On December 11 a man barely escaped with his life after a bomb planted near his van destroyed the vehicle shortly before he was to leave for work. At the moment, animal rights activists are the focus of police suspicion.
The man worked for an electrical firm that was subcontracted to work for a pharmaceutical firm, which the UK media reported was probably Astra Zeneca. The van was used to transport electrical workers to the pharmaceutical company.
London’s Daily Mail reported that the bomb, which was powerful enough to destroy windows in homes and other vehicles 100 feet away, was similar to devices previously used by animal rights activists. The Daily Mail quoted detective superintendent Michael Ward who said, “The suspicion is that it has come from animal rights activists and it was directed towards one company. The vehicle attacked was used by a sub-contractor working for a company which has attracted the interests of animal rights activists.”
Update: This case was later definitively proved not to have had any animal rights connection.
Bomb blast blamed on animal rights activists. David Wilkes, Daily Mail, December 12, 2000.
A Kenyan judge recently granted an injunction sought by two teenage girls to stop their father from forcing them to submit to female genital mutilation — the first time that a court has intervened to stop the practice which is prevalent in rural Kenya.
The BBC reported that,
The human rights group [The Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Kenya] says girls from the Kalenjin tribe are normally subject to circumcision and immediately forced into sexual activities or marriage.
Kenyan girls win circumcision ban. The BBC, December 13, 2000.
The other day I wrote about a city banning fire fighters from erecting Christmas trees in city-owned fire stations on the separation of church and state grounds. Now Accuracy in Academia’s Sara Russo reports that Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania has banned the school’s bell tower from playing Christmas carols that have religious overtones. Apparently non-Christian professors and students will be permanently harmed by hearing an instrumental version of “Silent Night.”
Bloomsburg University seems to be a hotbed of absurd anti-Christian protests. Russo writes,
The controversy over Carver Hall bell tower is not the first dispute over religion to erupt at Bloomsburg this semester. When a drug and alcohol awareness group on campus erected crosses on the university quad to commemorate the college students who have died due to alcohol related incidents, the campus was beset by protests that placing a religious symbol such as a cross on public grounds was inappropriate.
In this incident, too, faculty vehemently denounced the presence of Christianity on the campus. “[The crosses] shove it in the face of every minority that we are a Christian campus,” said Dr. Walter Brasch, professor of mass communications and the instigator of criticism. Dr. Wendy Lee-Lampshire, professor of philosophy, added, “Crosses are narrowly Christian symbols. If the only way we can think to represent death is by Christian crosses, then that is … monumentally offensive … We are not all Christian … Did they mean to imply the only lives that have value are those that end with crosses on their graves?”
Representatives from the Drug, Alcohol and Wellness Network (DAWN), who helped arrange the display of crosses, argue that their actions in no way violated the principle of separation between church and state. Dr. Barry Jackson, the director of DAWN asserted, “The cross is used as an international symbol of death, and is not in any way religiously connected.”
Don’t these folks have better things to do?
On September 29, 1999, Mexican immigrant Ismael Mena was shot and killed in a no-knock drug raid on his house. The only problem was police had the wrong house; the target of the raid lived in the house next door, but police officer Joseph Bini wrote the wrong address on the search warrant.
A couple weeks ago, Denver District Judge Shelly Gilman sentenced Bini to a year of probation and 150 hours of community service. Bini had plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct in October.
LeRoy Lemos, a spokesman for the Justice for Mena Committee, was outraged by the sentence. “She’s the worst judge I’ve ever seen in my life not to impose any type of sanction on a man who was derelict in his duty, who through his actions cost an innocent citizen’s life.”
While Lemos is correct and Bini’s sentence should have involved at least some time in jail, Bini’s attorney David Bruno also has a point when he said that “[Bini] made a mistake, but did not create the mistake.” The overarching mistake is a drug war in which no-knock raids by paramilitary police armed to the teeth are now routine.
Until police and prosecutors decide to declare a ceasefire in the drug war, Mena will hardly be the last innocent person killed by overzealous police.
Officer gets probation for role in fatal raid. The Associated Press, December 2, 2000.
Slashdot today was talking about this interview with Linux evangelist Eric Raymond. In the interview, Raymond’s comments come across as almost being a parody of Linux true believers. Raymond is apparently seriuos about the following claims,
I think Linux will become dominant before it is really ready technically for the end users. And the reason I believe that is because I now think that Microsoft monopoly is going to collapse for other reasons in the near future.
One of the reasons is that prices for hardware is steadily dropping. This is a problem for Microsoft because their business model depends on charging a fixed price for pre-installed Windows on a machine. As hardware prices drop, that fixed price represents a larger portion of the margins of the desktop OEMs. The desktop OEMs are going to reach the point when prices drop to a certain level where they simply can’t make any money paying the Microsoft tax.
And it is at that point, that the Microsoft monopoly will collapse, because they will then unbundle Windows from their machines, and offer something that’s inexpensive (like, say, Linux), in an effort to get some of their margin. I believe that will happen probably within five to six month from now, and that’s probably before Linux will become polished and be ready for the end user.
Ummm, no. Hardware companies selling Intel and AMD boxes won’t discard Windows or replace it with Linux for one simple reason — nobody would buy them. Okay, the Linux enthusiasts might, but general users wouldn’t touch the things with a ten foot pole.
What Windows, Mac, and Linux advocates forget is that most end users could care less what OS they’re using. What the average end user is concerned about is application support on the OS. When my wife looks at a new computer she doesn’t care about the technical aspects of the OS, she just wants to make sure she can write her thesis on it, and occasionally take a break and play “The Sims.”
Linux is a long way from having the ease of use and application support to see it migrate to desktop computers except as a niche market. The manufacturer who tried this would almost certainly end up regretting it.
The issue of school vouchers is likely headed for a Supreme Court showdown after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Cleveland’s school voucher program as unconstitutional. The logic of the appeals court was so inconsistent with previous Supreme Court rulings that it could once and for all settle any lingering Constitutional questions.
The appeals court’s reasoning makes little sense except as an irrational judicial reaction to the idea of school choice. Cleveland’s voucher program grants up to $2,500 in tuition vouchers for poor families with children in kindergarten through sixth grades. The public schools in Cleveland all refused to participate in the voucher program, and so most — though not all — of the 56 schools that do participate are religious schools.
Since most of the schools are religious in nature, the appeals court said, it is clear that the voucher program is nothing but a veiled attempt to provide public funding to religious institutions even though, as Ryan pointed out, the program’s selection criteria for schools is based on neutral, secular standards.
Fortunately, the appeals court is likely on very weak ground. In 1999 the Supreme Court ruled that Milwaukee’s voucher program, which also involved public funds being spent at religious schools, was Constitutional. Hopefully it will follow through on that principle and allow parents to send their children to the best possible schools rather than forcing the atrocious state-run schools urban schools on them.
Ruling against vouchers could head to high court. The Associated Press, December 12, 2000.