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December 30, 2005

The Great Train Robbery

I bet you thought TWU leader Roger Toussaint lost in calling the disastrous Christmas MTA strike. I did too, until I read this scathing analysis by former NYC Parks Commission turned municipal gadfly, Henry Stern:

The Post and the News say the Transit Workers Union won a smashing victory over the MTA. The News gave the story its large type page one headline: “$UBWAY $ANTA CLAUSE: New contract gives $110 million pension payout bonanza for transit workers. The headline on the p5 story is STRIKING GOLD IN A NEW DEAL: Many Transit Workers get 14G. Four reporters share the byline. The lead editorial, on p36, is titled, TRANSIT WORKERS RIDE MTA GRAVY TRAIN. "Roger Toussaint and the Transit Workers Union made out like bandits after all by crippling New York in their lawless strike. Those many promises by top officials that a walkout would gain the workers nothing have gone up in a $110 million puff of smoke."

If Pataki and Bloomberg don't manage to push back on this outrageous giveaway, they should be ridden out of state on a rail. NYC has worked so long and so hard to step back from the precipice of bankruptcy to allow municipal unions to learn that the City can be extorted into big payouts. It is really infuriating to think that the workers who shut down the City before Christmas will be handsomely rewarded for their illegal actions.

December 30, 2005 at 09:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

OOD: Gebran Tueni, R.I.P.

It's not really an obituary, but you should read Claudia Rosett's column on the life and death of Lebanese journalist and patriot Gebran Tueni.

A brisk, trim man with a neat mustache, Tueni welcomed me to an office filled with figurines of roosters, small and large, dignified and whimsical. He collected them, he said--a rooster being the logo of his newspaper, An-Nahar, an Arabic name which he translated for me as "The Morning." Founded by Tueni's grandfather in the 1930s, and passed from father to son for three generations, An-Nahar was for Gebran Tueni not only a family business, but a vital trust. Seated behind his grandfather's desk, speaking in fluent English, he explained that his aim was to cover the full spectrum of Lebanese news and debate, to give voice to "Muslims, Christians, leftists, rightists." As a Lebanese patriot, he refused to be cowed by Syrian censorship. In 2000 he had broken his country's long silence by publishing an explicit call for Syria to get its troops out of Lebanon. He had no patience with the press self-censorship that tends to become the rule under jackboot regimes. "If you accept to enter the game of blackmailing, it's your fault," he said. "We try to have an independent paper."

Asked about the dangers of such a stance, he catalogued quickly that he had been shot twice, in 1976 and 1989; kidnapped briefly, in 1976; and exiled in 1990 for three years.

Tueni's defiance of despotic rule extended not only to Syrian occupation but to the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics. He described Hezbollah as "an imported product from Iran. It has nothing to do with Lebanese identity." He went on to explain that Hezbollah is "a direct threat, acting in Lebanon like a state within a state," with "weapons everywhere." Hezbollah, he said, has its enticing side, building hospitals and schools, and providing free education to children of poor families--"but what are they teaching?" Hezbollah's strategy, he said, "Is to transform us into an Islamic republic." Tueni described Iran as providing Hezbollah's weapons and the funding, and Syria as providing "the cover."

Tueni saw democracy as the only acceptable future for Lebanon. He had no illusions that it would be easy going: "Just to talk about democracy, it's not a cocktail party," he said, "You have to work at it."

This work killed him, but the Baathist regime in Syria cannot be allowed to get away with Tueni's murder. If Syria is willing to continue its campaign of political assasination in Lebanon while the UNSC investigates its last murder, perhaps the UNSC should cut to the chase and impose severe sanctions on Assad and his cronies.

December 29, 2005 at 07:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 25, 2005

Cortez Indicted for Catherine Woods' Murder

After being arrested earlier this week in connection with an alleged sexual assault last New Year's eve, Paul Cortez was fingerprinted by the NYPD. These fingerprints were then found to match a bloody print found at the scene of Catherine Woods' November 27th murder. Cortez was subsequently arraigned on a charge of second degree murder on Friday, December 23rd.

According to a story on the web page of a Columbus, OH television station, Cortez pled not guilty before NY Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman and was jailed without bail. Cortez's lawyer, Paul Klein, said he would reserve his bail application for the next court appearance, scheduled for Jan. 18.

Here are links to more details:

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December 25, 2005 at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas, Y'all

This week I will be floating around the Caribbean with sporadic internet access. Blogging will probably be non-existent until the new year. Happy holidays to all.

December 24, 2005 at 11:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 23, 2005

Conflict of Interest?

You know something unusual is happening in Iraq when Al Jazeera begins to write about a conflict of interest between Al Queda in Iraq and the Iraqi people:

Zarqawi v Iraqis: Conflict of interest?
By Ahmed Janabi

Thursday 15 December 2005, 11:04 Makka Time, 8:04 GMT

Iraqi and US forces have been witnessing increasing signs of citizens tipping-off al-Qaida members within Anbar governorate, which used to be al-Qaida's safe heaven for the past 31 months.

US troops detained a senior al-Qaida operative in Iraq on December 9 with the help of local citizens in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, the marines said.

Amir Khalaf Fanus, known locally as The Butcher, was handed in by Iraqi civilians at an Iraqi and US military base in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a statement said. . .

Read the whole thing.

December 23, 2005 at 04:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2005

QOTD: Kofi Loses It

Enabler General of the dysfunctional UN, Kofi Annan, lost his cool yesterday at one of those impertinent journalists who kept asking him about his and his son's sleazy financial affairs:

I think you’re being very cheeky,

Listen James Bone, you’ve been behaving like an overgrown schoolboy in this room for many, many months and years. You are an embarrassment to your colleagues and to your profession. Please stop misbehaving and please let’s move on to a serious journalist.

The NY Sun's Benny Avni has more on this disturbing behavior.

December 22, 2005 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2005

Yoga Boy Going Down

Paul Cortez was arraigned yesterday for sexual assault charges unrelated to Catherine Woods' murder. However, according to the ADA handling the case, he would have been indicted for killing Woods if the transit strike had not prevented the grand jury from meeting. Reportedly, a bloody fingerprint belonging to Cortez was found at the murder scene.

I received an interesting comment a couple of weeks ago from someone claiming to be a friend and former karate instructor of Paul's:

I have known paul for sometime now and I have to say I was really shocked to hear that he is accused of harming anyone, let alone a lover. I trained Paul in karate for sometime and have been a close from till I left the country for Japan. I have been in Japan for sometime now (a year to date) so I just got an email from a friend say that this was happening.

Paul loves himself too much to even consider harming anyone and for Christ sake no one seems to be looking at the boyfriend or any other possible lovers. The girl was a dancer, God knows what other men out there was into her, so to try and pin this on Paul cause he called her a few times a day is down right foolishness.

My families heart and love goes out to Paul and I will prey for him everyday. Yes, he is a lady lover, look at him he's very handsome and has his life going in the right direction. Where a lot of people can't seem to get started on their chosen paths.

Jason Ieda-Clarke

Somehow, the argument that "Paul loves himself too much to even consider harming anyone" seems pretty lame for a guy who is accused of becoming irrationally angry and obsessive in the face of personal rejection. Mr. Ieda-Clarke (if, indeed, it is him) himself appears to be quite a colorful character.

Narcissistic personality disorder, anyone?


I forgot a couple of other interesting Cortez-related links:

  • "The Brainerd" went to Poly Prep with him.

  • Someone calling themselves Paul Everhard has the hots for his misogynist ass.

  • Here is a link to Cortez' old band, Stillwater, including some pictures and audio files.

  • Finally, read this excellent profile of Cortez' victim, Catherine Woods, from last weeks's NYT. Jennifer Bleyer did a really nice job capturing the tragedy of this senseless murder of young, ambitious woman.

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December 21, 2005 at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (32) | TrackBack

Break the Strike

If Bloomberg and Pataki had any balls (which Pataki certainly doesn't and Bloomberg rarely does), they would call out the national guard to run the buses until replacements could be hired and trained. MTA management could run the trains (which could be done with much fewer workers by leaving the token booths empty and letting people ride for free). It would probably take a few months to get the system up and running with new workers, but the investment would be worth it.

Longer term, let's do what San Francisco and Paris have done and automate the subways so that no human operators are required.

As for the strikers; let them find other jobs where they can be "respected."

December 21, 2005 at 10:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

TWU Knuckleheads

I can't believe those numbskull's decided to go on strike the week before Christmas. Aside from the fact that they are already overpaid (unskilled track workers making $49K after three years, plus incredible benefits, naturally) they are choosing to victimize other, lower paid workers who depend on them to get to work. During the Christmas season, when many working class families are already feeling the pinch to buy presents, etc., losing wages and income because of the a strike couldn't come at a worse time.

Not only was it cruel and unfair to those who have jobs paying much less than theirs, it was irrational, too. I'll bet dollars to donuts that TWU members end up worse off economically for having struck rather than accepting the final MTA offer.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Toussaint.

December 20, 2005 at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

Zarkman's Korner

Iowahawk has Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi guest-blogging the latest Iraqi elections. He seems kind of bummed out for some reason:

Shee-yat. Polls are closed, street sweepers are out, so it's time to add up the final score. For us? Lessee, according to the old Excel spreadsheet, we racked up.... two horny Saudi motards and their four-legged girlfriend.

Ugh. Looks like everbody else went home for the night, since I'm pretty much the only guy left in the office. Can't say I blame 'em, cause I admit I can get pretty pissy and behead-y after a bad day at the Jihad, and sometimes I take it out on the subordinates. But cripes - can't these guys turn off the lamps before they split?

Truth is, though, I'm more tired than angry. Tomorrow is Another Day, bro. I guess I could head home to the three nagging wives and the house full of idiot kids who need help with their Quran homework. Or maybe I could stay here at the office and file a few reports and watch some JibJab cartoons. Anything, just as long as I don't have to see another freaking purple finger.

Peace Out


December 19, 2005 at 03:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack