Wednesday, April 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

“Just think how long he might have lived were it not for his drug experimentation.”–James Joyner regarding the death of LSD inventor, Albert Hoffman, who expired at the age of 102.

I had a similar thought when I saw the headline.1

  1. And no, I am not endorsing LSD usage or suggesting thats drug experimentation leads to long life–but it is rather amusing (especially given ONDCP rhetoric). []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Has anyone out there had any RSS feed problems with PoliBlog in the last couple of weeks? Or, for that matter, can anyone confirm successful feed delivery?

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: People of Lesbos take gay group to court over term ‘Lesbian’

Three islanders from Lesbos — home of the ancient poet Sappho, who praised love between women — have taken a gay rights group to court for using the word lesbian in its name.

One of the plaintiffs said Wednesday that the name of the association, Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, “insults the identity” of the people of Lesbos, who are also known as Lesbians.

I don’t think I have ever heard of a geographical unit trying to claim proprietary rights to their name.

Still, at this point, one suspects that “Lesbian” will, for the foreseeable future at least, refer to female homosexuals–and the folks of Lesbos will have to live with that fact.

Further, one wonders how many tourism dollars the local economy has received as a result of the island’s association with Sappho.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Economy grows by only 0.6 percent in first quarter

The country’s economic growth during January through March was the same as in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday  but not the kind of statistic that economists define as a recession. Although the economy is stuck in a rut, it is still managing to keep growing  however slightly.

The NYT expands: Exports Help Economy to Modest Growth

The weak performance reflected the increasingly thrifty inclinations of American consumers in the face of plummeting real estate prices, tightening credit and a deteriorating job market. Economic growth was also hampered by a continued pullback in construction and business investment.

Still the number was slightly better than expected and helped to push the major market indexes higher on Wednesday.


But Mr. Bernstein and many other specialists still assume the economy will slide into negative territory during the middle of the year. Moreover, the recession or not question is now purely academic, Mr. Bernstein contended, given the spread of joblessness in recent months and the steady erosion of American spending power.

Of note:

Consumer spending grew at an anemic 1 percent annualized rate, down from 2.9 percent in 2024 and 3.1 percent the year before.

The actual report is here.

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Strong euro behind cocaine flows

The euro’s strength against the dollar may explain a rise in the availability of cocaine in Europe and a decline in the US, a US anti-drugs official says.

John Walters, director of US national drug control policy, said the amount of cocaine seized at the US south-western borders had declined.

The price and the purity of cocaine in US have also fallen, he said.

Meanwhile, Europe has seen a huge increase in availability as traffickers take advantage of the exchange rate.

Given that the entire drug industry is about huge profits, it should hardly be a surprise that the traffickers prefer those profits in the stronger currency.

The euro has risen by almost 20% against the dollar in the past 12 months to hit a record above $1.59. On Friday, the euro fetched $1.5825.

The euro has become an attractive currency for investors because of relatively high interest rates in the eurozone.

The US dollar, meanwhile, has suffered because of a number of factors including a slowing economy, low interest rates and problems from the credit crisis.

Of course, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, John Walters, says that the shift is the result of US and Mexican interdiction efforts (via the AP) and also points to Venezuela’s government turning a blind eye to the usage of their territory.

Beyond issues of the Euro and of US policy, the bottom line is that traffickers will take the path of least resistance and are extremely good at adapting, over time, to efforts to staunch the flow of their products. Mexico become the main route for drugs into the US as the US government got better at interdicting drugs coming from the Caribbean into Miami. While it may well be that the US and Mexican efforts are having an effect, the bottom line is that the drug cartels will find a new way to get their product to market.

It is perhaps the safest bet in the land that whatever diminution to the price and quality of cocaine entering the US will be reversed shortly. We have frequently seen blips on the drug war radar that are always touted as a sign that we are finally about to turn the corner. Yet, it never happens–and as long as people like intoxicants (and billions of dollars can be made providing them) that corner will not be turned.

Despite that fact, the US will continue to pour billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain, whilst continuing to militarize both Latin American law enforcement and our own (to the detriment of democracy all around).

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Police ‘kill Colombian drug lord’

Colombian police say they have killed one of the country’s most notorious criminals and drug lords.

Media reports say the dead man is Victor Manuel Mejia Munera, although officials earlier said it was his brother, Miguel Angel.


The brothers were not only prominent drugs traffickers, but also led part of the new generation of paramilitary groups that sprang up after the demobilisation of the illegal United Self Defence Forces of Colombia, the AUC.

Indeed, the linkage to the AUC is more significant than the drug trafficking, per se, given that the narco-linked paramilitary groups have been more a more corrupting and violent influence in Colombia than any other group in the last two decades.

In terms of two dead cocaine traffickers, the honest truth is that they will be easily replaced.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

CQ Politics looks at Indiana and notes a now-familiar pattern: CQ Politics Projects a Close Delegate Split in Indiana Primary

Following up a similar projection published prior to the April 22 primary in Pennsylvania, CQ Politics below has performed an analysis of the Democratic presidential primary in Indiana that projects how many delegates the candidates will win in each of the nine congressional districts.

This analysis gives Clinton a 24 to 23 edge over Obama in the race for the 47 district-level delegates — with the disclaimer that this is a projection and not a hard-and-fast prediction, because of the convoluted way in which the delegates will be distributed can produce some unpredictable results.

The whole piece is interesting and worth a read. Of course, the bottom line for Clinton is this: she can still “win” some state and still not overtake Obama’s pledged delegate count.

h/t: Marvin King

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By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAT: Cuba walks tightrope of reforms

In a campaign that bears much similarity to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1980s appeal for glasnost, Cuba’s President Raul Castro has been urging the public to investigate social shortcomings, denounce them and propose improvements.


Cuban intellectuals and common folk are embracing the straight-talk notion, as did Russians 20 years ago. But here, as in the Soviet Union, the leadership is walking a tightrope, risking the collapse of a struggling, authoritarian system by granting long-denied freedoms.


Mindful of the Soviet collapse, Cuban officials are loath to allow any kind of political opening that would be perceived as diminishing the legitimacy of the Communist Party, Erikson said.1

That the Cuban state still wants nothing to do with economic liberalization is easily noted by the following:

On Monday, police broke up a peaceful demonstration in Havana by the Ladies in White group demanding the release of their jailed husbands, brothers and fathers. Several members were detained.

For more on the Ladies in White, see “>Boz’s post (including links to several news stories) from last week.

And, speaking of Cuba, the BBC notes that Raúl is set to commute basically all death sentences in Cuba:

Cuba’s President Raul Castro says nearly all death sentences are to be commuted to prison terms of between 30 years and life.


Three people charged with terrorism will stay on death row for the time being. Their cases will be reviewed.

The death penalty will remain on the statute book in Cuba.

Also of interest:

Mr Castro also announced he was convening a Communist Party congress next year – the first for more than a decade.

The congress is expected to chart Cuba’s future political and economic agenda.

  1. Daniel P. Erikson, Caribbean analyst for the Inter-American Dialogue, that is. []
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By Steven L. Taylor

Warning: reading this post (or, perhaps, just the footnote) can have deleterious effects.1

Via the BBC: Spain rejects Peron extradition

A court in Spain has rejected a request from Buenos Aires to extradite former Argentine President Isabel Peron who is wanted for alleged human rights abuses.

The National Court in Madrid ruled that the charges did not constitute crimes against humanity and that therefore the statute of limitations had expired.

Ms Peron, 77, is wanted over alleged links to right-wing paramilitaries who operated during her 1974-1976 rule.

Given the sham that was her presidency, it is not outside the realm of possibility that she was not directly responsible or knowledgeable of the issues in question. On the other hand, she was the president during the period in question.

If anything, the presidency of Isabel Peron underscores a dictum that all citizens should follow: never re-elect an aging dictator who, while in exile, married a cabaret dancer whom he might make Vice President. It just never ends well.2

  1. I find that any story about the Perons leads to Don’t Cry for me, Argentina getting stuck in my head for hours. And while this story isn’t about Eva, the song effect is nonetheless in force. []
  2. Really, re-electing the guy from exile isn’t such a hot idea to begin with, cabaret-dancing third wife or no. []
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Monday, April 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Most interesting (via the NYT):

h/t: Marc Ambinder

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