Friday, November 21, 2008

BREVITAS

OBAMALAND

LA Times - Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish cabinet. Activists note that most of the candidates for top security posts voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq or otherwise supported launching the war. The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.

Tom Philpott, Grist Mill - The transition named its team members looking at energy and natural resources agencies, which includes USDA. The list includes Michael R. Taylor, a man who spent his career bouncing between the employ of GMO-seed giant Monsanto and Bill Clinton's FDA and USDA. Taylor is widely credited with ushering Monsanto's recombinant bovine growth hormone through the FDA regulatory process and into the milk supply.

Allen St. Pierre, NORML NORML has serious concerns about the choice of Eric Holder as the next Attorney General because he has a long history of opposing drug policy reforms, perceiving cannabis smoking by adults as a public nuisance worthy of constant harassment, promoting violent governmental intervention into the private lives of citizens who consume cannabis, supporting mandatory minimum sentencing and so-called civil forfeiture laws. His attraction to the myth of 'fixing broken windows' and using law enforcement to crack down on petty crimes will swell an already overburdened, bloated, expensive and failed government prohibition against otherwise law-abiding citizens who choose to consume cannabis.

Obama is having a bad effect on at least one other politician. When questioned why he hadn't voted on a controversial confirmation of DC's attorney general, local city councilmember Kwame Brown told Washington's City Paper: "I mean, just like we have a president-elect who made many present votes."

Truth Out Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, announced the creation of what he calls a new "Minerva Consortium," ironically named after the goddess of wisdom, whose purpose is to fund various universities to "carry out social-sciences research relevant to national security." Gates' desire to turn universities into militarized knowledge factories producing knowledge, research and personnel . . . should be of special concern for intellectuals, artists, academics and others who believe that the university should oppose such interests and alignments. At the very least, the emerg nce of the Minerva Consortium raises a larger set of concerns about the ongoing militarization of higher education in the United States.

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Political Wire - If Sen. Hillary Clinton moves on to become Secretary of State in the Obama administration, the buzz in New York has Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) a likely candidate to fill her seat. That might be a good thing for Cuomo since a new Siena Research Institute poll finds Gov. David Paterson (D) beating Cuomo handily in a Democratic primary for governor, 53% to 25%. In general election match ups, Paterson beats Rudy Giuliani (R), 49% to 43%, while Giuliani bests Cuomo, 46% to 44%.

ACTIVISM

Daily Californian - Two months after the last tree came down, three tree-sit protesters were sentenced to five days jail time while another six were sentenced to 50 hours of community service. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Marshall Whitley said on Monday the nine protesters had willfully disobeyed a 2007 court order that declared the protest was not a legal expression of free speech. The tree-sit, protesting the proposed construction of an athletic center west of Memorial Stadium, began in December 2006.

THE MIX

Josh Goodman, Governing - Next year, as legislatures around the country return to work, several will discuss gay marriage. In two states and the District of Columbia, there's a good chance (perhaps a 50-50 chance or better) that gay marriage will pass. If one of these places does legalize gay marriage, it will be the first time a state (or a non-state in D.C.'s case) has taken that step without being ordered by a court to do so.

Progress Report - On ABC's "The View" on Tuesday, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee suggested that, compared to the push for civil rights in the 60s, the gay rights movement hasn't suffered enough violence to be a real issue. "But here is the difference. Bull Connor was hosing people down in the streets of Alabama. John Lewis got his skull cracked on the Selma bridge," he said. Similarly, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins claimed that gay rights and civil rights are "totally different." Tara Wall of the Washington Times wrote that "there is no comparison" between the two rights movements because "blacks were stoned, hung, and dragged for their constitutional right to 'sit at the table.'" But gay people have suffered serious violence. . . A 2007 University of California-Davis study found that nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals "have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation." The violence that LGBT activists face will gain more attention in the upcoming, when "Milk," a film about the first openly gay elected official, is released. Harvey Milk, a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was ultimately killed for his struggle for political equality.

DRUG BUSTS

Oh My Gov - The Prince George's County Council of Maryland, in a desperate and reckless attempt to curb marijuana use among youths, banned the sale of single cigars to thwart the use of their exteriors in rolling marijuana cigars a.k.a blunts, spliffs, and Jamaican jam sessions. Apparently the council, which voted eight to one for the ban, actually thinks limiting the resources for smoking marijuana will somehow miraculously prevent those wanting to imbibe from doing so. Two things come to mind while pondering this bizarre new law. First, "advanced" pot smokers almost always become self-made carpenters, building and discovering new ways to puff the magic dragon. Anything from an Absolute vodka bottle to an apple core can be turned into an effective smoking chamber by these folks. Sure, cigar wrappers are popular and certainly more aesthetically pleasing than say, a hotel shampoo bottle, but the resourcefulness of the youthful pot smoker should not be underrated. Second, banning a product because of its usefulness for something illegal sets a terrible and unconstitutional precedent i.e. slippery slope. Take for example Sudafed. Imagine walking into the pharmacy sounding like Fran Drescher and wanting some nasal relief only to find that Sudafed and about 10 other similar medicines were banned because their active ingredient is used to make methamphetamine. Should your nose have to suffer because others are industrious?

ECO CLIPS

Tree Hugger - The world's first mass-produced plug-in hybrid electric car is being readied for its December release - in China. BYD, a company that first made its reputation as the world's largest maker of cell phone batteries, has announced it will release the F3DM hybrid sedan on December 15. And BYD says it plans to release a version of the car in the US and Europe in 2010 or 2011, just when GM plans to begin selling its own plug-in hybrid, the Chevy Volt. The F3DM - which can be charged using a standard electrical outlet - can switch between a fully electric mode and a hybrid one that uses both electricity and gasoline. BYD says the car can travel as far as 60 miles after one charge in full-electric mode, or longer when also using its small gas tank. The all-electric range of the Chevrolet Volt is only 40 miles.

EMENDATION

Larry Bensky writes to say that we put Harvey Milk in the wrong district: "Ross Mirkarimi, a fine man and a diligent legislator, represents District 5 in San Francisco. Harvey Milk, murdered 30 years ago this month, represented the adjoining district, 8. It's the 30th anniversary of that ghastly time of Jonestown and Milk/ Moscone, which I reported on all too much and too traumatically to ever have these weeks pass by without sadness and loss coming back, even decades later."

FURTHERMORE. . . .

Great Moments in Texas Law - 13 Action 13I Grounds and Conditions Precedent 13k13 k. Persons Entitled to Sue. To have standing, a complainant must have a dog in the hunt; if complainant has no such dog, then complainant cannot object to things occurring in the hunt. Texas Disposal Systems Landfill, Inc. v. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 259 S.W.3d 361 (2008)

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