Wednesday, May 28, 2008

BREVITAS

WORD

Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions, and composed our masterpieces. Never will the world know all it owes to them, nor all they have suffered to enrich us - Marcel Proust

The Department of Transportation said figures from March show the steepest decrease in driving ever recorded. Compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less -- that's 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT's Federal Highway Administration said y, calling it "the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history." Records have been kept since 1942.

The George W Bush administration plans to launch an air strike against Iran within the next two months, an informed source tells Asia Times Online, echoing other reports that have surfaced in the media in the United States recently. Two key US senators briefed on the attack planned to go public with their opposition to the move, according to the source, but their projected New York Times op-ed piece has yet to appear.

The source, a retired US career diplomat and former assistant secretary of state still active in the foreign affairs community, speaking anonymously, said last week that that the US plans an air strike against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The air strike would target the headquarters of the IRGC's elite Quds force. Asia Times

Britain and other European governments should break from the US over the international embargo on Gaza, former US president Jimmy Carter told the Guardian y. Carter, visiting the Welsh border town of Hay for the Guardian literary festival, described the EU's position on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as "supine" and its failure to criticise the Israeli blockade of Gaza as "embarrassing". . . Carter described western governments' self-imposed ban on talking to Hamas as unrealistic and said everyone knew Israel was negotiating with the organization through an Egyptian mediator, Omar Suleiman. Suleiman took the Hamas ceasefire offer to Jerusalem last week. . . Last night, before a packed crowd at Hay, Carter spoke of his "horror" at America's involvement in torturing prisoners, saying he wanted the next US president to promise never to do so again. He left an intriguing hint that George Bush might even face prosecution on war crimes charges once he left office. When pressed by Philippe Sands QC on Bush's recent admission that he had authorized interrogation procedures widely seen as amounting to torture, Carter replied that he was sure Bush would be able to live a peaceful, "productive life - in our country". Sands, an international legal expert, said afterwards that he understood that to be "clear confirmation" that while Bush would face no challenge in his own country, "what happened outside the country was another matter entirely". Guardian

Most marijuana users who get caught smoking a joint summarily pay a fine, but when an undercover police officer detained Richard E. Cusick and R. Keith Stroup, the two chose instead to challenge the constitutionality of Massachusetts laws banning marijuana for the first time in 30 years. Arrested for sharing a marijuana cigarette at the annual Boston Freedom Rally in September, Cusick and Stroup turned to Harvard Law School professor Charles R. Nesson '60 for legal counsel. Nesson and his clients acknowledged that they had used the illegal drug, and decided upon an unusual defense: they argued that the statute outlawing marijuana in Massachusetts has no "rational basis," and that the jury has the power of jury nullification, or ruling a defendant innocent while recognizing that he or she had violated a law. . . Nesson said he had hoped that several experts-ncluding Lester S. Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus at Harvard Medical School, and Jeffrey A. Miron, director of undergraduate studies in economics—would be allowed to testify to the harmlessness of marijuana. But the defendants were not granted an evidentiary hearing, and the jury found them guilty of marijuana possesion after deliberating briefly. The judge sentenced them to one day in prison, which they had already served the day they were arrested. - Harvard Crimson

Since the number of [Arkansas] drug courts were expanded in 2003, the program has become such a success that legislation is being developed for the 2009 session to add up to two more in eastern Arkansas, a region of the state currently without one, and to add juvenile drug courts. . . Nearly 1,000 people have graduated from the program, according to the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections, and about 1,600 are enrolled in programs across the state. That's 2,600 diverted from the state's chronically overcrowded prisons. The program also saves the state money, according to a recent legislative audit, which found it costs the state $9.96 a day for each participant, while the state spends $54.82 a day for inmates. . . Each drug court has a team that includes the circuit judge, prosecutor, public defender, probation officer and a drug/alcohol counselor. Those selected to participate in drug courts are non-violent offenders who are willing to meet with their probation officer and counselor on a regular basis and take random drug tests. There also are education and employment requirements, and regular court appearances. Any violations of the rules could mean being sent immediately to prison. If successfully completed, participants either have their conviction expunged or avoid charges altogether. Arkansas News

John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, has escaped an attempted citizen's arrest as he appeared at the [London] Hay Festival. Security guards blocked the path of columnist and activist George Monbiot, who tried to make the arrest as Mr Bolton left the stage. . . Mr Monbiot was blocked by two heavily-built security guards at the end of the one-and-a-half hour appearance, before he could serve a "charge sheet" on him. After being released by the guards the columnist - a fierce critic of the 2003 American-led invasion - made a dash through the rain-soaked tented village in a failed attempt to catch up with Mr Bolton. A crowd of about 20 protestors, one dressed in a latex George Bush mask, chanted "war criminal" as Mr Bolton was ushered away. . . A citizen's arrest can be carried out under certain circumstances by a member of the public, if they believe a person had carried out a crime, under the Serious and Organized Crime and Police Act 2005. Telegraph UK

A South American union was born as leaders of the region's 12 nations set out to create a continental parliament. Some see the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, as a regional version of the European Union. Summit host Brazil wants Unasur to help coordinate defense affairs across South America, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez calls it a counterweight to the United States. AP

THE SUCCESSOR TO NAFTA

Recently, [Obama] explicitly endorsed US involvement in the failed drug war in Colombia as well as US involvement in that country's ancient civil war: "For the people of Colombia – who have suffered at the hands of killers of every sort – that means battling all sources of violence. When I am President, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug Program, and update it to meet evolving challenges." Lew Rockwell

Under Frontier Airlines new contract of carriage, the cost of flying with a set of antlers will go up from $75 to$100. Other rules: Antlers or horns must be free of residue; points must be covered and protected. . . Pepper spray, bear spray, mace, or any item containing an irritant or incapacitating substance are accepted in limited quantities. . . One hang glider per passenger. . . Pole vaults accepted on airbus flights only.

2 Comments:

At May 29, 2008 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Proust quote demonstrates why western civiliation will not be producing any more masterpieces. All neuroses are now burned out of the brain with pharmaceuticals.

FoE

 
At May 29, 2008 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I followed the link for the California poll results and saw an interesting item I don't remember seeing covered nationally. Washington state now has a "top two" primary system. There is a single primary which lists all candidates for each office regardless of party. The two highest vote-getters for each office, regardless of party affiliation are the only ones that appear on the ballot for the election. This means two candidates from the same party could end up running against each other. I'm not sure what to make of this. Any thoughts, Sam.

 

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