Monday, February 27, 2006

Dubai and those Ports

I've given it some thought, and my feelings on the Dubai port deal are mixed. On one hand, giving an Arab country a nice deal might help us in the Middle Eastern world...so long as this company wasn't being run by an oppressive government.

On the other hand, the royal family from this country did have close ties with Bin Laden and this country (UAE) did produce some of the 9-11 terrorists and has, at least indirectly, helped to fund terrorism.

On still the other hand, they have cooperated lately.

So, as much as it pains me to say this, I think the President has a point.

But, in terms of pure politics, I say "it serves him right."
You know, what goes around, comes around...

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/article.php?sid=25025&mode=&order=0

Cynthia Tucker: 'Bush tactics come back to bite him'
Posted on Monday, February 27 @ 10:15:54 EST
This article has been read 1362 times.



ATLANTA // President Bush turns out to be a great professor of politics. His lessons - he teaches through example - have become essential political wisdom.

He taught Americans that all Arabs are alike by toppling Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the terrorist atrocities of 9/11.

Mr. Bush taught us that in the pursuit of power, politics trumps principle. So you never risk alienating the part of your base that's loony and hateful by publicly criticizing their xenophobia.

And the president taught us that a war on terror can cover a lot of ground. No programs, no policies, no answers? No problem. When you're waging a war on terror, you don't have to make sense, and you don't have to explain yourself.



Having led so well, Mr. Bush should not be at all surprised that Democrats and Republicans are trampling each other to get to the microphones to denounce the deal allowing an Arab-owned company to manage seaports in New York, Baltimore, Miami, Philadelphia and other cities. Isn't this Karl Rove's playbook?

While the president doesn't have to face re-election, his GOP allies in the House and Senate do. They want to be able to claim they were keeping the nation safe from Middle Eastern terrorists who might easily use our ports to smuggle in the means of our doom. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, after all, needs some national security bona fides for his presidential campaign. So does Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was among the first to challenge the deal.

On a purely pragmatic level, Mr. Bush is right to back the agreement allowing Dubai Ports World, a government-controlled company, to manage ports. There are a couple of legitimate concerns about the tiny sheikdom of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates - its freewheeling entrepreneurial culture allowed terrorists to launder money, for example. But since 9/11, it has largely cooperated with U.S. anti-terrorism initiatives.

Besides, if the deal goes through, U.S. Coast Guard and Customs officials will still be in charge of security, along with local port authorities. There is no reason to believe this deal would leave U.S. seaports any more vulnerable than they are now. And they are vulnerable, as security experts have pointed out in report after report. Only a fraction - about 5 percent - of the cargo containers entering U.S. ports are inspected. One expert told The New York Times that only one of the six ports in the DPW deal has a working radiation detection system.

The president simply has not shown much talent for the unglamorous, roll-up-your-sleeves work of barring doors, closing loopholes and sealing off the entryways terrorists might sneak through.

The Bush team has frightened voters with terrorist alerts (just how many were there leading up to the 2004 elections?); it has denounced critics as co-conspirators with Osama bin Laden; it has claimed that the secular Saddam Hussein and the hyper-religious bin Laden were somehow working together. In other words, it has sown the seeds of this controversy.

Every now and then, in reflective moments, the president has been at pains to point out that the United States is not at war with the Muslim world. But he has hardly used his bully pulpit to tamp down xenophobia.

He has never had a Sister Souljah moment, when he forcefully and publicly confronted the hateful, nativist elements in his party. He has never even rooted out the bigots in his ranks. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, an outspoken Christian conservative who has dismissed Muslims as idol worshippers, is still a high-ranking Pentagon official, in charge of intelligence-gathering.

Despite the blowback from Democrats and Republicans alike, Mr. Bush may be able to salvage the ports deal. He'll spend the next week persuading, cajoling, threatening; perhaps he'll be able to get enough members of Congress to go along. If not, it's because they've learned the lessons he's taught only too well.

Cynthia Tucker is editorial page editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her column appears Mondays in The Sun. Her e-mail is cynthia@ajc.com.

Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun

Source: The Baltimore Sun
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/
oped/bal-op.tucker27feb27,0,7805938.story

Houston Ultra Centurion Walk Report (2006)

Dave Gwyn, who really helps keep racewalking alive in the Houston area worked with the race director of the Houston Ultra weekend to get a Centurion walk for the 2006 race. 7 walkers signed up. Unfortunately, Marshall King (the newest US Centurion) couldn't make it due to a family emergency. So there were 6 walkers filling out the Centurion field, including first timer Beth Katcher (she has had success in he shorter walks, Lawrence Block (aka Buffalobear), yours truly, Doug Brown (from Florida), Andy Cable (finished the hilly Vermont 100 miler in 29 hours) and Jens Borello (who walked a 22:15 100 mile at the Dutch Centurion race in 2004).

The course was a 2.008 mile asphalt loop in Bear Creek park. The loop could be a fast one as there were relatively few turns; it was bordered by woods on one side (where deer, raccoons and armadillos would pay us visits), a street on one side, and soccer/softball fields on the inner part and on the other two sides.

But, within a hour or so of the start, it started to rain and it stayed rainy and windy for about 7 hours. The rain and the wind weren't that bad, but the pavement quickly became slippery which caused one to slip just a bit when using the "heel-toe" action. That was to have an effect.

Still, we were off and I quickly watched Jens and Beth get out of sight. For much of the first few hours I chatted with Andy Cable. Andy went through lots of funny mental gymnastics; he talked about a "hypothetical" 15 minute a mile walker and how many times we'd have to lap him in order to keep a centurion pace and things like that. I found that to be a pleasant diversion from the rain and wind. I had to make a couple of early pit stops and he then got away from me, only to lap me by around mile 20.

For the first 10 laps (20 miles/32 km) I was doing 27-28:30 per lap but expending too much energy; part of the trouble is that I let my walking technique get sloppy, and part of it was that this pace was too fast for me, given the rain and slippery surface. My calves started to tighten.

During this stretch, I noticed how several of the 100 km runners looked as if they were running a 10K. I didn't catch this guy's name, but this one tall guy finished the 100km run in under 7 hours! To put this into perspective, his average 50K splits would have won several of the Chicago 50K runs (which were also on a paved bike trail).

My socks were soaked and I noticed a hot spot on my left heel. I was 4:36:42 at 20.05 miles.
I started to slow a bit (to care for the blister and to eat, and due to the weather) and hit 30.1 miles in 6:58:15; still I was encouraged that I had a couple of low 27 minute laps (with Andy, who was 1 lap ahead). But then I took a 30 minute lap and decided to check on my blister.

It was now large and needed to be tended to. I thought hard and decided to go into the tent to tend to my feet; I retaped and put tape on my heel as well; I also changed into dry socks and shoes. That ended the blister problem for the day but set me back 33 minutes. I got back on the course at 8:03 and got back into my pace again.

The course was still wet but the rain had stopped (for the most part). The next 4 laps were ok; 27's to 28's and I hit 40.15 miles in 9:54:33. Becoming a Centurion was unlikely, but still remotely possible if I could hold my current pace for another 40 miles or so. But reality started to set in.

My next 4 laps saw me slide into a realistic 31-32 minute range and my stomach started to bother me; I couldn't hold down much in the way of food. I was at 12:28:03 at 50.2 miles and fading fast. But Ivo Majetic (whose 100 mile walk PR is 17:00) walked a lap with me and that helped; he gave me tons of good training advice and told me about his past Paris-Colmar walking races (stage walking race of 330 miles; you need a sub 24 hour 200 km (walking) to qualify to enter!). I had slowed to 35-36 a lap by then. Then followed a 39 minute lap where I felt sick and I had to rest. I slept for 30 minutes; Ivo wouldn't let me sleep longer. By then, I just wanted 100 km so I could get the Ulli Kamm Award; Dave Gwyn had showed us the plaque prior to the start of the race.

The walk had become a race of attrition by then; Doug Brown had taken a massive break, Andy Cable was limping due to a sore knee, Beth Katcher was struggling with a recent cold and had slowed dramatically, Lawrence Block had taken a long break and only Jens Borello was still going strong, though he too had a 30 minute nap to deal with jet lag.




I got up and finished a lap, but the next two laps (to get to 62 miles) were a death march. I had slowed to 57 and 51 minutes! I also threw up 5 times during those two laps. When I saw the judges, I acutally asked them to DQ me! Once when I asked, Ivo said "you can only get DQ'ed for running, and in the shape you are in, running is impossible."

My 100 km split was an absolutely horrible 17:29:13. By then Becky Browning (a houston racewalker) walked with me a bit; she also gave me a nice neck and back rub at a stop; that really helped to loosen me up.

So I went down for another nap (about 2 hours). In the tent Beth was napping on the cot so I used the chair; we were a pathetic sight! . But I was actually hungry when I woke up which was a good sign.

I got back out there and knocked off laps of 35:50, 34:45, 33:39, 32:34. Not fast, but much, much better than I was doing earlier. I actually was moving forward. I hit mile 70.3 in 21:59:13. Cheryl Harris, who was also there to judge, walked a lap with me and that took 31:05! That really helped; she was worried about slowing me down but she really helped me focus.

At 23:02:53, I had time for another full lap, but since there were no partial laps I could take my sweet time, which I did (34:12). So my result was 76.3 miles in 23:37:06. A good thing is that I got to see Jens (in the distance) finish 100 miles in 23:2X. Afterward, Dave held a nice ceremony and Loja Vosta (another Houston ultrawalker who was preparing for a bike race) carried my bags to the car.

The race itself was fun (for the most part) as I got to meet several people. I didn't come close to my goal, but the fact is I am not a good enough walker to make 100 miles (in 24 hours) under these conditions (the slippery course). So, had my goal been simply to amass as much mileage as possible, I would have started off with 30-31 minute laps. But I went for it and burned out early.

I don't have official results, but if my memory serves me, Jens got his 100 with 40 minutes to spare, Beth got 66, Lawrence (Buffalobear) got 64, Andy got 62 (100 km) and Doug got 50.

Two mile splits: Houston Ultra weekend.

2 27:04
4 26:58 (54:03)
6 28:23 (1:22:26) bathroom
8 28:13 (1:50:39) belt
10 26:50 (2:17:30)
12 26:54 (2:44:24)
14 27:46 (3:12:10) raining hard now
16 27:49 (3:40:00)
18 28:04 (4:08:05)
20 28:37 (4:36:42) blister
22 30:25 (5:07:07) food
24 28:26 (5:35:33) with Andy
26 27:34 (6:03:08)
28 27:15 (6:30:23)
30 27:49 (6:58:15)
32 30:07 (7:28:21) blister, food
34 93:01 (8:31:22) 33 minute stop, no more rain
36 26:58 (8:58:21) Andy again
38 27:18 (9:25:40)
40 28:53 (9:54:33) food
42 27:52 (10:22:25)
44 29:35 (10:52:00) pack
46 31:52 (11:23:53) eat
48 31:45 (11:55:38) starting to suffer
50 32:24 (12:28:03)
52 35:50 (13:03:53) pack, stop
54 35:05 (13:38:59) Ivo
56 39:33 (14:18:33) nauseated
58 1:21:55 (15:40:28) 30 minute nap
60 57:23 (16:37:52) stop, threw up twice, becky
62 51:20 (17:29:13) threw up three times
64 2:45:43 (20:14:56) roughly 40 minutes, 2 hour nap
66 35:50 (20:50:47) feeling better
68 34:45 (21:25:33)
70 33:39 (21:59:13)
72 32:34 (22:31:47)
74 31:05 (23:02:53) Cheryl
76 34:12 (23:37:06) done (no part laps)


A Response to a reader

Different River has a blog that I read from time to time; I especially enjoy some of the background he gives about the Palestine-Israel situation. In a previous post he commented on some of the past sins of some of the racist Democrats, mostly in the segregationist era. I certainly don't deny that; in fact if you go back long enough, *I* would have been a Republican.

But to see what I was commenting on, I'll refer to a source: http://www.rnc.org. (Republican National Committee. Here, Ken Mehlman says:
http://www.rnc.org/News/Read.aspx?ID=5631

"The party of Lincoln and the African American community have a proud history together.

Our party was founded to eliminate slavery, and our first Republican President was Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator.

It was the Republican Party that led the effort to pass the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments.

We spearheaded the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Morrill Land Grant College Act, which recognized that education and opportunity and property ownership were all essential to the American Dream.

It was a Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, who invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House, shocking official Washington at the time.

It was another Republican president, Dwight David Eisenhower, who sent the 101st airborne to integrate a school in Little Rock, while a Democratic governor blocked the schoolhouse door.

It was the partnership and hard work of Clarence Mitchell, lobbyist for the NAACP and Republican Senator Everett Dirksen that led to higher percentage of Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than did Democrats.

And it is George W. Bush, a Republican president, who has appointed more minorities to top positions than any president in American history; who has tripled the funds we provide to relieve AIDS in Africa; and who has an agenda to spread equal opportunity in America and freedom around the world, building on the legal equality and Civil Rights Legacy that everyone in this room fought for.

The history of the other party is a different one. Democrats were the party of Jim Crow and Democratic filibusters blocked progress for decades.

Despite this history, the Democratic Party by the 1960s had something real and tangible to overcome this legacy. Lyndon Johnson, a Democratic President, signed what in my opinion were the most important laws of the 20th century: the civil rights act, voting rights act, open housing law.

By the 70s and into the 80s and 90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out.

Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican Chairman to tell you we were wrong. "

Of course many feel that this statement was more meant to soothe the conscience of whites who want to vote Republican than anything else. And we see that the current Republican Party tends to attract the racist vote (though hardly all Republicans are racist)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/29/AR2006012900642.html

Study Ties Political Leanings to Hidden Biases

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 30, 2006; Page A05

Put a group of people together at a party and observe how they behave. Differently than when they are alone? Differently than when they are with family? What if they're in a stadium instead of at a party? What if they're all men? The field of social psychology has long been focused on how social environments affect the way people behave. But social psychologists are people, too, and as the United States has become increasingly politically polarized, they have grown increasingly interested in examining what drives these sharp divides: red states vs. blue states; pro-Iraq war vs. anti-Iraq war; pro-same-sex marriage vs. anti-same-sex marriage. And they have begun to study political behavior using such specialized tools as sophisticated psychological tests and brain scans. "In my own family, for example, there are stark differences, not just of opinion but very profound differences in how we view the world," said Brenda Major, a psychologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, which had a conference last week that showcased several provocative psychological studies about the nature of political belief. The new interest has yielded some results that will themselves provoke partisan reactions: Studies presented at the conference, for example, produced evidence that emotions and implicit assumptions often influence why people choose their political affiliations, and that partisans stubbornly discount any information that challenges their preexisting beliefs. Emory University psychologist Drew Westen put self-identified Democratic and Republican partisans in brain scanners and asked them to evaluate negative information about various candidates. Both groups were quick to spot inconsistency and hypocrisy -- but only in candidates they opposed. When presented with negative information about the candidates they liked, partisans of all stripes found ways to discount it, Westen said. When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that volunteers gave themselves feel-good pats -- the scans showed that "reward centers" in volunteers' brains were activated. The psychologist observed that the way these subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior. Another study presented at the conference, which was in Palm Springs, Calif., explored relationships between racial bias and political affiliation by analyzing self-reported beliefs, voting patterns and the results of psychological tests that measure implicit attitudes -- subtle stereotypes people hold about various groups. That study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did. "What automatic biases reveal is that while we have the feeling we are living up to our values, that feeling may not be right," said University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek, who helped conduct the race analysis. "We are not aware of everything that causes our behavior, even things in our own lives." Brian Jones, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said he disagreed with the study's conclusions but that it was difficult to offer a detailed critique, as the research had not yet been published and he could not review the methodology. He also questioned whether the researchers themselves had implicit biases -- against Republicans -- noting that Nosek and Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji had given campaign contributions to Democrats.[...]


Friday, February 24, 2006

Last Post for a few days

I should be occupied this weekend. :-)

  • Previous post about Shani Davis being harrassed due to his race: I posted a Daily Kos Diary on this. I included a story from my past. Though I didn't get a huge response, some weighed in with their stories.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/2/23/172035/016

[...]And some wonder why African Americans are cynical about our society.
I admit that I can't fully understand what African Americans go through on a day-to-day basis. But, I have at least an idea.

Back in 1992, I was driving my beat up old Datsun 210 from Texas to Illinois. My wife (who is fair skinned) was following in our pickup truck. Yes, I have dark hair and moderately dark brown skin (Mexican American heritage).

A state trooper got right on my tail and followed me for about 10 miles or so. I could see him using his radio several times and looking at me intently. Eventually, he put on his lights and pulled me over.

After checking the usual (drivers license, registration) he asked me why I was in Illiois. When I explained that I was a new faculty member at a reasonable known university (in Peoria, IL) his attitude changed; he told me that my car was wavering in the wind; he wondered if I was tired and he let me go.

I didn't bother to ask him why he continued to use the radio; my guess is that I fit some sort of profile of a drug runner.[...]

  • George Will states that conservatives are happier than liberals because, in part, they expect less. Ok, part of this is supposed to be funny. But his argument is weak, at best (you see, as a liberal kill-joy, I can't appreciate humor). My comments in itallics.
http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/georgewill/2006/02/23/187531.html

I'm conservative...and happy

By George Will

Feb 23, 2006

WASHINGTON -- To bemused conservatives, it looks like yet another example of analytic overkill by the intelligentsia -- a jobs program for the (mostly liberal) academic boys (and girls) in the social sciences, whose quantitative tools have been brought to bear to prove the obvious.

A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that conservatives are happier than liberals -- in all income groups. While 34 percent of all Americans call themselves "very happy,'' only 28 percent of liberal Democrats (and 31 percent of moderate or conservative Democrats) do, compared to 47 percent of conservative Republicans. This finding is niftily self-reinforcing: It depresses liberals.

Election results do not explain this happiness gap. Republicans have been happier than Democrats every year since the survey began in 1972. Married people and religious people are especially disposed to happiness, and both cohorts vote more conservatively than does the nation as a whole.

People in the Sun Belt -- almost entirely red states -- have sunnier dispositions than Northerners, which could have as much to do with sunshine as with conservatism. Unless sunshine makes people happy, which makes them conservative.


Or the other way around. I admit that I am not all that happy when it is -5 F outside, but that has nothing to do with politics! Although, I do find ways to enjoy myself anyway.

Such puzzles show why social science is not for amateurs. Still, one cannot -- yet -- be prosecuted for committing theory without a license, so consider a few explanations of the happiness gap.

Begin with a paradox: Conservatives are happier than liberals because they are more pessimistic. Conservatives think the book of Job got it right ("Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward''), as did Adam Smith ("There is a great deal of ruin in a nation''). Conservatives understand that society in its complexity resembles a giant Calder mobile -- touch it here and things jiggle there, and there, and way over there. Hence conservatives acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is: The unintended consequences of bold government undertakings are apt to be larger than, and contrary to, the intended ones.

Actually, liberals understand this as well. That is why we speak out against civil liberty violations even during times of peril and stress. This "if you have nothing to hide, you'll be ok" argument doesn't work with us.


Conservatives' pessimism is conducive to their happiness in three ways. First, they are rarely surprised -- they are right more often than not about the course of events. Second, when they are wrong they are happy to be so. Third, because pessimistic conservatives put not their faith in princes -- government -- they accept that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. They believe that happiness is an activity -- it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.

The right to pursue happiness is the essential right that government exists to protect. Liberals, taking their bearings, whether they know it or not, from President Franklin Roosevelt's 1936 State of the Union address, think the attainment of happiness itself, understood in terms of security and material well-being, is an entitlement that government has created and can deliver.

Hmm. Entitlement might mean "freedom to not be discriminated against by society". That is why liberals supported civil rights. Had we waited for conservatives, we'd probably still have a racially segregated society.

Had we waited of conservatives, men would probably still work in dangerous condidtions for 50 cents an hour, and the elderly would still be out in the cold when they got to old to work, or would have to depend on their kids.

But perhaps we are onto something. Sometimes having a bit of empathy for others is an unsettling factor, and perhaps conservatives simply don't have empathy for others.

Drug prices and health care so high that only a few can afford them? No problem, so long it is they that can afford them. Thousands of Iraqi's getting killed by us? No problem. [...]

Nevertheless, normal conservatives -- never mind the gladiators of talk radio; they are professionally angry -- are less angry than liberals.

Oh, let's see: it is the gladiators of right wing talk radio that are angry. Hmm, why do they have such huge markets then? Because happy people are listening to them? Will makes no sense at all here.


Liberals have made this the era of surly automobile bumpers, millions of them, still defiantly adorned with Kerry-Edwards and even Gore-Lieberman bumper stickers, faded and frayed like flags preserved as relics of failed crusades. To preserve these mementos of dashed dreams, many liberals may be forgoing the pleasures of buying new cars -- another delight sacrificed on the altar of liberalism.

See, notice how he uses the word DEFIANTLY. Now we get to it: why in the heck don't we just get along and get with the program! Go ahead and spend! Oh yeah, that new car will make us all happy.

Sorry, Mr. Will. I get thousands of times more pleasure by spending time with my wife and daughter than I do by buying a new car. I get more pleasure by doing ultramarathons or yoga classes than I could ever get by buying a new car. You'll never understand that. Of course, conservatives like Dick Cheney (FIVE HEART ATTACKS) must be your idea of the epitome of happiness.

About those bumper stickers: don't I remember "John Kerry, for President of France"? Or "when the rapture comes, this car will be empty"? Or "don't blame me, I voted for Bush" during the Clinton era? But I digress...


But, then, conscientious liberals cannot enjoy automobiles because there is global warming to worry about, and the perils of corporate-driven consumerism which is the handmaiden of bourgeoisie materialism. And high-powered cars (how many liberals drive Corvettes?) are metaphors (for America's reckless foreign policy, for machismo rampant, etc.).

Or we'd rather spend money on other things and get better gas milage? Sorry. For most of us, a muscle car isn't the path to happiness.


You see? Liberalism is a complicated and exacting, not to say grim and scolding, creed. And not one conducive to happiness.

I offer the following as rebuttal:




One other topic: I enjoy getting e-mails from the Rapid Response Network; they are effecitve at countering Republican talking points.
http://www.rapidresponsenetwork.org/

Lately, they alerted me to the following:
http://www.dscc.org/news/roundup/20060222_dubai/

Republicans Opposing Dubai Deal Have Long Opposed Efforts To Secure America's Ports

Feb 22, 2006
By: Phil Singer, DSCC

This week, Republican Senators have come out in force against a controversial deal through which a company based in the United Arab Emirates would take over six major American ports. But these are the same Senate Republicans who have repeatedly voted against Democratic efforts to invest in improving the security of America’s ports after 9/11. In fact, most of the Senate Republicans speaking out against the deal have voted against port security at least SIX times since the 9/11 attacks.

“Anyone looking for a definition of the pre-9/11 worldview need look no further than at how leading Republican Senators have blocked Democratic efforts improve port security since the 2001 attacks,” DSCC spokesman Phil Singer said. “If these Republican Senators are genuine about doing something to improve port security, they should stop voting against Democratic efforts to keep America safe and embrace them instead.”

SANTORUM SAID: “RED FLAGS WENT OFF” ON PORT DEAL BUT VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY SIX TIMES. “I've got to tell you that on the face of it, the red flags went off in my mind. We have a company that is state-owned, by the UAE, which was implicated in the events of 9/11, now doing port security and managing our ports,” Santorum said. Santorum has voted at least six times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [AP, 2/21/06; Vote 64, 3/17/05; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

FRIST CALLED FOR DELAY OF DUBAI DEAL BUT VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY SIX TIMES. Bill Frist said, “The decision to finalize this deal should be put on hold until the Administration conducts a more extensive review of this matter. It is important for Congress be involved in this process. I have requested a detailed briefing on this deal. If the Administration cannot delay the process, I plan on introducing legislation to ensure that the deal is placed on hold until this decision gets a more thorough review.” But Frist has voted at least six times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Frist Release, 2/21/06; Vote 64, 3/17/05; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

CHAFEE SAID DEAL “SHOULD BE VETTED PROPERLY” BUT VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY FIVE TIMES. Chafee said, “deals that have the potential to compromise our national security should be vetted properly, and it is critical that Congress has a role in this process. I am in full support of increased transparency regarding such issues of national security. I believe that a more extensive review of this matter is necessary, and I support delaying any deal until such review is completed. As a member of two Senate committees that may have oversight of this issue, I stand with many of my colleagues in requesting that this transaction be delayed until we can receive full assurance that the ports across the nation remain safe.” Chafee has voted at least five times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Chafee Release, 2/21/06; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

KYL SAID DEAL “RAISES SERIOUS QUESTIONS ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY” BUT VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY SIX TIMES. Kyl said, “I share in the concerns that many of my constituents have voiced about the transfer of our major U.S. seaports operations to a company that is controlled by the United Arab Emirates. I believe that it raises serious questions about national security. I support efforts by Congress to look into the proposed deal and will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to stop it.” Kyl has voted at least six times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Kyl Release, 2/21/06; Vote 64, 3/17/05; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

TALENT SAID DEAL “STRIKES ME AS A VERY DANGEROUS MOVE” BUT VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY FIVE TIMES. Talent said the administration’s proposed port deal “strikes me as a very dangerous move. I have to question the decision to turn over the operations of key American ports to a company inside the UAE, especially when we know our ports are a target for terrorists seeking to destroy critical infrastructure and disrupt world trade. Secretary Snow should thoroughly investigate this proposal and I will be talking with senators in both parties about what steps the Senate may need to take to make certain our ports continue to be protected.” Talent has voted at least five times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Talent Release, 2/21/06; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

ALLEN SAID UAE’S PAST IS A CAUSE FOR CONCERN BUT VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY FOUR TIMES. In a letter to Treasury Secretary John Snow, Senator George Allen voiced his concern about the port deal, writing, “Our ports are an essential part of our nation’s continued economic prosperity … They are the hubs of the global economy and are vital to moving American products to markets around the globe. However, they are vulnerable to terrorist attacks… While the UAE has been a valuable ally in the War on Terror, there have been past circumstances that have raised concern.” Allen has voted at least four times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Allen Release, 2/21/06; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

ENSIGN SAID HE CANNOT SUPPORT DEAL “UNTIL ALL REASONABLE CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY … HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED” BUT VOTED SIX TIMES AGAINST PORT SECURITY. Ensign called on the administration to stop the port deal until an investigation was complete. He said, “The security of American ports is too important to be turned over to a company from the United Arab Emirates without a comprehensive review by members of Congress. Until all reasonable concerns about security at these ports have been addressed, I cannot support this proposal. This deal sends the message that we are not being as diligent as we should in terms of America’s security, and that is not a perception we can afford to create.” Ensign has voted at least six times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Ensign Release, 2/21/06; Vote 64, 3/17/05; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

COLLINS AND COLEMAN HAVE “SERIOUS CONCERNS” ABOUT PORT DEAL BUT EACH VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY FIVE TIMES. In a letter to Secretaries John Snow and Michael Chertoff, Collins and Coleman voiced “serious concerns” about the proposed port deal and asked that the cabinet officials “provide a briefing to our Committee, as soon as possible, on the basis for the decision to allow this transaction to proceed … The briefing to our Committee should include the conditions that will be imposed upon DP World should the acquisition go forward … We believe that the Administration should be working more closely with Congress where acquisitions are of such a sensitive nature.” Coleman and Collins have each voted at least five times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Collins Release, 2/21/06; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

GRAHAM SAID U.S. SHOULD NOT “OUTSOURCE MAJOR PORT SECURITY;” GRAHAM VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY SIX TIMES. Asked about the sale of ports to a Dubai company, Sen. Lindsey Graham said, "We certainly should investigate it. I don't know if we should block it. But it's unbelievably tone deaf politically at this point in our history, four years after 9/11, to entertain the idea of turning port security over to a company based in the UAE, who avows to destroy Israel. So I'm not so sure it's the wisest political move we could have made. Most Americans are scratching their head wondering why this company, from this region, now…Just on its face, it sounds like the wrong direction to go… Americans right now want free trade, but when it comes to national security issues, we want to maintain the infrastructure ourselves. We believe we're under siege. We are. I don't think now is the time to outsource major port security to a foreign-based company." Graham has voted at least six times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [“Fox News Sunday,” 2/19/06; Vote 64, 3/17/05; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

GRASSLEY IS “DEEPLY CONCERNED” ABOUT PORT DEAL BUT VOTED AGAINST PORT SECURITY SIX TIMES. In a letter to Treasury Secretary John Snow, Senator Chuck Grassley said he was “deeply concerned” about the proposed port deal. He wrote, “I am disappointed that I was neither briefed nor informed of this sale prior to its approval. Instead, I read about it in the media. I expect you to address my concerns involving this deal.” Grassley has voted at least six times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Grassley Release, 2/21/06; Vote 64, 3/17/05; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

SHELBY IS “DEEPLY CONCERNED” ABOUT DUBAI PORT DEAL BUT HAS VOTED AT LEAST SIX TIMES AGAINST PORT SECURITY. Shelby cosigned a letter to Treasury Secretary Snow saying he was “deeply concerned” about the deal. The letter read, “We do not believe that anyone could reasonably question the fact that the control of the corporations that operate the ports…’ could affect U.S. national security.” Shelby has voted at least six times against efforts to improve port security since 9/11. [Baltimore Sun, 2/17/06; Vote 64, 3/17/05; Vote 166, 9/8/04; Vote 300, 7/24/03; Vote 291, 7/22/03; Vote 120, 4/3/03; Vote 115, 4/2/03]

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Racism, wierdness, sorrow and Rall goes after Coulter


I know that I don't know the whole story, but this sure sounds bad. This is a photo of Shani Davis's second medal of the 2006 Winter Games.
So, he would be treated well at home, right? Think again:

http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/torino2006/speed_skating/news?slug=ap-spe-davislawsuit&prov=ap&type=lgns

Gold medalist Davis suing Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) -- Olympic gold medal speedskater Shani Davis is one of four plaintiffs suing the city of Chicago and former police superintendent Terry Hillard, claiming they were stopped and searched for illegal weapons because of their skin color.

Davis, Quincy Joyner and Damien Joyner filed a lawsuit on March 24, 2003. A fourth plaintiff, Damane Grier, was added to the lawsuit a few months later. All four are from Chicago and are black.

Harvey Grossman, the director of American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said an inordinate number of blacks and Latinos are stopped on the street and searched for illegal weapons, and the organization wants police to document stops.

"We've been receiving complaints about this for years and years," he said. "Why did you stop this person? State the reasonable suspicion you had. ... And we also want that data to be stored, so you can see what an officer is doing over time."

Monique Bond, the Chicago police director of news affairs, would not comment on a pending case, but said, "As far as racial profiling, the Chicago Police Department has a zero tolerance for that."

Davis became the first black athlete to capture an individual gold medal in Winter Olympics history when he won the 1,000 meters at the Turin Games. But he has been embroiled in a war of words with fellow American skater Chad Hedrick over Davis' decision not to skate in the team pursuit event.

Davis took the silver medal in the 1,500 meters Tuesday, with Hedrick earning a bronze.

According to the lawsuit, Davis was searched in March 2001 while walking along West Howard Street near his home on Chicago's far north side. He stood spread eagle against a wall while an officer searched his pants and pockets with a flashlight, pulling Davis' underwear away from his body. Two years earlier, while on his way to a video arcade with friends, he was searched near the elevated train stop on West Belmont Avenue on the north side.

The Joyners also were stopped near the Belmont train station in January 2002. Grier was stopped in a public housing development while on his way to his mother's place in March 2003.

In each instance, there was no "warrant, probable cause, reasonable suspicion, consent, or any other lawful basis" for the search, and no illegal weapons were found, according to the lawsuit.

"Belmont and Howard street are places where a lot of kids get stopped," Grossman said. "Those are racially mixed neighborhoods, so you can actually find racial data that is significant. The stops in those neighborhoods is disproportionately black and brown."

Grossman expects the case to be tried this year.

"Generally, you've been stopped by a policeman if you're 16 years old and black in Chicago," Grossman said.



Back to something pleasant...


This is funny:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/thenation/20060223/cm_thenation/1563039;_ylt=AkKqVxuNtjqdlu9606owxFke_8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--

The Nation 2 hours, 39 minutes ago

The Nation -- A friend of mine from South Carolina sent me the most astonishing article on his home state from yesterday's USA Today. Reporter Ron Barnett examines the quixotic quest of Cory Burnell, founder of Christian Exodus, to have all of the nation's evangelical Christian conservatives move to South Carolina.

Hey, why not? Good for the left (we can pick up all those borderline red states) and good for the far right. Tired of all those liberals and activist judges protecting abortion, legalizing gay marriage and funding public schools that teach evolution. Round up the kids, call U-Haul and head to the heart of the Old Confederacy. It's got 750,000 Southern Baptists, Bob Jones University, nice golf courses and rosy real estate values. When the Exodus gets into full swing, Christians can take over state government and pass some real laws. On Burnell's docket: outlaw abortion, mandate life support, install Christian symbols in the statehouse, eliminate public schools, ban government 'taking' of private property. Oh yeah, and one curious item critical of "the perils of imperialist entanglements abroad." Gee, could he mean Iraq.

The sheer absurdity of Christian Exodus (and the mix of values behind it) is a testament to how much the religious right has changed under the Bush administration. Burnell's formula (isolationism + Christian social conservatism + anti-state rhetoric, with a dash of concealed white supremacy) was once boilerplate for the Republican Party. But now, as Esther Kaplan, Gary Younge and Salim Muwakkil all report, the strategists of the religious right have their sights firmly set on international turf and the black church -- with progress on the former and not so much on the latter.

Of course, that's one problem Burnell faces; South Carolina is 30% African American and although most are Baptist, they also poll and vote to the left. His more immediate problem, however, is recruitment. He's only got 20 or so families to move. Oh, and Christian Exodus is based in Texas. And Burnell himself still lives in California. So much for whistling Dixie.


Like this article? Try 4 issues of The Nation at home (and online) FREE.


And this is painful for me as I am a Naval Acadmey graduate (1981):

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news?slug=ap-navy-academy-rapecharge&prov=ap&type=lgns

Naval Academy charges football quarterback with rape
By TOM STUCKEY, Associated Press Writer
February 22, 2006

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Navy quarterback Lamar Owens has been charged with raping a female midshipman in her dormitory room, the academy announced Wednesday.

"These charges are accusations, and Midshipman Owens is presumed innocent until proven otherwise," academy spokesman Cmdr. Rod Gibbons said.

The academy did not release the name of the woman. Gibbons said the academy was offering her support and counseling.

Owens, a 22-year-old senior from Savannah, Ga., would not be available to comment, Gibbons said.

"He remains assigned to the Naval Academy and will continue to attend class, performing other duties normally assigned to midshipmen pending results of the investigation," Gibbons said. He said the academy took steps to prevent contact between Owens and the woman.

An Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury inquiry, will be held to determine if there is sufficient evidence to go ahead with the case, Gibbons said.

The military academies have been under scrutiny since 2003, when women at the Air Force Academy in Colorado began coming forward with accusations that they had been sexually assaulted by fellow cadets over the previous decade and were ignored or ostracized by commanders when they spoke out.

A Pentagon task force found that hostile attitudes and inappropriate treatment of women also persisted at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and at the Naval Academy.

Earlier this month, a senior at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., was charged with sexually assaulting six female cadets in the campus barracks and other sites. Webster M. Smith, 22, a linebacker on the academy's football team, was charged under military law with rape, assault, indecent assault and sodomy, school officials said. Smith insists he is innocent, his lawyer has said.

Owens guided Navy's football team to an 8-4 season record that included victories over Air Force and Army and a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl over Colorado State.

Scott Strasemeier, head of the Navy's sports information office, said Owens' athletic eligibility is complete. He declined to comment on the allegations. The academy's 2006 starting quarterback will be chosen during spring practice, which starts March 27, he said.

------------------------------

Lastly, Tedd Rall goes after Ann Coulter. I love it.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ucru/20060223/cm_ucru/slandershewrotethebook



By Ted Rall Thu Feb 23, 11:40 AM ET

How Ann Coulter Gets Away With Defaming Liberals


NEW YORK--My utterances occasionally spark controversy but I've got nothing on Ann Coulter. The star Republican pundit, who has spewed more racist, offensive and defamatory slurs in a week than Louis Farrakhan and Pat Robertson have in their whole lives combined, has turned slander and threats of violence into a cottage industry.

Coulter thinks the nation's top journalists deserve to die. "My only regret with
Timothy McVeigh," Coulter sneered in reference to the Oklahoma City bomber, "is he did not go to the New York Times building." After 9/11, she validated radical Islamists' fear and hatred: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

After he called for the assassination of the president of Venezuela, conservatives pressured Rev. Robertson to apologize. But when Coulter dropped the following three racist slurs and a fatwa on the Iranian president in a single paragraph of her syndicated column last week, no one blinked: "If you don't want to get shot by the police, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then don't point a toy gun at them. Or, as I believe our motto should be after 9/11: Jihad monkey talks tough; jihad monkey takes the consequences. Sorry, I realize that's offensive. How about 'camel jockey'? What? Now what'd I say? Boy, you tent merchants sure are touchy. Grow up, would you?"

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was asked about Coulter's use of the r-word--"ragheads"--to refer to Muslims. "I better not comment," he said.

Threatening the life of a top government official violates federal law but it's just another throwaway line for Coulter. "We need somebody to put rat poison in Justice [John Paul] Stevens' crème brulée," she said earlier this month. Imagine the outrage if a Democrat said the same thing about
Antonin Scalia.

Coulter is the Republican Id, giving voice to ugly sentiments that other conservatives don't dare express aloud for fear of public censure: Muslims are subhuman, torture is OK, all liberals are traitors. "Liberals hate America, they hate flag-wavers, they hate abortion opponents, they hate all religions except Islam, post 9/11. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do," she spat in 2002. For Coulter, there is never censure--only more royalties from her bestselling books.

Coulter is a nasty, foul-mouthed bigot--all of which, like my observation of same, is thankfully protected by the First Amendment. The same cannot be said, however, about her malicious lies about me.

In the same column as her aforementioned anti-Muslim slurs Coulter wrote: "Iran is led by a lunatic who makes a big point of denying the Holocaust. Indeed, in response to the Muhammad cartoons, one Iranian newspaper is soliciting cartoons about the Holocaust. (So far the only submissions have come from Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau and The New York Times.)"

This comment was apparently a rehash of a speech she delivered to the influential Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). "Iran is soliciting cartoons on the Holocaust," she told a thousand-plus audience that included
Dick Cheney. "So far, only Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau, and The New York Times have made submissions." Let's hope CPAC didn't pay her for original material.

Coulter is entitled to her opinions, not to lie about the facts. I have not entered, nor do I intend to enter,
Iran's anti-Holocaust cartoon contest. And I don't take kindly to being associated with the Iranian president's comments denying Nazi atrocities. Yo, Ann: criticizing Bush doesn't make me a neo-Nazi anti-Semitic Holocaust denier. In fact, I despise Bush precisely because his rise to power, love of violence and jingoism mirror those of the Third Reich.

Coulter's defenders say she was "just joking." Her enemies say they don't take her seriously. But the content of her column, which references the Egyptian ferry disaster and the Danish Mohammed cartoon hubbub, with a central thesis that advocates "bombing
Syria back to the stone age and then permanently disarming Iran," is deadly serious. Which is exactly the way her readers, who sent me e-mails calling me an anti-Semite and anti-American traitor, took her lie about me.

"Iran's cartoon contest is the sort of thing you'd expect Ted Rall to enter" would have qualified as (bad) satire. But she didn't say that.

Canny marketing of Coulter's sexuality has elevated her to alpha female status among a post-9/11 pack of right-wing attack dogs. These neo-McCarthyites (Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Andrew Sullivan) think they can get away with saying anything, no matter how factually inaccurate, about their political opponents. And they've been right--because wimpy liberals refuse to stand up for themselves.

So far.

During the 1950s, when a delusional alcoholic named Joe McCarthy ruined careers and reputations by smearing liberal Democrats as traitors, Army lawyer Joseph Welch marked the beginning of America's return to sanity by snapping at the thuggish senator on TV: "You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" (Coulter's book Treason claims that McCarthy was a swell guy who was right all along, and that the Eisenhower Administration was full of Commies.)

We need another Joseph Welch. We must hold the neo-McCarthyite Coulter smear machine that slimed Max Cleland ("He didn't give his limbs for his country,' or leave them 'on the battlefield,'" she said, "There was no bravery involved ...") accountable for its lies. It's a matter of decency, honor and setting the record straight.

As far as I can tell, no one has ever sued Coulter for slander or libel. That may change. My attorney tells me I have an actionable claim on two counts, for both the CPAC speech and the column. It wouldn't be an open-and-shut case, but there are precedents in my favor. Readers of my Rallblog have pledged nearly $9000 if I file such a lawsuit, but it would take several times that amount to keep fighting until I get my day in court. A deep-pocketed angel would make the difference, but there, alas, is the root of the trouble with the American left.

Right-wingers, unified and organized, always stand fast and dig deep to protect their ideas and their people. They even run interference for their dead; they bullied ABC into canceling a less than hagiographical film about
Ronald Reagan. They celebrate extremists like Ann Coulter, inviting her to speak at conventions attended by their brightest lights. Democrats, on the other hand, keep their most articulate advocates like
Howard Dean under wraps. Trivial differences of style and ideology become reasons for lefties not to help each other out when they're attacked. So it will likely go once more, as Coulter gets away with yet another outrageous smear.




This and that...





Women's speed skating. Gotta love it!

Some wit and wisdom from various sources:

  • First, a good letter to the editor in the Peoria Jounral Star
http://www.pjstar.com/stories/022306/FOR_B9283P8C.024.shtml

In his explanation of the recent hunting accident in Texas, Vice President Dick Cheney says he will never forget the face of his friend and hunting companion, Harry Whittington as he lay on the ground suffering gunshot wounds.

When the vice president laments the circumstances of this accident, he seems to have a moral confrontation of responsibility and sorrow, a clarifying moment of conscience as he admits wounding his attorney-friend and well-known contributor to the Republican Party.

Does Mr. Cheney, however, suffer the same emotional confrontation as he envisions the faces of over 2,000 military men and women killed in Iraq? How about the thousands more wounded in the conflict, their faces contorted by the pain of roadside bombs, gunfire, exploding missiles and bombs, falling to the ground with devastating wounds?

With the persona of a cold, calculating politician, Cheney appears emotionally moved by the Texas hunting accident, but he seems unable to express the same feelings about the casualties of war in Iraq.

It is a disturbing contradiction of emotions.

Michael Slaughter

Peoria
  • Next, an insightful comment from a friend of mine (who is a mathematics professor at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas and a long time Democrat)

Ollie,

An amusing piece. Definitely one that will rally the troops. However, if the democratic leadership does not get beyond the contempt for “regular folks” I see in parts of the movie, they will never continue to lose election after election. I’ve been reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in preparation for Meet and Confer. Know the enemy. If we believe they are idiots, and fight them like they are idiots, it is we who are the idiots.

(my note: this was in response to my sending the following link)

http://www.thefrown.com/player.php?/frowners/becomerepublican


  • Finally, an article which drives home that freedom of speech is much more restricted in other countries, even in Western ones, than it is in the United States (which is why I love the ACLU). This factor might have well added fuel to the fire in the Mohammed Cartoon situation; many Muslims don't see why some are protected but that they are not:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/20/news/web.0220irving.php

British historian pleads guilty in Holocaust trial
The Associated Press

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2006
VIENNA, Austria Right-wing British historian David Irving pleaded guilty Monday to criminal charges of denying the Holocaust and conceded in court he erred in contending there were no Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving told the court as his trial opened in Vienna. He said the Holocaust was "just a fragment of my area of interest."

"In no way did I deny the killings of millions of people by the Nazis," Irving testified. Earlier, he told journalists he considered it "ridiculous" that he was standing trial for remarks made 17 years ago.

But Irving, handcuffed and wearing a navy blue suit, arrived at court carrying a copy of one of his most controversial books - "Hitler's War," which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

Before the trial began, Irving, 67, told reporters he now acknowledges the Nazis systematically slaughtered Jews during World War II. "History is like a constantly changing tree," he said. Later, he expressed sorrow "for all the innocent people who died during the Second World War."

Irving has been in custody since his arrest in November on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he was accused of denying the Nazis' extermination of 6 million Jews.

A verdict was expected later Monday, with a conviction almost certain because of Irving's guilty plea. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Irving's trial comes amid new - and fierce - debate over freedom of expression in Europe, where the printing and reprinting of unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has triggered violent protests worldwide.

Irving's lawyer, Elmar Kresbach, said last month the controversial Third Reich historian was getting up to 300 pieces of fan mail a week from supporters around the world, and that while in detention he was writing his memoirs under the working title "Irving's War."

Irving was arrested Nov. 11 in the southern Austrian province of Styria on a warrant issued in 1989. He was charged under a federal law that makes it a crime to publicly diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust.

Irving had tried to win his provisional release on €20,000 (US$24,000) bail, but a Vienna court refused, saying it considered him a flight risk.

Within two weeks of his arrest, he asserted through his lawyer that he had come to acknowledge the existence of Nazi-era gas chambers.

In the past, however, he has claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little if anything about the Holocaust, and has been quoted as saying there was "not one shred of evidence" the Nazis carried out their "Final Solution" to exterminate the Jewish population on such a massive scale.

Vienna's national court, where the trial is being held, ordered the balcony gallery closed to prevent projectiles from being thrown down at the bench, the newspaper Die Presse reported Sunday.

It quoted officials as saying they were bracing for Irving's supporters to give him the Nazi salute or shout out pro-Hitler slogans during the trial, which will continue into Tuesday if a verdict is not reached on Monday.

Irving, the author of nearly 30 books, has contended most of those who died at concentration camps such as Auschwitz succumbed to diseases such as typhus rather than execution.

In 2000, Irving sued American Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt for libel in a British court, but lost. The presiding judge in that case, Charles Gray, wrote that Irving was "an active Holocaust denier ... anti-Semitic and racist."

Irving has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years.

In 1992, a judge in Germany fined him the equivalent of US$6,000 for publicly insisting the Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz were a hoax.


VIENNA, Austria Right-wing British historian David Irving pleaded guilty Monday to criminal charges of denying the Holocaust and conceded in court he erred in contending there were no Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving told the court as his trial opened in Vienna. He said the Holocaust was "just a fragment of my area of interest."

"In no way did I deny the killings of millions of people by the Nazis," Irving testified. Earlier, he told journalists he considered it "ridiculous" that he was standing trial for remarks made 17 years ago.

But Irving, handcuffed and wearing a navy blue suit, arrived at court carrying a copy of one of his most controversial books - "Hitler's War," which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

Before the trial began, Irving, 67, told reporters he now acknowledges the Nazis systematically slaughtered Jews during World War II. "History is like a constantly changing tree," he said. Later, he expressed sorrow "for all the innocent people who died during the Second World War."

Irving has been in custody since his arrest in November on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he was accused of denying the Nazis' extermination of 6 million Jews.

A verdict was expected later Monday, with a conviction almost certain because of Irving's guilty plea. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Irving's trial comes amid new - and fierce - debate over freedom of expression in Europe, where the printing and reprinting of unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has triggered violent protests worldwide.

Irving's lawyer, Elmar Kresbach, said last month the controversial Third Reich historian was getting up to 300 pieces of fan mail a week from supporters around the world, and that while in detention he was writing his memoirs under the working title "Irving's War."

Irving was arrested Nov. 11 in the southern Austrian province of Styria on a warrant issued in 1989. He was charged under a federal law that makes it a crime to publicly diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust.

Irving had tried to win his provisional release on €20,000 (US$24,000) bail, but a Vienna court refused, saying it considered him a flight risk.

Within two weeks of his arrest, he asserted through his lawyer that he had come to acknowledge the existence of Nazi-era gas chambers.

In the past, however, he has claimed that Adolf Hitler knew little if anything about the Holocaust, and has been quoted as saying there was "not one shred of evidence" the Nazis carried out their "Final Solution" to exterminate the Jewish population on such a massive scale.

Vienna's national court, where the trial is being held, ordered the balcony gallery closed to prevent projectiles from being thrown down at the bench, the newspaper Die Presse reported Sunday.

It quoted officials as saying they were bracing for Irving's supporters to give him the Nazi salute or shout out pro-Hitler slogans during the trial, which will continue into Tuesday if a verdict is not reached on Monday.

Irving, the author of nearly 30 books, has contended most of those who died at concentration camps such as Auschwitz succumbed to diseases such as typhus rather than execution.

In 2000, Irving sued American Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt for libel in a British court, but lost. The presiding judge in that case, Charles Gray, wrote that Irving was "an active Holocaust denier ... anti-Semitic and racist."

Irving has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years.

In 1992, a judge in Germany fined him the equivalent of US$6,000 for publicly insisting the Nazi gas chambers at Auschwitz were a hoax.