• Paging Max Bialystock

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    Actual Associated Press headline today: Producer admits bilking investors with fake Broadway play

    A Broadway producer admitted on Wednesday that he scammed his friends and others into investing more than $165,000 in a nonexistent play about opera star Kathleen Battle supposedly starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. –Associated Press

    He forgot to watch the original play or movie, I guess.

    You have to produce a real play, but it is supposed to be a bad one.

    You cannot skip the play entirely.  Please rewatch the entire video tape.

  • Torn between two lovers: Strange story and the perfect blues song to go with it

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    I hate it when this happens.

     

    Blues song, dedicated to the miscreant’s wife.

    “Another Mule Kickin’ in Your Stall,” is supposed to be metaphorical.

    In this case, though, it’s all-too-real. Elvin Bishop does a great, laid-back version of this Muddy Waters song. There are several great versions, if you are interested. Junior Wells has a fine rendition, featuring his harmonica. So does the great blues piano player, Otis Spann, here. Bobby “Blue” Bland does a growling version here.

    Let’s go with Elvin’s easy, wistful version.

  • Bad Vibes: Another Goofy Crime Story

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    Headline in Canada’s National Post:

    Ontario woman told sex shop clerk she had HIV before lunging at him with needle and stealing vibrators

    [Naomi] Shawana fled the store with both vibrators (the second was worth about $100) and left the area in a waiting taxi — her means of getting to the store. –National Post

    Comment: “I received an unusually large tip,” said the taxi driver, “after bringing the trip to completion.”

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, April 20

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

     Tillerson, Mattis turn up the heat on Iran. Says it is still sponsoring terrorism throughout the Middle East  (Washington Post)

    But they do not want to overturn the nuclear agreement. They see cheating at the margins but not full-frontal violations

    Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis slammed Iran as a destabilizing influence, particularly in Yemen, during a visit to Saudi Arabia. “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis told reporters.

    This week, the Trump administration said it will undertake a comprehensive, 90-day review to judge whether lifting sanctions on Iran serves U.S. interests. So expect to hear more about this topic in the coming months.

    In the meantime, amid all the criticism, here’s a development worth noting: Iran has met all of its commitments under the nuclear deal so far, the administration officially told Congress this week. –Washington Post

     The sheer fun of reading a slash-and-burn column. Not good as a steady diet, but, like cheese cake, great fun as an occasional treat.

    Here’s Howie Carr’s take-down of Elizabeth Warren and her new book. The succession of nicknames alone is worth the read, and so is his parody of what she claims is her favorite curse word: poop. Really. That, she claims, is a f*^king curse word. (My own is “drat.”)  Howie’s column is here. (Boston Herald)

    This is a rough week for Chief Spreading Bull to be starting her tour of the trustafarian gated communities and alt-left fake-news media that are her main, make that only, constituencies. The authors of the Hillary campaign post-mortem, “Shattered,” are also making the green-room rounds. Ditto Bernie Sanders and the DNC’s Dumb and Dumber — Tom Perez and Keith Ellison.

    That’s a lot of poop for the non-working classes to be wading through, but nevertheless, she will persist. . . .

    “Trump slammed back at me repeatedly,” she says on page 226, “hitting me over and over with his lame nicknames.”

    Like, what, Liewatha? What kind of poop did he hit you with? Was it something about your, ahem, Native American heritage? Why no mention of that anymore? She’s still demanding that the president release his taxes. Maybe he should agree to — right about the time she puts out her employment applications to the two Ivy League law schools that hired her as a
    “woman of color.” –Howie Carr

    Comment: Cowabonga.

     Scott Walker continues policies opposing mandatory unions, this time on state construction projects (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

    Contractors won’t have to work with unions on taxpayer-funded building projects and parents will have an easier time getting an anti-seizure drug derived from marijuana, under legislation Gov. Scott Walker signed Monday.

    The measure on labor agreements, which passed the Legislature on party-line votes, is the latest in a series of moves to roll back union power by Republican lawmakers in recent years. –Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

    Comment: Wisconsin rises, Indiana Rises, Illinois sinks, California Sinks. Notice a pattern? Local voters do.

    ◆ Terror and the Fresno Murders: A comment 

    Kori Ali Muhammad has admitted killing three people–he was caught in the act–and said he wanted to kill more “white people.”

    Police has said that, although he yelled “Allahu Akbar,” his crime was based solely on race, not Islamic terror.

    What he did IS terrorism, in the sense that he meant to cause terror and did.

    The question is whether it is connected to the broader movement of Islamic terror, included “inspired” lone-wolf actions.

    Right now, it is hard to know whether he yelled the Arabic phrase as

    • A signal of black nationalism (National of Islam style),
    • Pure hatred of America,
    • Support for global terrorism, or
    • Some other motive.

    Since he has already begun talking, he might say more about his motivations. We’ll gain other information, too, as police uncover his internet search history, personal and political affiliations, and more.

    As Fresno police and the FBI release their findings, we will gain a sense of how these murders are is connected to the larger Islamic terrorism issue, as well as Muhammad’s hatred of white people.

     Hillary campaign working to discover who leaked embarrassing info for new book, Shattered (NY Post’s Page Six)

    We’re told the details in the book, which depicts the campaign as inept, “could only have come from someone in the inner circle.” Dennis Cheng, the finance director of Clinton’s presidential campaign, has been sending out messages to determine where the leaks come from.

    One source said, “The knives are out to find the people who spoke about the campaign to the authors of this book. –NY Post

    Comment: In other news, the Adlai Stevenson campaign is doing a “top-to-bottom look at why we lost and what to do next.”

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Bryan Caisse 
    for the Howie Carr piece on Elizabeth Warren

     

  • A Fake Policeman flashes his lights and pulls over a car. The wrong car

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    It was 7:02. The weather was muggy, but the skies were clear. We needed some rain, but we wouldn’t get it today.

    I was working out of traffic. My partner was Bill Gannon. The captain was Jim Hamilton. I was riding undercover, when I spotted the blue lights behind me. I pulled over.

    I’ll let the press take it from here. They know how to write. I just fill out forms in triplicate. After filling out these forms, I could use some coffee. Bill says the machine’s not working. Figures.

    Authorities say a man packing a blue light and a BB gun pulled over a non-descript car on Interstate 95 [in Florida], ready to play “traffic cop” again.

    Bad move: the driver he pulled over is a real police detective. AP story at WJLA, Washington

    My report says Pacheco Bustamente had impersonated police officers before, a felony in Florida.

    He’s 46 years years old. He ought to know better. You tell them, “Don’t do it again.” But they never listen.

    Now, he’s looking for a lawyer.

    Here’s how I figure it.

    He probably wants a real one.

    ♦♦♦♦♦

    We’ll be back in 11 months with the results of that trial.

    Comment: My favorite attorney, Lionel Hutz, is rested and ready.

    Thanks to Jihan Varisco for finding this treat.

  • ZipDialog Explainer: Key charts showing America’s Drug Epidemic and the Violent Gangs who Profit

    Today’s ZipDialog Roundup included a story about violence by the notorious MS-13 gang, originally from El Salvador, now entrenched across the US. Engaged in a wide range of crimes, it is still mainly a drug cartel.

    Today’s story was about several bodies, tortured and mutilated, found on Long Island. Police attribute to crimes to the MS-13 drug gang.

    A friend wrote that she knew judges in the area and that are reporting large numbers of rapes and other violent crimes by the El Salvadorans.

    My Response

    Comment: These drug-selling gangs are a scourge. It is stunning that, for so long, it was considered bad form to even talk about them because they were “immigrants.”

    That’s when PC becomes truly dangerous: it blocks a serious discussion of the problems. The problems don’t disappear; it just means the most extreme voices speak about them and, sadly, find a hearing.

    We need good people to come here from all over the world, not cartels selling drugs. And we need to be able to talk about the issues honestly, without slipping into racist generalizations or, conversely, being falsely accused of them.

    The Crucial Data

    Here is some vital data, in a few charts based on official sources (the Drug Enforcement Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and so on). To see a more complete report, go to the 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment (here) It is painful reading, but it is essential for an informed debate on these issues, which range from drug treatment to sanctuary cities.

    The increasing use has led to increasing deaths, not only because “regular” heroin is deadly but because it is increasingly dosed with lethal opioids, particularly fentanyl.

    While violent deaths from other sources are steady or declining, those from drug poisoning are rising.

    The “demand side” is obviously an internal US problem.

    The “supply side” are gangs who bring the drugs in, mainly from Mexico.

    It’s not just heroin coming across the southern border. It’s also cocaine, mostly from Columbia.

    The fentanyls come from legitimate drug manufacturers, who products are channeled into illegal uses, and, increasingly, from China. Some is smuggled directly into the US. Some comes across the US border after being shipped through Mexico or Canada.

    There are a number of competing Latin American gangs who sell these drugs, as the data from Texas clearly show.

    But no one should think these gangs are limited to border regions. They have spread out across the United States. Rooting them out is, quite rightly, a high-priority issue.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Thank you to Marcia Sukenik Weiss, whose thoughtful comments prompted this outline of the epidemic.

     

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, April 12

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

     We’re learning more about one possible connection between Russia and the Trump campaign  The Washington Post reports that last summer the FBI and DOJ obtained a FISA warrant to monitor Carter Page, a Trump adviser.

    The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

    This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

    Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. …

    Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe, officials said.–Washington Post

    How involved was Carter Page in the campaign?

    In March 2016, Trump identified Page, who had previously been an investment banker in Moscow, as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks later described Page’s role as “informal.” –Washington Post

    Comment: Reports are that Page’s connection to the campaign was at a lower level and that he never met Trump. We’ll soon learn more, I wager.

     Close call for Republicans for open Congressional seat in red-state Kansas Mike Pompeo held the seat until he became Trump’s CIA head. Ron Estes, the state’s treasurer, faced a surprisingly sharp challenge from a Democrat. Estes won, 53% to 46% in a district Trump won by 27 points. The New York Times story is here.

    Comment: The race was seen as an early test for Trump. He passed, but just barely. 

    Florida death-penalty dispute: Gov. takes death-penalty cases away from rogue state prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty. She sues him  (Miami Herald) Her legal claim: the governor overstepped his authority in removing the cases from her.

     United Airlines finally grovels and apologizes. Passenger lawyers up.  (Chicago Tribune)

    Comment: The airlines initial reaction was to say the passenger was truculent.  The viral video killed them and they changed direction.

     Latinos in US: A “hidden force turbocharging the US economy,” says CNBC

    It’s been nearly 10 years since this country was hit with a recession, the likes of which we hadn’t seen for decades. Businesses across the country were closing their doors and unemployment soared. This bleak situation was sharply magnified among Latinos, which reported a 66 percent drop in wealth and a 13 percent unemployment rate.

    Yet during this bleak period, Latino entrepreneurs created new businesses at a startling rate, increasing from 2.3 million in 2007 to approximately 4.1 million today. –CNBC

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • Florida man shoplifts sausage, then jumps of bridge to evade the police

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    Maybe he thought they were “the pigs.”

    I say, good. If you don’t stop them at the sausage, they’ll come back for the biscuits and gravy.

    Pretty soon, they’ll want the grocery store to serve them scrambled eggs and a cuppa joe.

    Naturally, it’s a “Florida Man” story.

    I’m just glad this did not happen while Pres. Xi Jingping was in the state.

    Story here (AOL)

  • Gangs decide “outside the court building” would be an excellent place to shoot other gangs

    Last month….

    Last month, a Chicago gangster got out of jail (and a jail sentence) on a technicality.

    His enemies were not so technical/legal minded. They killed him on his ride home. (The story is here, in ZipDialog)

     Murderer released from jail because he was not given a speedy trial in Chicago

    • The good news (for him) is that he was released
    • The bad news (for him) is that he left this mortal coil on his ride home –ZipDialog

    Today, another variation….

    Today, another of Chicago’s alleged gang members was walking to the criminal court building when a van filled with his enemies drove by and pumped him full of lead. The victim is in critical condition.

    Surprisingly, there were a few police near the criminal court building and they caught the perps.

    That’s rare. Very, very few Chicago shootings and murders are solved. Bystanders are afraid to talk and the gang members prefer to handle the retaliation themselves.

    The story is here in the Chicago Tribune.

    It’s the Willie Sutton Theory: Go where the pickings are richest

    Chicago gangs shoot each other where they know they will be present: on neighborhood street corners, on the way to criminal court, and, quite often, at gangster funerals.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦