September 20, 2004

You wanna play mind-crazed banjo on the druggy-drag ragtime U.S.A.?

* The British are leaving. The British Army is expected to cut troop levels in Iraq, beginning at the end of October. excerpt:

"The main British combat force in Iraq, about 5,000-strong, will be reduced by around a third by the end of October during a routine rotation of units.

"The news came amid another day of mayhem in Iraq, which saw a suicide bomber kill at least 23 people and injure 53 in the northern city of Kirkuk. The victims were queueing to join Iraq's National Guard.

"More than 200 people were killed last week in one of the bloodiest weeks since last year's invasion, strengthening impressions that the country is spinning out of control."

* Mark Kleiman reports on drug abuse control policy. excerpt:

"I just finished a four-day seminar with a group of federal judges at which we discussed drug abuse control policy.

"As part of my preparation, I had Kenna Ackley, my research assistant, pull together some numbers. Between 1980 and 2004, the number of drug dealers in state and federal prison is up more than twelvefold, from 24,000 to 325,000. Most of that increase is cocaine dealers.

"Over that same period. the retail price of cocaine is down about 80% in constant dollars, from $535 a gram equivalent in 1980 to $105 today.

"Those numbers convince me of something I wouldn't have believed: that, under U.S. conditions, no practicable level of drug law enforcement can raise the prices of mass-market drugs. (Prohibition itself, along with enough enforcement to avoid having the law become a dead letter, does influence drug prices: pharmaceutical-grade cocaine costs your dentist between $5 and $10 a gram.)" [via
drug war rant]

* This week's top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"5. Donald Rumsfeld
We have an exciting new standard for American foreign policy! In recent weeks various reports have been released revealing the scope of prisoner abuse and torture in Iraq. According to one, 'there have been about 300 allegations of prisoners killed, raped, beaten and subjected to other mistreatment at military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay since the start of the war on terror.' According to another, 'commanding officers and their staffs at various levels failed in their duties and that such failure contributed directly or indirectly to detainee abuse.' But don't worry about it! See, here's what Donald Rumsfeld had to say about the torture scandals last week: 'Has it been harmful to our country? Yes. Is it something that has to be corrected? Yes. Does it rank up there with chopping off someone's head off on television? It doesn't.' And there you have it, folks. As long as something isn't as bad as chopping off someone's head on television, we can do it. Talk about lowering the bar..."

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