Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 3rd, 2007

When sentences are NOT excessive

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Hilzoy, at Obsidian Wings:

So I asked myself: self, if George W. Bush is so worried about excessive sentences, how has he acted in previous cases in which a sentence might seem excessive? Herewith, some examples, which I’ll put below the fold. Here’s the short version: Serving twelve years for a rape that DNA testing shows you didn’t commit does not get you a pardon. Being represented by a lawyer who slept through large chunks of the trial does not get you a pardon. Being convicted of murder in proceedings that a court-appointed special master describes as “”a breakdown of the adversarial process” caused by the incompetence of your lawyer does not get you a pardon, even when someone else confesses on tape to the murder you were convicted of. Likewise, when someone else confesses to the murder you were convicted of and you ask for a stay of execution in order to conduct tests that will establish your innocence, no dice. And when you are unquestionably incompetent to assist in your own defense but no one seems to take that fact into account, or tells the jury, that’s just too bad. None of these sentences are in any way excessive, as far as George W. Bush is concerned.

But when you are Scooter Libby, convicted of four felony charges, and you face thirty months in jail, that’s excessive.

If anyone wants to do their part to reduce sentences that really are excessive, you make a contribution to the Innocence Project here, and think of Scooter while you give.

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Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 7:48 pm

Bad news for garlic lovers

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From Slashfood:

 Gilroy is a California town that I’ve thought of as garlic central for as long as I can remember. Even though the self-dubbed garlic capital will hold its annual Garlic Festival this year complete with a Garlic Idol singing contest, there’s not much to celebrate these days in the land of the stinking rose.

California growers have been grappling with rising imports of Chinese garlic since the early 90s. Last year garlic from China outsold garlic from California. Growers in California hope recent safety concerns about Chinese imports will spur shoppers to buy their bulbs instead of the imported ones. They’re also banking on taste. After a blind taste test Executive Chef Bernard Guillas of the Marine Room restaurant in San Diego raved “Wow! California garlic rocks!” It’s a view shared by my brother, Tony, who prefers to grow his own in Orinda, Calif., rather than buy supermarket garlic. Blogger Musafir says he started seeing Chinese garlic at all his local supermarkets and described it as flavorless. He doesn’t take such a rosy view on the Chinese garlic issue: he called his post “Death Knell for Gilroy Garlic.”

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Food

Peculiar disparity for “justice”

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No, not about Libby not having to serve any time simply because Bush was afraid Libby would start to co-operate if he experienced imprisonment. This is about the weird “system” of drug laws in the US:

LIFE SENTENCES: COLLATERAL SANCTIONS
ASSOCIATED WITH MARIJUANA OFFENSES

A report by the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
(Ver. 1, published July 2, 2007)

Quick Summary:

In addition to the punishment imposed by the judge, a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana can trigger automatic bars on educational aid, a bar on serving as a foster parent, denial of federal housing assistance, revocation or suspension of occupational licenses, and suspension of one’s driver’s license. A felony conviction (for example, growing a marijuana plant) can result in all of these sanctions, and more.

If marijuana offenses are considered less of an affront to civil society than violent crimes such as murder, rape, or kidnapping, or even less of an affront than other drug offenses, our study shows that this consideration is rarely found in any of the collateral sanctions. A person convicted of growing marijuana (a felony in most states) is often subjected to the same, and sometimes greater, collateral sanctions than a person convicted of murder, rape, or robbery

This report examines these sanctions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and ranks the jurisdictions in order or severity. The report’s table of contents is below, with links to each section.

Report: Download Report Narrative [282 kb pdf] (does not include appendices)

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Marijuana Misdemeanors & Felonies
  • Marijuana Crimes & Collateral Sanctions: A Summary of Our Findings
  • Policy Recommendations
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

Appendices:

  • Explanatory Note: Scope & Methodology [Downloads 102 kb pdf]
  • Appendix A lists the states according to the severity of their collateral sanctions for marijuana convictions, showing Florida as the most severe, and New Mexico as the least severe. [Downloads 64 kb pdf]
  • Appendix B lists the states in alphabetical order, noting their overall level of severity, and a further breakdown according to the three categories of Family Life, Professional Life, and Civic Life. [Downloads 66 kb pdf]
  • Appendix C provides a summary of each state’s sanctions in column format according to a misdemeanor conviction versus a felony conviction. This table is a very useful reference for judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys seeking a summary of the collateral sanctions triggered by a misdemeanor or felony marijuana conviction. [Downloads 3.2 mb pdf]
  • Appendix D is a detailed explanation of each state’s collateral sanctions, including legal citations.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Government

From the Harvard Med School: diabetes & heart disease

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Just got this in an email. Good reminder:

 9 ways to protect your heart from diabetes

Diabetes and heart disease often go hand in hand. Here’s how you can uncouple them.

Diabetes and heart disease were once thought to be entirely unrelated disorders. New thinking suggests that they may actually spring from the same underlying cause — chronic, systemwide inflammation — or at least be influenced by it. This intertwining is a bad thing, since developing diabetes usually means developing heart disease as well. It also has a silver lining: Protecting yourself against one of these chronic conditions works against the other, too.

More than one million Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes each year. Traditionally, up to 80% of people with diabetes develop some form of cardiovascular disease, from heart attack and stroke to peripheral artery disease and heart failure.

The connection between the two diseases isn’t ironclad. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association have joined forces to fight both heart disease and diabetes. Their latest effort focuses on helping people with diabetes whose hearts seem healthy keep them that way.

As you scan the tips below, remember that almost every recommendation is good for diabetes as well as heart disease.

1. Know your risk

Goal: Knowledge is power. Calculate your risk of heart disease, or ask your doctor to do it.
Getting there: The Framingham calculator is a general heart disease–risk estimator. Specific ones for people with diabetes have been developed by two diabetes groups.

2. Exercise
Goal: Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (like walking) or 90 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Getting there: If you do just one thing on this list, choose exercise. It is a key to controlling blood sugar, strengthens the heart and lungs, improves blood pressure, corrects out-of-whack cholesterol, and has other beneficial effects.

3. Control your weight
Goal: If your weight is in the healthy range, work to keep it there. If you are overweight, try to lose 5% to 7% of your weight over the next 12 months. (That’s about a pound a month for someone weighing 200 pounds.)
Getting there: Cutting out just one 12-ounce can of sugared soda a day (150 calories) is enough to help you lose a pound a month. You can easily double that by burning more calories with exercise.

4. Improve your diet
Goals: Cut back on unhealthy fats: Lower saturated fat to under 7% of calories (about 17 grams), and keep trans fat intake as close to zero as possible.
Add more unsaturated fats from fish, grains, and vegetable oils.
Include at least 30 grams of fiber a day.
Watch the salt — reduce your intake to under 2,500 milligrams a day.
Choose whole grains and other slowly digested carbohydrates.
Getting there: The foods you eat can help you control blood sugar and protect your arteries. The main strategy is to get more fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, fish, and vegetable oils (especially olive oil), and less fast food, salty or fried food, and rapidly digested carbohydrates. There is no one-size-fits-all “diabetes diet.” The American Diabetes Association released a comprehensive set of nutrition recommendations in January 2007. But rather than trying to wade through these, ask your doctor to refer you to a nutritionist.

5. Lower your blood pressure
Goal: A healthy blood pressure is 120/80 or below. If you have high blood pressure, aim for a systolic pressure of 130 or lower and a diastolic pressure of 80 or lower.
Getting there: Measure your blood pressure often; home monitors are a good investment. If it is above the goal, try exercise, the DASH diet, and, if needed, weight loss, smoking cessation, or medications.

6. Control your cholesterol
Goal: Aim for and LDL under 100 mg/dL, an HDL above 40 mg/dL, and triglycerides under 150 mg/dL.
Getting there: A healthful diet and exercise can do a lot to reverse risky lipid levels. A cholesterol-lowering statin can help protect against heart attack and stroke even when LDL levels are near the recommended goal. Niacin or a fibrate can improve HDL and triglyceride levels.

7. Quit smoking

Goal: If you smoke, try to stop. Avoid secondhand smoke whenever possible.
Getting there: The most effective quitting strategy includes talk therapy plus nicotine replacement therapy along with drugs such as bupropion (generic, Wellbutrin, Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix).

8. Control your blood sugar
Goal: Aim for hemoglobin A1c to be at least under 7% and, ideally, as close to 6% as possible without causing bouts of low blood sugar.
Getting there: Managing carbohydrate intake and switching to whole grains can help ease the blood sugar roller coaster. Exercise is vitally important. Use medications such as metformin, thiazolidinediones, and insulin as needed.

9. Prevent clots
Goal: Take a low-dose aspirin (75–162 milligrams) every day unless your doctor tells you not to.
Getting there: Aspirin prevents platelets from latching onto each other, an early step in clot formation. Preventing clots helps prevent heart attack and stroke.

For more information on controlling diabetes, order our Special Health Report, Healthy Eating for Type 2 Diabetes.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 3:06 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health, Medical

Cool zoom to a nebula

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Watch this video!

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 9:46 am

Posted in Science

Comments from The Progress Report

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A few comments extracted from their story:

… “I respect the jury’s verdict,” Bush said in a statement yesterday. “But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive.” This explanation “only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk,” the New York Times opines. As governor of Texas, Bush infamously joked about the impending execution of Karla Faye Tucker, a killer who became a born-again Christian on death row. (“Please don’t kill me,” Bush whimpered to a reporter while imitating Tucker, “his lips pursed in mock desperation.”) As president, Bush has repeatedly put himself and his administration above the law, on matters from torture and warrantless domestic spying to congressional oversight and the use of signing statements. Bush’s treatment of Libby’s sentence is extraordinarily rare by his own standards. “Bush has granted fewer pardons — 113 — than any president in the past 100 years, while denying more than 1,000 requests.” In addition, Bush has “denied more than 4,000 commutation requests, and hundreds of requests for pardons and commutations are still pending.”

… Bush’s claim that Libby’s sentence was “excessive” doesn’t hold water. As Fitzgerald pointed out yesterday, “this case was imposed pursuant to the laws governing sentencings which occur every day throughout this country.” In this case, a federal judge appointed by Bush “considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws,” Fitzgerald wrote. “It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals.” Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman, an “expert on federal criminal sentencing policies,” said Bush’s excuse is “hypocritical and appalling from a president whose Justice Department is always fighting” attempts by judges and lawmakers to lower the punishment called for under federal sentencing guidelines. Berman said Bush’s message amounted to, “My friend Scooter shouldn’t have to serve 30 months in prison because I don’t want him to.”

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino stated in June that Bush was “not going to intervene” in Libby’s case; Bush later promised not to intrude until Libby’s appeal process had been exhausted. Yet Bush stepped in as soon as it became clear that Libby would have to begin a prison sentence. “With the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent,” Bush said, “I believe it is now important to react.” Margaret Colgate Love, who served as Justice Department pardon attorney from 1990 to 1997 called Bush’s action “very unusual” and recalled that her office would not consider applications for a commutation “unless the person had already started serving his sentence.” Indeed, Bush’s decision came “without a formal request from Libby or consultation with the Justice Department.” Subsequently, it “seemed to catch Justice Department officials, and even some of Bush’s closest aides, off guard. At the Justice Department, several senior officials were on their way out of the building shortly before 6 p.m. when news flashed on their Blackberries. They were floored.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 9:11 am

Glenn Greenwald on the “pardon”

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And in fact it is a pardon, in all but name. Libby will not pay the fine—his defense fund will. Libby expressed no remorse, and now will serve not time. He walks. Glenn Greenwald:

That Lewis Libby has been protected by George Bush from the consequences of his crimes only highlights how corrupt and broken our political system is. It reveals nothing new. This is the natural, inevitable outgrowth of our rancid political culture, shaped and slavishly defended by our Beltway ruling class and our serious, sober opinion-making elite.

The disasters and rampant lawlessness and fundamental erosion of our country’s political values and institutions are exactly what Fred Hiatt and David Broder and Time Magazine and Tim Russert and Tom Friedman and the New Republic geniuses have spent the last six years protecting, enabling and defending. We have the country we have — one in which our most powerful political leaders are literally beyond the reach of the law in every sense, where we casually invade and bomb and occupy countries that have not attacked us, where our moral standing in the world has collapsed with good reason, where we are viewed on every continent in the world as a rogue, dangerous and lawless nation — because we are ruled by a Beltway elite and political press that is sickly and cowardly and slavish at its core.

That Dick Cheney’s top aide, one of the most well-connected neoconservatives on the planet, is protected from the consequences of his felonies ought to be anything but surprising. That is the country that we have. It is a result that is completely consistent with the “values” that define official Washington. No other outcome was possible.

The Plame investigation was urged by the Bush CIA and commenced by the Bush DOJ, Libby’s conviction pursued by a Bush-appointed federal prosecutor, his jail sentence imposed by a Bush-appointed “tough-on-crime” federal judge, all pursuant to harsh and merciless criminal laws urged on by the “tough-on-crime/no-mercy” GOP. Lewis Libby was sent to prison by the system constructed and desired by the very Republican movement protesting his plight.

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Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 9:03 am

Yetch. Shopping carts!

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From a list of 10 things the grocery store doesn’t talk about:

1. The shopping carts have cooties.

According to studies done on shopping carts, more than 60 percent of them are harboring coliform bacteria (the sort more often associated with public toilet seats). “These bacteria may be coming from raw foods or from children who sit in the carts,” says Chuck Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at University of Arizona. “Just think about the fact that a few minutes ago, some kid’s bottom was where you are now putting your broccoli.” According to studies done by Gerba and his colleagues at University of Arizona, shopping carts had more bacteria than other surfaces they tested—even more than escalators, public phones and public bathrooms. To avoid picking up nasty bacteria, Gerba recommends using sanitizing wipes to clean off cart handles and seats, and to wash your hands after you finish shopping.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 8:49 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

Fresh lemon

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Today I used Honeybee Spa’s Fresh Lemon, a fragrance that I requested initially, now a proud part of the Honeybee Sue line of shaving soaps. The Simpsons Harvard 3 Best worked up an immediate excellent lather, and the 1940s Gillette Aristocrat provided an excellent shave. That really is a fine razor—has none of the meekness of the Tech and Super Speed.

The finish was with Acqua di Parma aftershave, which I brought home from San Francisco yesterday—a brief stop at Nieman-Marcus. Very nice fragrance.

And my coffee is in a new red mug thanks to an impromptu Starbucks stop while we were looking for a gas station: red, with gold trim around the lip, and just short of a pint.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2007 at 7:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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