Wednesday, August 22, 2007


All the news...

Good batch of short news items. List ’em. Quick blog. Sentence fragments. Deal.

Two Senators Call for New Leader in Iraq

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, after completing a two-day tour of Iraq, said Monday that the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki should be voted from office because it has proved incapable of reaching the political compromises required to end violence there.

The Democratic chairman, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, and the committee’s ranking Republican, Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, who traveled to Iraq together, issued a joint statement that was only slightly more temperate than Mr. Levin’s remarks. They warned that in the view of politicians in Washington, and of the American people, “time has run out” on attempts to forge a political consensus in Baghdad.

OK, two things here:
  1. Do we really think it’s the PM’s fault? Do we really think that anyone can, at this point, fix the mess we’ve inflicted on them?
  2. And how many foreign politicians have called for a new leader in the US over the last six years, hm?

Venezuela: A Decree for the Clocks

Moved by claims that it will help the metabolism and productivity of his fellow citizens, President Hugo Chávez said clocks would be moved forward by half an hour at the start of 2008. He announced the change on his Sunday television program, accompanied by his highest-ranking science adviser, Héctor Navarro, the minister of science and technology. “This is about the metabolic effect, where the human brain is conditioned by sunlight,” Mr. Navarro said in comments reported by Venezuela’s official news agency. Mr. Chávez said he was “certain” that the time change, which would be accompanied by a move to a six-hour workday, would be accepted.
Um. Of course it will be accepted; Mr Chávez is essentially a dictator. I dunno... I had to enjoy Mr Chávez at the UN, with the whole “Diablo” and smelling the sulphur thing, but the guy really is nuts. If we thought our Congress was touched in the head for changing daylight saving time rules, well, that has nothing on this cockamamie plan.

France: Sarkozy Seeks Tough Pedophile Rules

President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a halt to early prison release for some pedophiles after a 5-year-old boy was said to be raped by a repeat sex offender who had been prescribed Viagra by a prison doctor a month before his release. The authorities said the boy was kidnapped from his home in northern Roubaix on Wednesday and molested by the convicted pedophile, Francis Evrard, 61. Convicted three times, he was released from prison last month. “Everything must be put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Mr. Sarkozy told reporters. After a meeting with top ministers, he said he had asked his justice minister to include a measure preventing early release of some pedophiles in a set of prisons laws to be presented in Parliament in November. He also proposed secure prison hospitals solely for sex offenders and panels of medical experts that would have to decide that offenders were no longer dangerous before they could be granted release.
I saw longer and more detailed coverage of this, of course, on the France 2 news. Critics say that they’re really setting up a hidden life sentence, and there’s some validity to that. Perhaps they should just admit that and codify it. I’ve often said that our sex-offender registry laws are unfair, and give released criminals no real chance to make their lives right. We need to either declare that they’ve served their time and are free to live their lives, or deem them unsafe and not let them go. The latter is a tough choice and has to come with a lot of oversight, but I think it’s the right approach and is better than having them run out of town on a rail for the rest of their lives... or having them do it again.

Senator Threatens to Charge White House With Contempt

A leading Democrat threatened on Monday to pursue contempt charges against the White House next month over its response to a subpoena for internal documents on the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program.

“Time is up,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’ve waited long enough.”

No, we’ve waited way too long. The Prez and his cohorts have shown unmatched contempt for Congress all along, and it’s long past time to call them on it and to prosecute them for it. Enough threats, Senator Leahy. Do it. Now.

Policeman Is Convicted of Beating Companion

A police captain who admitted having a forbidden affair with an officer under his command was convicted yesterday of brutally beating her on a Greenwich Village street.


In the confrontation that led to the trial, Captain Sanchez dragged Officer Gandarilla out of a retirement party at a restaurant on Broadway last Sept. 1, forced her into her car and punched and kicked her, because he thought she had been flirting with another officer, the prosecution said.

It’s very good to see this conviction. I believe that the vast majority of police officers are competent professionals, and most do their jobs well. That said, it’s a job that tends to select for aggressive people with a need to wield power, and on top of that it adds levels of stress that are hard for the rest of us to understand. It’s critically important that we make sure those entrusted with that power remain stable, and control their anger and aggressiveness. When they don’t, our response must be quick and decisive. (Compounding matters, Captain Sanchez isn’t just a line officer; he’s in middle management, holding greater responsibility.)

He faces up to a year in jail at his sentencing on Oct. 18. For now, he is on modified duty and could face departmental disciplinary charges and possible dismissal, according to a police spokesman.
“Possible” dismissal? A conviction like this should come with automatic dismissal. No one convicted of such action belongs on the police force.

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