November 30, 2006

British Officials Increasingly Certain of Government Cooperation In Litvinenko Poisoning; Speculate About "Rogue Elements" Within Kremlin
— Ace

"Rogue elements" are a nice way to say "We suspect it's Putin, but we can't afford to level such accusations against a nuclear-armed state."

A little preview of what happens when Iran goes nuclear. There will be a lot of "rogue elements" of the Iranian government conducting attacks against America.

British intelligence sources increasingly suspect that Alexander Litvinenko, the former spy killed with a radioactive poison, was the victim of a plot involving "rogue elements" within the Russian state, the Guardian has learned.

While ruling out any official involvement by Vladimir Putin's government, investigators believe that only those with access to state nuclear laboratories could have mounted such a sophisticated plot.

Police were last night closing in on a group of men who entered the UK among a large crowd of Muscovite football fans. The group of five or more arrived shortly before Mr Litvinenko fell ill and attended the CSK Moscow match against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium on November 1. They flew back shortly afterwards. While describing them only as witnesses, police believe their presence could hold the key to the former spy's death.

Last night, the Irish government said it was launching a separate investigation focussing on the former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar, who fell ill during a visit to Ireland a week ago. At first Mr Gaidar's entourage thought he was suffering from something he had eaten. But yesterday one of his aides said doctors suspected he had been poisoned.

The Gardaí said it would question everyone Mr Gaidar had been in contact with, but there was no immediate link to the Litvinenko case.

In London the number of locations searched by police for traces of radioactive material rose to 24 yesterday, with polonium-210 found at 12. John Reid, the home secretary, told the Commons there was a "high level" of contamination at some of the locations but the risk to the public was low.

It was reported that the levels of radiation were highest in the toilets of the Millennium Hotel in London, where Mr Litvinenko had a meeting shortly before falling ill. These levels were above the safe public dose limit, according to Channel 4 News. There were also traces at the Itsu sushi bar, where he went later, but they were far lower.


Explaining the increasing belief that Mr Litvinenko's death involved Russian state elements, one official said yesterday: "Only the state would have access to that material".

Posted by: Ace at 05:23 PM | Comments (25)
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Former Russian PM Gaidar Victim of "Unnatural Poisoning," According To Spokesman
— Ace

Deja vu all over again?

Former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar was the victim of an "unnatural" poisoning, his spokesman told AFP, citing doctors.

"This was an unnatural poisoning. The doctors can't say what the substance is yet. We are expecting an official diagnosis at the beginning of next week," Valery Natarov said.

Natarov said Russian doctors had to compare their results with those of Irish doctors after Gaidar fell ill on November 24 during a trip to Ireland.

Gaidar suddenly fell unconscious and started vomiting blood after eating fruit salad and drinking a cup of tea.

Natarov and Gaidar's daughter, Maria, said earlier Thursday that Gaidar, who is recovering in a hospital in Moscow, is feeling better.

Maria Gaidar told the Kommersant daily that, based on her conversations with doctors, she expected the diagnosis to point to "a poison unknown to civilian medicine."

Posted by: Ace at 05:17 PM | Comments (10)
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Psychology of a Spy
— Ace

Fun little piece on what drives people to spy against their own country.

Preserved in the permafrost of the Cold War is a piece of advice given by Pavel Sudoplatov, Stalin’s master spy, to an apprentice agent. Sudoplatov’s career in the Soviet secret service spanned three decades of Stalinism, and few understood better the brutal and complex psychology of spying.

When seeking to recruit a spy, Sudoplatov advised his underling that one should “search for people who are hurt by fate or nature — the ugly, those craving power or influence but defeated by unfavourable circumstances. In co-operation with us, all these find a peculiar compensation. The sense of belonging to an influential, powerful organisation will give them a feeling of superiority over the handsome and prosperous people around them.”


For decades, the KGB operated its spy networks on principles represented by the acronym MICE: money, ideology, compromise (as in blackmail) and ego. By far the most important was ego. Spymasters on both sides of the Iron Curtain awarded their spies exotic codenames, the better to flatter their self-esteem. Ideological belief is a useful attribute in a spy; but belief in one’s own importance is essential.

Alongside the arrogance of the spy lies a remarkable capacity for self-delusion. The espionage world has always drawn people with a tenuous grip on reality: fantasists, paranoiacs, conspiracy theorists, fraudsters and fakers. The British secret service, in particular, seems to have attracted a disproportionate number of people who were at best eccentric, and at worst entirely mad. Yet an overactive imagination is not unique to the British spy.

I think he's referring to actual spies rather than case-officers or spymasters (i.e., CIA or KGB operatives), though the writer of the piece then goes on to apply this idea to Litvinenko, who was actually, I think, just a defector. Not a spy remaining in place to transmit secrets to the west.

Posted by: Ace at 03:46 PM | Comments (27)
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Sundance Festival Will Feature Horse-Sex-Death Documentary
— Ace

A documentary called "Zoo" about the guy who had sex with a horse. Or, more accurately, the guy who made a horse had sex with him, and died hours later from, ahem, internal trauma.

Robert Redford has optioned the story for use in a theatrical film tenatively titled, The Horse Whisperer II: Sweet Nothings.

Thanks to Andrew and rcl.

Posted by: Ace at 03:39 PM | Comments (30)
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Krauthammer: Borat Film Mocks Anti-Semitism In All The Wrong Places
— Ace

Interesting: Borat goes searching for anti-semitism in America. Hasn't he heard he can see a lot more of it, without the travel costs, in England or France?

With anti-Semitism reemerging in Europe and rampant in the Islamic world; with Iran acquiring the ultimate weapon of genocide and proclaiming its intention to wipe out the world's largest Jewish community (Israel); with America and, in particular, its Christian evangelicals the only remaining Gentile constituency anywhere willing to defend that besieged Jewish outpost -- is the American heartland really the locus of anti-Semitism? Is this the one place to go to find it?

In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez says that the "descendants of the same ones that crucified Christ" have "taken possession of all the wealth in the world." Just this month, Tehran hosted an international festival of Holocaust cartoons featuring enough hooked noses and horns to give Goebbels a posthumous smile. Throughout the Islamic world, newspapers and television, schoolbooks and sermons are filled with the most vile anti-Semitism.

Baron Cohen could easily have found what he seeks closer to home. He is, after all, from Europe, where synagogues are torched and cemeteries desecrated in a revival of anti-Semitism -- not "indifference" to but active -- unseen since the Holocaust. Where a Jew is singled out for torture and death by French-African thugs. Where a leading Norwegian intellectual -- et tu, Norway? -- mocks "God's Chosen People" ("We laugh at this people's capriciousness and weep at its misdeeds") and calls for the destruction of Israel, the "state founded . . . on the ruins of an archaic national and warlike religion."

Yet, amid this gathering darkness, an alarming number of liberal Jews are seized with the notion that the real threat lurks deep in the hearts of American Protestants, most specifically Southern evangelicals. Some fear that their children are going to be converted; others, that below the surface lies a pogrom waiting to happen; still others, that the evangelicals will take power in Washington and enact their own sharia law.

This is all quite crazy. America is the most welcoming, religiously tolerant, philo-Semitic country in the world. No nation since Cyrus the Great's Persia has done more for the Jews. And its reward is to be exposed as latently anti-Semitic by an itinerant Jew looking for laughs and, he solemnly assures us, for the path to the Holocaust?


It is very hard to be a Jew today, particularly in Baron Cohen's Europe, where Jew-baiting is once again becoming acceptable. But it is a sign of the disorientation of a distressed and confused people that we should find it so difficult to distinguish our friends from our enemies.

I suppose Cohen goes to America for the anti-semitism because, were he to expose it in Britain, he wouldn't be popular or beloved. He'd be reviled for exposing what his audience really believes.

Thanks to yls.

Posted by: Ace at 03:29 PM | Comments (93)
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First-Time Novelist Wins Prize For Worst-Written Sex Scene Of Year
— Ace

"Bulging trousers:"

The first-time author won for descriptions like this one, contained in Twentysomething: "everything is pure white as we're lost in a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles."

He's obviously never had sex. He completely misses the awkwardness, embarrassment, nauseau, chagrin, etc., so central to the sexual act.

Hollingshead, the underdog, clinched the title with his description "bulging trousers," judges told the Associated Press.

"Now in its 14th year, the Bad Sex award was won last year by Giles Coren for an unpunctuated 138-word description of coitus, followed by the two-word sentence, 'Like Zorro,'" according to the Guardian.

Like Zorro? That's freakin' good. How do they call that bad sex writing?

Posted by: Ace at 02:09 PM | Comments (56)
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Author Claims Baby-Talk Is A Universal Proto-Language Which Can Be Understood
— Ace

The baby-talk "code." She claims the language is reflexive. "Neh," for example, mimics the sound a baby makes when he's feeding, so "neh" means "I'm hungry."

After a nurse told her not to worry about her baby’s constant colicky crying, Priscilla Dunstan, now 32, decided that there must be a better answer. As a professional musician in Australia with a “photographic” memory for sound, she began to keep notes on her newborn son’s wails, and, sure enough, detected a pattern — five specific sounds that he would make when he was hungry, tired, needed to burp, was uncomfortable, or had gas.

“These words are created when sound is added to a baby’s natural reflexes,” explains Dunstan, whose research on over 1,000 babies has led her to believe that these words are universal among infants during the first three months of life. “This system is about helping the mother to believe in her own intuition,” she says.


Here are two words to get you started.

“I’m hungry!”

The word: Neh

Where it comes from: The noise made when a baby pushes his tongue to the roof of his mouth because he wants to eat, “neh,” is an infant’s sucking reflex with sound added to it.

“I need to burp!”

The word: Eh

Where it comes from: When a big bubble of air is caught in your baby’s chest, the sound you hear is “eh,” as your baby tries to get the burp out.

I suppose it's possible. Her explanation is plausible enough. Not that that makes it true.

But What Does "Heh" Mean? Ghengis (or as I call him, Jenjis) writes to say he thinks he knows.

"Heh" is baby-talk for "I needs me some of those puppies."

Posted by: Ace at 01:56 PM | Comments (60)
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Media: "We no longer know what is going on, but we are pretending we do."
— Ace

It's not just bias anymore. It's a flawed methodology, reporting on the cheap from far away from the actual incidents, relying on often biased and ethically-challenged local stringers to do the actual "reporting" which Western reporters merely type up from the comfort of their rooms at the Hotel Intercontinental.

Confederate Yankee quotes a good piece by embedded real reporter Michael Fumento, and adds his own commentary:

Vietnam was the first war to give us reporting in virtually real time. Iraq is the first to give us virtual reporting. That doesn’t necessarily make it biased against the war; it does make it biased against the truth.

Virtual reporting. A meme is born.

Confederate Yankee notes:

The overwhelming majority of international journalists "reporting" from Iraq have never ventured out of their hotels in the Green Zone, a small area in Baghdad, and yet try to convince us they are reporting facts from around the entire nation. Based upon what, precisely? They are only reporting what stringers—local Iraqi and other Arab reporters, with sectarian, regional, and in some cases suspected insurgency-related biases—tell them.

These Baghdad reporters have no way of knowing if these stringers are reporting facts or are relaying propaganda, if the witnesses quoted are reliable or coached, or if the photos submitted to them are an accurate visual account of the events discussed in a story.

Fumento again:

The London Independent's Robert Fisk has written of "hotel journalism," while former Washington Post Bureau Chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran has called it "journalism by remote control." More damningly, Maggie O’Kane of the British newspaper The Guardian said: "We no longer know what is going on, but we are pretending we do." Ultimately, they can’t even cover Baghdad yet they pretend they can cover Ramadi.

Kathleen Carroll gave the game away in her defense of AP's reporting. She denigrated the importance of whether the Sunni-men-set-on-fire story was actually true; the bigger story, she said, is that things are getting worse and worse. That's the story, and AP's story-- true or not -- fits in with that narrative.

Well, it may fit in, but if it's not true, it has no business being reported as such.

But reporters simply aren't reporting anymore, by and large. They have nothing except such "big picture," "gestalt" sort of impressions. They have impressions, attitude, and an overarching narrative, and such things come to them easily; actual facts are hard to get, and so thus are denigrated in importance.

It's of a piece with NBCNew's much-hyped decision to start referring to Iraq as in a state of "civil war." They may not have many on-the-ground, near-the-action reportial assets to get at the facts of Iraq. But what they can do, very easily, is give you the "Big Picture" decision made by New York City liberals in air-conditioned offices. And without real news reportage from Iraq, they're forced to elevate such silliness into "major news."

What else have they got?

Almost nothing.

Basically, reporters are becoming bloggers, passing over the difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and often-dangerous collection of actual news in favor of glib "impressions" and commentary on the news.

Except, with reporters having decided by and large to no longer do any actual reportage, such news is harder and harder to come by.

Posted by: Ace at 01:18 PM | Comments (13)
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Andrew Sullivan: Church Is Gay (No, Really: Gay In That Way)
— Ace


I've often wondered how many straight Catholics fully appreciate how gay their church has always been. Especially in the old days. High Mass was, in its heyday, more elaborate and choreographed than a very melodramatic Broadway musical. Do people really believe that gay priests and religious had nothing to do with it? They had everything to do with it.

The first time I walked into a gay disco, with all those lights, music, ritual and smoke, my immediate thought was: church! Madonna gets this, whatever Jonah says. Because she's a born-and-bred Catholic, which Jonah isn't. It's theater, sweetie, theater. And the Church once understood that - which was part of its beautiful Catholicity. Gone, now, alas. But Benedict is helping nudge it back. And although I tease him about it, it's a wonderful thing. More incense, please. And lace.

There's nothing sadder than an aging homosexualist.

Is there now any difference at all between the "conservative" Andrew Sullivan and the various queer-magazine provocateurs of the left? For precisely how long will the media insist on calling a pro-tax-raising, pro-abortion, pro-gun-law, anti-war, anti-american, pro-drug, gay-marriage-above-all-else gay leftie a "conservative"?

Yes, he does agitate for a smaller government. But generally one contrarian position is not enough to define someone as a "conservative." There are pro-death-penalty liberals, too; that single policy stance doesn't make them non-liberal. It just makes them liberals with one contrarian position.

And his agitation for "small government" is chiefly about gay marriage, too. His idea of "small government" is only secondarily animated by a desire to have the government spend less; what he really wants is a government that "stays out of the gay marriage issue," i.e., allows the courts (another branch of government, although an undemocratic one) to decide the issue.

I have a few positions that don't really fit the conservative orthodoxy. Does that make me a liberal, I wonder?

Thanks to Slublog.

Posted by: Ace at 12:59 PM | Comments (64)
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Theaters Testing Push-Button Device To Call Ushers For Rowdies
— Ace

It's about time:

Regal Theaters, the nation's largest theater chain, has begun testing devices in 25 of its locations that allow patrons to summon ushers if audience members use cell phones or become unruly. Regal Chief Executive Michael Campbell told the Reuters Media Summit in New York Wednesday that a second button will notify management of faulty projection, a third about uncomfortable room temperature, and a fourth about any other problem.


He said that he expects the device to be available nationwide next year and that it will be given to "mature" audience members, who will receive free popcorn for their efforts.

Projection problems are big, too. What do you do when a film is being shown out of focus, or if it is mis-aimed at the screen? You can either get up and try to find the manager and miss ten minutes of the movie (as I've done) or start yelling "Focus!," which other people don't like and which is unlikely to have any effect, as I doubt there's a person in the projection booth most of the time anyway.

Theaters really have to be aggressive about making going to the movies a more enjoyable experience. Especially for big, splashy, spectacular movies, most (I think) would prefer the big-screen experience... if not for the constant problems, the huge lines, the yappers right behind you, etc. With HD DVD now promising something approaching the big-screen experience, it might be just about over for the theaters anyway; but they might as well go down fighting.

Thanks again to PetiteDov.

Posted by: Ace at 12:51 PM | Comments (30)
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Heh: Master's Degree Student Proves Link Between Conservativism and Mental Illness
— Ace

We're not just stupid, we're crazy.

Meanwhile, those who advise "talking to" Iran are completely sane.

A collective “I told you so” will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out.

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

There actually may be something to that; who knows. But obviously psychotics, representing less than a tenth of a percent of the population, splitting for Bush 60-40 (or whatever) is not a good basis from which to draw larger conclusions.

And at least our crazies are actually locked up in mental health facilities.

Theirs are... not.


Posted by: Ace at 12:25 PM | Comments (70)
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Now Shock-Politics Nudity Is Used To Draw Attention To... Potholes In Streets
— Ace

I'll be shocked when the left doesn't strip off it's clothes as a protest against this or that.

PEOPLE in a small town in western Canada are so fed up with the rotten state of their main road that they came up with an unusual form of protest - a calendar that shows them posing nude in the potholes.

One inhabitant of Leader, Saskatchewan, is shown sitting in a canoe that is perched in a pothole.

Another has his dignity preserved by a well-placed camera while a third man covers up with a strategic hubcap.

"The initial impression when people open the calendar for the first time is 'Oh my God!' It's pretty dramatic," said Wayne Elhard, the local MP.

Leader, a town of just 1000 in a largely farming area of southwest Saskatchewan, says it can't afford to fix all its roads.

Thanks to PetiteDov.

Posted by: Ace at 12:18 PM | Comments (6)
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AP Fights Back, Hinting That Partisan Political Operatives Are Being Used By The Military To Slander Them
— Ace

Smells like Rathergate again.

How transparent can they get? Caught in what seems to be a mistake, compounded by dishonest changes in their story as the story "evolved," they take the Dan Rather tactic of refusing to address the substance of the charges, preferring instead to claim -- get this -- bias and agendas in those making the criticisms.

Let's stipulate for the record: We're biased. So's the military. So's AP.

The question is: what are the actual facts? AP seems less surefooted in attempting to deal with that question.

AP instead tries to make some vague connection between this story and the outrage! of a government PR agency planting positive stories in the Iraqi press.

JunkYardBlog has an offer:

Like I said, I'm not really even that offended by this insinuation because the AP's credibility has been wounded and they're just flailing around desperately looking for someone to blame it on besides themselves. But I'll make you a deal, AP. I'll cooperate with you fully in proving to your satisfaction in proving I am an independent blogger and not getting paid by this Lincoln group. As long as you'll protect my anonymity as you would any confidential source, I'll give you all reasonable access to satisfy you that I'm just a poor little desk-jockey typing away here and not a paid-up tentacle of the military-industrial complex. Obviously it's impossible to prove a negative, but I think I will be able to satisfy you that my writing on this case and my interest in it has been independent. I expect many of the bloggers linked in this piece would submit to a similar examination.

In exchange, you guys will present Capt. Jamil Hussein, live, in person, at the Iraqi MOI HQ. As he's a real, bona fide police captain, I'm sure he'll be interested in clearing up his employment status!

I'm serious, AP dudes. Drop me a line. Seedub at hotmail. Let's do this.

I don't think his hotmail account will be ringing.

More... Flopping Aces started this story (AFAIK), and he has CENTCOM's full denial and AP's statement that it "stands by its story."

Kathleen Carroll states:

From Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor, The Associated Press

We are satisfied with our reporting on this incident. If Iraqi and U.S. military spokesmen choose to disregard AP’s on-the-ground reporting, that is certainly their choice to make, but it is a puzzling one given the facts.

AP journalists have repeatedly been to the Hurriyah neighborhood, a small Sunni enclave within a larger Shiia area of Baghdad . Residents there have told us in detail about the attack on the mosque and that six people were burned alive during it. Images taken later that day and again this week show a burned mosque and graffiti that says “blood wanted,” similar to that found on the homes of Iraqis driven out of neighborhoods where they are a minority. We have also spoken repeatedly to a police captain who is known to AP and has been a reliable source of accurate information in the past and he has confirmed the attack.

By contrast, the U.S. military and Iraqi government spokesmen attack our reporting because that captain’s name is not on their list of authorized spokespeople. Their implication that we may have given money to the captain is false. The AP does not pay for information. Period.

Further, the Iraqi spokesman said today that reporting on the such atrocities “shows that the security situation is worse than it really is.” He is speaking from a capital city where dozens of bodies are discovered every day showing signs of terrible torture. Where people are gunned down in their cars, dragged from their homes or blown apart in public places every single day.

At the end of the day, we have AP journalists with reporting and images from the actual neighborhood versus official spokesmen saying the story cannot be true because it is damaging and because one of the sources is not on a list of people approved to talk to the press. Good reporting relies on more than government-approved sources.

We stand behind our reporting.

First of all, this is a blatant misrepresentation of the charge; the charge is not that the "Iraqi policeman" is not an official spokesman, but that he is not a cop at all. AP lies even when it reports on its own lying.

And, just for fun, remember Kathleen Carroll has a never-concede-error mentality. Remember her statement denying any staging whatsoever in the Qana Corpse Carnival?

The AP said information from its photo editors showed the events were not staged, and that the time stamps could be misleading for several reasons, including that web sites can use such stamps to show when pictures are posted, not taken. An AFP executive said he was stunned to be questioned about it. Reuters, in a statement, said it categorically rejects any such suggestion.

"It's hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy," said Kathleen Carroll, AP's senior vice president and executive editor.

Carroll said in addition to personally speaking with photo editors, "I also know from 30 years of experience in this business that you can't get competitive journalists to participate in the kind of (staging) experience that is being described."

I grow weary of the media's constant defense that they are "in the shit" and you aren't so you'll just have to listen to them. AP's first reporting on this was done entirely by a local stringer, not by an AP reporter. What little staff they have is not out in the field but back in the relative comfort of the green zone. And of course AP's senior editorial staff is all in the "air-conditioned offices" Kathleen Carroll derieds.

Maybe Ms. Carroll should go over to Iraq, embed in a unit, see things first hand. At least then she'd have some credibility in making the "we're out there in the shit" defense.

Posted by: Ace at 11:47 AM | Comments (14)
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More Kramer
— Ace

Great National Lampoon spoof, "The Lost Episode of Seinfeld," covering the Richards race riot.

Also at the link: Gibson defends him:

I feel really badly for the guy. He was obviously in a state of stress. You don't need to be inebriated to be bent out of shape." Ain't that the truth!
Regarding Richards' fate in the media, Mel added, "They'll probably torture him for a while and then let him go. I like him." Of course he does.

And another report says that Richards is just plain goofy, and not in good way:

Sam Simon, longtime producer on "The Simpsons" and numerous other shows, told Howard Stern this morning that Richards' racist rant at an L.A. comedy club, brought to you by TMZ, was a public manifestation of what TV insiders have known for years -- namely, that Richards is prone to bizarre, temperamental behaviors that leave everyone shaking their heads.

Richards, says Simon, threatened the life of Spike Feresten, creator of "The Michael Richards Show," the short-lived 2000 NBC sitcom, and did it calmly and chillingly. "I have a gun," said Richards, according to Simon. "I'm going to kill you, and I'll do the time."

And that's not all -- Richards once quit the show in the middle of production, says Simon, with a full studio audience in attendance and wouldn't return until coaxed back by the president of the network. What's more, Richards once stood on his head in the middle of a shot, inexplicably, and was once found in a corner of a soundstage, weeping uncontrollably.

Oh, and the mystery of Richards' religion seems to be solved. Not Jewish by blood, nor formally converted to Judaism, but considers himself Jewish, apparently because he had some Jewish mentors (such as Andrew "Dice" Clay and Don Rickles).

Posted by: Ace at 11:27 AM | Comments (11)
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Centcom Officially Denies AP's "Police Captain Source" Is A Cop At All
— Ace

AP dodges the issue, stating they merely erred by calling him an official police spokesman.

But that's not the charge: The charge isn't that he's not a spokesman. It's that he's not a cop at all.

Based AP's claim to have "verified" the man was a cop, I began to wonder if it's isn't possible he's sort of a cop. Not officially a cop, not employed by the government, but serving in a cop-like role for the Sunnis. Patterico explores this.

Even if that is the case, he's still not a cop, and, furthermore, he would be a "shadow cop" with a specific constituency (the Sunnis) to appease and serve. We have "shadow cops" in this country, too-- on all race-related matters, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson jet in to become shadow district attorneys. And one can see in that case too the agenda-driven lack of objectivity and the need to serve an ethnic consituency above the law or facts.

Allah's got a great run-down, which includes the New York Times' blogger weighing in on the story. (It's beneath the Times proper to question the reportage of AP, it seems.)

n the evening, a resident named Imad al-Hashemi said in a telephone interview on Al Jazeera, the Arab news network, that gunmen had doused some people with gasoline and set them on fire. Other residents contacted by telephone denied this.

[Allah's comment;] Emphasis mine. I hadn’t heard that before.

He’s also suspicious about how/why an e-mail sent by Centcom to the AP made it so quickly onto conservative blogs. Er, because Centcom shared it with Flopping Aces after he inquired about Jamil Hussein? Surely America’s one-stop shopping center for leaks isn’t tut-tutting at us over this, is it?

It's interesting that our press corps, the Priesthood of Truth, gets so suspicious about non-credentialed reporters doing any reportage of their own. He seems flabbergasted that Curt from Flopping Aces could actually call up CENTCOM, same as any reporter, get a comment, and then publish it.

This strikes him as very nefarious.

Possibly because he's a little bothered at how easy his job really is most of the time.

Rejecting that his job just might be easier than he'd like to pretend, he instead hints darkly at other forces at work. It's just not possible a blogger with a phone could call up CENTCOM; no, there's good reason to be suspicious here. It must be that CENTCOM called up the blogger to put the story out there.

(Which is half of "reporting" anyway; but suddenly the NYT is very worried about the possibility that sources are calling reporters rather than the other way around.)

So what have we learned? Unless a story comes from an Official, Credentialed, Reverend of the Holy Truth (i.e., a paid straight reporter), it is almost certainly planted and almost certainly untrue.

Posted by: Ace at 11:16 AM | Comments (7)
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Lindsay Lohan's Beautiful Advice To Robert Altman's Family: "Be Adequite"
— Ace

Well, no one's ever called her firecerebellum, now have they?

moved to great eloquence and passion by the death of the eminent film director Robert Altman. And then there is Lindsay Lohan.

The 20-year-old actress, who scored a part in Altman's last movie, A Prairie Home Companion, made the interesting decision to go public with a condolence letter she wrote to the Altman family in the wake of his death from cancer last week. The passion was certainly there - she, like many dozens of actors before her, clearly adored the experience of working in Altman's characteristic freeform style - but the letter was also spectacular in its incoherence and disregard of basic grammar and spelling.

"I am lucky enough to of been able to work with Robert Altman amongst the other greats on a film that I can genuinely say created a turning point in my career," she began, less than certainly. "He was the closest thing to my father and grandfather that I really do believe I've had in several years... He left us with a legend that all of us have the ability to do." A little lower down, she fell into improv philosophy, apparently riffing on the notion that life is too short to waste: "Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourselves' (12st book) - everytime there's a triumph in the world a million souls hafta be trampled on. - altman Its true. But treasure each triumph as they come." And she signed off, "Be adequite. Lindsay Lohan."

The letter has become the talk of Hollywood since its release over the weekend. Was the actress on a misguided - and utterly botched - quest for publicity, exploiting the death of a revered director for her own purposes? Had she been on one of her legendary party benders? Or was this Exhibit A for the indictment of America's education system?


Patt Morrison, a columnist with the Los Angeles Times, begged to differ, calling the letter "alarmingly incoherent" and questioning what it was Lohan had learnt at the Long Island schools that gave her straight As.

Even had she managed to spell "adequate" correctly (which, to be fair, really gets tricky after the "q"), what the hell kind of valedictions is that? "Be adequite"? How about "Be blandly mediocre, Love & Kisses, Lindsay."

Mild retardation is kind of sexy, but Lohan seems to be a full-on brain-gimp.

Not hot.

Thanks to Blacksheep.

My Misspelling of "Adequate:" Hey, typos aren't the same thing as misspelling.

Posted by: Ace at 10:45 AM | Comments (42)
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Radiation Found On Two British Flights, Twelve Different Sites
— Ace

A third jet is being closely examined. The good news, I guess, is that radioactive toxins are now pretty decisively no longer effective as secret poisons.

A link with one of the Russians he met:

The investigation into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko has spread to 33,000 British Airways passengers after radioactive traces were found on aircraft.

Experts found low levels of radioactive traces on two aircraft at Heathrow airport and were preparing to examine a third in Moscow, the airline said.

The airline said in a statement: "British Airways has been advised that three of its Boeing 767 short haul aircraft have been identified by the UK government as part of the investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko.


Sky's Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said: "It appears that after Mr Litvinenko met the Italian Scaramella for lunch on November 1 he met two Russians.

"At least one of them flew back to Moscow on November 3."

Those who read much into the radiation traces found at Berezovsky's offices also need to explain these traces, I think.

A former Russian Prime Minister fell ill as well:

In another development, it has emerged a former Russian Prime Minister is seriouly ill in hospital - possibly the victim of poisoning.

Yegor Gaidar fell ill during a book tour of Ireland and was flown back to Russia for emergency treatment.

In the UK, low levels of radiation have been found on two BA jets connected to the case.

A third is being held in Moscow until it is safe for it to return.

Mr Reid said checks had been carried out on a fourth plane which flew into Heathrow from Moscow on Thursday morning.

The Russian Boeing 737, which is leased by Transaero, was later given the all clear.

Mr Reid said concerns have been raised about a fifth plane - also a Russian aircraft.

BA is contacting 33,000 passengers and 3,000 staff after "low levels of radioactive traces" were found on the two jets at Heathrow. Both had flown between London and Moscow.

A spokesman said they were being examined because "individuals involved in the Litvinenko case" had travelled on them.


It has been suggested polonium 210 could be present in other locations because it leaked from a container or was present in people's bodily fluids.

That's not definitive, but I take from that that one can in fact sweat out some Polonium, or carry it around after touching someone else who's sweating it out.

Update: Indirect Link Between Gaidar and Litvinenko Poisoining: Well, I mean a direct link between the men.

The only reported link between Mr Gaidar and Mr Litvinenko is another ex-KGB spy, Andrei Lugovoy, who once served as Mr Gaidar’s bodyguard and met Mr Litvinenko on the day he was allegedly poisoned.

Posted by: Ace at 10:36 AM | Comments (14)
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"Smoking Gun" Evidence of Iran Supplying Weapons Directly To Iraqi Terrorists
— Ace

Let's make sure they're helping to stabilize Iraq. And then maybe Israel, and then maybe New York City too, which could always use a little stablilization.

U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.

This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. "There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval," says a senior official.

Iranian-made munitions found in Iraq include advanced IEDs designed to pierce armor and anti-tank weapons. U.S. intelligence believes the weapons have been supplied to Iraq's growing Shia militias from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which is also believed to be training Iraqi militia fighters in Iran.

Evidence is mounting, too, that the most powerful militia in Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr's Mahdi army, is receiving training support from the Iranian-backed terrorists of Hezbollah.

Posted by: Ace at 10:24 AM | Comments (38)
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Hey, Y'all
— LauraW.

Just wanted to snatch a moment to say hello.

Open thread, guys. Yeah, I know...lame.

I want to blog something good for you, but there's just too much going on in reality land right now.

Posted by: LauraW. at 08:01 AM | Comments (135)
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November 28, 2006

Palestinians Proudly Display New Civilian Killing Weapon; No Mention of the "T" Word
— Ace

Experts, schmexperts. If the Palestinians don't call a poorly-aimed rocket only useful for area attacks on major civilian populations a "terrorist" weapon, then who are the AP or Reuters to quibble with them over word choice?

Posted by: Ace at 12:56 PM | Comments (275)
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