Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

56% in military poll support Bush on Iraq

Only 56% back their commander-in-chief's Iraq policy?

Bible Belt missionaries set out on a 'war for souls' in Iraq

The missionaries are mainly evangelicals who reject talk of Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God. ..

Jerry Vines, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, has described the Prophet Mohammed as a "demon-obsessed paedophile". Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and the head of Samaritan's Purse, a big donor to Iraq, has described Islam as a "very evil and wicked religion".

It's too bad Mohammed is dead -- I'd love to see the Southern Baptist Convention bankrupted for slander.

Brazil to fingerprint US citizens

A Brazilian judge has announced that US citizens will be fingerprinted and photographed on entering the country.

Fair enough -- we're fingerprinting their citizens, why shouldn't they do it to us?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Ashcroft Steps Down from CIA Leak Probe

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft will step aside from the politically charged investigation into a leak related to the Iraq war and the Justice Department will name a special prosecutor, department officials said on Tuesday.

Pentagon freezes Iraq funds amid corruption probes

Good. Hopefully they can fix this -- looks like maybe they learned something from the outcry over the no-bid contracts earlier on..

Friday, December 26, 2003

New Year’s Resolutions that I wish journalists could follow.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

My niece Elizabeth says "Merry Christmas!"

I've moved! But if you're reading this, you already know that.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Dutch politicians are dismayed over Senate authorization for use of force against The Hague. And we're trying to reassure them. As if anyone believes we'd authorize the use of force if we couldn't fathom ever needing to. And can we please get Kissinger's ass over there ASAP?

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Zipcodes have never been so interesting.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Record Industry May Not Subpoena Online Providers
Yay! The courts are kicking ass this week. [via gemery]

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Police conduct unlawful search, use excessive force on High School
ACLU's filed suit. Watch the video.

President cannot detain U.S. citizen as enemy combatant
Not the end of the fight, but that's one battle that came to the right conclusion. It's always heartening to see the Judiciary remind the White House that there are rules that even the president can't break.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

PETA is going to be handing leaflets that say "Your Mommy Kills Animals" to small children whose mothers are wearing fur at performances of "The Nutcracker" in the next few weeks. PETA needs to chill out (animals are tasty) but that's pretty damn funny.

Federal appeals court OKs medical marijuana in some cases
"'The intrastate, noncommercial cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for personal medical purposes on the advice of a physician is, in fact, different in kind from drug trafficking,' Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the majority.
The court added that 'this limited use is clearly distinct from the broader illicit drug market, as well as any broader commercial market for medical marijuana, insofar as the medical marijuana at issue in this case is not intended for, nor does it enter, the stream of commerce.'
The decision was a blow to the Justice Department, which argued that medical marijuana laws in nine states were trumped by the Controlled Substances Act, which outlawed marijuana, heroin and a host of other drugs nationwide."

Well I'll be damned. I thought everybody had forgotten about the limitations of commerce clause authority.

Senators were told Iraqi weapons could hit U.S.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Salon has an utterly infuriating article about the behavior of the Miami police department during the recent Free Trade of the Americas summit. If this is what "Homeland Security" is all about, the homeland doesn't deserve to be secure.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Too busy to research the positions of all the presidential candidates? The Presidential Candidate Selector gets your positions on the issues and tells you which candidate is best aligned with what you believe.

I was surprised that there's a candidate that scores below W. on my list.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

You want this for Christmas, you just don't know it yet.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

When does Gerrymandering threaten democracy?
Interesting New Yorker article that talks, among other things, about the 2003 redistricting fight in Texas. The science of redistricting has come a long way -- gone are the days where politicians draw the lines with magic markers. Now software analyzes block-by-block voting patterns and allows those drawing the districts to effectively determine elections in advance. According to experts, there are only 35 seats in congress that aren't virtually guaranteed to one of the major parties.

Kite Aerial Photography
Very Cool.

Tough New Tactics by U.S. Tighten Grip on Iraq Towns

You've got to be fucking kidding.

As the guerrilla war against Iraqi insurgents intensifies, American soldiers have begun wrapping entire villages in barbed wire.
In selective cases, American soldiers are demolishing buildings thought to be used by Iraqi attackers. They have begun imprisoning the relatives of suspected guerrillas, in hopes of pressuring the insurgents to turn themselves in.

Are Cops Constitutional?

Law Review article on the disconnect between how the Framers envisioned law enforcement and how it exists today. Interesting if only for the fascinating trivia:
  • Law enforcement was, until the 1850's, the almost exclusive domain of private citizens. They were expected to investigate and arrest criminals, and the victim decided whether the crime warranted prosecution. If no settlement between victim and criminal could be reached, the victim prosecuted the case in court in the name of the state.

  • As recently as one hundred years ago, but with a tone that seems as if from some other, more distant age, the United States Supreme Court held that it was permissible (or at least defensible) to shoot an officer who displays a gun with intent to commit a warrantless arrest based on insufficient cause.93 Officers who executed an arrest without proper warrant were themselves considered trespassers, and any trespassee had a right to violently resist (or even assault and batter) an officer to evade such arrest.94

  • The taxicab industry suffers homicide rates almost six times higher than the police and detective industry.170 .. When overall rates of injury and death on the job are examined, policing barely ranks at all. The highest rates of fatal workplace injuries occur in the mining and construction industries, with transportation, manufacturing and agriculture following close behind.172

  • Los Angeles police have been found to fire their weapons inappropriately in seventy-five percent of cases.271

  • For more than 150 years, it was considered per se unconstitutional for law enforcers to search and seize certain categories of objects, such as personal diaries or private papers, even with perfectly valid warrants.310 Additionally, Fourth Amendment jurisprudence prohibited the government from seizing as evidence any personal property which was not directly involved in crime, even with a valid warrant.311 The rationale for this "mere evidence" rule was that the interests of property owners were superior to those of the state and could not be overridden by mere indirect evidentiary justifications.312 This rule, like many other obstacles to police search and seizure power, was discarded in the second half of the twentieth century by a Supreme Court much less respectful of property rights than its predecessors.313

  • In line with this defense, police officers nationwide have been caught planting weapons on their victims in order to make shootings look like self defense.144 In one of the more egregious examples ever proven in court, Houston police were found during the 1980s to have utilized an unofficial policy of planting guns on victims of police violence.145 Seventy-five to eighty percent of all Houston officers apparently carried "throw-down" weapons for such purposes.146

MPs ask to use loyalty cards
The MPs suggested that loyalty cards could be used to identify customers who bought excessive amounts of foods high in fat, sugar and salt, and asked whether supermarkets could use this information to promote healthier alternatives to these customers.