Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Epiphany

I've identified my new bird friend. He was out there on the same tree this afternoon when I walked out to check the mail. I went another step closer to him today so I could get a good look and he is definitely a gray flycatcher. He was more animated today and turned around once on the branch when I took that step, but he stayed when I didn't move and settled right down again. It's like he's used to being scrutinized by bird watchers.

I also discovered a live nature cam of a bird feeder. Of course it's dark now but I'm going to check it out in the morning myself. Meanwhile I'm realizing I'm in desperate need of lamps. The down side of leaving all your worldly goods behind is that you spend a lot of time shopping when you arrive and it takes twice as long to figure out where to go. And I'm now in the driving lifestyle again, living just a little too far to walk to anything. On the plus side I now know where all the essentials can be found and I still have our lovely little downtown to explore. I think I'm making inroads in town already. The trash removal service didn't make me show ID or pay up front.

Unequal justice

Here we have a cop in New York state that beats his wife, gets caught with several cannabis plants growing on his property and what happens to him? Practically nothing. He loses one month's salary, which he is litigating to get back and will remain free and continue to draw $52,000 a year while his case is pending. If he was a poor black man from the ghetto, he'd already be cooling his heels on a long jail term under the still basically unreformed Rockefeller laws.

If they made corrupt cops who want to play both sides of the fence pay the same price for their infractions as everyone else, you can be certain there would be a lot more law enforcement people pushing for drug policy reform.

High tech and low tech busts

I haven't heard of this detection method before. US Customs agents at the Canadian border performed a gamma-ray scan of an inbound truck and found 34 plastic garbage bags filled with marijuana. It sounds suspicious to me but according to this paper it's a common practice.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana three men were arrested after a high speed chase during which they started tossing marijuana out of the car. It doesn't say how much but can you imagine driving down the highway and all of sudden a bag of cannabis hits your windshield? You would have to hope it was high grade buds and not some compressed brick of Mexican like we used to see in the "old days." Those puppies could do some real damage.

Another drug war victim

A father of six died as a result of police raid on his home searching for "several marijuana plants." The police say it was a major drug depot and marijuana distribution point but offer no details on what they seized beyond it was a "substantial amount." Right. And several plants probably means a dozen seedlings and couple of mature plants. Doesn't sound like a major drug ring to me.

Now granted, the guy allegedly struggled with the police officers - always a matter of debate - they always say that to justify beating the guy with their batons and pepper spraying him. He lost consciousness before they even got him into the squad car. Cause of death has not been established but regardless of how you spin it, this man died because of prohibition of a plant. Does anyone really believe that leaving six children without a father and breadwinner is less harmful than allowing people to smoke a plant in peace?

Prohibition creates crime

A Baltimore woman's home was firebombed yesterday by a group of teenagers. She's a prohibition activist and has been publicly speaking out against drug traffickers. The bombing comes hot on the heels of an underground DVD called "Stop Snitching" that's been circulating around Baltimore, "warning people they could 'get a hole in their head' for telling police about illegal drug activity."

The city of course is an uproar over this, remembering a family of five that was killed in 2002 for ratting out drug dealers in their neighborhood. The immediate call from the community is for stiffer penalties for such crimes but this is the wrong approach. As I've said many times, prohibition is what creates a market for the dealers. It's simple logic. If you legalized the drugs, you would put these criminals out of business and promote the public safety at the same time. The addicts wouldn't have to commit property crimes to afford their drugs and the dealers would have no customers. How much easier could it be?

Media Watch - Montel on being scared straight

Montel Williams was outed as a medical marijuana patient when he was busted last year. Since then he's done a lot for reform including interviews and a show on the subject. Today he looks at teen rehab programs, so called "boot camps" that are supposed to get wayward teens back on track.

I've heard a lot about these places from former "inmates" who have some horrifying stories to tell. Starvation, beatings, isolation - the list of cruel tactics is long. This is all part and parcel of the harms of prohibtion. Many of these kids are sent to these hell holes for smoking pot or taking drugs by hysterical parents who don't understand the difference between real problems and normal adolescent rebellion.

The truth is these interventions, don't do any good and in most cases do long lasting harm to its victims. Montel will interview several of them and a look at the preview suggests the slant will not be favorable. For viewing times in your area, click here.

Falling into place

It's been a long day. I got on a roll with the unpacking so I ran with it. I had a flock of robins in my yard this afternoon - it was odd to see them this time of year and they were quite bold. They didn't fly away when I came out on the stoop. They were hopping around the yard and five crows showed up after a while and sat in a tree watching them. I finally saw a cardinal as well. I always did like those.

Otherwise uneventful day but I do love my shower. It's the best water pressure I've had in 15 years. It's tough at the kitchen sink though. If you forget, you get a shower there as well when the water hits the sink. Nothing's perfect

Monday, January 17, 2005

Finding places

I'm settling into the new digs a little more each day but it's a slow process. This place is so much bigger and of course it's configured differently, so it's taking a while to figure out where things should go. It's weird to have a utility closet again for instance. Not to mention that I brought so little with me that I'm realizing I need a lot of furniture to fill this place up. I was however, excited to figure out that I can keep my electronic keyboard up here (It lived under my bed for years). I think it's going to fit perfectly on the white workbench (that wasn't worth shipping except for the sentimental value) and I have a chair that works with it perfectly. Maybe I'll even learn to play some music on it this time.

I sort of like this part of the moving-in process as you get used to the place and discover the little things. A closer inspection of the property reveals I have bulb like plants growing all around the foundation, although it's hard to say what they are except for the daffodils. My nature identification skills have deserted me here. Everything is sort of the same but different, and I don't know the name of anything, including the birds of course. The family has a lot of cardinals and what looks like a really big mockingbird that has a propensity for sitting on the deck rail and watching us through the window.

Here at my HQ, I seem to have mostly some kind of little nuthatch-like ones that cling to sides of the big trees and hop madly around in the bushes outside my window, furiously eating invisible bugs and a couple of larger birds that haven't come close enough to even try to identify. I saw a couple of crows yesterday as well. However, as long time readers know, I often have bird encounters of the strange kind and I did have one here already that almost qualifies.

I was walking out for the mail and I have to actually cross the road and walk the width of my neighbor's lot to get there. He has some dogwood trees planted close to the road and I passed by a few feet from the biggest fattest wild bird I've ever seen up close. Seriously, its chest looked to be the size of my fist and the feathers were so downy, he looked like a baby. I thought at first it might be a baby hawk, but the beak didn't look right. A preliminary investigation leads to me to believe it may be a Pacific Flycatcher but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

He didn't move or make a sound, he just hung on to the end of an impossibly small branch that managed to hold his weight even as it bobbed and swayed in the rising wind. Occasionally he would open and shut his mouth, but he made no noise and he looked a little stunned I thought as he watched me walk closer to his perch. I got within four feet before he even flinched, but when I stopped he didn't move again. I stood there for a long time in the cold dusk, until finally I became concerned my new neighbors would think me a nut case for standing there staring at a tree, so I left without disturbing him further. He never moved more than his tail feathers - he just sat there watching me walk back down the driveway.

Speaking of which, it's a long driveway and I was concerned to see someone had dumped a plastic bag at the end of it yesterday evening. I didn't know quite what to expect as I trudged out to inspect it. It crossed my mind that I'd find a brick with Yankee Go Home written on it or something but it turned out to be a phone book - not from Sprint, the company that installed my phone - but from Verizon whose book covers a larger geographic area but unfortunately its service doesn't. They apparently hired someone to deliver it on a Sunday night. You would have thought Sprint could have done that as well since they have a building a couple of miles away from here but I've yet to receive my local book. Perhaps in tomorrow's mail, probably mailed to me from their book center in Pakistan or something.

But enough of minor inconveniences, I've had another good omen. I found a marble yesterday. I love marbles, always have since I was a kid and this is another one of spooky little things about my life. Whenever I move, I always find a marble in the first few days. This one is a beauty, a pale green cat's eye in translucent green glass.

So it's back to the unpacking for a few hours for me. I expect to return after dark to catch up on news.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Strange customs

I don't know what to make of this. Despite the assurances, it sounds a little inhumane to me to keep wild birds locked up for 20 days, feed them some concoction (that probably includes marijuana to reduce the toxic effects of the other ingredients) and when they're really hyped up on the stuff, tie them to a string and make them fight each other. They have to be goaded into it, probably because the marijuana mellows them out.

It's some Hindu ritual but it's on the decline since the birds are beginning to disappear. Rather unsurprising. Half of them are no doubt injured and the other half probably move out once they're released. Who would stick around to have that happen to you twice?

Your turn to rack...

Let this be a warning to you. If you're planning on using a pool hall as a cover for a drug dealing operation, it might be a good idea to keep a few pool sticks around. They say the pool tables are handy for quickly ditching bags of marijuana though.

More from the bloggerhood

I saw a lot of chat about this on the discussion lists a couple of days ago, but D'Alliance posts the first link I've seen to the actual news stories on this dunderheaded proposal by Texas State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon to create "druggie free zones" in San Antonio. Under her plan, anyone convicted of a drug offense would be prohibited from entering certain parts of the city. You can let her and the rest of the Texas legislature know what you think of this idiocy by clicking here.

Baylen also posts reviews of various drug themed programming on television and points us to coverage on a matter that could become the next big medical marijuana case under Supreme Court review in the future. And I was happy to find out that I'm not the only one who gets sleepy on a full stomach.

Back to the blogosphere

Well, I'm moving slow this morning as I've already managed to put my back out while I was unpacking but I'm feeling more on track now that I've got my computer back and finally started catching up on my reading. Pete at Drug WarRant has been busy while I was slacking off. He points us to an excellent editorial on how the feds are sabotaging any meaningful research into the effectiveness of medical marijuana, and he tells us how he managed to get drug czar John Walters to answer his question at the recently held White House cyber-chat. He also posts an interesting op-ed that makes a good argument for decrim in Texas and news of a heartening decision in Colorado upholding the 4th Amendment in ruling a search was illegal. And there's much more of course. Best advice as always is to start at the top and just keep scrolling.

Rehnquist could benefit from MMJ

The New York Post reports on an unexpected encounter with ailing Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist. It doesn't look good for the judge to be continuing on in his post past the end of this term. The details are sad and shocking. Sounds to me like someone should give the poor guy some medical marijuana to ease his discomfort. Besides, since he's still likely to render a decision in Raich v. Ashcroft, he should at least investigate its curative properties for himself.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Change is good

Well I think I'm home at last. I got the internet installed today and apparently picked the perfect spot for my desk. I'm sitting here typing this in the dark while the room pulses with the most astounding sunset pouring in through the window above my screen. The view is of a dozen tall thin trees in the foreground backed by an expanse of sky striated in blue, purple and white clouds glowing with red light. It just keeps getting more and more intense...

Even as it dies down to shades of gray at the very bottom of the cloud cover, the last light paints a hot flat river of yellow across the horizon line and an angry crimson cumulus threatens to engulf it from above. Wow. It felt almost supernatural.

It was good to have a whole day here and I made some real progress on moving in before the Time Warner guy got here. (I have to say I'm liking the Roadrunner connect so far.) It was raining all morning so I still don't know where the light comes in for the plants but I discovered a good reason for parking in the carport. I was wondering what that crashing noise was that I heard last night. Apparently it was some of the rotten branches falling off the trees onto the driveway. There's 15 of them in my front yard alone and my neighbors on both sides have as many. Guess that also explains the bonfire pit out back.

On the brighter side, I have a daffodil blooming in my front yard and I talked to the guy who used to live here today and found out he's not taking away the shed so it's mine to use. You can't have too much dry storage. But this is my favorite discovery today. They put up a clothesline for me while I was "up on the hill." Like everybody, I mostly use the dryer but there's nothing I like better than sheets and towels that have been dried outside. It's a smell thing.

Also on the upside, I discovered the local pizza joint will deliver side of orders of perfectly sauted baby spinach and garlic. The pizza is not bad either and the guy who owns it is a riot on the phone. Very New York and he kept calling me madame. Life could be worse.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Catching up is hard to do

I finally have some time off and am heading to my new house to start settling in tonight. Again, I won't have internet access until tomorrow afternoon so I'll be off screen until then. Keep your fingers crossed for me that all goes well and I'll actually get connected. I can't wait to get back to serious blogging and I'm missing my daily reads which I haven't had time to check out in weeks now. Here's hoping the next time you read this, I'll be blogging from home.

There's no place like home...

You have to love living in the country. My dear friends from Noho sent me a surprise package and of course I wasn't home when it arrived. In Noho the UPS driver would have left a form to sign and it would have taken two more days to actually receive the parcel. In this little town the driver simply left it on my screen porch.

Even the post office is more informal. The postman and I exchanged hand written notes over what to do with the former tenant's mail. I of course didn't have a clue as to how to find him, but apparently the postman finally did because I found a note from Troy stuck in the door when I arrived for my daily "bake the paint" session last evening. The paint, I'm happy to report, after five days of running the heat at insane temperatures, seems to have finally cured. They painted the entire place from the ceilings to the doors down to the trim around the floors. The fumes were absolutely toxic for a while.

I have to figure out what to do about an answering machine this week. I used to have the voice mail service from Verizon, but now that I'm stuck with Sprint again, I don't think I'll get it from them, meaning of course I have to go out and buy a machine. I loathe Sprint - I've had nothing but trouble with the company when I've been forced to use them in the past and it doesn't seem to be any better now. It took me three tries and 15 minutes on phone trees to get a live human being on the telephone to find out why I didn't get a phone book when they installed the phone. It seems rather than have the tech who flips the stupid switch or whatever they do that takes them a week to organize and thirty seconds to execute, doesn't leave the phone book. They mail you the phone book, which arrives seven to ten days later. I find that kind of stupid corporate inefficiency particularly irritating. And I might mention, the only reason I know my telephone number is that I called someone with caller ID to find out what it was. They didn't even leave me a note with that information.

However, the phone at least seems to work. I've received two phone calls already. A wrong number and a recorded message from Sprint purporting to be checking my service but in reality, it was merely one more pitch to attempt to sell me additional services. Mind boggling.

Meanwhile, I'm expecting to have a few days off and I'm looking forward to unpacking and settling into my new digs. Well okay I'm not actually looking forward to the unpacking part but I will be glad when it's done and it will be good to actually spend some daylight hours in the house so I can figure out where to put my house plants. I have a lot of windows but also a lot of trees and the house faces east so it's a little tricky. And of course, I can't wait to have my own computer back and some extended time to myself so I can catch up on the cyber-side of my life. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Here's hoping I'll be blogging from home tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Oh what a lovely surprise

My dear girls, that was possibly the most thoughtful and beautiful birthday present I have ever received and you've given me some splendid ones over the years. I wouldn't have even found it had I not brought the recycling out to the screen porch.

I miss you both like crazy. Thanks for such a truly brilliant surprise.

SCOTUS cuts some Federal Sentencing Guidelines

This is good news. Bloomberg reports The U.S. Supreme Court struck down aspects of the federal criminal sentencing guidelines. "The justices, ruling in two drug cases, said the guidelines unconstitutionally call on judges to increase the range of possible sentences based on their own factual findings, rather than those of a jury. Today's decision said that practice violates the constitutional right to a jury trial."

"The court said the guidelines will no longer be mandatory on federal judges and instead will be 'effectively advisory'."

Thanks to all the brave souls on the federal bench for making enough noise on this issue to drown out Ashcroft and his minions' insistence that these ill-advised guidelines were necessary. I'm sure it had at least some effect on the Supremes decision.

Progress report

I spent another couple of hours at the new place last night and am feeling more comfortable there every day. Also in keeping with my resolution to get back to a healthier lifestyle, I managed to dig out enough cutlery and stuff to actually heat up a can of soup for dinner. (Long time readers know this counts as actual cooking in my book.) And I made a salad (well okay I bought those bags of already made salad but I put in a bowl and poured dressing on it myself - It still counts as cooking.)

Meanwhile, my good luck streak came back I guess because just as I was pulling into my driveway there was a big accident on the main road, right at the end of my street. Had I come home thirty seconds later, I would have either been in it or at best been stuck in traffic for an hour just half a block from my house. I'd say that was pretty darn lucky.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

No party on Carnival

This falls under the heading of what were they thinking? Carnival Cruise Lines sets up a Jam Cruise with four days at sea on a ship with non-stop bands, music and dancing. Of course they issued the standard caveat against bringing drugs on board but come-on, did they really think no one would? Seems to me to be kind of nasty trick to subject the passengers to drug dogs before they boarded.

Word has it, after the first 12 busts the rest of the passengers tossed their stash into the terminal trash cans. I would bet except for a couple of entrepreneurs they were all for personal use only. And all the cruise line is doing in the end is encouraging people to get drunk and belligerent on alcohol instead of mellow on marijuana. Counter-productive all the way around and I would bet money they won't be able to sell out another one of those cruises now.

Loretta Live

Alright, it's live on archive, but here's the update on Loretta Nall's debate with the local police chief in North Carolina. She tells us it wasn't much of an argument - he was pretty much on our side - but it sounds like it was a great event.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Moving in by degrees

I haven't had time to unpack beyond the bare necessities but I'm finally starting to feel like I'm moving into the new house. My phone was hooked up today (and continuing the uncanny coincidences, there's a double number in my new phone number) and I got some mail for the first time. I won't have internet access until Friday but little matter since I won't have time to spend there until then anyway.

Meanwhile I'm taking care of the things I won't get to once I'm back on-line and seriously blogging again. I scrubbed my desk with steel wool and lemon-oiled it, something I've wanted to do for a long time and trimmed the dead wood out of my Costa Rican houseplant.

Thanks to all for the birthday greetings and for hanging with me through this adjustment phase.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Counting my blessings

Spending my birthday in a strange place without my friends to celebrate with left me a little homesick today, so I decided to take some time for myself to look around and focus on what I love my new place. It's actually a lot.

I have a strawberry patch in the back yard that looks like it will produce fruit in the spring. I also have some kind of spring bulbs already coming up in the yard. It looks like they might be crocus or snow drops. There's a lot of little chickadee kind of birds and there's a little cat that comes by to visit me when I'm outside star gazing. It won't be true in the summer, but right now you can see the Milky Way from my front porch and Orion is dead overhead all night.

I took a walk tonight at 5:30 around my neighborhood, saw a fabulous sunset and still got home before it was completely dark at 6:00. I wasn't wearing thermal underwear. One of my neighbors has a pink 57 Chevy with a black vinyl top that's faded to a dark charcoal color. Gorgeous car. Another neighbor never took down their Kerry/Edwards campaign sign. The neighbor across the street has a wishing well. People are friendly, even the convenience store clerks and people wave at you, including the state cop that cruises the fancy hood my family lives in.

It takes my house about 30 seconds to get warm when you turn the heat on. It takes my car a half a block to do the same. There's apparently a good blues bar in the center of town and a good pizza joint a couple of blocks away that delivers.

But the best thing. I haven't had a bad hair day since I got here. The damp environment keeps my hair from going all straight and flat like it does up north. My "do" stays perky all the time here. It surprises me every time I happen to see myself in a mirror.

Guest spots
I'm working my way through the backed up email and I'm glad I discovered a note from Loretta Nall saying she will be a guest on Free Speech Radio at Western North Carolina University tonight. She'll be debating Western Carolina University Police Chief McAbee live at 8:00pm. But not to worry if you can't tune in then (unfortunately, I won't be able to) as she promises to update us later with a link to the archived show.

And thanks to Loretta for pointing us to Grits for Breakfast where Rev. Alan Bean is guest blogging live from the trial of disgraced former undercover agent Tom Coleman - the scumbag who perpetrated the fraud that was called Tulia. I met Alan at a drug policy conference and he's an unassuming guy who played a big role in bringing justice to the Tulia defendants. I can't wait until I have a day off so I can catch up on this and of course Scott's usual stellar take on the goings on in Texas.

But don't wait around for me to summarize. Read it today for yourself.

Sniffing around

I've been spending a lot of time in airports in the last few months and I've been seeing a lot more cops with dogs than I used to within the US - presumably sniffing for bombs. Used to be they only sniffed for drugs. I've been wondering myself if the same dogs now sniff for both. Thanks to JackL who discovered this research paper paid for by the feds entitled "K9 Units in Public Transportation: A Guide for Decision Makers," we all know that the answer is no. In fact, the trainers say it's impossible to train for both as then they are not able to find either item.

Public pays for drug czar lies

I try not to rely on cross posting in consideration of those readers who actually read both my blogs but the baby woke up early and this is an important story that I want to be certain no one misses, so I'm going to cross post this irritating piece about the ONDCP this morning.

The Bush administration is still hard at work deceiving the American public. Having suffered little more than a slap on the wrist for using illegal covert propaganda while promoting their robbery of our senior citizens' pensions with his Medicare drug "reforms", they did the exact same thing again with Office of National Drug Control Policy promotion pieces designed to look like a real news reports. The Government Accountability Office of course censured them but I guess they don't care as long as they don't get into any real trouble. The bad press dies before most people even see it, so essentially they get away with it anyway.

The ONDCP of course has been lying all along in the propaganda pieces they are publicly willing to admit producing and it's not surprising that they resort to such underhanded tactics in an attempt to justify the $40 billion of your hard earned tax dollars they squander annually on this failed war on some drugs - particularly since they shifted their focus from intercepting "hard drugs" to persecuting terminally ill medical marijuana users and pain management doctors.

It just goes to show how badly they have failed when they must spend even more of our money to attempt to fool the public with fake news. But again, since it costs them nothing to lie and they desperately want to protect their hefty salaries and cushy positions as prohibition profiteers, they are willing to knowingly break the law in order to do it, while they call honest pot smokers criminals.

Seems to me they should let all the non-violent drug offenders out and put John Walters, Mark Souder and the rest of their prohibition-pushing liars in jail instead. Maybe then the remainder of Bush's media manipulators would stop lying to us on our dime.

PS: Thanks to Louise for remembering my birthday. It's been so hectic here I lost track of the days. I might have forgotten to celebrate. I'll miss our annual celebration as well Louise and a very happy B-day to you tomorrow as well.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Anarchists in the making

This is inexcusable and outrageous. Really, 12 year olds searched down to their socks over a missing ten dollar bill? And by the way the money was not found on the "suspects".

I find this sort of thing to be a symptom of the war on some drugs. Once the precedent for such searches was set in the name of protecting our children from drugs, the authorities feel free to use these tactics for such mundane matters as this and I fear that children treated with such disrespect as teenagers will not grow up to feel or show respect for the system that abused them.

Friday, January 07, 2005

I suspect they're right

Thanks to Kevin for leaving the link to this corrupt cop of the week story. A U.S. Border Patrol agent has been arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking after authorities found 750 pounds of marijuana in his squad car following a high-speed freeway chase, according to a criminal complaint filed in San Diego.

Suspicion of trafficking? Even with my most generous perspective, it seems hard to believe it was his personal stash.

Set backs

Well my run of good luck appears to have run out. I had hoped to have my internet installed tomorrow but my schedule fell apart and I'll have to wait another week before I can get back to what passes for normal in my life. I did get water this morning, so it wasn't a complete loss. When I arrived last night they didn't turn it on because I wasn't home and there was a faucet open in the house. They take their water very seriously here.

I had to spend the night anyway because they were coming so early to turn it on. It felt like camping at the beach, using baby wipes to wash with and bottled water to get by. I was feeling like a pretty great traveler though. I had packed all the things I needed right away in all the right places so I able to get comfortable and was even able to make coffee in the morning.

Meanwhile, without regular access my email is out of control and I haven't cruised the blogosphere in days but this little absurdity comes in through the inbox. A judge in Pittsburgh ruled a convicted drug offender who violated his probation must "appear regularly over the next eight weeks wearing a sign telling students about the negative consequences of drugs."

You think he really believes making the guy a laughingstock at the high school is going to have a deterrent effect? To their credit, the school has not yet given permission for the stunt. One hopes they tell the court to rethink the sentence.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Quick hit

Have a busy day going here and need to get over to the new place. The water is supposed to be turned on by now and if it is, then I'm likely be off line until tomorrow while I start unpacking. My internet connection won't be up for another couple of days at least. I can't believe how long it takes to get things installed out here. I mean we aren't that far from the city.

I still haven't had time to check in on my daily reads, but I encourage to check out the fine blogs on the sidebar while I'm thus detained. I also leave you this year end review of the most requested articles from the archives of the Media Awareness Project and their weekly newsletter, that should keep you entertained until I get back.

Meanwhile, if anyone runs across a hot story - please do leave a link in the comment section.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Making change

Well I'm making progress at this end but I still won't have my own internet access for a few more days so posting will continue to be erratic until I get set up. However, my water is supposed to be turned on tomorrow morning and my furniture and other worldly goods arrived this evening so I'll be able to start living in my new little home soon. Spent an hour or so there with the movers today and I'm liking the feel of the place so far. I think I'll be happy there. Goddess knows the omens are good.

I have this thing about double numbers, for instance my lucky number is 11:11. Everything about this place has been in doubles like that. The address has two doubles and when I went shopping today for the basic supplies that I needed to replace, my total at both stores was exactly the same and my change both times was $5.55. It's all been a little spooky, but I like it.

Meanwhile, the drug war news is starting to build up in the inbox so I leave you tonight with this interview of Keith Stroup, outgoing executive director of NORML who shares his reminiscences about his experiences over the forty odd years since he started the organization. A fun read.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Nuts and Bolts

It's a good thing the war on some drugs has been a little slow for the last week because I still don't have the time or the energy to deal with the news today. I'm making progress here however.

I managed to schedule most of the new utilities and closed out the old accounts in Noho. Unfortunately my internet connection will the last to be installed but I did get to the new house today and found the electricity on and I finally heard from the movers. My furniture should be arriving shortly.

I'm also happy to report the car appears to be feeling much better after a couple of days rest and didn't stall today. Maybe it was because we discovered and removed (okay I watched someone else do it) a squirrel's nest that was hidden in the middle of the engine. Well maybe it was more of a squirrel pantry, but call it what you will, there's this big square steel thing bolted down in the middle that sits over where the spark plugs are and packed into the space between the two was all this shredded up bits of paper and leaves and empty acorn shells. Goddess only knows how long it's been there but it was rather a miracle it didn't catch fire during the trip. I'm hoping this solves the problem but I have to admit however, I'm feeling badly about the poor hungry squirrel who is no doubt waiting around my old parking lot for me to come back with the car.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Transition

Well it's official. I finally signed the lease this morning and I'm now a "red state" resident. It was a long trip for me, not having done any long distance driving in many years - heck barely having driven at all in the last four or five. It wasn't easy on my trusty Ford either. I've owned it for four years and I doubt I put 2000 miles on it before now. It ran like a champ right up to the end. On the last stretch it started stalling at stop lights. I have to say I was pretty freaked out the first time it happened, in the middle of eight lanes worth of city traffic with five hours of driving left to go. I was really glad I decided to only drive during daylight hours at that point let me tell you.

In the end however, we made it right into the driveway at my family's home without having to call a tow truck but I haven't tried to start it since. It appears the first thing I'll need to do here is find a good mechanic. Hoping it's not the transmission - that would be a drag.

Otherwise it was a pretty good trip. The weather was perfect, dry roads and warm, even at night in New England, so my houseplants were comfortable enough. It being the holiday, traffic was light and I didn't see a dozen big trucks the whole time.

My hotels were both good and had great diners right next door to them. Now I love diners, I always look for new ones to try and these were both winners. The second one was pretending to be a real family restaurant but turned out to be a Greek diner in disguise and the food was great and everything was from scratch including the best crab cakes I've ever had.

My New Year's eve was pleasant enough as well. I spent the evening alone of course, soaking in a hot bath and drinking my favorite champagne, Moet White Star. You can pay more but I think most of the more expensive ones are over-rated and Moet doesn't leave you with a hangover the next day.

Meanwhile it will take a couple of more days to recover from the trip and get settled into my new digs but for the moment I'm enjoying starting the new year in warmth. I haven't put on my winter coat since I left Noho and in fact spent the afternoon outside today in just a light sweater. I may not like the politics around here, but you sure can't beat this weather.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year

Well, I'm down to the final push here. In a few hours I'll be leaving lovely downtown Northampton behind. I'll miss this place and I'm not looking forward to the drive as I used to when I was younger. I find the highway stressful these days and I'll be glad when it's all over.

I'll be on the road for the next three days and I don't know if I'll be able to post or not. I do have internet access in the hotel tonight but I don't own a laptop and I'm not sure I'll feel like dragging the desktop unit into the hotel but have no fear, I will be back to regular posting after the first.

If I don't check in before then, thanks for coming around and checking out what this old hippie has to say. Wishing you all a safe and peaceful 2005.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Funny finds

The apartment is finally beginning to look empty. I'm getting down to the detritus now. I tossed the set of those thousands of little tiles but I found this scribbled on the back of an envelope because I wanted to remember my favorite refrigerator poetry poem.

recall
a black storm
I mean purple shadows beneath
a white summer moon

we were there
on the cool blue rock
behind my tiny garden
watching the raw wind

beat the misty lake
with beauty

Money matters

Well friends, I appreciate your patience. While the move continues apace, (along with the drain on my wallet) and it doesn't ever seem to end. The movers came, I got my car checked out -thankfully that mysterious black rubber belt thing won't break on the road now- and my replacement is a quick study. However, there's still the matter of disposing of the remaining debris here. How is that all that little stuff at the end just seems to grow instead of diminish?

I tried live blogging while the movers were here but I was too distracted, however it was a pleasant enough experience. They were two young guys and they were very careful and efficient but also kind of personable. My neighbor David, (who lives in my first apartment in this building) dropped in and confirmed what I always believed, that his place, although otherwise identical is about four inches wider than mine. I sent him home with a plant that needed a good Jewish home.

Meanwhile, I only have time for this one item and it doesn't look like good news to me. It appears the dollar's slide has reached the velocity where the black market now prefers euros. "Drug dealers, Russian oligarchs, and black-market traffickers of all kinds" are opting for a currency "easier to carry, store, and hide than dollars." Not to mention the monetary value. "Since 2002, the growth rate of euros in circulation has far outpaced that of dollars. At today's rates, a 500-euro note is worth $682."

When the black market backs out, it's to time to pay attention. With between 55% and 70% of the $703 billion of U.S. currency outstanding said to be circulating outside the 50 states, this is serious concern.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I'll be back

It's crunch time folks. The movers will here tomorrow, I'm still not packed and I need to spend the day at the office tying up some loose ends. Hope to be back to blogging by later tonight.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Peace on Earth

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. I ended up unexpectedly spending the better part of the evening at Tully O'Reilly's. I was walking back from the store and had to stop when I saw Ron Sarazin there. My old boss and former owner of the Baystate Hotel, I hadn't seen him in months and was glad to have a chance to say goodbye.

I was on my way out the door when Harry McColgan, former owner of Tully's bar showed up alone. Long time readers know that Harry and I go way back, so you understand that I could hardly leave him there and really, I was glad for chance to spend some holiday time with him. That hasn't happened since he hooked up with Jeannie.

When I finally managed to get out of the bar, I discovered a friend on the sidewalk who had celebrated just a tad too much and was insisting on driving. Fortunately, he had 'lost' his car and it was freezing cold so I was able to convince him a ride home in a warm car made much more sense. Turned out to be a pretty good Christmas after all, under the circumstances.

For some inmates across the country, it was a slightly better holiday than it could have been as well, thanks to radio station WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, Kentucky. The station, said to be popular among big-city inmates being held in isolated prisons in central Appalachia, took its annual Christmas program nationwide this year. They hosted a call-in show that provided a forum for inmates and their families to exchange holiday greetings. More than 40 radio stations also participated by simulcasting the program.

With so many inmates effectively sold to lowest bidder and incarcerated such long distances from their families under the privatized prison system, I found this to be an especially touching and humane gesture that really captured the spirit of the season. Think I'll drop them a note (wmmtfm@appalshop.org) and tell them so.

Meanwhile, it's back to the packing again for me. I leave you with one last Christmas thought this morning. I was humming this John Lennon song all day yesterday and really appreciated Wampum posting the lyrics.

And so happy Christmas, For black and for white,
For yellow and red ones, Let's stop all the fight.

A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year,
Let's hope it's a good one, Without any fear...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

www.linns.com
Christmas coffee break

I'm feeling a little more in control of the moving thing. I have a mover booked for some indeterminate day next week. The guy tells me it's their choice. I look at him like he's from Mars, you know. I mean, they're charging me what and I don't get the choice? Then again, when you call with only a week's notice you kind of have to take what you get. I smiled sweetly and said okay.

I went out and bought some boxes. They aren't cheap either I'll tell you. So far I haven't managed to fill any of them but this I'm taking as a good sign. I'm still in the midst of passing stuff on. I suppose it would be quicker if I could bring myself to throw perfectly good things away but I feel compelled to find good homes for everything.

I mean I really like the stuff or I wouldn't have kept it but it has to have heavy sentimental value before I'm willing to pay more to move it than it would cost to replace. Thus I've had a weeklong free stuff fest on my front porch. I'm happy to report it's going well. I've been forced to take very little all the way to the dumpster so far.

So, I'm feeling mellow enough to catch up on my 'daily' reading and find we have to say goodbye to Alan Heymann at D'Alliance. It appears he's found politics and took a government job. We'll miss you Alan.

Thanks to D'Alliance for posting the text of Tom Angell's encounter with our favorite drug czar. Tom was kind enough to email us about the event as well. He tells us the press conference was well attended and several other pointed questions were asked including some concerning HEA provisions, needle exchange programs and one from a WebMD/Reuters Health reporter about the DEA's persecution of pain management doctors. Angell is a rising star in the SSDP and an irrepressible activist. We all owe this young man a debt of thanks for what he does.

While most everyone is on hiatus, Scott at Grits for Breakfast is blogging on and the whole week is a must read. Just start at the top and start scrolling through his breaking news on red light cameras in Austin, his astute comments on Bush's proposed federal judicial appointments and impending privacy concerns for US citizens, to his update on the legal woes of wretched prosecutor Terry McEachern of Tulia fame.

Jim of Vice Squad is in London. Somehow, he discovers it's a sin to give cigarettes to a monk in Thailand.

Loretta Nall is posting through the holiday as well. I'm sorry to learn her USMJ site has been hacked but happy to see she has a new show up at Pot-TV. She's also acquired a toll free number for Pot TV News viewers to call. If you would like to do a Christmas Shout Out on the next news, call 1-866-304-1196 and leave a 30 second message. She'll play it on the air.

Pete at Drug WarRant is taking a well-deserved break to spend Christmas with his family but he said something really nice about us in this post. Thanks Pete.

And finally, a woefully belated welcome to the blogosphere to David Borden of DRC Net. His new blog, Prohibition and the Media, offers a daily critique of drug reporting by mainstream news outlets. We like it already.

Meanwhile, I'm back to packing....

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Spirits

I'm home alone for the holiday and I'll be packing boxes all weekend so I was a little cranky today to say the least. However, having made some good progress this afternoon and having attended the holiday party at Tully O'Reilly's this evening, I'm in a much better mood. Maybe it was the excellent eggnog, or maybe it was the convivial company, including a rare appearance by daytime bartender Rick and a visit with the irrepressible Harry McColgan, but I went home this evening humming Christmas carols.

I'm off to spread a little more holiday cheer in the neighborhood and I hope you are all finding some as well. Wishing you an yours a peaceful and merry holiday season, whatever event you celebrate.

Gold diggers swarm on drug policy reform

I suppose it was inevitable that the speculators would eventually find a way to profit from drug policy reform and it appears that day has come. Marijuana.com has been put up for sale. For a mere 1.5 million you too can cash in on what the press release calls an opportunity for unprecedented press.

"The sale of Marijuana.Com will create a buzz in the industry unlike anything seen before. With the current headlines being grabbed by the Supreme Court looking at Medicinal Marijuana and the local coverage of Marijuana related voter initiatives this sale itself couldn't be timelier. The publicity alone could be worth over a $1,000,000."

Of course they don't give a damn about actual reform. They'll sell the site to anyone with the cash. They pitch Snoop Doggy Dog, suggesting he might he might want to add it to his private stash of property but one suspects they would also sell it to the ONDCP if they came up with the cash first.

Disgusting. It's a sad moment for the movement.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Aussies trade road safety for testing folly

Australia's approach to the war on some drugs is beginning to look more like the US all the time. The government recently instituted roadside saliva testing for 'drugged' drivers. The trouble is, according to the scientific community, the test is flawed and likely to produce false positives.

Just ask John De Jong, the first driver in the world to return a positive roadside saliva test, who was falsely accused of driving under the influence. The government, caring nothing for his welfare, took their sweet time in releasing the results, but it turned out that he was innocent.

However, in true US prohibition profiteering style, "Police Minister Andre Haermeyer yesterday tried to shore up confidence in the tests and said he had full confidence in the system. He said a wrongly accused driver faced 'a little bit of inconvenience'. " He sees no need to apologize.

Further, the government intends to continue the flawed testing. Meanwhile De Jong intends to take legal action. I hope he sues their pants off.

[thanks to Leigh Meyers]

UPDATE: Preston Peet sends in this. It appears the second of three drivers who have been snared by this test was also proved innocent. Jeesh.

theage.com.au
Unlikely ally for drug policy reform

Martha Stewart of all people, has seen the light and posts this on her website.

When one is incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be selfish at Christmas -- hard to think of Christmases past and Christmases future -- that I know will be as they always were for me -- beautiful! So many of the women here in Alderson will never have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been here for years -- devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.

I beseech you all to think about these women -- to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life "out there" where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.


It's unfortunate she had to go to jail to find enlightenment but a big welcome to the reform community to Martha. Hope she follows through on this when she gets out.

[thanks to JackL]

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Victims of the war

Well, we're getting down to the wire here on the big move and I'm officially panicking. I don't see how I'm going to get everything done in the next ten days. Posting is likely to be spotty while I make this happen. Meanwhile, there's a couple of interesting stories on the wire this morning.

Diane Monson, the other plaintiff in Raich v. Ashcroft, has been singled out by the state of California to be retested for her driver's license. This is generally only done when drivers have had serious accidents or multiple drug and alcohol convictions. However, Monson says her only infraction was a speeding ticket. Her lawyer says she was singled out for her views.

In other news, according to a study done by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "the use of marijuana and other illicit drugs declined slightly among teenagers in 2004, but dangerous inhalants and the highly addictive prescription painkiller Oxycontin are becoming more popular. The use of inhalants such as paint thinner, glue and gasoline increased sharply among eighth-graders in 2003 and continued to rise this year, a sign that inhaling, or "huffing," is rebounding in popularity after many years of decline."

Another unintended consequence of the war on some drugs. Better the kids should be smoking pot. It would do them much less harm than huffing chemical fumes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This day in history

I had forgotten about this. On this day in 1970, Elvis Presley met with President Richard M. Nixon in the Oval Office to discuss fighting drugs. The meeting occurred after Presley wrote a six-page letter requesting a visit with Nixon and suggested that he be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Rather ironic in that Presley later died from an overdose of prescription medications.

Drug policy reformers cross their T's

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's feature article this week is on Change the Climate's recent court battle with the MBTA over the posting of their ads in MBTA stations. As we told you earlier, Change the Climate prevailed and the court ordered the MBTA to run the ads. The T had rejected them on the grounds that they "could encourage young people to smoke pot." The 1st Circuit ruled the rejection constituted "'viewpoint discrimination' and had stifled a legitimate opinion; i.e., that marijuana should be legalized."

To Boston lawyer Harvey A. Schwartz, who represented Change the Climate, this was always a simple matter. It was not a case about pot. It was a case about protecting people's right to engage in controversy through free speech.

"Controversy," he muses. "That's the whole point of free speech. You don't need the Constitution to protect boring speech."


The T brought in witness Cornelia Kelley, the head of the Boston Latin School, to speak about the way her students would respond to the marijuana ads. Kelley said, "There is a message there that marijuana is okay; it's not as bad as cocaine or heroin. And the message, to my mind, that's a very confusing message for young people. There is a sense there that marijuana is acceptable."

Reported to be the turning point of the case, Schwartz's cross examination was brilliant.

The lawyer produced an ad for Doc Watson "hard lemonade" that had already been posted in MBTA subways. The ad read: "Do it on the rocks."
The exchange between Schwartz and Kelley then went as follows:

Q. Do you believe the MBTA should allow this ad to be posted where your students can see it going back and forth to school?

A. Apparently the MBTA has already made that decision.

Q. Well, I know, but you've already told us that you believe the MBTA should not post the three ads that my client wants posted. Do you believe the MBTA should post that ad?

A. I think the difference ...

Q. No, ma'am. The question was: Do you believe the MBTA should post that? Yes or no.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. And it doesn't concern you that your students are told to "Do it on the rocks" with an alcoholic beverage on their way to and from school?

A. I didn't say that.

Q. It does concern you?

A. It concerns me ...
Schwartz also established that students could, in fact, express the same views expressed in the ads (i.e., that marijuana should be legalized) and not be disciplined:

Q. So if one of your students in a debating class wants to express the viewpoint that "Police are too important ... too valuable ... too good ... to waste on arresting people for marijuana when real criminals are on the loose," if he expressed that viewpoint, would you suspend or expel him?

A. After school hours? No.

Q. What about in a school-related debating club?

A. It would depend on the set of circumstances in which it took place.

Q. Okay. But you recognize that students are allowed by law to have that viewpoint if they want, don't you?

A. I recognize that we all have different viewpoints. We all have different thoughts and ideas.

Q. And if a student wants to express this viewpoint, he's certainly allowed to say these words, isn't he?

A. Given the appropriate venue.


Judge Keeton of the lower court was not swayed but the 1st Circuit saw the logic in Schwartz's argument.

Picking up on Schwartz's cross-examination with Kelley, the 1st Circuit later found that: "The MBTA's own evidence fails to support its argument. Headmaster Kelley's point was not that the [ad] would induce drug use, but the rather different point that the Ad presented a 'mixed message.' The mixed nature of the message was about which drugs were legal and which were not; thus her concern was that the ad would promote confusion about whether marijuana use was illegal. The MBTA's conclusion, however, requires an additional step — that the ads would not only confuse teenagers about marijuana's illegal status, but that this confusion would then lead teenagers to smoke marijuana. Neither step in the reasoning is supported by the record."

In an interesting side point, counsel for the MBTA, Rudolph F. Pierce of Boston was once counsel for the Pru Cinema, which had to hire the lawyer in order to pursue the right to air adult movies like "Behind The Green Door" and "Devil and Mrs. Jones." Guess he believes in First Amendment protections for porn but not for drug policy reform. Hard to figure how he could argue on both sides.

Meanwhile, the fight for free speech is not over for good. The MBTA has redefined its rules on allowing ads that have been judged constitutionally acceptable. "The fine-tuned guidelines have a list of specific items excluded from advertising, ranging from material "demeaning or disparaging individuals or a group," depictions of firearms, nudity, obscenity or political ads."

One expects they will refuse future drug policy reform advertising as unacceptable on political grounds.

Monday, December 20, 2004

ildado.com
High rollers

The Moderate Voice has an interesting post on the smuggling of illegal aliens out of Mexico. It appears they're making good use of the border casinos in their trade. What struck me though was the parallels between the trafficking of humans and the trafficking of drugs. Here's the money quote.

"...security along the county's urban border areas has increasingly tightened. In the past 10 years, the federal government has added fences, surveillance equipment and more than 1,000 Border Patrol agents."

"...This enforcement has turned human trafficking into a growth industry. Where many undocumented immigrants once crossed into the San Diego area on foot alone or with inexpensive guides, illegal border crossers are now charged thousands of dollars to be brought into the country, often through remote areas where the border remains porous."


The obvious lesson being strict prohibition promotes crime, it doesn't prevent it.

Meanwhile, thanks to Joe Gandelman for pointing out there's a Traffic Jam at Outside the Beltway.

Lunch links

Good letter to the editor in the Utah Tribune on medical marijuana.

Loretta Nall points us to a story on a new program in Alabama where the schools will pay kids to rat on each other. As Loretta points out, there's a lot of room for abuse in that scheme between teenagers who might want to get back at someone they don't like and make a little pocket change besides.

Ricky Williams is back in the news. He says he quit football to keep his failed drug test secret, which I find a bit silly considering he has no problem admitting he is still consuming cannabis regularly.

And there's a new game in town. The hot new Christmas gift in Canada this year is a board game that lets players run their own "B.C. Bud" marijuana farm.

A Christmas Story

It's been snowing since last night here in lovely downtown Noho and it doesn't look like it's going to stop soon. It's pretty of course, but they say the say the windchill is below zero. I'm not looking forward to going out in it - I would have much preferred to keep packing and watch it out the window today. Since that's not an option, I leave you with this rather sad Christmas tale this morning.

Peter Wayne is a heroin addict who has only spent three Christmases out of jail since 1974. His Christmas on the outside is just as bleak. He tells his story here.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Prohibition Profiteers

This editorial by Froma Harrop is worth going through the tiresome free reg to read. She's come up with the numbers on how maintaining the prohibition budget profits those who fight to keep it.

About $69 billion of it last year went to police, federal agents, judges, jailers and other drug-law enforcers across the United States. These are the good guys, but most are not so good that they will admit that the war on drugs is a waste of money and lives. The war is how they make a living.

She points out the hypocrisy of Judge Breyer's admonition in the Raich case, that reformers should go to the FDA for approval, while the DEA is blocking the ability of scientists to do the research to prove its efficacy.

Do the math: The DEA has nearly 11,000 employees and a $2 billion budget. America last year arrested 1.6 million people for nonviolent drug offenses. Half were for marijuana (with 80 percent for possession). The number of marijuana arrests, 734,000, nearly equaled the population of South Dakota. Imagine what legalizing marijuana would do to the DEA's cash flow.

The profits go beyond law enforcement.

Marijuana has yet to kill anyone, yet anti-drug advocacy groups like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America portray it as a scourge. And why not? Condemning marijuana helps score $20 million in annual revenues for the Manhattan-based nonprofit. Its president makes a quarter of a million, and the next five highest-paid employees rake in close to $200,000 apiece.

And think of the other peripheral businesses like drug testing companies. Harrop sums the problem up well, ..."the smallest retreat is billions in lost revenues for the warriors. And that's why the bureaucrats and every player in this war will fight against legalizing medical marijuana, for as long as it takes."

As I've said before, prohibition is about private profit, not public safety.

Wisconsin court recognizes California law

This is good news. Although it won't set any precedents, a Wisconsin circuit court judge dismissed criminal charges against a woman based on her California prescription for the medicine. The DA was agog.

I've been doing this for 17 years and this is the first such prescription I've seen," said Assistant District Attorney Kevin Calkins, the prosecutor in the case.

Nothing happens overnight but every such common sense ruling from any bench takes us a step closer to real drug policy reform. Some days it looks like we're winning this war.

npt.mah.roche.com
Poetic justice

Public Regulation Commissioner E. Shirley Baca's troubles are far from over. The Commission has asked the attorney general and the secretary of state to decide whether her recent drug possession charge violated a state ethics code. It appears Ms. Zero Tolerance may fall victim to her own inane policies.

Meanwhile in Nebraska, the recent arrest of Lincoln Police Cpl. Diana Short on felony charges of marijuana distribution will probably result in the drug testing of the entire police force.

"It’ll be soon," Lincoln Police Chief Bob Rawlins said, referring to the upcoming drug screenings. "But how soon, I can’t tell you."

Guess he wants to his guys plenty of time to get those urine cleansers to work.

Senior citizens support MMJ

This is interesting. A year and half ago my friends scoffed when I told them medical marijuana would become a major issue in the near future. I have to think we're hitting the mainstream when the AARP polls its membership on the subject. Over all, 72 percent of respondents agreed "adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it."

Call for graphic designers

Mass Cann is holding a design contest for next year's Freedom Rally t-shirts. The winning artist will have their work featured in High Times magazine and Boston-area print media, will receive a free year's membership and other perks. Details are available here.

Simmons sells out

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons made a big splash a while back with his "Drop the Rock" campaign designed to encourage young people to get involved in repealing the horrendous Rockefeller Laws in NY state. He held a very successful concert in NYC and was subsequently invited to take part in the negotiations with legislators.

Now, many months later, the "reformed laws" are being announced with great fanfare. The trouble is, the so-called reform is negligible and the real activists who led the movement are calling Simmons a "nightmare" who "destroyed" attempts to get the Rockefeller Drug Law penalties repealed.

I tend to agree. Simmons, while he may have initially had good intentions, in the end used his celebrity to further his own career and sold out the cause.