Nation

The purported rationale represents an effort to deal with the disparity in sentences between crack and powder cocaine. The five-year mandatory minimum sentence is triggered for sale of 500 grams of powder cocaine, but for possession or sale of just five grams of crack cocaine. Eighty-five percent of crack defendants are black.

In fact, the situation is more complicated. As the U.S. Sentencing Commission points out, the existing penalties for powder cocaine are "severe," and "there have been few if any complaints about the leniency of these guidelines." Marc Maurer of the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit Washington group, says that while 31 percent of powder cocaine defendants in 1998 were black, nearly half of the remaining 69 percent were Hispanic. "Thus, four out of five-80 percent-of all federal powder cocaine defendants are minorities." Applying the most conservative estimates that are based on the current racial-ethnic distribution of defendants, Maurer believes applying the new amendment "would send to jail 2100 Hispanics, 1300 African Americans, and 800 non-Hispanic whites."

Legislating harsher penalties has little effect on cocaine use, which has increased from 190 metric tons in 1980 to 284 tons a decade later-despite a 649 percent rise in the number of drug offenders sent to jail. The 581,000 drug arrests in 1980 rose to 1.4 million in 1995, while the number of people using drugs declined (from 14.1 percent in 1979 to 6.1 percent in 1995). More than three quarters of the people using drugs were white, but about a third of those arrested were black.


Spy vs. Spy
Capital Secret

The Cold War may be long gone, but the security apparatus set up to protect us from Commies has become established as a special class of citizen and remains an incredible albatross around the federal government's neck, untouched by Gore's "reinventing government" process.

According to a recent General Accounting Office report, 524,000 military, civilian, and contractor employees hold top-secret clearances, granting them access to the inner recesses of the federal government. Another 1.8 million hold secret clearances. The government convicted 80 federal employees and contractor personnel of espionage-endangering national security through actual spying-between 1982 and September 1999. According to the report, "Hundreds of other potential instances have been detected," and the Defense Department is "vulnerable to espionage."

Y2KILL From a neo-Nazi Web site: "It's time to begin thinking about how we racists are going to party at 12:00 January 1, 2000. Pigs will be spread pretty thin. So many people will be shooting firearms in the air that one pointed horizontally won't alert too much attention. Will niggers and spics tear up Sout' Central again? Where will most Jews be at the stroke of midnight? And is there enough 'national security?' to protect every one of the ZOG's precious, loyal sheeple? Please send your ideas... about arranging this party of ours." Additional reporting: Kate Cortesi

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