February 2004 Archives

Your Zuitcases, Zey Are Not In Order...

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I'm an infrequent flyer (about once a year), but I like to think I pay attention and more or less know what's going on with respect to security. That being said, however, this sounds like exactly the kind of mistake I would make...

We were connecting at Brussels, switching from an SN Brussels commuter flight from Berlin to an American Airlines flight to Chicago. A colleague loaded down with three carry-ons asked me to tote a bag for him as we dashed through the maze-like Zavantem Airport.

. . .

Unlike U.S. airports, American, and I presume other airlines in Brussels, had a gent posted in front of the ticket counter sort of pre-checking passengers. He wore a dark suit, not a security uniform, flashed a big smile and looked like a diplomat. I presumed he was an American Airlines Special Services agent helping out because of the huge crowd.

He asked me the standard questions, such as "Did anyone today give you anything to carry aboard?" Without even thinking about my buddy's case, I said "Nope."

Suddenly, his smile disappeared. He noticed that the nametag on my friend's suitcase didn't match the name on my passport. And that's about when I noticed that his ID said he was with a private security firm.

"Step over here, sir," he ordered, getting me out of the line. He and two other security types conferred out of earshot--and in Flemish--then he came back and asked me whose suitcase I was carrying.

I explained that it belonged to a colleague who by now was in the American Airlines business-class lounge and that I was simply helping him out. "Why don't you call the lounge and ask him direct," I suggested. That fell on deaf ears.
. . .
After a silent standoff that seemed to last five minutes but was probably just five seconds, they X-rayed my friend's suitcase three times. It apparently passed the inspection. "You're free to go," said my inquisitor, "but don't you ever do this again."

Gathering my bags, I asked him if my stupidity would be programmed into some worldwide airport or Customs security database. He ignored the question and I didn't push it.

But at the security checkpoint leading to my departure gate, I was pulled aside again, taken into a curtained booth, wanded, patted down and questioned. My bags were hand searched. My buddy's bag had a security sticker showing that it had been cleared once, but a security agent looked at me suspiciously.

At Chicago/O'Hare, where I cleared Customs, my garment bag came off the luggage conveyer damaged. A zippered pocket had been torn off and was hanging by a thread, the contents gone. It was nothing valuable, but it did stoke a little paranoia.

Am I now a marked man forever? A spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection in Washington doesn't think so. "I would say no because it was clearly an error, a silly mistake on your part," he explained. "If something suspicious was found within that bag or on your person, there would have been greater scrutiny and certainly in the future we would take a closer look at you."

However, he did confirm that "there are a number of databases [maintained] by several different agencies, but I can't be more specific."

For my part, it's been a hard-learned lesson. Airport security for U.S.-bound flights is extremely tight in Europe and a number of transatlantic flights have been cancelled due to terrorism fears in recent weeks. Business travelers who act annoyed or dumb or who are "too busy" or give any attitude to any airport security staffers, particularly overseas, are inviting big trouble and a possible black mark in those mysterious databases.
I flew back from London on September 11th (!!) last year, and I didn't notice any extra security, unless you count the two PCs walking around the Heathrow Terminal 3 departure concourse with body armor and MP-5's (kinda like this). It was a smaller security presence than when I flew to Orlando in January of 2002, where they had pairs of M-16-armed National Guardsmen at every security checkpoint.

Halt! Neighborhood Association!


Update to the story of a Fort Wayne man who wrecked his car and let his cougar escape: he's now being sued by his neighborhood association to force him to get rid of his three remaining wild cats (another cougar and two fifty-pound servals):

An Allen County man housing wildcats at his home not only faces criminal charges but also must contend with a civil lawsuit filed by his neighbors, seeking permanent removal of the animals. Gary L. Dutcher, 31, was charged last month with leaving the scene of an accident, a misdemeanor; operating a vehicle while his license was suspended, an infraction; and maintaining a public nuisance, an ordinance violation.

Dutcher crashed his car on Stellhorn Road near Lahmeyer Road Jan. 31 while hauling his 150-pound cougar named Samson home from a veterinary clinic. The wildcat fled the car and eventually had to be shot and killed in the 7000 block of Stellhorn despite efforts by emergency workers to tranquilize the animal.

. . .

On Monday, Still Water Place Community Association sued Dutcher, seeking the eventual permanent removal of the wild animals. The lawsuit alleges he has broken restrictive covenants established for the neighborhood because the animals are "inherently extremely dangerous."

. . .

The lawsuit notes the escape of Dutcher's cougar in January shows the need for the immediate removal of the animals "before another of the animals escapes from its enclosure to roam the community or, worse, attacks humans and other animals."
Personally, I think the 'leaving the scene of an accident' charge is a bit much (reports are that he left the scene of the accident to CHASE THE ESCAPED COUGAR!), but the guy probably should have read his neighborhood association's by-laws, which (I'm guessing) had some verbiage along the lines of "NO CATS THAT CAN KILL YOU!".

But I probably shouldn't expect Dutcher to pay real close attention to legal issues...

About one month before Dutcher crashed his car and the cougar escaped, he was arrested on drunken driving charges. He pleaded guilty earlier this month and is awaiting sentencing, scheduled for March 1.

In May 2003, he was sentenced to 18 months probation for impersonating a U.S. marshal in October 2002.

Continuing the thoughts in yesterday's fatwa:

It may, superficially, appear distasteful to copulate with a woman who is not a man's legal wife, but once Shariah makes something lawful, we have to accept it as lawful, whether it appeals to our taste, or not; and whether we know its underlying wisdom or not. It is necessary for a Muslim to be acquainted with the laws of Shariah, but it is not necessary for him to delve into each law in order to find the underlying wisdom of these laws because knowledge of the wisdom of some of the laws may be beyond his puny comprehension. Allah Ta'ala has said in the Holy Quraan: "Wa maa ooteetum min al-ilm illaa qaleelan" which means, more or less, that, "You have been given a very small portion of knowledge". Hence, if a person fails to comprehend the underlying wisdom of any law of Shariah, he cannot regard it as a fault of Shariah (Allah forbid), on the contrary, it is the fault of his own perception and lack of understanding, because no law of Shariah is contradictory to wisdom.
There is no need to ask silly questions like "Why?", brother; sharia simply is. Any lack of understanding is your own fault; you are too stupid to understand why!

Islam ensured that the slave girl's duties were not restricted merely to domestic chores but also gave her master permission to copulate with her. This concession created an atmosphere of love and harmony between the slave girl and her master. Islam thereby raised the status of the war captive-maidens close to that of wives. It was a psychological cure to her grief-stricken heart, being deprived of her family and thrown into the hands of a strange society.
Sure, on the one hand, your husband and family are dead and your home destroyed. But look on the bright side - you get to be raped by some guy who now owns you! There's no downside!

Sharia Aptitude Test Prep Course

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Today on "SAT Prep Course", we look at word analogy questions. For instance,

What is the best word to fill the blank: Marriage:Slavery::Butchery: __?__
A) Taqija
B) Fishing
C) Jihad
D) Pederasty

A) is incorrect. While lying to infidels is encouraged, the analogy is only peripherally related to the question.

C) is incorrect. Jihad is always a correct answer; however, in this rare case, it is not the most correct answer.

D) is incorrect, as the Prophet (pbuh) was actually married to all his child brides; therefore, it was not a question of property rights.

The correct answer is B) Fishing:

A free woman cannot be 'possessed', bought or sold like other possessions; therefore Shariah instituted a 'marriage ceremony' in which affirmation and consent takes place, which gives a man the right to copulate with her. On the other hand, a slave girl can be possessed and even bought and sold, thus, this right of possession, substituting as a marriage ceremony, entitles the owner to copulate with her. A similar example can be found in the slaughtering of animals; that after a formal slaughtering process, in which the words, "Bismillahi Allahu Akbar" are recited, goats, cows, etc.; become "Halaal" and lawful for consumption, whereas fish becomes "Halaal" merely through 'possession' which substitutes for the slaughtering.

In other words, just as legal possession of a fish that has been fished out of the water, makes it Halaal for human consumption without the initiation of a formal slaughtering process; similarly legal possession of a slave woman made her Halaal for the purpose of coition with her owner without the initiation of a formal marriage ceremony.

Gag Order

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Big news going public sometime in April. I wish I could talk about it now. Watch this space.

Time Of Your Life, Eh, Kid?

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This just in from the Dangerous Logic field office in Boulder: in a coup reminiscent of the Miami Playbook found by badjocks.com, we have discovered the University of Colorado Football Recruiting Handbook. This one is definitely not safe for the kiddies.

Dude Must Be Dyslexic...

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...because you're supposed to hit it big, then start acting like an asshole:

The chance to win a weekend in Hollywood with a real, live actor was too much for two South Dakota women to resist.

. . .

The ladies didn't even mind that they'd have to pay their own airfare, or that their "celebrity" host — Patrick Kilpatrick — does not have his name in lights.

"I guess you'd call him a bit actor," says Shirley, who runs a child advocacy agency with Kelly.

They had met Kilpatrick in Aberdeen last fall when he joined other luminaries in a pheasant hunt. There's a national circuit in which local folks pay to hunt birds with ballplayers and entertainers, and Kilpatrick is in demand.

Bags packed and hopes high, Shirley and Kelly flew to Los Angeles on Feb. 3 to spend a few days with Schwab's brother in Huntington Beach before making the Hollywood scene. On a family boating trip, Shirley got seasick, and it was rough waters for the next three days.

Shirley called Kilpatrick twice on Friday, but got no answer. She and Kelly missed his return call Saturday morning, and were surprised by the message he left.

"He said he was going to Universal City with his son," Shirley says. He also said he'd leave a key to his apartment with his doorman and added, "Maybe I will see you later."

. . .

The ladies left Kilpatrick a message Saturday morning and let him know they were confused and disappointed. When he finally called back Sunday morning, their Hollywood dream was shattered.

As Shirley recalls the conversation, Kilpatrick bluntly insisted he had more than fulfilled his obligation to them by cleaning his apartment, stocking the refrigerator and leaving the keys with the doorman.

Serving as the ladies' West Coast agent and manager, I put in a call to Kilpatrick, who flipped out at the nerve of his accusers. He said he had "bent over backward" for Shirley and Kelly, who never had the "gumption" to make it to his apartment.

"I have so much to say about it," Kilpatrick said, and he wasn't kidding.

He rambled on for about 40 minutes about his "journey into the heartland" and the misunderstanding that followed, and I didn't hear him take a breath.

Kilpatrick said he had graciously offered his home to two South Dakota couples this year, with another duo coming in next month. But he said he made it clear to Shirley and Kelly that he would be available to play tour guide only if he wasn't busy. As it turned out, he was extremely busy.

It seems he has three "film projects" in the pipeline, and they happen to be the "most arresting films in the world, and very valuable to the world of ideas, as well as cinema."

In other words, he's like 50,000 other people in L.A. who can't get funding.

Kilpatrick said he had to pick up one of his two sons in Santa Barbara, and he likes to spend enough time there to "relate" to the boys' school. He also had scheduled a two-hour "purification" session, or he might have had more time to give his scheduled visitors a better "expression."

It's a shame this meeting of two worlds didn't work out, because I would have loved to hear how Shirley and Kelly related to purification.

"I am not paying them back for that $500," Kilpatrick bristled. "My budget doesn't allow me to do that."

I think Shirley and Kelly got closer to discovering the real Hollywood than they realized.
Read the whole thing. I focused on Kilpatrick's behavior, but the two ladies appear to have gotten the full Hollywood experience, including seeing a woman shoot up in a McDonald's bathroom, dodging some falling scaffolding, and having their car towed [hat tip: Romanesko].

I'm not quite sure what dude's deal is - he's been getting steady work for close to 20 years, so I'm a little surprised that $500 is that big a deal.

Missed Him By That Much...

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I had an exam in my networking class Monday night, so I went to campus a couple of hours early for some last minute studying. I got to the student union bare moments after the end of a lecture by International Socialist Solidarity Movement co-founder Adam Shapiro. Dammit dammit dammit! I pay my dues to the VRWC precisely so I can have advance notice of things like this! At the very least, I could have taken notes for a vigorous fisking later; with a little more lead time, I would have been able to ask embarrasing questions like:

  • Why are you still perpetuating the fraud that the IDF massacred innocent bystanders in the Jenin refugee camp when in fact there was no such massacre?
  • Do you still support the Palestinians' right to resist through "legitimate armed struggle?" How exactly do you define "legitimate armed struggle?"
  • Do you condemn Palestinian suicide bombing? Do you deny that New Jersey ISM chapter leader Charlotte Kates said "Why is there something particularly horrible about 'suicide bombing' - except for the extreme dedication conveyed in the resistance fighter's willingness to use his or her own body to fight?"
  • Why do you not endorse the Roadmap? What do you think would happen to Israeli Jews under a one-state Palestine?
  • Don't you think your energies in the occupied territories would be better spent keeping the Palestinians from perpetuating their culture of hatred than in overtly suborning yourselves to terrorist groups?
And that's just off the top of my head.

Other Than That, Gary, What'd You Think Of Her?

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[Full disclosure: I've hated the University of Colorado ever since this.]

Colorado Coach Gary Barnett is in pretty deep shit right now, what with a former (female) kicker alleging she was raped by a teammate and his less-than-politic comments on the matter:

Barnett later that day snapped at a reporter who asked him about her abilities. "It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful," he said. "Katie was not only a girl, she was terrible. OK? There's no other way to say it."
And that's not even counting the other five victims allegedly raped by CU football players or the alcohol-and-sex-filled recruiting visits. Anyway, Barnett was interviewed on CNN this morning, and it looked like he was in the prison library (with a fake-bookcase backdrop) in a button-down shirt with no tie. It sure looked like he wanted to hang himself, and I found myself wondering if CNN had taken his belt and shoelaces too, just to be safe.

Technically, Though, It's The Right Answer...

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Just a suggestion for all the married fellas out there: if you forget to mention to your wife that you're visiting the bloodmobile that day, and she calls you on your cell while you're there, the correct answer to the question 'So what are you doing?' is not 'Bleeding.'

In my Rose Bowl post-mortem, I observed that USC's team speed was deadly. There's no question Michigan can play the power game, but they still need to improve their athleticism, particularly on the O-line. Maybe they need a new conditioning coach. Former Gillingham FC fitness coach Laura Church is available:

A fitness coach at a First Division football club was sacked because footballers' wives were jealous of her, a tribunal has heard.

Laura Church was dismissed from Gillingham FC after she sent a midnight text message to player Chris Hope.

Miss Church said she sent the text to congratulate Mr Hope after his performance in a game last July.

Update: Dammit! The BBC's website changed the picture sometime between 10AM and 6PM (CT). The old picture had Church in a leotard prominently featuring two of her major assets. There's a decent picture here, but it wasn't as good as the original BBC picture.

Update: Now we're talkin'! You can always count on the Sun for a a nice juicy picture:

Always Always Always Read The Small Print

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Buried in a RasmussenReports.com report about Kerry's poll numbers slipping is this little lovely:

Kerry is in a very competitive race with George W. Bush for the General Election. Kerry and Bush are also very even on the question of who voters trust more to manage the economy. One of the most startling recent survey results showed that voters trust Kerry more than Bush on the issue of controlling government spending.
Yes, that sure did seem startling to me. At least it did until I read the next paragraph:
The national telephone survey of 570 Democrats was conducted by Rasmussen Reports over the past three nights. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points, with a 95% level of confidence. [emphasis added]
For their next trick, Rasmussen Reports will ask 570 Catholics who they trust more on theological issues: the Pope or Jerry Falwell.

Premature Marytrdom, Again

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LGF points me to another small 'oops' in Gaza:

A Palestinian teenager was killed in an explosion inside a Gaza City apartment Monday, witnesses and hospital officials said.

The blast in the 12-story building was apparently caused by either the premature detonation of a bomb or the accidental explosion of a cooking gas cylinder, residents and security officials said.
Vegas odds on 'cooking gas cylinder:' 1,000:1. Later reports, though, make it hard for me to decide whether whether to file this under 'Splodeydope Watch' or 'Dangerous Stupidity:'
A 17-year-old Palestinian was killed Monday evening at the Shata refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, apparently after handling a hand grenade or an explosive charge. The boy's mother and brother were injured in the blast.
The Palestinians, of course, are putting their money on the IDF:
GAZA (Reuters) - An Israeli aircraft has attacked a target in Gaza City, Palestinian witnesses say.

The identity of the target was not immediately known. The Israeli army, which has killed wanted militants in air strikes since the start of a Palestinian uprising more than three years ago, had no immediate comment.

Palestinian witnesses said an Israeli helicopter fired a missile in the attack on Monday.

The Sukhoi Design Bureau has been doing some incredible work in the near-stall flight regime. Their Su-37 air superiority fighter can do things that a jet aircraft simply should not be able to do. Fortunately, it's so expensive that the Russians can't even afford it. Unfortunately, that means they're looking real real hard at the export market. [Hat tip: Ronit Bhattacharyya]

J F'n K, Part I


If there's a bigger weasel in contemporary American politics than John F'n Kerry, I haven't seen him yet. He said this during tonight's Democratic debate:

"Kerry criticized Bush's judgment in going to war and his failure to view it as a last resort. A decorated Vietnam veteran, Kerry drew a contrast with his own combat experience in Vietnam and Bush's decision to send men to war.

"I know what it's like when you lose the consent and the legitimacy of that war," Kerry said."
Of course you do, you schmuck - you helped make it happen!

Karma, Chechen Style

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On the heels of yesterday's 'oops' in Gaza comes news that Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, former Chechen president and suspected terrorist simp, done gone and blowed up real good:

FORMER Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who has been linked to al-Qaida and was accused by Russia of maintaining international terrorist ties, died Friday after his car exploded in the Qatari capital, the Interior Ministry said.

. . .

The Russian Embassy had no immediate comment.
This happened in Doha, Qatar, which is a little disturbing, but it shows that the Russian security services can win an away game (we already know how tough they play at home).

Karma, Gaza Style

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In an update to last week's Palestinian 'work accident' story, Hamas is claming that Abdel Nasser Abu Shokeh's death was a hit:

Abdel Nasser Abu Shokeh, 37, of Al-Gourej was killed Friday in an explosion believed until now to be a "work accident," that is, a premature explosion that occurred while he was handling explosives meant for use against Israel. But in a report by Israel Radio, Hamas now says his death was a hit by Israel.

Shokeh was believed to be head of Hamas's military wing in Central Gaza. He was also the lover of suicide bomber who blew herself up at the Erez Checkpoint, killing three soldiers and one civilian and leaving behind two children.

After Reem Salah al-Rayashi's husband discovered the affair, her erstwhile lover apparently supplied her with explosives and chose the place where she should kill herself and any Israelis she could take along with her.

Hamas said that an Arab Israeli who had supplied Shokeh with an army uniform gave him a model of Al-Aqsa Mosque as a gift. A few hours later, the model exploded, killing its new owner.

Hamas says it was an Israeli job, but Jihad Watch asked the same question that immediately came to my mind - where was the (widowed) husband? "Gee, Inspector, I haven't left the house since my wife died. I've thrown myself into my hobby of making scale models of buildings..."

Degrees Of Ugly

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When you take a chick back to her place because you were looking through beer goggles, and you wake up the next morning, look at her, and think, "Damn, she's ugly!", there are three categories she can fall into.

First, there's garden-variety "Coyote Ugly," (no, not that), where you wake up with your arm around her and gnaw your arm off so you can escape without waking her up.

Second, there's "Double Coyote Ugly," where you gnaw your other arm off after you escape because you know she'll be looking for a one-armed man.

Finally, there's "Strap On An Explosive Vest And Blow Yourself Up So You Don't Have To Marry Her Ugly:"

The family of the latest Palestinian suicide bomber have expressed shock at his involvement in the attack because he was due to be married next week.

. . .

His father expressed surprise at the family home near Bethlehem shortly before reports arrived that an Israeli demolition squad was on its way. "I was expecting to marry him, not to bury him. This is just not my son. I just couldn't believe it."

(Hat tip: Allah. The BBC story is almost two weeks old - how did I miss it?)

The chronic famine in North Korea seems to have gotten worse:

FOUR million North Koreans will starve in the freezing northern winter because international aid donations have dried up amid rising suspicion over the isolated country's nuclear weapons activities.

A United Nations agency said yesterday its food supplies were all but exhausted and it would have to abandon four million people already on short rations.

. . .

UN North Korea representative Masood Hyder said in Beijing yesterday: "A food crisis is on us at the wrong time. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel."

. . .

Mr Hyder said the agency did not expect mass starvation deaths. But malnutrition and other health problems would surge among North Koreans whose daily aid rations of about 500g of food a person was already considered the bare minimum needed. In 2002, 42 per cent of North Korean children were found to be stunted.
I don't see what the problem is. I found a picture of this year's senior class meal at Kaesong High School:

The Kaesong High Class of 2004 gathers for their annual meal

When asked if he was enjoying himself, class salutatorian Kim Il-Suk (second from right) said "I haven't eaten this well since my junior class meal."

O'Neill and O'Bobb

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I don't blog much on the weekends - hell, I barely follow the news then, which is why I'm just now getting to a development in the Paul O'Neill classified document incident. When I wrote about this originally, the point I wanted to make was that it didn't matter how he got classified documents - if he got them, he was obligated not to use them in the preparation of an unclassified document (his book)!

Islamokazis 39, Darwin 2


It looks like the Chechens have found somebody else actually willing to flip the switch:

An explosion tore through a subway car in the Moscow metro during morning rush hour Friday, killing 39 people, according to the Interfax news agency, and wounding more than 100 others in what appeared to be the deadliest terrorist blast to hit the capital since Russia launched its second war in Chechnya.

Officials differed over whether the blast, which hit five weeks before Russia's presidential election, had been caused by a suicide bomber. Deputy Moscow Mayor Valery Shantsev said that investigators had not found metal shrapnel, which usually fills suicide bombers' explosives. He said that the bomb had likely been in an attache case or rucksack on the floor of the subway car.

The Interfax news agency, citing unnamed police sources, said the attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber. Police have a videotape of the suspected attacker and her alleged accomplice standing on the metro platform before boarding the train, Interfax reported.
After their recent human reliability problems, it's good for the Chechens to know they can have a woman they can count on next time to... um, never mind.

Yesterday wasn't all bad, though. It appears we got an 'own goal' from the Palestinians:

A leader of the military wing of the Hamas militant group was killed last night in an explosion that rocked his home in a Gaza Strip refugee camp, medics and witnesses said.

Witnesses said they saw Israeli helicopters hovering over the Bureij camp shortly after the blast killed the militant, identified by Hamas officials as Abdel Naser Abu Shuka, 36.

. . .

The Israeli Army denied that the military was involved in the explosion. "There were no forces in the area, neither on land nor in the air," when the blast occurred, a spokesman told Reuters.

An Israeli military source said the army suspected that Abu Shuka died in an accident while preparing an explosive.

Palestinian security officials said they were investigating whether Abu Shuka was killed by a booby-trapped package or by an explosive detonating accidentally in his hands.

As Nelson Muntz would say: "Ha-ha!"

Well, All Right, But This Is Your Last Chance...

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What kind of terminally-goobered-up people are we dealing with when we see headlines like "Failed Suicide Bomber Lost Will to Die?"

MOSCOW (AP) -- A Chechen suicide bomber who was arrested after failing to detonate an explosive in a Moscow cafe last summer said in an interview published Tuesday that she had lost her will to die and purposely tried to attract attention to herself.

Zarema Muzhakhoyeva, 23, was detained in July after her strange behavior attracted the attention of security guards at Mon Cafe, a restaurant just off a main avenue leading to the Kremlin. A bomb disposal expert, Maj. Georgy Trofimov, was killed trying to defuse the explosive that she had carried in a bag and left on the sidewalk.

The arrest sent jitters through the Russian capital, still shaken by a double suicide-bombing at a Moscow rock concert five days earlier that killed the two attackers and 14 other people.

Muzhakhoyeva faces charges of terrorism, conspiracy to murder two or more people, and illegal possession and transfer of weapons, the Izvestia daily reported. If convicted, she could spend 25 years in prison.

Muzhakhoyeva told Izvestia that she hopes for acquittal under a law lifting criminal responsibility from people who warn of a terrorist act or its preparation. She described doing her best to attract attention to herself without provoking punishment from the controllers she was sure were following her - and who, she was convinced, could detonate her bomb by remote control.
On the one hand, there seems to be some glimmer of hope, at least for this particular failed splodeydope. On the other hand, her handlers are probably glad to be rid of her, since this wasn't the first time she couldn't close the deal:
Abandoned by her mother at 10 months and widowed after her much older husband was shot in a business dispute, Muzhakhoyeva told Izvestia that she turned to terrorism as a way out of shame. She had stolen jewelry from her grandparents and sold it in hopes of being able to start a new life with her young daughter, whom her husband's family had placed with another relative, but the family prevented her from taking the child and then froze her out.

Muzhakhoyeva said she then turned to terrorism, having heard that suicide bombers' families were rewarded $1,000. She spent time in rebel training camps in the mountains of southern Chechnya, and then was assigned to blow up a bus in Mozdok, the Russian military headquarters in the Caucasus region. When the targeted bus turned up, however, she could not bring herself to connect the wires of the bomb she carried, she said.

"At that moment I realized that I could not blow myself up," she recalled.
No biggie. The Death Cultists just went to their bullpen:
Another woman completed the job a few days later, killing herself and 15 others.

In spite of her failure, Muzhakhoyeva's handlers sent her to Moscow. She lived in a safe house outside the capital with a male guard, a male explosives expert and two women, who blew themselves up at the rock concert just a few days after arriving.
(hat tip: Jihad Watch)

Muzhakhoyeva's case seems different from most other splodeydopes in that she appeared to be in fairly desparate straits, as opposed to the average Palestinian Islamokazi (Islamokaze?). The question is whether Darwin can triumph over the madrassas by killing splodeydopes faster than they can be created. I don't think I like the answer.

Some Stuff Holds Up Better Than Others

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I usually listen to audiobooks when I'm driving by myself because local radio is pretty lame (although there will always be a space on my presets for Bob & Tom). Right now, I've got Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man in one car, and Robin Cook's Shock in the other. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that anything Crichton writes is better than anything Cook writes.

For instance, The Terminal Man holds up very well, despite being written in 1972. With only a few minor tweaks (mostly involving doctors smoking (!) inside the hospital (!!) anywhere they want (!!!), references to homosexuality as a 'disorder,' and obsolete computer stuff), it could have been published now. Reader George Wilson does an excellent job keeping things moving along and performs the voices acceptably. My biggest quibble with this novel is a bit of a 'longshot premise' - the idea that a man paranoid about computers taking over the world would allow a computer to be implanted in his brain. I'll just file it under 'Suspension Of Disbelief - Major' and drive on.

OTOH, pretty much everything about Shock bugs me (and not just me; read the reviews on Borders!). The main female characters, allegedly graduate students, speak and act like teenagers. The dialog is stiff, the pacing is glacial, and the other characters are stereotypes. C. J. Critt's reading is just awful - slow, bad on dialog and worse on voices (which is strange, because I like her work on other stuff like Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series). I especially don't like the scenes where the characters use computers - it seems like Cook interviewed a hacker for fifteen minutes and then just used buzzwords to fill in the other stuff he needed to do. As an aside, that's one of my entertainment pet peeves: Impressive Sounding Tech Jargon I Know Is Wrong. '24' is about the worst offender here - from the dialog, you'd think everybody at CTU is a sysadmin. But I digress.

Bottom line here: when I finish both these audiobooks, I'm getting two more Crichtons. I doubt I'll get anything else by Cook for a long time.

They're Called 'Wild' For A Reason


We had our own When Animals Attack moment in the Fort this weekend:

Fort Wayne police, after a four-hour search, shot and killed a cougar that had gotten loose in northeast Fort Wayne on Saturday night. Sampson, a tan-colored, 4-year-old cougar, belonged to Gary Dutcher of Allen County, and escaped from his car when it slid off Stellhorn Road near Lahmeyer Road just before 7 p.m., police and state conservation officers said.

The search ended just north of Stellhorn Road about 11 p.m.

The cougar was hiding in the bushes of a residence. A Fort Wayne animal control officer fired several shots from a tranquilizer gun and the cat became agitated and tried to jump on a police officer.

Police then fired two shotgun rounds, killing the cat, police spokesman Tom Rhoades said.
Apparently Dutcher was on his way home from a vet checkup for the cougar when he put his car in the ditch. As he got out of his car, the cougar -- who was not caged or otherwise restrained -- escaped (different story in the next day's paper):
The animal was not in a cage and, even though mildly sedated, ran from the car and was found about four hours later hiding in the bushes near the Hupe Insurance Services, 7011 Stellhorn Road. To protect the public, members of Fort Wayne's Emergency Services Team surrounded the area. An animal control officer fired two tranquilizer darts into Sampson, but police said they were forced to shoot and kill the cat when it began running south toward some homes.
Interestingly, the print edition of that day's paper said the cougar attacked a police officer.
No one was injured. Dutcher, who could not be reached for comment, was cited for causing a public nuisance - which carries a fine of up to $2,500, according to Belinda Lewis, the city's director of animal control. Lewis said it is unclear whether the law required Sampson to be caged during transport, but she said a cage should have been used and had been requested by the veterinarian.
Where the hell's my clue-by-four when I really need it?
  • Use a cage. Repeat: USE. A. CAGE!
  • So a cage that big won't fit in a Camaro. Dude doesn't have a pickup truck?
  • If it was a routine checkup, why make the trip in crappy weather (granted, it was only a mile or two if he was going where I think he was)?
Dutcher and the local authorities will cross paths again on this issue, and Dutcher will most likely lose:
Dutcher has been keeping wild cats for about six years, and last year had two mountain lions and three servals, or African wildcats. Lewis said the servals were kept in cages in the garage while the mountain lions - Sampson and a female, Delilah, were in backyard cages surrounded by barbed wire and an electric privacy fence. Sampson had been declawed.

Even though Dutcher has a federal permit to keep and exhibit his cats, Dutcher might have to give them up or move when his home in the 8300 block of Chapel Bend Drive is annexed into the city next year. City ordinance prevents residents from keeping exotic or dangerous wild animals.

Some of Dutcher's Stillwater Place neighbors began objecting to his cats as far back as 1999, complaining about the odor and worrying what might happen should one of them get loose.

Dutcher, a member of the Midwest Exotic Feline Education Association, told The News-Sentinel in 1999 he and other members keep big cats to protect species that are becoming increasingly rare. "They're like children to me," he said. "We take very good care of them. I've gone to every length to make sure everything here is safe. You've got to know how to handle them."
I hear this and I think of Timothy Treadwell and Aime Hugenard saying Alaskan brown bears are mostly harmless "party animals" a year and a half before getting mauled to death by one.

Update: bigcatrescue.org has a page documenting incidents involving captive cats. Verrrrrry interesting.


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