Later On

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

Archive for September 21st, 2015

‘We Have to Raise Our Voices’ to Legalize Medical Weed, Senator Kirsten GallibrandSays

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Kari Paul reports at Motherboard:

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants to live in a country where parents don’t have to choose between potentially life-saving benefits of medical marijuana for their children and federal prosecution, she said on Monday.

In her keynote at the Cannabis Business Summit, the politician told tales of constituents who were forced to navigate the patchwork of federal and state medical marijuana laws as she advocated for the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act (CARERS Act), a bill aiming to decriminalize medical marijuana at a federal level.

“It’s a really exciting time, not just for your industry, but for our state and our country,” the California Democrat said. “Across the country, lawmakers are catching up with science, and finally recognizing the medical benefits of cannabis.”

Central to the bill, introduced by Gillibrand, Rand Paul (R-KY), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), is rescheduling marijuana as a Schedule II drug, the same category as prescription drugs like adderall, methadone, oxycodone, Percocet, and morphine, and giving it the classification of “accepted medical use.”

The drug is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, the same category as LSD, heroin, ecstasy, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Gillibrand said this classification creates major obstacles to research and safe medical use.

“There’s a grave lack of any marijuana research,” she said. “This is a direct result of federal requirements that only govern the study of marijuana. No other drug, Schedule I or otherwise, has been subjected to the same constraints.”

She said the bill would eliminate fear of federal prosecution for patients and businesses in states with legal medical marijuana for the first time. It would also lift the financial restrictions preventing marijuana businesses from using banks andleaving many running dangerous cash-only operations.

It is unclear if and when this bill will come to a vote, but Gillibrand called on attendees to demand action from Washington. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2015 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Congress, Drug laws, Medical

Good news: 100% clean energy for the world by 2050

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Brian Merchant has a very interesting piece in Motherboard:

Earlier this year, the energy consulting firm Meister noted that, of all the forecasts made by government agencies, non-profits, and industry investors, the group that most correctly predicted the rapid rise of clean power was Greenpeace. Sven Teske, an energy campaigner with an engineering background, has been authoring its annual Energy Revolution survey since 2005. In the beginning, the report, which mines market research to predict clean energy industry trends, may have read to an outsider like an activists’ wishful dreaming. Today, it mostly just looks correct.

Teske’s latest study, the tenth, argues that clean energy technologies can meet all of the world’s power demands by 2050. And, given his track record, perhaps we should take the conclusion seriously—the man who most accurately predicted our current clean power boom back in 2005 says we could see 100 percent clean energy by midcentury.

The takeaway is right there in its opening salvo: “100 percent renewable energy for all is achievable by 2050, and is the only way to ensure the world does not descend into catastrophic climate change.” Scientists say that the best way to ensure we don’t see mass destabilization is to limit global warming to 2˚Celsius, which means we can only burn 1,000 more gigatons of carbon before we tip the scales.

“We did a very detailed market analysis,” Teske told me. “It is not just technically and economically possible to make the transition to 100 percent renewables within one generation, it is a must-do to save our climate.”

There are two primary components of the latest report: a drawing down of coal, oil, and gas, and a buildup of renewable technologies. The survey proposes “a phase-out of fossil fuels starting with lignite (the most carbon intensive) by 2035, followed by coal (2045), then oil and then finally gas (2050).” Next, it examines which renewables can and will fill the gap.

Basically, the transition would look like this: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2015 at 2:52 pm

How the criminal justice system works in Alabama

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A judge overrides a jury’s decision not to execute a man convicted of murder and orders the death penalty, even though the judge knows that a key witness had been paid $5,000 for her testimony—and the judge makes sure that the jury is not informed of this payment.

Radley Balko has the full story with details:

Last week, an Oklahoma appeals court granted death row inmate Richard Glossip a stay of execution about an hour before he was scheduled to die. There’s plenty of evidence casting doubt on Glossip’s guilt, including new evidence his legal team unveiled just last week. (Much of it came from witnesses who came forward after seeing the publicity surrounding Glossip’s nearing execution.) Whenever a death row inmate claims innocence in the waning hours of his life, there’s inevitably a chorus of death penalty supporters who point out that the condemned was convicted by a jury, by the work of police and prosecutors, that the verdict would need to have been upheld by a judge, and then by multiple appeals courts.

But consider the case of Montez Spradley. As Glossip neared his execution, Spradley was enjoying his second week of freedom after nearly a decade in prison. For most of that time, he was on death row. He had been convicted of robbing and killing a woman, Marlene Jason, in 2004.

At first glance, the case against Spradley seemed strong. The police claimed to have records of the victim’s credit card being used at the gas station and seafood store, and surveillance photos of Spradley at those businesses at the time the card was used. Spradley’s ex-girlfriend, and the mother of his three children, testified that he had confessed to her, then beat her and threatened her if she tried to testify against him. A jailhouse informant also claimed that Spradley had confessed to him, and even claimed to have corroborating evidence to back up the allegation.

Spradley was convicted in 2008, both for the murder and for threatening his ex-girlfriend to dissuade her from testifying. But there were problems with the state’s case. Most notably, there was no physical evidence linking Spradley to the crime. Perhaps that’s why, during the sentencing phase, the jury voted 10-2 to spare Spradley the death penalty.

Unfortunately for Spradley, Alabama is one of three states in which a judge can override the jury’s verdict in a capital case. Judge Gloria Bahakel disregarded the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Spradley to death. (Incidentally, judges and these three states can also go the other way — they could override a jury’s death recommendation to impose a life sentence. But since 1976, they’re 11 times more likely to override life for death than the other way around.)

Over the next few years, the state’s case against Spradley began to fall apart. In 2011, the Alabama Court of Appeals ordered a new trial on several grounds. Most notably, the court found that the state never established that the security camera photos allegedly showing Spradley at the gas station and seafood store were actually taken at the time the victim’s credit card was used. In fact, the state never produced any documents from a bank showing that the card was used at those businesses. Instead, the state relied on the testimony of the police detective who investigated the case, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Det. Don Edge. As the court pointed out, this was the only evidence linking Spradley to the victim. The state moved ahead with plans to prosecute Spradley again, led by the man who prosecuted him the first time, deputy district attorney Mike Anderton. But before the second trial started, new information further crippled the state’s case.

The most damning piece of evidence against Spradley was the testimony of his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his children, Alisha Booker, who claimed that Spradley had confessed to her. There were already problems with Booker’s story. She claimed in a recorded interview that Spradley told her he committed the crime with a man named Antonio Atkins. The police already knew about Atkins because witnesses claimed someone in a car matching the one he owned tried to sell them gas purchased with Jason’s credit card. But the police also knew that Atkins had an alibi — he had been working the night of the murder. His attorneys have suggested that Atkins’s brother Sedrick was Jason’s killer. Unfortunately, Sedrick Atkins was shot and killed in 2011. At trial, Det. Edge testified that he couldn’t recall if Booker told him Spradley was with someone on the night of the murder, a convenient memory lapse that saved the jury from hearing a critical detail that cast serious doubt on Booker’s testimony.

After his death sentence, Spradley was represented by Birmingham defense attorney Richard Jaffe and Anna Arceneaux, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project.

In a phone interview, Arceneaux says they had learned of a fund run by the Alabama governor’s office that provides reward money to citizens who help solve serious crimes. On a whim, Spradley’s attorneys asked the governor’s office for any information related to payments to witnesses in the Spradley case. They discovered that Alisha Booker had been paid $5,000 for her testimony. They later discovered that she had been paid an additional $5,000 through a private fund. None of this had been disclosed to Spradley’s defense team, as is required by law.

But it gets worse. They also discovered that the money from the governor’s fund was paid to Booker after Spradley’s conviction but before his sentencing. What’s more, Judge Gloria Bahakel had signed off on the payment. She too never disclosed the payment to Spradley’s defense team.

“That means not only did she know that the state had paid Booker and did nothing about it, she also had knowledge of the payment when she overrode the jury and imposed the death penalty,” Arceneaux says.

Anderton has publicly said that he wasn’t personally aware of the payments to Booker, but Arceneaux points out that the documents came from the office of Anderton’s boss at the time, Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber. If Anderton didn’t know about the payments, then someone in his office was making deals with a witness without his knowledge. “Either scenario is disturbing,” Arceneaux says.

Both Arceneaux and Jaffe say they also believe that Booker received yet more money later, possibly from a Crime Stoppers program. They also learned that shortly before trial, Booker attempted to recant her testimony. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2015 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

Cabbage onion bacon casserole

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I modified this recipe somewhat to make the following:

8 slices bacon, baked and drained
2 Tbsp bacon fat
1 head cabbage, shredded
2 onions, chopped small (“shredded”)
1-1.5 Tbsp paprika
Salt and pepper
1-1.5 cups sour cream

Cook eight slices of bacon on rack in a rimmed baking sheet in 400ºF oven until it’s crisp. (The thick bacon I buy takes 22 minutes; for regular bacon, check at 15 minutes.) As the bacon cooks, shred a cabbage. You can do this quickly using the shredding blade of a food processor; in that case, also shred two onions after the cabbage is done. Otherwise, shred the cabbage and hand and chop onions small.

Cook the cabbage and onion in a large sauté pan in 2 Tbsp bacon fat. (I used 4-qt sauté pan and it was pretty full until the cabbage wilted somewhat.) Salt and pepper it well as it cooks. Add sweet (or smoked) paprika to add color.  Cook until the cabbage has started to shrink down and soften, but still has a bit of crunch left.

Put the cabbage and onion in a baking dish or an 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Top it with the sour cream. (Plain yogurt will also work, more or less.) Bake at 375ºF for 20-25 minutes until the sour cream begins to brown and lose some of its moisture. Crumble the bacon (or chop it) and sprinkle it on top.

I just made this. Very tasty.



Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2015 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Yahoo Finance fails to see influence of money in politics

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Jon Schwarz offers in The Intercept a cogent (and devastating) critique of a Yahoo Finance column on the influence of money in politics:

A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 84 percent of Americans think money has too much influence in U.S. politics, and 85 percent want the campaign financing system completely rebuilt or at least fundamentally changed. Even politicians themselves will tell you that big money controls most of what they do.

Yahoo Finance, however, has done a study on money in politics, and determined that everyone else in America is wrong:

With so much concern about democracy for sale, Yahoo Finance set out to ask a basic question: Are rich donors buying election results? We scrutinized thousands of federal records on campaign donations in presidential and congressional campaigns in 2012 and 2014, and came up with this simple answer: no.

What Yahoo did was simple and straightforward: look at the top 10 individual donors to campaigns and Super PACs, as well as the top 10 biggest Super PACs, and then check to see how often the candidates the donors and Super PACs supported won.

And it turned out the big money’s candidates didn’t win every time! For instance, the candidates of the top individual donor, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, won only 56 percent of the time. The candidates of the biggest-spending Super PAC, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, only won 51 percent of their races.

So case closed, according to Yahoo: “the return on investment to big donors appears to be less than the fretting over the health of democracy suggests.”

Of course, the flaws in Yahoo’s study are as painfully glaring as the lens flare in a J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot. Here are the top four, from least important to most:

• Yahoo doesn’t know who the top individual donors were and how much they gave — because nobody does. When you look at Yahoo’s list of the top ten donors for the 2012 and 2014 elections, you’ll notice something odd: Charles Koch is last, at No. 10, and only contributed a scant $5 million total. How can that be? There’s a very simple answer: Yahoo isn’t including money donated to “dark money” political organizations, because they can’t — dark money groups are named that because they go to great lengths to conceal the identity of their contributors.

So no one knows much Koch is personally spending on politics via his extensive dark money political network. What we do know (thanks to an in-depth investigation by the Washington Post and Center for Responsive Politics) is that the Koch network raised at least $407 million in 2012 alone. Certainly that didn’t all come from Charles Koch and his brother David. But as one of the network’s smaller contributors says, “They came across as guys who are putting a lot of their own money into it.”

• Giving lots of your money to losers isn’t a sign of failure. 

Yahoo notes that candidates favored by big donors only won 56 percent of the time (Adelson), or 64 percent (hedge fund manager Tom Steyer), or 57 percent (hedge fund manager Paul Singer). “That’s slightly better than the odds of winning a coin toss,” Yahoo explains, “yet it’s far below the reelection rate for incumbents, which exceeds 90 percent.”

This is preposterous way of looking at elections. If all of a big donor’s candidates win, that means they probably wasted most of their money on races their candidates would have won anyway. If you’re going to spend money on politics, you obviously will concentrate on finding races where you believe your candidates won’t win without you. The fact that big donors’ candidates don’t allthen win doesn’t mean the donors haven’t bought races; it indicates they’re investing their money wisely.

• There’s a political spectrum beyond the one between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats. 

According to Yahoo, “In many races, there’s a huge amount of money on both sides, with big donors essentially canceling each other out.” But while those huge amounts of money may back different candidates, in many ways the money’s all on the same side.

That’s because the biggest contributors to politics may vociferously disagree on some issues, like global warming, but they generally agree on many more, like the importance of trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As Barack Obama said in his book The Audacity of Hope, when he ran for the Senate in 2004 he had to focus all his attention on donors who “reflected, almost uniformly, the perspectives of their class: the top 1 percent or so of the income scale … They had no patience with protectionism, found unions troublesome, and were not particularly sympathetic to those whose lives were upended by the movements of global capital. … I know that as a consequence of my fundraising I became more like the wealthy donors I met.” And Obama, of course, is what counts in the U.S. political system as a “liberal.”

So while large majorities of Americans often strongly disagree with the positions where the bipartisan donor class finds consensus, they usually have no one to represent them. That’s why it’s taken an army of small donors to make Bernie Sanders a viable force. It’s also why it took Donald Trump’s self-funded campaign to speak for a large Republican constituency that’s nativist, against Social Security cuts, and in favor of raising taxes on hedge fund managers.

There’s much, much more to money and politics than elections.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2015 at 8:35 am

Posted in Business, Election, Politics

Should Scent Reformulation Be Reformed?

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Craig K has a very interesting article in Sharpologist on how the product fragrances shift (and degrade) due to reformulation. (Other problems, such as lack of lather, can also arise due to reformulation.) He begins:

Simply put, reformulation is a process in fragrance product development where the scent formula of an existing product is changed. The change can involve the removal of scent elements (either essential or fragrance oils), the integration of new scent elements, the adjustment of the proportional ratios of the scent elements, or some combination of the above.

What Is Reformulation And Why Does It Happen?

Unlike more tightly regulated areas of chemical endeavor, the fragrance mix of a given perfume (or even of a more utilitarian commercial product like detergent or soap) is treated as a trade secret, and the manufacturer does not have to list all the various elements or their proportions in labeling, or indeed in any public forum at all. The fragrance mix can be changed at the whim of the manufacturer, for any reason, at any time, with no notice to end users. That is why shave soaps and perfumes are similar in that part of the ingredient list will say “fragrance” or “parfum” and that is all the info you will get on the subject.

Why Should You Care?

First, understanding the topic makes the issue of all the alleged “fakes” being sold on Amazon a lot more intelligible. Consider these reviews, all of fragrances that were sold directly by Amazon, not one of its third party “marketplace” vendors: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2015 at 8:23 am

Posted in Business, Shaving

Meißner Tremonia’s Black Beer No. 1 and the iKon #102

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SOTD 21 Sept 2015

Mark Sykes commented on Saturday’s post that the gradual wearing down of the Pots o’ Milk sample was becoming tedious. Since that jibed with my own experience, I’ve decided that I will continue the experiment of using up the sample in order to learn how many shaves it will support, but I will restrict it to the Saturday shave and hope that by the end of October it’s gone.

So today is Meißner Tremonia again, but their Black Beer No. 1. This is a new tub and you can see part of the printing on the puck. (The printing is pretty much gone by the second shave.)

That Wet Shaving Products Monarch is a wonderful brush, and I had no trouble quickly loading and getting a wonderful thick and creamy lather, with enough left in the brush at the end to do another three-pass shave. The fragrance of Black Beer No. 1 had, to my nose, certain overtones reminiscent of paint thinner, so I’m not at this point a big fan. I decided to try a different beer soap tomorrow and another Wednesday, and then round out the week with a couple of other alcohol-themed soaps.

Monday = 2-day stubble = slant, and I couldn’t resist going for the #102 again. It’s an amazingly comfortable slant (for me), and yet routinely provides a BBS result, almost always (like today) free of nicks. I am told that the new shipment is expected to go on sale before Hallowe’en.

A good splash of Floïd aftershave, and the week begins, a week of alcohol-themed shaving soaps.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 September 2015 at 8:15 am

Posted in Shaving

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