Archive for September 11th, 2008
Like Atrios, I’d stayed away from the rape kits story because some of the details seemed shaky and it was explosive enough to ignore until it firmed up. Now it has. Eight years ago, the Alaskan Legislature had to pass a bill that banned towns from charging rape victims for the kits used to prove the crime and capture the perpetrator. These kits cost between $300 and $1,200 a piece, and are an essential portion of the investigation. There was only one town in the state doing this: Wasilla, where Sarah Palin was mayor. This was the same town that received tens of millions of dollars in pork, and had the money to hire a high-priced lobbying firm to bring in yet more. Shame Ted Stevens couldn’t appropriate some money so rape victims weren’t hit with a $1,000 bill.
Important fact from the news story:
In 2000, there were 497 rapes reported in Alaska, FBI statistics show. That’s a rate of 79.3 per 100,000 residents, the highest in the nation.
- In a broad and long-term sense, would you have responded differently to the attacks of 9/11?
- Is Iraq a democracy?
- What’s the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?
- What is your preferred plan for peace between Israel and Palestine? A two state solution? What about Jerusalem?
- How do you feel about French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent visit to Syria? Do you believe the United States should negotiate with leaders like President Bashar al-Assad?
- Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population lives in China and India. Who are those countries’ leaders?
- Do you support the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which would lift restrictions on sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, a country which hasn’t signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty?
- Other than more drilling, what steps do you suggest the U.S. take in order to move toward energy independence? Do you believe more investment is needed in alternative energy research? If so, how would you recommend this funding be allocated?
- How would you balance concerns over human rights and freedom in China with the United States’ growing economic interdependence with that country?
- What’s more important: securing Russia’s cooperation on nuclear proliferation and Iran, or supporting Georgia’s NATO bid? If Vladimir Putin called you on the phone and said, “It’s one or the other,” what would you tell him?
- Critique the foreign policy of the last administration. Name its single greatest success, and its most critical failure.
- What do you think will be the most defining foreign-policy issue in the next five years?
- What role should the United States play in the global effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS? Should it support contraception, or abstinence only?
- You’ve said that the federal government spends too much money. What, in your view, is the appropriate level of spending as a percentage of GDP?
- You’re an advocate of reducing environmental restrictions on drilling. How much oil needs to be found in the United States before the country achieves energy independence?
- What are your picks for the three most enlightening books written on foreign policy in the last five years?
- Who among the world’s leaders can be listed as the top three friends of the United States and why?
- In your opinion, which U.S. president was the most successful world leader and why?
- Which U.S. political thinkers, writers, and politicians would you enlist to advise you on matters of foreign policy and why?
- Who is the first world leader you’d like to meet with and why?
Maybe there’s hope. Anita Ramasastry explains:
For some airline passengers, the no-fly list has been a continuous nightmare. Being on the list can mean being detained at airports and subjected to extensive questioning and searches. Meanwhile, getting off the list has often proved difficult or impossible.
Initially, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which administers the list, had no procedures in place for those who asserted they were wrongly listed. Over time, the TSA has offered varying processes that travelers have found confusing, opaque, and cumbersome. Moreover, it has been unclear where passengers whom the TSA turns down can go for help.
Fortunately, relief may finally be in sight – thanks to a lawsuit brought by a former Stanford graduate student from Malaysia, Rahinah Ibrahim. Ibrahim sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the TSA in federal court after she was told she was on the list, handcuffed, and detained by California law enforcement.
Recently, Ibrahim gained a victory in the suit: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled, 2-1, that a traveler can ask a federal trial court to decide whether her name should be included on the list and whether being listed violates her civil or constitutional rights.
In this column, I’ll explain why I believe this ruling was correct, and why it will have a lasting impact on the rights of travelers who seek redress, hoping to clear their names for good. …
As both a U.S. Attorney and Member of Congress, I defended drug prohibition. But it has become increasingly clear to me, after much study, that our current strategy has not worked and will not work. The other candidates for president prefer not to address this issue, but ignoring the failure of existing policy exhibits both a poverty of thought and an absence of political courage. The federal government must turn the decision on drug policy back to the states and the citizens themselves.
My change in perspective might shock some people, but leadership requires a willingness to assess evidence and recognize when a strategy is not working. We are paying far too high a price for today’s failed policy to continue it simply because it has always been done that way.
It is obvious that, like Prohibition’s effort to eradicate alcohol usage, drug prohibition has not succeeded. Despite enormous law enforcement efforts — including the dedicated service of many thousands of professional men and women — the government has not halted drug use. Indeed, the problem is worse today than in 1972, when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase “War on Drugs.”
Whether we like it or not, tens of millions of Americans have used and will continue to use drugs. Yet in 2005 we spent more than $12 billion on federal drug enforcement efforts. Another $30 billion went to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.
These people must live forever with the scarlet letter P for prison. Only luck saved even presidents and candidates for president from bearing the same mark, which would have disqualified them from not only high political office, but also many more commonplace jobs.
The federal drug laws affect even those who have never smoked (or inhaled!) a marijuana cigarette. One of the lessons I learned while serving in Congress is how power tends to concentrate in Washington, and how that concentration of power begets more power and threatens individual liberty. The ever-expanding drug war is a perfect illustration of this principle.
By the time I realized I was at the center of the conflict it was too late. The bombs and tear gas were exploding all around me and cops were screaming at everyone to go south toward the bridge. I yelled to one cop “I’m media! Where do I go?!” but he pointed his rubber bullet gun at me and yelled “Go to the fucking bridge!” It was utter chaos. The police were throwing gas and bombs in between the bridge and people being told to go to the bridge. Poor aim? Amid the mayhem I managed to click away a few frames, but I couldn’t help but notice what was going on. They had surrounded the area and were corralling what seemed like 300 people, including a large number of media and legal observers, onto the bridge for a mass arrest.
If you aren’t creeped out by what has been going on these past two weeks in America, you are not paying attention.
This really pegs the stupid meter:
He explains all the district’s hydrants, including those in Alexander Ranch, have had their water turned off since just after 9/11 — something a trade association spokesman tells us is common practice for rural systems.”These hydrants need to be cut off in a way to prevent vandalism or any kind of terrorist activity, including something in the water lines,” Hodges said.
But Hodges says fire departments know, or should have known, the water valves can be turned back on with a tool.
One, fires are much more common than terrorism — keeping fire hydrants on makes much more sense than turning them off. Two, what sort of terrorism is possible using working fire hydrants? Three, if the water valves can be “turned back on with a tool,” how does turning them off prevent fire-hydrant-related terrorism?
More and more, it seems as if public officials in this country have simply gone insane.