Monday, April 28, 2008


In 2007, a whopping 400,000 books were published or distributed in the United States, up from 300,000 in 2006, according to the industry tracker Bowker, which attributed the sharp rise to the number of print-on-demand books and reprints of out-of-print titles. University writing programs are thriving, while writers' conferences abound, offering aspiring authors a chance to network and "workshop" their work. The blog tracker Technorati estimates that 175,000 new blogs are created worldwide each day . . . And the same N.E.A. study found that 7 percent of adults polled, or 15 million people, did creative writing, mostly "for personal fulfillment.". . . IUniverse, a self-publishing company founded in 1999, has grown 30 percent a year in recent years; it now produces 500 titles a month and has 36,000 titles in print, said Susan Driscoll, a vice president of its parent company, Author Solutions. . . Driscoll said that most writers using iUniverse sell fewer than 200 books. Other self-publishing outfits report similar growth. Xlibris, a print-on-demand operation, has 20,000 titles in print, by more than 18,000 authors, said Noel Flowers, a company spokesman. - Rachel Donadio, NY Times

Another diplomatic incident threatens to taint U.S.-Israeli relations: The American government has recently demanded Israel clarify how five U.S.-made helicopters sold to Israel in the mid-70s found their way into the hands of a Columbian drug cartel. According to American sources, the military copters currently serve the drug mafia in the South American country. . . The ministry permitted the choppers, of a MD 500 Defender model, be sold either to the Mexican federal police, or to the Spain firefighters department. However, contrary to the terms of the license, the copters ended up in Columbia, by way of Canadian mediators. - Ynet, Israel

Sen. Barack Obama does come from the Chicago school of politics, where historically voter turnout has been unusually high for residents of certain graveyards. And he has been unusually successful raising money. Now he's raising money by raising the dead. The Times' campaign finance writer Dan Morain found Obama campaign records reporting a $50 donation by Roy Scheider, who lists his occupation as actor and his home as Sag Harbor, N.Y. Remember him from many great movies, including "The French Connection" and "Jaws," and the immortal line "You're gonna need a bigger boat"? According to campaign records, Scheider made the donation March 10. Trouble is, Scheider died exactly one month before that, on Feb. 10, at age 75. Just another example of Hollywood's undying affection for Democrats. - LA Times

San Diego officials say they're going to fight security contractor Blackwater Worldwide's permit to build an indoor military training facility in the city. . . Blackwater's permit was obtained by Raven Development Group. Southwest Law Enforcement's name is on the design plan that the city reviewed. Bonfiglio said the company has never sought to hide its affiliation with those businesses. . . Blackwater officials in March abandoned the company's plans to build an 824-acre training center in Potrero, a rural community about 40 miles east of downtown San Diego. Blackwater's plans there sparked intense opposition from critics who said the facility would bring noise and traffic to the quiet community. The company dropped its proposal after noise tests showed that the noise from gunfire exceeded county standards. - San Diego Mercury News

Drug and medical device companies should be banned from offering free food, gifts, travel and ghost-writing services to doctors, staff members and students in all 129 of the nation's medical colleges, an influential college association has concluded. The proposed ban is the result of a two-year effort by the group, the Association of American Medical Colleges, to create a model policy governing interactions between the schools and industry. While schools can ignore the association's advice, most follow its recommendations. - NY Times

The [Arizona] Maricopa County Board of Supervisors this week agreed to pay out $925,000 to settle two cases that involved the Sheriff's Office. One was a wrongful-death claim brought by the family of a 28-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while in custody. The Sheriff's Office and the Correctional Health Services, a county department responsible for giving inmates medical care, split the $800,000 settlement equally. On the heels of that settlement, Phoenix attorney Michael Manning dispatched a six-page letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking that Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies be investigated for abusing the civil rights of inmates housed in county facilities. . . His letter cites cases stretching from a January verdict that awarded $2 million to the family of Brian Crenshaw, a disabled man who died after a fight with a detention officer, to the 1996 case of Scott Norberg, whose family settled for $8.25 million after Norberg died in a restraint chair at the jail. . . Arpaio was defiant in the face of another request for federal authorities to inspect his methods. The letter was the third in three weeks, following missives to the Justice Department from Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and the Anti-Defamation League, and came on the same day the state's Legislative Latino Caucus drafted a letter requesting U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hold hearings to look into potential civil-rights violations. - Arizona Central

A thief has struck four times Four times in the last two weeks he has struck at Frank Fahy's vegetable patch. On each occasion he has cut through protective netting and pinched a single head of broccoli. The serial thieving is driving Mr Fahy, a 71-year-old retired professor, to distraction - not least because his efforts to deter the culprit have been fruitless. . . 'Each time one head was taken. They are each worth about 50p. It is a bit distressing.' After the first theft Mr Fahy put up a notice saying 'smile you are on camera' - but within three days the thief struck for the second time. Then he put up a notice saying he had sprayed some of his 30-strong crop with insecticide - but still the thefts continued. Now he has put up a notice by his allotment warning the burglar that police are investigating. . . Parish council chairman David Bidwell said: 'It is hard to know exactly when they may strike again. 'But one would hope somebody carrying several large heads of broccoli would be noticeable in a place like King's Somborne, where there is not much crime.' - Daily Mail, UK

The Voter ID conclusion reached by the Supreme Court as a whole is that the law may be unconstitutional as applied to a small number of voters who must incur cost in order to obtain the ID, but that since this case has no such voters as plaintiffs, it fails to reach that claim. Another lawsuit with that particular type of voter as a plaintiff may reach it in the future. - Ballot Access News

Jurgen Vsych, who has been Ralph Nader's campaign filmmaker, has written a biography the independent candidate, What Was Ralph Nader Thinking? - now available in paperback, hardback or audiobooks.


At April 29, 2008 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Democrats and Republicans will never legalize or even decriminalize marijuana, because it allows them to disenfranchise poor people and people of color and so helps to keep them in power. Also, the lawyers are making a fortune off of it, and lawyers pretty much control the political system now.


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