Archive for April 6th, 2012
Morgan Fox at Marijuana Policy Project has an excellent article under the heading “Six National Drug Policy Organizations Call on President Obama to End Unnecessary Assault on Medical Marijuana Providers.”
In the wake of recent attacks on medical marijuana providers and patients by multiple branches of the federal government, including Monday’s raids on Oaksterdam University in Oakland, CA, a coalition of six national drug policy reform organizations is appealing to President Obama and his administration to follow its own previously stated policies respecting state medical marijuana laws. In the letter, posted in full below, the organizations call on the Obama administration to bring an end to the federal government’s ongoing campaign to undermine state efforts to regulate safe and legal access to medical marijuana for those patients who rely on it.
The Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy Report 2012, reportedly being released in the coming days, is expected to cling to failed and outdated marijuana policies which further cement the control of the marijuana trade in the hands of drug cartels and illegal operators, endangering both patients in medical marijuana states and citizens everywhere. The members of this coalition stand together with members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, current and former Latin American leaders whose countries are being ravaged by drug cartels, state officials from five medical marijuana states, and tens of millions of Americans in their call for a more rational approach to marijuana policy.
THE LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:
April 4, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington D.C. 20500
Via Fax: 2024562461
Dear Mr. President:
Our coalition represents the views of tens of millions of Americans who believe the war on medical marijuana patients and providers you are fighting is misguided and counterproductive. As your administration prepares to release its annual National Drug Control Strategy, we want to speak with one voice and convey our deep sense of anger and disappointment in your lack of leadership on this issue.
Voters and elected officials in sixteen states and the District of Columbia have determined that the medical use of marijuana should be legal. In many of these states, the laws also include means for providing medical marijuana patients safe access to this medicine. These laws allowing for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana actually shift control of marijuana sales from the criminal underground to state-licensed, taxed, and regulated producers and distributors.
Instead of celebrating – or even tolerating – this state experimentation, which has benefited patients and taken profits away from drug cartels, you have turned your back as career law enforcement officials have run roughshod over some of the most professional and well-regulated medical marijuana providers. We simply cannot understand why you have reneged on your administration’s earlier policy of respecting state medical marijuana laws.
Our frustration and confusion over your administration’s uncalled-for attacks on state-authorized medical marijuana providers was best summed up by John McCowen, the chair of the Mendocino County (CA) board of supervisors, who said, “It’s almost as if there was a conscious effort to drive [medical marijuana cultivation and distribution] back underground. My opinion is that’s going to further endanger public safety and the environment – the federal government doesn’t seem to care about that.”
The National Drug Control Strategy you are about to release will no doubt call for a continuation of policies that have as a primary goal the ongoing and permanent control of the marijuana trade by drug cartels and organized crime. We cannot and do not endorse the continued embrace of this utterly failed policy. We stand instead with Latin American leaders, members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the vast majority of people who voted you into office in recognizing that it is time for a new approach on marijuana policy.
With approximately 50,000 people dead in Mexico over the past five years as the result of drug war-related violence, we hope that you will immediately reconsider your drug control strategy and will work with, not against, states and organizations that are attempting to shift control of marijuana cultivation and sales, at least as it applies to medical marijuana, to a controlled and regulated market.
Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
cc: Eric Holder, Attorney General, Department of Justice
James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice
Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
Rita Hayworth was a dynamite dancer. Her (fully clothed) strip routine in Gilda was spectacular, but for pure fun do watch Cover Girl, a totally wonderful musical with a wonderful cast—and note Eve Arden’s hats if you do see it.
At any rate, Constant Reader passes along this wonderful find:
Bob Landry took this photo, which ran in Life magazine in 1941 and became perhaps the favorite pin-up of WWII. Helen Gurley Brown, Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan said of the picture “I never saw a better ‘girl’ picture, and that includes about a million from Cosmopolitan!”:
Monsanto is a company that seems to revel in misdeeds and bad ideas. Megan Scudellari highlights in The Scientist an upcoming legal case of interest.
In 2011, the Federal Circuit Court again upheld the ruling that Monsanto’s patents for its genetically modified seeds can be used to stop farmers from saving and replanting the GM seeds. Monsanto had sued Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman for purchasing and replanting commodity soybeans from his local grain supplier, which were mostly Roundup Ready seeds, seeds genetically modified to resist Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides.
Bowman has now petitioned the Supreme Court with the argument that his use of the seeds is covered by patent law’s “exhaustion doctrine”—which holds that a patent holder’s rights in a particular product are “exhausted” when the product is sold to an end user, Wired Science reported. Bowman wasn’t required to sign a licensing agreement before buying commodity seeds, so he argues that he was free to plant them.
This week, upon the vote of at least four Justices, the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on the petition, requesting that the Solicitor General, the official in charge of representing the Obama administration, file briefs expressing the views of the United States, Patently-O reported. While the case remains to be heard—and the Court can still opt not to do so—a study of 30,000 petitions found that those for which the Court requests a response from the Solicitor General are four times more likely to be granted.
That is NOT how student loans are supposed to work. Indeed, I think California had the right idea back in the day: tax-paid education available for all through graduate school. (That’s for tuition only; room and board would be paid.) Andrew Leonard describes the crisis in Salon:
When there are Americans whose Social Security checks are being garnished to pay off their outstanding student loan debt, then it is clear that the United States has a problem. And the rising number of seniors who haven’t paid off loans taken out decades earlier is only one of several reasons to be alarmed by a report on student loan debt released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in March.
Total debt, as of the end of the third quarter of 2011, had reached $870 billion, a number, the Fed was quick to point out, that eclipses what Americans owed on their credit cards and on their auto loans. According to a more recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the amount currently owed on both federal and private student loans has already broken the trillion-dollar barrier.
That’s not just bad for the people struggling to pay off their debt — people who, according to CFPB student loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra, are being punished for “doing exactly what they were told would be the key to a better life.” The burgeoning debt numbers also pose a growing threat to the larger economy: money spent paying back student loans is money that isn’t stimulating overall economic growth. Who will dare risk becoming a first-time home-buyer, for example, or buy a new car, when still struggling to pay back thousands of dollars on their education?
The Fed and CFPB reports launched a new round of well-deserved hand-wringing about the student loan “crisis.” But one of the things that makes this crisis different from previous financial disasters — like, for example, the subprime mortgage debacle — is that it actually hasn’t been ignored. In fact, you can make a good argument that the Obama administration has tackled the student loan crisis vigorously from the get-go, and achieved some signal triumphs, even while being ferociously opposed by Republicans at every single step of the way. Judging the overall success of Obama’s efforts is tricky — it may take many years for Obama’s reforms to make a dent in the overall quantity of outstanding debt — but there is little question that the White House is trying, and that for some students, at least, it has become easier to pay the bills.
The story of how President Obama has worked to help borrowers pay off their student loan debt and ease the path to affording a college education is a case study in how the current administration has worked to fix a broken system in the context of a political process that makes achieving any kind of progressive change almost impossible. And it also illustrates how the hard-won successes already achieved are extremely vulnerable. If, for example, Republicans take control of the White House and the Senate this November, and follow up by implementing the agenda outlined in Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, the impact on struggling student loan borrowers will be severe. One of the few fronts on which the Obama administration can claim to have made real progress would suddenly turn into yet another retreat.
The story begins in July 2009, when Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a number of changes to how the federal student loan program operates. Interest rates on existing student loans were cut almost in half, from 6 percent to 3.4 percent. More important, Duncan introduced a new way of paying back loans, . . .
Look at this: photographic evidence:
See the watch in the left photo? Through a miracle, the watch (a $30,000 Breguet) is made to vanish—but not its reflection! Now that is a true miracle.
I think the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church (the guy in the photo) feared that wearing a $30,000 watch would seem… what’s the word? At any rate, better to keep it secret, because that’s what Jesus would have wanted, apparently.
Here’s the (depressing) story. Is it that scum have come to power, or power turns people into scum? How can one have any respect at all for this guy? He obviously knows what he’s doing is wrong (thus the attempt to hide the watch), yet he does it anyway: pretty much “scum” in a nutshell.
From the story:
… The watch … has been an object of fascination for years, and there is little question of its existence. It was first sighted on the patriarch’s wrist in 2009 during a visit to Ukraine, where he gave a televised interview on the importance of asceticism. [Interesting contrast between words and actions. - LG]
A Breguet watch “is virtually a sine qua non of any depiction of the aristocracy, the bourgeoisie or, quite simply, a life of luxury and elegance,” the company says, noting that its products have been worn by Marie Antoinette and Czar Aleksandr I and cited in works by Dumas and Hugo.
I ordered some Jack Black shaving cream after reading this post at Kafeneio. Nancy Boy shaving cream is a brushless shaving cream that works well with a brush and is a top-notch shaving cream in any case, so I’m eager to try this one.
Once the government discontinues obeying the law (for example, by torturing people, murdering people, selectively enforcing the law against some and not others, and in general showing a lack of respect for rule by law, things can get quite dodgy very quickly. Here’s a well-documented case of the US government actively supporting a terrorist group after a law was passed that makes this highly illegal. The Obama Justice Department will, of course, do nothing. That’s no longer the function of the Justice Department; it has moved into cover-ups.
Glenn Greenwald writes in Salon:
When the U.S. wants to fund, train, arm or otherwise align itself with a Terrorist group or state sponsor of Terror — as it often does — it at least usually has the tact to first remove them from its formal terrorist list (as the U.S. did when it wanted to support Saddam in 1982 and work with Libya in 2006), or it just keeps them off the list altogether despite what former Council on Foreign Relations writer Lionel Beehner described as “mounds of evidence that [they] at one time or another abetted terrorists” (as it has done with close U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, along with the El Salvadoran death squads and Nicaraguan contras armed and funded in the 1980s by the Reagan administration). But according to a new, multi-sourced report from The New Yorker‘s Seymour Hersh, the U.S. did not even bother going through those motions when, during the Bush years, it trained the Iranian dissident group Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) at a secretive Department of Energy site in Nevada:
It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. . . . The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.
Despite the growing ties, and a much-intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations – which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. ”We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications — coördinating commo is a big deal.”
A JSOC spokesman told Hersh that ”U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members,” but a MEK lawyer refused to confirm or deny the report, arguing that any such training would undercut the U.S. Government’s claims that MEK belongs on the Terrorist list.
In February, NBC News‘ Richard Engel and Robert Windrem reported, based on two anonymous “senior U.S. officials,” that MEK was the group perpetrating a series of “sophisticated” assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists (using bombs and rifles). NBC also reported that Israel — specifically its Mossad intelligence service — is “ financing, training and arming” MEK: in other words, that Israel is a state sponsor of this designated Terrorist group. Various reports have also indicated that the MEK, with Israeli support, was responsible for a string of explosions on Iranian soil. Hersh obtained independent confirmation of all these claims: . . .
Businesses have no respect whatsoever for the law, near as I can tell: sociopaths for sure. If they don’t like a law, they will obey it only if they believe that violating the law will be detected. But if they think they can break the law without being discovered, they do it instantly. This is the very definition of dishonesty.
Jef Akst reports in The Scientist:
Fluoroquinolones—a class of broad spectrum antibiotics that was banned from use in US poultry production by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2005—may still be in use illegally, according to a study published March 21 in Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Arizona State University found residues of the drugs in 8 of 12 samples of feather meal, a common byproduct of the poultry processing industry. The findings suggest that the animals were given fluoroquinolones prior to their slaughter and sale.
“The discovery of certain antibiotics in feather meal strongly suggests the continued use of these drugs, despite the ban put in place in 2005 by the FDA,” lead author David Love, a microbiologist with Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, said in a press release. “The public health community has long been frustrated with the unwillingness of FDA to effectively address what antibiotics are fed to food animals.”
Antibiotic use in farmed animals is a concern because it may be fueling drug resistance to human infectious diseases. “Particularly worrisome is the continued use in animals of antibiotics that are close structural relatives of those that are used in human medicine,” wrote Bonnie M. Marshall and Stuart B. Levy of Tufts University in this month’s Critic At Large column. “It is feared that, in time, these drugs will lose potency as bacteria express ‘cross-resistance’ to the related drugs.”
Indeed, the current findings that fluoroquinolones may still be in use could explain the trends of fluoroquinolone resistance among Campylobacter bacteria. “In recent years, we’ve seen the rate of fluoroquinolone resistance slow, but not drop,” study co-author Keeve Nachman, also at the Center for a Livable Future, said in the press release. “With such a ban, you would expect a decline in resistance to these drugs” that is much greater, he said.
Take a moment to thank the unions and the labor movement for the weekend you’re about to enjoy: we wouldn’t have it except that unions were able to force companies to accept a 40-hour work week (which, to the companies’ surprise, increased productivity and profits noticeably—but companies are bone stupid, so they continue to try to return to a 60-hour week, successfully for many non-union professionals, despite the lowered productivity).
But to the shave: The Sea Salt Soap was quite pleasant as a soap, but the lather it produced, while nice, was short-lived. I think this one is better as a (very nice) bath soap rather than a shaving soap. I finished by doing a third pass with Geo. F. Trumper Coconut Oil Shave Soap, which I’ve been wanting to use anyway.
The iKon S3S did a fine job with a Swedish Gillette blade of several previous uses, and I do like Woods aftershave by Saint Charles Shave.
Beautiful day, probably a good day for a walk.