aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It’s a boy
Named Samuel David Cheney:
Vice President Dick Cheney is a grandfather for the sixth time.
According to the vice president’s office, Cheney’s daughter, Mary Cheney, 37, and her longtime partner, Heather Poe, welcomed 8 lbs., 6 oz. Samuel David Cheney into the world at 9:46 this morning at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C.
LATER: Andrew Sullivan points to “Christianist” media:
According to reports, Mary’s homosexual partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, “will have no legal relationship with her child. She can’t adopt as a second parent. She won’t have her name on the birth certificate.”
Blow the whistle on the the HMO and pharmaceutical industries
Michael Moore sent out a letter today on his way back from the Sicko premiere in Cannes. A canny marketer he:
At my festival press conference, the only negative word came from the Canadians. Two critics didn’t like all the nice things I said about their health care system. Yes, Canadian health care has its flaws, but when I asked the two critics if they would exchange their health care cards for mine, they said “No!” Of course they wouldn’t. Canadians live longer than we do and their infant mortality is not as high as ours. Their system is underfunded because their leaders have been trying to push for more American-style health care.
The rest of the week has been good and I am now on my way back to the U.S. The New York Post reported Sunday that the Bush administration, in addition to going after me for filming scenes in or near Cuba, may now go after the 9/11 rescue workers I took with me to get the medical care they were denied by our own government. I couldn’t make up irony like this if I wanted to, and I will do whatever is necessary to defend the human right of these true American heroes to receive the medical attention they deserve.
We’ve also received word that the HMO and pharmaceutical industries are gearing up to fight “Sicko.” We received so many great whistleblower letters while we were making the movie from employees of these companies. We’d like to hear from you again! Send us the internal memos and any other plans you run across at the company copying machine or internet server. It will help to stay ahead of whatever they are up to, and it will also give us a chance for a bit of fun at the industry’s expense.
Exposing the plea bargain racket
You may know that I’d like to see all police interrogations videotaped. Thus, my gut wants to see all plea bargains published.
There are three “rats of the week” on the home page of whosarat.com, a Web site devoted to exposing the identities of witnesses cooperating with the government. The site posts their names and mug shots, along with court documents detailing what they have agreed to do in exchange for lenient sentences. [...]
Federal prosecutors are furious, and the Justice Department has begun urging the federal courts to make fundamental changes in public access to electronic court files by removing all plea agreements from them - whether involving cooperating witnesses or not.
“We are witnessing the rise of a new cottage industry engaged in republishing court filings about cooperators on Web sites such as http://www.whosarat.com for the clear purpose of witness intimidation, retaliation and harassment,” a Justice Department official wrote in a December letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the administrative and policy-making body of the federal court system.
“The posting of sensitive witness information,” the letter continued, “poses a grave risk of harm to cooperating witnesses and defendants.”
In one case described in the letter, a witness in Philadelphia was moved and the F.B.I. was asked to investigate after material from whosarat.com was mailed to his neighbors and posted on utility poles and cars in the area.
I see the reasonable argument that posting witness info can be abused. Dangerously. But the reasonable counter-argument is a strong one too:
Defense lawyers are, in fact, hungry for any information about the nature of the case against their clients. “The more information out there, the easier it is for the truth to come out at trial,” said David O. Markus, a criminal defense lawyer in Miami. [...]
Eliminating electronic access to plea agreements and related documents would represent a real hardship, Mr. Markus said.
“It doesn’t advance any of the stated safety goals, and it just serves as a roadblock to the public’s constitutional right to access to their court,” Mr. Markus said. “If there is an issue in a particular case, then let’s address it, but to sweep everything under the rug isn’t right.”
I like case by case. And I’m glad for us to learn the difference and distinguish between “public” as in “not secret” and “public” as in “made easily accessible to the world.”
The article reports that a federal judge in Miami has blocked electronic access, arguing that it’s still available by going to the courthouse. That may be the way forward. Or it may be the proverbial camel’s nose under the government’s information lock-down tent.
Another route might be for the government to see the light and put up its own site for free (whosearat charges) that does redact for a limited time or in delineated fashion on a case by case basis as approved by a judge.
Call me jaded but I don’t expect either the proposed I-3 (which I might oppose) or I-14 (which I might support) to ever be built. We’re not willing to spend the money needed to maintain the highways we have so where will we find money for these new ones? (Though they’re using military arguments for I-3, “the Third Infantry Division highway,” and God knows we’re willing to spend like drunken sailors on anything military!)
Yesterday’s Knoxville News Sentinel had an update on the proposed I-3 project, which would create a $50 billion, 450 mile interstate highway from Savannah, GA, to Knoxville, TN where it would connect to I-75. Here’s an AP report. Here is KNS’s map of the proposed route.
Environmental groups oppose it because it runs through the wild, undeveloped Southern Appalachians in North Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, skirting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are also concerns about traffic and pollution in Knoxville, where two major U.S. Interstates (I-75 and I-40)already intersect, fed by I-81, another major U.S. Interstate. [...]
Neither recent news article mentions an important fact, though. Maybe I’m missing something, but Savannah already has an Interstate highway route all the way to Knoxville by way of I-95, I-26, and I-40. According to MapQuest, the existing, all-Interstate route is only 419 miles, downtown to downtown, as opposed to the $50 billion, 450 mile proposed route.
Not only is I-3 not needed, and not only will it wreck portions of the Southern Appalachian ecosystem, it appears that it is nothing more than a massive $50 billion boondoggle for road builders and land speculators. Why we’re spending $1.3 million to study it is beyond me.
For more info, see StopI-3.org.
In the scheme of things $1.3 million is nothing, another signal to me that this highway ain’t happening. Now.
It will be interesting to watch how this plays out:
Neither Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire nor Bishop Martyn Minns of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans in North America have been asked to attend the next Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury. The conference is scheduled for next summer in England.
The communion’s secretary-general, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, spoke at a briefing for reporters in London, and his remarks were later distributed.
In the invitation sent Tuesday to more than 850 Anglican and Episcopal bishops, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the 77-million-member communion, said he had decided to forgo invitations to Robinson and Minns so that the meeting would focus on holding the increasingly fractious fellowship together.
Including bishops “whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the communion” would hurt efforts to create trust, Williams said.
But Robinson, whose 2003 consecration as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop caused an uproar with conservative church members in the U.S. and abroad, may be asked to attend the conference as a guest, Kearon said.
He said there was no question that Robinson had been properly elected as a bishop according to Episcopal Church rules. The 2.3-million-member church is the American branch of the Anglican Communion.