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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Crisostomo? I Blame Disney.

If you haven't been caught up, there is now a second Elvira Arellano. Her name is Flor Crisostomo, and she is another illegal immigrant from Mexico who was caught, told to surrender herself for deportation, and decided to hole up in a Chicago church claiming "sanctuary" instead of going back to Mexico. She had the choice to give herself up, and she refused - deciding to become a fugitive instead of doing the right thing and going back to the country that accepts her as a citizen.

So here's the big question: Can a church really provide sanctuary to criminals to avoid arrest?


I am 99% certain that there is no law and no precedence for being able to legally claim "sanctuary" from US law by entering a church. I'm leaving that 1% open in case someone can actually cite law or precedence, since I'm not a lawyer or anything. The main reason why people have been getting away with it is a matter of public relations. The police and federal agents don't like the "bad press" if they were to storm into a church just to make an arrest of a fugitive. They have EVERY LEGAL RIGHT to do so, but they apparently choose not to, for appearance's sake.

I, for one, blame Disney for spreading this malarchy to the public's attention. It's all because of The Hunchback of Notre Dame that people think you can enter a church and claim "sanctuary" and then everything's hunky-dory as long as you stay inside the church's confines. That scene with Quasimodo screaming "SANCTUARY!!!" over and over tugs at your heartstrings, but don't let it affect your brain, people.

There is no such thing as church "sanctuary". Can you guess why?

Exactly. Then you'd need law governing what is and isn't a church. Would it apply only for Catholic churches? What about Evangelical? Lutheran? Protestant? Presbyterians? How about a synagogue? A mosque? Could I create my own religion, claim my house is my church, and claim sanctuary there?

No, because the police wouldn't bat an eyelash about storming through my door and arresting me, despite the fact I am the ordained Pope of Beefinatorix claiming "sanctuary" in the only Meatingplace of Beefinatorix.

Meanwhile, Flor Crisostomo is following Disney Law and has claimed "sanctuary" in that same church, under the assumption that as long as she stays inside, she can avoid her imminent arrest and deportation. If this is the case, how can people say with a straight face that "She has three kids who depend on her and what she sends from the U.S."? Of course, that quote comes from the last sanctuary-claimer of that church, Elvira Arellano, so you can't blame a criminal for devious tricks.

If she has three kids who depend on her to send them money, then what is the point of holing yourself up in some church? That is the OPPOSITE of work! It earns NO money! Flor Crisostomo is the only one to blame for her kids going hungry due to a lack of ill-gotten funds!

Call me a cynic, but the bitch should have given herself up instead of getting the public's attention - since that way she'd probably have gotten deported back to Mexico and sadly illegally entered America again within a very small timeframe.

It's very sad, but it's the truth. After all, that's exactly what Elvira Arellano did the FIRST time she got arrested and deported. The second time was when she decided to be a bitch with her sanctuary plot, making sure that the media attention would mean that after her inevitable arrest, sneaking back in would be exponentially more difficult thanks to her danged spotlight.

Also, this whole nonsense about becoming a fugitive to "take a stand" and "try and change U.S. immigration laws" is really pissing me off. Listen up, you criminal non-citizens! LEARN ABOUT AMERICA BEFORE YOU TRY AND CHANGE AMERICA! Maybe then Crisostomo would have known that laws are changed by US legislators and bureaucracy, and voted upon by CITIZENS.

Finally, the priest of that church should be locked up as well for aiding and abetting a known fugitive. He allowed her to enter and claim sanctuary, knowing fully well that is would make her a fugitive. That means that he willfully associated himself with the crime, which is pretty much the definition of "aiding and abetting" as far as I know.

If any of my information is wrong, please let me know.


(The online version of the article)

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Another Arellano??

I picked up the paper today with all the hopes of "I hope there's something in here I can rant about today" - and I was not at all disappointed. (I mean with finding something to rant about - the news itself is very disappointing.) Right there on the front page were the words "Church harbors another illegal immigrant", and I hurried to Page 8 to find out what the hell is going on in my city.

It turns out that the SAME CHURCH that sheltered Elvira Arellano for that horrible year plans to allow ANOTHER illegal immigrant to seek shelter there instead of turning herself over to the authorities like she is supposed to do today.

This new illegal immigrant criminal was arrested in 2006 as a result of a nationwide raid of the IFCO Systems pallet company, which resulted in 26 illegal immigrant workers being arrested. Flor Crisostomo is supposed to be surrendering to the federal immigration authorities today. After retreating to the Adalberto United Methodist Church in Humboldt Park where her FRIEND Elvira Arellano hid from the feds for a year, she is supposed to be "announcing" her decision today of whether she plans to turn herself in or the more likely option of thumbing her nose at the law like she did when she illegally entered the country from Oaxaca in 2001 and staying in the church and claiming sanctuary.

My biggest issue with all this nonsense, aside from the fact that the church does NOT provide sanctuary for criminals and it's about damned time the feds proved it by storming in and arresting her criminal ass, is that it's evoking the stupidest debates as a result. A criminal illegally enters the U.S., gets caught and arrested, refuses to accept the punishment, and all people are talking about is federal immigration reform??? What's even worse is the slew of comments being written down that are completely ass-backwards!

"It is very difficult to make this decision. Whatever it is, it will be worthwhile. ... It's not just to benefit me, it's to benefit the community," Crisostomo said in an interview inside the church.

No, you lawbreaking bitch, this IS about benefitting yourself and NOT AT ALL about benefitting the community. If allowing criminals to hang around your neighborhood actually benefitted communities, then property values in some southside neighborhoods would have skyrocketed past all of the upscale northside neighborhoods a long time ago. What WOULD benefit the community would be you giving yourself up to the federal agents and making an announcement to all of your illegal brethren to follow suit and say "let's all go back to Mexico." THAT would make property values rise and lower the crime rates significantly.

"I am taking a stand of civil disobedience ... I believe with all my heart that the United States and Mexico must end the system of undocumented labor," said Flor Crisostomo.

You know what, Flor? I completely agree. We must end the system of undocumented labor. By sending all the undocumented workers back to Mexico!! For the love of all things good and right in the world, you can't tell me that entering the U.S. illegally and getting work with a fake I.D. and sending money to your three kids and mother back in Mexico is a system we should be applauding or trying to help in any way! American workers are supposed to have that money and that job and help the U.S. economy and the rest of the legal citizens of this country. Some states and cities ARE trying to end the undocumented worker situation - by holding businesses more responsible in their hiring practices with the threat of losing their license if they hire an illegal immigrant.

Maybe one day, to add insult to injury, our federal agents will calculate how much money the United States have lost as a result of illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico, just so we can sue Mexico for damages. Maybe if they got their own shit together, people wouldn't be fleeing to steal jobs from Americans across the border. Maybe if they beefed up their OWN security at the border, less people would make it through and be stuck to help Mexico's failing economy for a change!

In the meantime, Flor Crisostomo should be reunited with her family, thanks to a deportation bus ride back to her hometown at the hands of federal agents. And Gail Montenegro, spokeswoman for the ICE here in Chicago? I know that you said "ICE officers are sworn to enforce the nation's immigration laws and will do so at appropriate times and places," but I just have to say:

The proper time is ALWAYS. The proper place is WHEREVER THESE CRIMINALS ARE HIDING.


(The online version of the article)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Corporate Sponsorship

Nothing about a news story or a hardcore rant about an objectionable topic today. Maybe sometime soon I'll touch upon Jena coming back to the public eye, and on Sunday I hope to post about Week 1 of starting the Atkins diet, but for now all I have is a random thought that's been brewing on and off for a while.

It all started with the Latin Grammies, I think.

No, I didn't watch them. I'm not much for ethnic culture and not a personal fan of the metric system. What caught my eye was the McDonald's-sponsored viewing party being advertised on the ad on the train. I started wondering what happens if a food chain sponsors a party...

One would assume that in return for either providing money to hold the event or product for the event (in this case, maybe the McRib or something) - the event would have that company's logo on things or something like that. Maybe there would be TVs present with ads for that company, or the logo has to appear on all promotions or advertising for the event.

So how would one go about getting McDonald's to sponsor their personal party?

I mean if it's about ad placement and visibility, I have no shame about that. I'll play a McDonald's commercial video on my TV the entire length of the party. I'll hang up McDonald's posters and wear a McDonald's hat and even print up fliers for my party just so they can see the McDonald's logo on it.

I just want a few thousand bucks to throw a kick-ass party, or the equivalent in McDonald's food to be consumed at the party.

I guess it would all come down to McDonald's trying to figure out how much revenue would come back to THEM as a result of sponsoring the party. I mean all of the logos and ads at my place might be an enticement for some to go to McDonald's more often - especially after getting hooked on McNuggets after eating them from a McDonald's-branded trough full of them, but how can you really estimate the return value?

How can they estimate the return value from the Latin Grammies viewing party, though? I'm willing to venture that the amount of extra revenue from people at THAT party deciding to spend some extra money at McDonald's is VERY COMPARABLE to the amount of extra revenue from people at MY party deciding to spend some extra money at McDonald's.

It's just like Coca-Cola and Pepsi commercials. We're more or less fans of one or the other. Have ANY commercials, no matter how often they run, made you consider switching teams? Have ANY commercials, no matter how often they run, made you consider buying more of your favorite?

I rest my case.

McDonald's - I'll take $2,000 in party funds and $1,000 worth of Big Macs and french fries. In return, I'll whore out your corporation as much as possible. I'm sure it's nowhere near a FRACTION of what you spent for that Latin Grammies party. Do we have a deal? Read more!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

CTA and Old People

For those of you who don't live in Chicago, here's the rundown on where we stand with Doomsday:

In September, the CTA threatened to have a Doomsday because of no funding and pretty much going to go broke. The solution back then was a rate increase and cutting service from about 20-30 bus lines, most were the Express routes. After wheedling and begging, they got some money at the zero hour and Doomsday was averted - to six weeks later. In November, similar threats of impending hikes and cuts, already with talk about ANOTHER Doomsday in January. This time, again at the zero hour (because apparently nobody likes to make a solution other than the night before the deadline), the small amount of funding came through - in the form of an advance on their 2008 funding. So now they obviously are further in a funding deficit and the January Doomsday is in less than a week. The plan now involves a larger rate hike, including higher rates during "rush hours", and cutting the service on over 80 bus lines.

At this point, there WAS legislature in the works to increase the sales tax and real estate tax and that would come up with the funding. And instead of signing the legislation, Governor Blagojevich decided to gum up the works by saying, "Sure, I'll sign this - but only if we give free rides to all senior citizens."

That's where we currently stand, from what I've been following and am able to digest.

I don't know what the hell our governor is thinking. No wait, I probably know EXACTLY what he's thinking. I just can't believe that with the crisis at this level, he won't put on his big-boy face and just sign the damned bill without playing with his devious political agenda like a mischievous child pulling the wings off of flies. He likes his power and he wants to stay in power and he likes the feeling of power over all of us.

So, you may ask, where does the whole senior citizen plan come from and what's so bad about giving them a free ride?

Well, for starters, I'm not saying that giving the elderly a free ride is a "bad thing" - I'm just saying it's a bad idea, especially at this point in time. And this point in time is all about the fact that our public transit system is BROKE, which means that it's the wrong time to talk about plans to bring in LESS MONEY by giving free rides. If your bakery is going under financially, that means it's a bad time to decide to hand out loaves of bread to pretty women in hopes of getting laid. Which is a good analogy for what Blagojevich is doing.

He's just sucking up to get the old people votes.

Yea, the elderly historically do the most voting. So that means catering to them is top priority for the sneakiest of politicians. And what better way to kiss some wrinkled ass than by offering them free public transit rides? I mean they currently have a DISCOUNT program so they pay a hugely-reduced fare, but Blagojevich is worried that the general fare increase, even with the huge reduction in price, would be too much for the elderly and their fixed-income lifestyles. So rather than doing something sensible like demand that reduced-fare prices remain the SAME, he's decided to go with a demand for free rides for the elderly and children can pretty much suck a lemon until they're old enough to vote for Blagojevich.

Don't get me wrong, kids need to do a lot more lemon-sucking in this day and age, but it's not like the kids are paying for the fares: their parents are. And parents suck enough lemons on a daily basis.

So of course, as soon as people starting coming to their senses about why he might be catering to the elderly (and the rest are fuming over putting another wrench in the works for ending Doomsday), he took his soapbox over to the pulpit and started defending himself while at the House of Hope megachurch and went from sucking-up to guilt-tripping. Once the reverend James Meeks had livened up the crowd of churchgoers, of course. I think that what sums up his argument is apparently his quote of: "How many of you agree with me that it is the right thing to do to give your grandmother a free ride on a bus?"

So that's it. Apparently if we're not cool with him handing out freebies while the system goes broke, we're so evil and wrong that we apparently hate our own grandmothers. Well, Rod, as long as we're tacking on laws designed to make wishes and nonsense come true, then how about adding that any male with an offspring be sold only winning lottery tickets? After all, how many of you agree with me that it is the right thing to do to make sure your father wins the lottery?

Mayor Daley shouldn't be so pessimistic," Blagojevich said. "Maybe he needs to come to the House of Hope and have a little bit of hope, because I have high hopes for our lawmakers."


Laws are passed by legislators, and despite your bag of hope and sunshine overflowing, this addition you've made has pretty much made half a dozen legislators decide to probably change their votes. Since the original bill luckily passed and went into your hands (where you promptly used it as toilet paper and marked it "return to sender") by only a slight margin, these vote changes have likely doomed the bill to not pass this second time around. And then we're all screwed and Doomsday wins.

If you want a REAL taste of Blagojevich's dastardly suck-up plan, you'd have to look closer at what he actually wants for senior citizens. Even though he stated at one point that all Illinois seniors would ride for free, he REALLY only meant LOCAL senior citizens. In order to qualify for the free ride, you'd have to live in that district. Chicago elderly can use the CTA/Metra/Pace systems for free, but in other connected cities, it would only apply for the public transit in their district. And as for the rest of Illinois seniors from downstate - there's no hope for you.

Then there's the entire issue of HOW all of this would be DONE. Special cards issued by district? Some kind of shiny pass that can be copied and sold? Magic beans? The truth is that the governor didn't think of ANY of this crap. He just wanted to pander to the voting elderly in the city, and his next appearance being at the Hallmark Retirement Home at 2960 N. Lake Shore Drive this morning in about 2 hours is just more proof of that.

If he REALLY cared about the senior citizens with fixed incomes not having to suffer with rate hikes, he should have proposed to keep their reduced fare cards at the SAME PRICE, rather than just letting them have free rides and screwing over the children in the process. That would be the genuinely-thoughtful and practical thing to do.

You know what? After all of this, I'm rethinking some of my cast choices for my CTA-based movie (which now has a working title of "Crossing the Line"). I'm thinking Daley should be played by someone more like Danny DeVito rather than Fred Thompson. DeVito can deliver a little better humor than Thompson could. I'd consider Patton Oswalt, but he's a little young-looking. And maybe someone a little more evil than Tom Cruise for Blagojevich, despite my wanting to see Cruise in a villainous role.

I wonder if Satan is available.

(Blagojevich at the megachurch with his "hope")
(The truth about which senior citizens would ride free)

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Sandler and the CTA!

Stop the presses! I've just solved the CTA's money problems and if we can get this screenplay together in less than a week, we can present it to Hollywood and sign a contract for millions of dollars and that plus royalties should keep the CTA afloat!

Here's where it all began:

I'm reading the RedEye like I usually do in the mornings, riding the #44 bus (until it's killed on Doomsday) and the Orange Line train I take to get to work downtown, and the article about the CTA Doomsday and Blagojevich's legislation nonsense and that's when I see it. It's the first time I've seen a photo of the CTA President, Ron Huberman. My first instinct?

Man, that guy looks a LOT like Adam Sandler!

Well, maybe it's that Adam Sandler could easily portray this guy with a slightly different haircut and not much else. That's when I get my big idea: creating a movie about the CTA starring Adam Sandler as Ron Huberman. Or, well, not necessarily him completely - the movie's going to TECHNICALLY be fiction, but the plot setup is rather true-to-life.

Possible plotline:

Ron Huberman arrives to his office on the first day of his new position of CTA President, only to find out from the staff that there's no money, no funding, and the previous president has already created Project Doomsday which is now in motion. Ron learns that almost half of the bus lines will be axed (as well as the drivers), fares will need to be increased to almost double, and the entire Santa's Holiday Train project will be scrapped this year - all with 30 days as the deadline to get the money or funding before the CTA goes literally broke.

(I think he'll come to work on that first day right after Thanksgiving and the Doomsday will be maybe like Christmas, so this can become a holiday season movie.)

All the while trying to fight a few high-up legislators who never agree, like Mayor Daley and Governor Blagojevich, Ron must attempt some crazy stunts to try and create funding for the CTA. Basically it's every hilarious idea that the RedEye readers have sent in, plus some of the decent ones which accidentally go horribly awry (in comedic fashion). I'm picturing everything from a Bake Sale scene to possibly Ron talking to a mob boss (this is Chicago, after all) at one point. All the while, most of this takes place along the Red Line because you don't even need to exaggerate it that much to turn it into comedy.

I'm thinking a possible scene could be having Ron wrangle up all of the homeless musicians from along the Red Line stops and having a huge concert featuring the Red Line Players or something hilarious like that. It'd be fun to get musician cameos with popular musicians dressed as hobos!

The movie finally ties together - in the exact same way that reality would! Ron's last idea is his best ever; he creates a CTA screenplay and pitches it to Hollywood! The last few scenes would be Ron receiving the huge check from the movie studios and celebrating by riding in the sleigh along the Red Line with Santa's Holiday Train as riders cheer him on. There's a brief fade and we notice it's now an ACTOR playing Ron in the sleigh and as the credits roll, the camera pans out to a movie theater where Ron is having a screening with the other characters - still celebrating the victory and having one last laugh before the real credits roll.

Possible actors/actresses:

Adam Sandler as Ron Huberman. I think he can pull it off and make even Doomsday seem funny - at least to everyone not from Chicago. Plus, he's got the "nice guy" attitude until something pisses him off and he does the classic Adam Sandler yelling and freaking out stuff.

Tom Cruise as Governor Blagojevich. When was the last time we saw Tom as some kind of bad guy? I think Tom could bring some weird devilish evilness as a governor who's ruining the funding process.

Fred Thompson as Mayor Daley. Well, he's gotta have something to fall back on once he eventually drops from the presidential primaries. He can at least settle for mayor in a movie!

The usual Happy/Madison members like Rob Schneider and [those other guys] as CTA Red Line riders. If you've ridden the Red Line, you'd know what I'm talking about.

Morgan Freeman as a kindhearted hobo, offering sage advice in-between selling items on the train (the items change randomly in every scene he's in).

Perhaps some actress as a Blue Line rider who becomes the love interest after constantly bumping into Ron in the Jackson transfer tunnel. Perhaps a slow-motion Jackson transfer tunnel reconciliation montage near the end?

That's all I have so far. Maybe you're not all that interested, but I think there's a chance that Hollywood would go for it. And sign a big fat check that would take care of enough of the REAL CTA's Doomsday woes with potential royalties supplying the rest?

That's my big idea. What ideas have YOU offered to save the CTA from Doomsday? Well, mine's better. Because my idea could incorporate yours as a comedic scene!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

PETA Not Versus Britney?

If there's ever been an organization that could be known for backhanded compliments, backhanded complaints and just plain backhanded EVERYTHING - it would almost definitely be PETA. Sometimes it even backhands its own logic just to get more public attention. For example, Ingrid Newkirk (the evil dictator of the evil empire) has it in her PETA mission statement that animals are not ours to own and should be free, which means NO PETS. So every time PETA gets in a tizzy about dogs and cats, I keep wondering why their stance isn't "no pets" every time.

Eventually I learned that PETA apparently just wants them all dead so nobody can own any. They want all the breeders shut down, they want all current pets spayed or neutered, and they routinely go around "rescuing" animals from shelters (when not protesting shelters) and kill them all in puppy-killing deathmobiles and dump the carcasses in dumpsters. Which means you can't breed them, nobody else can breed them, and they'll kill any of them not currently owned. All dogs and cats would be dead after this generation. Thanks, PETA. If that's not a backhanded slap in the face to all your members who think you're trying to HELP animals when in reality you want SPECIES GENOCIDE, I don't know what is.

But I digress, this is about Britney Spears. Seriously, it is. The problem is that PETA seems to want to excuse Britney while still calling her inexcusable. They want to give her leniency by shining a spotlight on her and berating her. It all begins with the "PETA Worst-Dressed-List" - a crock of shit that's basically a list of celebrities who wear fur or perhaps have a clothing line that uses fur, and uppity PETA members vote for which one they'd like to assassinate most. Britney was on their initial list this year and, despite being the front-runner in the first few days of voting, PETA recently decided to remove her from the list. Here's what PETA said about the decision (and watch for all the backhandedness):

Given her recent trip to the psych ward, it's becoming more and more clear that she's not entirely accountable for her actions — and that includes her poor fashion choices just as much as it does her bad parenting decisions.

With that in mind, we've decided to give Britney a bit of a break this year, and take her off the Worst-Dressed-List poll, despite the fact that she had established herself as a strong front-runner in the first two days of voting. Here's what PETA Vice President Dan Mathews had to say about the decision:

"People with l'il kids shouldn't dress like L'il Kim. But at this point, Britney needs a break — from everybody. Maybe when her head is clear, she'll have a change of heart about wearing fur. If not, we'll be back biting at her heels."

So there you have it, but the question is, did we make the right choice in giving Brit a break this year despite her unfortunate penchant for, um, flaunting her fur in public?

Okay, so they want to give her a break - but had to at the same time call her out for wearing fur anyway, insult her parenting, make an offhand remark about the public exposure incident and basically call her insane? That's just plain stupid and backhanded. Especially when you finish up your "let's leave Britney alone" message with a "we will not leave Britney alone" message.

I still can't tell if they seriously want to attempt leaving Britney alone, despite their jackassedly-persistent tendencies of insulting everything that doesn't fit into their collective mindview. Of course, once you remember that their collective mindview is more psychotic and insane than the ramblings of most mental patients - who's really the insane one here, PETA? For once, maybe it's not Britney Spears.

Besides, something tells me that this incident of backhandedly excusing Britney from the Worst-Dressed-List is going to get MORE publicity than the actual results of a PETA Worst-Dressed-List anyway. Which means you really haven't given her a break at all.

But I guess it just holds true that you can't believe a single word coming from an organization that considers "rescue" to take the form of a puppy-killing deathmobile.

(PETA's statement about Britney)

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Publicity and Deportation

Finally, it looks like someone at the federal level may have been taking MY advice to heart! While I'm sure that it's purely coincidence that I suggested something a few months ago and then today found out that it actually happened - the Colbert inside can't help but celebrating with cheesy graphics, a balloon drop, and the phrase "I CALLED IT!"

For those of you who don't remember this post about the May Day rallies, I called for the I.C.E. to monitor the most obvious source of information on illegal immigrants: news stories featuring illegal immigrants. Especially if there's a name. ESPECIALLY if it's accompanied by a city/state. ESPECIALLY if there's an accompanying picture. Seriously, if there's a picture of an illegal immigrant in the papers or one featured on a news telecast, how can the feds NOT be deporting these people?

Well, finally, they did.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Mynor Montufar at his apartment Friday after local newspapers and television stations showed him and Carmen Marrero as parents of the first baby born in the state after the new year rolled in, officials said. ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier said the timing of Montufar's arrest was coincidental to the publicity surrounding his child. Another man also was arrested at the apartment, although Grenier would not identify him, citing agency policy.

So the ICE is going to play the "coincidental" card? I'd like to think higher of them, and that they finally started playing the game smarter than they supposedly have been playing in the past. It really shouldn't take a rocket scientist to see an illegal immigrant on the news and connect it with deporting them. For all the nonsense flying around about Big Brother listening in to private broadcasts, it's about time that someone on the federal level listened in to a public one and did something about it!

The story gets better when it turns out that another man was taken into custody at the apartment as well. While I don't want to go off about a stereotype involving multiple illegal immigrants sticking together, I can follow a flow of unbiased logic to get to the same conclusion. After all, since landlords aren't supposed to rent to illegal immigrants, one would logically figure that if one illegal immigrant managed to procure a living space, others would join rather than struggle to procure more living spaces. In fact, there was a third illegal immigrant living there as well! The ICE never entered that locked bedroom, but the fear of deportation once they entered and made the arrests was possibly what drove him to hang himself with a belt. It's still not clear WHEN the suicide happened - but it's likely it happened at the time or shortly after the arrests were being made.

The president of the Mexican-American Association of Rhode Island, Antonio Barajas, said an investigation would show whether the death was a result of distress triggered by fear of deportation. "There are two tragedies," Barajas said. "Hopefully an investigation will be conducted to determine whether they are related or not."

No, Antonio, an autopsy would NOT show if the death was a result of distress or fear over deportation. I'm pretty damned sure it WILL show that the death was a result of suicide by hanging. It COULD show that the death happened around the time that ICE entered and made arrests, but it won't know a motive or causation for the suicide. You don't get to blame the people doing their job (correctly, for a change) for the suicide of a possibly-frightened man in a locked bedroom.

Frankly, if you choose death over going back to the country you emigrated from - what does that really say about your native country?

All in all, I would NOT call this a tragedy in any way - neither the death of a cowardly criminal or the arrest and probable deportation of a criminal bold enough to voluntarily appear in the news. I sincerely hope that the ICE continues to follow my advice and keep their eyes peeled on the news for all the leads towards illegal immigrants than they can find. If I run across more stories featuring illegal immigrants, I'll certainly post the information here on my blog. I just want to help fight crime - even if it is in such a passive manner.


(The story the led to the arrest)

(The story about the arrest)

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Zoos and Attacks

Right off the bat, I want to say that the death of Carlos Sousa Jr. was not "tragic", in my opinion. Sure, many of you will give me hell for stating that opinion, but you shouldn't mess with tigers if you don't have professional experience.

See? I'm not going to make a blanket statement that says "never mess with tigers" or "leave the tigers alone" - because we're humans and we reign supreme and if you've got the proper training and experience in the profession, you can safely mess with the tigers. This kid was not a professional and shouldn't have been messing with the tigers, so I'm not going to shed any tears over the fact that it backfired on him and the tiger messed with him in return.

In fact, over the past few days, more and more facts have been rising to the surface and when you look at it, the tiger is certainly not to blame and the zoo isn't responsible either. It appears to be idiot kids doing something wrong and catching tiger-related hell for it.

For example, the empty vodka bottle found in the car of the boys, which leads one to believe that their heads were already in stupid mode as the events took place. Even though the police denied this fact, the New York Times reported that two of the boys were carrying slingshots. One witness even came forward and affirmed that taunting took place, saying that two of the mauling victims were "roaring"at the big cats. "They were trying to get that lion's attention. ... The lion was bristling. ... Their behavior was disturbing. They kept doing it." While the witness may not prove the best at discerning between lions and tigers, the witness certainly knows that there was malicious intent and taunting taking place.

Once you've got all of that in your head, can you really find these kids as the "innocent victims" people are claiming them to be?

So then, of course, comes the question of whether or not zoos should be "acceptable" in this new generation. People do have a point in saying that the internet is responsible for conveying a lot of information that didn't used to be so readily available. In the olden days, the only way you could show a child the wonders of the elephant were in books and old National Geographic films complete with creepy film graininess and a boring voiceover. Or you went to a zoo and saw an elephant in real life, usually accompanied by a boring voiceover provided by your zoo tour guide. Now, you can just Google "elephant" and get images, videos and all of the encyclopaedic knowledge in mere seconds.

But I pose the question: Is all that technology really going to convey the magnificence of seeing an elephant in reality?

I, for one, say that it won't. But of course, I was from a generation on the cusp - having to get most of my knowledge the old-fashioned way throughout childhood just so a few years later in my teen years the internet blossomed into what it is today so I can at least attempt a comparison. I've seen elephants in the zoo. And they are BIG. Not as big today as they were when I was relatively smaller, but I've seen all the YouTube and Wikipedia and I have to say that there's no comparison. Hands down, the zoo lets you know what an elephant is REALLY like.

Does it accurately portray an elephant living in the wild? No.

Is it still a real elephant that can instill wonderment in a child and spark the imagination? You bet your ass it is.

Plus, not only can you learn about the real live animal and what it looks like and even funny things trainers will do with them in a zoo show - you get to learn that animals stink. Say what you will about video versus reality in the sense of children learning about how large the elephant is - only the zoo can accurately convey the information of how much wild animals stink. The poo is the real learning factor, people. And you can't get that from the internet.

All the books and movies and stuff made me wish during my childhood to one day own my very own elephant. One trip to the zoo was all I needed to learn the reality and focus on more sensible goals that offered relatively better odors.

What do you think? Should zoos stay or go? Read more!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

PETA Loves Jail?

Okay, so in one of my random visits to the PETA website, looking for fuel for my anti-PETA fire, I had initially stumbled onto a link to GoVeg.com and their "Top Ten Reasons to go Vegetarian in 2008" article, which enraged me horribly. For starters, three of their Top Ten reasons were about being healthy and happy. I know plenty of fat and miserable vegetarians. I'll have to save that rant for another day, because I later stumbled onto a PETA Top Ten list that dumbfounded me.

I'd heard about their list of the top ten vegetarian-friendly colleges. I guess if we shovel all of the college-age liberal hippies into select locations, the sane people will know which ones to avoid. I've got little problem with shining a light on college hippie liberalism and all that jazz. And then there was a reference to the top ten vegetarian-friendly ballparks. This started worrying me, because I didn't think people went to ballparks to enjoy anything other than beer, peanuts, crackerjack, and um that sport. I think it's called "baseball" or something. So apparently baseball isn't a sport that has pissed PETA off yet (unlike basketball and football) and PETA is rewarding those ballparks offering attendees some vegetarian options (because apparently nachos, beer and peanuts aren't good enough for some people). Fine. Promote tourism and try and suck up enough to maybe get ballparks to return the favor somehow. I can stomach that quid-pro-quo of sleazy business.

That's when this article came up: "Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Prisons!"

Words fail me.

Okay, now words are passing once again and I can rant about this. PETA has run out of venues that lots of people wind up at and might be interested in a vegetarian cuisine, so they offered up a list of PRISONS that cater to the herbivores among the captives. Somehow they bothered to catch on that people would think "um, so they're trying to convince people to go to jail?" and offered this statement: "I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if this latest top 10 list gets you all amped about the prospect of going to one of these prisons, you may want to set some slightly more ambitious goals for yourself … but for the people who—through bad luck or poor planning—are on their way there, this will come as some very good news."

So then they go into a shpiel about prisoners who want to better themselves, or possibly punish their taste buds as much as their prison-raped anuses, and eventually go into the list of vegetarian-friendly prisons and the menu items they offer which got them on the list. Some of these items just sound incredibly terrible...

Vegan hot cakes (I hope this is talking about pancakes and not something else), meatless chicken macaroni casserole (which most of us would call "macaroni casserole", but they apparently put fake chicken in it), soy Salisbury steak (as if regular Salisbury steak served at a prison weren't bad enough), baked macaroni crumble (it shouldn't count on the list if it doesn't say "vegetarian or vegan" since that's just a regular item! That's like saying they're vegetarian-friendly because they serve Diet Coke!) and possibly one of the grossest menu items I've heard of: vegetarian shepherd’s pie with texturized vegetable protein. I don't know where to begin with insulting this dish. I eat Slim Jims, which contain on their ingrediant list "mechanically separated chicken" - and you know what? That still sounds more appetizing than "texturized vegetable protein" ever will!

It gets better, though. They thought that naming these prisons would bring some kind of glory to them in some way - that they'd be thanked for bringing this vegetarian-friendliness to light - and that's just not the case. North Dakota (#10 on the list) offered these responses:

Wade Moser, executive director of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association in Bismarck, wouldn't bite. "It's just one of the tactics PETA uses to get attention," he said. "It doesn't deserve comment."

Tim Schuetzle, warden of the North Dakota pen and director of the state prison system, said the inclusion of vegetarian meals on his menu "really was in response to religious diets" required by some prisoners.

"It's a tenet of their religion that they don't eat meat," he said. "There are some who have special diets for medical reasons, too. It's not like the prison is promoting vegetarianism or coddling prisoners with a fancy dining experience, he said. "We're not saying, 'Here's our salad bar, and would you like tofu with that?'"

Even more luckily, the non-vegan egg on PETA's face gets even stickier when I found out that one of PETA's biggest and most-popular current enemies might not be in jail for as long as they thought!

That's right - Michael Vick might not be in jail quite as long as originally planned. PETA advocates were practically dancing when the judge ruled a 23-month sentence was in order, which is typically a longer sentence considering the crime. Yahoo! Sports is reporting, though, that it's possible he might be able to shave 12 months off that sentence. It's all because of marijuana, too. The same failed drug test that could possibly have led to the increased prison sentence might prove to be the reason for a reduced sentence.

Apparently the drug treatment program he was able to enter into thanks to the positive test for marijuana, which is only in place at the Leavenworth federal penitentiary, allows inmates to wipe off up to a year of their sentence if they complete the drug treatment program. Thing is, in order to get the time cut off his sentence, he'd have to be in the program for a year. And since he hasn't started yet, he's still looking at a good chunk of his sentence. Even so, he might only have to serve 12 or 13 months of the 23-month sentence because of it, and Yahoo! Sports said (possibly jokingly) that he could be back for the 2009 football season.

I mean provided he gets his indefinite suspension lifted, passes various drug tests, and finds a team that would sign him after all of this negative press surrounding him that would certainly taint any team that hires him.

But hey, stranger things have happened. And I'd just love to see PETA get all ruffled about their victory becoming a disgraceful defeat in the end...

(The PETA article about veggie-friendly prisons)
(The response from North Dakota)
(The article about Michael Vick)

Read more!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Don't Vote?

First I want to say that yes - I plan on voting in the '08 elections. I plan on voting every time I get the chance, especially city and state votes. No matter how much you despise the political machine, you have to recognize that all of the cogs in that machine are the citizens of voting age, and the only way to affect the outcome of the machine is to do what you can as a cog and see what outcomes you can make possible.

So I guess it's time to look at the collective cogs over in Iowa for this "caucus" thing I keep hearing about. I don't know if it's just me, but every time I see "caucus" all I can think about is "raucous" - which inevitably is more of a synonym than anything else. The events seem like a boisterous and disorderly jumble of voters and people with confetti yelling and accomplishing little other than start off one in a long series of pissing contests.

I say "pissing contests" loosely, because the goal of any REAL pissing contest (as regulated by the Urinary Competition League) is distance or volume or something measurable - whereas these pissing contests feature people lined up on each side, pissing at each other. Clearly it's impossible to determine a winner, other than the Least Covered in Piss award. You can't even evaluate teams, because standing on one side of the line doesn't mean that people on the same side won't be pissing on you all the same. And sorry to all you femenists out there, but pissing contests are traditionally a man's game, seeing as we're better equipped to compete. You're more than welcome to participate, but you can't piss and moan about needing a handicap. Well, you can piss - but as I said, probably not as well as men.

Following on that train of thought, Obama beat out Clinton (the female one) in this Iowa Caucus. With all Democratic precincts reporting, Obama had the support of 38 percent of voters, compared to 30 percent for John Edwards and 29 percent for Hillary Clinton. Bill Richardson came in fourth and has decided to continue onward to New Hampshire (the next pissing contest venue) - while Chris Dodd and Joe Biden have reportedly dropped out of the running.

With 92 percent of Republican precincts reporting, Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, had the support of 34 percent of voters, compared to 25 percent for Romney. Fred Thompson had 13 percent, McCain had 13 percent and Ron Paul had 10 percent. Huckabee attributes his jump from single-digit numbers a few weeks ago to the rallying of evangelicals and other social conservatives. "We won the silver ... You win the silver in one event. It doesn't mean you're not going to come back and win the gold in the final event, and that we are going to do," Romney said.

The fact that there even ARE caucuses in the first place just illustrates the point that the whole "popular vote" is a myth. While it's totally true that in the final election for president one candidate can have more individual votes than all of the other candidates, I'd hardly call that the "popular vote" and I'd never call it a "majority" - I might admit to calling it the "most votes" or something like that. I mean, if you divide up the voting population, with a whole half-n-half Red and Blue (and whatever Independant would be, lost in the sea of red and blue), you have to recognize that each side doesn't wholeheartedly believe in their candidate. I mean, trusting a politician is definitely the wrong choice of words, but it's that there are primaries and caucuses where chunks of voters are disillusioned. So you'll never have a majority vote.

No matter how much I dislike the process, though, I'm not a nutcase like one of my old high-school friends. I received an E-mail saying that someone had invited me to a group on Facebook. The name of the group is what stopped me mid-thought as my blood started boiling: "Don't Vote in 2008"


Seriously. I cannot make this idiocy up. Get an eyeful of the group's description!

This group is for anyone thoroughly disenchanted with the electoral college, the US political system and the bullshit that every single presidential candidate spews on a daily basis. For those who don't want more of the same in 2008 and beyond, or for those who don't want a system where a person can win the popular vote and yet still lose the election, don't vote.

Take direct action. Write or e-mail your congresspersons. Start a rally, a protest, or a passive-aggressive Facebook group. Whatever you do, don't buy into the bullshit any more. DON'T VOTE.

My favorite bit of irony is that the people this group is directing its members to contact are congresspersons. You're fighting the machine by TRUSTING the machine?? I really don't know what this group even wants as a result! It apparently wants to change the way that the political machine works, but doesn't want to do that with the logical process of voting for new people in charge who can make the changes or voting for any changes themselves?

I'm totally hoping that none of them come to the shocking revelation that getting people aligned to their cause and NOT voting means that every vote by people NOT aligned to their cause becomes more effective. In fact, I'm totally hoping that my posting this, I can bring some publicity to their little Facebook group and get more idiots to join and not vote and make things easier for the rest of the cogs who are trying to make things happen by actually voting and doing our part in helping to lead the country.

In fact, maybe I should just make my own group, called "Don't Vote in 2008 (if you disagree with my views)" or something like that.

But seriously, you should vote and do your part come Election Day. Unless you disagree with my views.

(Here's where I got the Iowa Caucus numbers)

Read more!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Letter to RedEye: Doomsday Gloom Days

Just felt like writing in a letter to Hey CTA in the RedEye. It's a little call-to-arms for all of the bus lines getting the axe in a few weeks to cheer up a little. Die with your head held high, because right now... Well, it's explained in the letter.

(As always, if they publish anything, I'll make it bold in an update.)

Doomsday Gloom Days

My bus drivers have been getting grumpier and less friendly over the past few days. I frankly don't blame them for feeling that way, but it's rather rough on the customers who are trying to enjoy the last few days we have together. I remember it like it was just two weeks ago - because it was - and my #44 bus driver actually flagged down a #62 bus on the opposite side of the street so that it would stay there for a minute while an elderly passenger disembarked and crossed the street to transfer without having to stand out in the cold at the Halsted station waiting for the next one. Friendly smiles, salutations and reminders to "watch your step" now seem like fading memories.

The change happened just after Christmas, probably as all the CTA employees got nothing in the stockings except reminders of the Doomsday money shortage. By January 1st, all hope seems to have faded from their eyes, and it feels like they're transferring their wrath onto the passengers. My bus line is being executed on January 20th and there's no call from the governor yet. In fact, the governor is just taunting my bus line, saying he'd LIKE to call and issue a pardon, but there's a bad phone connection and the operator keeps hanging up on him and "yadda yadda yadda" you're going to die, just like all the others.

In just two days, I've heard more complaints about my slated-to-die bus line than I've heard in the past two weeks, and in those two weeks it's been more than I've heard in months and months. My bus line is often neglected, rarely fully-functional and yet still ran on-time with moderately-friendly service at worst. Now, it's running 15 minutes late at times, kicking off my friend who was having a card issue and I even heard of one bus driver texting while at the wheel and the bus was in motion.

Please, bus drivers on lines slated to die, don't make this as hard on your passengers as I'm sure it must be for you. I understand that your job is on the line and nobody can tell you it's going to be okay. But please, if you have to die - at least die with your head held high. Remember to be kind to us, and we'll return the favor by trying to make your last days as comfortable as possible.

Trust me, we're going to miss you when you're gone.

Aaron Samuels, 24, Bridgeport
Read more!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New 2008 Laws

Usually I've been ripping purely on the fact that I dislike that Illinois is now yet another state with a total smoking ban and that is now effective as of Tuesday. But Illinois certainly wasn't the only state in the union that decided to put your tax dollars to work and churn up some new laws! Let's take a look around the country and shine some light on other January 1st laws now in effect, shall we?

Just so this isn't an "all these laws are stupid" article, I'm going to throw in some good laws, too. And some laws that some of you will think are good, even if I disagree.

Let's start off with a silly one, though. In California, it is now legal to import shoes and sportswear made from kangaroo hides. (In other news, apparently before 2008 it was NOT legal to import kangaroo hide footwear into California!)

In Minnesota, you can now only sell American flags that were actually made in America. I guess we've decided that American flags made in China are too at-risk for lead poisoning, though you should remind your children anyway that eating the American flag is probably an act of treason anyway, so lead poisoning would be the least of their worries.

If you plan on selling a home in Texas, you now legally have to disclose if it was ever a methamphetamine factory. Large explosion marks are no longer a standard warning - it's just like a used car history report, and any meth lab status has to be reported to the prospective buyers.

New Hampshire is the latest state to jump on the same-sex civil union train, and in Oregon domestic partnership procedures now apply for same-sex couples. Massachusetts is still the only state to offer same-sex marriages.

While most of my readers are aware of the Illinois general smoking ban, in California it is now illegal to smoke while driving - if there is a minor present in the vehicle. Rather than attest this driving law to keeping drivers focused and avoiding accidents, the state is using the logic that "the minor is trapped in an unhealthy environment." Luckily, some states out there ARE thinking about drivers and keeping them focused. In Oregon, drivers under 18 are now not allowed to use cellphones. In Washington, all drivers are now forbidden to text message behind the wheel. Seriously, how idiotic are you if you're text messaging behind the wheel of a vehicle in motion? Darwin really need to pick up the pace and get these morons out of the gene pool as quickly as possible. If it weren't for the other drivers, I'd prefer to just wait it out until these genetic rejects all get themselves killed!

In New York, the Passenger's Bill of Rights is now in effect, brought about by an incident in which a JetBlue aircraft was left on the tarmac for a 10-hour delay. Now thanks to this law, airlines must provide fresh food, water, air and clean restrooms for passengers on any aircraft stuck on a tarmac for more than three hours. I'd hope for an amendment to this Bill of Rights that states that at least one flight official somewhere in the corporate chain get hauled out and shot for any aircraft stuck on a tarmac for more than three hours. (Anyone who has been stuck on a tarmac for more than three hours will agree that this is a fair compensation, knowing that someone was put to death because of this inconvenience.)

Other horrible incidents that led to 2008 state laws would be the "Mel Gibson law" now in effect in California. The incidents involving Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rant, as well as the Paris Hilton arrest in June, have sparked this law that makes it a misdemeanor for a peace officer or law enforcement employee to leak confidential information for financial gain. I was pretty sure it was already illegal to leak this information to gossip web sites, especially with the financial gain stuff! Apparently it needed a new law all about it.

A more friendly law coming from California would have to be the new law that allows redemption of gift cards for cash if the balance is less than ten dollars. The California lawmaker responsible for this bill's creation said that it was prompted by her frustration with a multitude of gift cards in her possession that only had a few dollars left.

Also in California, sperm donations will no longer be turned down from HIV-positive men. There is enough new technology available that can safely cleanse sperm of the virus, so men infected with HIV can now use his sperm in the artificial insemenation process after consent and cleansing. Also, HIV testing is now considered a routine part of physical exams, but patients can decline the test during their appointments.

Lastly, Arizona has taken a huge stand against illegal immigration by enacting the new state law that businesses will be stripped of their licenses for knowingly hiring undocumented workers. This goes far beyond the relatively-pithy fines that have become law in some states and cities, and perhaps a similar law increasing the penalty for landlords will arise in the near future.

These are just a sample of the laws that are now in effect as of midnight on Tuesday, January 1st. There are many more laws that have gone into effect, and I urge you to look up what laws in YOUR state are now in effect.

Do it now, before you wind up selling an un-American flag in Minnesota!

(One source of wacky new laws)
(Another source of wacky new laws)
(One more source of wacky new laws)

Read more!