Sunday, June 30, 1996

Now for real news, did you notice the LA Times reference yesterday to a Topless Traffic School?

And did you see Scalia's dissent, joined by Justice Pubic Hair as always, on the right to free political speech by independent government contractors, where he said that there was a traditional right to reward your friends and punish your enemies?

Saturday, June 22, 1996

Supreme Court rules 5-4 that a death sentence can't be set aside simply because the prosecutor introduced new evidence, after telling the defence he wouldn't, in the *sentencing* phase, accusing the defendant of a whole new murder for which he was never charged.

The Great Beef War of 1996 ends with a total capitulation by John Major. The British secret strategy was to delay negotiations until lunchtime, so that the always-hunger Helmut Kohl would want them wrapped up quickly.

People who are no help at all: the Saudi dissident that Britain tried unsuccessfully to deport to Dominica because the Saudis threatened their business deals--and amazingly this was cited by the British government as sufficient reason to do it--well, he may now be charged under the race relations act or whatever else they can think of, for calling for the annihilation of all Jews (well, Al Masari says he just meant all the Jews in Israel, so that's all right then).

Another day, another proposed Amendment to the US Constitution. This one a victims' bill of rights sort of thing, allowing the victims to be notified of prison releases, escapes and be present at all phases of the trial, even when testifying themselves. And for a speedy trial, even if this violates the defendant's right to due process. Sponsored by our own Senator Di Fi, supported by Clinton.

The US frees Haitian death squad leader Emmanuel Constant without
deporting him back to Haiti, citing concern for the overburdened Haitian courts and prison system, and not having anything to do with his CIA links at all, no sirree bob.

The RSPCA had to change its constitution because it was being covertly infiltrated by hunters wanting to change its position against hunting.

Some guy in Lincolnshire paid 10,000 pounds for a Russian Scud missile for his front garden.

Friday, June 14, 1996

While 7 Supreme Court justices accepted that there is a common law right of privacy for patients of psychiatrists, Scalia said that people would be better off talking to their mommies, but there is no mother-child privilege.

The Southern Baptist convention has voted both to boycott Disneyland for giving benefits to gay partners of its employees, and to try to convert Jews. I've tried like hell and I can't think of a funny way to connect the 2. There will be a virtual prize (like a prize, but not actually existent) for the best joke. Void where prohibited.

So I'm reading the Supreme Court decisions rejecting all these black districts. What's interesting is less that they consider race valid as a criterion (hey, if you had to work with Clarence Thomas every day, you'd have second thoughts about affirmative action too!), than the valid criteria mentioned in the decision. It's ok to gerrymander for political reasons, for example to protect incumbents (i.e., not having 2 incumbents run against each other). I must have missed the jobs-for-life clause in the Constitution. Drawing up districts on party affiliation lines is also ok. Silly me, I thought we had elections to determine the party make-up of Congress. If that is the case, then surely party affiliation is the least appropriate criterion for redistricting. Stevens, in the sort of dissent that makes you wish Brennan or Marshall were still on the court, notes that strange-shaped districts are banned only to facilitate minority voters, not white ones.

The Supreme Court also found valid in upholding the reduction in the sentences of the cops who beat up Rodney King the criterion that they had been found innocent in the local trial. Assuming that you accept the bizarre presumption that the federal trial wasn't double jeopardy because it was a different jurisdiction ("Well, we couldn't convict them at the state or federal level, let's try them in their waste management district, then the water district..."), surely the results of one trial shouldn't be used to change the sentence in a trial where a different decision was reached. Should hung juries count? Are we just taking the average of innocent + guilty? They also got time off for being cops and therefore in greater risk in prison. By that standard, child rapists should all get reduced sentences....

Thursday, June 13, 1996

Horror story of the week

Several decades ago (the story is unclear), presumably around the same time the Australian government was stealing Aborigine children, it was doing the same for illegitimate ones. Certainly dozens, maybe thousands. The mothers were told that they'd died, or were drugged, or tricked into signing papers, and the babies taken away for adoption.

Wednesday, June 12, 1996

Manners are everything

New York Times story: "An Ethiopian man who hijacked a German jetliner to NY in 1993 was sentenced to 20 years in prison after a judge rejected his assertion that the hijacking was justified because his visa application to the United States had been denied. The man, Nebiu Demeke, said, "I was forced to hijack the plane and I hijacked it politely."

Sunday, June 09, 1996

The Antiterrorism Act passed last month included a finding that international terrorism is more dangerous to the US than pollution or population growth. It also says that the gov should use covert action and military force to destroy terrorist infrastructure abroad--a sort of Tonkin Gulf resolution for the '90s.

China will join the nuclear test ban treaty when it is quite done exploding nuclear bombs, evidently having given up on using nukes for tunnelling and abandoning the planet to killer asteroids. The small print says that they also want to ban any high-tech monitoring of compliance with the test ban.

One of the preconditions for fair elections in Bosnia not yet in place is some form of nation-wide media. Serbs say that their communications infrastructure was too badly damaged by the war for them to participate. In the meantime, there is Pale TV, which just announced its scoop, that NATO used low-intensity nuclear weapons in last year's air strikes on Serb positions. Pale TV also says that the war crimes tribunal tortured a Serb general, and when a UN spokesman held a press conference in Pale to condemn the beating and torture of 7 Muslim prisoners, they cut out that bit and claimed that he called the Muslims terrorists.

In 1961 the CIA started sending Vietnamese agents into North Vietnam. The project was taken over by the Joint Chiefs in 1964. The agents had a way of not coming back, and the military started declaring them dead in 1965, and lying to their families: over 200 people they knew were not dead. Many of them are now in the US after 15 years or more of Vietnamese prison, and they'd like their back pay now, $2,000 per year, without interest. The US is resisting this in court, saying that secret contracts for covert operations are unenforceable (a 1875 Supreme Court case denied back pay to a Union spy from the Civil War), so we don't have to pay.

Tuesday, June 04, 1996

Go team!

Competing to replace Bob Dole as Senate majority leader, are two
Mississippians, Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, who also have in common a) silly names beginning with T, b) they were both cheerleaders at Old, pardon me, Ole Miss.