November 23, 2004

dance me to the end of love

* The Paris Review has made available online many of their author interviews from the 1950s. Other decades to be added to the website soon, they say.

* Los Angeles Times editorial on the Cruel but not unusual punishment given to marijuana users. excerpt:

"A 25-year-old Utah man sold eight-ounce bags of marijuana on three occasions to an undercover officer. This week he was sentenced to 55 years in prison because he had a pistol strapped to his ankle during the deals.

"That's more time than he would have received if he had hijacked a plane, beaten someone to death in a fight, detonated a bomb in an aircraft and provided weapons to support a foreign terrorist organization. The maximum sentence for all those crimes together is less than the mandatory minimum under federal sentencing rules for a small-time dope dealer carrying a gun. Those federal rules make California's three-strikes law — recently upheld by voters — look mild."

"Weldon Angelos had no criminal record and never brandished the gun or threatened anyone. But although federal sentencing guidelines — which allow for judicial flexibility — recommend 10 years for a crime like his, a separate statute, more recently enacted, sets tougher mandatory minimums for drug felonies involving guns.

"At Angelos' sentencing in Salt Lake City, U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell decried the required 55-year term as so "unjust, cruel and even irrational" that he has appealed to President Bush to commute the sentence and to Congress to modify the law so that its harshest provisions 'apply only to true recidivist drug offenders.'"
"Angelos initially faced only a single gun charge, but when he refused a plea deal that came with a 15-year term, the government loaded his case with four new gun charges. Because federal law limits parole, Angelos will remain behind bars until he is at least 78 years old.

"Outrage is growing in legal circles over the lopsided nature of mandatory terms. A group of 29 former federal judges and prosecutors filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Angelos' case, asking Cassell to reject the mandatory sentence because it violates Angelos' right to due process and constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
"Fairness aside, do we really want to spend $1.3 million to keep someone like Angelos locked up for the rest of his life?"

* Strap-on Veterans for Truth takes on Ann Coulter:

"We are a coalition of former friends and co-workers of Ann Coulter who are upset by her vicious anti-gay, anti-muslim, anti-feminist rhetoric and feel the truth should be told. Our organization, Strap-On Veterans For Truth, is dedicated to exposing the true past of America’s number one hatemonger."


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