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Archive for November 4th, 2017

This will not end well: World’s witnessing a new Gilded Age as billionaires’ wealth swells to $6tn

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Rupert Neate, Wealth Correspondent for the Guardian, writes:

The world’s super-rich hold the greatest concentration of wealth since the US Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th century, when families like the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast fortunes.

Billionaires increased their combined global wealth by almost a fifth last year to a record $6tn (£4.5tn) – more than twice the GDP of the UK. There are now 1,542 dollar billionaires across the world, after 145 multi-millionaires saw their wealth tick over into nine-zero fortunes last year, according to the UBS / PwC Billionaires report.

Josef Stadler, the lead author of the report and UBS’s head of global ultra high net worth, said his billionaire clients were concerned that growing inequality between rich and poor could lead to a “strike back”.

“We’re at an inflection point,” Stadler said. “Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest – that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?”

Stadler added: “We are now two years into the peak of the second Gilded Age.”

He said the “$1bn question” was how society would react to the concentration of so much money in the hands of so few.

Anger at so-called robber barron families who built up vast fortunes from monopolies in US rail, oil, steel and banking in the late 19th century, an era of rapid industrialisation and growing inequality in America that became known as the Gilded Age, led to President Roosevelt breaking up companies and trusts and increasing taxes on the wealthy in the early 1900s.

“Will there be similarities in the way society reacts to this gilded age?,” Stadler asked. “Will the second age end or will it proceed?”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently said western governments should force the top 1% of earners to pay more more tax to try to reduce dangerous levels of inequality.

Stadler said media coverage of inequality and the super-rich suggested there would be an “inflection point”, but he said “the perception that billionaires make money for themselves at the expense of the wider population” was incorrect.

He added that 98% of billionaires’ wealth found its way back into wider society and said the world’s super-rich employed 27.7 million people – not far behind the number of people in the UK workforce.

Billionaires’ fortunes increased by 17% on average last year due to the strong performance of their companies and investments, particularly in technology and commodities. The billionaires’ average return was double that achieved by the world’s stock markets and far more than the average interest rates of just 0.35% offered by UK instant-access high street bank accounts.

Stadler said that the super-rich’s concerns over public perceptions that they were getting wealthier at the expense of the wider population had led them to make greater philanthropic gifts and spend their money on public art galleries and sports teams.

“You could say it is about ego and wanting to show off and sit in the front row,” he said. “But it is also about giving back.”

The report said billionaires now accounted for 72 of the world’s 200 top art collectors, up from 28 in 1995. “While not a fresh phenomenon, private museums are growing in number, especially in Asia,” the annual UBS report said. “Motivated by their passion for art, and often encouraged by favourable tax treatment, art collectors are setting up private museums all around the world to share their collections with the public.”. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

I thought we had years to save my sister from addiction. It was already too late.

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Denial in action. Kelly O’Connor writes in the Washington Post:

Within an hour of landing at the Buffalo airport in July, I am helping my little sister get to the bathroom at Kenmore Mercy Hospital after she has been revived with Narcan. I don’t know it yet, but Jenny will die in six days. She has just turned 44. Her estranged drug-addict husband will take her body from the hospital against her last wishes, and we won’t know her final resting place. No wake; no funeral. I will be on a flight home to Washington two days after that, stunned.

Since then, every day I’ve tried to understand how my sister, who lived a middle-class suburban life with her two children, died of cirrhosis of the liver from opioid addiction and alcoholism without my family ever having an honest conversation about it. She didn’t do a single stint in rehab or have any interventions. She really never had a chance, because I didn’t have the courage to face the truth.

How did this disease sneak up on our family? My two sisters and I grew up in a working-class home with many advantages, and all of us graduated from college. My dad is a Vietnam combat veteran and a Bronze Star recipient (although he’d never tell you that and would be angry that I brag about it here). My mom had a hard life growing up with a single mother, but she is the strongest person I know. She and my grandmother would often tell us to “offer it up,” which I understood to mean stop complaining or feeling sorry for yourself. My parents are extraordinary, humble, reserved people, which probably worked against us as we tried to support Jenny amid something none of us understood.

Jenny was smart, athletic and pretty, with a quick sense of humor. But about three years ago, I started thinking something was wrong. She was taking a strange cocktail of medications prescribed by some of the “best doctors in Buffalo,” and had developed increasingly noticeable symptoms, including shaking hands, stuttering, weight loss and personality changes. We let my sister lie to us for years as she quietly descended into despair and a lifestyle that was alien to all of us: bankruptcy, police interactions, restraining orders, reclusiveness and emergency room visits for pain meds. We tried to be supportive, but in hindsight we enabled her.

We rationalized her textbook symptoms and accepted her outrageous medical explanations rather than accepting the truth: She had a drug and alcohol problem, and she was lying about it.

Over the last eight months of her life, Jenny and I talked less and less. I wanted to discuss the medications she was taking, but she refused. Her response was always the same: “Today’s a bad day. I can’t talk about it today. I’m very busy.” These conversations usually ended with me getting annoyed and hanging up, but only because I thought we had years of failed rehab attempts ahead of us and many future opportunities to have this awful talk. I had no idea we were already at rock bottom. It had crept up on us.

Since Jenny died, there have been many mornings when my first thoughts are of Vicodin and vodka to make the guilt and sadness go away. The only thing that stops me are the vivid memories of our last days with her in July, which were heartbreaking and gruesome.

It started with a phone call from my sister Colleen, a nurse, telling me to come home. I arrived in Buffalo the next day with a blank check, impatient to finally get Jenny to a private rehab facility. Within hours, I realized that this was something entirely different — and that we were too late.

I hadn’t seen Jenny since Thanksgiving. She was radically transformed. The whites of her beautiful light green eyes were an awful jaundiced color, with clear liquid bubbles all over her eyeballs like a monster in an old horror movie. Her bony legs stuck out of her hospital gown. Her skin was an unnatural yellow-maroonish color. She was in and out of lucidity, moaning for the Dilaudid she was used to getting at her local hospital in generous doses (and overdoses). A nicotine patch was on her arm, which struck me as absurd.

I thought it was odd that Jenny wasn’t scared when she saw Colleen and me by her hospital bed , but we all talked as if she were there because of a broken arm or tonsils that needed to come out.

We are a close family but not affectionate. That week, I held Jenny’s hand a lot and touched her hair. (I don’t think I had ever touched my sister’s hair before, and now I feel it all the time on my right hand.) I put drops in her eyes, rubbed her swollen feet, fed her Ensure. We watched movies and recited quotes from her favorites such as “Step Brothers” and “Forrest Gump,” funny movies we’ve watched together many times. I kept saying “I love you, Jenny” like Tom Hanks says it in the movie, and I was ashamed to realize I couldn’t remember the last time I had told my sister I loved her.

Colleen and I slept at the hospital every night, getting up every 45 minutes to help Jenny go to the bathroom. It was chilling to watch her look up from the portable toilet in the dark with those eyes when we couldn’t make it to the regular bathroom. She was embarrassed even in her medicated daze.

On day four, things started to go fast. “Do not resuscitate” orders were signed, and for the first time in my life, I saw my mother visibly shaken, although she didn’t cry. (I’ve never seen my mother cry.) We moved into a hospice room down the hall, and the morphine flowed more regularly. The remaining two days were spent sitting quietly by Jenny’s bed.

By then, Jenny’s eyes were always closed. She seemed uncomfortable, grimacing and making occasional sounds. I kept leaning over to touch her hair and whisper in her ear. Once I said: “I’m sorry. I’ll miss you,” and she suddenly opened her eyes wide and looked directly at me. It’s the most scared I’ve ever seen her — or anyone. I smiled as hard as I could, but my tears were everywhere, falling on her.

On day six,  . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 5:46 pm

The USA PATRIOT Act: What You Need to Know

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Fergus O’Sullivan has a nice rundown of the USA PATRIOT Act:

Here at Cloudwards.net we’re big fans of privacy and even bigger fans of people protecting it. We’ve done an article on 99 free privacy tools and we’ve reported on the U.S. Congress allowing American ISPs to spy on their customers. In this article we’re going to take a look at the grandaddy of modern privacy-breaching legislation, the USA PATRIOT Act.

What Is the Patriot Act?

The Patriot Act, to give it its common name, was passed shortly after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, but was not, as most people think, directly related to that. In fact, it’s passage through the houses of parliament was spurred on by the anthrax attacks of late 2001, when celebrities, politicians and plenty of others received suspicious packages of white powder in the mail.

This bit of mail-based nastiness was the perfect fuel on a fire already burning bright and on October 25, 2001, The U.S. Senate passed the, and it’s a mouthful, Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act. The Patriot Act passed both houses almost unanimously, with only 66 Representatives and a single Senator voting against this rather scary piece of legislation.

Now, ever since Edward Snowden came out and spilled the beans on PRISM, SOMALGET and all the other off-the-books programs organized by the NSA, CIA and whatever other alphabet agencies, we all have gotten used to that the government might be listening. Back in 2001, however, all this was new and many people could be forgiven for thinking that it would all blow over.

It didn’t. Many of the surveillance in place now on both Americans as well as other parts of the world was directly inspired by the programs that came out of the passing of the Patriot Act. It’s tempting to think that it was because legislators the world over saw the ease with which the U.S. was able to put a massive surveillance apparatus in place with approval from most of its people, but it’s hard to say exactly.

What’s In the Patriot Act?

Though it’s difficult to give a full overview of what the Patriot Act made possible, even a summary reads like some tinpot dictator’s wish list. The Act,

  • Allowed civilian authorities to request aid from the military to keep order in certain cases
  • Expanded the scope of the spying allowed on both U.S. citizens as well as foreigners in the name of “removing obstacles to investigating terrorism”
  • Introduced several new kinds of warrants, some of which could be served on the flimsiest of pretexts (including “sneak-and-peek” warrants)
  • Weakened banking secrecy regulations to prevent money laundering
  • Gave more authority to the various U.S. border protection agencies to refuse entry to people they didn’t like (if you’ve ever been yelled at at the U.S. border for wanting to go on holiday, now you know why)
  • Changed a whole bunch of legal terminology to make prosecuting suspected terrorists easier (so now pipe bombs are weapons of mass destruction)

For a full overview, Wikipedia has a great breakdown of the Patriot Act, though we recommend the usual grain of salt while reading this open-source encyclopedia.

For those wondering, the Patriot Act did not allow for extraordinary rendition (the fun practice where the U.S. would fly people out to sunny vacation spots to be tortured), it just made it easier to implement it. The basis for rendition was actually laid by Bill Clinton.

Effects of the Patriot Act . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 1:22 pm

What J. D. Vance Doesn’t Get About Appalachia

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In the Washington Montly Alec MacGillis reviews an interesting new book by Steven Stoll: Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia:

We are, one hears, spending too much time on Appalachia. There are too many dispatches from woebegone towns, coastal reporters parachuting in to ascertain that, yes, the hard-bitten locals are still with their man Donald Trump. There are too many odes to the beleaguered coal miner, even though that entire industry now employs fewer people than Arby’s. Enough already, says the exasperated urban liberal. Frank Rich captured this sentiment in March in a New York magazine piece entitled “No Sympathy for the Hillbilly.” “Maybe,” he mused, “they’ll keep voting against their own interests until the industrial poisons left unregulated by their favored politicians finish them off altogether. Either way, the best course for Democrats may be to respect their right to choose.”

The superficial “downtrodden Trump voter” story has indeed become an unproductive cliché. And upheavals in industries with larger, more diverse workforces than coal, such as retail, deserve close attention as well.

But our decades-long fixation with Appalachia is still justified. For starters, the political transformation of the region is genuinely stunning. West Virginia was one of just six states that voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980; last year, it gave Trump his second-largest margin of victory, forty-two points.

More importantly, the region’s afflictions cannot simply be cordoned off and left to burn out. The opioid epidemic that now grips whole swaths of the Northeast and Midwest got its start around the turn of the century in central Appalachia, with the shameless targeting of a vulnerable customer base by pharmaceutical companies hawking their potent painkillers. The epidemic spread outward from there, sure as an inkblot on a map. People like Frank Rich may be callous enough to want to consign Appalachians to their “poisons,” but the quarantine is not that easy.

We should be thankful, then, for what Steven Stoll, a historian at Fordham University, has delivered in Ramp Hollow: not just another account of Appalachia’s current plight, but a journey deeper in time to help us understand how the region came to be the way it is. For while much has been written about the region of late, the historical roots of its troubles have received relatively little recent scrutiny. Hillbilly Elegy, J. D. Vance’s best-selling memoir of growing up in an Appalachian family transplanted from eastern Kentucky to the flatlands of southwestern Ohio, cast his people’s afflictions largely as a matter of a culture gone awry, of ornery self-reliance turned to resentful self-destruction. In White Trash, the historian Nancy Isenberg traced the history of the country’s white underclass to the nation’s earliest days, but she focused more on how that underclass was depicted and scorned than on the material particulars of its existence.

Stoll offers the ideal complement. He has set out to tell the story of how the people of a sprawling region of our country—one of its most physically captivating and ecologically bountiful—went from enjoying a modest but self-sufficient existence as small-scale agrarians for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to a dreary dependency on the indulgence of coal barons or the alms of the government.

Stoll refuses to accept that there is something intrinsically lacking in Appalachians—people who, after all, managed to carve out a life on such challenging, mountainous terrain. Something was done to them, and he is going to figure out who did it. He links their fate to other threatened agrarian communities, from rice growers in the Philippines to English peasants at the time of the Enclosure Acts. “Whenever we see hunger and deprivation among rural people, we need to ask a simple question: What went on just before the crisis that might have caused it?” he writes. “Seeing the world without the past would be like visiting a city after a devastating hurricane and declaring that the people there have always lived in ruins.”

The missing history is above all a story about land and dispossession. For roughly a century, starting before the country’s founding, the settlers of central Appalachia—defined by Stoll as the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and most of West Virginia—managed a makeshift life as smallholders. The terms of that “holding” were murky, to say the least: property claims in the region were a tangled patchwork of grants awarded to French and Indian or Revolutionary War generals and other notables, which were commonly diced and sliced among speculators, and the de facto claims made by those actually inhabiting the land. In some cases, those settlers managed to get official deeds by the legal doctrine of “adverse possession”; in many others, they were simply allowed to keep working the land by distant landlords who had never laid eyes on it.

Regardless of the legal letter, the settlers carved out their “homeplace,” as Stoll calls it. He is evocative in describing their existence, but stops short of romanticizing it, and takes pains to note that their presence was itself founded on the dispossession of the natives. They practiced “swidden” agriculture—burning out one clearing for cultivation, then letting it regenerate while rotating to another area—likely introduced by Scandinavians mixed in with the predominant Scots-Irish. Survival depended on shared use of the boundless forest beyond one’s own hollow or ridge—the “commons”—for hunting game, raising livestock, small-scale logging, and foraging bounties such as uganost (wild greens), toothworth, corn salad, and ramps. “People with control over a robust landscape work hard, but they don’t go hungry,” remarks Stoll.

Yet it was the area’s very natural bounty that would ultimately spell the end of this self-sufficiency. The Civil War’s incursions into the Shenandoah Valley and westward exposed the region’s riches in exactly the minerals demanded by a growing industrial economy. (By 1880, there were 56,500 steam engines in the country, all voracious for coal.) “Her hills and valleys are full of wealth which only needs development to attract capitalists like a magnet,” declared one joint-stock company. In swarmed said capitalists, often in cahoots with local power brokers from Charleston and Wheeling.

The confused legal property claims offered the aspiring coal barons a window: they could approach longtime inhabitants and say, essentially, “Look, we all know you don’t have full title to this land, but if you sell us the mineral rights, we’ll let you stay.” With population growth starting to crimp the wide-ranging agrarian existence, some extra cash in hand was hard to reject. Not that it was very much: one farmer turned over his 740 acres for a mere $3.58 per acre—around $80 today. By 1889, a single company,  . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 9:41 am

AI is coming along at just the right time: Science has outgrown the human mind and its limited capacities

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Ahmed Alkhateeb, a molecular cancer biologist at Harvard Medical School whose work focuses on the development of analytical platforms to improve research efficiency in biomedicine, writes in Aeon:

The duty of man who investigates the writings of scientists, if learning the truth is his goal, is to make himself an enemy of all that he reads and … attack it from every side. He should also suspect himself as he performs his critical examination of it, so that he may avoid falling into either prejudice or leniency. 

– Ibn al-Haytham (965-1040 CE)

Science is in the midst of a data crisis. Last year, there were more than 1.2 million new papers published in the biomedical sciences alone, bringing the total number of peer-reviewed biomedical papers to over 26 million. However, the average scientist reads only about 250 papers a year.Meanwhile, the quality of the scientific literature has been in decline. Some recent studies found that the majority of biomedical papers were irreproducible.

The twin challenges of too much quantity and too little quality are rooted in the finite neurological capacity of the human mind. Scientists are deriving hypotheses from a smaller and smaller fraction of our collective knowledge and consequently, more and more, asking the wrong questions, or asking ones that have already been answered. Also, human creativity seems to depend increasingly on the stochasticity of previous experiences – particular life events that allow a researcher to notice something others do not. Although chance has always been a factor in scientific discovery, it is currently playing a much larger role than it should.

One promising strategy to overcome the current crisis is to integrate machines and artificial intelligence in the scientific process. Machines have greater memory and higher computational capacity than the human brain. Automation of the scientific process could greatly increase the rate of discovery. It could even begin another scientific revolution. That huge possibility hinges on an equally huge question: can scientific discovery really be automated?

I believe it can, using an approach that we have known about for centuries. The answer to this question can be found in the work of Sir Francis Bacon, the 17th-century English philosopher and a key progenitor of modern science.

The first reiterations of the scientific method can be traced back many centuries earlier to Muslim thinkers such as Ibn al-Haytham, who emphasised both empiricism and experimentation. However, it was Bacon who first formalised the scientific method and made it a subject of study. In his book Novum Organum (1620), he proposed a model for discovery that is still known as the Baconian method. He argued against syllogistic logic for scientific synthesis, which he considered to be unreliable. Instead, he proposed an approach in which relevant observations about a specific phenomenon are systematically collected, tabulated and objectively analysed using inductive logic to generate generalisable ideas. In his view, truth could be uncovered only when the mind is free from incomplete (and hence false) axioms.

The Baconian method attempted to remove logical bias from the process of observation and conceptualisation, by delineating the steps of scientific synthesis and optimising each one separately. Bacon’s vision was to leverage a community of observers to collect vast amounts of information about nature and tabulate it into a central record accessible to inductive analysis. In Novum Organum, he wrote: ‘Empiricists are like ants; they accumulate and use. Rationalists spin webs like spiders. The best method is that of the bee; it is somewhere in between, taking existing material and using it.’

The Baconian method is rarely used today. It proved too laborious and extravagantly expensive; its technological applications were unclear. However, at the time the formalisation of a scientific method marked a revolutionary advance. Before it, science was metaphysical, accessible only to a few learned men, mostly of noble birth. By rejecting the authority of the ancient Greeks and delineating the steps of discovery, Bacon created a blueprint that would allow anyone, regardless of background, to become a scientist.

Bacon’s insights also revealed an important hidden truth: the discovery process is inherently algorithmic. It is the outcome of a finite number of steps that are repeated until a meaningful result is uncovered. Bacon explicitly used the word ‘machine’ in describing his method. His scientific algorithm has three essential components: first, observations have to be collected and integrated into the total corpus of knowledge. Second, the new observations are used to generate new hypotheses. Third, the hypotheses are tested through carefully designed experiments.

If science is algorithmic, then it must have the potential for automation. This futuristic dream has eluded information and computer scientists for decades, in large part because the three main steps of scientific discovery occupy different planes. Observation is sensual; hypothesis-generation is mental; and experimentation is mechanical. Automating the scientific process will require the effective incorporation of machines in each step, and in all three feeding into each other without friction. Nobody has yet figured out how to do that.

Experimentation has seen the most substantial recent progress. For example, the pharmaceutical industry commonly uses automated high-throughput platforms for drug design. Startups such as Transcriptic and Emerald Cloud Lab, both in California, are building systems to automate almost every physical task that biomedical scientists do. Scientists can submit their experiments online, where they are converted to code and fed into robotic platforms that carry out a battery of biological experiments. These solutions are most relevant to disciplines that require intensive experimentation, such as molecular biology and chemical engineering, but analogous methods can be applied in other data-intensive fields, and even extended to theoretical disciplines.

Automated hypothesis-generation is less advanced, but the work of Don Swanson in the 1980s provided an important step forward. He demonstrated the existence of hidden links between unrelated ideas in the scientific literature; using a simple deductive logical framework, he could connect papers from various fields with no citation overlap. In this way, Swanson was able to hypothesise a novel link between dietary fish oil and Reynaud’s Syndrome without conducting any experiments or being an expert in either field. Other, more recent approaches, such as those of Andrey Rzhetsky at the University of Chicago and Albert-László Barabási at Northeastern University, rely on mathematical modelling and graph theory. They incorporate large datasets, in which knowledge is projected as a network, where nodes are concepts and links are relationships between them. Novel hypotheses would show up as undiscovered links between nodes.

The most challenging step in the automation process is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 9:34 am

Posted in Science, Technology

Veterans Groups Push for Medical Marijuana to Treat PTSD

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For treating PTSD and pain veterans groups understandably prefer marijuana (non-addictive, no deaths from using it) to opioids (highly addictive, overdose deaths increasingly common). However, ideology (not science) puts up significant barriers to a rational solution. Reggie Ugwu reports in the NY Times:

Among critics of the federal prohibition of marijuana — a diverse and bipartisan group that includes both criminal justice reform advocates and Big Alcohol — the American Legion and its allies stand out.

For more than a year, the stalwart veterans group has been working to reframe the debate as a question of not only moral and economic imperatives, but also patriotic ones, arguing that access to medical marijuana could ease suffering and reduce suicide rates among soldiers who return from the horrors of war.

“We’ve got young men and women with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries coming to us and saying that cannabis works,” Joe Plenzler, a spokesman for the group, which was established after World War I and has over two million members, said by telephone Wednesday.

Mr. Plenzler said that veterans had turned to medical marijuana as an alternative to so-called “zombie drugs,” including opioids and antidepressants, that they said adversely affected their mood and personality, up to and including thoughts of suicide. In studies, cannabis has been shown to help alleviate chronic pain and reduce muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

In 2016, the American Legion petitioned the government to relax federal restrictions on marijuana in two ways. The group asked Congress to remove the drug from the list of Schedule 1 narcotics — a class that includes heroin, LSD and other drugs that have “no accepted medical use” and a high potential for abuse — and reclassify it in a lower schedule. It also called on the Drug Enforcement Administration to license more privately funded growers to focus on medical research.

Because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, there is surprisingly little rigorous research into its medical applications, as researchers have found themselves stymied by regulatory hurdles at federal health and drug agencies and short on a supply of federally approved product.

The classification also means that veterans — many of whom rely on the federal Veterans Affairs Department for their health care — cannot get coverage for medical marijuana, even in the 29 states that have legalized it.

On Thursday, The American Legion published a phone survey of over 800 veterans and veteran caregivers in which 92 percent of respondents said they supported research into medical cannabis for the purpose of treating mental or physical conditions. Eighty-two percent said they wanted cannabis as a federally legal treatment option.

“Even in the states where it’s legal, there’s still the stigma associated with the federal ban,” said Louis Celli, the group’s national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation. He noted that soldiers were regularly subjected to urinalysis and told to stay away from the drug. “It puts veterans in a very difficult position.”

Though a Quinnipiac University poll released in April found that a record 94 percent of all Americans supported doctor-prescribed medical marijuana usage, veterans advocating research have run into the same roadblock as pro-cannabis activists around the country: the Justice Department.

President Trump campaigned in support of medical marijuana and said that recreational usage should be a “state-by-state” issue. But his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has been an outspoken critic of legalizing the drug for any purpose. Veterans groups draw a straight line from obstacles to medical marijuana research to the doorstep of Mr. Sessions.

“He is putting politics, antiquated policies and his own personal opinion ahead of the health needs of veterans in this country,” said Nick Etten, executive director of Veterans Cannabis Project, referring to Mr. Sessions.

A representative for the Justice Department declined to comment, but Mr. Sessions said during an oversight hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he was considering expanding the supply of research-grade marijuana.

Veterans groups say the fastest and most effective way to help veterans get access to treatment is to simply reschedule the drug. That would automatically lift the most onerous barriers to research and allow V.A. health care providers to immediately prescribe marijuana in states where it is legal.

But getting the necessary legislation through a fractious, conservative congress may still be a pipe dream. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 8:51 am

I learn that, for me, the Above the Tie S1 is noticeably more comfortable than the R1

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After finding the ATT R1 not so comfortable a few days ago, I approached the S1 with a certain amount of caution, though of course I did a good prep with The Grooming Co.’s synthetic (which now I like) and Van Yulay’s excellent Puros La Habana shaving soap, which has a fragrance of fine cigars.

The S1 proved to be extremely comfortable and (of course) quite efficient—it’s a good slant. Shaving with it was really a relaxing pleasure. I use a UFO handle with it, and the combination feels good in the hand.

A good splash of Phoenix Artisan Cavendish (a favorite aftershave: I bought a spare bottle before the move) finished the job on a slightly different tobacco note, getting the weekend off to a good start.

I can tell I’m farther north: sunrise just after 8:00, sunset just before 6:00.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 8:41 am

Posted in Shaving

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