Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 7th, 2012

Interesting-movie report

leave a comment »

Accident reminds me a lot of The Conversation, though different. Produced by Johnnie To, who does very good movies. The latter is a movie I expect everyone to have seen. I’m just sayin’. (Oddly: the subtitles show up if I watch Accident on the computer, but not if I watch on the Roku. I’ve seen this with other movies as well.)

I’m watching Warlock again, and it’s as good as I remember. A philosophical movie, about the nature of law and man’s relation to it. Mr. Barksdale, senior seminar leader from U of Chicago, took a bunch of us to see it.

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Police increasingly act as storm troopers

with 3 comments

Police in the US seem increasingly brutal and belligerent and ready to ignore the law and mete out their own punishment. Angela Lee has this report from a police raid on a medical marijuana dispensary:

Video footage of a brutal police raid on a Long Beach marijuana dispensary on June 19 recently surfaced on YouTube.

In the video, a police officer walks on the back and neck of a complying Dorian Brooks, the dispensary’s volunteer employee, who awaits arrest stomach-down on the floor.  Two undercover officers can be seen smashing the surveillance cameras of THC Downtown Collective, destroying possible evidence.

“I just felt three hundred pounds on my neck,” Brooks told NBC Los Angeles, “I felt violated; I felt disrespected.”  He said, “They noticed there was a camera that was on the wall right above my head, so they proceeded to smash it with a metal rod,” and that the debris shattered on him.

NBC Los Angeles reported that the Long Beach police conducted the raid because the dispensary, though operating under state compliance, did not have a city permit.  The LBPD said in a press released that the excessive force used during the raid is currently under investigation:

An operation will be conducted once all of the facts have been collected.  This is a personnel matter and we are unable to discuss any further details.

An indignant Brooks told MSNBC, “We got beat up and arrested for a citation that’s equivalent to somebody j-walking.”  Brooks’ attorney said that “Those kinds of charges [of a lack of city permit] and a $100 bail do not warrant officers coming in with a battering ram, and weapons, and weapons drawn.”

The dispensary will be filing a $1 million claim – a precursor to a lawsuit – alleging that the police raid was illegal and the officers involved used excessive force, causing tens of thousands of dollars of damage, not to mention the police taking the ATM and marijuana.

The MSNBC report is below, followed by the Youtube video.

Click the link to see the videos. The police are out of control.

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 3:03 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Government, Law

Interesting exchange between a reporter and State Department spokesperson

leave a comment »

Glenn Greenwald points it out:

Associated Press’ Matt Lee is one of those rare reporters who frequently challenges U.S. foreign policy hypocrisy, both in general and, even more rarely, as it pertains to the nation’s support for Israel. Here is a remarkably revealing exchange he had on Tuesday with State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland:

VICTORIA NULAND, spokesperson for State Department:

Listen, before we leave Syria, I just want to take the opportunity, if you didn’t see it, to draw your attention to the Human Rights Watch report that was released today that identifies some 27 detention centers that Human Rights Watch says Syrian Government intelligence agencies have been using since the Assad crackdown on pro-democracy protestors. The report found that tens of thousands of Syrians are in detention by regime security and intelligence agencies and that the regime is carrying out inexplicable, horrific acts of torture, including – well, I’m not going to repeat them here, but I’ll leave it to you to read the report. And in many cases, the Human Rights Watch asserts that even children have been subject to torture by the Assad regime.

MATT LEE: Do you see that report as credible and solid, and you’re putting – you’re endorsing it? I mean, you’re saying –

MS. NULAND: We have no reason to believe that it is not credible. It’s based on eyewitness accounts, and they’re reporting from a broad cross-section of human rights figures inside Syria.

LEE: So the next time Human Rights Watch comes out with a report that’s critical of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, I’ll assume that you’re going to be saying the same thing, correct; that you think that the report is credible, it’s based on eyewitness accounts?


LEE: And you’re not going to say that it’s politically motivated and should be dismissed?

MS. NULAND: Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent.


LEE: So, in other words, anything that Human Rights Watch says that is critical of someone you don’t like, that’s okay; but once they criticize someone that you do like, then it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on?

MS. NULAND: Matt, I’m not going to get into colloquy on this one.


RAGHUBIR GOYAL (India Globe): India.


Purported human rights concerns from the U.S. Government are virtually always weapons used to undermine governments which the U.S. dislikes for completely unrelated reasons (usually because those nation’s governments defy U.S. decrees), and instantly disappear whenever it comes to governments which comply with those decrees (“I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family” – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, March 2, 2009; “the President and the [Saudi] King reaffirmed the strong partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia” — White House Readout of the President’s Call with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, October 12, 2011; “US resumes arms sales to Bahrain. Activists feel abandoned” — Christian Science Monitor, May 14, 2012; “Israeli settlements: US vetoes UNSC resolution” — BBC, February 19, 2011). Kudos to Nuland for acknowledging this, even if it was forced and sarcastic.

In the same column, he provides another example of the mendacity of the US government in general and the Obama administration in particular:

Peter Bergen of the New America Foundation think tank and CNN has become one of the most vocal cheerleaders for President Obama’s Terrorism policies, and has also been the recipient of highly lucrative, exclusive access to classified information granted by Obama’s administration. On July 4, Bergen, along with NAF’s Jennifer Rowland, published a CNN column lauding Obama’s escalated drone attacks, claiming they have “become more precise and discriminating” (even while acknowledging that the “strikes may also be fueling terrorism“). The top of the column features a colorful chart, assembled by the NAF, depicting civilians as a tiny portion of the deaths caused by those strikes; it actually claims that for 2012, 153 “militants” (whatever that means) have been killed by drones in Pakistan versus zero civilians.

In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf does an excellent job ofdocumenting how unreliable and propagandistic are Bergen’s claims. Bergen, the think tank “Terrorism expert,” knows nothing about the identity of the victims other than what media reports, based on anonymous U.S. and Pakistani “officials,” claim. But as I’ve repeatedly documented, and as Friedersdorf notes, these claims are unproven and inherently unreliable for numerous reasons, including the warped Obama re-definition of “militant” to include “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants . . . . unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” There is abundantevidence that the number of civilian deaths are vastly higherthan official claims, but Bergen’s pretty chart acknowledges none of that. That’s because most D.C. think tanks — and especially “experts” enriched by their access provided by government sources — exist to sanctify and propagate official claims. That’s their function.

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 2:56 pm

Why making companies pay fines NEVER WORKS

with one comment

Simple questions and direct answers:

LP: The crimes involve threats to our physical well-being, particularly our children. How does this betrayal of public trust compare to those we’ve seen in the financial industry?

ES: Physical harm does have a  more immediate visceral and emotional impact. But financial cases such as the recent Libor price-fixing scandal show that Wall Street continues to engage in widespread fraud and corruption.

LP: Was inadequate regulation or business culture more to blame in the Glaxo case?

The Glaxo situation is one in which even if proper regulation had been in place, the evasion and criminal behavior would have probably happened anyway.

The only remedy is for people to lose their jobs. [Even better: go to prison for several years. – LG]

In 2004, I dealt with an identical case. We charged Glaxo with just this type of behavior – committing fraud by suppressing studies and marketing Paxil to children and adolescents despite the risk of suicide.

LP: Do the fines even impact the company’s bottom line?

ES: The fines Glaxo will pay are less than the revenue the company got from the illegality. So there is little incentive for the company to change its behavior. Money is not a deterrent.

The company’s focus is the bottom line: if illegal behavior produces a net profit, then that behavior is good from the company’s point of view—and even better if they get away with it. The ONLY remedy that works is to send senior executives to prison. A prison term even if it’s only for 5-7 years (minimum of 5 years, I would say, particularly in the Glaxo case) will do wonders to awaken their consciences or a reasonable simulacrum thereof. That’s as good as we’re going to get, but we’ll have a hard time getting even that.

The odd thing is that we put people in prison for years for using marijuana, which essentially is harmless, while Glaxo executives themselves get no punishment whatsoever for the crimes they commit—indeed, given that their efforts produced a profit, they probably get rewarded. The fines are paid by the company, not by the persons responsible.

What a crappy system of “justice.”

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 2:48 pm

Numbers tell of the failure of the War on Drugs

leave a comment »

Good Op-Ed in the NY Times by Eduardo Porter:

When policy makers in Washington worry about Mexico these days, they think in terms of a handful of numbers: Mexico’s 19,500 hectares devoted to poppy cultivation for heroin; its 17,500 hectares growing cannabis; the 95 percent of American cocaine imports brought by Mexican cartels through Mexico and Central America.

They are thinking about the wrong numbers. If there is one number that embodies the seemingly intractable challenge imposed by the illegal drug trade on the relationship between the United States and Mexico, it is $177.26. That is the retail price, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data, of one gram of pure cocaine from your typical local pusher. That is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago.

This number contains pretty much all you need to evaluate the Mexican and American governments’ “war” to eradicate illegal drugs from the streets of the United States. They would do well to heed its message. What it says is that the struggle on which they have spent billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of lives over the last four decades has failed.

There is little reason to expect the elections this year will do much to address the challenges to the bilateral relationship. Enrique Peña Nieto, elected president of Mexico on Sunday, is a scion of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, which was tainted by authoritarianism, corruption and fraud during seven decades in power, before it was booted out by voters 12 years ago. In the United States, neither President Obama nor his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, has shown much interest in the nation’s southern neighbor.

Yet the presidential elections on both sides of the border offer a unique opportunity to re-examine the central flaws of the two countries’ strategy against illegal narcotics. Its threadbare victories — a drug seizure here, a captured kingpin there — pale against its cost in blood and treasure. And its collateral damage, measured in terms of social harm, has become too intense to ignore.

Most important, conceived to eradicate the illegal drug market, the war on drugs cannot be won. Once they understand this, the Mexican and American governments may consider refocusing their strategies to take aim at what really matters: the health and security of their citizens, communities and nations.

Prices match supply with demand. If the supply of an illicit drug were to fall, say because the Drug Enforcement Administration stopped it from reaching the nation’s shores, we should expect its price to go up.

That is not what happened with cocaine. . .

Continue reading. And note this article on international drug-control treaties, which begins:

The way the world looks at drug control is changing. There has been a growing awareness of the issue for the past decade, as well as increasing public outcry over what many see as a failure of the once popular “war on drugs.”

Nowhere is this battle more pronounced than in the so-called “marijuana wars,” which are slowly growing into an old-fashioned standoff between the states and the federal government. As of June 2012, seventeen states (and the District of Columbia) have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, several states have introduced initiatives to legalize the use of recreational marijuana, and there are now two proposed federal bills designed to lift the ban on marijuana. The Gallup polls show that at least 70% of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical use, and over 50% are now in favor of its legalization for recreational use as well.

With so much movement in the area and so much public support, many are asking: Why is the federal government so vehemently resisting the liberalization of a policy that seems to be inevitable? One of President Obama’s campaign promises was to leave the issue of medical marijuana to state governments. Indeed, his Administration first declared a policy of non-enforcement against medical marijuana dispensaries operating in full compliance with state laws. Over the past year, however, the Administration has backtracked, famously going after not only dispensaries, but also landlords, banks, media outlets and all but the sickest of patients taking advantage of the medical marijuana laws.

We tend to think of drug policy in domestic terms, attributing the policy to successive administrations; however, underlying domestic policies are three international treaties, to which the U.S. is signatory, that set strict limitations regarding the treatment of certain drugs within our country. Or do they?

While U.S. authorities are resistant to change in drug policy, more liberal marijuana laws seem to be sprouting up everywhere in countries around the world: Denmark, Spain, the UK, and now Uruguay and Colombia, to name a few. World leaders and former leaders across Europe and most recently, Latin America, have been speaking up in increasing numbers, all saying the same thing:  It’s time for the world to start thinking about legalization.

To better understand how nations set their policies, it is essential to understand the international underpinnings. To this end, the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Drugs & the Law formed a special subcommittee to study the implications of international law on domestic drug policy reform. We travelled to Vienna to attend the yearly sessions of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2011 and 2012, and interviewed current and former diplomats and dignitaries working at the international level of drug control, in order to gain an understanding of the worldwide drug control system and its implications for domestic drug policy.

We found that, while everyone seems to have an opinion on drug reform, many of the legal analyses are limited in scope to domestic factors. Missing from even the most sophisticated analysis conducted in the U.S. is a discussion about the international legal system – as embodied in the three international drug control treaties.  Through our work, we have grown to understand the vast importance of these treaties in the world of international relations, as well as to domestic drug reform.

The International Drug Control Treaties. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 11:50 am

Posted in Drug laws

Science behind alternative medicines

with one comment

Intriguing feature article in The Scientist:

While traveling in China in 1971, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James Reston underwent an emergency appendectomy, after which Chinese medical personnel treated his pain with acupuncture. His description of the experience in the pages of theNew York Times brought the practice of traditional Chinese medicine front and center.

Two years later, Lewis Thomas, then president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, delivered an address in which he said, “These are bad times for reason, all around. Suddenly, all of the major ills are being coped with by acupuncture. If not acupuncture, it is apricot pits.” Thomas was referring to laetrile, a compound extracted from the pits of apricots and bitter almonds, one of the most sought-after alternative treatments for cancer at the time, but one whose effectiveness had been the topic of bitter controversy for years. Banned since 1963 in the U.S., laetrile is reported to still be readily available in the Bahamas and Mexico and is sold online.

And the examples don’t end there. Lots of ballyhoo, head-scratching, and accusations of quackery attended growing patient demand for alternative treatments, hyped in the popular press as cures that were “natural” and based on millennia-old medical traditions practiced in places such as China and India.

In 1999, in response to a growing outcry for some kind of evidence-based scientific analysis of the safety and efficacy of this blizzard of nonconventional treatments, the National Institutes of Health, then under the direction of Harold Varmus, established the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Since its founding, NCCAM has funded basic and clinical research at institutions around the world on plant and animal products such as acai, black cohosh, gingko biloba, and shark cartilage, as well as on the therapeutic value of treatments including acupuncture, yoga, massage, reiki, and meditation.

Almost 40 percent of US adults and 12 percent of US children have used complementary or alternative therapies, according to a 2007 survey by NCCAM, and much of what was once considered “alternative,” including acupuncture, is now part of more-holistic regimens offered at 40 percent of US hospitals, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. According to a 2010 survey by the American Hospital Association and the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit center for the study of wellness and healing, this trend is driven by patients demanding alternative or complementary treatment options for conditions that are difficult to manage or cure, such as diabetes, chronic pain, and cancer. Most physicians have l­ukewarmly embraced such therapies, often because they feel that patients will desert conventional therapy out of desperation if they are not offered a wider range of treatment options.

Researchers who study the scientific validity of nonconventional treatments rarely see them as stand-alone remedies, preferring to call the union of conventional and nonconventional “integrated therapy.”

The Scientist staff asked experts about the scientific evidence for a number of treatments that may be on the verge of becoming incorporated into integrated therapies, from acupuncture and probiotics to marijuana and psychedelics. We sought to highlight the data that either supports or contravenes the effectiveness of these alternative therapies. As with most health interventions, we uncovered both positive and negative aspects of these treatments for which patients are clamoring and physicians are demanding evidence.

—Mary Beth Aberlin

Continue reading. Or use these links to jump directly to a section of interest:

Health Risks
Wildlife Threat

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 11:47 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

Interesting: If you make it legal for people to shoot other people, they’ll do it

leave a comment »

The “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow A to shoot and kill B if A feels he’s in danger, has—surprise!—to to quite a few A’s shooting B’s to death. Could anyone have predicted that? (Hint: Yes. And those who could not predict that should not be permitted to drive or engage in any unsupervised activity.)

Here’s a report by Kay Steiger from Raw Story via AlterNet:

working paper (PDF) released this week with the National Bureau of Economics Research found that states that have passed controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws, such as the one George Zimmerman is using as his defense to charges that he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida this February, actually ended up seeing more homicides after the laws were passed.

Doctoral student Chandler B. McClellan and Professor Erdal Tekin at Georgia State University decided to test the claim that such laws were “making America safer.”

“Our evidence and certainly some other studies floating around out there find that these laws don’t work in the way they were intended to work,” McClellan said in an interview with Raw Story. “What we do see is a net increase in deaths.”

Passing such laws “with no evidence to back up the logic can lead to unintended results, which is what we see here. We have informed the public policy debate with this,” McClellan said.

Using homicide data from 2006 to 2008, the years after a wave of legislatures passed such laws in 2006, the researchers found that “Stand Your Ground” laws, which provide protection for deadly use of force in self-defense in a public place, results in . . .

Continue reading. And note that some of those killed are by-standers. Firing in fear in a public space apparently is dangerous. And God knows what sort of training those firing have had, if any.

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 11:35 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Parker, HJM, and Strop Shoppe

with 2 comments

Another great lather from Strop Shoppe Lemon Eucalyptus shave soap. Strop Shoppe’s description:

A blended lemon and eucalyptus scent from pure essential oils.

This wonderful scent is a serious eye opener in the morning, and will leave you feeling and smelling clean and ready for anything.

Using vegetable glycerin and natural oils, we have come up with a vegan-friendly formula that does not need chemical surfactants, preservatives, or dyes, only natural ingredients and nothing more. The naturally white, dye free pucks foam up using a moderate amount of water to produce a very thick, creamy, lubricating lather which lasts.

Our shaving pucks are larger than 3 ounces, typically around 4 ounces, to ensure that you will get many shaves per puck at a great value.

All soap pucks are shipped in hand-crafted cardstock boxes with a label stating the store, scent, and ingredients list.  For a small price, you can opt to have the soap sent in a metal tin, which is recommended for those who do not use a separate bowl for lathering, as it provides a nice storage container for the soap.  You can see a picture of both the hand-crafted box as well as the tin in additional images.

Ingredients : Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Fragrance.
Saponifying agents : Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide.
May contain : Sunflower Oil (Used as a substitute for Rice Bran Oil when needed).

To answer Mantic’s question from the previous shave: No cooling effect from eucalyptus noted—and in fact, I had no notion that eucalyptus has a cooling effect. Menthol, yes; eucalyptus, news to me—and I didn’t detect any. But the lather was extremely nice and I do like the fragrance. The HJM performed well; it’s definitely a soft brush, for all that the color scheme suggests “pure” grade of badger.

The Parker 99R again did me dirty with nicks. Weird that the 92R works well for me, but the 99R does not, since I assume the two heads are the same. At any rate, I’m giving up on this one and returning it to Mantic, who kindly loaned it to me for the test.

Three passes, some nicks, and a very nice finish with the Saint Charles Shave Avocado Oil balm.

Written by Leisureguy

7 July 2012 at 11:25 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: