Later On

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

Archive for November 18th, 2012

Why I’m glad my son didn’t go into the military

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The military is an honorable occupation, but the quality of officers and the demented careerism of the Army (and doubtless the other services) are a disgrace. Read this article (and the book from which it was extracted) for a prime example. It was reputedly said by a German officer in the Great War that British soldiers were lions, but they were led by donkeys. That seems increasingly to be the case with the US military.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Books, Military

Sentencing reform urgently need for marijuana offenses

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With marijuana now legal in 4% of the states, it’s high time (as it were) for sentencing reform elsewhere. Kristen Gwynn reports at Alternet:

Americans are voting against marijuana prohibition in a rapidly growing number of states. Nonetheless, the federal government’s refusal to recognize the will of the voters leaves a mess of policy in states that have already legalized medical pot. Mandatory minimums for conspiracy and gun charges related to marijuana trafficking can quickly add up to a sentence lasting decades, even if the accused conspired to sell weed in a state where a majority of voters legalized it. Changes in sentencing are afoot following the electoral momentum; in Washington, more than 200 open marijuana cases have already been dismissed [3]. This week in Boulder, CO, the district attorney dropped marijuana possession cases against adults 21 and older. But the tragedies and injustices of the drug war continue.

Last month, the Fourth District Court of Appeal for California [4] issued a landmark decision reversing the conviction of San Diego marijuana dispensary operator Jovan Jackson because his role as a medical provider was previously denied as evidence. In other words, he was denied a defense. It should set precedent for other cases against medical marijuana distributors in California, but in the 15 other states where medical pot has been legalized, providers can still be denied a medical defense. The result can be a hefty sentence, stacking up to dozens of years behind bars for providing a legal service.

The fate of Montana Cannabis Industry Association cofounder Chris Williams is a shocking example. Williams, who lives in Montana, a medical pot state, was convicted of eight counts of marijuana and firearms charges this September. Facing 80 years in mandatory minimums, Williams was forbidden from testifying that he was complying with state medical marijuana law. Like many other medical marijuana prisoners, jurors never heard his side of the story. He was cast as a dangerous drug dealer, instead of the medical pot distributor the people had voted for.

Also like others, Williams was held accountable not only for his own crimes, but for those of his business associates and codefendants. The guns discovered may not have been his, but because he was had access to them, it didn’t matter whether he actually owned or used them. Interestingly, it is the gun charge, not the weed, that Williams’ attorney, Michael Donahoe, considers evidence of a witch hunt. Donahoe has said that federal prosecutors often charge medical marijuana defendants with gun crimes, but not because they plan to prosecute them. Instead, says Donahoe, prosecutors are adding charges to threaten defendants with a lengthy prison term that would encourage defendants to accept a plea bargain.“We know this for two reasons,” Donahoe told the Missoulan. [5] “First, because the government readily agreed to dismiss the firearms counts for virtually every other medical marijuana defendant in those cases where firearms violations had been charged. And second, because insofar as [Williams’] ‘conspiracy’ is concerned, every other defendant had no real choice but to plead guilty in exchange for the firearms charges being dropped.”He added, “Given the government’s conduct here, that was a false choice inspired by an abusive exercise of government power, considering that it was the government’s reckless decision to change its medical marijuana policy that was the first cause of all these problems.”Williams’ case is evidence that  Donahoe may be right. While one gun charge carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, the other three carry a mandatory minimum of 25 years, and each must be served consecutively. The charges were so outlandish that they prompted a rare peace offering from a prosecutor. This September, US Attorney Michael Cotter offered to drop four of Williams’ charges and knock his sentence down to “as little as 10 years,” if Williams agreed to waive his right to appeal. Williams refused, vowing to fight for justice instead. “I have decided to fight the federal government, because for me not defending the things that I know are right is dishonorable,” Williams wrote to the Independent Record. [6] “Every citizen has a responsibility to fight for what is right, even if it seems like the struggle will be lost.”

In prison without parole, Williams will be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2013. His codefendants, Richard Flor, Tom Daubert and Chris Lindsey accepted plea bargains. But Flor, 68, never made it out of jail. He suffered two heart attacks, renal and kidney failure, and died while being temporarily held in a Las Vegas jail this summer. He was reportedly shackled to his bed while on life support. His attorney Brad Arndorfer blamed his death on a failed justice system. “The fault is in prosecuting a man like this. The next fault is sentencing a man like this to prison. Then you’ve got the Marshals Service taking him to a place like Crossroads, which has no medical facilities capable of taking care of him,” Arndorfer told the Associated Press [7]. . . .

Continue reading. This seems to me to be a miscarriage of justice at best, and an example of a totalitarian approach to justice at worst. This is not justice, this is authoritarianism run amok. Note the article’s concluding statement:

Fixty-six percent of Americans want pot to be legal, yet a marijuana arrest went down every 42 seconds in 2011.

And Obama finds this situation amusing.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 11:59 am

Posted in Drug laws, Government, Law

Preparedness in action

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Very interesting article. While I don’t do this, it doesn’t seem all that out of line as climate change progresses, with the concomitant extreme weather events, crop failures and food shortages, and the like.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 11:37 am

Posted in Daily life

Fast soup idea from The Eldest

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This sounds very tasty to me, and easy and quick, to boot:

Make stock using Penzey’s Vegetable Soup Base (obviously can use other soup bases as desired).

Add to stock a good squirt of Annie Chun’s Gochujang Sauce (which also, she says, makes excellent sandwich spread when mixed 1:1 with mayonnaise).

Then add:

Frozen cooked shelled edamame (soybeans)
Frozen potstickers (vegetable or whatever)
Shredded cabbage

That’s it. I, of course, would be tempted to add chopped onions, a crushed clove of garlic, maybe a little chopped celery from my ever-ready stash. Perhaps a dash of soy sauce and a tablespoon of sherry. And so on. But really the above would suffice.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 11:06 am

TSA X-ray machines, abandoned in warehouse

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I strongly suspect that the manufacturer of these has contributed heavily to a few Congressmen—not based on information, just based on my suspicions from seeing overclose connections between business contributions to Congressmen and subsequent contract awards. Michael Grabell reports in ProPublica:

Last month, the Transportation Security Administration said it was moving nearly half its X-ray body scanners from some of the nation’s biggest airports to smaller ones. But it turns out that more than 90 of the controversial machines will sit in a Texas warehouse indefinitely, agency officials said Thursday.

The agency says it hopes to someday deploy the warehoused machines, but even that prospect was thrown into doubt by allegations that the manufacturer, Rapiscan Systems, may have falsified tests of its experimental privacy software designed to eliminate explicit images of passengers’ bodies.

The machines in the warehouse cost about $14 million total, or roughly $150,000 each.

The TSA began rolling out body scanners after the failed underwear bombing on Christmas Day 2009, one that uses X-rays and one that uses millimeter waves similar to those used for cell phones. The X-ray scanner has faced an outcry over passenger privacy and the risk that radiation could cause cancer.

ProPublica reported last month that the TSA was removing the X-ray body scanners from major airports — including Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare and John F. Kennedy in New York — and replacing them with millimeter-wave machines.

The millimeter-wave machines made by L-3 Communications do not emit X-rays, which have been linked to cancer, and already feature privacy software that produces a generic cartoon image of passengers’ bodies. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 10:45 am

Another report on the death of journalism

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The media are failing us, repeatedly. Justin Elliott reports in ProPublica:

Several opinion columns praising Russia and published in the last two years on CNBC’s web site and the Huffington Post were written by seemingly independent professionals but were placed on behalf of the Russian government by its public-relations firm, Ketchum.

The columns, written by two businessmen, a lawyer, and an academic, heap praise on the Russian government for its “ambitious modernization strategy” and “enforcement of laws designed to better protect business and reduce corruption.” One of the CNBC opinion pieces, authored by an executive at a Moscow-based investment bank, concludes that “Russia may well be the most dynamic place on the continent.”

There’s nothing unusual about Ketchum’s work on behalf of Russia. Public relations firms constantly peddle op-eds on behalf of politicians, corporations, and governments. Rarely if ever do publications disclose the role of a PR firm in placing an op-ed, so it’s unusual to get a glimpse behind the scenes and see how an op-ed was generated.

What readers of the CNBC and Huffington Post pieces did not know — but Justice Department foreign agent registration filings by Ketchum show — is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 10:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Media

An occasional drink and the effects on the baby’s intelligence

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Even an occasional drink can lower the infant’s intelligence, as reported by McCarton Ackerman on The Fix.

Drinking in the third trimester of pregnancy—even just a glass or two of alcohol a week—may lower a baby’s IQ by a few points, according to new research. The issue has been long debated by doctors, but a new study led by Ron Gray, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, suggests that light drinking does harm a baby’s brain development. Researchers tested for slow metabolizing genes in thousands of pregnant women—some who abstained from alcohol during pregnancy, and others who drank the equivalent of a half pint to three pints of beer (or three small glasses of wine) a week. Eight years later, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 9:34 am

Posted in Drinks, Health, Medical, Science

The case that broke open the Catholic pedophile scandal

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Interesting review of a book on the first breach in the wall of silence and secrecy the Catholic church had built to hide and protect its pedophiles.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Books, Religion

Possible origin of “demonic possession”

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Very intriguing possible origin to historical instances of demonic possession.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 9:24 am

Posted in Medical

Interesting history: Why Coca-Cola sold for 5¢/bottle for 70 years

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I found this brief article interesting, replete with unanticipated consequences and intriguing improvisation and unexpected de facto impediments.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2012 at 9:21 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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