Monday, September 29, 2003


An arctic trough raked its fingers through the Happy Valley today. The weather changed every 40 minutes or so as cold winds aloft hustled the thin lines of scudding clouds through. We had a thunderstorm at 4:30; at 5:15 we had a three minute rainbow. Karen and I watched it. Her balloon flight was cancelled again today. I thought the rainbow was kind of the universe's compensation for the delay.


In yet another brilliant display of underhanded political machinations, your favorite drug czar's minions are sneakily putting forward a bill tomorrow in the House that would re-authorize funding for failed 'drug war' programs. They want to authorize one billion of your hard earned tax dollars for those absurdly ineffective anti-drug ads alone. You remember that amendment we already defeated in committee. They tacked it on again and are sleazing the bill onto the agenda under a process known as "suspension of the rules" which limits debate to less than an hour and prohibits Representatives from offering amendments to improve the bill.

Please call your Congressman on Tuesday (9/30), and stop this corruption of the democratic process. If only 146 (out of 435) Representatives vote against the bill the House Republican leadership will be forced to bring the bill up under a more democratic process that will allow amendments to improve it. Ask your congress critter to vote against the drug war bill (HR 2086).

You can call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard for free at 1-800-839-5276.Tell the receptionist, "I'm calling to urge my Representative to vote against HR 2086 when it comes up under suspension of the rules. You can find out who your representative is here.


SSSH. Don't tell my sister but she's becoming a newshawk. She broke two stories in my inbox today. A pilot was shot down in Colombia outside his regular campaign route as anti-drug forces try to eradicate fields of coca in mountains.

According to the article:

Operations between the ground forces and the spray planes are normally coordinated, so the low-flying crop dusters don't wander over areas rife with guerrillas. But the Colombian commanders said in interviews Wednesday that in the new offensive - now called Operation Catatumbo after previously being dubbed Operation Holocaust - standard practices seem to have been ditched as ground troops move more slowly over the steep mountainsides, which are often covered in clouds.

The second story was about an ASU professor who considers his time spent in prison an asset to his profession.

Daniel S. Murphy's credentials to teach criminology at Appalachian State University include a nearly finished doctorate, teaching awards, published articles - and five years in federal prison on a conviction of growing marijuana.

'I can address issues on both sides of the razor wire,' Murphy said. He says he began writing down his observations of prison life while still inside and that he was once sent to solitary confinement for doing so.

'We're the antithesis of a rebel-rousing protest group,' he said recently in his small office on campus. 'We're trying to do positive change through existing, legitimate channels.'

Frankly, I find his acceptance of his punishment a little disturbing but I appreciate his view and his need to make a living.


Thanks to Preston Peet for passing this quote on:

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government & the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.
- - Albert Einstein ( "My First Impression of the U.S.A.", 1921)

Sunday, September 28, 2003


There was something in the air here last night, the energy was just crackling in the streets. I stopped by City for my daily dose of humans. I was later than usual for a Saturday night, my regular buddies were already gone. I found myself sitting next to Jeremy. He's been showing up across the bar in the after-work crowd just recently. I've been curious about him. He always has a stack of papers with him.

We had a great conversation and I was happy to find one other person besides Roger who I'll be able to discuss politics with. Turns out he is a teacher who is also working on a documentary for the Media Education Foundation. This project is based right in lovely downtown Northampton, a few blocks from me. They're doing good work over there and I've been meaning to get in contact with them for a while. Glad they finally found me.

Jeremy left and I was immediately joined by a new companion - Ed. I found it somewhat cosmic that Ed works for the local Coca-Cola plant. I had just posted a long screed on the corporate environment in response to Bob Armstrong, earlier in the day. Here was chance to test my theory. Unfortunately, I was all too right.

Ed was stone cold sober when he sat down. He looked to be about mid-30s, shaved head, clean and dressed conservatively. He used to drive a truck. He loved the job but he hated the hours. He had no life outside of the road. So he joined corporate Amerika.

He was pretty proud of his job. He works in the lab at the bottling plant. He described himself as a blue collar worker and thought he had a pretty good deal working for $17 an hour since he was only a high school graduate. He spouted a lot of corporate slogans. He felt secure in his job. He didn't know anyone in corporate headquarters. He doesn't even know anyone in the local HQ. Then I asked him what it was like to live under the corporate rules of employment.

He morphed into a whole different personality. He was wired for sound and he got louder and louder. He had finished half his beer. He started to scare me. This was the effect of seven years of having been treated like a statistic instead of a human being. I shrugged my shoulders at Roger in silent apology and booked out of there. I don't always like being right.

I ran into Al of the Drunkstuntmen at the convenience store an hour later. He was on his way to Harry's to do an acoustic set with fellow bandmate Steve. I caught the end of the set. These boys are some of the most versatile players in this town and I've seen them in a lot of different combinations, but the duo really works. Al's guitar sounds better everytime I see him, he doesn't get to show his licks in the full band, and Steve lyrics as always sear the brain even as his voice soothes the soul. The hot gossip straight from the stage though is that Bow Bow is leaving the group and they are looking for a new bass player. Hard to imagine the band without him.


The ACLU College Freedom Tour is coming to Amherst on Tuesday and much to my delight Barry Crimmins will be exercising his First Amendment rights as the evening's host. I love his wit and since I am half of the WMASS Regional office of the ACLUM, it appears I'll have an opportunity to meet one of my counter-culture heros. The event starts at 7:00 and is free to the public. There will be talking, music and a short film. Come on down to Bowker Auditorium at UMASS and get your awareness radically raised.


The debate on corporate complicity continues unabated. Bob Armstrong did indeed answer the next day and in the interests of free expression, I post his response with my replies. This is my last attempt to convince him that the Libertarians need to change their view on this point, before they get my vote.

This is really long so I'm going to post it in installments. I know it seems like a stretch to relate this to the WODSU, but it's part of the problem. The power of the corporate influence is greater than governments and they are behind the policies that keep only certain drugs illegal. Think about this, the combined net worth of the Walton family (66bil) - they own WalMart - is significantly greater than the GNP of either Iraq(58bil) or Afganistan(19bil), the last two countries we invaded.

With that in mind, I give Part I of the Great Libby-terian Debate. Bob's remarks will be in bold:

The defense is of the principle of non initiation of aggression . Which implies no preemptive interference by a third party with rights of individuals to "make business" , to use Yasir Arafat's phrase , with counterparties of their choice . We fail to see a distinction between a snack shop owner offering a meal to a homeless person for wearing a sandwich board for forty minutes and the heads of the enormous coordinated teams it take to create much of flows of products necessary for modern existence .

There's a huge difference. The sandwich guy is a community based business providing a tangible good and personal service. He probably knows a lot of his
patrons by name. If he's rude or his food is bad, his patrons will go to Jack's Joint down the street. I doubt his business plan includes trying to eliminate Jack's and the other four snack shops in his neighborhood with a hostile takeover. He's following your model by trying to provide a better product.

He also provides a social service by employing the homeless guy and I bet he knows his name also. The guy leaves with a full belly and his dignity for having been afforded a chance to earn his meal with honest labor instead of having to commit some petty crime for his sustenance.

In contrast, the heads of, as you say, these enormous teams required to coordinate the flow of products, are actually producing nothing. They are shuffling paper and planning preemptive attacks on under-exploited markets. It's all about the velocity of money - they don't give a damn about the quality of their product, they care about the quantity of their profit.

These guys don't know one patron's name, hell they don't know their employee's names. I feel very certain they not only don't know the homeless guy's name but would drive right by him on the street and not even really see him.

Their business plan is to eliminate choices, not participate in or facilitate free, much less fair trade. They undermine the local guy with the force of their buying power which occurred because they were allowed to grow so large as to swallow the competition whole.

The only force that a "corporation" of any size can use is to supply some good or service that many individuals choose as a better value proposition than any of their alternatives. For instance, you have to operate a damned unique hardware store offering some distinct advantage to some niche of customers if you don't want to become a department head in hardware in the local Home Depot . People will vote with their dollars (or rather with the dollars they save) for the operation with the greater efficiencies and correspondingly lower costs.

The consumers don't have a choice. They have to choose between saving money and paying for their prescription drugs. Using your hardware store analogy, when these big box retailers come in and drive the little guy out of business, they put his employees out of work. Sure they can now get a job there but it's to the detriment of their well-being.

Mr. Big Box CEO doesn't care if his kids are sick or his truck died on the way to work. He is not treated like a human being, he is a statistic, subject to a set of inflexible rules whose sole criteria is profit. They probably only gave him a part-time position and they schedule to the max of the limits before they have to offer him benefits. Those cost money too you know.

So yeah, he's going to buy his stuff there to save 10 bucks over what it would cost to buy the same thing at the last remaining independent merchant in town. He doesn't really have a choice. He still has to feed his family.

Quote of the Day

Last word goes to Barry Crimmins, who has this to say on corporate ownership of our government:

All money reflects is the ownership of the candidate. If Bush were a racing car he'd have more corporate logos on him than the rest of his competitors combined. He'd also wear other logos that represent authoritarianism, environmental destruction, religious zealotry, bigotry, unbridled greed and imperialism.

Saturday, September 27, 2003


There's this bit going around the lists right now about this little quirk of the human brain. I've seen it a couple of times, but I'm posting it in case any of you missed it. It is kind of fun.

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the
frist> and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but
the wrod as a wlohe.

Ptrety amzanig, dno't you tnhik?


I ran into Harry McColgan four times this week. That hasn't happened since that summer of fun, three years ago now. I met him on the Deck at the Union Station. We were introduced by a mutual friend. I thought they told me he was the farmer from Hatfield who used to own the little airstrip there, turned out he owns Harry's Bar - companion business to City Cafe.

Harry and I became really close that year. A lot of people thought we were having an affair. Truth is, we were never lovers but we shared a lot and became fast friends. We spent 9/11 together. I've come to love him and his crowd dearly, but then I've always been drawn to the Irish. It was good to see him and Sully as well, although I'm glad I escaped when I did. Word has it they closed the bar that night.


Drug War Rant posted an excellent piece on a disturbing development in this inhumane WOSDU. the prosecution of doctors for prescribing humane dosages of legal prescriptions to relieve severe pain in their patients. The prohibition warriors apparently not being satisfied with telling the judiciary how to do their job, now want to dictate how a physician practices medicine. If you haven't found a good reason to depose the Bush thugdom, read this post. I'm convinced.


This has been lurking in my inbox for a month, but it still makes sense to me and it fits tonight's theme. Scientific studies stay fresh a long time.

Ethan Russo, MD published an edited composite of a Policy Paper on Cannabis in Pain Treatment presented to the American Academy of Pain Management detailing the value of cannabis for pain relief. This is a comprehensive compliation of a much longer study. If you're interested in the medicinal history of our plant, check out that link.

Last word goes to Ethan:

Effective treatment of acute, chronic and intractable pain is a critically important public health concern in the world today. Despite a vast array of analgesic medicines including anti-inflammatory and opioid analgesics, countless patients continue to suffer the burden of unrelieved pain. Opiate addiction, and the recent OxyContin controversy underline the importance of newer effective and safe alternatives.

For over a century, international commissions have studied the issue of cannabis, and virtually uniformly recommended its decriminalization and provision for medical applications, specifically including the treatment of pain.

Cannabis has been employed as an analgesic for thousands of years, and was utilized in this country as well, particularly for neuropathic pain, prior to its effective removal from the American market 65 years ago. Historical cannabis supporters have included such physicians and scientists as Galen, Dioscorides, Parkinson, Linnaeus, Gowers, Weir Mitchell, Osler, Solomon Snyder, and many others. Cannabis remains a frequently employed ethno-botanical agent in pain management among indigenous peoples of the world.

Friday, September 26, 2003


Don't be fooled into thinking you are safe now that our Beltway Boys cut the funding for the TIA Act. I think the only reason the neo-cons let it go was they set up this little private company to do the the same thing.

Jim Krane reports from the AP:

While privacy worries are frustrating the Pentagon's plans for a far-reaching database to combat terrorism, a similar project is quietly taking shape with the participation of more than a dozen states -- and $12 million in federal funds. The database project, created so states and local authorities can track would-be terrorists as well as criminal fugitives, is being built and housed in the offices of a private company but will be open to some federal law enforcers and perhaps even US intelligence agencies.

Dubbed Matrix, the database has been in use for a year and a half in Florida, where police praise the crime-fighting tool as nimble and exhaustive. It cross-references the state's driving records and restricted police files with billions of pieces of public and private data, including credit and property records.

This is the real Matrix kids, this is not a game. For those of you who only come here for the gossip, this is the one time I urge you to click on the link. Anyone could be on this list, it's a back door into the TIA without any government/citizen oversight because it's a private business and since the technology is so new, it's probably completely unregulated.

It's been a long time since I read the book, but it sure sounds like 1984 to me. Take note of the closing paragraphs. This is the last word today.

Aspects of the project appear designed to steer around federal laws that bar the US government from collecting routine data on Americans. For instance, the project is billed as a tool for state and local police, but organizers are considering giving access to the Central Intelligence Agency, said Phil Ramer, special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's intelligence office.

In the 1970s, Congress barred the CIA from scanning files on average Americans, after the agency was cited for spying on civil rights leaders. Florida officials have acknowledged that users of Matrix, which stands for Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, can "monitor innocent citizens."


I no sooner finished complaining to my dear friend and co-worker Karen that my horoscope never comes true when it says something good is going to happen when something finally did. It had been saying for three days that I would see an old friend that has been missing for a long time. Well, 1 minute and 45 seconds later, I ran into one of my favorite people in the world, Dave Shapiro, best stand up bass jazz player on the eastern seaboard. Dave is the only person who ever asked me to drive around the world. You could really almost do it. We figured out the route on my map, taking into account of course, the Mercator Projection factor. It was good to see you Dave. Hope you're really reading this as you promised....


I'm glad I got safely home last night because there was mayhem on the streets of the Commonwealth. The Sox clinched the wild card slot. I'm a lifelong Mets fan but three seasons ago, my dear friend Jamie Snyder pointed out that I could cheer for both teams since they were in different leagues. Accepting the logic, I became a Red Sox fan as well. That's when I found out about the curse.

I love the underdog, it's how I became a Mets fan. When I started cheering for them, the Yankees' fans used to sneer at the name. Come to think of it, they still do and it turns out they also sneer at the Sox so there's a connection of sorts. In any event, I'm ridiculously superstitous about baseball - I have more rituals than Nomar - and I came to realize I could only give my mojo to one team at a time. I developed the Red Sox Theory and decided to promote it for three seasons.

It has to do with the synergy of group belief. They were losing because everyone believed in the curse. I promoted the theory that if you didn't believe in the curse, it would lose it's power. I've been talking this up from the Fenway to the Berkshires for these three years. I saw the Mets through two victories in my lifetime. When they beat the Sox in 88, it was on the slogan - You Gotta Believe - and that's really all it takes. These guys thrive on the energy of the fans.

I hope the theory is taking hold, because I heard a sportscaster call my boys in New York the losingest team in the history of baseball. I think I need to swing my mojo back to my home boys next season.

I think it might all work out though. Smart money was saying the Sox would be too hung over to play well today. I'm the only one at City that thought they would take it tonight.

It's top of the seventh, 1 out, and it 6-2 Boston. I hope they can hold it the lead and I'm going to believe they can.

Thursday, September 25, 2003


My clicker died last week. I finally bought new one today. It’s a little fancier than the old one, DVD ready - as if I am, I haven’t managed to watch a DVD yet. Nonetheless, its way cool to be able to switch stations without having to click a button on the console ten times. I don’t actually watch TV much, I turn on for the ambient sound mostly, but I found I missed that little hand-held electronic unit more than I expected.


I’ve been thinking of the Camelot years a lot lately. RFK was a good and just US Attorney General, particularly in comparison with the Authoritarian Geek currently in charge of our national judiciary. I’d bet the old-timers on the federal bench agree with me today, as evidenced by this piece in today New York Times, New Plea Bargain Limits Could Swamp Courts.

The Aga John has really overstepped his boundaries this time. I think John Walters should investigate whether or not he is on some new drug that completely destroys common sense. What he is proposing would surely bring the already sluggish wheel of justice to a grinding halt.


The anti-prohibition warriors at and their invaluable Media Awareness Project, are on the forefront of this battle to restore sanity to civilized society. Their sponsor has issued a challenge to the 20,000 people who visit the site to send in voluntary contributions to underwrite some of this important work. If you have a few bucks to spare, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Details are available here.


Meanwhile, across the big pond, Marco Cappato and The International AntiProhibitionist League are still shaking the roots of the establishment in Italy and the rest of that hemisphere. I love their newsletter. It’s barely in English and not all that visually attractive but very spirited in its content. I recommend subscribing if you care about the international political puzzle. My really long time readers will remember when I was pushing their UN petition. It didn’t sway the UN but the project is still ongoing, they’re verifying the current roster and are still collecting signatures. I signed months ago, but you haven’t yet added your voice to this chorus, click here.


Thanks to M. Arthur Hahn for the last word and quote of the day.

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce and brave man, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot."
Mark Twain

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Drying out here in lovely downtown Noho this morning after a tremendous rainstorm yesterday afternoon. I was on the street when it hit. It was absolutely psychedelic. It poured buckets for about 20 minutes, gales of wind driving it in sheets down the pavement. By the time I walked half a block there was a two foot deep flood under the railroad trestle and the cross street at the top of the hill was about four inches deep.

The umbrella was totally ineffective. I was soaked to the skin from the waist down in seconds. I came back to the office and literally had to wring out my slacks.


There's a new guy posting on the discussion list these days, Bob Armstrong, a staunch Libertarian. We've been having an ongoing debate for the last few weeks on corporate complicity in the sorry state of the world economy.

There's a lot I admire about the Party's political stance, but I have real problem with their insistence on blaming everything solely on the so called 'nanny government'. This is my last post on the subject:

And here's where the Libertians lose me. There's a lot I like about the model, but I'm confounded by this blind and at times almost belligerent defense of the so called free market system as forced on the economy by the multinational corporations at the expense of the lower economic classes.

It's so easy to say that opportunities exist but what bothers me, is the vehement supporters of that line within the LP are people who enjoyed the advantages of
at least a comfortable middle class upbringing.

Let me ask, and I mean this in the kindest way possible, did you grow up in the ghetto Bob? Did you fight your way off the streets to get your education? Was there one day in your childhood when you were hungry and your mom had nothing to feed you? Did you have to wonder who your dad was? These are the people who are working on the production lines of US multicorporates, only here they unionized for better conditions. So now they are outsourcing the labor.

An ugly scenario that plays out at ten times the intensity on the level of the exploitation of the third world poor by the multinationals who bring their production facilities into these countries to avoid the profit eating environmental, safety and labor
regulations in the US.

And don't tell me that competition solves this problem. The oil industry bands together into associations that pay the rents inside the beltway on K street and pay the tabs for the August legislative jaunts. And so do the pharmas and the insurance industry and the industrial prison complex......

Bush didn't blow a 6.8 surplus into a 4.3 deficit on government programs. The people did not get that money. Halliburton, WorldCom, ClearChannel, and Bush cronies ad infinitum are spending our tax dollars right now and the truly evil aspect is they are using that money to advance an inhumane agenda that views human beings of a certain socio-economic class as expendable because there are so many of them. There is nothing in your free market model that would enable this class to compete against that kind of corporate force.

Wake up and smell the herbicide. It's clearing the way for the petrol pipeline in a Latin American country near you. And it's not likely to benefit your local indigineous peasant but you can be certain that someone in corporate America will be driving a new Jag on the profits.

Bob's usually pretty quick on the trigger with a response, but there's been none forthcoming on this post. Methinks he has no defense to that point.


John Ashcroft is still working hard to shackle the judiciary. In his latest move to jam the wheels of justice and fill the prison industrial complex with warm bodies, he issued a new directive instructing prosecutors to seek the highest penalities possible, including upward departures in all federal cases before the courts. Oddly, I heard this quote last night on Law and Order where they were discussing plea bargains. The head DA said:

The negotiated agreement between two opposing attorneys is the greatest tool invented to promote justice, since the guillotine.

Someone should let John know he is supposed to protect the system, not reinvent it to reflect his own image. Pete Guither at Drug War Rant, has a a great analysis of this addle-brained policy along with links to the pertinent coverage.


The United Nations released a report this week stating the Global Use Of Ecstasy Is Soaring.

The report, presented at a news conference in Rome, estimated that global use of Ecstasy rose by 70 percent between 1995-1997 and 2000-2001, while use of amphetamines rose by 40 percent over the same period.

More than 40 million people worldwide, or 1 percent of all people 15 years or older, used amphetamine-type stimulants, known as ATS, in 2000-2001

Am I the only that sees the correlation between the rise in use of these drugs and the alleged success of cocaine and heroin eradication? The bottom line folks is that people are going to take drugs. Take away one drug and they find another. The meth is being largely manufactured right here in the US and you're in more danger with a meth lab in your neighborhood than you are from an heroin user nodding off in your local alley.

From what I've heard, anybody with a bathtub can make the stuff with legally procured items and the profit margin is apparently tempting.

Let me say it again. The only solution to addiction is legalization and regulation.


I know I've been focusing on the bad side of the war for quite a while now. I wish there was more good news to tell but the outrages keep pouring into my inbox every day. The the only light in this bleak landscape I can offer today is this link to Cultural Baggage's interview with my Canadian hero, Marc Emery.

Dean Becker has dozens of interviews with drug reform minded doctors, scientists, judges, congressmen, Nobel prize winners and more available online at the site. He also airs 3 minute reports on national and international drug war news on the 4:20 Reports, 7 days per week, available for download at the site. Check it out.

Sunday, September 21, 2003


I spent two hours on the highways outside of the Happy Valley today. There was a lot of bad driving going on out there. There's no longer any concept of why the left lane exists in southern New England. Call me crazy, but you would think the car going 55mph would notice that there was 20 cars stacked up behind him and maybe pull into the other two slow lanes. But no. This is why road rage happens.

This is not to mention the gigantic brand new sparkling white Mac truck that almost ran me off the road. I'm half-way through passing on the left and the guy starts drifting into my lane right at the one place on the highway where there is two inches of median between the shoulder and the center guardrail. Of course I couldn't find the horn. I drive the car so infrequently, it took me two tries to get on the right side of the gas pump before I left town - I took the inch and an half and gunned it through the shoulder. He saw me in time. I wonder what kind of adrenalin rush he got from that?


The coverage on the Freedom Rally was mixed. The Globe got it right, the Herald. as one might have predicted for a rag that would have to step up to get to the credibility level of the National Enquirer, got it wrong. Please check out the Media Awareness Project's alert on the press and drop a line to the editors.


Thanks to Sabbah on the GNN forums for this gem from my favorite patriot, Thomas Jefferson:

"The end of democracy, and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of the lending institutions and moneyed incorporations."

Saturday, September 20, 2003


I didn't make it to Boston for the Mass Cann rally today. Once again, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. The stupid rotator cuff thing flared up on Tuesday night and even though I took Wednesday and Friday off, I woke up in no condition to drive for four hours. It's uncanny. Same thing happened when I tried to get the Hip Hop rally in New York a couple of months ago. It appears the universe thinks I'm getting too old to attend these gatherings.

I was sorry to miss the event, but I consoled myself by catching up on the websites I've been neglecting in the last couple of weeks. Pete Guither is rolling right along at Drug War Rant and I was flattered to see he's added me to his side-bar as a daily read. Thanks Pete. You inspired me to update my own template. You can now access Pete's Rant directly from the links on this page.

My faithful readers will notice that I finally added some other new links to my cohorts from the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism as well. Charles Hardy's Cowboy in Caracas and Vheadline are both great sources for breaking news and analysis from Venezuela. Jules Siegel offers up an insider's look at Cancun and astute observations on the follibles of civilized society.

I also discovered that the Lefty Directory has added Last One Speaks to their roster of liberal voices. Brian Linse is providing a great service over there for those interested in alternative views. The link is newly installed on the sidebar. Check it out and thanks for the listing Brian.

My long term readers may have also noticed I finally figured out why I had that extra red dot on the links list. HTML is a funny language; it's pretty to easy to learn but one little typo can wreak havoc. Turned out I hadn't closed the tag on the previous link. Glad to have finally solved that little glitch. It was really offending my sense of order.


Carola Mittrany, another J-School alum, is reporting for the newly formed Children and Youth in Organized Violence, a site that chronicles the effects of political unrest and criminal activity on young folks all over the third world countries. If you think American kids in the ghetto have it tough, you should check out what these young people are going through. (Link is now installed on the sidebar).

This excerpt is from one of Carola's recent pieces:

Youth killed in Guatemala after trying to leave gangs
Carola Mittrany

September 12, 2003 – Seventy-nine youth have died after trying to leave gangs said Emilio Goubaud, director of the Alliance for Crime Prevention (APREDE in Spanish). APREDE runs a rehabilitation programme for gang members, known locally as ‘maras.’ "The kids had left crime and were undergoing job and educational training," said Goubaud to local newspaper Prensa Libre.

The APREDE director says that drug traffickers may have killed the ex-gang members in retaliation for their refusal to allow drugs into their neighbourhoods and to take part in organised crime.

It is also suspected that death squads operating within the state security apparatus killed the youths. Goubaud said that the police illegally persecuted the majority of the victims.

You can sign up for their newsletter at the site and get weekly digests of their fine work in English.


In yet another affront against the health and welfare of the most vulnerable citizens of the planet, the Guardian reports 50,000 children are taking antidepressants under a doctor's prescription. It seems when your pharmacorp-owned researchers are not too busy trying to prove that marijuana use causes schizophrenia, they are suppressing results that show legal drugs being prescribed to children actually encourages suicidal tendencies.

The article states:

Efexor, made by the drug company Wyeth, is being taken by at least 3,000 children in the UK, it was revealed yesterday, even though guidance to doctors states that it should not be given to under 18s. It is the second antidepressant to be specifically banned from use in children in four months.

There are around 50,000 children, some as young as six, on antidepressants in the UK, the Guardian has learned. Last year, doctors wrote 170,000 prescriptions of the drugs for children under 18, even though many experts say counselling and talking therapies work better.

The article goes on to say:

Data which suggests the drugs could be causing children to feel murderous and suicidal has been in drug company hands for several years. The studies in these two drugs and others were carried out in the mid to late-1990s, after the Food and Drug Administration in the United States asked for efficacy and safety data be cause of the rapidly increasing number of children being prescribed antidepressants.

Wyeth's response to this derelection of duty was hardly encouraging:

One of Wyeth's four studies in depressed and anxious children was published in 1997. Yesterday a spokesman for the company refused to give the dates of the other unpublished trials. Everything that it was necessary for the public to know was in the public domain, he said. "I'm not going to give additional information to you."

And they claim to be waging this WODSU to protect kids. How are they going to believe illegal drugs are bad for them when their doctors are pushing legal pharmaceutical poisons? Disgusting.


The fallout over John Hopkins' bogus ecstacy study continues. John French in an open letter to Alan Leshner at Science magazine, gets the last word of the day remarking on this collossal screw-up:

What is the AAAS policy on publishing Referee's Reports on unbelievably botched work published in Science, specifically the research about MDMA published in September 2002?

Not only were findings based on doses recognized at the time to be completely inappropriate, but it was later discovered that the wrong drug had been obtained through NIDA. Further, the baseless findings were deliberately grossly exaggerated in press releases.

Given your involvement at the time of the funding as Director of NIDA, and subsequent leadership as CEO of American Association for the Advancement of Science, it is icumbent on you to lead a thorough investigation, especially since the publication of the original paper undoubtedly had an impact on the passage of highly controversial anti-rave drug legislation.

I look forward to your demonstration that the AAAS is more interested in science than in politics, by taking the investigation beyond publication of referee's reports, to iclude the internal workings of NIDA and the failure of its scientists to monitor such crucial work.

John French

E-mailed at the AAAS feedback page at:

Thursday, September 18, 2003


Today the warm rain falls, but it was hard to tell there was a raging storm only 500 miles away from here yesterday afternoon, it turned out to be another beautiful day in lovely downtown Noho. I forgot there even was a tropical storm until I ran into my old pinball buddy, Steve Jasinski. Hurricane was the name of the machine we used to play. It had a carnival theme.

If I didn't get the weather channel, I would have missed all of the fun. I love meterologists during a major storm. My favorite was always Hilton Kaderly out of Hartford but they were still enthusiastic on this station. I watched some great footage and the familiar drone of the local forecast muzak feels like comfort food to my ears, after all these weeks of ceaseless CSPAN.

I've loved the weather all my life, it's always seemed such a mysterious force in the universe. There's always that potential for some quirky phenomenon to remind us we are not the boss of the planet.


Photo D.R. Victor Ruíz/Por Esto!

Isabel pales in the ferocity of the political gales of change that just swept through Cancun during the WTO conference last weekend. In a move presaged by Latin American solidarity at the recent OAS meetings involving Venzuela, the third world nations present at the WTO trade conference stood up to the US power bloc and walked out, refusing to play the so-called 'free trade' game with a stacked deck.

Perhaps they were emboldened by the Korean farmer who paid the ultimate price -with his life- to draw attention to the plight of the indigineous people of under-developed countries who suffer under the current multi-national corporate driven trade agenda of the WTO.

The Third World countries have found their power at last. They do after all represent the greater population of the world, the people who have become the exploited work-force of the multi-nationals. They will not be so easily intimidated again. This bodes well for the War on Drugs also. President Lula da Silva of Brasil, who has long been vocal about failed prohibitionist drug policies, led the group exodus in Cancun - striking a victory for democracy that was either ignored or misinterpreted in the main-stream press.

My buddy Al Giordano has the definitive analysis on this new trend of 'globalized resistance' being fostered in Mexico in this piece, Cancún Trade Battle also Turns the Tables on the Drug War. (It's long, but click on it Michael. You'll learn something).

Al notes:

The precedent set in Cancún – of economically weaker nations banding together to resist the impositions of economically stronger nations (a trend noticed by leading U.S. drug policy reformer Ethan Nadelmann in his recent Foreign Policy magazine analysis ) – is precisely the prescription that can finally turn the tables on the US-imposed “war on drugs.”

Sounds like just what the doctor ordered to me.


PINR Dispatch has an interesting look at the parallels of the war on drugs and "free-trade" deceits in this report, Counternarcotics, the 'War on Terror,' and South America''. The report details the real reasons behind these 'wars':

The year of 2003, then, will be seen as a year when the United States increased its already significant military funding and assistance to Colombia. Earlier this year following a bizarre series of small plane crashes in guerrilla held areas by drug reconnaissance flights, including the death of an American working as a government contractor, U.S. special forces were dispatched to help Colombian forces search for survivors and hostages; the number of U.S. civil personnel also increased.

The reasons for Washington's extreme interest in Colombia has always been explained by its desire to fight the flow of cocaine into the United States, but Colombia has geopolitical and strategic significance that make it a keystone state in the Americas

It well worth subscribing to the PINR Dispatch. They're putting out some of the most comprehensive and least biased analyses on the net.


Meanwhile in Seattle, the people raised their voice in support of reasonable domestic drug policy and passed a citizen's initiative by a 58% margin, making marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority. While likely to have little practical effect on the police activity in the city where some 400 possession arrests are made every year, City Attorney Tom Carr predicts defense attorneys will now challenge simple possession cases as running contrary to will of the public. Here's hoping they set some precedents out there.

Last word and quote of the day goes to President Lula da Silva, who made this remark during a speech at the end of the WTO trade conference:

“I learned that nobody respects someone who negotiates with his head bowed. Nobody respects anyone who negotiates as a lackey. With our heads lifted, defending our self-interest, we shall be able to grow and open extraordinary spaces…”

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


I had lunch with my new pal Elmer yesterday. The weather was perfect for enjoying our meal at the outside tables of the deli and today, despite the impending hurricane, promises to be the same. Won't have too many more of these left, I'm afraid. Elmer had a great story to tell about Ben Masel (of Weedstock in Wisconsin fame).

Ben was on a train when some law enforcement types boarded and started asking people at random if they could search their bags. They were mostly targeting people of color. Now Ben probably would not have even been noticed if he had just sat there, but he stood up and informed the passengers in a thunderous voice that they were not legally obligated to assent to any searches. He was ultimately arrested for POP, a phrase Elmer coined meaning Pissing Off Police. You have to admire Ben's courage in his relentess drive to bring justice back to civilized society.

Ben checked in recently by the way. He didn't make to Canadian version of his own event as he had broken his ankle while breaking down staging at the Seattle Hempfest. The good news however, is that the county did not appeal the favorable decision in his Wisconsin case. Here's hoping this means Weedstock will rise again on his farm next year.


Just about a year ago, a Johns Hopkins University research study headed by Dr. George Ricaurte reported extreme and frightening findings about the effects of the popular dance culture drug ecstasy (MDMA) on the human brain. This study was used to promote and foster The Rave Act's passage.

You remember that amendment don't you? It's one Joe Biden sleazily tacked onto to the Amber bill that was supposed to protect our youth from succumbing to the permanent damage detailed in the study. The same Act that was subsequently used by the DEA to shut down a legitimate political event in Montana where ecstacy was not even likely to be consumed. This was a pro-legalization of marijuana event, not a rave and the scheduled entertainment was to be rock and roll, not techno trance hip-hop.

Now, I've never tried ecstacy myself, but I know many young people who use it and I had not seen these horrifying effects manifest in them. Well oops, it's probably because the study was flawed, leaving the venerable John Hopkins team and Science magazine, the publisher of the work, with enough egg on their faces to make omelets. They used the wrong drug in conducting the experiments.

Turns out there was an apparent mislabling error and the study was using methamphetamine instead of ecstacy. The scientific community had raised questions on the unusual results of this study almost immediately, only to be dismissed by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) who apparently liked the results just the way they were. Ricaurte, a rabidly biased prohibition warrior, is a long time beneficiary of many NIDA grants.

After the John Hopkins team retracted their study, there was much speculation in the scientific community about a cover-up and questions were raised about the whereabouts of the remaining 8.5 grams of meth the researchers had not used up. Well asked as a another retraction was issued for a second study tainted by the mislabelled drug and it appears more may follow. For complete coverage of this debacle, click here.

NIDA was implicated in another unreported scandal back in February when it was supplying a major clinical study in Canada with alleged research grade marijuana. It turns out the marijuana was not only schwag but had also been modified to remove many cannabinoids and alter its medicinal effects.

Matthew Johnson, a graduate student studying behavioral pharmacology at a NIDA-funded research lab, at the Department of Psychology and Human Behavioral Pharmacology Lab, University of Vermont broke this story in a letter to Pot-TV.

"I teach a college class in psychopharmacology" wrote Johnson, "and I tell my students that every drug supplied by NIDA is pharmaceutical-grade and top potency, but that is the opposite case for cannabis – a very strange situation."

Johnson went on to reveal some startling information about NIDA's "research grade" buds. "At a 2001 conference I had the occasion to chat with a rather well-known and respected NIDA-funded researcher whose present study involved smoked marijuana administration. I asked her how the potency was ‘standardized' and she said that the NIDA marijuana had the THC extracted and then artificially added. She didn't mention other cannabinoids."

Johnson explained that natural cannabis has a number of therapeutically active compounds aside from THC, and that these cannabinoids interact with THC and each other and lock into different receptors.

"We are still in our infancy in terms of understanding how this complex system works," explained Johnson." Given this lack of knowledge, it doesn't make any sense to study anything but the quality bud which has been found to be helpful from the folks who know."

And they wonder why their message is not reaching the youth of America. Kids know a lie when they see one and you lie to them once, they never believe you again. This sort of revelation not only fails to prevent drug use but undermines efforts to help kids who become caught up in addicition.

It's this kind of arrogant conduct by the prohibitionists and their transparent sabotage of legitimate research that inspired me to come out of my comfortable anonymity and start fighting back. They are spending billions of dollars on these failed tactics. It's time to find a better solution.


Three days to go before the 14th Annual MassCann/NORML Freedom Rally on the Boston Common. It looks like it may a damp day but Hurricane Isabel appears to be headed westerly and should not impact the event. Hope to see you all there.

Monday, September 15, 2003


It turned out to be a tumultuous weekend. I've encountered more long absent friends in the last three days than I have in the last three months and a lot of my assumptions have been challenged in the process. It's really too big to tell tonight. At the moment, all I can say is - Victoria, if you are finally reading my blog, my thoughts are with you always and I'm so glad you called with the good news.


The underlying theme of this weekend was about activism, as in how far are you willing to commit to changing the status quo, and how far should you go to gain more recruits.

There was some discussion on the lists about coercing known users into going public. My local hero, Elmer Elevator, posted the definitive statement on this theme and I reproduce it here for your edification, in its entirety.

Yep, you make an important distinction: Outing hostile and damaging enemies, vs. Outing people who've just tried to live quietly and avoid controversy and trouble.

During Clinton's impeachment, I think Larry Flynt was offering a big $$$ bounty for anyone who'd blow the whistle on the smarmy extramarital infidelities of any of the holier-than-thou Republican congrassholes who were publicly burning Clinton at the stake. The media was gifted with at least three, one of whom -- I think from Louisiana -- resigned from Congress right in the middle of everything. My guess is his wife told him: "It's bad enough that everybody at the country club knows you were fucking that little slut, but I don't want it all over the front page of The New York Times and Newsweek and CNN for the next six months."

That's a positive and healthy kind of political Outing. I hope to see lots more of it. The most pleasant and entertaining War on Drugs thing that's happened recently has been Outing Bill Bennett for his gambling jones -- Mister Goody Two-Shoes Personal Responsibility tosses millions of his family's inheritance down a Vegas toilet. This kind of Outing shows these puritanical psychos for all their true "character." Likewise, the National Archives still thoughtfully trickles new secret Nixon White House audio tapes to the public, and, better late than never, we see Patriotic Red-White-and-Blue Drug Warrior Nixon as a rabid anti-semite and anti-black bigot. (He was a Quaker -- is that whack or what?)

But I'm talking about Outing people whose worst crime is just keeping their mouths shut and wanting to live a low-profile, private existence.

Outing a closet gay or lesbian steals from him/her the right to decide whether to come out to his family, and steals the circumstances he/she would prefer to tell the family this this is his/her sexual orientation. Many just can't ever bring themselves to confront this nightmare. But it's their personal business, or should scrupulously be their business. It's vicious to tell their families on the cover of a national magazine. Blackmail for political purposes is just as evil and nasty as blackmail for money. Civilized people were supposed to have figured out long ago that the End never justifies the Means. This kind of Outing leaves us hating and fearing progressive activists as much as we hate and fear gay-bashers and homophobes.

So much for the metaphor of Outing gays. Demanding pot-smoking celebrities and politicos come out of their hookah closet and wear the NORML t-shirt at rallies ... we're not going to Make Progress by frightening and coercing timid people to do things they don't want to do. We're just going to make them fear and hate us. Friends can have serious political disagreements, but they both know they respect and honor one another's privacy and choices.

There's a huge spectrum of Public Figures: There's Metal Rockers and Heavyweight Boxers, Shock Comedians, Peter Fonda, Timothy Leary, Gangsta Rappers, and then there are Congressmen and Hillary Clinton, and actors who make their living acting in TV stuff like "Touched by an Angel" and Disney flicks for the kiddies. A Gangsta Rapper can literally get away with murder as far as keeping and pleasing his fans. (Vanilla Ice was constantly criticized and attacked for NOT having a violent criminal record.) Madonna's popularity DEPENDS on the popular fantasy that she has multiple sex partners of several genders. An expose that Bob Marley didn't really smoke pot would have ended his career overnight.

A congressman, or a TV family sitcom star, has just the opposite needs to keep their popularity: Some public figures believe they must appear Squeaky Clean, have just one spouse, one Labrador retriever, 2.4 kids named Sis and Junior, utterly no sex with interns or babysitters -- and no fragrance of pot-smoking or tooting up white powder at some wedding reception long ago. Look at all the trouble Schwarzenegger's in this week about that old Big Mouth interview he gave to Oui magazine. And that old movie "Pumping Iron" has resurfaced, with Mister Clean Arnold tokin' on a jay with a big grin. He's Outed himself, the dope. He's running for Governor of California, and he forgot to wear pants. (This morning he was on Oprah begging her matronly audience to forgive the foolish mistakes of a misled youth just off the boat from Austria who fell in with bad companions in L.A. during the Age of Swingers.)

Some big public ambitions depend on a public Façade. I can criticize the value of ambitions like that, but that's their business if they maintain the Façade without screwing other people. Being afraid and cautious isn't the same as screwing other people. Outers try to make the argument that it is the same. It's not, by any stretch of decent behavior.

Again, I want Us to be and to act noticeably differently from Them. Otherwise, for the great mass of undecided Americans, so many of whom puff away with the curtains drawn at night, why should they feel more comfortable with Us than with Them? Let the cops kick down their doors, that's what cops do. They'll become enthusiastic reformers immediately afterwards.

Here's an illustrative Cautionary Tale about our neighbors who puff at home with the curtains drawn. Is this guy a hypocrite? Should we hate and despise him for not publicly joining the reform cause? Should we have Outed him before the SWAT Team did? Would it have been better for Us to destroy his life than Them?

Down below I've boldfaced one paragraph, which should be very reminiscent of Tommy Chong's troubles with Them.

The Chronicle of Higher Education
8 August 2003

Lost Promise

by Jamilah Evelyn

One stupid mistake can cost you everything. Perhaps no one knows that better than David C. England.

On March 12, while Mr. England was president of Des Moines Area Community College, some 20 Iowa narcotics agents raided his home and found a smoky room and more than two pounds of packaged marijuana along with some seedlings. That day, as agents searched his cozy suburban house, Mr. England, 51, thought, "My life is over."

To be sure, his career in higher education may be. After resigning the presidency and resolving the criminal charges with a plea bargain, Mr. England is hoping to write a book about his experience and has started applying for administrative jobs at two-year colleges. But many who believed in him simply shake their heads and wonder why he threw it all away.

"I just thought that for David, the sky was the limit," says J. William Wenrich, who just stepped down as chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, where Mr. England obtained his first presidency, at North Lake College. "I truly expected to see him turn up at one of the well-sought-after posts in this business."

A onetime community-college student, Mr. England parlayed what started as a part-time teaching gig into a career in administration.

Supporters say he seemed genuinely driven by a desire to reach out to higher education's disenfranchised. He was a charismatic deal-broker, and had succeeded at getting college administrators and faculty and staff members here behind a strategic plan, which was the first in the Des Moines college's 38-year history. Even groundskeepers at DMACC (D-Mack, as it is known locally) praised his approachable, down-to-earth demeanor.

The initial frenzy the arrest stirred at the 13,000-student college has died down, but its infamy still bites. "I can safely say that it was the most embarrassing and well-noted occurrence in our history," says Donavan M. Honnold, the college's public-relations director.

The Raid

By most accounts, it was an especially blustery winter day when college officials got word that something serious was going on at the England home in Johnston, a well-to-do community just outside of Des Moines.

Kim J. Linduska, then vice president of academic affairs, had gone to a nearby hospital to check on her husband, who had recently been in a car accident. Her visit was cut short by a call from Trudy Little, a secretary in the top administrators' office.

Dave Palmer, senior vice president for governmental affairs, was filling in for Mr. England -- who had called in sick for the second day in a row -- at a meeting of the state's 18 community-college presidents at a hotel near the state capitol. He had just finished a lengthy address when Ms. Little called his cellphone.

Mr. Honnold's desk phone started ringing too. It was a reporter from the Des Moines Register who had lots of questions for which Mr. Honnold had few answers. By the time he got off the phone, several broadcast reporters and their camera crews were waiting for him outside his office.

Over at the hotel, Mr. Palmer broke the news to the two-year college presidents. There was stunned silence. Then, one of them asked, "He has teenage kids, right?"

"This has got to be a terrible mistake," Mr. Palmer recalls saying. But by the meeting's end, a ticker was running across the bottom of the broadcast on Channel 13, the local NBC affiliate, which was on in an adjacent room.

The early reports -- which turned out to be true -- stated that after receiving two separate tips that Mr. England was in possession of a large amount of marijuana, narcotics agents raided his home. He was being charged with trafficking. Marijuana was found in every bedroom in the house. Charges would be forthcoming against his entire family. He was smoking a joint when law-enforcement officers raided his home. The charges could land him in jail for more than a decade.

Back on the main campus in Ankeny, Alfred Butts, a custodian, had been gathering trash when some co-workers summoned him to a lounge to hear the incredible news that was being reported on the television.

Damage Control

"Everybody was in shock, but nothing really surprises me," he says. He went back to the trash.

By midafternoon, Ms. Linduska, Mr. Palmer, and several other top administrators had gathered back at the campus to do damage control, and to come up with a plan. When Joe Pugel, the chairman of the Board of Directors arrived, he swiftly made the decision to place Mr. England on paid administrative leave, and to name Ms. Linduska acting president.

The phones kept ringing. It was students, parents.

"They wanted to know, does this affect accreditation? Will my degree be worth anything?" says Ms. Linduska, who fielded many of the calls. She left campus that day around 10 p.m.

At about the same time, Mr. England was in a cell at the Polk County jail, trying to ignore the banging of a nearby inmate. He cried. He stared at the ceiling and eventually drifted off to sleep.

The Aftermath

Fallout from the arrest has varied.

College officials ordered an audit by law and accounting firms to determine whether any college funds, students, or employees could be tied to the charges. The audit eventually turned up nothing. The officials also monitored enrollment closely in the weeks after the arrest to see if students were jumping ship, but their head count actually was much higher than at the same time the previous year.

Just as a fund-raising drive to acquire a building adjacent to the Ankeny campus was beginning, some alumni and a few other donors asked why Mr. England was still on the payroll. Nevertheless, Mr. Honnold, the public-relations director, says he is unaware of any promised donations that were withheld.

Two weeks after his arrest, Mr. England resigned, forfeiting his salary of nearly $200,000 a year, perquisites, and pension. He eventually pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to deliver it, maintaining that he had shared it only with his wife. (Under Iowa law, such a claim fits a trafficking charge.) He received a deferred judgment, which means that his conviction will be cleared if he stays out of trouble for the next two years.

Meanwhile, a radio station's morning disc jockeys and their callers cooked up lots of jokes that college officials did not find funny. The college eventually pulled its advertising.

A local resident whipped up T-shirts emblazoned with a marijuana leaf and the words, DMACC: School of Higher Learning. Gary Shatto, a friend of the local entrepreneur and a student at the community college, says the shirts still are "selling like hotcakes."

Reporters from the Register filed a Freedom of Information Act request and pored over Mr. England's e-mail correspondence, telephone records, and expense reports. If they found anything unusual, they didn't report it. But the request cost the college some $23,000, mostly in lawyer's fees.

Days after Mr. England's arrest, three national community-college associations held annual meetings in Phoenix. Between sessions on shrinking state budgets and homeland security, Mr. England's name was on everyone's lips.

One well-known leader of a sizable college district remarked to a reporter: "If all of us who hit one when we went home at night got busted, there'd really be a leadership crisis. ... Still, what was this guy thinking?"

The Dream World

Unemployed and with his name now absent from the daily headlines, the 6-foot-6 former president is loquacious, contrite, and yet dignified during a three-hour confessional from a sumptuous floral love seat in his living room.

Dressed casually in a cream-colored T-shirt, khaki shorts, and a pair of moccasins, he appears at peace with his transgression, ready to get some things off his chest. "I made a very big mistake in my personal life," he says. "I'd like to think that doesn't erase my accomplishments."

His Texas twang trembles only when he recalls pleading with law-enforcement officers to spare his wife, Donna; daughter, Jessica, 23; and son, Charlie, 17, from being charged. (His wife and daughter also were charged with felony possession and trafficking charges. His son was charged with misdemeanor possession. All three also were given deferred judgments.)

Mr. England says he liked to smoke pot perhaps two to three times a week, and only late at night. He had a stressful job. He came of age in the '70s. He had, in fact, been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession when he was 19. Throughout his adulthood he had "run into it occasionally but wasn't always a regular smoker." His wife, he says, joined him infrequently; his kids never did.

He resents any suggestions that he was selling the drug. But a college president can't exactly cop bags on the street corner. So he bought in bulk. Then he decided, "since we had seen some commercials linking the drug trade to terrorism, and my wife has a green thumb, we decided to grow our own."

The couple kept the plants locked away in a tiny pump room in the basement and had only started growing them two weeks before the raid, he says. They had found evidence that their son was smoking pot, and they had disciplined him for it. They weren't sure whether their daughter, a junior at Iowa State University, was using marijuana. "We just weren't the Cheech and Chong family that everyone seems to think," he says.

As to what he was thinking?

"I wasn't, to be honest," he says, fiddling with his wedding band, one leg folded over the other. "As a college president, you can get pretty arrogant, detached from reality. ... I had drifted off into my own little dream world."

Never Say Never

Mr. England, who says he hasn't smoked marijuana since the day of his arrest and plans never to do so again, stays in touch with only a few DMACC officials, Mr. Palmer among them.

"David and I actually bumped heads a lot on the job," says Mr. Palmer. "Since the 'incident,' I've only gained more respect for him. He's owned up to his mistake with as much finesse as anyone could possibly muster. That takes heart. I now consider him a friend."

As the college moves closer to selecting a new president -- a search committee last month announced four finalists, including Ms. Linduska - -- students, administrators and faculty, and staff members are largely forgiving, though they haven't forgotten.

"We've had to work really hard to recover from the shock," says Melissa Jacobson, 31, a student who had met Mr. England at a college-sponsored breakfast. "It was embarrassing, and it overshadowed all the good things going on here."

As for Mr. England's chances of gaining another presidency, Larry H. Ebbers, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Iowa State, thinks they are slim.

"I would never say never," says Mr. Ebbers, who conducted DMACC's latest presidential search "He does have a lot to offer, but most boards would probably be wary, considering. It probably depends on his personal connections."

For now, Mr. England says he is enjoying spending time with his family. He has an agent and hopes to find a publisher for his book, which he says will be about how he became so obsessed with success that he forgot about what is important.

Ultimately, he is hoping to work his way up to another CEO position. He has just begun applying for some top administrative posts, his applications attached with a long letter of explanation. "I've done a lot of good things, and I still have a lot to offer," he says. "I just made one really big mistake."


Born: May 4, 1952, in Chickasha, Okla.

Education: B.A. in English/history, M.A. in English/creative writing, Permian Basin campus of the University of Texas; Ed.D. in educational curriculum and instruction and educational administration, Texas A&M University at College Station.

Academic career: President, Des Moines Area Community College, 2001-3; president, North Lake College, 1996-2001; vice chancellor for planning and information systems, Community College of Baltimore County, 1996; special assistant to the assistant commissioner, community- and technical-college division, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 1995; English instructor and vice president for institutional effectiveness, McLennan Community College, 1991-95.

Personal: Married to Donna England, an artist and interior designer; two children.

(c) 2003 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

And that my dears, is the last word.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

My life has been dull as dishwater this week. The town has been remarkably quiet and it took hours to disinfect my computer and update the security. In the greater world however, the WODSU relentlessly marches on.


On the positive side, Boston University economist Dr. Jeffrey Miron authored a study reporting that legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts would save the state as much as $138 million per year. This translates to the salary equivalent of about 2,300 Massachusetts police, firefighters, or teachers. Considering the 3 billion deficit in our state budget and Governor Romney's slash and burn local aid cuts, this is an idea that needs serious consideration on Beacon Hill.


Dr Miron's study was commissioned by Change the Climate, a locally based marijuana reform advocacy group. These folks are gearing up for new ballot initiatives and recently started an innovative billboard campaign promoting legalization of cannabis. Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch, the billboard featured a real-life state trooper who does not support the cause. He was not amused and the billboard was taken down after only one day. Change the Climate will revamp the art and the board will rise again, meanwhile the ad and the issue received more attention than it might have otherwise. As they say, you can't buy press like that.


Speaking of free press, Marc Emery's seed selling internet site got a boost from a local piddly bust of a UCONN student in Coventry, CT. Check out the video footage of the newscast. I wish they had shown the plants, they didn't, but Marc's site got some great exposure on the nightly news. I bet his hits increase dramatically from the ISPs in NW Connecticut this week.


On a more somber note, Tommy Chong was sentenced on drug charges this week for selling bongs. He was sentenced to nine months in prison for conspiring to sell drug paraphernalia, ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and must forfeit more than $103,000. He'll also be on probation for a year after his release. Pretty stiff sentence for selling an empty pipe.

There has been buzz in the anti-prohibition circles that Tommy caved too quickly on these charges, he pled almost immediately in exchange for what was supposed to be a lenient sentence. Many feel he could have done more for the movement by facing the down the government and going to trial. It would certainly have been well-publicized and would have served as a fine example of the absurd lengths the DEA will go to waste our tax dollars. As I recall they spent a ton of money and hundreds of man hours keeping America safe from 55 people who make glass art objects with a utilitarian use.

Word has it however, from those who know, that Tommy took the ridiculous plea in order to save his family from prosecution. Apparently the government would have arrested his wife and son if he did not plead guilty. What's happening to our country when the only way the DEA can get a conviction is to threaten women and children?This travesty of justice brought to you by John Walters employing conduct on a par with Saddam Hussien in my book. Unjust incarceration is a form of torture we used to justify that war...

Quote of the day goes to Tommy Chong who had this to say when asked about his feelings on Operation Pipe Dreams:

I feel pretty sad, but it seems to be the only weapons of mass destruction they've found this year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003


Big old harvest moon hanging over the Happy Valley tonight; summer is done. It's cold in the morning and the afternoon sun doesn't burn for long and fades early. It's been quiet in town, I have no adventures to report but I did have another bird encounter.

I was walking down Pleasant Street when a baby sparrow flew in from behind me and landed two inches from my foot. He looked very young, he was barely fully feathered and he hopped along next to me, eating something invisible to my eye among the weeds growing through the cracks in the sidewalk. I became concerned he had fallen off the ledge and would get stepped on or hop into the the street. I crouched down on the sidewalk and starting talking to him, trying to get him around the corner of the building and into the shrubbery.

He was a bold little thing, he wasn't buying. He turned and hopped the other way. I followed. He was never more than four inches away from me. I suppose the passers-by thought I was crazy, crab-walking up the sidewalk and talking to a bird. Finally I tried the finger under the chest strategy. That finally freaked him out enough to send him flying. I held my breath as he threaded his way at headlight height through the oncoming traffic. He made it.


I started this blog with the intention of focusing pretty much on the legalization of marijuana, however as my understanding of the depth and breadth of this WODSU grew, I came to understand that such a narrow focus would not solve the harm inflicted by this morally bereft campaign. The more I learn, the more it becomes apparent that this war is merely another ploy in the imperialistic agenda of Baby George Bush and his Papa's thugs, acting in concert with their corporate cronies.

Deepak Lal offers an excellent analysis of why the US and the Western European war on drugs has created conditions for the actual or incipient failure of the drug producing states. He explains why the illegal drug trade can only be curtailed if we legalise the industry, in this essay, DEALING WITH FAILED STATES.

For those of you who don't read the links - some of the pertinent excerts

The illegal drug trade was estimated to be about $400 billion in 1997, compared with a value of legal world exports of $5 trillion, that is about 8 per cent of the value of legal world trade (see A. Krueger and C. E. Aturupane : ‘International Trade in ‘Bads’’, in H. Giersch (ed) Merits and Limits of Markets). The profits from the trade are also huge.


In forming a judgement, the important point to bear in mind is that the former costs of drug use are by and large borne by the addict, while the costs of prohibition are borne by society. There is no doubt that legalisation of drugs would reduce their price — for heroin it is estimated for the US by a factor of 20= and this would, if demand is even mildly elastic, raise consumption.

The great societal fear is that this increase in addicts would fuel crime. But, as Miron and Zweibel show from the US evidence, drug related crime is not committed by those under the influence of drugs but rather to finance their drug habit.

Finally, the prohibition of drugs has created a whole class of criminals who have chosen to take drugs. Nearly 20 per cent of state and 60 per cent of federal prisoners have been incarcerated for drug law violations. The majority for not dealing but possessing drugs.

It is a sign of incredible inhumanity that a drug addict is thus made a victim for a victimless crime. Whatever the reasons for their addiction, they deserve our pity and compassion not incarceration.

The time has surely come to let people kill themselves with drugs if they choose to and not try to save them from themselves by a war which has not only done untold damage to the body politic in the consuming countries, but much more seriously to the many poor producing developing countries which have turned or are turning into failed states because of this unjustified war.


My pal Jeremy Bigwood reports once again on Monsanto's complicity in The Toxic War on Drugs. He warns about us about a threat on our own soil:

Scientists are expressing alarm about the relationship between the application of a common weed killer to food crops and the resultant proliferation of potentially toxic fungal moulds in the harvest. Monsanto's popular product Roundup, which contains a chemical called glyphosate is alleged to increase the size of colonies of the fungus Fusarium, a genus of often very toxic moulds that occurs naturally in soils and occasionally invades crops, but usually held in check by other microbes. If true, these allegations not only call into question the world's number one weed killer, but they also jeopardize the world's acceptance of Monsanto's flagship line of genetically-engineered "Roundup Ready" crops.

Monsanto also enforces a contract for genetically altered seeds that are resistant to the herbicide. This could be coming to the cornfields of Kansas folks. According to an expert in the field, Dr. Robert Kremer:

Thus, if Roundup increases Fusarium levels, then "Roundup Ready" crops that use Roundup as a weed killer could become potential disasters, increasing Fusarium levels in the soil to such critical levels it could produce an epidemic and move from field to field throughout a wide area.

Another expert notes:

The Fusarium fungus can produce a range of toxins that are not destroyed in the cooking process such as vomitoxin, which as its name suggests, usually produces vomiting and not death, to the more lethal compounds which include fumonisin, which can cause cancer and birth defects to the very lethal chemical warfare agent fusariotoxin, more often referred to as T2 toxin.

Keep in mind that they are using this same product at 104 times the strength in their fumigation efforts in South America. They are destroying the heart of the Amazon Basin - the lungs of this planet, with this chemical. This kind of ecological damage cannot be undone in a day. It has to be stopped now.

Columbia Week

This newsletter doesn't offer a link to a website, but you can subscribe to it by emailing I publish this story in it's entirety, and ask you to consider that a lot of our food is imported from these countries. Take note also that the cotton seed Monsanto is pushing here is being blamed for crop failures in Australia.

(2) TOP STORY: Treaty won't stop gene-spliced crops

Colombia Week

BOGOTA -- A global biosafety treaty set to take effect this week won't slow Colombia's transition to genetically modified organisms for its major food crops, according to scientists and consumer advocates here.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will require labeling of gene-spliced imports such as seed, livestock and grain beginning September 11. The treaty, ratified by Colombia in May, also requires risk assessment and government consent before the organisms are released into a country's environment.

But the United States has not ratified the pact, and many provisions appear unlikely to withstand challenges before the World Trade Organization. The proposed U.S.-backed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas also would bar restrictions on genetically modified imports throughout the hemisphere. And St. Louis-based Monsanto seems positioned to win Colombia's approval of new gene-spliced crops.

President Alvaro Uribe Vélez's administration says genetic engineering can ease the country's agricultural crisis. Colombia already allows crops of gene-spliced cotton and blue carnations.

Monsanto supplies the cotton seed, engineered to include a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis, a type of soil bacteria that kills larvae of many insects. The gene occurs in every cell of the cotton plant and produces an insecticide, the basis of a Monsanto claim that the seed reduces pesticide use.

Monsanto won approval to sell the cotton seed to Colombian farmers last year. The company said tests during Colombia's 2000-2001 growing season determined that the cotton did not harm insect populations and that the risk of cross-pollination with conventional crops was insignificant.

But many scientists criticized the tests as inconclusive. Colombia's Environment Ministry wrote that the results "cannot be extrapolated to the rest of the country, and more research should be done on the implications of Bt cotton in commercial use."

Monsanto designed the cotton to control plagues of butterflies and moths, according to agronomist Germán Alonso Vélez, director of a nongovernmental group called Seeds. "In Colombia the problem is the cotton picudo--the pest that 70 percent of pesticides here are used for," he said in his downtown Bogotá office. "This won't solve the farm problem. This will just solve the problems of three or four multinational corporations."

Environmentalists say Monsanto has rigged the approval process. The National Technology Council backed the cotton's commercial introduction in a closed-door meeting in March 2002, just minutes after removing its president and replacing its vice president with a Monsanto representative, Vélez said. Seeds, Rosario University and the Bogotá-based Colombian Consumers filed an unsuccessful class-action suit last October against the Colombian Agriculture Institute's authorization of the cotton crops.

Monsanto's influence in Colombia stems partially from supplying glyphosate, the herbicide of a U.S.-backed effort to eradicate coca and opium poppy, the crops used to make cocaine and heroin.

Monsanto is following its cotton victory by pressing the government to allow field testing of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. The company has genetically modified both seeds to resist the effects of glyphosate.

But some studies show weeds building quick resistance to the herbicide. And studies in Saskatchewan, the Canadian state, have linked glyphosate to Fusarium, a soil fungus that harms many crops. The European Union and Canada ban Roundup Ready seeds.

Food staples ranging from yucca to rice to coffee, meanwhile, are undergoing genetic modifications at Colombian facilities such as the Center for Research on Tropical Agriculture in the western town of Palmira.

Seeds is urging a Colombian moratorium on genetically modified organisms until the government has the technology and political independence to evaluate the crops.


Thanks to Tim Meehan, who posted the quote of my day by Thomas Jefferson:

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”