"We should never assume malice when ignorance remains a possibility." - Paul Krugman
"Santa Claus can do it all: deliver presents, climb down chimneys, fly through the Christmas sky in his sleigh. And, as it happens, he can also make arrests. On Thursday, he busted a suspected member of the Sicilian mafia.
Santa Claus, as every child is aware, knows if you've been naughty or nice. In Italy, apparently, Santa also knows if you are a member of the mafia. And he might arrest you if you're not careful.
That, at least, would appear to be the lesson of a rather unusual arrest in the Sicilian town of Catania. A policeman dressed in a Santa Claus outfit was part of a Thursday sting operation to apprehend a suspected member of the appropriately named Santapaola mafia clan. The 37-year-old suspect was nabbed as he came out of a store where he was thought to have collected monthly protection money. The store's owner had allegedly been forced to pay €260 per month for the past 10 years.
The suspected mafioso had been under observation for several weeks. The undercover Santa was waiting in the parking lot carrying a basket full of sweets -- which he carefully placed on the roof of the suspect's car as he made the arrest.
According to media accounts of the arrest, the shopkeeper gave Santa a big hug following the arrest."
The latest notification from Homeland Security to our airport screeners, is to be alert and check out coffee thermoses, especially ones that are empty... If you'll recall that last year's would-be bomber had the home-brew taped to his genitals, and only succeeded in giving himself some very bad burns. The explosive came from the same batch used by the shoe-bomber from several years earlier, which told us that, despite they hysteria surrounding the incident, that the Yemen cell of al-Qaeda was using old explosives and primitive technology. Now that we have every body orifice covered, so to speak, our Christmas should be quiet and uneventful, full of bad football games, and the station that carries nothing but the Yule log burning... just in case, if you are traveling, leave the thermos of hot, buttered rum back at the house...
Russia is rushing to do their part in ratifying the START treaty, it has just passed in the lower House, and has only Parliament's approval. which should come early next week. Dmitry Medvedev applauded the US's approving the treaty. For any Republicans reading, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was considered on of Ronald Reagan's crowning achievements and one that he was most proud of. It's one of a few tangible things that keeps us from sliding back into a Cold War mentality...next up, a test ban treaty...
John McCain and John Kyl were the two most vocal opponents to the treaty, with McCain's objection being: "The New START Treaty was supposed to deal solely with strategic offensive weapons. It does not. It re-establishes an old and outdated linkage between nuclear arms and missile defense, which is no longer suited to the threats of today's world. I remain concerned that the Treaty in its final form could still be used by Russia to limit the development, deployment, and improvement of U.S. missile defense. I will work tirelessly in the years ahead to ensure that this never happens."