Feb. 4th, 2003

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A former senior firearms industry executive said in an affidavit filed in court in San Diego yesterday that gun manufacturers had long known that some of their dealers corruptly sold guns to criminals but pressured one another into remaining silent for fear of legal liability. It is the first time a senior official in the gun industry has broken ranks to challenge practices in the business.

The affidavit, by Robert A. Ricker, a former chief lobbyist and executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council, then the main gun industry trade organization, was filed in California Superior Court in support of claims by 12 California cities and counties suing the gun makers and their wholesalers and retail dealers.

The cities, led by Los Angeles and San Francisco, contend that the gun industry has maintained a distribution system that allows many guns to fall into the hands of criminals and juveniles, creating a public nuisance and violating a California law on unfair business practices.

A copy of Mr. Ricker's declaration, filed under seal, was made available to The New York Times.

Mr. Ricker, a moderate in an industry dominated by hard-liners, lost his post as executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council in 1999 after attending a White House meeting with President Bill Clinton to discuss preventing more school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado.

The meeting was opposed by the National Rifle Association, and Mr. Ricker said in his affidavit that pressure from the rifle association led the gun industry to disband his organization in favor of the more conservative National Shooting Sports Foundation...
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just wow.

We remember when our friend Christopher Hitchens was a card-carrying (or at least Scotch-hoisting) member of the left. But the British-born polemicist has apparently come a very long way since he stopped writing for the Nation magazine last year.

In the new issue of Doublethink, a Washington-based right-wing quarterly, Hitchens reveals that he plans to support President Bush's reelection campaign -- never mind his recent Vanity Fair puff piece about Democratic hopeful John Edwards. "I don't believe in [Edwards]," Hitchens tells Doublethink interviewer Tom Ivancie. "I mean, I told him I wouldn't vote for him. . . . Because I'd vote for Bush. The important thing is this: Is a candidate completely serious about prosecuting the war on theocratic terrorism to the fullest extent? Only Bush is." Hitchens also scoffs at the Everyman pitch of the millionaire trial lawyer turned North Carolina senator: "Oh, that's all [bleep]. . . . Spare us the false populism."

Meanwhile, Hitchens suggests that old nemesis Bill Clinton was a CIA plant at Oxford, where both were students in the late 1960s. "I think he was a double," Hitchens says. "Somebody was giving information to [the CIA] about the anti-war draft resisters, and I think it was probably him. We had a girlfriend in common -- I didn't know then -- who's since become a very famous radical lesbian."

...
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The daughter of the poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes has written an angry poem to protest a BBC decision to make a film about her family, believing it will be a voyeuristic retelling of her mother's suicide in a gas oven, news reports said Monday.

Frieda Hughes's 48-line poem, entitled My Mother, to be published in the next issue of Tatler magazine, criticizes both the makers and the potential audience of Ted and Sylvia, now in production and starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the tortured Plath.

"Now they want to make a film/For anyone lacking the ability/To imagine the body, head in oven/Orphaning children," it runs.

"The peanut eaters, entertained/ At my mother's death, will go home/ Each carrying their memory of her,/ Lifeless -- a souvenir./ Maybe they'll buy the video."

Hughes, 42, says she has been pestered to collaborate by the producers of the seven-million-pound (about $17 million Cdn) film which explores the fiery relationship between the celebrated American poet and Hughes, who later became Britain's poet laureate. Hughes was two when her mother killed herself.


I can't quite decide which part of this is most revolting.

I wonder if they built a smart suit for Gwyneth Paltrow?
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from the Harper's Index:

Rank of Mom, Dad, and Rudolph Giuliani among those whom recent college graduates say they most wish to emulate : 1, 2, 3


Me personally, I'm holding out til I see how he plans to prove that Donna is his cousin.
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...Those freaked out by “Das Kapital” in prep school like to argue that rich people are unfairly taxed, that the highest-earning Americans are responsible for by far the biggest chunk of federal income-tax revenue, that the progressive tax amounts to - holy Karl Marx! - redistribution of income. This ignores three things. The first is that income tax tells only part of the story. Factor in payroll taxes, sales taxes, state taxes and the like, and the playing field is more or less level. The second is that the playing field is never level. Redistribution of income is taking place, but mainly because it is being distributed upward. Executive jobs often have built-in perks that make them even more remunerative than salaries or bonuses would suggest, and have the net effect of lessening much of the burden income taxes impose. The little people pay for their own seats at the ballpark.

The third is that where the economy is concerned, the facts and figures aren’t all that matters. When people read that the former chairman of Tyco charged the company for an umbrella stand - a really ugly umbrella stand - that cost about half of what a beginning teacher makes in a year, the result is a serious problem of perception. Add some sticker shock at the supermarket and a kid saddled with crushing student loans, and you have a marked economic downturn, at least anecdotally. This can be as real and yet as evanescent as the scent of smoke. After the gulf war the first President Bush kept insisting there was no recession in America. By the conventional numbers there wasn’t. But voters smelled trouble. The rest is history.

It’s a tough time for the Republicans to convince Americans that they’re not the silver-spoon party, since their president has a biographical drawerful of monogrammed tableware. A fervent appeal to cut the dividend tax, a classic trickle-down ploy, is not the way to go. Live dangerously: eliminate all income taxes on those earning below $50,000, which would cover most teachers and cops and lots of nurses, as well as many black Americans. That’s not really a bold stroke, since for many of those workers federal income tax is the least of their problems, but it might build good will. Then cut payroll taxes for real relief, and pretend the states are foreign countries and give them substantial foreign aid so they can reinstate essential services. Much of this could be paid for simply by forgetting about those cuts in the dividend tax. Maybe then a little trickle-down populism could attach itself to the Republican Party.
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Bear
Bear


What Is Your Animal Personality?
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the kid:

Horse
Horse


What Is Your Animal Personality?
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her father:

Badger
Badger


What Is Your Animal Personality?
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I find this improbable.

Oh, well.
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