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30 November 2005

not much time ... take a few moments to do the only thing you can: object

(Agence France-Presse)

The third paragraph of this article about the impending hanging of 25-year-old Australian Nguyen Tuong Van by Singapore's government asks:

Send us your thoughts.

There isn't much else to do. But it's not nothing. Religious people often call it Witness -- the obligation not to close our eyes when a horror or atrocity takes place. Perhaps, if cyberspace is generous, our children and grandchildren who want to learn about the world of the past whose governments executed people can read the opinions we wrote here today.


patfromch writes:

Now there is Dante and his vision, the genius of Bach and Shakespeare, Platon and the ideal state, Morus and Utopia, Kant and Free Will, Rousseau and Pure Reason, Martin Luther King and Human Dignity. Hobbes and Locke and CG Jung.

And then there is this

As I write this the execution is less than half an hour away and if there is a God (which I doubt) I hope he has pity on us and Mr Van because we are still a bunch of stupid ignorant retard bastrds. We ALL are

and to this australian website I wrote:

The nations of the world are choosing -- either through their autocrats or their voters -- between states that rule by terror and intimidation, and states which have chosen to step away from state murder and state barbarity.

A belief in God the Creator should deeply forbid the government taking of human life, for such a belief rests on Life as a gift from God, and thus the decision to end Life rests just as exclusively with God. Government officials -- judges, prosecutors, those agencies who carry out death sentences -- are clearly usurping a right that belongs exclusively with God.

And yet those whose views about the death penalty do not rest on a belief in God seem so often also to recoil at and oppose the death penalty. Here, perhaps, it is a "face in the mirror" thing, because when we condone or support the death penalty, we allow our names to be used in assenting to the cold-blooded, premeditated taking of a human life. (From verdict to execution often takes years.) Such a "law-abiding" citizen may not be a bestial, savage, violent murderer. But "soft and sanitary" murder is murder nonetheless; murder certified by official government paperwork is still murder.

Including a stint in the military during wartime, I have reached age sixty very purposefully never taking another human life. I profoundly resent my government turning me into a murderer when it takes a human life "in the name of the people."

If our government takes a human life, how does it and how do we truly distinguish ourselves from "common" murderers? What's the difference between the man who stabs another to death, and the government that marches a shackled human being up the steps to the gallows?

This is a very bad thing. We may not all see that now. But the direction of human history is clear. This thing will surely come back to haunt us. Our children will hear of it, and wonder what kinds of human beings their parents were to allow this to happen.

violent deadly Prohibition days are here again (and Bob objects)

The Ukiah Daily Journal (California USA)
Friday 25 November 2005


Did We Learn Anything from Prohibition

To the Editor:

In "Cannabis distributor Les Crane slain" (Nov. 18), you quote Mendocino County Sheriff's Detective Commander D.J. Miller as linking marijuana growing with violence.

For 14 years, the production and sale of wine and other alcoholic beverages were accompanied by enormous criminal gang violence. When alcohol was made a crime -- but people were still willing to pay for it -- Prohibition became a government charter to enrich and empower violent criminal gangs like the Mafia. And Americans drank more alcohol than they did when it was legal.

When asked what he thought of Prohibition, Will Rogers replied: "Well, I guess it's better than no liquor at all."

More than a charter -- Prohibition and violent gangs were a partnership. During alcohol Prohibition, an estimated 15 percent of American law enforcement officers were on the payroll of bootleggers, rumrunners and criminal gangs. (It is impossible to maintain a large criminal enterprise without police cooperation and protection.) Law enforcement and government were regarded as a contemptuous joke by most Americans.

In 1933, under the leadership of newly-elected President Franklin Roosevelt, alcoholic beverages were legalized again, and all the violence associated with the alcohol market ended overnight. The manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages have ever since taken place under strict government supervision, and the beverages are heavily taxed.

No one has been murdered over a wine deal gone sour since 1933. Even the desperately thirsty just go to the neighborhood liquor store, pay less than $10, and get the intoxication they want. The beverages are certified pure, untainted and of precise potency by the government. All disputes over sales turf by alcohol distributors are settled by lawyers in civil court.

Detective Miller must now investigate a murder that could only have happened because marijuana is a prohibited substance and a crime. If it remains a crime, what does it say about police and political priorities? That we prefer murders and violence to decriminalizing, supervising and taxing a substance far less harmful to people than alcohol?

Robert Merkin
Northampton, Massachusetts


The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, California USA)
Sunday 20 November 2005

Pot Activist Likely Knew Killers

Police Believe Gunmen
Who Robbed Laytonville Man
Familiar With Home

by Glenda Anderson

Medical marijuana activist Les Crane probably knew the masked gunmen who kicked in the door to his secluded Laytonville home in the middle of the night, raided his safe of pot and cash and beat two other people with bats before shooting Crane multiple times, killing him, authorities said Saturday.

"From all indications, they were familiar with the interior of the residence," said Mendocino County Sheriff's Lt. D.J. Miller.

Crane, 39, suffered as many as five bullet wounds when he was gunned down in his bedroom about 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Crane's girlfriend, Jennifer Drewry, was sleeping in a separate bedroom and suffered a broken arm when she was attacked. A friend, Sean Dirlam, was in a third bedroom and suffered facial injuries as the three, possibly four assailants cleaned out the large safe, Miller said.

Authorities said they have identified possible suspects, but no arrests have been made.

The violent and bloody altercation shook the tiny northern Mendocino County community along Highway 101 where cattle graze in fields bordered by oak and conifer forests and marijuana is a backcountry way of life for some.

"The vibe here is contaminated," said Matt Bridges, a close friend of Crane's.

Along with a half-dozen others, he donned yellow rubber gloves and spent Saturday morning cleaning the blood from Crane's home, a recently remodeled double-wide trailer with redwood shingles. The door, which investigators believe was kicked in, had been removed as evidence.

Another friend, Tim Holbert, who is better known in the community as "Tie-dye" for his multicolored garb, wept as he wiped blood spatters from the dresser mirror in Crane's bedroom.

Crane's friends believe he was forced to open the safe before he was shot. But the safe might have been open already, said Miller.

Later Saturday, Crane's son, Jeremiah Crane, struggled to come to terms with the killing as he stood outside his home on the other side of town.

He and several of his father's friends and associates are convinced that at least one of the gunmen knew Crane. They believe those responsible are involved in a different drug culture, methamphetamine, which is associated with violence.

Jeremiah Crane was wearing a T-shirt made shortly after the slaying with his father's image and one of his favorite sayings, "God gave it to us, no one can take it away."

He said his father, originally from Connecticut, underwent a transformation after moving to Laytonville three years ago from Florida, where he had been selling tie-dyed clothing and was addicted to crack cocaine. He came to California with just $200 in his pocket, opened a tie-dye store and began growing medical marijuana, which he considered a "sacred weed," his son said.

Crane was driven to promote and fight for medical use of marijuana, which he said was put on Earth by God to benefit man. He called his dispensaries churches and himself a reverend. When he died, Crane had some 1,000 medical marijuana patients, pot dispensaries in Ukiah and Laytonville, his home on six acres, and additional property on the Mendocino Coast.

Jeremiah Crane and several of his friends said they plan to leave Laytonville because of the brutal attack.

"The people who did this are greedy, worthless people," said Jam Stevens, one of those who had come to Les Crane's house to help out Saturday.

As people came in and out, some smoking joints, Bridges said some of the other pot growers in the area didn't like Crane because he openly advertised and campaigned for medical marijuana. That was a problem because it attracted the attention both of law enforcement, which arrested Crane earlier this year, and criminal types who steal from legitimate growers, he said.

"Les was too high-profile for his own good," Bridges said. "I tried to warn him."

Crane, who was animated and had a forceful East Coast persona, could also be obnoxious and some people didn't like him. But he was a man with good intentions and gave away a lot of pot to people who couldn't afford it, Bridges said.

Just days before his death, he donated about 600 turkeys to local food banks, something he's been doing for several years.

He also opened a youth center in Laytonville, a place where children could hang out after school before their parents came home from work.

The center is equipped with two pool tables, a ping-pong table, two large TV screens and arts and crafts materials. Crane outfitted the center, paid rent on the building and paid a person to watch over the children, friends said.

On Saturday, makeshift memorials began materializing outside Crane's youth center and the Ukiah cannabis club.

His ashes will be scattered in a stream on the Westport property that feeds the ocean, his son said. A memorial service has yet to be scheduled.

- 30 -

CORRECTIONS to previous 2 posts

1. I said I like airplanes with passengers who genuflect when the plane takes off and lands. "Genuflect" means to pray on bended knee. I meant: I like airplanes whose passengers make the Sign of the Cross when the plane takes off and lands.

2. Through an accidental mixup, the most recent image of the R/V Laurence M. Gould in Antarctic seas was not the R/V Laurence M. Gould at all. It was an 1877 illustration by Gustave Dor
é for the poem

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

(from Lyrical Ballads, 1798)

In Part V, the ship of the accursed Mariner, who shot an Albatross -- a creation of God, like himself, though he did not acknowledge their living kinship -- with his crossbow and brought doom to all his shipmates, sails into the strange, unknown waters surrounding the South Pole.


'O sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Mary Queen the praise be given!
She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,
That slid into my soul.

By grace of the holy Mother,
the ancient Mariner is refreshed with rain.

The silly buckets on the deck,
That had so long remain'd,
I dreamt that they were fill'd with dew;
And when I awoke, it rain'd.

My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
And still my body drank.

I moved, and could not feel my limbs:
I was so light -- almost
I thought that I had died in sleep,
And was a blesséd ghost.

He heareth sounds and seeth strange sights
and commotions in the sky and the element.

And soon I heard a roaring wind:
It did not come anear;
But with its sound it shook the sails,
That were so thin and sere.

The upper air burst into life;
And a hundred fire-flags sheen;
To and fro they were hurried about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.

And the coming wind did roar more loud,
And the sails did sigh like sedge;
And the rain pour'd down from one black cloud;
The Moon was at its edge.

The thick black cloud was cleft, and still
The Moon was at its side;
Like waters shot from some high crag,
The lightning fell with never a jag,
A river steep and wide.

The bodies of the ship's crew are inspired,
and the ship moves on;

The loud wind never reach'd the ship,
Yet now the ship moved on!
Beneath the lightning and the Moon
The dead men gave a groan.

They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.

The helmsman steer'd, the ship moved on;
Yet never a breeze up-blew;
The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do;
They raised their limbs like lifeless tools --
We were a ghastly crew.

The body of my brother's son
Stood by me, knee to knee:
The body and I pull'd at one rope,
But he said naught to me.'

But not by the souls of the men, nor by demons
of earth or middle air, but by a blessed troop
of angelic spirits,
sent down by the invocation
of the guardian saint.

'I fear thee, ancient Mariner!'
Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest:
'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,
Which to their corses came again,
But a troop of spirits blest:

For when it dawn'd -- they dropp'd their arms,
And cluster'd round the mast;
Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,
And from their bodies pass'd.

Around, around, flew each sweet sound,
Then darted to the Sun;
Slowly the sounds came back again,
Now mix'd, now one by one.

Sometimes a-dropping from the sky
I heard the skylark sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are,
How they seem'd to fill the sea and air
With their sweet jargoning!

And now 'twas like all instruments,
Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel's song,
That makes the Heavens be mute.

It ceased; yet still the sails made on
A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night
Singeth a quiet tune.

Till noon we quietly sail'd on,
Yet never a breeze did breathe:
Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
Moved onward from beneath.

The lonesome Spirit from the South Pole
carries on the ship as far as the Line,
in obedience to the angelic troop,
but still requireth vengeance.

Under the keel nine fathom deep,
From the land of mist and snow,
The Spirit slid: and it was he
That made the ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune,
And the ship stood still also.

The Sun, right up above the mast,
Had fix'd her to the ocean:
But in a minute she 'gan stir,
With a short uneasy motion
Backwards and forwards half her length
With a short uneasy motion.

Then like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell down in a swound.

The Polar Spirit's fellow-demons,
the invisible inhabitants of the element,
take part in his wrong; and two of them relate,
one to the other, that penance long and heavy
for the ancient Mariner hath been accorded
to the Polar Spirit, who returneth southward.

How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life return'd,
I heard, and in my soul discern'd
Two voices in the air.

"Is it he?" quoth one, "is this the man?
By Him who died on cross,
With his cruel bow he laid full low
The harmless Albatross.

The Spirit who bideth by himself
In the land of mist and snow,
He loved the bird that loved the man
Who shot him with his bow."

The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he, "The man hath penance done,
And penance more will do."

29 November 2005

sound of Arctic / Antarctic Subzero Wind: WHOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

You know the Click drill.

Planned Expedition Transportation for upcoming Vleeptron Sub-CircumPolar Expedition to Iqaluit, Nunavut (still in Planning & Financing Phase). Hmmm what maybe, this part of the Expedition will cost like C$0.75 per kilometer? No, probably less. Many alternative modes of transport available if bus not running that day. Dogs. Pulling sleds. Make the guy a deal, and you're off to Pangnirtung (land of the young caribou) glacier!

cc: Ice Cube, at sea in the Antarctic Ocean.

posted by Bob Merkin | 12:29


patfromch said...

VALLEE: 2. I don't go, let me say

S: 1. frightened me a little, because it seemed endless.

V: 2. this again, I don't go for this northmanship at all.

S: 1. We seemed to be going into nowhere, and the further north we went

V: 2. I don't knock those people who do claim that they want to go farther and

S: 1. the more monotonous it became. There was nothing but snow

V: 2. farther north, but I see it as a game -- this northmanship bit. People say "well,

S: 1. and, to our right, the waters of Hudson's [sic] Bay.

V: 2. were you ever up at the North Pole?"

S: 1. … Now this was my impression

V: 2. "And, hell, I did a dog-sled trip of 22 days,"

S: 1. during the winter, but I also flew over the country

V: 2. and the other fellow says "well, I did one of 30 days."


Bob Merkin said...

the train part of my Expedition to Hudson's Bay (I say Hudson's and I say the hell with it) began in Toronto and took about 3 days to reach Churchill, Manitoba.

the most amazing astonishing thing that happened -- and there were many, including me this far |---------| from the snout of a Polar Bear -- was on the Civilized Inter-City Train from Toronto to Winnipeg. About 95 percent of all Canadians live in the Big-City Southern Narrow Highway-Train-Industrial Belt from Quebec City to Winnipeg, within 50 miles / 80 kilometers of the U.S. Border. Most Canadians are skyscraper superhighway high-speed electric running hot water elevator people.

Over dinner in the very nice dining car, I told a Canadian husband and wife where my backpack and I were going.

They looked at me like I was crazy.

"Why do you want to go there?" the wife asked. "There's nothing up there."

Your dialogue is describing the classic symptoms of Arctomania. The instant you get infected with Arctomania, you cannot immediately that week mount an Expedition Direct to the North Pole. You must start small. Baby steps.

Moosonee, on the southern tip of James Bay, you can get to eight hours after you lock your car doors in a car park.

Churchill -- 2.5 days on a train from Winnipeg north to Hudson Bay. In Churchill,


or else a polar bear will wander into the store or restaurant or hotel after you and try to kill someone. In peak tourist bear-watching season, there are no hotel reservations, the place is packed and jammed, but the main street (I think it's called Only Street) looks like a Ghost Town, always almost deserted, no one in sight. If you see someone in the street, he/she is running, pretty briskly. Not good to tarry or dawdle or loiter during Polar Bear season. Adidas and Nikes better than boots if snow not too deep.

The sad part about being killed by a Polar Bear is that after the PB knocks you down with one swipe of his massive arm, he sniffs you and licks you, maybe just a little taste -- and then he spits you out and walks away. PB does not like the way humans taste. We do not have the right kind of fat (seal fat) and we don't have enough fat.

Did you find the tiny dot
Nain on the map yet? So far this is the craziest farthest north in the Circumpolar Arctomaniacal Polaris World I have Planted My Expedition Flag yet. You understand -- my Polar Expeditions are not funded and subsidized and sponsored by Miskatonic University or the National Geographic Society or CVS Pharmacy or Hooters Restaurants. I am schlepping ever nearer The North Pole on the financial strength of my MasterCard and Visa. I am heading for the North Pole dependent almost entirely on Public Transportation: buses, trains, ferries.

To The Stars by Greyhound Bus.

(But if you need to take a taxi in some of these places -- Oh man you should Dig Those Crazy Taxis! Caterpillar tank treads instead of wheels! All home-made Krazy Snowmobile Junkyard Recycled Vehicles. Or with giant 4-wheel-drive wheels as tall as an adult, the cab is 2 meters above the ground. This taxi driver can and will take you ANYWHERE!)

Better: Rent your own 4-wheel All-Terrain Vehicle and just drive 20 miles out of town all by yourself in PB Season because you are Suicidally Insane and Unsupervised. I know a guy who did that. I am embarrassed to tell you How Well I Know This Guy. I know this guy Very Intimately.

Now my new motto is: IQALUIT OR BUST

(See map.)

btw Ice Cube's BROTHER HAS ALREADY BEEN TO IQALUIT!!!!!!!! Just 4 hours in the Iqaluit Airport (windsock and short "Good Luck!" runway) waiting for the next plane. But this #&*%^#*&%^ has been to Iqaluit before ME!!!!!!

He had business up there. He was buying new champion sled dogs for his team and for his wife's team.

I feel bad about the PBs just trying to eat something that tastes good. From now on when I am in These Parts, I will carry a bottle of Barbecue Sauce in my pocket.

Yes, the Canadian husband and wife were right.
There's nothing up there.

Bob Merkin said...

Also I like to go places where the guy or woman in the seat across from you genuflects whenever the plane takes off or tries to land. THAT'S my idea of FLYING!

One time on the ferry from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to Portland, Maine, the ship's crew was vomiting! For the last 2 hours of the voyage, a woman in the lounge was just constantly non-stop weeping.

Where's my Pizza? I missed it the first time, but of course you are quoting the most amazing Radio Documentary ever recorded and broadcast:
The Idea of North, by the late Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. The CBC phoned him and asked what he'd like to contribute for their huge 50th or 75th Anniversary celebration, and he asked, "Can I make a Radio Documentary about the Canadian Arctic?"

All Vleeptroids are herewith commanded to get your hands on The Idea of North, make everybody else in the house go away for an hour or two, and listen to every second of it.

Most of it is about the same Winnipeg-Churchill train trip thru the Vast Canadian Wilderness that I took. (I knew which seat he sat in on the train and I sat there the whole time, too.
I sat on the Ghost's Lap all the way to Hudson's Bay.)


Post a Comment



The R/V Laurence M. Gould in Antarctic seas, bound for Antarctica. No web access, e-mails must be kept short.

Sorry, no web access for me here either (except over the inmarsat phone at
2-3 dollars (american) per minute. feel free to send me your good blogs
(ok your best blogs, they must all be good or you wouldn't be unky munky)
if they are 10k or less. we pay out of pocket for more than 25k per day
(incoming + outgoing). And please cancel my subscription by Dec. 30 as
that's our anticipated return to cofrima land and Punta Arenas.

Oh, by the way, Lider (which looks like a subsidiary of a Wal-Mart grocery
store, only slightly smaller and much nicer) opened in Punta last year when
I was here and so the junk snack selection is excellent. As is the
selection of pate, cheese, salami, yerba mate, and made in china clothes,
kitchenware and toys.

cheers from 53 deg south and counting,

At 06:15 AM 11/28/2005 -0500, you wrote:

28 November 2005

cheerleaders selling drugs!!!!!!

At game time, Onya cheers on the Washington Redskins. But she saves some of her energy for her job in pharmaceutical sales. Drug companies have found that former cheerleaders like Penny Otwell are good at persuading doctors. (Washington Redskins photo.)

The New York Times
Business section
Monday 28 November 2005

Gimme an Rx!
Cheerleaders Pep Up
Drug Sales


As an ambitious college student, Cassie Napier had all the right moves - flips, tumbles, an ever-flashing America's sweetheart smile - to prepare for her job after graduation. She became a drug saleswoman.

Ms. Napier, 26, was a star cheerleader on the national-champion University of Kentucky squad, which has been a springboard for many careers in pharmaceutical sales. She now plies doctors' offices selling the antacid Prevacid for TAP Pharmaceutical Products.

Ms. Napier says the skills she honed performing for thousands of fans helped land her job. "I would think, essentially, that cheerleaders make good sales people," she said.

Anyone who has seen the parade of sales representatives through a doctor's waiting room has probably noticed that they are frequently female and invariably good looking. Less recognized is the fact that a good many are recruited from the cheerleading ranks.

Known for their athleticism, postage-stamp skirts and persuasive enthusiasm, cheerleaders have many qualities the drug industry looks for in its sales force. Some keep their pompoms active, like Onya, a sculptured former college cheerleader. On Sundays she works the sidelines for the Washington Redskins. But weekdays find her urging gynecologists to prescribe a treatment for vaginal yeast infection.

Some industry critics view wholesomely sexy drug representatives as a variation on the seductive inducements like dinners, golf outings and speaking fees that pharmaceutical companies have dangled to sway doctors to their brands.

But now that federal crackdowns and the industry's self-policing have curtailed those gifts, simple one-on-one human rapport, with all its potentially uncomfortable consequences, has become more important. And in a crowded field of 90,000 drug representatives, where individual clients wield vast prescription-writing influence over patients' medication, who better than cheerleaders to sway the hearts of the nation's doctors, still mostly men.

"There's a saying that you'll never meet an ugly drug rep," said Dr. Thomas Carli of the University of Michigan. He led efforts to limit access to the representatives who once trolled hospital hallways. But Dr. Carli, who notes that even male drug representatives are athletic and handsome, predicts that the drug industry, whose image has suffered from safety problems and aggressive marketing tactics, will soon come to realize that "the days of this sexual marketing are really quite limited."

But many cheerleaders, and their proponents, say they bring attributes besides good looks to the job - so much so that their success has led to a recruiting pipeline that fuels the country's pharmaceutical sales force. T. Lynn Williamson, Ms. Napier's cheering adviser at Kentucky, says he regularly gets calls from recruiters looking for talent, mainly from pharmaceutical companies. "They watch to see who's graduating," he said.

"They don't ask what the major is," Mr. Williamson said. Proven cheerleading skills suffice. "Exaggerated motions, exaggerated smiles, exaggerated enthusiasm - they learn those things, and they can get people to do what they want."

Approximately two dozen Kentucky cheerleaders, mostly women but a few men, have become drug reps in recent years.

While there are no statistics on how many drug representatives are former or current cheerleaders, demand for them led to the formation of an employment firm, Spirited Sales Leaders, in Memphis. It maintains a database of thousands of potential candidates.

"The cheerleaders now are the top people in universities; these are really capable and high-profile people," said Gregory C. Webb, who is also a principal in a company that runs cheerleading camps and employs former cheerleaders. He started Spirited Sales Leaders about 18 months ago because so many cheerleaders were going into drug sales. He said he knew several hundred former cheerleaders who had become drug representatives.

"There's a lot of sizzle in it," said Mr. Webb. "I've had people who are going right out, maybe they've been out of school for a year, and get a car and make up to $50,000, $60,000 with bonuses, if they do well." Compensation sometimes goes well into six figures.

The ranks include women like Cristin Duren, a former University of Alabama cheerleader. Ms. Duren, 24, recently took a leave from First Horizon Pharmaceuticals to fulfill her duties as the reigning Miss Florida U.S.A. and prepare for next year's Miss U.S.A. pageant.

Onya, the Redskins cheerer (who asked that her last name be withheld, citing team policy), has her picture on the team's Web site in her official bikinilike uniform and also reclining in an actual bikini. Onya, 27, who declined to identify the company she works for, is but one of several drug representatives who have cheered for the Redskins, according to a spokeswoman for the team, Melanie Treanor. Many doctors say they privately joke about the appearance of saleswomen who come to their offices. Currently making the e-mail rounds is an anonymous parody of an X-rated "diary" of a cheerleader-turned-drug-saleswoman.

"Saw Dr. Johnson recently," one entry reads. "After the 'episode' which occurred at our last dinner, I have purposely stayed away from him. The restraining order still remains."

Federal law bans employment discrimination based on factors like race and gender, but it omits appearance from the list.

"Generally, discriminating in favor of attractive people is not against the law in the United States," said James J. McDonald Jr., a lawyer with Fisher & Phillips. But that might be changing, he said, citing a recent ruling by the California Supreme Court, which agreed to hear an employment lawsuit brought by a former L'Oreal manager who ignored a supervisor's order to fire a cosmetics saleswoman and hire someone more attractive.

But pharmaceutical companies deny that sex appeal has any bearing on hiring. "Obviously, people hired for the work have to be extroverts, a good conversationalist, a pleasant person to talk to; but that has nothing to do with looks, it's the personality," said Lamberto Andreotti, the president of worldwide pharmaceuticals for Bristol-Myers Squibb.

But Dr. Carli, at the University of Michigan, said that seduction appeared to be a deliberate industry strategy. And with research showing that pharmaceutical sales representatives influence prescribing habits, the industry sales methods are drawing criticism.

Dr. Dan Foster, a West Virginia surgeon and lawmaker who said he was reacting to the attractive but sometimes ill-informed drug representatives who came to his office, introduced a bill to require them to have science degrees. Dr. Foster's legislation was not adopted, but it helped inspire a new state regulation to require disclosure of minimum hiring requirements.

Ms. Napier, the former Kentucky cheerleader, said she was so concerned about the cute-but-dumb stereotype when she got her job that she worked diligently to learn about her product, Prevacid.

"It's no secret that the women, and the people in general, hired in this industry are attractive people," she said. "But there so much more to it."

Still, women have an advantage with male doctors, according to Jamie Reidy, a drug representative who was fired by Eli Lilly this year after writing a book lampooning the industry, "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman."

In an interview, Mr. Reidy remembered a sales call with the "all-time most attractive, coolest woman in the history of drug repdom." At first, he said, the doctor "gave ten reasons not to use one of our drugs." But, Mr. Reidy added: "She gave a little hair toss and a tug on his sleeve and said, 'Come on, doctor, I need the scrips.' He said, 'O.K., how do I dose that thing?' I could never reach out and touch a female physician that way."

Stories abound about doctors who mistook a sales pitch as an invitation to more. A doctor in Washington pleaded guilty to assault last year and gave up his license after forcibly kissing a saleswoman on the lips.

One informal survey, conducted by a urologist in Pittsburgh, Dr. James J. McCague, found that 12 of 13 medical saleswomen said they had been sexually harassed by physicians. Dr. McCague published his findings in the trade magazine Medical Economics under the title "Why Was That Doctor Naked in His Office?"

Penny Ramsey Otwell, who cheered for the University of Maryland and now sells for Wyeth in the Dallas area, says she has managed to avoid such encounters.

"We have a few of those doctors in our territory," said Ms. Otwell, 30, who was a contestant on the CBS television show "Survivor." "They'll get called on by representatives who can handle that kind of talk, ones that can tolerate it and don't think anything about it."

But there have been accusations that a pharmaceutical company encouraged using sex to make drug sales. In a federal lawsuit against Novartis, one saleswoman said she had been encouraged to exploit a personal relationship with a doctor to increase sales in her Montgomery, Ala., territory. In court papers responding to the lawsuit, Novartis denied the accusation. The company has also said it is committed to hiring and promoting women.

For her part, Ms. Napier, the TAP Pharmaceutical saleswoman, says it is partly her local celebrity that gives her a professional edge. On the University of Kentucky cheering squad, Ms. Napier stood out for her long dark hair and tiny physique that landed her atop human pyramids.

"If I have a customer who is a real big U.K. fan, we'll have stories to tell each other," Ms. Napier said. "If they can remember me as the cheerleader -- she has Prevacid -- it just allows you do to so many things."

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

four days to a hanging

Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, will -- if Singapore can find a new hangman -- be hanged this Friday. This photo from a webpage devoted to Van's case by the Network Against Prohibition, Northern Territories, Australia.

Vleeptron Advisory: The United States of America is the last nation in the Western Developed World which still practices the Death Penalty, in some states (notoriously Texas) quite liberally. American readers in particular are advised not to be too horrified by the suggestion of state barbarity in these two Australian stories about Singapore. Public hangings were taught to the Singapore justice system during the colonial era by the British authorities. The UK no longer has the death penalty. Some of its former colonies are finding it difficult to part with Britain's gift of state-committed murder.

Notice the collision of ethnicities. Nguyen Tuong Van is an ethnic Vietnamese. Singapore is primarily ethnic Chinese. Darshan Singh, Singapore's hangman, is ethnic Indian. The British, who gave Singapore its justice system and penchant for rule by the terror of the noose, are largely gone now. The Australian metalsmith who has volunteered to perform the execution of his fellow Australian is Caucasian. Notice that the target of his murderous hatred is not drug smugglers but addicts.


AAP / Australian Associated Press
Monday 28 November 2005

Singapore says
hangman not sacked

Singapore's prison authorities have denied the city-state's chief executioner Darshan Singh has been sacked.

Singh, 74, has hanged more than 800 prisoners in a career spanning 45 years, and he had been expected to be the executioner of Australian drug trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van on Friday.

"Darshan Singh has not been sacked and continues to be a contract officer engaged by the prisons department," a spokesman for the prisons department said on Monday.

"There is no change to his status," added the spokesman, but he would not confirm whether Singh would be the executioner in Nguyen's case.

Nguyen, 25, faces the gallows at dawn local time after all appeals for clemency have been rejected by the government.

Reports of Singh's dismissal appeared on Sunday in an Australian article that speculated a replacement would be flown in from Malaysia.

Singh appeared to substantiate the story later on Sunday when he was quoted as saying: "They called me a few days ago and said I don't have to hang Nguyen and that I don't have to work any more."

The reported reason for the sacking was Singh's comments in an interview that appeared in an Australian press report earlier this month.

An Australian sheetmetal worker on Monday reportedly offered his services to Singapore to replace Singh as hangman.

Keith Sauerwald, 65, from Darwin in the Northern Territory, told Agence France-Presse he had written to the Singapore High Commission in Canberra to request the job.

"Apparently not too many people want the job and somebody has to do the job, and to do the job I think you have to have a rather large dislike for drug addicts," Sauerwald was quoted as saying.

"I have a great dislike for druggos (drug addicts)," he reportedly said.

©AAP/Australian Associated Press 2005


Sidney Morning Herald (Australia)
Saturday 26 November 2005

'I am going to send you
to a better place.
God bless you'

By Connie Levett, Herald Correspondent in Singapore

THREE paces down, three paces back. There is not a lot of room to stretch your legs in a cell on death row. There is a simple bed, a toilet hole and a tap.

Prisoner 856, Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, has been in that cell, or one like it, since March 2004 when Singapore's High Court found him guilty of trafficking 396 grams of heroin and sentenced him to hang by the neck until death. The "until" is significant. Death penalty opponents say it can take up to 10 minutes.

As Nguyen enters his final week, the strict prison regime will be eased to give him more access to family. The daily one-hour visits will be increased to three-hour blocks twice a day, with up to four visitors at a time.

But one thing will not change: there will be no physical contact, no last hug from his mother Kim or brother Khoa.

Nguyen will receive another, less welcome visitor this week -- 73-year-old Darshan Singh, Singapore's hangman for the past 46 years. He will weigh the slight young Australian to calculate the precise length of rope needed to break Nguyen's neck when he drops through the gallows trapdoor. To get it wrong could mean the prisoner is decapitated.

Nguyen's family has been given more notice of the execution than a Singaporean family, which is only told four days beforehand. The prisoner is usually told a day later. For Nguyen, the news came via the television.

It is likely that Nguyen, who has become a Catholic during his almost three years in jail, will seek counsel from a prison chaplain in the days before his execution. At his request, a priest can attend the hanging.

Nguyen will be able to request his last meal on Thursday.

On Friday he will be woken early so he can bathe before he is handcuffed and makes the short walk from his cell to the gallows.

The executioner will place a hood over Nguyen's head and say the words he has uttered to every condemned prisoner: "I am going to send you to a better place than this. God bless you."

Then Kim Nguyen will get one more instruction from the Singapore authorities: to collect her son's body by 1 pm or the authorities will cremate him.

- 30 -

i wanna buy junk snacks at the Cofrima grocery store sooooo bad

Click, I'm sure Something Good will happen.
The Antarctic Research Vessel R/V Laurence M. Gould at sea.
Photo taken 2 November 1998 by Dave Leger.


Yo Dan --

Hope this reaches you. I am unbelievably jealous.

Ordinarily you'd steer clear of cruise ships like the plague. But for your beloved dear old Unkie Monkey, please keep an eye out for tourist ships you may encounter which don't seem like total jive-ass ripoffs.

I obligate you to bring me back a souvenir. Postcards will do. A snow globe -- well, that would make me your grateful slave forever. But you'll know the cheap tacky souvenir for Uncle Bob when you see it, it will sing my name in your ear.

Down below is my blog business card. Oboy oboy make a buncha copies and hand them out liberally to everybody you run into down there. I will Die of Blog Joy if someone from Antarctica leaves a comment on Vleeptron. Or you might consider Leaving A Comment while you're on The Gould. Wow wow.

Let me know what kinda science monkey business you're up to on this trip.

Envy envy drool green envy envy.



I have a few Personal Problems. They're pretty much under control these days, because I am Happily Married in a State of Wedded Bliss, and S.W.M.B.O. keeps my ass off superfast English motorcycles and some of the other more overtly suicidal hobbies I once enjoyed.

One problem I still have is a penchant for sticking my head down the craters of active, deadly volcanos, or trying to get as close to them as the Law will allow, or, when the Law is distracted elsewhere, a little closer.

I'm rather bitter about volcanos, because Planet Earth has so many really rawkin' deadly dangerous volcanos, and Bob is Just One Guy, and I have fallen on Hard Times and no longer have my private Lear jet and my personal pilot Philippe, so it's pretty unlikely I'll be able to Collect 'Em All.

However, Christmas/Hannukah is coming up, and if anyone would like to send Bob a round-trip ticket to any of the following, this would make Bob REALLY HAPPY:

1. The Big Rock Candy Mountain

This one's particularly appealing to me, because to get to it and back again, you have to drive a few hundred miles through wilderness that's infested with armed bandit gangs -- Land Pirates. I've had a little e-mail correspondence with a geologist professor woman who climbs up and down the Big Rock Candy Mountain fairly regularly, and I am Insanely Envious of her. BRCM is unique among all the volcanos of the world because it spews out stuff which chemically resembles soda pop.

(DO NOT BE SUCKERED into going to the Utah thing that the US Geological Survey is calling the Big Rock Candy Mountain. The REAL TRUE BRCM with the Land Pirates is NOT in Utah.)

2. Anak Krakatau

In the local patois, that means "Krakatau's Daughter." Find where Krakatau used to be, before it blew its top in 1883 -- the biggest volcano eruption that human beings ever witnessed -- take a boat ride there, and there's this short little itty-bitty volcano now, smokin' and fumin' and spewin' out flying red-hot rocks as you sail as close as the nervous skipper will allow. (This is also Water Pirate territory, or pretty close to it. Local Pirate Index: 6.)

Right now Anak isn't even worth tossing a virgin down it. But if you remember her Red-Hot Momma ...

3. Kick 'Em Jenny, the Underwater Volcano

The lady volcanologist who runs the Montserrat Volcano Observatory tells me there's really nothing to see here most of the time -- just an ordinary part of the surface of the ocean. But Jenny's pretty active Down Below, growing taller and bigger all the time, and maybe if I can get a boat ride there, she'll boil up some fish that will float to the surface for me. (Local Pirate Index: 0 out of a possible 10. But it used to be a 9 or 10. Of course there's still lots of smuggling ...)

At the bottom of the very narrow, superfreaky goat-leaping mountain road to the MVO is a small local tavern called the Desert Storm Bar. I guess that's where the mostly Montserratan and Trinidadian Vulcanologists knock back a couple of brewskis on hot days, and chat about Volcano Stuff, and take guesses when the Soufriere Hills Volcano will or might or could Blow Her Top again.

* * *

Another Personal Problem of mine is Arctomania. Whenever I am Unsupervised, I try to get Farther and Farther toward, Nearer and Nearer to the North Pole or the South Pole. So far Difficult Financial Circumstances have forced me to confine my Expeditions to the North Pole.

Okay okay once a long time ago I had two weeks vacation and very little money. Usually that means you stay home and go to the movies and do your laundry. Actually I had a camping trip to the Maine woods planned, and that would have been quite lovely and memorable.

But at the last moment, when I had the tent and the Coleman Stove the size of a can of beans (these things never work, by the way) all packed, I had this Brane Fart:


Then the Alien Growth in my Brain started whispering:

Hudson's Bay ...
Hudson's Bay ...

That's how much I knew about Hudson's Bay. I even had its name wrong. It's Hudson Bay. But I'd seen this old Hollywood movie once called "Hudson's Bay." That's pretty much all I knew about it.

I was pretty sure it was in Canada. So I opened the Canada Page of my road atlas.

It wasn't on the map. There were a few highways heading real far north, but then all the highways stopped, and the map stopped.

So I went to the library the next day and looked in their Real Serious Maps. They went a lot farther north. And most of these maps, at the top, just had like Nothing. A few sea serpents and Narwhales and cartoons of Local People with just one big eye in the middle of their foreheads hopping around on One Leg, but like this was just Blank Paper mostly. Terra Incognita.

There was just this one skinny red line that went North to some smaller body of water, the southern udder of Hudson Bay, called James Bay / Baie James. The map legend said skinny red lines were railroads. I started phoning around and finally got a guy from VIA (Canada's AMTRAK) and he said that wasn't VIA's railroad, but a sort of private-public independent railroad that would indeed take me North through a shitload of Nothing to a place called Moosonee in James Bay.

First I had to drive my crappy little VW sports car (Karmann Ghia, just a VW bug with a lawnmower engine but a really sexy streamlined body) to Where the Highway Ends, in Cochrane, Ontario.

That was fun. By the last night, it was early June, and the sun was still out at 10 or 10:30 p.m. I drove into a roadside park that said


There was Me and My Car and the little two-lane Highway ... and Nothing Else. Oh, well, trees. There were a lot of trees, mostly evergreens. Probably 9 gazillion hectares of Nothing But Trees on both sides of the Highway. That was cool.

The next day waiting for the train to leave from Cochrane we did some laundry in a laundromat, and when I told this nice local couple that I was going to Moosonee, they looked at me a little funny and told me to be careful there because it was full of Wild Indians. (That's the SECOND time nice sincere local people have warned me about Wild Indians. Actually the third, and the third time they were right, some local aboriginal kids actually did throw rocks at us, one whizzed through my hair and me and this other dope who hadn't heeded the warning diddy-bopped back onto the ship, the MV Northern Ranger.)

The train ride straight north through the Real Serious Nothing took about eight hours. The train was jam-packed with Real Indians (Inuit and Swampy Cree), microwave repairmen, and three or four big, suspicious-looking guys who looked like The Man the Mountie Always Gets. Entertainment on this train consists of Eight Hours of Heavy Drinking. You always know you're in the True Wilderness when the Heavy Drinking All Day and Night starts. But usually everybody's pretty well behaved because nobody wants to risk getting thrown off the train There.


But Vleeptron is not here to talk about Moosonee or James Bay tonight. (Later I did make it to Authentic Hudson Bay, and even brought back some Real Hudson Bay Beach Rocks, and I was not devoured by a polar bear -- and not everybody in that town, Churchill, can say that.)

Ever since Moosonee, the Alien Growth in my Brain keeps luring me Farther and Farther North. Usually Canada, cause that's nearest and cheapest. Find Nain on a map -- I been there.

But Iceland, too -- the Land Where You Get Up to Pee at 3 a.m. and the Sun Is Still Out. Six months later, you want to Pee at Noon, you pee in Darkness. And Helsinki -- for North, Helsinki is Not Chopped Liver.

But I have been neglecting South.

I don't mean the Tropics.

I mean Antarctica. I ain't never been there. But I want to sooooooooooooooo bad.

This was Not a Happy Sunday for me. I got an e-mail from my sister about one of my three Very Interesting Nephews, whom I named Huey, Dewey and Louie because I could never get their names straight. (They assigned themselves the correct duck nephew names and kept them straight.)

This is a Happy Sunday for my nephew, though. He just boarded the R/V Laurence M. Gould in Punta Arenas, Chile -- the Southernmost City on Planet Earth -- and the ship has set sail for Antarctica.

My nephew -- I still can't keep them straight, but I have given them New Adult Names, now, and this one is Ice Cube -- is a glaciologist. If the Vleeptron Archives go back that far, one of Vleeptron's very first posts was about Ice Cube and his warning to all of us stupid enough to venture out upon any Glacier: Beware The Moulin, and that of course led to the very interesting series of posts about poor Otzi, and the international Alpine tug of war over his frozen, dessicated corpse.

In other words, Ice Cube is sailing from South America to Antarctica on a government research freighter as we speak. He is looking over the side, or out the porthole, and seeing the Antarctic Ocean. And I guess in less than a week, he will step off the Gould onto the continent of Antarctica.

It is nearly Winter up here where I am and I am Freezing My Ass Off and there is Snow all over the ground.

Well. Geography Lesson. Down where Ice Cube is, it's Springtime! Springtime! And he is heading So Far South, to The Frozen Tuchas Of The World, that He, Too will very shortly be Freezing His Ass Off and boyoboyoboy is HE gonna see some Snow On The Ground! (Yes yes and Penguins too, he is gonna see some Penguins.) But I think in Summer in a couple of months, gals and guys who go to do Science Stuph in Antarctica can often play softball in long-sleeve shirts, some days are warm enough for that if you keep running around. And soon the Sun will never go down.

(Local Pirate Index: 0. But occasionally a high-speed multi-national protracted ocean pursuit of Outlaw Gourmet Fish Poachers and Smugglers. Argentina-Chile War Tension Index: 2. Hot Local Volcanos: Mount Erebus. Wild Indian Index: 0.)

I am just guessing, but I think he's going down there to mess around in a scientific sort of way with the local Glaciers. Probably to measure How Much Is Left of them, and How Fast They Are Melting Away. And Ice Cube has been reminding me to tell all of you who live anywhere near the seacoasts to buy some big rubber hip-wader boots, like the kind you saw emergency crews wearing recently in New Orleans. You probably won't need them. Don't worry. But buy them now, while they're fairly cheap.

I certainly don't want to Kill My Nephew. He's a very lovely and very brilliant and rather funny and dedicated Real Scientist. And I wish him a bon voyage, without too much horrible puking in the High Beaufort Index Seas.

But right now, at this instant, maybe I would like to whack him upside the head with a Halvah Bat for a half hour. Because he is going to Antarctica (I think for the SECOND TIME!!!!!!).

And Uncle Bob is not.

What follows is a little introduction to The R/V (Research Vessel) Laurence M. Gould.


Type of Vessel: Antarctic Research & Supply Vessel (Subchapter U)
Builder: North American Shipbuilding, Larose, Louisiana
Year of Construction: 1997
Official Number: 1057229
Length Overall: 230 Feet (70.2 Meters)
Length Between Perpendiculars: 212 Feet (64.7 Meters)
Breadth (Molded): 46 Feet (14 Meters)
Breadth w/ Reamers: 56 Feet (17.1 Meters)
Installed Power: 4575 Horsepower from two Caterpillar 3606 Diesels
Lightship Weight: 2754.99 Long Tons
Lightship LCG: 99.567 Feet Aft of Frame O
Lightship VCG: 22.907 Feet Above the Baseline
Deadweight: 1025.68 Long Tons
Maximum Draft (Loadline): 19.417 (5.9 Meters)
Loadline Displacement: 3780.67 Long Tons
Gross Tonnage: 2966 (International)
Selective Caller I.D.#: 368138000
E.P.I.R.B. I.D.#: ADCC020F3101001


Living arrangements on the LMG are very comfortable, with all science cabins consisting of two bunks, a head and a shower. The chief scientist and MPC cabins have dayrooms as well as the sleeping compartment. All cabins are equipped with a telephone/intercom and two LAN jacks for connection to the network. This network access includes the ability to connect to the ship's primary data acquisition computer system for viewing and logging data. All grantee and RPSC berthing is on the O1 Deck, which is on the same level as the Lounge/Conference Room and the Sauna and Hot Tub areas.

The Lounge/Conference Room is open 24 hours a day for everyone's use and is stocked with more than 150 movies. A small book library is also housed in the Lounge for all to use, but please return any borrowed book right after you have finished reading it. This is a donation-only library, so feel free to leave any books aboard that will lighten the load on the way home. They will be greatly appreciated.

Once on board it is wise to take a walk around the ship to get familiar with all exits, your emergency muster station, and the best way to get to your work areas. Visits to the Engine Room are welcome, but it is best to coordinate this with the chief engineer or one of the ECO crew for safety's sake.

The LMG's Workout Room is equipped for both weight and endurance training. A Universal Weight Machine, treadmill, rowing machine and exercise bike occupy the weight room. Just across the passageway is a sauna and hot tub for relaxing after a hard day's work or workout. This area is open 24 hours a day as well, but please keep the volume down on both your voice and the stereo as there are people sleeping 24 hours a day on the 01 Level.

The Mess Hall is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is located all the way forward on the starboard side of the Main Deck. Please refrain from wearing greasy or dirty work clothes in the Mess.

Edison Chouest will provide vegetarian meals upon request. If you have special dietary interests or needs, please contact the MPC to see if they can be accommodated. For the snack food junkies: Plan to visit the Cofrima grocery store, very near the pier in Punta Arenas, just before sailing. Snacks, like Chocolate, toffee or your favorite health food will make the ship feel more like home. These types of foods are not served in the galley, and satisfying a junk-food (or health-food) craving will help make your time at sea more enjoyable.

Meals are served at the following times:

0730 - 0830 Breakfast
1130 - 1230 Lunch
1730 - 1830 Dinner
2330 - 0030 Midnight Rations

General use laundry equipment is provided on the Main Deck just aft of the Galley and Mess Hall. Soap and bleach are provided. Please observe good laundry etiquette and transfer clothes in the washing machine into the dryer if one is available. If not, place it on top of the dryer. The people removing their dry laundry can then put in the next load. There are a limited number of washers and this will help speed up the process. Remember that it's best not to do laundry in seas greater than 15 feet. Much like the people on board, the machines will just shut themselves off if the seas get too rough.

Clean linen is available from the ship's supply and includes blankets, sheets, pillowcases and towels.

While You Were Sleeping ....

Finally, please remember to think of your shipmates when walking the passageways of the L.M. Gould.

All members of the crew, including ECO, RPSC and grantees work around the clock shifts, so someone is always "in their rack." Keeping passageway conversations at a minimum will make everyone's days at sea more agreeable.

27 November 2005

How Jesus gets the word out

Hmmmm just a local fight against Indian casino gambling, but notice how churchgoers were invited to this meeting by flyers inserted in their hymnals by their area churches on Sunday.

And "the bulletin insert includes photos, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of the seven members of the City Council and Mayor Michael Brown."

Atheists want political things, too, but they sure ain't organized like this yet.

The eight members of the Grand Forks City Council, and the Mayor, are really going to get it this week. And everybody they speak to will tell them that their side is Jesus' side.


Grand Forks Herald (North Dakota USA)
Sunday 27 November 2005

Minister calls city casino a bad bet

Evangelical churches start effort
to fight casino proposal

By Stephen J. Lee, Herald Staff Writer

The growing scandal in Washington over political contributions linked to American Indian gaming will put the kibosh on any more off-reservation Indian gambling, says the Rev. Tom Grey, the nation's leading opponent of legalized gambling.

So, Grand Forks' city leaders should not waste their time pursuing the idea of signing on to the Turtle Mountain Chippewas' effort to build a casino, Grey said.

A now-retired minister in the United Methodist Church from Illinois, Grey heads the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. He will speak at a public forum at 7 p.m. Monday in the Ramada Inn, invited by a local effort to defeat the Indian casino.

He spoke in Grand Forks in 1996 and 2002 as part of larger tours of the state speaking against expanding legalized gambling.

This time, an effort in Grand Forks evangelical churches is brewing, and Grey was invited in by them to speak.

A bulletin insert produced by the Rev. Jeff Schirle, an assistant pastor at Hope Evangelical Covenant Church, was sent to 20 or more congregations, Schirle said.

Unusual for the churches in its direct appeal to political action, the bulletin insert includes photos, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of the seven members of the City Council and Mayor Michael Brown.

"Tell them [the city councilors and the mayor] in no uncertain terms that how they vote on this issue will determine how you will vote at the next election," the insert reads. Using information from Grey, Schirle also lists what he says will be the negative results of a casino. They include "laziness," "ill-gotten gain" and "addiction/lack of self-control," as well as an increase in bankruptcies, crime, divorce and suicide.

"Studies show there's a direct loss of $3 for every $1 brought into a community by a casino," according to the bulletin insert. "With a casino, there's an immediate and a longer subsequent need for more law enforcement, criminal courts and jail space, and social services to deal with all the damaged individuals and families."

Schirle said he took the information from Grey's materials.

Recent scandal

While here, Grey also will emphasize the effect of the recent scandal involving Indian gaming nationwide.

The Justice Department is moving fast in an investigation of alleged corruption involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff and several members of Congress, aides and others. Sources say it centers on Abramoff taking $80 million in fees from American Indian tribes over several years and spreading it out to win votes on specific issues, often involving gaming. Part of the investigation involves members of Congress pressuring the Bureau of Indian Affairs over gaming decisions that would benefit Abramoff's tribal clients.

Several top Republican members of Congress, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former House majority leader Tom Delay, have been mentioned as receiving large amounts of largesse from Abramoff. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has received a total of $95,000 over several years in campaign contributions from "Abramoff-related money," while voting for projects that Abramoff's tribal clients wanted, The Associated Press reported last week. A Dorgan aide told AP that it was a project Dorgan always supported as part of his general support for economic betterment of tribes, and had nothing to do with Abramoff's troubles.

Grey said, "Both parties are equal opportunity pigs at the feeding trough. They used the BIA as a feeding trough. The Democrats were doing it under Clinton, and then the Republicans came in."

A pipe dream?

The rapidly growing scandal makes the effort of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewas to get the Grand Forks City Council on board a plan to build a tribally owned casino in or near Grand Forks not only a bad idea, but now a pipe dream, Grey said.

The corruption often comes in when tribes already with casinos seek politicos' help in barring other tribes from opening new casinos that would compete with them, Grey said.

The head of the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold, N.D., already has spoken out opposing Turtle Mountain's efforts to open a casino in Grand Forks.

"Most of the time, what the tribe wants to do is get the city to enter into an intergovernmental agreement," Grey said. "Once they get that accomplished, they can use it to leverage the state and the feds. If the city says we don't want it, they are gone, to find another place."

Wastes time, money?

But in light of the Abramoff scandal breaking in Washington, Grey's main point now is that Grand Forks would waste lots of time and money pursuing the idea of an Indian casino.

"It's going to be the type of scandal that grows and once that happens on the national level, it's very difficult for the BIA to make deals about off-reservation casinos," Grey said.

"So the danger for Grand Forks is, if the City Council gets bitten by the money bug and gives this thing life, ... Grand Forks is going to get into a losing game," Grey said Saturday. "City leaders will spend a lot of time and money on the casino, and you won't see other development."

Other examples

"We have seen other communities spend 10 years pursuing native American casinos that never come," he said, listing Madison and Kenosha, Wis., and Battle Creek, Mich.,

"These communities, once they get tied in to the idea of an Indian casino, any other development just goes by the boards because they are single-focused on getting a casino."

Grey was a captain in the Army infantry in the early years of combat in the Vietnam War, later becoming a chaplain and a Methodist minister.

He began his crusade against gambling in 1991, when his Illinois community saw a riverboat casino brought in on the Mississippi.

Grey, who will meet Tuesday with a group of clergy and also with business people, said, "The two elements I have found impacted when casinos come to town are, on the one side, the ones who deal with the bodies, the casualties," he said. "The other side is the businesses who deal with the sucking sound of the money being drawn into the casino. Usually, the businesses are reluctant to get involved until it is "too late."

Even famed investing guru Warren Buffett opposed gambling expansion in Nebraska, Grey said. "He said he wasn't opposed to gambling, but said all it's going to do is suck money out of Nebraska, and it goes to Las Vegas. In your case, it will suck it out and it goes to the tribe."

Grey likes to point out that one side of the gambling issue stands to make a lot of money over it, while the other side his side spends their own money in the cause.

Grey takes a salary of $36,000 a year from the Coalition, which has an annual budget of about $120,000, received from donations from religious groups including several denominations and individuals. His expenses are paid for his trip to Grand Forks by the local anti-casino group.

He's traveled to every state except Wyoming to fight gambling, as well as to Australia, Great Britain and Canada.

Growing tide

He sees a tide in favor of the gambling opponents.

"In 2004, we had six states Oklahoma, Missouri, Michigan, Nebraska, California and Washington voting on expanding gambling to statewide, and five out of the six voted against it," Grey said. "This year, we didn't have any statewide referendums."

"Cities have looked at it and figured out it's not in their best interest. Casinos across the country have not led to city revitalization. It grows bigger city government and cannibalizes existing businesses around it."

The cities of Omaha and San Antonio did studies of bringing in a casino and decided it didn't make economic sense, Grey said.

"We are seeing more and more communities saying no to gambling when they get it on the ballot."

He says politically, it's a losing game, too."We have watched people voted out of office for voting for gambling," Grey said. "We have never seen anyone who was opposed to gambling get voted out because of it."

The United Methodist Church, one of the nation's leading mainline denominations, is a leader against gambling. And conservative evangelical churches that invited him to Grand Forks oppose it, too, as anti-family.

"Most people will say it's the one issue where there is a coalition of conservatives and liberals," Grey said. "They will argue on abortion and homosexuality, and every other issue, but on gambling, they will stand side by side."

They need to, Grey says, as long as local and state governments, and the few private citizens who stand to profit personally from casinos, keep pushing.

Last month, the Grand Forks City Council voted to continue studying the issue.

"They get addicted to the revenue. They are junkies," Grey said of local governments who turn to gambling to fill public coffers. "Once it's in, it addicts the government to the revenue stream."

"So, when this group in Grand Forks contacted me, I said why not try to jump this thing fast. Get the information out, and don't give this thing life. And life is anything short of the City Council saying we don't want this."

Lee can be reached at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 237; or at

and your little dog too

Conservative columnist Ann Coulter.

In its commitment to Balanced, Fair, and Generously Salted and Peppered Journalism, Vleeptron celebrates the right of sociopathic retards to blurt out what's on their addled minds, too. So this lawyer will not be tempted to sue us, we have refrained from boldfacing or coloring the particularly bizarre and loopy things in this column, we runnin' it stet.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Pennsylvania USA)
Sunday 27 November 2005

Opinion column:

Aiding the enemy

By Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter, a lawyer and political analyst, is a columnist for Human Events.

In the Iraq war so far, the U.S. military has deposed a dictator who had already used weapons of mass destruction and would have used them again. As we now know, Saddam Hussein was working with al-Qaida and was trying to acquire long-range missiles from North Korea and enriched uranium from Niger.

Saddam is on trial. His psychopath sons are dead. We've captured or killed scores of foreign terrorists in Baghdad. The Iraqi people have voted in two free, democratic elections this year. They've even given women the right to vote.

Iraqis have ratified a constitution and will vote for a National Assembly next month. The long-suffering Kurds are free and no longer require 24/7 protection by U.S. fighter jets.

Libya's Moammar Gadhafi has voluntarily dismantled his weapons of mass destruction. Syria has withdrawn from Lebanon. The Palestinians are holding elections.

The American military has accomplished all this with just over 2,000 deaths. These deaths are especially painful because they fall on our greatest Americans. Still, look at what the military has done and compare the cost to 600,000 deaths in the Civil War, 400,000 deaths in World War II and 60,000 deaths in Vietnam.

What is known as a "hawk" in today's Democratic Party looks at what our military has accomplished and -- during the war, while our troops are in harm's way -- demands that we withdraw our troops.

In an upbeat speech now being aired repeatedly on al-Jazeera, Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania said U.S. troops "cannot accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home." Claiming the war is "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," Murtha said the "American public is way ahead of us."

Fed up with being endlessly told "the American people" have turned against the war in Iraq, Republicans asked the Democrats to show what they had in their hand and vote on a resolution to withdraw the troops.

By a vote of 403-3, the House wasn't willing to bet that "the American people" want to pull out of Iraq. The vote is all the more shocking because of what it says about the Democrats' motives in attacking the war (as well as alerting us to three members of Congress we really need to keep an eye on).

It is simply a fact that Democrats like Murtha are encouraging the Iraqi insurgents when they say the war is going badly and it's time to bring the troops home. Whether or not there is any merit to the idea, calling for a troop withdrawal will delay our inevitable victory and cost more American lives.

Anti-war protests in the U.S. during the Vietnam War were a major source of moral support to the enemy. We know that not only from plain common sense, but from the statements of former North Vietnamese military leaders.

What are we to make of the fact that -- as we now know -- the Democrats don't even want to withdraw troops from Iraq? By their own account, there is no merit to their demands. Before the vote, Democrats could at least defend themselves from sedition by pleading stupidity. Now we know they don't believe what they are saying about the war. Thanks to that vote, the Islamo-fascists know it, too.

The Democrats are giving aid and comfort to the enemy for no purpose other than giving aid and comfort to the enemy. There is no plausible explanation for the Democrats' behavior other than that they long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated and driven from the field of battle.

They fill the airwaves with treason but when called to vote on withdrawing troops, disavow their own public statements. These people are not just traitors, they are gutless traitors.

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