January 2003

You are browsing the site archives for January 2003.

Fidel Castro got re-elected. He was among 1808 winners in the latest Cuban election, all of whom ran unopposed. The folks who run Cuba apparently expect observers to believe that the lack of opposition in the elections is a sign of solidarity.

My favorite quote:

Castro maintains that Cuba’s elections are more democratic than those of most nations because candidates here do not spend huge amounts of money on campaigns.

I guess people who aren’t familiar with democracy don’t even know enough about it to fake it well.

Others have already mentioned the unfortunate shooting of undercover police officer Lisa Ramsey in Fort Worth. Public accounts are still incomplete, but it looks like she or some other officer made a buy from a crack dealer outside a convenience store then came back when he was inside to arrest him. Not wanting to have her cover blown, she wore a mask. Expecting trouble, she pulled a gun. To the store clerk, she now looked exactly like an armed robber, so he drew his own gun (this was Texas, after all) and shot her.

She’s going to survive, but the doctors expect her to be paralyzed from the waist down.

I’ve always thought it was a bad idea for the police to wear masks. Aside from the police-state ambiance created by anonymous, faceless gun-wielding cops, there’s the real risk of being attacked in self-defense by people who think the cops are badguys because they’re wearing masks. It’s hard to say how often this happens, because usually the cops prevail tactically and kill anyone who shoots at them.

Here’s the part that gets me, from Police Chief Ralph Mendoza:

"I can tell you the officer is a brave officer and a courageous officer."

I have no doubt that this is true. But why is she doing stuff like this, all in the service of the War on Drugs? Why was her bravery and courage expended in such a stupid, stupid way?

Illinois Governor George Ryan is preparing to commute the sentences of most of the inmates on death row. This is probably a good thing, as Illinois has had to free a surprising number of condemned prisoners who later turned out the be almost-certainly innocent. Not just technically not guilty, mind you, but really innocent, as in somebody else did it.

From the Reuters piece:

Ryan said he was sending letters to the families of the condemned inmates as well as to the kin of their alleged victims outlining his decisions.

Even with the questions raised, it seems a little silly for Reuters to use that “alleged” when talking about convicted criminals.

To the two or three of you out there reading this: Sorry. Actual paying work has been occupying so much of my time that I barely have time to keep up with my reading, let along writing something.

The good news is that I’m off of Blogspot. Also, I’m planning to convert all this to an XML based system, just because I think I can.

Even Virginia Postrel’s posting schedule is looking better. Sigh.