12 Charged With Running Major Marijuana Ring; Who Cares?

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

For the last five years, John Duzicky and James Gleason have been dues-paying members of the Sewickley Heights Manor Homes Association, leading quiet lives in the upscale Aleppo housing development with manicured lawns and tennis courts.

At the same time, they played leading roles in a drug ring that smuggled thousands of pounds of Mexican marijuana from Arizona to Allegheny and Beaver counties, bringing more than $2 million worth of the drug here between 2007 and 2009, according to a grand jury presentment.

State Attorney General Tom Corbett yesterday announced that Mr. Duzicky, Mr. Gleason, and 10 other men face charges of conspiracy, drug possession and possession with intent to deliver.

“The drug organization dismantled today represents just one of thousands of criminal enterprises across the country involved in the illegal trafficking of narcotics across the border form Mexico,” Mr. Corbett said during a news conference at the Sewickley police station, with 30 pounds of marijuana on a table in front of him.

Mr. Duzicky, 37, is being held at a prison in Arizona, as are Larry and Richard Catlin, brothers who routinely carried marijuana from the southwest to Pennsylvania in trucks with secret compartments, Mr. Corbett said.

According to the attorney general, Mr. Duzicky was the leader of the drug ring, and he had been smuggling pot from Arizona, where he also has a home, since 1990.

Who cares?  Why are we locking people up for marijuana-related offenses?  Stop the madness already!

Stephen Amidon: Why I Love Britain’s Socialized Healthcare System

Stephen Amidon, an American from New Jersey, learned to appreciate the U.K.’s socialized healthcare system when his newborn daughter was born very sick in London.

From Salon.com:

I was initially skeptical about the NHS. I’d grown up comfortably in suburban New Jersey; good private healthcare was always immediately available through my father’s insurance. When my English wife became pregnant soon after we settled in London, I was alarmed by the idea of having our first child born in a system I had been told was underfunded, overstressed and inefficient. After all, healthcare in the UK was free. How good could it be? Friends and relatives back in the States were spending thousands to have children. If you get what you pay for, I was about to get a whole lot of nothing.

[…]

This, I learned, is what the NHS is about — common decency. It is about the shared belief that all the people who live in the United Kingdom constitute a society, and a decent society provides certain necessities for its members. Freedom from hunger is one. Police protection is another. Free healthcare from the cradle to the grave is simply one more item on this list.

I saw this decency at work countless times over the following decade, until my return to the United States. I saw it with the twice-daily home visits by community midwives for the fortnight after each of our newborn children’s release from hospital, and in the vouchers for free milk we were given for those babies. I saw it when our GP paid us a house call early one Sunday morning to treat our son’s spiking fever.

I saw it most clearly, however, in the treatment my in-laws received at the end of their lives…

Read more here at Salon.com.

Republicans Still Without a Working Web Site

Since May of this year, the Republican Party has been promising us a newly redesigned Web site.  Each week, believe it or not, I go online looking for the Republican Party’s response to President Obama’s Weekly Address.

Each week, I come up empty-handed.

Now, the Republican Party is asking your help, publishing a plea for Web designers to get involved and be part of the next generation GOP site.  The link on the Home Page opens a simple form asking your level of expertise: PHP, iPhone, Flash, .NET, Facebook or Blackberry.

Apparently they don’t need anyone with HTML experience.

There is another link where you can “Tell Us What You Think” of their new Web site.

Here’s what I think: The last time the Republican Party published their own GOP Response to the President’s Weekly Address was on February 7, 2009: RNC Chairman Michael Steele Delivers Weekly Republican Address.  The headlines to the stories on the GOP Blog are not linked to the story.  Instead, readers have to search for the tiny “…FULL POST” to read stories.

The most current blog post is still this breaking news from April 30, 2009, “The State of the Website,” with an update from May 15, 2009:

5/15/09 Update: What you see here is a placeholder between what was and what is to come for GOP.com. Don’t get too used to this page–the complete rebuild is around the corner. Soon we’ll have a new look and a more enjoyable, modern, open and participatory way to share our ideals with the Country.

On Friday of last week, we chose a vendor to rebuild our website and digital presence; the two are not the same and the distinction matters—a lot. It matters especially so for us.

The website you see today is difficult to update, hard to use, and locked in a Web 1.0 environment. It is also stale. It is in need of a massive spring clean. To be fair, my predecessor and good friend, Cyrus Krohn, and his team were on the way to changing all of this. Then, we elected a new Chairman, re-grouped, re-staffed and then, finally, we locked & loaded.

The project is underway.

You will soon witness some preliminary changes and, less soon—though, faster than I have ever seen done—you will see the new GOP.com in its entirety. This is where you come in.

I know for some of these guys and gals, the Internet is still a series of tubes, but, dammit, the GOP needs to step up.  In addition to being the party of, “No!” they’re also the party of, “No Useful Web site!”

If the GOP can’t build a simple, working Web site with articles less than three months old, why exactly is anyone listening to them on any issue much more complicated, like the economy, education, global warming, or, heaven forbid, health care reform?

11-year-old Adonis Bell Saves His Family

Adonis Bell saved the lives of his family early Wednesday morning when a fire broke out in his grandma’s Roselind two-flat.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

At 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the 11-year-old woke up when a fan started pushing heavy black smoke into the room where he slept.

He was the only one in his grandma’s Roseland two-flat to notice.

Barefoot in a tank top and jogging pants, Adonis went to the kitchen where he saw the ceiling on fire near his bedroom — billowing black smoke and orange flames that were gnawing a giant hole above the kitchen stove.

The boy remained calm.

“I knew what to do,” Adonis said. “A fireman came to our school.”

He ran to wake his mother, who told him to get his 2-year-old godsister, Jordan Hobbs, out of the house.

That’s what the fireman at school said, too. “Get myself and everybody out. He told us not to grab any stuff,” Adonis remembered. “Just get out.”

Firefighters tell us every second counts in a structure fire.  I saw a controlled demonstration of such a fire once in Park Forest.  The flames grew tall and hot very fast.

Quick thinking, Mr. Bell.  Kudos to you, sir.  You saved the lives of every member of your family in the house that night.

Mayor Daley, this young man deserves official recognition from your office.  He’s one of Chicago’s finest.

Read the rest of the story here.