsey County judge's ruling. Backers said the increase in permits didn't lead to significant problems. "More people have been injured by light rail than the conceal-carry bill," Pawlenty said on a Minnesota Public Radio call-in show before the vote. "If you just look at the statistical evidence, it hasn't caused any aberrational problems." Democratic opponents of the bill held a news conference in which a Minneapolis bartender who attended Walsh's funeral Tuesday said he doesn't think people should be allowed to carry concealed weapons. "I would say after this incident, no bartender would be for this," said James Snyder, who works at the Times Bar and Cafe, across the street from the site of the shooting. "We're hollow and afraid." It's unfair to blame a gun permit for Walsh's shooting, said Joe Olson, president of Concealed Carry Reform Now, the group that fought hardest for passage of the 2003 gun law. "The guy decided to be a murderer. His permit had nothing to do with it," Olson said. "My heart goes out to the family of Mr. Walsh." Opponents predicted the gun legislation will face more court challenges because it doesn't ban weapons in churches and other religious buildings. Instead, those institutions would have to post signs prohibiting guns or verbally tell visitors that guns aren't allowed. Lawmakers also defeated attempts to ban guns from sports stadiums and movie theaters and to allow schools to banish guns kept in the trunk of a vehicle from their property. State law bans guns on school grounds, but not if they're stored in a trunk. The bill passed by the Legislature is close to the original 2003 law, but it allows establishments to ban guns by putting up signs or telling visitors guns aren't allowed. Under the old law, they had to do both. The gun law would take effect immediately if Pawlenty signs it.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty

Pawlenty Plans To Veto Gas Tax Hike

Senators dared Gov. Tim Pawlenty to make good on his no-new-tax pledge by approving a road-funding bill Wednesday with a dime-a-gallon gas tax increase. The bill -- passed 36-31 -- was previously adopted by the House and now goes to Pawlenty. It's the first time since he took office in 2003 that a bill raising a state tax has hit his desk. The Republican governor said he'll veto it. If it were to become law, the bill would infuse $7.3 billion into road construction and mass transit operation over the next decade through a combination of revenue sources that includes the gas tax. If it's shot down, it would leave legislators little time to come up with an alternative before they adjourn May 23. "I've told them for months that I'll veto a bill if it directly has a gas tax increase in it," Pawlenty said of lawmakers. "If they're going to send it up to me, send it up to me and let me veto it so we can get back to work on a bill that will pass, and we'll take it from there," Pawlenty said.
Minnesota State Capitol

Indonesia And Philippines Team Up To Free Hostages

A previously unknown Filipino militant group has issued a threat to execute one of the three Indonesian hostages of a Sandakan-registered tugboat if their demands are not met. Calling itself Jammi al-Islamiah Southern Mindanao, the group has given today as the deadline to hand over a RM3mil ransom for the release of Bonggaya 91 skipper Resmiadi, 31, and seamen Erikson Hutagol, 23, and Yamin Labuso, 26. This ultimatum was sent on Monday to Rudy Setiawan, the Indonesian consulate’s police liaison officer here. “We have informed Jakarta and our embassy in Manila as well as the Philippine and Malaysian authorities and the tugboat owner of the ultimatum,” consul Chairul S. Natadisastra told The Star yesterday. He said that two Filipino negotiators in Tawi Tawi and Zamboanga City were in contact with the armed group that was believed to be holding the hostages in one of the 36 chain of Tawi Tawi islands in southern Philippines. The consulate received several SMS in the last two weeks since the three men were kidnapped off Pulau Mataking on March 30. Initially the group, believed to be a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, had asked that a particular cell phone number be reloaded with airtime to keep communications open. The group, purportedly led by Abu Ali and Abu Asad, also requested a camcorder, batteries, four tapes, medicine and food. Chairul said the group admitted that they were targeting Malaysian crewmen when they raided the tugboat. “Through the emissaries, an ordinary camera, medicine, food and clothing were sent to them some time in the middle of last month,” he said, adding that one of the hostages was probably down with malaria. Chairul said the group had questioned why Jemaah Islamiah leader Abu Bakar Bashir was arrested by Indonesia and why Malaysia had deported MNLF leader Nur Misuari who is now in a Manila prison. Later, the group demanded RM3mil for “board and lodging”, a Filipino euphemism for ransom. “We (Indonesia), like Malaysia and the Philippines, have a policy of no ransom payment,” Chairul said, adding that tugboat owner Syarikat Pengakutan Bonggaya Sdn Bhd was aware of the demands. The Malaysian police have also sought the assistance of Manila to secure the release of the hostages.
Chairul: 'Two Filipino negotiators are in contact with the armed group'

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Saint Paul's Will Grigsby Wins World IBF Title

Will Grigsby boxes out of St. Paul. Last weekend, he won a World Title for the third time, easily outpointing Victor Burgos for the IBF Flyweight Championship. The fight was on the undercard of the Winky Wright-Felix Trinidad pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Grigsby, 35, didn't fight for 29 months -- June 2002 to November '04 -- because of legal problems. He spent several months in jail because of charges of domestic abuse and involvement in pit-bull fighting. "This means more to me than I can explain," Grigsby was quoted as saying after the fight. "I felt a little rusty ... I'll be better next time."
Trainer Dennis Presley and new International Boxing Federation junior flyweight champ Will Grigsby. Grigsby's goal? Make a little money and open a funeral parlor in the old St. Paul neighborhood. But first he hopes to unify the title: "I want to know that I'm the baddest man out here at this weight."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

President George W. Bush Helps Russian President Vladimir Putin With His Directv

South Koreans: Anti-Americanism Debate

The South Korean Embassy in Washington is stepping up efforts to correct what it determines to be misunderstanding in mainstream U.S. society about anti-Americanism among Koreans.
This move is known to have been spurred by a Seoul-datelined Washington Post story last week which indicated South Koreans regard the United States as "most threatening" to their country, based on the result of a public opinion survey. The Post quoted a survey report by Research & Research, a leading pollster here, which showed 39 percent of South Koreans picked the United States while 33 percent chose North Korea in answer to the question, "Which country is the most threatening to South Korea?" The newspaper said Washington's efforts to isolate North Korea over the nuclear standoff have failed as its business ties with China, Russia and South Korea have boomed in the past few years - particularly in South Korea, where public sentiment seems to be tilting toward its northern neighbor away from the ally which has protected it for half a century with the stationing on Korean soil of a sizeable military force. Anti-Americanism, or the American perception of anti-Americanism, seems to be a worthy subject for the staff of the Korean Embassy to take up at this time when the durability of the alliance between Seoul and Washington is being intensely reviewed by political and academic circles in both countries. The embassy began by questioning the adequacy of the survey result which it claimed was outdated. The embassy pointed out that the survey quoted by the Washington Post was in fact conducted in January 2004. When the research institute asked the same question of the Korean public in January this year, it had different answers: Japan was top with 37.1 percent, followed by North Korea with 28.6 percent, the United States with 18.5 percent and China with 11.9 percent. R&R's more recent poll, taken in April, found 62.2 percent of South Koreans picked the United States as the "primary country for security cooperation."
New Ambassador to Washington Hong Suk-hyun notes anti-Americanism is evident among South Korea's so-called "386 generation," the main actors in the current political scenes, but he finds the origin of the trend in the U.S. government's neglect on the democratization process in this country in the 1980s. The former newspaper publisher told an American audience last week that Washington's "acquiescence" to the bloody military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Gwangju City in May 1980 turned politically conscious young Koreans against the United States. And, their burgeoning anti-American sentiment was hardened when Chun Doo-hwan became the first foreign guest invited to the White House after the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, Hong recalled.
It is reassuring that our diplomats in Washington are positively tackling the problem of anti-Americanism - gauging its depth and examining its root cause - to help the U.S. public better understand the true nature of the public antipathy here toward our long-standing ally. The usual explanation citing "rising national pride" and "absence of appreciation for protection since the war" is being replaced by appeal for the sharing of responsibility for any obstacles to the alliance. Approaching the halfway point in its tenure, the administration of President Roh Moo-hyun needs to know that the best way to correct any misconception among Americans is to clarify its own attitude toward the United States. Many suspect that top administration leaders have rather maintained an ambiguity on this question perhaps in consideration of the changing sentiment in the electorate. Instead of complaining that anti-Americanism here is exaggerated and that isolated incidents are magnified by the media, they should check out the backlog of what they have said and how they have acted these years.

A Global Strike Plan, With a Nuclear Option

Early last summer, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved a top secret "Interim Global Strike Alert Order" directing the military to assume and maintain readiness to attack hostile countries that are developing weapons of mass destruction, specifically Iran and North Korea. Two months later, Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the 8th Air Force, told a reporter that his fleet of B-2 and B-52 bombers had changed its way of operating so that it could be ready to carry out such missions. "We're now at the point where we are essentially on alert," Carlson said in an interview with the Shreveport (La.) Times. "We have the capacity to plan and execute global strikes." Carlson said his forces were the U.S. Strategic Command's "focal point for global strike" and could execute an attack "in half a day or less." In the secret world of military planning, global strike has become the term of art to describe a specific preemptive attack. When military officials refer to global strike, they stress its conventional elements. Surprisingly, however, global strike also includes a nuclear option, which runs counter to traditional U.S. notions about the defensive role of nuclear weapons. The official U.S. position on the use of nuclear weapons has not changed. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has taken steps to de-emphasize the importance of its nuclear arsenal. The Bush administration has said it remains committed to reducing our nuclear stockpile while keeping a credible deterrent against other nuclear powers. Administration and military officials have stressed this continuity in testimony over the past several years before various congressional committees. But a confluence of events, beginning with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the president's forthright commitment to the idea of preemptive action to prevent future attacks, has set in motion a process that has led to a fundamental change in how the U.S. military might respond to certain possible threats. Understanding how we got to this point, and what it might mean for U.S. policy, is particularly important now -- with the renewed focus last week on Iran's nuclear intentions and on speculation that North Korea is ready to conduct its first test of a nuclear weapon. Global strike has become one of the core missions for the Omaha-based Strategic Command, or Stratcom. Once, Stratcom oversaw only the nation's nuclear forces; now it has responsibility for overseeing a global strike plan with both conventional and nuclear options. President Bush spelled out the definition of "full-spectrum" global strike in a January 2003 classified directive, describing it as "a capability to deliver rapid, extended range, precision kinetic (nuclear and conventional) and non-kinetic (elements of space and information operations) effects in support of theater and national objectives." This blurring of the nuclear/conventional line, wittingly or unwittingly, could heighten the risk that the nuclear option will be used. Exhibit A may be the Stratcom contingency plan for dealing with "imminent" threats from countries such as North Korea or Iran, formally known as CONPLAN 8022-02. CONPLAN 8022 is different from other war plans in that it posits a small-scale operation and no "boots on the ground." The typical war plan encompasses an amalgam of forces -- air, ground, sea -- and takes into account the logistics and political dimensions needed to sustain those forces in protracted operations. All these elements generally require significant lead time to be effective. (Existing Pentagon war plans, developed for specific regions or "theaters," are essentially defensive responses to invasions or attacks. The global strike plan is offensive, triggered by the perception of an imminent threat and carried out by presidential order.) CONPLAN 8022 anticipates two different scenarios. The first is a response to a specific and imminent nuclear threat, say in North Korea. A quick-reaction, highly choreographed strike would combine pinpoint bombing with electronic warfare and cyberattacks to disable a North Korean response, with commandos operating deep in enemy territory, perhaps even to take possession of the nuclear device. The second scenario involves a more generic attack on an adversary's WMD infrastructure. Assume, for argument's sake, that Iran announces it is mounting a crash program to build a nuclear weapon. A multidimensional bombing (kinetic) and cyberwarfare (non-kinetic) attack might seek to destroy Iran's program, and special forces would be deployed to disable or isolate underground facilities. By employing all of the tricks in the U.S. arsenal to immobilize an enemy country -- turning off the electricity, jamming and spoofing radars and communications, penetrating computer networks and garbling electronic commands -- global strike magnifies the impact of bombing by eliminating the need to physically destroy targets that have been disabled by other means. The inclusion, therefore, of a nuclear weapons option in CONPLAN 8022 -- a specially configured earth-penetrating bomb to destroy deeply buried facilities, if any exist -- is particularly disconcerting. The global strike plan holds the nuclear option in reserve if intelligence suggests an "imminent" launch of an enemy nuclear strike on the United States or if there is a need to destroy hard-to-reach targets. It is difficult to imagine a U.S. president ordering a nuclear attack on Iran or North Korea under any circumstance. Yet as global strike contingency planning has moved forward, so has the nuclear option. Global strike finds its origins in pre-Bush administration Air Force thinking about a way to harness American precision and stealth to "kick down the door" of defended territory, making it easier for (perhaps even avoiding the need for) follow-on ground operations. The events of 9/11 shifted the focus of planning. There was no war plan for Afghanistan on the shelf, not even a generic one. In Afghanistan, the synergy of conventional bombing and special operations surprised everyone. But most important, weapons of mass destruction became the American government focus. It is not surprising, then, that barely three months after that earth-shattering event, the Pentagon's quadrennial Nuclear Posture Review assigned the military and Stratcom the task of providing greater flexibility in nuclear attack options against Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and China. The Air Force's global strike concept was taken over by Stratcom and made into something new. This was partly in response to the realization that the military had no plans for certain situations. The possibility that some nations would acquire the ability to attack the United States directly with a WMD, for example, had clearly fallen between the command structure's cracks. For example, the Pacific Command in Hawaii had loads of war plans on its shelf to respond to a North Korean attack on South Korea, including some with nuclear options. But if North Korea attacked the United States directly -- or, more to the point, if the U.S. intelligence network detected evidence of preparations for such an attack, Pacific Command didn't have a war plan in place. In May 2002, Rumsfeld issued an updated Defense Planning Guidance that directed the military to develop an ability to undertake "unwarned strikes . . . [to] swiftly defeat from a position of forward deterrence." The post-9/11 National Security Strategy, published in September 2002, codified preemption, stating that the United States must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies." "We cannot let our enemies strike first," President Bush declared in the National Security Strategy document. Stratcom established an interim global strike division to turn the new preemption policy into an operational reality. In December 2002, Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., then Stratcom's head, told an Omaha business group that his command had been charged with developing the capability to strike anywhere in the world within minutes of detecting a target. Ellis posed the following question to his audience: "If you can find that time-critical, key terrorist target or that weapons-of-mass-destruction stockpile, and you have minutes rather than hours or days to deal with it, how do you reach out and negate that threat to our nation half a world away?" CONPLAN 8022-02 was completed in November 2003, putting in place for the first time a preemptive and offensive strike capability against Iran and North Korea. In January 2004, Ellis certified Stratcom's readiness for global strike to the defense secretary and the president. At Ellis's retirement ceremony in July, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Omaha audience that "the president charged you to 'be ready to strike at any moment's notice in any dark corner of the world' [and] that's exactly what you've done." As U.S. military forces have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, the attractiveness of global strike planning has increased in the minds of many in the military. Stratcom planners, recognizing that U.S. ground forces are already overcommitted, say that global strike must be able to be implemented "without resort to large numbers of general purpose forces." When one combines the doctrine of preemption with a "homeland security" aesthetic that concludes that only hyper-vigilance and readiness stand in the way of another 9/11, it is pretty clear how global strike ended up where it is. The 9/11 attacks caught the country unaware and the natural reaction of contingency planners is to try to eliminate surprise in the future. The Nuclear Posture Review and Rumsfeld's classified Defense Planning Guidance both demanded more flexible nuclear options. Global strike thinkers may believe that they have found a way to keep the nuclear genie in the bottle; but they are also having to cater to a belief on the part of those in government's inner circle who have convinced themselves that the gravity of the threats demands that the United States not engage in any protracted debate, that it prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Though the official Washington mantra has always been "we don't discuss war plans," here is a real life predicament that cries out for debate: In classic terms, military strength and contingency planning can dissuade an attacker from mounting hostile actions by either threatening punishment or demonstrating through preparedness that an attacker's objectives could not possibly be achieved. The existence of a nuclear capability, and a secure retaliatory force, moreover, could help to deter an attack -- that is, if the threat is credible in the mind of the adversary.