Ross Mackenzie

Staggering stats and brief comments on this and that. . .

It long has been known that much of China's economy is built on a gulag of forced (or slave) labor camps fashioned after the Soviet model. Now the U.N. has succeeded in putting an investigator - Vienna professor Manfred Nowak - into China, and what did he find? Torture - on a massive scale. Suspicions confirmed: Considerable Chinese productivity is torture-derived.

From one news account: "Chinese authorities have submerged prisoners in sewage; burned them with cigarettes; hooded or blindfolded them; exposed them to extreme heat or cold; used handcuffs or ankle fetters for extended periods; and used numerous other torture methods." Standard remedies for Chinese with bad attitudes, deviationist beliefs or insufficient output of widgets: brainwashing in a psychiatric hospital or torture-based re-education in a labor camp.

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Stats: (1) A year from now, 40 million Americans will be listening to iPods. (2) The average cost of a U.S. wedding is $26,300 - and worth every penny of it. (3) In five years, satellite radio subscriptions will rise from the current level of 7 million, to 20 million.

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With Republican pols taking generally legitimate hits for their dubious behavior, let us not forget that Democrats can be similarly challenged. Consider the following updates on two refugees from the Clinton administration.

Exhibit A: Sandy Berger (national security adviser), on probation for swiping classified documents from the National Archives, was recently charged with reckless driving for going 88 in a 55 mph zone.

Exhibit B: Bill Richardson (U.N. ambassador), currently the governor of New Mexico and a hankerer after the presidency, now is acknowledging that his longtime claim to have been drafted to play for the Kansas City Athletics in 1966 while a right-handed pitcher at Tufts has been, um, less than truthful. The Albuquerque Journal checked out the claim and found it empty. Richardson's odd fess-up: "After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter . . . I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's."

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Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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