Monday News Roundup

August 29, 2005

Hurricane Katrina appears to have turned slightly before coming ashore, perhaps sparing New Orleans from the full impact of its force. The AP reports, however, that the roof of the Superdome -- where upwards of 9,000 people have taken shelter -- has been torn open in certain sections by the hurricane winds.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed suit against several fast food and packaged potato chip companies over what he alleges is their failure to disclose a carcinogenic substance contained in fried potatoes. Lockyer's Los Angeles Superior Court suit says the manufacturers of chips and french fries are required under California law to disclose the presence of the chemical acrylamide, which is released by potatoes when they are cooked at high temperatures. While conceding that french fries "taste good," Lockyer told CNN that "I, and all consumers, should have the information we need to make informed decisions about the food we eat."
The role of women in the battle for and against the war in Iraq is explored in an interesting New York Times piece by Elisabeth Bumiller. She notes that some female protestors she has interviewed "suggested that decades of feminism had pushed them more easily into leadership and public speaking roles," and she credits this development with producing "a striking change from the 1960's protests against the Vietnam War, when the demonstrations were largely led by young men." Whether or not that's an accurate characterization of the Vietnam era anti-war movement, the piece is worth reading.
Also still available in the Times (from the Sunday magazine) is Jeffrey Rosen's thought provoking piece on the "Brave New World of constitutional disputes" that are likely to come before the Supreme Court in the years ahead and the folly, in trying to suss out the positions of John Roberts, of subscribing to "the assumption that the future will be little more than an extension of things as they are." Inspired by Rosen, the Sentencing Law and Policy blog has taken a stab at describing what it thinks will be the evolving issues in sentencing law in the decades to come. Members of Rev. Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist church have taken to protesting at the funerals of American soldiers. Phelps reportedly believes that "American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays." Protests at a pair of funerals in Tennessee this weekend were met with "scorn from local residents," according to the AP.
Should law school last only two years, rather than three? The National Law Journal (via explores that question today, wondering if a two-year program could help avoid "graduating students' academic disengagement, poor class attendance and astronomical levels of debt." has (The AP also had a story on this issue earlier this month.)
The Washington Post ran a piece this weekend about the company Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems, which develops high-tech weapons, including high powered lasers intended to "dazzle" enemies and a gun that, at least in theory, can "shoot bolts of artificial lightning to paralyze, but not kill, an enemy, like a 'Star Trek' phaser set on stun." The piece's author, Sharon Weinberger, does a nice job of exploring the strange world of the unconventional weapons market. (Hat tip to Slashdot.)