Sunday, May 25, 2008

Where Your Money Goes - Part 1

It's not news to anyone that being a Connecticut resident costs an arm and a leg. Taxes are high, services costly, and in some towns the bulk of the budget seems to be spent on school systems that don't seem to do anything but churn out little deviants and criminals.

So, I want you to check out this link. It's a link to some job openings with the state. Check out some of the salary ranges for the various positions.

Some of them are deserving of the amounts. Others, though, seem pretty high for what the job is.

But, either way, you're paying them, you might as well know how much.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Don't Offend the Muslims, Part III

You have to read this story:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's most powerful Sunni Arab political party on Monday said a U.S. soldier's desecration of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, requires the "severest of punishments," not just an apology and a military reassignment.

The Iraqi Islamic Party, the movement of Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, condemned what it said was a "blatant assault on the sanctities of Muslims all over the world."

An American staff sergeant who was a sniper section leader used a Quran for target practice on May 9.

The U.S. commander in Baghdad on Saturday issued a formal apology and read a letter of apology from the shooter.

The sergeant has been relieved of duty as a section leader "with prejudice," officially reprimanded by his commanding general, dismissed from his regiment and redeployed -- reassigned to the United States.

But the Iraqi Islamic Party -- which said it reacted to the news "with deep resentment and indignation" -- wants the "severest of punishments" for the action to serve as a lesson for the future.

"Such assaults have recurred over the past few years; therefore, the apology alone is no longer sufficient," the party said in a statement. "The U.S. military should take preventative measures considering the feelings of Muslims."

The statement added, "The Iraqi Islamic Party demands the U.S. administration deal firmly with these violations. We also demand our government take an appropriate stance (or position) towards the enormity of the humiliation."

A tribal leader said "the criminal act by U.S. forces" took place at a shooting range at the Radhwaniya police station on Baghdad's western outskirts. After the shooters left, an Iraqi policeman found a target marked in the middle of the bullet-riddled Quran.

Copies of the pictures of the Quran obtained by CNN show multiple bullet holes and an expletive scrawled on one of its pages.

On Saturday, Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, appeared at an apology ceremony flanked by leaders from Radhwaniya.

"I come before you here seeking your forgiveness," Hammond said to tribal leaders and others gathered. "In the most humble manner, I look in your eyes today, and I say please forgive me and my soldiers."

Another military official kissed a Quran and presented it as "a humble gift" to the tribal leaders.

Hammond also read from the shooter's letter: "I sincerely hope that my actions have not diminished the partnership that our two nations have developed together. ... My actions were shortsighted, very reckless and irresponsible, but in my heart [the actions] were not malicious."

Hammond said, "The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior. I've come to this land to protect you, to support you -- not to harm you -- and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable."

The soldier reportedly claimed he wasn't aware the book was the Quran, but U.S. officials rejected his assertion.

Tribal leaders, dignitaries and local security officials attended the ceremony, while residents carried banners and chanted slogans, including, "Yes, yes to the Quran" and "America out, out."

Sheikh Hamadi al-Qirtani, in a speech on behalf of all tribal sheikhs of Radhwaniya, called the shooting "aggression against the entire Islamic world."

The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq also condemned the shooter's actions and the U.S. military's belated acknowledgment of what happened.

"As the Association of Muslim Scholars condemns this heinous crime against God's holy book, the constitution of this nation, a source of pride and dignity," the group's statement said, "they condemned the silence by all those who are part of the occupation's agenda and holds the occupation and the current government fully responsible for this violation and reminds everyone that God preserves his book and he [God] is a great avenger."

OK. So, why am I so freaked out by this story? For a couple of reasons:

(1) I agree with the Iraqis that shooting at the Quran was disrespectful, and just plain stupid. But, the punishment already handed down by the U.S. military is more than adequate, considering that we're talking about an inanimate object here, a book. What do you think the Muslims mean when the talk about the "severest punishment" ... ? They want a person killed for shooting at a book, and that's just insane.

(2) The Iraqis' reaction toward the "occupation" really ticked me off. I'm so tired of these two-faced religious fanatics, who are given the opportunity for freedom from our soldiers' blood, yet will turn on those soldiers in a heartbeat if their religion is offended. If that's the case, then it bolsters my opinion that the entire region should be leveled, because these are ignorant, backward, irrational people who don't seem to want or deserve personal freedom.

(3) In our country, liberals have created an atmosphere where you can desecrate anyone's beliefs, mock them, cover their religious icons with feces and call it "art" ... yet, Muslims are going to be "off-limits" because, instead of picket signs, they use rocket launchers to show their displeasure. So it'll be interesting to see what liberals do when they are faced with living under Sharia law.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The 'Peace' Coalition to Iran

Recently, a group of people, mostly peace advocates and various "clergy"-type folks from the New Haven area, went to Iran to make sure that people "understand" each other, and that Americans don't fall for the United States' "propaganda" about Iran posing a threat.

The group included at least one Jew, a rabbi.

So I'm curious if the people in this group got to hear Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say things like this, from a story on The Earth Times Web site:

Tehran - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Israel would "be soon swept away" from the Palestinian Territories by the Palestinians.

It is the second time within less than three years that the Iranian president predicted the eradication of the Jewish state. The first time was in 2005 when Ahmadinejad hoped that Israel would be eradicated from the Middle East map.

"This terrorist and criminal state is backed by foreign powers, but this regime would soon be swept away by the Palestinians," Ahmadinejad anniversary of Israel's foundation, he said that "it would be futile to hold a birthday ceremony for something which is already dead." As far as the regional countries are concerned, this regime does not exist," said in a press conference in Tehran. Referring to worldwide celebrations for the 60thAhmadinejad added.

The Iranian president said last week that the anniversary feasts could not save this "rotten and stinking corpse."Ahmadinejad caused international outrage in the past by hoping for the eradication of Israel, the relocation of the Jewish state to Europe or Alaska and questioning the historic dimensions of the Holocaust.

I mean, I wondered when I first read about the trip, what is it that the people in this "peace" coalition are finding so hard to understand?

How did the rabbi feel, going somewhere where the leader has denied that people of her faith should be allowed to live? Or does she think the American press is making these stories up, just to get Americans ready for war with Iran?

And, don't forget, Iran is the place where people are arrested -- and suddenly disappear -- for doing things like listening to rock music, and dancing.

It's just appalling to me that someone's disdain for their own country would make them so blind. But, if nothing else, Ahmadinejad is smart -- I'm sure he knew enough to make sure that the gullible members of the "peace" coalition saw only what he wanted them to see, heard only what he wanted them to hear, so they would come back to America with praise for Iran, and more criticism for America, so that they and the other liberals in this country would make sure we do nothing to stop Iran's violent goals.

By the way, here is the original story about the "peace" coalition:

NEW HAVEN — Peace activists Patty Nuelsen and the Rev. Allie Perry went international with their message as they joined others from across the country on a citizen diplomatic mission to Iran.

Sponsored by New York-based Fellowship of Reconciliation and hosted by the Center for Interfaith Dialogue in Iran, the 21 Americans are meeting with religious leaders and groups of citizens in an attempt to better understand each other.

“For me, the importance of this kind of trip is that as citizens in a democracy, we have a voice in policy. I think the worst thing that could happen to us as a country is that we lose faith that our voice is important,” Nuelsen said.

Both women are concerned with the latest news stories out of Iran and hope the U.S. doesn’t take military action against Iran.

This is the second visit to Iran sponsored by FOR this year, with two more trips already booked.

The New Haven women left Tuesday and will return May 13, after visiting Tehran, Shiraz, the sacred city of Qom, Esfehan and Persepolis, in a trip led by Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, who helped found the Jewish Renewal movement in the U.S.

For the past 23 years, Nuelsen has worked for New Haven/Leon Sister City Project, an original model of citizen diplomacy started after the U.S. covert war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Nuelsen has made more than half a dozen trips to Nicaragua over the years; the project still carries out education and infrastructure projects in Leon.

Perry is part of Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, which is working for an end to the war in Iraq.

The heart of the trip is meeting with Iranians in educational, religious and cultural settings, as well as have an opportunity to meet a government official.

“We are talking about one of the most ancient cultures in the world and our government talks about this country as if the president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) is the country. Of course, we know if people did that to the United States, what trouble we would be in,” Perry said.

She said one of the most troubling things is that Americans, including herself, are not knowledgeable about Iran “and are susceptible to propaganda. When charges are made, people don’t have a context to be able to evaluate the credibility of those charges.”

They pointed to the role of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in overthrowing the elected government there in 1953 and installing Mohammad Reza Pahlavi as shah of Iran. The bloody Iraq-Iran war from 1980-88 also left hundreds of thousands dead and left a complicated relationship between the two countries.

In news reports last week, the U.S. said Iran is continuing to funnel weapons into Iraq, although the extent of its involvement was unclear.

Perry said a friend told her she is naive to go to Iran and that she will only hear what that government wants her to hear.

But she said, “we need to learn about each other” and that there is a diversity of opinions among Iran’s 70 million citizens and reformers in the government. “In the end, (the friend) conceded he wasn’t against the idea of dialogue,” Perry said.

Still, both women said they would bring a dose of suspicion with them.

“We are capable of analysis. We are capable of understanding that there is complexity. The problem in this country is that it denies there is any complexity,” Perry said.

“I think we have to be very savvy. I don’t have any trouble operating with a lens of suspicion,” Nuelsen added.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Be Careful What You Feed Your Pet

I have a cat that, if you didn't know better, would have you think he's been starved for days. If I eat, he wants to eat. And he's so cute ... he usually winds up getting some of whatever I'm eating. But you have to be careful -- here's a story about some people foods that can be very bad for your pet:

'People foods' that can kill your pet

From chocolate to raisins, here's what not to feed Fido — even if he begs

By Sloan Barnett contributor
Fri., May. 9, 2008

It feels good to treat your pet to human food every once in awhile. Those puppy dog eyes are hard to resist as they watch you eat and try to convince you that they are starving! It makes you want to give them a taste of everything you eat. But beware: Giving into those eyes and giving them human foods can actually harm them.

In 2007, the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center received more than 130,000 calls. Most cases of animal poisoning were caused by common human foods and household items.

Many foods we enjoy can be dangerous to animals. It's best to stick to pet food and a diet recommended by your vet. Here are a few of the most toxic foods that can harm your pet:

Bad news foods

They contain a toxic component called persin, which can damage heart, lung and other tissue in many animals. This fruit is very toxic to dogs, cats and most animals.

Alcoholic beverages can cause the same damage to an animal's liver and brain as they cause in humans. But the effects can be deadly on animals since they are much smaller than us. The smaller the animal, the more deadly the effects can be. Even a small amount of alcohol may cause vomiting and damage the liver and brain.

Walnuts and macadamia nuts are especially toxic. Effects can be anything from vomiting to paralysis to death. Within 12 hours of eating the nuts, pets start to develop symptoms such as an inability to stand or walk, vomiting, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), weakness, and an elevated heart rate. These symptoms can be even worse if your dog eats some chocolate with the nuts. The effect can cause kidney failure, often leading to death.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which can kill your pet if eaten in large quantities. Dark and unsweetened baking chocolates are especially dangerous. Giving your pup a piece of chocolate cake or even letting him lick the chocolate icing on the cake could cause him to become ill. Theobromine can also cause a dog or cat's heart to beat very rapidly or irregularly, which could result in death if the pet is exercising or overly active.

Candy or anything containing Xylitol (a common sweetener found in some diet products) can cause a sudden drop in an animal's blood sugar, loss of coordination and seizures. If left untreated, the animal could die.

Coffee, tea or any product that contains caffeine stimulates an animal's central nervous and cardiac systems. This can lead to restlessness, heart palpitations and death, depending on how much the animal consumes.

Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill them. And the effects are cumulative, which means that even if a dog eats just one or two grapes or raisins regularly, the toxin that builds in his system will eventually kill him.

Onions are another common food that can be highly toxic to pets. They can destroy an animal's red blood cells and lead to anemia, weakness and breathing difficulties. Their effects are also cumulative over time.

Hide medicine from your pets just like you would from your children. The most common cause of pet poisoning is from animals ingesting a medicine or drug normally prescribed for humans.

And this is not just because furry pals are getting into their pet parent's medicine cabinets. In many cases, pet owners give their feline and canine friends an over-the-counter medication to ease an animal's pain. But acetaminophen and ibuprofen, the active ingredients in many common pain relievers, are extremely toxic to dogs and cats. They can cause gastric ulcers, liver damage, kidney failure and sometimes death.

Good news foods
There are a few things that you CAN give to your furry pal. However, you should always consult a veterinarian before introducing a new food item to your pet.

Although these foods are normally harmless, some animals have sensitive gastrointestinal tracts. So even these healthy treats should be avoided if they cause gastrointestinal upset for your pet. Keep in mind that these and other "extras" should not make up more than 5 to 10 percent of the pet's daily caloric intake.

Lean meats
Any cooked lean meat should be fine for most dogs. High fat meats, chicken skin and fat from steaks or roasts are not recommended. Ingestion may lead to gastrointestinal upset or even pancreatitis. This can be a very painful condition for dogs. In addition, most companion animals do not need extra fat in their diets. Never give your pet meat with the bone in it. Animals can choke on the bones, and they can splinter as well.

Carrot sticks, green beans, cucumber slices and zucchini slices are all OK.

Apple slices, orange slices, bananas, watermelon are all OK. Make sure the seeds have been taken out; seeds are not good for your pet!

Baked potatoes
Plain baked potatoes is fine, but make sure they are cooked — no unripe potatoes or potato plants.

Plain cooked bread is fine, just make sure there are no nuts or raisins added.

Rice and pasta
Plain, cooked pasta or white rice are OK. Often veterinarians recommend plain rice and with some boiled chicken when gastrointestinal upset is present.

In case of emergency
Despite all the precautions you take to keep your pet pals safe, accidents do happen. That's why the ASPCA, Humane Society and animal advocates advise pet owners to keep the telephone number of their local veterinarian and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center — (888) 426-4435 — in a prominent location.

Common signs of poisoning include muscle tremors or seizures; vomiting and diarrhea; drooling; redness of skin, ears and eyes; and swelling and bleeding.

If you suspect your pet has consumed, inhaled or come in contact with a toxic substance, stay calm and call for help immediately. If you see your pet consuming anything you think might be toxic, seek emergency help immediately even if she or he is not exhibiting any symptoms.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Great Video

Here's a great video to watch ... if you've ever worked in an office, you will love this!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Free Speech Doesn't Have to Be Smart Speech

Here's a nifty story:

Code Pink Protesters Try Witchcraft at Anti-Marine Rallies

Thursday, May 08, 2008
By Jana Winter

Members of Code Pink and other anti-war protesters are separated by Berkeley Police officers from supporters of the Iraq War.
Code Pink is now resorting to witchcraft to beef up the number of its supporters protesting Berkeley's controversial Marine Corps Recruiting Center.
The women's anti-war group has told participants to come equipped with spells and pointy hats Friday for "Witches, clowns and sirens day," the last of the group's weeklong homage to Mother's Day.
"Women are coming to cast spells and do rituals and to impart wisdom to figure out how we're going to end war," Zanne Sam Joi of Bay Area Code Pink told
The group's week of themed protests, which included days to galvanize grannies and bring-your-daughter-to-protest, appears to have done little to boost its flagging numbers.
A FOX News camera, which has a 24/7 live shot of the recruiting center's front door, recorded little action, and the gatherings have, until this point, been ill attended.
In February, the Marine Corps Recruiting Center was the site of fierce pro- and anti-war protests. It made national headlines when Berkeley's city council voted to send a letter to the recruiting station advising the Marines they were not welcome. Council members later moderated their position, saying they oppose the war in Iraq but support the troops.
Code Pink — which was given parking and noise permits by the city council and is allowed to protest during the recruiting center's business hours — has been protesting daily since September.
The group frequently announces bizarre theme weeks in front of the office, but their numbers have been dwindling and the events get little media attention.
Now, after three months of continual protest, their actions barely capture the attention of even the Marines at the recruiting center.
Capt. John Paul Wheatcroft said he's unfazed by Code Pink's antics.
"They're always in pink and wear funny things, half-shaved heads, one side with hair and the other one bald, yeah, I'm pretty much used to anything," he told
Code Pink said that grandmothers did show up for Monday's protest — some over 90 years old, some in wheelchairs — and began knocking on the door of the recruiting center.
"The grandmothers were here and tried to get recruited," Joi said. "They tried to have conversations with the Marines, but the Marines were too scared to talk."
Wheatcroft, who was the Marine on the other side of the door, said that he was not afraid of the grannies. He just didn't open the door.
"Most of the time they are just practicing their right to protest and their freedom of speech or whatever, so it's not usually a problem for us. But sometimes it crosses the line, and that happened [Monday] when the grannies were here blocking the entrance and banging on the door," Wheatcroft told
On Tuesday, Code Pink's theme was "Fierce mothers raging against war," Joi said, to talk about all the mothers killed and raped in war. Wednesday's theme was "Bring your daughter to the protest," where daughters explained why they don't want their parents fighting the war. Thursday is "Sisters don't allow sisters to live in war zones" day, and the week wraps up Friday with "Witches, clowns and sirens day."
Code Pink isn't the only group rallying around the Marine recruiting center that has seen its numbers drop.
Kimberly Wagner, Berkeley College Republicans activism chair, who is dating a Marine, said her group has been trying to keep up a presence outside the center since Feb. 13, when Code Pink's parking permit went into effect.
The college Republicans are fighting to acquire the same parking permits that Code Pink has. A resolution to grant the group an equal permit will be entered and voted upon in the May 20 city council meeting.
Wagner said showing up to rally is especially hard now due to final exams, which begin on Monday, but she said she will be there — this week and every week — "as a reminder to Code Pink that not everybody agrees with them."
When asked if she was planning any special events to counter Code Pink's theme week, Wagner said: "We try not to do anything embarrassing." She added, "We're just going to stick with our regular thing because we have lives and they don't."
But if events this week are an attempt by anti-war protesters to market their cause, the Marine recruiters in Berkeley tell that Code Pink's presence outside their office has helped — not hindered — their mission.
"Ironically, it's actually helped us by putting our name out. We're now well known. And people know who we are, and where we are, and they come in to talk to us about enlisting. They've gotten us the publicity that we could've never afforded to pay for ourselves," Wheatcroft told
"Just in the last three weeks, 10 people came in looking to apply, looking to become Marine officers, and that's much higher than normal," he said.
Wheatcroft could not give exact figures on recruiting numbers, and officials at the Marine Corps' national headquarters did not respond to repeated requests for information.
As for what's brewing outside his recruiting center this week, Wheatcroft responded, "I think witches won't shock me, but it'll be a change of pace, so that's nice."


My only message for these Code Pink banshees is this: Under Sharia law, you'd all have been killed already. So, you should think twice about who you're protesting against.

The Liberals' Double-Standards

One thing that always irritates me is how intolerant liberals are of anything they do not agree with -- there are things I don't like, but I am supposed to be tolerant of them, and I am. If I disagree, I voice my dissent, but I do not (and cannot) stop those things from being.

However, when liberals don't agree with something, they think it's perfectly fine to try and ban it, or shout it down, or just plain destroy it.

Simply, liberals are the most intolerant people around. Here's a great story ... and, FYI, I am pro-choice, though I would like to see an end to late-term abortion.

University of Wisconsin Student Govt Leader Vandalizes Pro-Life Display

By Steven Ertelt Editor
May 7, 2008

Stevens Point, WI ( -- A University of Wisconsin Stevens Point student government leader is coming under fire for allegedly trashing a pro-life display on campus. Student senator Roderick King is said to have vandalized a display featuring crosses erected by the campus pro-life group to memorialize those babies killed in abortions.
The UWSP pro-life group Pointers for Life put up the Cemetery of the Innocents display and spent the morning last Thursday repairing the damage someone caused in an apparent vandalism.
That's when they were trashed a second time.
As students repaired the earlier damage, King led a group of angry students by walking through the rows of small crosses and plucking them from the ground and throwing them.
The national pro-life college group Students for Life of America told that King began to voice his complaints and said that Pointers for Life had "no right" to display the crosses.
King said it was "his duty as a paying student" to take down the pro-life display.
The pro-life students notified campus Protective Services and, when an officer arrived, most of the students stopped vandalizing the display. However, King did not stop and claimed, "The freedom of speech does not cover these signs and symbols."
According to
a video pro-life students posted on YouTube, King refused to stop vandalizing the pro-life display until the campus security officer told him he would have to compensate the pro-life group for the damages he caused.
"If students had a problem with the display, they could exercise their freedom of speech maturely by protesting it peacefully, not by defacing our display," Jackie Kryzkowski, president of the pro-life student group, said in response.
After the incident, Bob Tomlinson, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, apologized to Pointers for Life for the vandalism. Student government senators Katie Kloth and Erica Wardle reportedly stopped by the display and told the pro-life students they had properly reserved the space for the display and had a right to host it.
The evening of the vandalism, Pointers for Life submitted a complaint to the Student Government Association and asked for King to submit his resignation or face discipline from the body.
Students for Life of America tells the SGA has yet to take any action against King.
Kryzkowski complained that the SGA has a responsibility to represent the rights of the members of her group.
"Student senators should be helping to defend our freedom of speech, not trying to take it away because of personal beliefs," she said.
Ryan Wrasse, another member of the pro-life group, added, "The SGA could either vote to retain Senator King and condone this type of behavior, or remove him from Senate and send a clear message to UWSP students and faculty that this type of behavior will not be tolerated."
Kristan Hawkins, the executive director of Students for Life of America, told the situation is similar to the repeated acts of censorship taking place against pro-life student groups in Canada.
"This event shows that our country is not immune to the situation going on in Canada right now, where campus pro-life groups are being singled out and excluded from the guaranteed freedom of speech and expression on college campuses," she said.
Hawkins said this was not the first time a pro-life student display in the U.S. had been vandalized.
In April 2006, abortion advocates vandalized and destroyed a pro-life display at Northern Kentucky University. Six students joined Sally Jacobsen, a British literature professor in destroying a display of crosses Northern Right to Life set up to memorialize the babies who have died from abortions.
They trashed the crosses and ripped up a sign that accompanied them and their actions were caught on film by a reporter from the student newspaper.
Jacobsen was charged with theft, criminal mischief and criminal solicitation but those charges were dropped after a court demanded that she apologize. Beforehand, she defended her actions and when the vandalism came under scrutiny, she encouraged the students not to talk to police and to get their own attorneys.
The court required Jacobsen to complete a mediation and she agreed to pay Northern Right to Life for the costs of the display. Jacobsen also made a $1,000 donation to the Madonna House, a Northern Kentucky crisis pregnancy shelter.
Jacobsen was suspended by Northern Kentucky University for the remainder of the school year and her classes given to other professors to complete. She has since retired and moved to Portland, Oregon.
Hawkins said SFLA is calling on pro-life advocates to contact University of Wisconsin -Stevens Point Chancellor of Student Affairs Linda Bunnell asking for Roderick King to be removed from the Student Senate. Contact Bunnell at 715-346-2123 or email her at

Related web sites:Students for Life of America -

NY Post -- A Matter of Wright & Wrong

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's loose cannon of a spiritual adviser, stole the wife of a parishioner - after the man sought Wright's help in saving his troubled marriage, the former husband told friends.
Delmer Reed, 59, confided to pals that he believed the minister moved in on his wife while Wright was counseling the couple at his Chicago church in the early 1980s, The Post has learned.
"That's exactly how he said it," Reed's divorce lawyer, Roosevelt Thomas, told The Post.
"It looks like Delmer might have been right," he said, because after Delmer and Ramah Reed were divorced, she got remarried - to Wright. "Either that or this was the biggest coincidence in the world."
Asked about the relationship between Wright and his ex-wife, Reed told The Post, "Oh, the things I could tell you."
Initially, he didn't believe the rumors.
"People were telling me that my extremely attractive wife was seen with the pastor," Reed said. "But I didn't believe it. I thought, 'So what?' "
Was he wrong in the end?
"Well, yeah," he said.
Asked if Wright broke up his marriage, Reed laughed, then said, "I told my kids I wouldn't say anything to hurt their stepfather, so I'm not saying anything."
But he said he's been hounded by the press and "offered money" to tell his story.
A spokesman for the Wright family flatly denied the allegation yesterday.
"This story has no merit whatsoever and is not based on facts," said George Lofton. "They had problems throughout the course of their turbulent marriage, and the couple never received marriage counseling from Rev. Wright or anyone else."
But Reed, a former investigator for the Illinois secretary of state, told The Post he and his ex-wife went to Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for counseling when their marriage hit the skids over his demanding work schedule.
"I spoke with [Wright] four times over a few months," Reed said in an interview at his upscale home in Lemont, Ill.
"Her father asked me to go to counseling. We thought we'd be together forever. I decided to try to work this out."
Asked if he's forgiven the pastor, Reed nodded.
"I let it go," he said. "I don't want my kids to hear anything negative about their stepfather."
He added: "I'm not a vindictive person; I'm a forgiving man."
But years ago, Reed did express anger about the situation, said Harold Davis, who said he learned about the matter through mutual friends.
"Jeremiah knew all the weaknesses of the couple, and he started focusing on the wife, her vulnerabilities, and started doing things she wanted Delmer to do - spending time with her, taking her to the movies, that sort of thing," said Davis, who heads the Chicago branch of football great Jim Brown's Amer-I-can youth program.
"Everybody knew Jeremiah took the man's wife," said Davis. "It was common knowledge."
The Reeds, longtime sweethearts who grew up on the same block on Chicago's South Side, have two children, Nikol, 30, and Nathan, 27. The couple got married in 1975 and split in 1982. Their divorce was final in 1983.
Ramah, 59, married Wright, 66, six years after she divorced Reed, although she and the reverend were a couple for years before getting hitched. They remain together and have a daughter, Jamila, 13.
Wright, who divorced his wife, Janet, in 1978, has two adult children from his first marriage.
Reed said his wife served him with divorce papers in 1982 in an arrangement they worked out together. The grounds were "extreme mental cruelty."
"We agreed that she would say anything she wanted to say to get a divorce," Reed said.
"When I saw the words, I thought, 'Was this necessary?' But I decided [to] let her do what she had to do. I was innocent. I was a good boy. It was amicable. We were sitting arm in arm when we signed the divorce papers."
Obama has severed all ties to Wright, but his former adviser continues to be a nightmarish problem for his campaign. The fiery minister, under fire for his racially and politically charged sermons, has toured the country defending his views and claiming Obama has distanced himself for political reasons.
Activist Derrick Mosley, a self-styled minister who has clashed with Wright, said there's an "unwritten rule" that pastors don't counsel married couples separately - as Wright did with Ramah Reed, he said.
In 2003, Mosley said, "I called him on the carpet about the indecorous manner in which he'd obtained his wife."
In response, said Mosley, "he ranted and raved from the pulpit. He got up and announced, 'If Derrick Mosley is in the building, I want you all to arrest him.' "

From the NY Post Web site; By SUSANNAH CAHALAN and VERONICA HINKE in Chicago and BRAD HAMILTON in New York

Talk Show Host Admits Having Child Porn

Former talk show host Bernie Ward admits to distributing child porn

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bernie Ward, the most prominent liberal voice on Bay Area talk radio for more than two decades, admitted Thursday to distributing child pornography by e-mail in a plea deal that will send him to federal prison for at least five years.
Ward, 57, a former Roman Catholic priest, was a fixture on KGO-AM 810 for three hours every weeknight, known in recent years for his fervent denunciations of President Bush and the war in Iraq during his news talk show. He also hosted "God Talk," a Sunday morning program on religion, and was a prolific fundraiser for the station's charity drives.
But his career disintegrated Dec. 6 with the unsealing of a federal grand jury indictment, issued three months earlier, that charged him with two counts of distributing and one count of receiving Internet images of child pornography. KGO fired him Dec. 31.
At a 30-minute hearing Thursday in federal court in San Francisco, Ward admitted he was guilty of a single charge of distributing child pornography, saying it involved "exchanging an image of a minor engaged in sexually explicit activity" in December 2004. The plea agreement he signed, quoted in court, contained an admission that he had sent between 15 and 150 pornographic images via e-mail.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said he was satisfied that Ward was voluntarily admitting guilt, but granted defense lawyer Doron Weinberg's request to delay accepting the plea until a sentencing hearing Aug. 28. If the plea had been formally entered Thursday, Ward could have been sent to prison immediately.
Ward exchanged hugs with family members and friends before and after the hearing. Wearing a suit and tie and looking grim, he described his conduct succinctly to Walker, showed little hesitation when the judge asked him about waiving his right to go to trial, and said of his guilty plea, "I worked it out in conjunction with my attorney."
As part of the deal, Weinberg said outside court, federal prosecutors agreed to drop two additional child pornography charges and ask for a sentence of no more than nine years. The maximum under the law is 20 years.
The case was prosecuted by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., after the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco bowed out for unstated reasons. The department issued a brief statement describing Ward's plea agreement and had no further comment.
Ward initially pleaded not guilty and said he had downloaded a few pornographic images over several weeks as research for a book on hypocrisy among Americans who preach morality in public. But he was confronted by a federal law that flatly prohibits possessing, receiving or distributing child pornography - regardless of intent - and requires at least five years in prison for each conviction.
His hopes of maintaining a defense based on a constitutional right to research taboo subjects appeared to be weakened further when police in Oakdale (Stanislaus County) released transcripts in February of a series of online sex chats between Ward and a dominatrix in December 2004 and January 2005.
The transcripts quote Ward as fantasizing about naked children, with no apparent reference to any subject he was researching. Police said he had sent photos to the woman that showed children engaged in sexual activity.
Weinberg said outside court Thursday that his client had been "playing roles" in the message exchange.
Weinberg said he would argue for a five-year sentence for Ward, rather than the nine years that prosecutors are seeking. He said a five-year term could be reduced by about nine months for good behavior in prison.
"In terms of his freedom, his future, he's lost almost everything," Weinberg said. "He's not going to be able to come out (of prison) and return to the work he does so well."
In a preview of arguments at the sentencing hearing, Weinberg told the judge that Ward was "a man with an impeccable record of service to his community" and that the crime involved "an error of judgment rather than sexual proclivities."
Since his indictment was unsealed, Ward has been confined to his San Francisco home, with electronic monitoring, as a condition of $250,000 bail. He has been allowed to leave only to work, to drive his children to and from school and to go to church.
Ward, a San Francisco native, went to St. Ignatius High School and the University of San Francisco and earned a master's degree in theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He was ordained to the priesthood with the Society of the Precious Blood in 1977 but left two years later, explaining afterward that he wanted to marry and have children. He has four children.
After the priesthood, Ward worked as a schoolteacher, served as legislative assistant for then-Rep. Barbara Boxer for three years, and was hired by KGO in 1985. As an investigative reporter, he won a national award for a series of stories in the mid-1990s, in partnership with the San Francisco Examiner, that exposed financial and sexual improprieties in the San Francisco Archdiocese.
As a talk show host since 1992, Ward was dubbed the "lion of the left" by KGO and had a devoted following. His "God Talk" show, which he described as the work closest to his heart, included discussions of the Christian mission to help the poor and of misconduct in organized religion, especially in his own Catholic faith.
Ward's indictment, and his claim that he was a researcher rather than an exploiter of children, focused attention on the strict federal law, which considers motive and intent to be irrelevant. The rationale is that anyone who possesses child pornography adds to the national market for a product that degrades youth.
In court papers, Weinberg had urged Judge Walker to allow him to argue to the jury that Ward had a "First Amendment-protected right to research and comment upon societal mores," which included viewing pornographic images.
No court has recognized such a right, however, and a federal appeals court in Virginia rejected it in a 2000 ruling upholding a journalist's conviction. Justice Department lawyer Steven Grocki said in a filing in Ward's case that the defense asserted by Weinberg "would invite every defendant charged with child pornography crimes to suddenly become a legitimate researcher educating the masses via their blogs."
After Thursday's hearing, Weinberg said he still believes Ward had a legitimate defense but one that was too risky to pursue. Any leniency that prosecutors are now offering would disappear after a trial and conviction, he said, and the price would be an additional "five or six years of a man's life."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

SUV - Such Useless Vehicles!

This is rich -- here's a story about people trying to get rid of their gas-guzzling SUVs, only to find that no one else wants them, either!

By Jenn Abelson Globe Staff / May 6, 2008

After paying $75 to fill his black Dodge Ram pickup truck for the third time in a week, Douglas Chrystall couldn't take it anymore.

Feeling pinched at the pump, and guilty as well, Chrystall, a 39-year-old father from Wellesley, is putting ads online to sell the truck, and the family's other gas-guzzler, a Jeep Grand Cherokee. He knows it will be tough to unload them because he is one of a growing number of consumers downsizing to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

Americans are turning away from the boxy, four-wheel-drive vehicles that have for years dominated the nation's highways. Sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks - symbols of Americans' obsession with horsepower, size, and status - are falling out of favor as consumers rich and poor encounter sticker shock at the pump, paying upward of $80 to fill gas tanks.

The sale of new SUVs and pickup trucks has dropped precipitously in recent months amid soaring gas prices and a weakening economy: SUV sales for the month of April alone fell 32.3 percent from a year earlier and small car sales rose 18.6 percent. This fundamental shift comes against a backdrop of relentless gas increases, and growing concerns over the environment and US oil consumption, according to auto analysts and car dealers.

"The SUV craze was a bubble and now it is bursting," said George Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University whose research focuses on the automotive industry. "It's an irrational vehicle. It'll never come back."

With stocks of unwanted new SUVs and pickups piling up at dealerships across the country, automakers are offering unprecedented promotions. Incentives for large SUVs, including cash rebates, topped $4,000 in March, or more than double those offered in March 2002, according to, which monitors the motor industry.

At the same time, consumers like Chrystall are flooding the market with used SUVs, trying to trade in hulking Hummers for compact Corollas, and getting thousands of dollars less than they would have just a few months ago. In April, the average used SUV took more than 66 days to sell, at a 20 percent discount from vehicle valuation books, such as Kelley Blue Book, compared to 48 days and a 7.8 percent discount a year earlier, reported CNW Marketing Research, an automotive marketing research company.

Some desperate car dealers and consumers, are willing to lose thousands of dollars just to get rid of their SUVs. Last July, 20-year-old Sannan Nizami, of Lowell, bought a 2007 Toyota 4Runner SUV for $32,000 when it cost about $65 to fill the tank. Six months later, as a gallon of gas soared to $3.50 and more, and tank refills climbed over $80, Nizami put the vehicle up for sale. He posted it online for $27,000 but received no responses for months.

Frustrated and unable to afford prices at the pump, Nizami last month turned over the Toyota to a dealer who only sells vehicles from private owners. Nizami is still paying the $450 loan but now is bumming rides to work with a cousin and worrying about making enough from the sale to cover the car loan.

"I didn't think gas would shoot up this much. I'm willing to take a hit just to take the pressure off," Nizami said. "I'll probably get a really cheap Camry or Corolla. Something that gets more than 18 miles to the gallon."

The slowdown in the home construction industry has also lowered demand for used SUVs and full-size pickup trucks. Meanwhile, midsize and small domestic 4-cylinder vehicles have fetched higher used prices during this period of high gasoline prices, according to Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association. For example, wholesale prices of used small cars increased from $8,480 to $9,240 between December and March as gas prices rose from $2.98 to $3.22 per gallon.

The growing popularity of crossover vehicles, which offer SUV features on a car platform, is putting a dent in SUV sales and reshaping the focus of the auto industry toward the more fuel-efficient crossovers. In March, twice as many crossovers were sold compared to SUVs, according to the auto dealers association.

Herb Chambers, who owns more than 40 dealerships across Massachusetts and Rhode Island, said the incentives offered on new SUVs are pushing down the value of the used vehicles, and increasingly, he is taking a loss on SUV trade-ins at his various dealerships, which include everything from Chevrolet to Jeep to Mini.

"The incentives have never been higher than they are today for the large SUVs and small pickup trucks," Chambers said. "I don't know how factories can make any money for these cars."

At his Mini dealership, Chambers said people have been turning in Chevrolet Suburbans for the tiny British car in recent weeks. He currently has a one-year waiting list for the coveted Smart Car, an 8-foot-8-inch vehicle that gets more than 40 miles per gallon.

"Having SUVs as an everyday commuter car is largely going away," Chambers said.

Jon McHugh, of Swampscott, is celebrating the last payment on his 2003 Acura MDX by putting the SUV up for sale. He had expected to drive it a year longer, but rising gas prices and growing economic uncertainty made him reconsider. Plus, McHugh recently reacquired a taste for the convenience of a smaller car. Whenever possible, he drives his wife's new Civic Hybrid, which costs half as much as the Acura to gas up.

"I don't need this much space," McHugh said of his SUV. "It just seems ridiculous."


How funny is this? For years I've been complaining about people driving these silly-big trucks to carry little Dylan to soccer practice or cart groceries.

I hate the trucks because they block the field of vision of everyone else driving normal cars, and most of the time the people driving them have no regard for anyone else on the road because, well, they're bigger, so they clearly have the right-of-way all the time.

Now, it costs them $80 to fill the tank, and they can't handle it.

Very cool. Now go back to driving a normal car, Indiana Jones, because after all, it's the city, there aren't too many mud bogs you'll have to 4-wheel your way out of.

New Haven Mayor is a Joke

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano is truly a gigantic putz:

HARTFORD — A coalition of mayors came back to the Capitol Monday to make one thing clear to constituents: Blame the governor and legislature for pending local service cuts and tax increases.

The two Democratic gubernatorial primary contenders, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, also predicted more violent incidents, like the deadly home invasions which recently occurred in three communities, because of inadequate supervision and support for state prisoners dumped back into their towns.

First of all, DeStefano got creamed in the election when he went up against Gov. M. Jodi Rell -- most clear thinking people in this state were able to see that New Haven is a really crappy city, and decided they didn't want the person in charge of that place to be in charge of the whole state.

This is a joke. You know who's responsible for the crime? It's (a) the criminals themselves and (b) the liberals that refuse to allow proper punishment of criminals.

Let's see ... which political group wants to kill rapists and murderers, and which party wants to rehabilitate them?

Which group wants to keep criminals off the streets, and which one wants to "re-integrate" them into society?

DeStefano has been whining for months and months about ex-cons getting "dumped" in New Haven ... and it's getting more and more sickening.

Most of the criminals brought to New Haven after they get out of jail are brought there because that's where they're from.

But this is how DeStefano works -- he blames everyone else for his failure, for the dismal condition of his city, where people get shot every day, where people get robbed every day, where the majority of kids are just plain stupid because instead of learning how to read and write, they go to multi-million dollar schools to learn how to dance.

He does the same magic blame trick with the homeless -- DeStefano will complain and complain about the number of homeless people in New Haven. He'll gripe about how other surrounding towns are doing anything for the homeless, so he has to keep building shelters.

Well, is this guy a brain surgeon or what? If you keep making places for homeless people, homeless people are going to keep showing up.

You know why North Haven doesn't have lots of homeless people around? Because there's nothing there for homeless people.

It really does mystify me, how DeStefano and others like him just don't get it -- if you keep building shelters, then people are going to keep coming to them.

People who want to go to the beach don't go to Ansonia, because there's no beach.

You know, DeStefano really is disgusting -- he wants to be the savior and the martyr. He wants to "help" all these people, but he wants to make sure everyone around knows he's helping.

It's typical, though.

It's like blood donation -- everyone should donate blood, because it's the right thing to do -- but then wearing that stupid sticker all day, the one that announces that you gave blood, is a self-serving pat on the back.

Look, if you're going to do something nice for someone else, part of the goodness of it is the fact that you may never be recognized for it. When you do something nice for someone and need the whole world to know that you did something nice, then you're no longer doing it for them, you're doing it for you, and that steals a lot of the goodness out of the act.

I hope DeStefano does run for governor again, because I want him to waste more of his ignorant followers' money just so he can get creamed again.

Hypocrisy in the City

Residents of New Haven's East Rock neighborhood complained to police about coverage at a meeting in response to a home invasion recently in which a trio of teenagers broke into a house, beat a 55-year-old woman and stole things.

The kicker came when a resident of the nearby Newhallville neighborhood -- a crummy place, for sure -- said this:

“I don’t mean to minimize what’s going on over here on your side of town and I feel badly for the person that got injured,” she said, declining to give her name, “but if you step over onto the other side of the hill, you’ve got every day stuff looking at your face. You even have drug dealers talking to you, telling you ‘What are you saying? What do you mean we can’t be on this corner? Who are you?’”

This made me very angry.

People say this -- they complain about this type of activity in their neighborhood -- but then, when the cops arrest the people committing the crimes, "activists" come out complaining about the arrests.

You can't have it both ways. If you want the crime to stop, that can only be achieved by getting rid of the criminals.

But in New Haven, it seems like whenever a criminal is arrested, the "activists" (around here, that means "people with too much free time") there's suddenly a movement against the cops, because either the criminal is black/Hispanic -- which of course means that cops are targeting blacks and Hispanics -- or the criminal fights with the cops and gets his ass kicked, leading the "activists" to then complain about "brutality."

If the people in New Haven are tired of crime, then they have to stop protecting the criminals.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Dangerous Bicyclists

Here's a story out of West Haven:

WEST HAVEN — A 14-year-old boy riding his bicycle on Captain Thomas Boulevard was killed Monday when a Jeep slammed into him as he pedaled across the street.

Police said the driver of the Jeep had a green light and was not at fault.

The identity of the boy, who was a student at Bailey Middle School, was not immediately released pending notification of his family. A friend who was riding alongside the victim was not harmed.

A crowd of onlookers and neighbors gathered at the corner of Captain Thomas and Campbell Avenue as police investigated the accident, which happened just before 4 p.m.

Officers cordoned off the scene with yellow tape and directed traffic.

Two bicycles, one of them partly mangled, were near the center barrier under the traffic light. A high-top sneaker and white baseball cap lay on the ground, surrounded by shattered glass.

Witnesses said it did not appear the victim was wearing a helmet.

Police Sgt. Martin Garcia said the two boys were riding bicycles east on Captain Thomas Boulevard. When they tried to turn left onto Campbell Avenue, the Jeep hit one of the boys, Garcia said.

The driver’s side of the Jeep’s windshield was smashed.

Garcia said the boy died while being transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

“It’s so sad,” said neighbor Karen Orlando as she watched police examine evidence at the scene. The mother of a 15-year-old boy, Orlando ran outside to make sure it wasn’t her own son.

“It’s a very dangerous intersection,” she said. “Cars go flying by.”

Orlando said she saw paramedics trying to resuscitate the boy before taking him away by ambulance.

As the crowd of onlookers grew, teenagers in shock about the tragedy speculated about who the victim was and wondered if it was someone they knew. Parents emotionally talked about the need for helmet laws and more vigilance by drivers.

“Just like they say wear a seat belt, just wear a helmet,” said resident Gerri Collins.

Garcia said he could not confirm reports that the boy was not wearing a helmet.

At a Board of Education meeting Monday night, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro said grief counselors will be available at Bailey and Carrigan middle schools today.

“They will be ready to counsel students as soon as the doors open,” he said. “Our sympathies go out to his family,” Cavallaro added.

Board Chairman Mark Palmieri, whose son played baseball with the victim, called the boy a respectful and bright young man.

“His smile would light up the room every time he walked in,” he said.

A memorial of flowers, candles and baseballs was set up at the intersection of Captain Thomas Boulevard and Campbell Avenue Monday night and friends continued to stop by after dark.

Garcia said the intersection is a busy one, but not an area that is prone to accidents.

He said people should be cautious as summer approaches and more people are outside.

“It’s very important especially now that the weather is warming up and motorists should expect more bicycles and pedestrians out on the road,” he said, adding: “People riding bikes should adhere to the same rules as motorists.”

I've lived in West Haven for about 13 years now, and since the beginning have always been amazed at how reckless the kids are -- whether they're on foot or bike. I can't count the number of times I've almost hit a kid, because they just walk/ride right in front of cars.

Of course I feel sorry for the kid that got killed, and his family, but this is something foreign to me -- I grew up on my bike, and was taught to watch out for cars. My friends and I were careful to do this, because we understood that, simply because of the difference in size between a bike and a car, we would be the ones that got hurt.

And, of course, there are going to be cases where a driver is at fault -- blowing a stop sign, speeding -- but let's be realistic about this, please. Kids should not ride a bike in front of moving vehicles. But they do, all the time. I've seen kids hold up traffic here in W. Haven, riding down the street, criss-crossing in front of traffic. And as traffic finally goes by, and drivers yell at them to watch where they're going, the kids just laugh and curse and flip the bird.

Then, one gets hit, and the world turns upside-down and everyone starts "looking for answers" ... and yet the answer is simple: Don't ride your bike in front of cars.

As a last note, the lead paragraph of this story is very poor: "A 14-year-old boy riding his bicycle on Captain Thomas Boulevard was killed Monday when a Jeep slammed into him as he pedaled across the street."

Really? It sounds dramatic, and it's accurate, but it's very misleading. It makes it sound like the kid was doing what he was supposed to be doing and the Jeep did something wrong.

Instead, it should have said "A 14-year-old boy was killed Monday when he rode his bicycle in front of traffic and was struck by a Jeep."

If you don't put the blame where the blame belongs, you waste the lesson.