Today is day three of my odd five-day weekend.

I have SATs to take tomorrow, and AP exams at the end of the upcoming week, and the beginning of the next. I have my work cut out for me, for sure. Which, begins my little story:

A few months back, my school announced a Junior class trip for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. It’s some stupid camping trip with no real purpose whatsoever. Usually, when people don’t want to go on a trip such as this, they end up going anyway... things always work out like that.

This time however, pretty much nobody ended up going, mostly due to its inopportune timing, having us return the night before SATs, and miss three days of school, consisting of AP test reviews and important classes. The teachers (especially of the AP classes) backed us students up, and so did most parents. The school’s administration however, did not.

Teachers want to teach us for the AP tests, administrators don’t want to lose money on the trip’s planning... which leaves us in a very odd predicament. The school’s administration figures out that the teachers would end up teaching anyone not going on the trip, and end up influencing people not to go on the trip in order to get a better grade on the exams. Therefore, what do they do?

Ban the entire Junior class from setting foot on campus while we would have been on the trip.

Therefore, I now have a five-day weekend, along with 30 others in my grade, which means that there can’t be more than 20 or so students actually on the trip (as there are no more than 50 students in my grade).

This should be all fun and games for me, as it gives me a chance to relax before taking the SAT, get some studying in for the upcoming AP exams, take some photos, and finish up my website. It is unfortunate however that my girlfriend is on the trip, along with several of my other friends. Today however, they shall return, beginning what I suspect will be a really ugly weekend.

Grrr am I upset!

In the US we recently passed a new law called Campaign Finance Reform which attempts to regulate "soft dollar" campaign finance dollars. The premise was that certain kinds of donations are corrupting the campaign process and are therefore "dirty", but other kinds of donations are "clean". Its not clear how they decide which is which. For example if a television network broadcasts an editorial in favor of legislation they think will help them, its "clean", but if someone else buys time to broadcast their support of that same legislation near election time, its "dirty". Many opponents of the reform, reacting to the actual details of the law instead of the noble sentiments it expressed, felt that its effect would tend to strongly favor re-election of people already in office, no matter what their political views.

Anyway, today the US Congress increased the amount by which US farms are subsidized by more than $70 billion (almost doubling them). Yet they greatly weakened a provision that would limit that maximum amount a farm can get in order to ensure that more money gets to the small farms that presumably need it. The rest of the world, especially Europe which didn't like being lectured by Clinton and Bush about their high farm subsidies, is justifiably upset. I wonder if this, plus the steel tariff that went through a while ago, plus the threatened Canadian softwood tariff, plus whatever other protectionist crap is in the pipeline, might not be the beginning of international trade wars and subsequent worldwide recession, analogous to 1929.

What do subsidies have to do with campaign finance reform? Well, with both houses of the US Congress balanced on a knifes edge between the two parties, neither party has the votes to advance its agenda. But they can all agree that they all want to get re-elected this fall!

The recent farm and steel laws will result in huge, legal (even under the new finance law) contributions to incumbent politicians in key states this fall. And so I ask the supporters of campaign finance reform -- who do I see to ban this dirty money?

Sigh.

Jury selection has begun for my retrial, and my worst fears about the new attorney are being realized. S., my codefendant, was involved in the demonstration as a medic. She's charged with wearing a mask, among other things. S. seems like an okay person, and all of this has been very hard on her, but I still wish she would plead out.

I want her to plead for a number of reasons, first and most obviously because the prosecutor is going to try to use the evidence against her, evidence that I've been cleared of, against me. I want her to plead because if I'm tried with her, it will take more than twice as long and I want to go home. But most of all, I want her to plead because her attorney is incompetent and she's going to get my codefendant fried, and I don't want her to take me along.

My codefendant's attorney is not good at her job. She doesn't know the law. She's a lousy strategist. She fights with the other defense attorneys and doesn't understand that it's good for the prosecution when she does this. Worst, the case she's putting on is at best unprepared.

The defense she is putting on is essentially "look at my client, see how cute and sweet she is, don't convict her because she's just so adorable." And certainly, my codefendant is very pretty, but this shouldn't be a basis for acquittal. Just for a little contrast, the defense my attorney is putting on for me is "my client isn't guilty, she's a law-abiding citizen, and she was doing what the police told her to do." My other codefendant's defense is similar to mine. Unfortunately for us, we are not as attractive as the new codefendant, and people do acquit on this basis.

Further to her attorney's plan, she is trying to stack the jury with people who will be sympathetic to her case, which in this case is white men. Unfortunately, this is exactly the demographic that I want as far from my jury as possible. White men nearly convicted me last time, and while I've only got one charge now, it would be a shame to lose it. My attorney is trying to pick a jury devoid of white men, and is trying to choose for intelligence. My attorney tries to guess what the prosepective jurors are thinking, and why they say the things they say. My new codefendant's attorney takes everything on face value, and complained when my attorney kicked someone off that she liked, even though she'd just done the same thing.

Further than that, my attorney and I were willing to accept the jury as it was in midafternoon, which would have forced the prosecutor to go ahead with his opening statement, which he wasn't prepared for, and so would have seriously weakened his case by stumbling around, but the other two wouldn't go for it.

I am beginning to think that part of the judge's reasons for not severing the cases was so that the defense attorneys, who are not a team and cannot act like one, would trip each other up.

Next: May 11, 2002.
Previous: May 2, 2002.

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