Monday, October 31, 2005

Poll on Bush's nomination of Alito

Hugh Hewitt has a Poll regarding Bush's nomination of 3rd Circuit Judge Alito to the Supreme Court.

My take: Judge Alito is a superior candidate. Definetly better than Miers and he will make a superb Supreme Court Justice.

More Election Antics at the Detroit Clerks Office

The Detroit News has a special report regarding some questionable activites by the Detroit's Clerk's office and the head of that Office, Betty Currie.

Included among the irregularities found are:
• At the Passion Caring Home for the Elderly, three people who voted absentee in the August primary could not name the mayor of Detroit or recall having voted when interviewed Thursday. Each was helped by Currie's election assistant in a private room. Of eight recent absentee ballots mailed to the home for the general election next month, seven of the ballot recipients have been declared legally incapacitated by Wayne County Probate Court judges and suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

• People who were mailed absentee voter applications by Currie's office and later voted by absentee ballot have voter registration addresses of two long-abandoned nursing homes, the LaSalle Nursing Home on West Grand Boulevard and the Woodward Nursing Center.

• In one case, Joseph Koziara voted by absentee ballot. His application for the ballot was addressed to his registered voting address, 3456 Martin, a building that was demolished in 2002 and remains a vacant lot, according to city records. Currie's office has addressed ballot applications to demolished and vacant buildings. In one case, 34 applications were sent to a juvenile detention center for teenagers that need to be hospitalized.

• Two people in unrelated civil cases filed against Currie have given sworn statements that they witnessed Currie's workers filling out empty absentee ballots after the polls had closed. One of the cases is pending. In the other, a judge ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to invalidate the election in question.

• In a 2003 race between Cheryl Cushingberry and Keith Williams for the Wayne County Commission, a fire broke out in the Detroit clerk's counting room for absentee ballots. When people were allowed back in, a recount was impossible because ballot boxes and results had been tampered with, according to court records. Cushingberry later challenged the results, alleging absentee votes had been manipulated.

In addition, Detroit's absentee voting rate is over 30%, the national average for absentees is 14%. The obvious potential for fraud, if not actual fraud is clear.

Currie's response to the allegations of impropriety, not to mention outright fraud:
""Prove it," Currie said. "P-R-O-V-E.""

Hardly reassuring.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Coin of the Month - A Bronze of Diadumenian

This bronze coin of the later Roman Emperor Diadumenian (Emperor only for a short period in AD 218), struck in the city of Nicopolis in Moesia Inferior in AD 218 is of interest not only to coin collectors but also to those interested in the history of medicine.

The Coin, on its reverse features Aesculapius, the patron deity of medicine. That would make this coin a nice gift not only for a collector of coins but also for the doctor in the family (when else can you give someone an ancient artifact that relates to their profession?)

The coin is selling for $200 at Amphora Coins.

Diadumenian only lasted less than one year as Emperor before he both he and his father, the Emperor Macrinus were killed by the supporters of Elagabalus. Diadumenian suffered a wound even Aescalapius could not cure - his head was cut off and presented to Elagabalus.

Michigan Friends of the IDF - Dinner Meeting with Maj. Gen A.Z.

I attended the Michigan Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces Gala Dinner last night. The dinner honored the great contributions of Asa and Sara Shapiro to Israel and also to the Detroit area. The meeting opened with the Anthems of both the USA and Israel and a prayer for the safety of the soldiers of the United States and Israel now in harm's way in the current conflict.

The Michigan Friends of the IDF raises money to provide recreational facilities for soldiers, care kits, University Scholarships, and items for health care for wounded IDF members.

The Intelligence Briefing

Attending the meeting was Major General A.Z., head of Israel's military intelligence (I will identify active Israeli soldiers attending MIDF events only by their initials on this blog.).

Maj. Gen. A.Z. provided us with an informative briefing on the current state of the conflict in the middle East with the following highlights:

1. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are attempting to acquire what they consider to be balance-breaking weapons: Surface to Air missiles, Anti-Tank Missiles, Katyusha rockets, and other rockets with a greater range than their indigenously produced Kassam rockets in order to tip the current balance of power between Israel and the PA.

2. The PA and Hamas are using the truce/ceasefire as a Hudna and are using the relative operational pause to acquire more weapons and plan more attacks on Israel.

3. Iran is providing nearly 100% of the 100 million dollar budget for Hizb'allah terrorist group.

4. Iran is providing Palestinian Islamic Jihad with $12 million dollars per year for their terrorist activities.

Maj Gen A.Z. also showed the audience footage from the taking of the Karine-A, the ship that was attempting to bring a huge load of weapons, including anti-tank missiles to the Port of Gaza from Iran. The footage shows Israeli Naval Commandos stealthily boarding the freighter and their discovery of the huge cache of weapons on board. The General pointed out that such activities require good Intelligence- divining the enemy's intentions, finding when and where the enemy will act, and arranging to disrupt the enemy's plans.

Maj Gen A.Z. pointed out that over 175 attacks last year were prevented by solid intelligence work and the close cooperation between the intelligence units and the operational units that successfully intercepted the terrorists' plans.

Briefing from the Operational Side

In addition to the General, we also had a presentation by Lt. E.G of the Paratroop Brigade. The presentation included video footage of a raid by the Lt's company that successfully captured a terrorist in Balata, along with a cache of explosives and weapons. Ominously, included amongst the items captured was a family photo album that depicted even the youngest children of the family dressed in military fatigues and holding automatic weapons.

The evening was a great success and helped raise money for America's greatest ally in the Middle East and for the soldiers involved in the War on Terror.

To Contribute to the Friends of the IDF go to the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces Webpage

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdraws

Its Confirmed, Miers is withdrawing her nomination as a Supreme Court Justice.
from Foxnews:Harriet Miers (search) withdrew her nomination to be a U.S. Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of strong criticism from President Bush's most conservative supporters who say she doesn't have the qualifications or experience necessary to serve on the nation's highest court.

Miers, who President Bush had nominated in the beginning of the month to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, notified Bush on Wednesday night about her decision and delivered a letter to him dated Thursday. In her letter, she blamed her withdrawal on Senate demands for release of internal White House documents in advance of her confirmation hearings.
Now to see if her original nomination was a jellyfish decision or a brilliant Rope-A-Dope. Stay tuned, the next nominee will be telling.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Detroit City Clerk's Election Woes - Now with Absentee "helpers"

As if Detroit City Clerk's refusal to comply with a Court order requiring her to cease the unsolicited sending of absentee ballots was not enough, a new issue regarding absentee voter "helpers" has emerged:

In the Detroit Free Press ANOTHER CURRIE CASE: Judge limits helpers for absentee voters
the Freep reports:
A judge ordered Tuesday that Detroit City Clerk Jackie Currie halt the sending of so-called ambassadors to group homes -- unless requested -- to help people with absentee voter ballots.

The ruling by Wayne County Chief Circuit Judge Mary Beth Kelly came after allegations that 30 to 40 ambassadors from the clerk's office have for years showed up unsolicited at senior centers, nursing homes and similar places to help people complete absentee ballots.

Lawyer Steven Wasinger even alleged that the ambassadors fill out ballots for senior citizens, which is illegal, and collect ballots from people who are not registered to vote.
Hmm, can anyone else see the potential for massive voter fraud with "helpers" completing ballots for aged people in senior and nursing homes?

It should be noted this is not a new issue:
he judge has also appointed two monitors to investigate why Currie mailed out the applications and whether her office tampered with absentee ballots during the Aug. 2 primary election.

One wonders, indeed fears, how long this has been going on, and indeed, why the court is not doing a even farther-reaching review of the Detroit City Clerk's election practices.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Meanwhile in Detroit Racial Bias in Hiring and Promotion Continues

At the same time as Rosa Parks, the heroine who fough segregation and racial discriimination, whose death is being mourned today, in Detroit, hiring and promotion in the police Department is the subject of a lawsuit alleging the promotion decisions are based upon race:
Police sued; race bias alleged.Detroit commander says he was passed over for promotions and was demoted because he is white.
Cmdr. Craig W. Schwartz, a well-known officer who headed investigations of homicides and other serious crimes, sued the city, department and the chief in U.S. District Court in Detroit Monday, claiming he was repeatedly passed over for promotion to deputy chief and other executive positions "and, in fact, was demoted to a non-executive position of lieutenant solely on the basis of race."
Interestingly, in a related case, Judge
Edmunds quoted a sworn deposition by former Detroit Deputy Police Chief Pam Evans that Bully-Cummings, then an assistant chief, initially refused to approve a promotion because there were "too many white people in (the) bureau."

Edmunds ruling added: "In addition (Cliff) asserts that assistant chiefs (Walter) Shoulders and Bully-Cummings stated that the city of Detroit 'is all black.'"

Bully-Cummings is now the Chief of Police in Detroit.

RIP Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks, civil rights pioneer, dead at 92. Rosa Parks died in Detroit. the famous bus where she stood up for her rights is on display at the Henry Ford Greenfield Museum and is being draped in black to mourn her passing.

Certainly a true American Hero, Rosa Parks courageously fought against segregation, at no little risk to herself.

Amazing to think how far this country has moved in such a short time. From when a black woman had to "go to the back of the bus" to one being appointed Secretary of State..all within one lifetime.

Thank you Rosa Parks, for the courage to help end a great injustice.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

On Miers: Incredible Bush Rope-A-Dope or the best the Spineless can offer?

Patterico, based on nominee Harriet Miers less-than-stellar answers to her questionnaire is about to be stepping out on the window ledge, bemoaning that it seems that Miers doesn't even know some basic facts of Constitutional Law.

This nomination is either a brilliant Bush/Rovian Rope a dope or an example of more Republican spineless surrendering to the Democrats and the left. miers seems to have been put forward, with much fanfare, as the ultimate stealth candidate. However the more we learn of her, and little there is indeed to know so far, the less appealing she becomes. So how could this be a brilliant move?

If the Miers nomination is defeated or withdrawn, Bush can then put forward a known entity and a definite conservative such as Janice Rogers brown, or Priscilla Owen or many, many others (my personal faint hope is for either Kozinski,or Volokh or Reynolds, the Instapundit (Glenn would be the most productive member of the Court, given how he's the most prolific and productive pundit out there).

After all his moderate choice was defeated, now he can put forward someone worth fighting for.

Sadly this seems not to be the case. It seems that with the White House, Senate and House in Republican hands, they still cannot gather the spine to fight for their ideals. Can anyone imaginge the Democrats in a similar situation and not pushing firtheir first choices? The Republicans, it seems, still have no idea about the uses of political power for advancing their goals and seem to be using power now simply to stay in power.

Please let this be a rope-a-dope rather than a jellyfish.

For what its worth:
I oppose the Miers nomination.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Unbelievable - El Baradei and IAEA to share Nobel Prize

Talk about ironic awards:
IAEA, ElBaradei share Nobel Peace Prize.
Mohamed ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency that he heads won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

At least someone posed some opposition to this:
ElBaradei, who was reappointed last month to a third term, has had to contend with U.S. opposition to his tenure. Much of the opposition stemmed from Washington's perception he was being too soft on Iran for not declaring it in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That stance blocked a U.S. bid to haul Tehran before the U.N. Security Council, where it could face possible sanctions, for more than two years.

And of course the award has been praised by other effective internationalists:
"I see it as an endorsement of the professional and independent role of the IAEA and of international verification in the field of nuclear power and nonproliferation," Blix said.

So this award was most likely a calculated slap-in-the-face by the prize committee to the USA.

Considering ElBaradei and the IAEA's stalling on taking any action against Iran, instead of their being given a Nobel Peace Prize for their "work" for nuclear disarmament, they should have be given an Enabler's Prize for Iran's Nuclear Program.

I hear the Enabler's Prize will be issued by Iran shortly.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Archaeological Team Discovers Underground Railway Site

In Vandalia, Michigan, archaeologists have uncovered artifacts that show that area is most likely location of the settlement known as Ramptown, where fugitive slave lived before the abolition of slavery.

WMU team verifies fugitive slave site: Researchers submit final report offering evidence unearthed of legendary community near Vandalia.
For years, street banners and a state historical marker have touted Vandalia's history as a stop along the Underground Railroad.

It's estimated that 1,500 fugitive slaves arrived in Cass County seeking freedom. They were aided mostly by sympathetic Quakers and free blacks who risked imprisonment. It was illegal, even in free states, to help fugitive slaves.

Some left the county for Detroit or Canada. For the approximately 200 who stayed, the Quakers provided small plots of land in exchange for harvesting crops or clearing trees for farmland. Blacks lived in sharecropper-style cabins on the land, sometimes for years.

Within a few decades of the abolition of slavery, the structural remains of Ramptown no longer could be found. The location of the community, originally known as Young's Prairie, never appeared on any historical maps, and people with firsthand knowledge started dying out.

"Because this was a clandestine activity, it's been difficult to try to identify evidence of this," said Nassaney, an anthropology professor at Western Michigan . . . .Without doing any digging, the archaeologists found skeletons of farm animals, nails, horseshoes, and pieces of pottery, glass and brick. Because the sites didn't coincide with the locations of residences on maps from the mid-1800s, and using written and oral accounts of the area's history, the team concluded that Ramptown residents had occupied the sites.

Nassaney said he's glad the artifacts were found when they were because it's hard to say how much longer they might have survived above ground, exposed to the elements.
Note that the artifacts the researchers have recovered were all above ground for all this time, and yet no one had known for certain that this was a former area of settlement for escaped slaves. Amazing the new discoveries one can make for even very recent historical events. Who knows how many other lost settlements in North America alone await discovery?

Scientists Manufacture the 1918 Flu Virus

From the Detroit News:
Scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918, the first time an infectious agent behind a historic pandemic has ever been reconstructed.

Why did they do it? Researchers say it may help them better understand -- and develop defenses against -- the threat of a future worldwide epidemic from bird flu.

"The effort to understand what happened in 1918 has taken on a new urgency," said Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger of the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, who led the team.

The public health risk of resurrecting the virus is minimal, U.S. health officials said. People around the world developed immunity to the deadly 1918 virus after the pandemic, and a certain degree of immunity is believed to persist today.

The viral recreation, announced Wednesday, is detailed in the journal Science.

About 10 vials of virus were created, each containing about 10 million infectious virus particles, Tumpey said.
I believe the statement "People around the world developed immunity to the deadly 1918 virus after the pandemic, and a certain degree of immunity is believed to persist today" is far less reasuring than it sounds. How many people are alive today who survived the 1918 pandemic? Further it is highly unlikely that these survivors passed their acquired immunity on to their progeny.

The real protection from this recreated virus will not be this supposed immunity but the security that is surrounding these 10 vials. Hopefully these samples are kept well-secured in secure laboratories and not shipped around the county or left where people can be exposed to them or where unauthorized persons can access them.

It's certainly a great and impressive step for science and it will hopefully lead to better protection from the various influenza virii.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Serenity makes $10 in First Weekend

Via Instapundit:
SERENITY was number two in the box-office rankings this weekend.

The site Instapundit links to, Cinematical states that
Second place went to Joss Whedon's Serenity, which earned a $10.1 million on about 2,200 screens.
Not a bad start.