Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stolen Content - Done? Just getting started

Three posts in one day, and from three different categories, one blog, one Asshat and now this........


Slate Magazine
fighting words

Ruthless yet Humane

Why Obama cited Churchill on torture.

By Christopher Hitchens

He didn't get the attention he deserved for it, but President Obama was very cleverly fusing liberal principles with an appeal to the basic conservative values of "Old Europe" when, in his 100th-day press conference, he used Winston Churchill to justify his opposition to water-boarding and other "enhanced methods." He told his audience that, even at a time when London was being "bombed to smithereens" and the British government held hundreds of Nazi agents in an internment center, there was a prime-ministerial view that torture was never permissible.

It would be reassuring to think that somebody close to Obama had handed him a copy of a little-known book called Camp 020: MI5 and the Nazi Spies. This was published by the British Public Record Office in 2000 and describes the workings of Latchmere House, an extraordinary British prison on Ham Common in the London suburb of Richmond, which housed as many as 400 of Hitler's operatives during World War II. Its commanding officer was a man named Col. Robin Stephens, and though he wore a monocle and presented every aspect of a frigid military martinet (and was known and feared by the nickname "Tin-Eye"), he was a dedicated advocate of the nonviolent approach to his long-term guests. To phrase it crisply—as he did—his view was and remained: "Violence is taboo, for not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information."

To give you some of the flavor of this prohibition, I ask you to consider the case of the German agent codenamed "TATE," who was parachuted into England in September 1940, at a time when almost all of continental Europe was under Hitler's control and when neither the United States nor the Soviet Union had entered the war against Germany.* Taken to Camp 020, TATE stubbornly maintained that he was a Danish refugee. An external interrogator unused to the rules of Ham Common was exasperated by this initial stubbornness and "followed TATE to his cell at the close of that first interrogation and, in flagrant violation of the Commandant's rigid rule that no physical violence should ever be used at Ham, struck the agent on the head. The incident led, on immediate representations by the Commandant, to the instant recall of [the offending officer] from the camp." One blow to the head at a time when undefended British cities were being blitzed every night, and the brute was out of there for good.

Nor is this all. TATE was then put to the inconvenience of intensive questioning, which included the distinct suggestion that he had been betrayed by a close Nazi friend. He ended up making a full confession, leading his captors to the place where he had concealed his transmitter, and then using it to send false intelligence back to Germany. The British wartime records conclude that "skilful direction of his activities and reports provided not only opportunity for deception of the enemy, but gained advance information leading to the detection of other agents and their neutralization."

The parallels here are not always as exact as one might like. Espionage agents were not protected by the Geneva Conventions, and the existence of the camp did not even have to be reported to the Red Cross (which of course in some ways makes the restraint more remarkable). But by the same token, espionage agents were not usually responsible for "ticking bomb" scenarios. Still, the need for timely information and intelligence was then a matter of national survival, and the temptation to cut corners must have been intense.

Spies, unlike prisoners of war, were liable to the death penalty, and the knowledge that they could be executed (only after a trial, of course) was sometimes used to break down recalcitrant Nazis. A grand total of 16 of Hitler's agents were actually sentenced to capital punishment during the course of the war, most of them at the end of a rope but one rather grandly shot in the Tower of London. Fourteen of the victims came from Camp 020, where the book records that there was a considerable debate among the officers over the usefulness of the death penalty. (A glance at some of the mug shots of the Hitlerites in these pages tempts one, no doubt quite irrationally, to wish there had been slightly less clemency.)

I noticed that one of the CIA torture memos mentioned the denial of solid food as a tactic against our prisoners. At Camp 020, not even this was used as a means of interrogation, but it was once employed to break a hunger strike organized by a certain Herr Krag, "a Nazi fanatic from Schleswig-Holstein." Participants in this camp revolt were "confined to their cells and provided with glucose and milk. Frustration set in within seventy-two hours." I think one could face the jury of world opinion with a reasonably clear conscience on that.

As Col. Stephens wrote, following the words quoted above about how "violence is taboo" and that it "lowers the standard of information":

There is no room for a percentage assessment of reliability. If information is correct, it is accepted and recorded; if it is doubtful, it should be rejected in toto.

In other words, it is precisely because the situation was so urgent, so desperate, and so grave that no amateurish or stupid methods could be permitted to taint the source. Col. Stephens, who was entirely devoted to breaking his prisoners and destroying the Nazis, eventually persuaded many important detainees to work for him and began to receive interested inquiries "from the FBI and the North West Mounted Police, from the Director of Security in India to the Resistance Movements of de Gaulle, the Belgians and the Dutch." It would be nice to think that even now, American intelligence might take a leaf from his ruthless and yet humane book.

Correction, May 6, 2009: This article originally stated that neither the United States nor Germany had entered World War II as of September 1940. The Soviet Union had entered the war but not against Germany, which did not declare war against the Soviet Union until June 1941. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and the Roger S. Mertz media fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, Calif.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Asshat - The eyes have it

If I am going to get back on the blogging bicycle so to speak, it might as well begin with the return of one of this blog's features.  This week's winner please....


Bakersfield dad accused of biting out son's eye

BY STEVE E. SWENSON, Californian staff writer

sswenson@bakersfield.com | Friday, May 15 2009 10:27 AM

Last Updated Friday, May 15 2009 04:17 PM

A Bakersfield father is accused of biting out one of the eyes of his small child and similarly mutilating the other eye, leaving the child blind.

After attacking the child, 34-year-old Angel Vidal Mendoza Sr. quickly left his apartment in a wheelchair, entered a backyard of a nearby vacant home and attacked his own legs with an ax, severely injuring himself, Bakersfield police reported.

The child, 4-year-old Angelo Mendoza Jr., later told police, "My daddy ate my eyes."

Doctors at Mercy Hospital said it is unknown whether the child will regain vision in his right eye.

Child Protective Services cannot discuss the case, CPS program director Brian Parnell said. But in cases of serious abuse, the child is taken into protective custody, he said.

Some foster homes have specialized medical training, but more such people are needed, he said.

The boy's mother, Desirae Marie Bermudez, 23, was not present during the incident. There is a $15,000 warrant for her arrest for failing to complete a drug treatment program in late 2008, court documents say.

A search warrant report said the father "was displaying symptoms of being under the influence of PCP."

Both he and Bermudez were charged with being under the influence of PCP in a 2006 criminal case. Both pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges in that case, records say.

So why was the boy still living with the father?

CPS officials say there has to pretty much be serious physical abuse -- major bruises or broken bones -- before a child is taken away from his parents automatically.

In cases where parents are using drugs, CPS will definitely check on the child, Parnell said. But they won't necessarily remove the child. That all depends on the extent of the drug abuse or the availability of other care -- relatives or neighbors -- for the children, he said.

The incident happened in the early evening of April 28 at the apartment the father and son share at 422 Ohio Drive near Terrace Way and Madison Street in southeast Bakersfield.

Police and search warrant reports say:

On the morning of April 28, Mendoza asked neighbor Elizabeth Rodriguez, 36, for a ride to a work-related appointment later in the day.

At 6 p.m., she sent her 12-year-old son to get Mendoza. The boy said Mendoza opened his door slightly and looked nervous, but didn't let him in. Mendoza said he would be right out.

But a few minutes later, Rodriguez saw Mendoza rolling his wheelchair quickly away.

The 12-year-old boy and another neighbor went to Mendoza's apartment and discovered the child on the floor.

Meanwhile, witnesses told police a man was yelling and screaming in a wheelchair from the backyard and hitting his legs with an ax.

Mendoza, who remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail, is charged with mayhem, torture, child cruelty and inflicting an injury to a child.

He's scheduled for a May 20 hearing.

His criminal history dates back to 1998 and includes convictions for drugs, battery, check forgery and a misdemeanor child endangerment.


Okay, I guess vacation is over. Sorry I haven't been around much. I would like to say that it is because my life has been so hectic that I haven't had time to blog, but that would be only partially true. Part of it is that I just simply haven't had the desire to blog. There certainly has been lots I could have blogged about, but a combination of lack of time and energy has ruined most blogging attempts to my recycle bin.

Let's get the big thing out of the way and go from there. I once again lost my radio job. This had absolutely nothing to do with my abilities or lack thereof in producing a radio show, rather the station which we work doing the show from was sold, as was the other two stations owned by the same company in Pittsburgh. Sheridan Broadcasting sold WAMO FM, WAMO AM and WGSR AM to some religious non profit for 9 million dollars. I wish I could go into details about the new owners, but I have been very unlucky in finding any information, I just know that they only recently received non profit status, as of Feb of this year. I don't know if they are a legitimate non profit, or if they petitioned for such status so as to avoid paying taxes. All I know is that it went down something like this.

Apparently at 4pm on Friday, May 15th a staff meeting was called at the station. The employees gathered into a room and told that they no longer had jobs. The whole thanks for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts save for the fact we have no parting gifts speech. Because I wasn't an employee of the station, I was not included in the meeting, rather when I arrived at the station for our 5pm show, around 4:15pm or so, I was told that the general manager wanted to see me. I thought maybe I had screwed the pooch royally or something and didn't even realize it, but nonetheless I trek downstairs to his office where I was told that the station was sold and the show cancelled, effective immediately. The news was such a shock to everyone that the log, the pages that show us what is airing and when that is in the studio, hadn't even been changed, it still was set up like we were doing a show. Worse, we were about to have our best advertising run yet, we had 4 different advertisers that wanted Lynn to do live reads for them duiring the show, and we were set to bring on two more the following week, sadly we were doing more live spots on our show on the AM side than either of the other two stations were doiong during any of their shows/shifts. But it speaks volumes when someone can come in with $9 million and walk away with not one, but three radio stations.

As much as I was disappointed in hearing the news, let's not kid anyone, this was just a part time gig for me, and was not what was paying jmy bills, it was just the occasional spending cash and an opportunity to, as Doug Hoerth used to say, play in the sandbox a little. It was far worse watching people who had dedicated years of time to the station be given little to no notice and be told to clean out their desks and go home. Many of them don't have the fall back of a full time job that I do, that station was their full time gig. I felt far worse for them especially as a bunch of older white guys in suits patrolled the halls, making sure they didn't take anything, as if these guys really could have stopped anyone, they weren't all that imposing of figures, and watching people trudge over to the elevators with all of their radio belongings in tow. Lynn showed up around 4:30pm, I broke the news to her and we went down to Laurence's office, he is the producer of Bev Smith's show (which was unaffected as it is a network show and has affiliates outside of Pittsburgh) and said our goodbyes to he and Brook, his assistant producer. Laurence helped us land the radio gig to begin with, and those of the local radio scene would probably best remember him as Doug's old producer at 1250 AM back in the day, and he is what we like to say in the vernacular, good people. Anyway, we did our goodbyes and keep in touches and headed to the bar next door to the station for a farewell beverage. A couple of sales people stopped by and joined us, two of the 35 people that were show the door and we chatted a bit before everyone went on their merry way.

That's it in a nutshell kids. Not that all of my work has been going so poorly, prior to the sale I was actually starting to find my radio groove again, which is sort of hard to explain. In that regard radio is just a feel thing, you either feel like you did a good job, or a not so good one. I thought that I was finally getting my brain back in order and sounding semi intelligent on the air again, which is harder that it sounds when you are working a full time gig on the side. Harder still because the full time gig is handing me more and more responsibility. I am now the head of the stock people, for whatever that is worth. Basically it means when Ed comes in and sees me working, he tells me I can have somebody else do that, I am allowed to boss around people as I see fit, but I tend not too. Not that he hasn't noticed my work ethic, just Friday he called me aside and handed me an extra $60 and told me to go do something nice for myself since he always sees me busting my ass while I am working.

I'll say this, he couldn't have picked a better day for that little cash pick me up. We had been in a dispute with our Coca Cola vendor, so much so that we hadn't taken an order from them in probably a month and a half, so our Coke coler upstairs was stuffed with what was left of our Coke products, mainly Sprite, and two flavors of Fanta, grape and orange, as that was all we had left. Well of course the dispute with Coke was settled, and as a result, they sent us a giant order on Friday to compensate for everything we sold out of. Over 150 cases of product, plus Friday is also our Pepsi delivery day, and another 120 cases came from them, so by the end of the day, after catching 270-280 cases of product off of the trucks, my arms felt pretty much like they would fall off. I was none too happy, save for the bonus cash, which helped alleviate my suffering, and the fact the boss said I could take as much Mudd home as I wanted. Mudd is a coffee type drink that comes in cans that we sell. We have been selling them as BOGO because we are trying to get rid of them, and I have been known to buy them at work for the quick jolt of caffiene, they come in two flavors, esspresso and vanilla, and I find them quite tasty. Well, since we are trying to just get rid of them, Ed told me to take whatever I wanted, so I snagged a 4 pack for my fridge at home. I could have taken more, but I didn't want to abuse the offer too much. I try not to be too hoggish on such things, I passed on the free Djarum cigarettes that Ed offered previously, though they are clove and I am not a clove kind of guy, but I am thinking that I may be snagging some more of the Mudd because it is just way tasty.

If that were the only thing good about the newstand that would be one thing, but it has also been helping the change meter quite considerably. Since I last wrote about it many moons ago I added another $18.27 to the kitty, so the new total is $97.06. I am very near the $100 dollar mark, which I didn't expect to happen this year let alone this quickly this year. Plus as an added bonus one of the tasks I gave myself at work was to get rid of all of the returned products that we had that were never dispatched of even though we had received credit for them. Included in that was a few cases of Coke products that had literally been in the basement for years, but still had Coke reward caps on them, so I kept the caps and continue to add them to my account. So far, just from the stuff I have gathered since my move to stock person, I have gathered enough points for a year subscription to Esquire (which I previously gave away here), a couple of contest entries where I won free songs from Rhapsody (they need added to the Imeem list yet) and four more free months of Pogo once my yearly subscription runs out next year. And I still have a bunch that I haven't even entered yet. I have 208 points in the account, I could easily buy a few more things but I am waiting to see just how many more I can find before I go on another online spending spree.

One of the few things I have been keeping up on here is the Stanley Cup playoffs, because while they may not be a big thing where you are, they ae quite an event round these parts. Right now the Penguins are one win away from making their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final, while Detroit leads the Western Final so we could be looking at a rematch of last year's final that Detroit won 4 games to 2. When I say the games are a big thing here, I am not overexaggerating. Game 7 of their second round matchup against Washington pulled a 24.97 rating locally. In laymen's terms that means one out of every four TV's in the area were on the hockey game, this despite the fact that the broadcast was only available on cable, so people like myself who just have ye olde rabbit ears couldn't possibly watch the game at home. Last year the Penguins started a tradition with their fans, where they set up a large screen outside the Civic Arena, so if you don't have a ticket to the game (another sign of how big hockey is here, the Pens have sold out their last 100+ games) you can still go down to the arena and watch them. The games are shown outside whether the Pens are home or away, and their last home game, as well as having 17,000+ fans in the building, another 6000 or so opted to sit outside and watch the game with the hockey faithful.

I still have a fantasy baseball team going over on Facebook. I am in a group of 22 other teams and for the most part I have been in the top 5 most of the year. I don't do enough day to day tweaking of the roster, which might have cost me a spot or two in the standings, but overall I am happy with how I have been doing there.

Truth be told, baseball is one of the few things I do with Facebook. By and large I just play games there, either my fantasy baseball team, or Bejeweled Blitz where they have a contest every week where they give away free games based on the cumulative scores of you and everyone on your friends list, and I have just started playing Texas Hold Em. I am not the best poker player, but I am getting better. I entered my first weekly tournament, and unless siomething goes vastly wrong, I will be winning some bonus chips, as everyone who finishes in the top 20% of wionners for the week shares in the pool. I was helped immensely last night when I got to wipe out three different players from the table, all of which went all in against me, and I ended up having a better hand.

I am still playing the ESPN challenge off and on. I think I mentioned this before, the object is to put together the longest winning streak by the end of the year by correctly picking from a daily list of contests. You can pick more once a day, but only if your first pick has concluded for the day can you go and pick a second contest. Usually I just stick with one per day, when I even bother to think about it. The best I have done so far is a ten game winning streak, far behind the best so far this year at 24, but decent nonetheless. I was doing great until I picked Roger Federer to beat some Russian guy I never heard of in a tennis tournament, and Federer folded like an orgami swan. The ten game winning streak looked something like this....

4/19 Which player would score more points, Chris Paul or Carmelo Anthony, where I correctly picked Chris Paul (21-13)

4/20 Who will win this matchup, Chicago Blackhawks or Calgary Flames? The winner and my pick was Calgary.

4/21 Match rersult for Arsenal (win or draw) vs. Liverpool (win)? Again I nailed it taking Arsenal in a 4-4 tie.

4/23 Who will win this matchup, Boston Celtics @ Chicago Bulls? Another winner taking Boston (107-86)

4/24 Which player will score more points, Dwight Howard or Andre Iquodala? Winner number 5 with Dwight Howard (36-29)

4/25 Would the listed weight of the #8 pick in the NFL draft be 240 pounds or less or greater than 240? I took greater and again I nailed it (309)

4/26 Which driver would have a better final position, Clint Bowyer or Matt Kenseth? #7 in the streak was Kenseth (17th place vs. 41st)

4/27 Which side will have a higher total, Deron Williams assists or Los Angeles Lakers winning margin? The Lakers made it 8 (11-6)

4/30 Who would have the lower first round score, Phil Mickelson or Anthony Kim? A pick of Phil and we are at 9 (67-70)

5/1 Who will win this matchup, Atlanta Hawks @ Miami Heat? Miami was correct pick 10 in the streak (98-72)

Then I had Federer and he lost a match to Novak Djokovic. Fuck Roger Federer, I hope Nadal owns his ass at the French Open.


Sorry, took some time off to slep and when I got up, even though I wasn't scheduled, I checked in at work for about an hour. I had reason to believe someone had mispriced a display (I was correct) and wanted to fix the problem before it started costing us money. Plus there were a couple things I wanted to put on the shelves that I knew we had, but was unsure if they would have gotten put out if I didn't do it. Truth be told, many of the people I work with are fine, including Grey, who I sometimes refer to as my protege, since I was told to train him all of a day after I was put on the stock person duty. Still he has turned out fine, enough so that they use him in a couple different stores. Some of the others though haven't worked out as well, and I would just as soon work around them than with them. I suppose Ed would want me to crack the whip on them, I prefer just to do the job myself, that way I am sure it gets done.

Anyway, so even though I was off for the holiday, I didn't request it and it actually cost me making time and a half, so I wasn't all gung ho about being off, I did take the opportunity to go to the bar and imbibe a few and since Coke rewards reset this morning, I went ahead and added a full 120 points to my account, the limit you can enter in one week, and it got rid of most of the caps I have laying around, which is fine with me and means I don't have to worry about it for another 7 days.

I also used some cigarette coupons I got in the mail. Since the dreaded tax increase on smokes, I took it upon myself to sign up with the major players (Camel, Marlboro) in hopes I could get some offers mailed to me to help defray smoking costs. Marlboro has sent me three so far, a 2.50 off and two 1.50 off coupons, Camel keeps sending me coupons for free tins of Snus, which I don't care for, but I take to work and staple to my charge sheet so I can get credit for their monetary value on my paycheck (4.27).

I am taking a moment to see just how much I won in the weekly poker tournament on Facebook. I finished in the top 20%, but am not sure what my actual take is. Turns out it was about 20,000 in chips. Not sure iof it was worth it or not, but there it is.

Well I should probably put a wrap on my ramblings, I still have a few things I would like to do before turning in, and if I get up early enough, I may take myself to breakfast before work in the morn. A quick spell check and I am outta here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stolen Content - Remembering the fallen

Okay, I haven't been around here much.  There is lots to that, some good, some bad, which I will get into in due time, but part of the good was the recent Penguins-Capitals series, which was some of the most competitive and thrilling hockey I have had the honor of witnessing in years.  Since the Pens won, I could use the opportunity to gloat, but I will not, the series was too good for that.  Instead I will opt to let someone else do the talking and I will just sit back and relax.


The Caps Lost, But They Won

By John Feinstein
Friday, May 15, 2009

There is a tendency among those who follow sports to focus on the result. At the end of a game, it is the scoreboard that tells the story.

Every once in a while, though, the scoreboard doesn't tell the whole story. In the case of the Washington Capitals' 2008-09 season, which ended Wednesday night with a deflating 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh game of their Stanley Cup playoff series, the journey was more important than the outcome.

To be sure, losing to the hated Penguins, a franchise that has tormented the Caps for years, was a huge disappointment. To lose so convincingly in Game Seven after the first six games produced some of the most riveting hockey seen anywhere in years was even worse.

But even though the Caps came up a win short of advancing to hockey's version of the Final Four -- the conference finals -- their accomplishments this season go well beyond the ice, and beyond wins and losses. They have done what once seemed impossible: turned Washington into a hockey town.

There is a difference between being a hockey town and being a town with a winning hockey team. Eleven years ago the Caps reached the Stanley Cup finals. Verizon Center was sold out during those playoffs, because the team was winning and people in Washington -- as in all cities -- like jumping on winning bandwagons.

When the Caps failed to make the playoffs in three of the next four seasons, Verizon Center looked like a ghost town most nights. Often there were as many fans pulling for the visitors as for the home team.

It began to change in 2004, when the team drafted Alexander Ovechkin with its No. 1 pick in the National Hockey League draft. Ever so slowly, owner Ted Leonsis and General Manager George McPhee built a dynamic young team around the brilliant Ovechkin. When Bruce Boudreau became coach in November 2007, the team began to jell. They made a late run to reach the playoffs last year, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime of Game Seven of the opening round.

That spring rally -- the Caps didn't clinch their playoff berth until the season's last weekend -- set the stage for this season. Ovechkin -- with all due respect to Pittsburgh's brilliant captain, Sidney Crosby -- is now the best player in the league. The Capitals won 50 regular-season games and finished second in the Eastern Conference.

They had to come from behind, down three games to one, in the first round to beat the New York Rangers and set up the showdown with Pittsburgh. The last game notwithstanding, the series and the Ovechkin-Crosby match-up more than lived up to the hype.

But this season and these playoffs were about far more than wins and a final loss. Hockey players are the most likable professional athletes on the planet. Maybe it's because so many are small-town kids, or because so few become marketing superstars, or maybe it's just the nature of the sport -- selflessness is an absolute for any team to succeed.

The Redskins will always be this area's obsession, but the Caps are here to stay as an important part of Washington's sports culture. The fans who poured out in droves all winter aren't going away. They're all-in now, and they know that this team is going to compete at the top levels for years. Ovechkin is 23 and has a long-term contract. Most of the key players are in their 20s.

Leonsis is smart enough to know that being rich doesn't mean he knows anything about how to build a hockey team. He will continue to leave that to McPhee and Boudreau.

Most important, the players get it. They made no excuses in defeat, they didn't whine or rationalize. They promised to get better. Before they did that, though, they made clear that they understand how fortunate a team is to have the kind of support they have had throughout this remarkable season.

After the traditional handshakes on Wednesday, the entire team remained on the ice while the Penguins exited. Then, led by Ovechkin, they stood in a circle and raised their sticks in salute to their fans. It was the kind of moment rarely seen in sports and almost always reserved for victory celebrations.

Yet it was not only appropriate, it was perfect. The Caps' season ended in defeat, but their performance -- on and off the ice -- earned them the cheers they heard as the final seconds ticked down. The way the players recognized those cheering them is proof that those cheers were well deserved.

John Feinstein is a contributing writer to The Post. His book "Are You Kidding Me? -- The Story of Rocco Mediate's Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open" will be published next week.

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