Sarah Palin is the “other” whom Yoda spoke about.

calendar   Thursday - March 02, 2006

Not The Photo Du Jour

Now before you crack up and hurt yourself, remember that we all have pictures of ourselves in our younger years that are best kept hidden away. Unfortunately for Bill O’Reilly the BMEWS Super-Sleuth Team has scored another one in the war to make everyone look goofy for fifteen minutes.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go put a match to several pictures of me in 1972 before Bill decides to strike back and demand full disclosure .... which could possibly result in my losing my reputation as a dashingly handsome, suave, debonair man-about-town ....



Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/02/2006 at 12:04 PM   
Filed Under: • Fun-Stuff •  
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Most Ridiculous Item Of The Day (so far)

Now we know why they lost an empire. The Brits have tripped over their shoestrings again. This time paying for phone sex for several Iraqis. Then again, it may have been a sneaky plan by the cunning Brits to keep the natives quiet. Yep, that sounds about right. Give them free phone sex and they’ll be too busy to make bombs. Sounds like a plan to me. Mheh-heh ....

imageimagePhones Stolen In Iraq Used For Sex Chatlines
Thursday March 2, 2006


It certainly was not part of Britain’s plans to win the hearts and minds of the people of Iraq. But the Foreign Office has been apparently paying for an adult sex chatline in a Baghdad street for 17 months without knowing it. The Foreign Office has had to tell MPs that an investigation into how a diplomat lost two satellite phones in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism but more to do with a budding entrepreneur and a telephone porn network.

FO officials had already admitted that the lost phones had cost them £594,000 in unauthorised phone bills but it is now bracing itself for an extremely critical report from the Commons public accounts committee on how it came to pay phone bills, which at one stage hit £212,000 in one month, without asking questions. Sir Michael Jay, permanent secretary at the FO, told MPs: “All the pattern of usage of these phones ... points to some kind of criminal activity ... It was almost as though they were taken and used as a kind of mobile phone booth at the end of the street where anybody could come along and use them.

“After that, they appear to have been used for a couple of scams based on what are known as personal numbers and premium numbers.” Sir Michael said the premium rate numbers were used for betting agencies or adult phone lines, and that one of the FO phones had been “on virtually full time with the person who is, as it were, making the call getting some benefit from it.”

Sir Michael said initial inquiries had revealed a series of blunders. The phones were already activated when they were sent to Baghdad and they were not properly logged in - so no one realised at first that they had been stolen. None of the bills were initially challenged until people realised the phones had gone missing. The rules at all embassies have now been changed and no phone is sent abroad already activated for use.

Edward Leigh, chairman of the committee, told him: “In terms of this mobile phone being on permanently at the end of a street in Iraq, that gives a whole new meaning to winning hearts and minds in Iraq, but it is quite serious.” Austin Mitchell, Labour MP for Great Grimsby, whose phone had been swiped and used to dial a betting agency, asked if the FO had tried to get its money back.

Since the disclosure, Richard Bacon, Tory MP for Norfolk South, has made further inquiries: “It appears that they haven’t been able to find the culprit or trace the phone. You would have thought having spent hundreds of millions of pounds setting up a sophisticated listening centre at GCHQ it would be very easy to trace a satellite phone and who was operating it in Iraq. But it doesn’t appear anything was done. It just beggars belief that the FO kept paying the bills.”

Sir Michael has promised to try to get the money back. But so far the only thing FO staff appeared to have done is to try to ring the premium rate number. Sir Michael told MPs they did not get a reply.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/02/2006 at 10:51 AM   
Filed Under: • IraqOdd-Strange •  
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Stupid Criminal Of The Day

What would a day be without some Flori-DUH idjit doing his or her best to preserve the state’s reputation as sanctuary for every stoopid person in the US? It’d be boring, that’s fer sure. Speaking of Z-Woof, where is he hiding this morning? I hear he’s been rambling again and mumbling through his oatmeal. We gotta get that boy some better meds ...

imageimageFlorida Man Showing Off OnStar Arrested
March 2, 2006, 7:42 AM EST


A man showing off his OnStar system in his Cadillac Escalade found out the system worked too well. Ralph A. Gomez, 38, was being held Wednesday on $15,000 bond on charges of possession of an illegal narcotic within 1,000 feet of a church and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Gomez was showing off his OnStar system to his girlfriend, but the volume was set so low that he couldn’t hear the OnStar operator. OnStar comes on many new General Motors vehicles and allows a customer to contact an OnStar representative in an emergency or to get directions.

If there is no response, OnStar contacts police. That’s what happened with Gomez on Friday night, Tom Clements, a spokesman for the St. Augustine Police Department, said Wednesday. When police located Gomez’ car, they determined there was no problem. But Clements said cocaine was clearly visible on the car’s center console.

In addition to seizing $1,900 in the case, the Cadillac equipped with the OnStar system was also seized, Clements said. There was no information available from Clements or the jail on whether Gomez has a lawyer.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/02/2006 at 10:34 AM   
Filed Under: • Stoopid-People •  
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Commie Murder Plot

Well, it seems Tom Clancy was right all along. I remember when I read that book ages ago my first thought was “this is too believable to be fiction”. Now it turns out that it may have not been fiction. Of course everyone knew the old “Evil Empire” was having their cage rattled by Pope John Paul II. Now the only unanswered question is “was the shooting of Ronald Reagan connected to this plot in any way?” C’mon, conspiracy theorists! Let’s flog this one for a while ....

imageimageItalian Panel: Soviets Behind Pope Attack
March 2, 2006, 8:43 AM EST


An Italian parliamentary commission concluded “beyond any reasonable doubt” that the Soviet Union was behind the 1981 attempt to kill Pope John Paul II—a theory long alleged but never proved, according to a draft report made available Thursday. The commission held that the pope was a danger to the Soviet bloc because of his support for the Solidarity labor movement in his native Poland. Solidarity was the first free trade union in communist eastern Europe.

“This commission believes, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the Soviet Union took the initiative to eliminate the pope Karol Wojtyla,” said a draft of the commission’s report obtained by The Associated Press. Wojtyla was John Paul’s Polish name. The draft has no bearing on any judicial investigations, which have long been closed.

The report also said a photograph shows that a Bulgarian man acquitted of involvement in the May 13, 1981, assassination attempt was in St. Peter’s Square when the pontiff was shot by Mehmet Ali Agca. The Bulgarian secret service allegedly was working for Soviet military intelligence, but the Italian court held that the evidence was insufficient to convict the Bulgarians in the plot.

Agca, a Turk, has changed his story often and investigators said it was never clear who he was working for. He initially blamed the Soviets. Agca served 19 years in an Italian prison for shooting the pope and then 5 1/2 years in Turkey for murdering journalist Abdi Ipekci. He was released from the Turkish prison Jan. 12 but returned days later when prosecutors said he must serve more of his 10-year term for killing Ipekci. He will be released in 2010.

The Italian commission was originally established to investigate any KGB penetration of Italy during the Cold War. The commission president, Sen. Paolo Guzzanti, said he decided to investigate the 1981 shooting after John Paul said in his book “Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums” that “someone else planned it, someone else commissioned it.” The book came out shortly before the pope’s death last year.

Sergei Antonov, former Rome station manager of Bulgaria’s state airline, claimed during his trial that he was in his office when John Paul was shot. Italy had accused him of complicity with Agca. Antonov’s lawyer, Giuseppe Consolo, said it was a case of mistaken identity and the man in the photograph came forward during the investigation as an American tourist of Hungarian origin. Consolo said the photo was not used as evidence in the trial. The report must be approved by the full commission, which meets March 7.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/02/2006 at 10:21 AM   
Filed Under: • Crime •  
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Selling Out America?

Help me out here. Exactly what do Americans do nowadays? To listen to the media, we don’t own anything and we’ve managed to outsource everything to foreign companies. Apparently, our government is now outsourcing management of our ports, parts for the military and security software. Exactly what are American companies up to nowadays? Have they all shut down and gone into retirement? Flu vaccines are made in Britain and France. China manages our western ports. The Mexican government guards our southern borders.

I’m somewhat confused by all this. What are American companies doing besides making shoddy cars, managing over-expensive healthcare, producing buggy software or pushing billions of gallons of gasoline so people can get in their cars and go ... where ?

U.S. Reviewing 2nd Dubai Firm
Israeli Deal Also Faces Security Check
Thursday, March 2, 2006


The Bush administration, stung by the public outcry over the Dubai port deal, has launched a national security investigation of another Dubai-owned company set to take over plants in Georgia and Connecticut that make precision components used in engines for military aircraft and tanks. The administration notified congressional committees this week that its secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is investigating the security implications of Dubai International Capital’s $1.2 billion acquisition of London-based Doncasters Group Ltd., which has subsidiaries in the United States. It is also investigating an Israeli company’s plans to buy the Maryland software security firm Sourcefire, which does business with Defense Department agencies.

Administration officials are privately briefing leaders of half a dozen House and Senate committees this week about the two planned transactions, concerned that both deals could stir controversy in a political climate that remains supercharged over the Dubai port deal. Republican and Democratic lawmakers angrily protested after learning late last month that the administration had approved a $6.8 billion deal to allow a maritime company based in the United Arab Emirates to take over significant operations at six U.S. ports without a thorough investigation and without consulting members of Congress. Last weekend, the Dubai maritime company agreed to a 45-day investigation to stem the protest and allay concerns of a possible breach of U.S. port security.

In the past, the foreign investment committee rarely told Congress of such inquiries. Wary of another misstep, administration officials decided to inform lawmakers of the two other pending transactions with national security implications for the United States. There have been suggestions in the trade press that the publicly traded Israeli firm, Check Point Software Technologies, has been subjected to more scrutiny than Dubai Ports World, the state-owned Arab company that was initially cleared to take over operations at the six major U.S. ports with no security investigation. That inquiry was initiated only after an outcry about turning over port security to a country that has been cited for ties to terrorism. Sources familiar with the Israeli investigation said cybersecurity officials at the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security all raised serious concerns about the purchase before the port controversy erupted.

Dubai International Capital’s acquisition of Doncasters could present some of the same political problems created by Dubai Ports World’s purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Once again, a state-controlled Dubai company with deep pockets is purchasing a British firm with U.S. holdings. Doncasters has operations in nine U.S. locations and manufactures precision parts for defense contractors such as Boeing, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric. A spokesman for Doncasters’ corporate office in Connecticut said the company had no comment on the security investigation.

Although many foreign companies manufacture parts used in U.S. military equipment, in this instance CFIUS members decided to look more carefully at the Doncasters transaction. The CFIUS met last week and tentatively decided to subject that proposal to a 45-day investigation, and it finalized that decision in a conference call late Monday. The decision came on the final day of the regular 30-day review period. Aides on the Senate banking committee said the panel was notified late Monday that the CFIUS had initiated both national security inquiries.

“The CFIUS process is charged with determining if there are national security concerns in any transaction, and it takes that role very seriously,” said Tony Fratto, spokesman for the Treasury Department, which leads the interagency committee. “It looks at each transaction on a case-by-case basis, and if security concerns are raised by any member of the committee at the end of an initial 30-day review, the case goes into investigation.” The 45-day investigation of the Israeli deal began in early February, several weeks before the controversy erupted over the Dubai port deal, administration officials said. The investigation of the Dubai-Doncasters deal began this week, at the height of the political turmoil over the port issue. Yet Fratto said that neither of the new investigations were started “because of public reaction to some other transaction.”

Of the 1,500 acquisitions that have been referred to the CFIUS, one has been rejected. But deals with security implications tend to fall through before the 45-day investigation. In 1989, 204 deals involving the purchase of a company with significant U.S. operations triggered a security investigation. Last year, only 65 went that far. In the case of Check Point, the security questions were apparently raised early on, according to people familiar with the review. Check Point’s proposed $225 million purchase of Laurel-based Sourcefire raised red flags with government cybersecurity officials.

Check Point was built by Gil Shwed, whom Forbes magazine has described as an Israeli billionaire who served in the electronic intelligence arm of the Israeli Defense Forces. Sourcefire makes network defense and intrusion detection software for an array of customers, including the Defense Department. The company has deep roots in the National Security Agency. Its founder and chief technology officer, Martin Roesch, has served as an NSA contractor. Its vice president of engineering, Tom Ashoff, developed software for the secretive spy agency.

Last August, the Israeli government signed an agreement with the Pentagon to alert the United States before selling other countries technology related to national security. The United States asked for the agreement after learning that Israel had sold unmanned aerial vehicles to China in late 2004. The CFIUS investigation is to be completed in mid-March. Check Point officials declined to comment yesterday on the security investigation. In announcing that its deal would be investigated, the company released a statement pledging that “Check Point and Sourcefire are both committed to working cooperatively with the committee during the investigative period.”

In the case of Dubai International Capital and Doncasters, an acquisition that ordinarily may have been whisked through the process without objection is now under security investigation, administration sources said. Dubai International Capital is the financial arm of Dubai Holding, an investment conglomerate that is the third-largest shareholder of DaimlerChrysler Corp. and is a major investor in Holiday Inn Express in the Middle East.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/02/2006 at 10:05 AM   
Filed Under: • EconomicsPolitics •  
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John Trever—The Albuquerque Journal


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/02/2006 at 09:56 AM   
Filed Under: • HumorSocial-Security •  
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calendar   Wednesday - March 01, 2006


It is almost time.

Are you ready?

Sometime within the next seven days a wonderful thing will happen.

What, you ask?

Our 1,000,000th Visitor!


Place your bets on the date and time and the closest one wins!

WINS WHAT, you ask?

Beats me. I’ll let OINK and OLDCATMAN decide.

Hint: Before you guess, theck the SiteMeter counter in the bottom of the right sidebar. Click on the link and see what the current counter shows and do the math with the “average visitors per day” figure you see there.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 06:01 PM   
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Deal’s Off!

OK! That settles it! Deal’s off. Pack ‘em up and hire someone else. I have been sitting on the fence on this one listening to both sides. My mind is now made up. DPW can just plain fergit about it. This dawg won’t hunt ....

Dubai Ports Firm Supports Israel Boycott
March 1, 2006


The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the United States over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, the Jerusalem Post reports. The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major U.S. ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.

“Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced,” Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department’s Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview. “If a product contained even some components that were made in Israel, and you wanted to import it to Dubai, it would be a problem,” he said. A-Din noted that while the head office for the anti-Israel boycott sits in Damascus, he and his fellow staff members are paid employees of the Dubai Customs Department, which is a division of the PCZC, the same Dubai government-owned entity that runs Dubai Ports World.

Moreover, the Post found that the Web site for Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone Area, which is also part of the PCZC, advises importers that they will need to comply with the terms of the boycott. In a section titled “Frequently Asked Questions”, the site lists six documents that are required in order to clear an item through the Dubai Customs Department. One of them, called a “Certificate of Origin,” “is used by customs to confirm the country of origin and needs to be seen by the office which ensures any trade boycotts are enforced,” according to the website.

A-Din of the Israel boycott office confirmed that his office examines certificates of origin as a means of verifying whether a product originated in the Jewish state. On at least three separate occasions last year, the Post said, companies were fined by the U.S. government’s Office of Anti-boycott Compliance, an arm of the Commerce Department, on charges connected to boycott-related requests they had received from the Government of Dubai. U.S. law bars firms from complying with such requests or cooperating with attempts by Arab governments to boycott Israel.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 03:39 PM   
Filed Under: • PoliticsRoPMA •  
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CBS Is Sirius-ly Ticked At Stern

CBS is suing Howard Stern for fraud. In one corner we have a network that defrauded the entire American people with Rathergate and in the other corner we have a sleaze-mongering potato-head. Have you ever wished our courts could just lock up both parties in a lawsuit and throw away the key? This almost tops Anna Nicole Smith’s goldigging at the Supreme Court today.

Andy Warhol was wrong. Not everyone deserves fifteen minutes. Tick-tick-tick-tick ....

imageimageCBS Sues Stern For Fraud
Says radio personality used CBS airtime for his own financial benefit;
Stern counters that former boss has ‘vendetta.’

February 28, 2006: 5:33 PM EST


CBS Radio says that Howard Stern was acting behind its back in his final months with the company, and intends to demonstrate that in court. In a suit filed Tuesday, the broadcaster alleges that Stern signed a secret agreement with Sirius Satellite Radio (Research) that would give him a payment of Sirius stocks worth over $200 million in January 2006 if he met subscriber targets.

CBS says Stern promoted Sirius in his final months with the company, in violation of his contract with the company. The lawsuit also says that Stern is keeping audio recordings that belong to CBS, a breach of contract. Stern responded by saying that CBS chief Les Moonves is pursuing a personal vendetta against him because the network’s radio fortunes have plunged since he left to join satellite radio.

“I’m offended. I really do think this is a personal vendetta. Les has had it in for me for a long time. I don’t deserve it,” Stern told a news conference. The New York Post reported the lawsuit would seek $500 million from Stern. The complaint was filed with the New York Supreme Court. The hugely popular Stern shocked the broadcasting world in October 2004 when he signed a five-year deal with Sirius reportedly valued at $500 million. In January, he began broadcasting on Sirius, where his locker room humor fills two entire channels.

He broadcast for CBS Radio until days before his switch and relentlessly spoke of that move as it neared. Stern was replaced by former Van Halen rock group lead singer David Lee Roth, whose ratings have paled in comparison, according to media reports. “They’re floundering,” Stern said, adding that talk of a suit was meant as a distraction from CBS Radio’s problems.

Stern said he had a meeting with Moonves and CBS Radio chief executive Joel Hollander about three weeks ago to discuss their complaints. “I said, ‘Les, what’s going on?”’ said Stern. “He said it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. But ... it is personal.” Stern’s move to Sirius, touted more than a year in advance, was seen as a bold bid by the fledgling satellite radio business to attract some of his millions of fans as paying subscribers.

Stern said his move garnered much media attention and CBS added to it, booking him for appearances on its news magazine show “60 Minutes” and “Late Show with David Letterman.” “I made them millions of dollars. If I was hurting them why did they keep me on the air for 14 months?” Stern said. “How can you have it both ways?”

He said he asked Moonves why he did not pull him off the air. “Les said, ‘I knew I could sue you later,”’ Stern said. Shares of CBS fell 1.3 percent on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday.

CBS shares fell on the stock market yesterday? Sirius shares took a nosedive a few weeks ago, not long after Stern went on air. Poetic justice at work, perhaps?


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 06:40 AM   
Filed Under: • Corruption and GreedInsanityJudges-Courts-Lawyers •  
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Article I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Homer, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of Marge, or of the Lisa; or the right of the people peaceably to Bart, and to petition the government for a redress of Maggie.

THERE! Have all you idjits got that? Stoopid Americans!

imageimageSimpsons ‘Trump’ First Amendment
Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 05:47 GMT


The Simpsons are household names all over the world. Americans know more about The Simpsons TV show than the US Constitution’s First Amendment, an opinion poll says. Only one in four could name more than one of the five freedoms it upholds but more than half could name at least two members of the cartoon family.

About one in five thought the right to own a pet was one of the freedoms. A new museum dedicated to the First Amendment said the findings showed there was a pressing need to explain one of America’s basic laws better.

“We have our job cut out for us,” said Joe Madeira, director of exhibitions at the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum. Another finding from the poll, a telephone survey of 1,000 random adults with an error margin of 3%, was that 22% of Americans could name all five Simpson characters.

By comparison, just one in 1,000 people could name all five First Amendment freedoms. The names of American Idol TV show judges and popular advertising slogans also proved more memorable than the five freedoms - speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 06:23 AM   
Filed Under: • Stoopid-People •  
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Stupidus Maximus

imageimageAirport Baggage Search Leads To Bust
Meth, knives, bullets found, deputies say
Tuesday, February 28, 2006


A Madisonville man was arrested at Louis Armstrong International Airport after security screeners found five knives, 44 rounds of ammunition and 8 grams of crystal methamphetamine in his baggage.

Screeners on Concourse B said they found the knives, bullets for a 9 mm gun and drugs Friday night in the lining of a bag belonging to Louis Bayhi III, 30, along with several lighters, a can of lighter fluid and a “glass smoking device,” according to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office incident report. Bayhi was taken into custody just after 8 p.m. and questioned but did not make any statement, the report said.

Deputies booked him at the East Bank Lockup in Metairie with possession of methamphetamine. Whether federal authorities booked him elsewhere with weapons offenses was unknown. Bayhi was released Saturday on $5,000 bond.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 06:09 AM   
Filed Under: • CrimeStoopid-People •  
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Bush In Kabul

Dubya slipped into Afghanistan yesterday while no one was looking. Fortunately, the side trip was safely completed ... not that it couldn’t have been a problem thanks to every mainstream media asshat on the planet speculating for the last few days about the possibility of such a quick trip into the danger zone. I’m surprised the NY Times didn’t headline yesterday’s paper “HEY, TALIBAN! BUSH IS COMING!”

imageimageBush Makes Surprise Visit to Afghanistan
March 1, 2006, 5:01 AM EST

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP)
AP White House Correspondent

President Bush made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Wednesday, flying here secretly to support its fledging government in the face of rising violence from al-Qaida and Taliban militants. Bush’s entourage flew into the city from Bagram Air Base in a flotilla of heavily armed helicopters. Two door gunners on a press helicopter fired off a short burst of machine gun fire at unknown targets as the aircraft flew low and fast over barren countryside.

Bush arrived safely at the presidential palace where he was greeted by Afghanistan’s leader Hamid Karzai. The two men walked down a red carpet past a military honor guard to begin their meetings. “Welcome the president to Afghanistan,” Karzai said as they paused for photographs. Eight weeks ago when Bush signed off on the India-Pakistan visit he was presented with the option of also going to Afghanistan, said White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

The White House closely guarded the secret, but there was widespread speculation that he would make the stop in Afghanistan. “This is an opportunity to show our support for a good friend and ally and emerging democracy,” McClellan said. “We stand firmly with the people of Afghanistan as they are charting their own future.” While Bush and Karzai met, their wives, Laura Bush and Zinat Karzai met over lunch with other women.

Bush also was to preside over a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the U.S. Embassy. Before leaving Afghanistan, Bush was to get a pep talk to troops back at Bagram Air Base. It was Bush’s second visit to a war front. His first was a secret trip to have Thanksgiving Dinner in 2003 with U.S. troops in Iraq. Speaking of secrecy concerns, McClellan said, “There are security precautions that were taken and we are confident in the security precautions that have been taken. One of those was not informing you of the trip until now.”

- More on the story here ...

Scott McClellan deserves a Purple Heart for getting shot at by the enemy pissant press every day. The man is walking wounded. I sure hope Dubya is paying him enough.


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 05:38 AM   
Filed Under: • News-Briefs •  
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The Perils Of Blogging

In two and a half years of blogging, I have only posted about my workplace once - in a moment of intense anger. My attorney slapped my wrist for that. He is constantly reminding me that even though libel and slander are extremely difficult to prove in court, there are jerks out there who will sue just to tie you up in court and cost you a wad of money in legal expenses.

That is also why I continually caution members here to be careful what you say about your personal life. It’s not so much a risk of libel that gets you into trouble. No, it’s the miserable pissants who have some measure of control over you like your employer, your landlord or, in some cases, local government. If you offend, you get whacked. Why? Because they can.

Yes, in America we have freedom of speech - but it usually only applies to Liberals who seem to have a license to say whatever their tiny little brains feel like. The same rule applies to corporations who can lie to shareholders and employees on a whim but insist on their employees toeing the line on public speech. Your boss can fudge the numbers on a quarterly report and even bankrupt the company right out from under you but if you go on your blog and call your company names you’re going to find yourself in a miserable office punishment situation with your boss, a representative from Human Resources and a written reprimand, if not a termination notice.

Is that fair? Maybe. Employers expect a reasonable amount of loyalty to the company from the employees. At the same time employees have a right to expect some semblance of privacy in their personal lives, in my opinion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Here is the latest list of blog casualties. Companies judge you when they hire you based on your work history, education, experience and personality. That’s reasonable. Do they have the right to judge you based on your personal opinions? Good question. How badly do you need a paycheck?

That’s bad enough but now we’re starting to see stories of people like the lady below who faces eviction from her apartment because of statements she made about her landlord. Read the entire piece and go look at the link above to the “Blog Casualties” list. Maybe then you’ll understand why I keep an attorney on full-time retainer. It’s bad enough reading some of the hate e-mail I get every week from people with low IQ’s, limited vocabularies and hot tempers - and that’s just the mail from Democrats. You ought to see the real nasty stuff from overseas. I’ve been cussed out in seventeen languages, at last count.

There are indeed days when I wake up, sit down here at the keyboard and wonder .... is it worth it?

imageimageWoman Faces Eviction Over Internet Innuendo
February 28, 2006 @ 07:00


On the Internet, you are responsible for your words, and people are finding that postings on Internet bulletin boards and blogs can bring real-life consequences. A woman in Kingston faces eviction later this week for postings she made to a personal website detailing an ongoing dispute with her landlord, Homestead Land Holdings Inc. Sarah Dawe says she won’t take down the blog, which Homestead is demanding in letters and a notice of eviction that takes effect on Thursday, but is stunned that she is on the receiving end of such an action.

“When I got the notice, I went into a panic, I couldn’t eat or sleep for four days,” said Dawe, who lives on The Parkway. On Dec. 8, she received a letter from one of Homestead’s lawyers, Donald B. Bayne, stating the company and its employees named on the site “take very seriously the false, malicious and libellous statements you have published about them on your website,” and that the company had complained to her site host, Lycos, which took the page down.

She reposted the material on a Google blog as it is U.S. based, the laws protecting Internet Service Providers are different than in Canada and they are more difficult to sue and on Feb. 10, got an eviction notice with the blog cited as the sole reason. It stated that Dawe was using the site “to publicly denounce and harass the landlord and its employees with malicious untruths” and said it would evict her if she didn’t take it down.

Dawe has started an appeal of the notice through the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal and is looking for a lawyer or paralegal to represent her. “Blogs are personal diaries,” she said. “Anyone can read them, but with mine, except for people trolling or spamming, I was probably the only one reading it.” The company declined comment given the nature of the situation and the privacy issues involved, but Dawe isn’t the only one finding that words on the Internet often carry consequences.

A train driver with Via Rail resigned from his job of 30 years after the company gathered postings he made to a satirical magazine’s website over a three-month period on his own time with his own computer, and began dismissal proceedings against him. A stay-at-home mother in Waterloo was slapped with a $2 million libel suit from a property developer after she posted pictures of what she said were unsafe construction practices at a development near her home.

And just last week, a Saskatchewan math professor who anonymously skewered his colleagues on a popular site allowing students to rate their professors lost a bid to get his job back after being fired for those comments. Libel lawyers and technology watchers say as more people use the Internet, the number of people getting in trouble for electronic words whether on websites and blogs, e-mails or electronic bulletin boards is also rising.

The technology may be new but the law isn’t, and while there are some ragged edges yet to be sewn between the new and the old, the underlying principles in cases such as Dawe’s remain the same. “It’s as though this person were putting up flyers or putting them under people’s doors,” said Toronto lawyer David Potts, who specializes in the fast-growing field known as “cyberlibel.”

“There’s no difference between doing that and putting it on the Internet, but by putting it on the Internet, they can have as large an audience as any other website This is no different. “It seems new because it’s out in the ether, but cyberlibel is just a form of information warfare.” Marc-Andre Blanchard of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP said such cases are more prevalent, particularly in labour law where collective agreements may make it difficult for a company to sue an employee they consider to be slandering them but allows them to start a disciplinary action.

“It’s more and more common in labour relations,” he said, noting that many of the cases go unpublicized because such processes are rarely open to the public. However, he called firing an employee based on their Internet postings on their own time “extraordinary” and said he had not heard of a similar case. The Via Rail driver was Dan Christie of Port Hope, a self-identified “whistleblower” who on his own time between March 1 and May 15, 2004, wrote about turmoil inside Via Rail under a pseudonym on the bulletin board of the Frank Magazine website.

At the time, Via was being rocked by its role in the sponsorship scandal and its president had publicly denigrated Olympian Miriam Bedard. Christie wrote about the turmoil within the corporation and what he felt was its mismanagement. On June 16, he received an order to appear at the Via administrative offices in Toronto to provide a “formal employee statement” in regards to those comments. Although the union that represents Via employees wanted to fight the action, and it would have raised important issues of freedom of speech, Christie had 30 years on the job and chose to resign.

“For anyone seeing this stuff from within Via, it was a fantastic waste of money,” he said of his motives. “We were working for a Crown corporation, a de facto arm of the government, and do we not have a chance to complain about how our taxdollars are being spent, even if they’re being spent on us?” He knew he was being provocative, but said none of his Internet comments contained anything that would be considered illegal, such as exhorting people to commit illegal acts.

“I was venting the frustration of people who were working there and who were not being able to serve the public the way we wanted to,” he said. Christie said he was shocked to find out that not only was Via apparently reading his postings but tracking and collecting them for use against him, and speculated that one purpose was to discourage other employees from doing the same. “At the time, there was an implicit chill that you’d shut up or you’d lose your job, and that’s what happened in my case,” he said.

That area sometimes known as reputation management is also a growing field and is taken seriously enough that many large companies have staff or outside firms tracking what is being said about them, and often their competitors, on the Internet. Corporations also register so-called “sucks” websites typically the company’s name followed by that word to stop people owning it and posting criticism of the company, either in a boycott of it or to ransom the company into buying the domain from them in order to take it down.

One of the reasons people tend to get away with more on the Internet than they ever would in a traditional printed form is that statements can be published electronically for no cost, but hiring a lawyer to pursue a claim is not free. The person being sued may also have little money as he or she is not a major media conglomerate, lawyers point out. “It’s seldom worth it to chase these people down because at the end of the day, there ain’t anything there,” said Randy Pepper, a partner with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and a veteran litigator in the areas of defamation and misleading advertising.

However, he said there’s an indication that courts may start awarding high damages for material determined to be defamatory that is posted on the Internet because of its broad potential readership. Unlike a newspaper or a television broadcast, something on the Internet is available to anyone in the world. While a definitive court definition of what constitutes “broadcasting” has yet to be made, anyone posting anything anywhere on the Internet can be considered to be a broadcaster, unlike a decade ago when it was restricted to TV and radio stations holding a government licence.

Lawyers also say people posting on the Internet may think they are anonymous when, in fact, they are anything but. That perceived cloak of anonymity leads them to post opinions that they would never put in a signed letter to the editor, for example. However, while the cost and difficulty of taking libel action against an individual in most cases is a pragmatic protection against legal action, it is by no means bulletproof. “It’s like the case of a dog bite,” points out Roger McConchie, a Vancouver media lawyer with extensive experience in libel and Internet law.

“People are normally given a couple of free kicks at the can, and almost every significant case has involved repetitive, continuous publication by people whose conduct is unrepentant even after repeated warnings. Those are the people that you hear about.” He noted, given the amount of material on the Internet that could be considered libelous, only a tiny percentage ever becomes the target of legal action.

“When it comes to what I would call unsophisticated publishers’ which is what a lot of these individuals are even if it’s egregiously libel, as long as it’s not egregiously malicious, they’re not going to be chased to the ends of the earth.” But Dawe, who has appealed the eviction order, said she thinks she has done nothing wrong and won’t take down her website. “If they had a legitimate legal reason for getting me to shut down the blog I would, but they don’t,” the Kingston resident said. “It would be like cutting off my nose to spite my face.”


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 04:04 AM   
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Gary Brookins—The Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch


Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 03/01/2006 at 03:47 AM   
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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