Monday, February 28, 2005

Implausible denial on secret fumigation

My search is function is broken so I can't link to it but we talked about a mysterious nighttime herbicide bombing in Afghanistan last fall and now another one has just occurred in a remote village there.
Abdullah, a black-turbaned shepherd, said he was watching over his sheep one night in early February when he heard a plane pass low overhead three times. By morning his eyes were so swollen he could not open them and the sheep around him were dying in convulsions.

Although farmers had noticed a white powder on their crops, they cut grass and clover for their animals and picked spinach to eat anyway. Within hours the animals were severely ill, people here said, and the villagers complained of fevers, skin rashes and bloody diarrhea. The children were particularly affected. A week later, the crops - wheat, vegetables and poppies - were dying, and a dozen dead animals, including newborn lambs, lay tossed in a heap.
Incredibly, despite the material evidence, the official response from Kabul, London and DC has been denial that the spraying even occurred. The sick villagers who lost their livestock are incredulous and angry. "We gave our vote to Karzai so he would bring us help and now he is killing our animals," said one after describing the unnatural demise of his sheep. They blame the US, a natural assumption when it has complete control of the airspace. I think they're right.

This administration, is determined to import Plan Colombia style environmental devastation to Afghanistan. They lobbied hard for it, both in Congress where the funding was shot down and with Karzai who asked them to wait. Given Bush's prior disregard for rules or consensus, a sneaky little test run of the scheme does not seem at all out of character.

Going to push for the Bush

"Pushing Back provides up to the minute news on the Drug Czar, his staff, and other national efforts that 'push back' against the drug problem in America."

They're billing Pushing Back as the drug czar's new blog although I have a feeling John Walters probably doesn't even read it. It has archives going back to Oct 04 consisting of exactly seven posts and it's clear he hasn't written a word of it himself. And God knows who designed it - the nauseating content aside, it's an ugly page and the white on blue text is eye-straining.

I didn't get far in my reading on account of that but it's interesting they're taking credit for pushing drug courts which I consider to be a miniscule reform in drug policy. If memory serves that crowd had to be forcefed the concept and fought it all the way. Now that the efficacy of the system has been demonstrated, they're all for them? What's that old saying about success having a thousand fathers?

Otherwise a quick scan yields up the usual stinking pile of disinformation that appears to be material already released. Something about seeing it all archived together though, unless you're good at pushing back your retch instinct - do not read immediately after eating.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Truth Laid Bare

Blogger seems to having coding issues at the server again so just a quick word on the TTLB ecosystem. It's one of those things I signed up for but never looked at again, mainly because I never have time to figure out how to check the stats and then, after a while I forget I signed up in the first place. Glad Scott brought it up because I was about to lose benefits for not putting a link on the site.

Anyway, I see Pete, who started Drug WarRant just about the same time we launched LOS, ranked in Marauding Marsupial category as well. Pete is another one who blogs circles around me. Not only that he gets speaking gigs and congrats to him for almost getting interviewed on MSNBC. Sorry that didn't work out but after reading about his speech to the Libertarians - I had an epiphany. He should be running for office. The Statehouse could use a man like him and so could we.

Being only an adorable rodent by the way is not such a bad ranking considering we never do anything particularly important and don't promote ourselves much. We're still #3053 out of 20,625 blogs. Not so shabby for a quirky little blog that spends an inordinate amount of time talking about birds.

Meanwhile, in a moment of supreme irony, Tongue Tied placed as a large mammal in the ecosystem, ranking far above LOS. A look at the stats however reveals that 2 of his top 10 posts were mine. Not so bad for only having been there for 9 days and the graph between 2/11 and 2/20 shows a significant spike during Jim's and my stint there. I think that vindicates the two of us. Clearly the readers wanted to hear what we had to say. One can only surmise, we got kicked off because FoxNews didn't.

Way to Go Grits

I'm just catching up on my reading this afternoon and see big congratulations are in order for Scott at Grits for Breakfast who is co-winner in the Best Single Issue Blog category of the Koufax awards - sharing the honors with Talk Left which is an honor in itself.

Scott started his blog long after Last One Speaks was launched but has been blogging circles around us since day one. He has (deservedly) far surpassed any small successes we've had along the way including outranking us in the TTLB ecosystem. He's a marauding marsupial - we're only an adorable rodent over here.

If you're not already reading Grits every day, check out his blog from the top and just keep scrolling to see why he merits the accolades. There's so much there this week, I can't even pick one post to highlight.

Good work Scott. You do the drug policy reform movement proud.

Small successes add up to a good day

Gave myself a great haircut yesterday morning. I'm getting better at it all the time and let me tell you it takes some courage to hack away at the back without being able to see what you're doing. It's kind of funny to remember how horrified I was the first time I had it cut several years ago, after decades of really long hair. I cried that day and I only took six inches off. Now I cut it myself, so short that it doesn't even hit my shoulders and in another six weeks I'll be annoyed that it got too long again. I'm still always amazed when it turns out so well.

Inspired by my success I decided to tackle the gas cap problem on my car. It has one of these locking gates on it that you pop open with a little lever inside the car. The trouble is it hasn't worked for over a year. Getting gas became a two man operation. I had to hold the lever up while someone else opened the gate. When I wasn't driving much it wasn't a big deal because I only had to tank up every couple of months and I just paid a little more to go to a full service station.

I would have been happy to keep doing that, unfortunately they don't seem to have one of those here so I've been reduced to asking passersby to help me open the gate. Since I'm now filling up once a week, it's been rather embarrassing so I took my out my trusty toolbox, figured out how to get the gate open myself (I used a stick to hold up the lever) and fixed the gate.

Well fixed might be the wrong word. I figured out the stupid catch mechanism wasn't working right so I removed the catcher from the gate itself. I even got to use my ratchet thingy. So my gas tank isn't locked anymore but it felt pretty macha to figure it out and I can stop for gas any old time I want now. Thus cheered by this success I decided to finally get out the house and check out the local bar.

It turned out to be a pretty cool place. You have to join as a member to be allowed in so I trotted down with my five bucks and signed up. I was there early but there were a few regulars around. People were nice and chatted me up and I like the room. The band was doing a sound check and the acoustics are good but I didn't stay. I don't usually do Saturday nights out but I'm looking forward to checking out the local musicians at their weekday open mike/blues jam thing. Appears it will be a good place to get an occasional dose of live music and human contact.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Spitting distance

Quite a triad of uses here - disease detection, prediction of dental cavaties and drug testing. I think it's great that they discovered some medical uses for saliva testing but really this research has been about drug testing right along and I think any refinements they make will be in simplifying the testing in order to more easily control your personal choices. The spit specialists see dollar signs.

Saliva has not really been used in the mainstream. As a scientific community, it's time to bring oral fluid testing to the front line and look at what value it will bring," David Wong of the University of California, Los Angeles Jonsson Cancer Center and School of Dentistry, said in a prepared statement.

Translate that to: The pee testing industry is making a fortune. Spit is easier to get. Let's cash in.

It's only a matter of time before you'll be spitting into the cup in order to get a job and if they develop a roadside test, expect to spit every time you get pulled over for even minor equipment violations. Can't think of a better tool for a police state.

When the hawk sings

The moon looks bigger here and it seems to hang lower in the sky, I guess because I'm closer to the equator and there's not so many buildings in this little town. You can't see it that well for the trees from my front stoop but at the family homestead, which I've taken to calling "up on the hill," it's a impressive presence in the sky. Maybe it's the lack of snow, but it also seems brighter here, more fiery than the memory I have of pale white winter moons in New England.

Winter is a whole different word around here. I heard on the radio that they define it strict terms. It starts in December and it's officially over tomorrow. They appear to right. I find it almost incomprehensible that in February I discovered some kind of day lily coming up around the shed, along with some bonafide violets and a little patch of what appears to be trout lilies on the side of the house. The robins have disappeared and the geese are flying north. I think spring is here.

Bird encounters of the week were big. The storm window above my desk is open for some reason and I never closed it because there's this elaborate spider web in there and I never quite figured out how I want to deal with it. Besides, the birds perch on the ledge once in a while.

This afternoon, a wren flew onto the ledge and then spent some time inside the window deciding if he wanted to eat those old bugs or not. He picked at the web for a while. I was hoping he would sort of eat the whole thing and solve the problem but I don't think he liked the web part because he left after he tried the first bug.

Yesterday morning was the bigger event. I was standing at the end of the carport and the hawk suddenly materialized in my neighbor's yard. He was flying low and heading right for me. For a moment I thought he might either land on my shoulder or rip my face off. At the last second he lifted and landed in the branches directly above me. He couldn't have been more than 15 feet away. He looked big up close. He sat there for a long time and much to my wonderment, he began to sing. It was such a sweet high sound from such a fierce bird, musical and distinctive. I heard it later in the day from behind the house and knew it was him. I like that he's watching over the place. I hope he sticks around.

Friday, February 25, 2005

US and China ally on drugs

I have a bad feeling about this. Karen Tandy on behalf of the DEA along with her counterpart in China signed a Memorandum of Intent to establish a Bilateral Drug Intelligence Working Group. "The two agencies will exchange information on enforcement methods, drug trends, money laundering techniques, and trafficking organizations, according to a press release issued by the DEA."

China, holder of a major chunk of our national debt, and the US don't agree on much these days but they found common ground on the war on some drugs. The press focuses on meth interdiction which on the surface would seem to be a reasonable aim, but keep in mind that China wrote the book on human rights violations. They don't jail as many people as the US does for drug violations but that may be because they favor capital punishment for offenders. Not to mention little experiments in reducing drug demand such as drilling holes in addict's skulls.

They speak of lofty goals and dismantling international cartels now but mark my words, what will come of this unholy alliance is more diabolical methods of harassing low level dealers and consumers.

Burn baby burn

Take a look at this picture. When Cuba burns a sack of marijuana, they mean business. Fidel Castro has declared his own war on some drugs, declaring the fight a national security issue. Authorities say the drug trade moved in along with the tourists when travel restrictions to the country eased in the mid 90s. I know nothing about maritime law but I have a little problem with the way they seized the weed.

The case involving the Jamaicans occurred in November, after a suspicious boat leaving the Jamaican town of Ocho Rios was identified. Working with Jamaican and U.S. Coast Guard officials based in Miami, Cuban authorities intercepted the speedboat off the island's northern coast Nov. 8, arresting all three men aboard.

Over the next 10 days, Cuba deployed hundreds of anti-drug agents to search for drugs believed to have been tossed off the boat. Twenty-five sacks containing more than 1,320 pounds of packed marijuana were recovered.

Call me suspicious but couldn't someone else besides the Jamaicans have thrown those bales out there into the sea to be conveniently found?

The blazing spectacle was part of an international press conference meant to highlight their beefed-up interdiction program and the 25 bales were transported to the local steel company "where they were hoisted up by a massive crane and thrown into a blazing cauldron."

In the understatement of the week, the interior ministry's Lt. Col. Elio Cobiella said watching the flames, "I don't think there's any way any marijuana's left in there."

News of the North

A couple of interesting items out of Canada today. Canadians are now eligible for tax credits for medical marijuana expenses and bringing new meaning to the concept of appetite enhancement, the owner and chef of a fine-dining restaurant was arrested for maintaining a very sophisticated grow-op on the top three floors of the establishment.

It appears to have been a good cover, as neighbors expressed amazement at the operation. No one, including the patrons had a clue. One suspects that they got caught by their power consumption. Despite generating their own electricity from hydroturbines that were an original part of the mill building, they apparently were also drawing large amounts of power from the public grid.

You would think someone smart enough to figure out how to set up a grow this automated would have thought of that.

Thursday, February 24, 2005
Time to balance the scales on marijuana policy

This week, all across America small town papers will be publishing news like this from the Benton Daily Record in Arkansas. During the first month and an half of 2005, they made 35 arrests for marijuana possession and 4 arrests for meth.

"Marijuana has been, and will continue to be, a very popular drug for every age group," Cpl. Kelley Cradduck of the Rogers Police Department said Wednesday. "Marijuana, in many respects, is a first love for many of these dopers. I still believe that the way some groups portray it, (marijuana) is still not viewed as it should be - as a dangerous drug."

A dangerous drug he says. It's a plant, a medicinal herb used for centuries in folk medicine and current scientific research around the world is reproving its medicinal value. That aside, most cannabis consumers are not violent criminals - they're responsible citizens. When it's associated with a crime, there are always multiple drugs involved, oftentimes alcohol.

But the police have good reason to go for these little busts. They are under pressure to submit statistics to some central authority and all those easy arrests are needed to justify their budget. But while they are processing the paperwork on non-violent possession of a plant - a drunk driver is getting away. Some petty thief is breaking into a car or your apartment while you're in town for dinner. In the nearest big city to where I live, people get shot every day and murdered about once a week. They make a lot of possession busts around here as well.

They can't be everywhere at once and municipal budgets are shrinking - not growing. Isn't it time to review our priorities on what constitutes crime?

In Benton County there will be 35 non-violent marijuana cases clogging the law enforcement system. The police won't be able to investigate your break-in while they're in court testifying and they will have that much less time to investigate violent crimes.

This is the money quote from Benton County:

Cradduck agreed with Allen's assessment. "I think meth is more prevalent than those numbers are telling, but it is harder to catch," Cradduck said.

Exactly, but it presents more of a concern to the community. It's not going to get any easier to solve if they keep spending billions of your tax dollars on taking penny-ante marijuana possession cases through the court system.

Cannabis the cure for Alzheimer's?

Moving on from TT angst at last, here's some good news for aging hippies. A study being done in Spain on marijuana revealed cannabinoids help prevent brain problems seen in Alzheimer's.

The findings showed that "cannabinoids work both to prevent inflammation and to protect the brain," says researcher Maria de Ceballos in a news release. That "may set the stage for [cannabinoids'] use as a therapeutic approach for [Alzheimer's disease]."

...Another interesting result also surfaced. The cannabinoids completely prevented activation of cells that trigger inflammation. These cells gather near plaque and are believed to be involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"Our results indicate that cannabinoid receptors are important in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease and that cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease," write the researchers in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Meanwhile... somewhere in America, John Walters, Karen Tandy (on your tax dollar) and Andrea Barthwell (on a moneymaking lecture tour) are telling the public it has no medicinal value.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

TongueTied - the second last word

First of all, my apologies to those of you folks who come here looking for news and find yet another post on my personal political firestorm. Secondly, let me apologize to the readers of TongueTied for painting you all with such a broad brush. I didn't get a chance to proof the last post until now and clearly I was a little cranky today. It sounded pretty mean so let me also apologize to Crumpy who all that mean stuff was actually directed to. Forgive my unkind words.

I'm going to edit just a little but leave it up though, because it's the honest thing to do. And it's a good reminder for myself. I let Crump irritate me to the point where I lost my composure. He has a right to his opinion as we all do.

It may surprise you to learn that I have many friends who are Republicans. They're reasonable, intelligent and good people whose friendship I cherish and am proud to claim. We found we could disagree and still respect each other's opinions. It was in that spirit that I went into the gig at TT and I'm sorry my thoughtless words this afternoon diminished that intent because I know there are many more of you who fit the profile of my friends, than not. Thanks to Craig for reminding me of that with his extraordinarily polite email.

The point being, we are not as different as we may think. None of us are bad people and it's unfortunate we were denied the chance to discover that at TT in such an unpleasant manner.

Last word on Tongue Tied


Sorry folks, I've been tied up with the family and just found out that I'll be needed at the homestead longer than expected so I won't be back up to speed for another day or two. I see I've been missing all the fun here.

Thanks for the support friends but you do know old Crumpy is just over here trolling for hits for his own blog - which he appears to need badly. It seems to be working for him as I'm told some of my friends have made a visit to Crumpyland and report that he entertains, among other fantasies, that TT is one of the top ten blogs in Blogville. Hysterical.

I'm sure you realize that Crumpy (and most some of the TT readers) are lost in their own la-la land ideology and will never admit the truth folks. It would require actual critical thinking to move past empty slogans into intelligent analysis. This is how Bush gets away with such criminally negligent policies. Most of these "red-staters" are simply too afraid to disrupt their tiny little sheltered lives of predictable mediocrity outcomes with actual facts and so find their solace in group-mocking those with the courage to look at the big picture and form original opinions.

It's rather pathetic frightening really. They don't care whether it's true or not, just that there's a lot of people that agree with them. The echo chamber gives them the illusion of being in the majority when in fact they are just a handful of really loud bigots who managed to find each other. I feel sorry for them. How horrible it must be to wake up in the morning and have to wait for someone else to tell you what to validate what you think. In any event they are more victims of people like Scott Norvell than I ever was.

I after all expected him to burn me, his fans don't even realize they are being used to reinforce policies that will leave them and their descendants in a miserable state of poverty while Scott and Bush and the rest of the neo-cons take off with their money future and leave them with some useless snake oil.

So this is my final word on the whole TT thing. When I applied for the slot, Scott told me that TongueTied was taking up too much of his time, had reached its plateau of readers and needed a boost to build a bigger audience and thus generate some advertising and some income. He specifically told me he was going to change the format and asked how we thought we could help.

I told him the blog was boring, too one-note and stale and that if he opened up the format to include other views (similar to what we do at the Detroit News) so that the posts would remain fresh, it would generate interest, feedback and potentially income. I explained to him in detail what effect having a leftie on the board would have, which certainly included hate mail. I also stressed the importance of having a balanced team of bloggers in order for the format to succeed.

Scott knew exactly what he was doing when he left Jim and I alone on that board. This was no, as Crumpy keeps calling it "bate [sic] and switch." Scott invited me in to deliver exactly the sort of posts I put up and he deliberately set us up to end up there alone to get his readers all riled up, in order to better wring some cash out of them. He had no intention of changing the format to include a balanced approach, and I believe at this point he never had.

I don't care that he got my advice for free. I don't even care that he may have made money on it. I'm pissed because he excuses dumping us after a week for generating too much hate mail saying his readers don't want to be challenged. I guess he forgot that lefties think for themselves, have an attention span that lasts longer than ten minutes and aren't easily manipulated as [some of] his readers are. Not to mention, the challenge he refers to, is the one I made to him directly so it's not only disingenuous for him to pretend to be surprised by the negative feedback, it's dishonest for him not to admit that he's the one who wasn't up to the challenge of debating us.

Not thanking us for donating our time to keeping the place alive while he was away was just plain bad manners but his rude and tacky post about "cleaning house" cheats his own readers by intimating that they were responsible for getting us off when he clearly never had any intention of keeping us on in the first place. I guess he figured they if they felt empowered, they would give more.

Was he right? I don't know. How about it Crumpy? Care to enlighten us? How much did you give?

Monday, February 21, 2005

You're welcome Scott. So happy I could help build your traffic up while you were away

It's been a long day so I'm just reading the comments from the TongueTied fans that came over to gloat over getting me kicked off the blog. I got news for you kids, we were both set up. I wasn't pissed off about it though until I read this insulting post.

Let me remind Crumpy and the rest of the gloaters that I didn't hack my way into that blog, Scott invited me in. He was well aware of my politics and my style. As these posts will attest, I was completely honest and I had no expectations.

But I didn't post everything I said to him - yet. He knew exactly what would happen when he threw two left wing bloggers alone into that bandwidth with absolutely no editorial guidelines because I told him. I smelled a trap from the get go here, but I couldn't figure out what the payoff was. Let's face it, I'm no prize catch in and of myself. So being insatiably curious, I stepped into it.

Not to mention, I pitched my participation to him in the first place as a challenge to him personally. I thought I had finally found a courageous blogger of opposite politics who could rise to an intellectual discourse. How disappointing to find that he didn't have the "gravitas" for the debate after all. And how sad that it turned out his angle was a cheezy short term ploy to build a bigger audience from which to beg for money.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

We've already said goodbye....

Okay tell the truth folks, who expected it to last even this long? Jim and I got kicked off Tongue Tied today for generating ten times the usual feedback, all of it hate mail. It's like, what were they expecting, that right wing readers suddenly confronted with a complete change of format to the left would be sending love notes? We did our job with due diligence, the other right wing blogger disappeared after the first couple of days. So it's our fault it turned into a left wing echo chamber overnight? What were we supposed to do? Invite Ann Coulter to step in?

The whole thing feels suspiciously like a setup to keep the traffic up while Scott was incommunicado but - no expectations, no regrets. It was fun while it lasted and who knows what effect it might have had on the average Joe that we pissed off? A little truth never hurt anybody and understanding often comes after anger. At least I know my meme got through to a lot of people. Besides, I need the free time for another project I've been neglecting.

Meanwhile, do you think my goodbye post was gracious enough?
Freedom for Hemp

Good news developing on a couple of fronts in hemp and we mean rope quality cannabis that really is "just a plant," albeit a truly beneficial one. In Australia 2.5 million hemp plants will be harvested from a secret location in Northern NSW over the next two weeks, and then processed for use in the construction of two hemp houses. The environmental benefits of the project are numerous.

Dr Bolton said the 1.3 hectare crop was being grown at a North Coast sewerage plant and used as a means of "mopping" up the effluent. It is the fifth and largest hemp crop to be produced through SCU's North Coast Mop Crop Project.

"We are aiming to demonstrate that there can be a commercial outcome from hemp cultivation. The State Government has indicated that they will not allow commercial licences for growing hemp until they are confident there is a market."

Dr Bolton said once economies of scale were in place the cost of the hemp building material should be similar to conventional bricks. He said it was possible that in future people would be able to grow their own crop and then have their house built on site out of the processed hemp.
(Don't you love that idea?)

"I can definitely say the insulation properties are far superior. We also think we may be eligible for carbon credits, because the material will be locking up a significant amount of carbon." Tell the truth I don't understand the carbon part but it must be good if they give credits for it.

Meanwhile, issued a press release announcing a new industrial hemp farming bill to be introduced in California and is holding a press conference in support of the bill on Wednesday February 23, 2005 at 9:00am being held in California State Capitol, Room 1190, in Sacramento. The public is invited and there will be free samples of hemp products.

If the new hemp bill becomes law, farmers would be able to apply for state licenses to grow hemp. The law would be similar to regulations on industrial hemp in other countries such as Canada and the European Union. Proponents are hoping the Governator, who grew up in a country that allowed the cultivation of industrial hemp will be more amenable than former Gov. Gray who vetoed similar legislation. I hope so too.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

House cleaning

House lawmakers are introducing a bill for federal research on meth houses. It would fund studies to identify the health dangers and help states create standards for cleaned-up houses, and will hold a hearing next month examining the health dangers of shut-down meth labs.

I'm glad to see this. With the proliferation of home labs this has become a greater threat, especially to low income Americans. These labs are generally set up in poor neighborhoods with cheap rents. They come in, cook it up and leave the landlord with the mess. Oftentimes the landlord won't even know it happened and the next family moves into a chemical wasteland.

Of course the one thing this research is unlikely to touch on is that this did not become a problem until they government banned the precursor ingredients. In the old days they cooked meth without the toxic waste because the precursors were pure controlled substances.

Another example of how prohibition creates problems rather than solving them.

Law enforcement gone bad

Media Awareness Project has a great newsletter this week. My favorite story is this little harbinger of hope on a DA's office in western North Carolina who sent a memo to the local law enforcement telling them they were going to "crack down" on which drug cases it will prosecute. They're only going to take the cases they think they might win and apparently there's a lot of shoddy police work going on out there.

"We have to cull 36 cases to try from approximately 200 Traffickers, 350 Sellers, 25 Habitual Felons, and the 2000+ defendants charged with possession."

And speaking of shoddy police work, in South Carolina a "police officer faces charges of swapping crack for sex and other illegal conduct over the past seven years following a State Law Enforcement Division investigation."

You read about it every day folks and it's a direct result of prohibition. Illegal drugs corrupt the cops more than the consumers.

Loretta's rolling

Our pal, the tireless Loretta Nall has been busy making and reporting the news. She was in South Florida interviewing the teenage victims of a drug bust sponsored by the local high school in a report for PotTV and was interviewed herself by the Sun Sentinel.

Meanwhile her run for governor of Alabama is shaping up with encouragement from the Libertarian Party. Way to go Loretta.

Texas talk

If you're not reading Grits for Breakfast every day, you missed Scott's excellent post on a teacher with 27 years of apparently exemplary service to her school system, who developed a drug problem and is facing 2-10 years in jail for possession of 1-4 grams of meth. To put that into context it would look like, at most, a half a teaspoon of sugar if you dumped it on the table. Scott rightfully berates the community for failing to offer support.

Drug abuse isn't just happening to those "other people" anymore. It's happening to our teachers, our prosecutors, our cops, our politicians, people in every walk of life. Treating it as a criminal instead of a medical problem makes things worse and doesn't solve any of the associated problems. The teacher in question is 51 and was functioning on the job; a leave of absence to attend a drug abuse program, plus a lot of support from her peers and community, and it's easily conceivable that in a year's time she could be back teaching, drug free, and able to contribute for quite a while longer during a time when Texas has a shortage of experienced teachers.

Read the post and keep scrolling for Scott's coverage of a logical proposal to remedy what ails the Texas probation system and some sage thoughts on the defunding of drug task forces. Oddly enough we owe the elimination of the Bryne grants that fund these atrocities to Bush's proposed budget. It's practically the only line item I agree with.

Worthy cause

Last October Americans for Safe access filed a petition with the US Department of Health and Human Services asking it to reschedule marijuana to reflect it's accepted use as a medicine. Currently it's a Schedule One drug meaning the government treats it as a substance with no known medical value.

Unsurprisingly, HHS is stalling on the petition but you can help ASA turn up the heat and compel HHS to take the issue under timely consideration. ASA needs to collect 100,000 signatures on paper petitions to submit to the agency by the end of March. You can download the petition here and collect signatures for them. Give it a whirl kids, there's even prizes.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Do as I say, not as I do

D'Alliance points us to this story on Rick Roach, a former DA in Pampa, Texas who recently plead guilty to federal charges of possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and unlawful possession of weapons by a drug addict. The last charge probably arising out of the loaded guns he's said to have kept in his desk.

Roach (yeah, that's really his name) was observed using the drug at least twice by his secretary and co-workers, suspicious due to his wild mood swings and erratic behavior were said to be terrified of him. Nonetheless, the unexpected bust shocked the small town. No details of the investigation are being disclosed.

Ironically Roach was known for his tough on drugs stance, urging his staff attorneys to push for maximum sentences for drug offenders. More interesting, in the course of the investigation, "state troopers alleged that Mr. Roach offered them Rolex watches and other incentives to emphasize money seizures in drug cases. State law allows such funds to be split between the law enforcement agency and prosecuting attorney's office." At the time of his arrest, "Roach – alone – controlled bank accounts with at least a half-million dollars in seized drug money."

He's not currently charged with any financial misconduct but clearly he was seduced by the prestige and power of administering the money. Just another illustration of the futility of this war on some drugs. If those who are charged with prosecuting the law can't resist the temptation to take drugs, especially someone as privileged as Roach, what chance does an ordinary addict have of avoiding the urge without treatment programs?

Prohibition has failed. Legalization could work. It's well past time to take the money out of law enforcement and prisons, where drugs are easier get than they are on the outside, and put it into clinics and regulatory agencies.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

By the way...

While I've been remiss on posting the news, don't think I've forsaken drug policy reform for politics. I did manage to work in the war on some drugs at TongueTied this week. Check out my posts about toddlers on Lithum and Gonzales' war on porn.

Walters off on pot - again

I know I've been neglecting the drug war news this week while I build up some steam at TongueTied but fortunately for all us, Pete (of apparently boundless energy) at Drug WarRant has been keeping track of the breaking news. Just start at the top for his report of the on the scene details of John Walter's sudden appearance at the Illinois State House of Representative's committee hearing on Representative McKeon's medical marijuana bill.

Despite his assertions that he was not there to "improperly influence legislation," the obvious effect of a US cabinet member attending a state level committee meeting was the bill failed to get out of committee for consideration by the House by a 4-7 vote. That's two away from a win though and two of legislators voiced support for the concept but not the language of the bill. Proponents vow to keep trying and warn drug czar Walters that the issue will not go away. Nor will it in the many other states that have similar bills pending.

And wouldn't you think Walters, as a high ranking federal Cabinet member, would have more important things to do with his time than spend the taxpayers money to plead his case for the incarceration of terminally ill people interfere in a state level debate?

But that's not all at Drug WarRant. Keep scrolling for the word on Illinois Representative Monique Davis' bill to leash the dogs let loose by Caballes and the poop on Souder's latest try to derail harm reduction.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
A quiet life

Well it seems I traded in the wild life for wildlife. It was a beautiful afternoon so I played outside for a while. I finally checked out the little road behind the house. It's an actual city street, it has a name but it's not paved. It was a short walk but an exciting one.

I've been wondering what the white stuff was on the fallen tree in the woods I can see from my kitchen window. On close inspection it turned out to be some kind of oyster shelf mushroom. It looked sort of like this only larger and much whiter even as it's aging into that sort of melted state. Very impressive fungi.

The road deadends just up over the top of the hill but there's four houses on it, actually two really fancy homes and two trailers. The house at the end is a huge brick affair with a really long driveway. The other one is very modern and made entirely of wood which is rare in these parts. It has sort of chalet feel to it and it's so beautifully landscaped with much statuary - all angels. It has a name, The House of Love and the mailbox is decorated with hearts and fluttery red things.

The next one up is a really junky trailer that looks abandoned until you see the car in the drive which you can't see until you get close because their yard has no lawn and their woods are littered with downed trees and brush. They also have a chicken coop made of scrap wood which explains the rooster I've been hearing. The other trailer was tidy and nondescript.

The best part of the walk was the butterfly. He came roaring out the woods and landed right in front of me on the road. He let me get me pretty close but took off before I could get a good look at his markings. I watched him fly away back down the road until he was out of sight and started walking up the hill again. Moments later he came hurtling by, not two inches from my shoulder and started flying around my head. For a second I thought he might land on me but he looped from one side to the other just out of reach. It was like being buzzed by a little acrobatic airplane. Finally he landed right in front of me again in the middle of the road. This time he let me crouch down and opened his wings so I could identify him. I had never seen one before so I had to look him up. He's a Mourning cloak.

Mindful of my new responsibilities of home rentership I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon raking the lawn. I like the raking thing, it has this Zen rhythm to it but picking up the stuff kind of creeps me out. Who knows what kind of bugs are in those leaves you know. A problem I could put off for today since it's a big yard and I'm no where near finished. But I can't just leave the piles there forever. What's the yellow page listing for guy who will pick up yucky yard stuff and take it away in his pickup truck anyway?

On the bright side, I have another daffodil plant blooming and I discovered that my yard is full of bluets of both varieties. One of my favorite flowers. I didn't know they were called Quaker Ladies. I like that name but I always called them star grass.

Man's best friend?

The good news is that J.D is a hell of retriever. The bad news is he retrieved his owner's bag of marijuana that had been hastily discarded, before the cop was finished questioning him. That's the thing with those goofy Labs. Love the breed myself, but they will fetch anything and there's no way to stop them. The owner inexplicably admitted the eighth of an oz. bag was his.

Meanwhile, some guy who probably was taking a break from the Westminster Dog Show paid $590,400 for a painting of dogs playing poker.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

ReconsiDering drug policy

I'm late in posting this but Nicolas Eyle, executive director of ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy made the news, gaining some well deserved recognition for his work in Syracuse. In a cover story at the Syracuse New Times Nick is credited with being the driving force behind an auditor's report done last year that illustrated the financial costs of the current interdiction strategies in the war on some drugs. The ground breaking report brought mainstream attention to the issue of drug policy reform and Nick reports he's been contacted by many other cities interested in analyzing their own budgets. He even heard from Scotland Yard who praised his work.

Other activists are taking up the cause and using this model as a strategy to reach the public and are amazingly making headway with local legislators. Cliff Thornton, executive director of Efficacy, a harm reduction organization in Connecticut, has been pitching the concept successfully there.

The sudden responsiveness of mainstream politicians to an issue that has been perceived as countercultural comes as no surprise to Thornton. "We're giving them what they need," he says. "This is really the exit strategy to the financial crisis every city in Connecticut, and I would venture to say every city in every state in the union, has suffered over the past three years. The three biggest items impacting their budgets are law enforcement, mandatory minimum sentences and prison building. And they just don't have the money."

As Nick notes in the article, it is indeed all about the Benjamins.

After a decade of working intensely on the issue, Eyle believes the general public is ready to consider another alternative. "People don't care about inordinately large numbers of black people in prison," he laments. "They don't care about families being broken up. They don't care about invading other countries to put supposed drug lords out of business. They don't care about spraying poisonous chemicals on the rain forest in South America to eradicate coco crops uselessly because they crop up again in the next country. Those issues appeal to some people, but for the general public, they don't care. They care that their taxes are going up and their streets are not safe and the house they own in the city is worth half as much as it should be. And now, in Syracuse, N.Y., they held hearings on the issue that relate to what people care about. The hearings were held based on budget."

Former Syracuse City Auditor Minch Lewis who conducted the now famous audit also attended community meetings and listened to what the people had to say.

Lewis' recommendation to explore alternatives to the local implementation of the war on drugs' total assault strategy stemmed from what seemed a general consensus at neighborhood meetings. "Most people are concerned about the violence that happens when drugs are sold on the corner," he maintained in his report. "They don't care if someone uses drugs in private. Our policy today may be contributing to the violence, just as Prohibition did for the last generation."

That's it in a nutshell folks. Prohibition has cost this country billions and billions of tax dollars in law enforcement and incarceration costs and puts control of what the UN says is the eighth largest business in the world into the hands of criminals. And while your local cop is out busting some kid for smoking a joint or some hapless addict for scoring a $10 bag of dope, violent criminals are left to rule the streets. There has got to be a better way and Nick Eyle can see it from Syracuse.

Drug WarRant busts Barthwell

Blogger is a funny platform. It's so irritating when it doesn't work but they have a fabulous support team over there. I finally emailed this morning when the last post still wouldn't publish and within minutes I'm up and running. So before anything crashes again, let me give the big breaking news of the week.

Pete at Drug WarRant catches Andrea Barthwell in a major lie. Not about her false propaganda on medical marijuana - that's old news - although he does expose it as the fraud it is in his post. This is bigger.

Seems our former drug czarina has started a new business, Illinois Marijuana Lectures, that coordinates a lecture tour where she recycles her ONDCP lies. After some superior sleuthing, Pete discovered that she can't tell the truth about anything. She lied about being sponsored by a group called Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center which is administered through the University of Illinois. Their legal counsel told Pete she was using their name and logo without permission.

Her site was down yesterday while she removed the deceiving links to GLATTC but Pete has preserved the screen shots of her website showing the former pages listing them as sponsor. If not for Pete she would be still be perpetrating this fraudulent claim. Good work buddy.

Meanwhile, State Rep. Larry McKeon who introduced the medical marijuana bill in Illinois that Barthwell is out stumping against, published a letter in the Chicago Sun Times addressing her disinformation tour on behalf of prohibition. He had this to say.

As a legislator, I am used to political disagreements, and I enjoy a healthy debate. But when a former White House official crisscrosses our state, deliberately spreading misinformation about a proposal to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens, that's where I draw the line. ...

I welcome an honest debate about my medical marijuana bill, but let's base that debate on facts, not spin. Illinoisans deserve better than Andrea Barthwell's travelling con job.

So do we all deserve better. I have more to say on this at DetNews and at Tongue Tied.

Blogger Issues

This is a test. Blogger is apparently having publishing issues this week. I can't get into the editing platform at all and that double post is really bugging me. Hoping however we can still at least post new pieces this morning since this page is coming up.

Meanwhile, I'm finally nailed the trash thing. I managed to get it out there in time for the second week running. On the bird front, I'm disappointed that none of the birds are eating my orange. My dad puts them out for his birds and they eat them in minutes - I've had mine out there for 24 hours without one taker. I hoping they just haven't noticed it yet and will find it today. It's supposed to be another beautiful afternoon here in the South.

Monday, February 14, 2005

When prohibitionists put the public safety ahead of profit...

On this day in 1929 Prohibition One died in warehouse in Chicago. The Saint Valentine's Day massacre of course didn't literally end prohibition in the few minutes it took to conduct the legendary mob hit of Al Capone on Bugsy Moran, but it did turn public opinion against Capone and bootleg booze in general.

The people saw their good intentions had created crime, the bloody competition of the black market and watched the unregulated product wreak mayhem on the public health. They recognized in that moment that they could not stop alcohol consumption and so took action to end the failed war on booze in order to reestablish regulatory control over the industry.

Unlike today however, many of those who had profited from promoting temperance were the first to admit their error and in the interests of the common good led the way to sane policy. We could use a little more of that kind of selflessness among our current batch of drug war warriors but don't hold your breath waiting. The profit in drug prohibition is almost as great for the prohibitionists as it is for the dealers.

A few choice words on busting babies

Well this story is so bugging me this afternoon that I decided to vent a little to the station that published the account.

What is our society coming to when a child barely out of diapers is interrogated and punished like a common criminal for playing with dirt? The adults involved in this authoritarian outrage should be punished, not a child engaged in innocent play that is completely normal and expected in her age group. I mean really, didn't you ever make a mud pie?

The child learns nothing from this experience except that she can't trust the authority figures in her life to protect her and the undue and overboard reaction of "kid cop" Porter has educated her on drugs all right. Since she's already been punished for passing fake ones (a connection she is unlikely to have made on her own), she is more likely to be curious to find out about real ones.

Not that Porter would mind. Keeping kids interested in drugs is what keeps a prohibition profiteer like Sgt. Porter in clover.

You can tell them what you think by emailing here.

Kid cop claims greater good in overboard bust

The authorities are working overtime to justify their inappropriate interrogation and punishment of the 6 year old they "busted" for passing a bag of dirt to a friend.

"If she would have been 14, we would have been arrested her and taken her to jail." Sgt. Shirley Porter said. "It's important that a student understands what a drug is." .

Excuse me, but if she was 14 years old and still playing in the dirt, blissfully unaware of what drugs are, she would need remedial education, not jail time.

Nonetheless, it seems to me that maybe Ms. Porter has burned out after 16 years as "kid cop" and lost her objectivity. You wouldn't give a six year old a pack of matches either but you wouldn't think twice about handing them to a 14 year old and asking her to light the oven.

Not to mention, this heavy handed policy will do more to arouse this child's curiosity about drugs, not suppress it. I mean, she's already been punished for fake drugs, chances are she will now want to know what real ones look like.

Sunday, February 13, 2005
Daryl Hannah speaks

The screen star is urging lawmakers to legalize all natural hallucinogenic substances.

"It's ridiculous that something can be illegal when it can be so useful for opening minds," she said. "Hallucinogens open all of your senses. They can actually be quite educational and result in epiphanies."

Trip to the big city

I went shopping with my family yesterday, an excursion that unexpectedly turned into a whole day affair when we took a wrong turn on the beltway. We had a great time and I managed to buy a lot of things I needed but I'm still recovering from the culture shock. I haven't left this little town since I arrived here weeks ago and for someone like me, who goes to the mall maybe twice in a decade, being in two different malls in one day was somewhat jarring. I always feel like I'm lost in the Tower of Babel when I'm in those places.

Meanwhile, it's been temperate enough to sit on the front porch with my coffee in the morning and the cardinals have been joining me. It's so sweet - they sit in trees on opposite sides of the yard and sing to each other. And my brave little daffodil plant has decided to tempt the whims of February and bust out in flowers. I now have four blooms to cheer up the view.

Saturday, February 12, 2005
Cruel and unusual punishment in the Show Me state

This is really too much. A first grader in Missouri was given a two day in-school suspension because her teacher couldn't tell the difference between a bag of dirt and a bag of marijuana. An infuriating lapse of judgment on the school's part.

The teacher should be fired for neglect in allowing the child to be playing with trash from the playground in the first place and abuse for conducting a drug interrogation on a 6 year old. I doubt the child even understands what a look alike drug is. As far as she comprehends, she was punished for playing with dirt like any other kid her age does.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Prohibition profiteering

The prison industrial complex at work spending your tax dollars.

A jail guard is arrested for engaging in a contraband scheme for bringing cigarettes into the facility, where smoking is forbidden, in exchange for marijuana obtained through the inmates.

A little lesson in prohibition here. Cigarettes - a legal drug worth at most $7.50 a pack on the outside - are worth $100 a pack in prison.

What's in Popeye's pipe - really?

When I was a kid growing up in a Connecticut suburb outside of New York City even in those pre-cable days we were able to receive a large number of television stations based in Manhattan. You could pretty much find cartoons or other kids' programming like Soupy Sales to watch all day long. I watched a lot of TV then and Popeye in his many incarnations was one of my favorites.

I never really considered the allegorical implications of the cartoon but Dana Larsen, posting at Alternet makes a compelling case that the "spinach" known to give the sailor man his remarkable strength is an metaphor for marijuana and/or hemp. Read it all for yourself but here's one very interesting theory.

"Popeye characterizes the natural cycle going back through the ages to the ancient mariners ... books, [B]ibles, logs, maps, pennants, sails, ropes, paints, varnishes, lamp oil and sealants were all derived from hemp. Bluto represents the greedy toxic corporations, dependent industries and landowners.

"Both characters try to swoon the premier oil source, Olive Oyl. Bluto begins to understand Popeye is too competitive so he decides to eliminate him. He chains Popeye down, captures Olive Oyl, and approaches the point of rape. But in the end Popeye manages to suck the 'spinach' through his pipe, grows strong with hemp, breaks free and defeats the evil corporations, saving her from industrial pollution and oppression.

"Relieved and happy, she gives herself back to the natural cycle, then Popeye smiles, winks and toots his pipe."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Bush sics new AG on tea drinkers

The Gonzales legacy of drug policy reform disaster begins. The ink is barely dry on the proclamation ordaining him as Bush's hackman and he leaps out of the gate with their first major assault on freedom of religion being waged against 140 people under the thin excuse that an herbal tea being used in their religious practice happens to be hallucinogenic. The case has been through the courts right up to the 10th Circuit and the Brazilian based church has won every ruling.

Bush wants his pet AG to take it to the Supremes and by filing the appeal, effectively prevents the church from conducting its rightful religious rite. It will cost hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars to pursue this vendetta against 140 people. What a waste.

More thoughts on this here.

OOPS: Pete, whose memory I trust more than mine, points out in comments that the stay allows the use of the tea until the case is actually decided and not as I thought only until the appeal was filed. It's still a ridiculous case for the AG to be pursuing but it's good that they can't thwart the use of the sacrament in the interim.

Superbowl madness

Some people will complain about anything. Nonetheless it's hard to believe that even McCarthy's performance generated a few complaints to the FCC. I didn't see it myself but he apparently performed the old tune, "Get Back" which includes the lyrics, "Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona/For some California grass." I mean really, complaining about a fleeting grass reference in a song written in the 60s?

I found it less surprising that two people called to complain the half-show was too boring.

Jumping into the fray

I won't have time to blog again until later today but I put up my first post at Tonguetied this morning. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Sleeping with the enemy?

Well it's official. You know I sent in the initial "application" as a lark. I never thought I would hear back in the first place, but somehow I now have a password to the outer reaches of the inner sanctum at Fox News. I've been invited to sit in at their blog TongueTied. I got the gig folks.

I have to admit, I have mixed feelings. I loathe Fox but I really like this editor. Scott seems to be a really nice and honest guy. Not to mention courageous. He's giving us full editorial control. Who would have thought?

In any event I'm excited about the opportunity. At worst it will be an adventure, at best it could make a difference. Now all I have to do is master Moveable Type in the next 24 hours...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Get me to the curb on time

I finally figured out the trash removal schedule and came home to find my garbage can empty. It's funny how such a silly little thing can make you happy

Heroin by prescription - It all makes common sense

Canada will follow the lead of the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Spain and start a "clinic providing free heroin to Vancouver addicts is to open later this month to see if prescribing the drug can help addicts who have failed in other treatment programs."

Having spoken to a woman involved in the Swiss program, I can tell you the results of these alternate approaches have been very successful, not only in helping overcome addiction but in associated health care and criminal enforcement costs. Good for Canada for standing up to US pressure and enacting harm reduction policies instead of subscribing to punishment models that simply don't work.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Short takes - sense and nonsense

The prohibition profiteers will be jumping on this one. The National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, Maryland found that people who smoked cannabis had higher blood flow through their brains than non-users. They found long lasting adverse effects in heavy smokers, which they define as people who smoke up to 50 joints every day with an average of 131 joints a week.

Give me a break. Who the hell smokes like that? Your average responsible consumer doesn't smoke that much in a year. I might also mention the obvious - NIDA depends on keeping marijuana illegal to make their money.

New Mexico legislators see the sense in medical marijuana and propose a bill to allow its use for patients with debilitating illnesses.

A lesson to be learned from the Dutch experiment with pharmaceutical cannabis. Don't make it more expensive than the cafes or no one will buy it.

And yet another law enforcement officer seduced by the profit in black market marijuana.

Senior citizens speak

Well they're not on board for full legalization but an AARP poll commissioned last November showed 72% of the citizens 45 years and older believed medical marijuana should be legal and 55% said they would try to get some for their loved ones if they needed it.

Little things

Thinking of my friends in the frozen north, I hate to tell you that I sat out on the family's deck this afternoon and the sun was so hot I had to take off my sweater but it really felt good. There's a resident hawk up there as well that sits in the neighbor's tree. She's come to visit two days running now. Then when I got home I discovered that my brave little daffodil survived the battering cold of last week and flowered today. It's a good enough life.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Too much time on his hands?

My friend Michael Krawitz clearly likes to keep busy. He apparently felt like he's got too much free time on his hands since he only serves in various capacities on Virginians Against Drug Violence,, Advisor to Patients Out of Time, Regional Director for The November Coalition, Founder of The Cannabis Museum, Advisor to NORML at VPI&SU and Listmaster to DRCNet and Drugsense. So to fill that extra hour or so every week, he's agreed to become a regular columnist at The Collegiate Times.

Check out his first column, "Drug War Wastes Needed Resources" where he looks at the lessons of alcohol prohibition and gives us the lowdown on law enforcement's back room dealings on meth in Virginia.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Prohibition profiteering

Here's a business that wouldn't exist without the prohibition, private drug dog-detection services. Why wait for the police to tell you, when for only $16 you can violate your teenager's privacy on your own. That should do wonders for building trusting family relations. And for all those employers who would rather be playing Big Brother than building a business plan, it costs a little more but you too can violate your workers' Fourth Amendment rights using the Rathy's dog, who can purportedly detect drugs or the residue of drugs in buildings or on clothing, even after 30 days.

The really sad part is apparently there's a lot of wannabe narcs out there. The Rathys have already recouped their $16,000 investment and turn enough of a profit to fund free drug awareness presentations at schools and non-profit organizations. How altruistic - as if that's not their target market.

Meghan at D'Alliance has more to say on this story.

More task force atrocities

The New Hampshire Drug Task Force is under fire for its officer's off-duty conduct. Seems the officers have a fondness for drink, (both on and off duty) and not only were they fighting with each other, they also assaulted civilians as a group.

Not that they disbanded the task force over it, and it appears the officers involved will skate but at least some of the police departments involved pulled their men out of the group and questioned current operating procedures. Me, with the mounting incidents of misconduct across the country best exemplified by Tulia, I question their existence at all.

Scott of Grits for Breakfast has more on these in Texas and beyond.

Grow your own

The Gateway, a student newspaper at the University of Alberta, Canada, published an excellent article on the above-mentioned topic along with a cogent argument for legalization. [Hat tip to the Media Awareness Project where the article is permanently archived.]

As Richard notes, how long do you think we will have to wait before an American university allows its students such freedom of the press?
Decrim works for UK

Here's a story I almost missed. The UK reclassified marijuana about a year ago. Since then arrests for possession of cannabis fell by a third saving an estimated 199,000 police hours that could be used to solve dangerous crimes. Furthermore, there was no statistical evidence that marijuana use among young people increased at all. In fact it remained at declining levels.

I love a success story.

Moving in by degrees

It's a different life here in the Red State. For one thing I have Republican senators. I was thinking that's a good thing because my phone calls actually make a difference here. When I called to urge them to vote no on Gonzales, I got through on the first ring. I don't suppose they were flooded with calls. And a strange little man approached me in a store aisle and told me he didn't understand how people could be anti-death penalty and pro-abortion and solicited my opinion on the Confederate flag. I guess it's obvious I'm not from around here.

I finally went into town to open a bank account. The bank, a national chain mind you, doesn't even have an ATM machine, although they assure me one will be going in soon. It will be a first for downtown. I walked around west side of the main street. It was a short walk. Three Noho type stores, well stocked but tiny with a lovely transformed alley between them with plants and benches.

Otherwise, there's an office building, a couple of bars, another bank, a coffeeshop and a handful of stores. The most successful seems to be the scrapper's store. Scrap books are apparently very big in the south. And then there's the hardware store. Clearly a holdover from before the building boom that's changing the character of the town, it's a huge space - 3 storefronts - filled with a delightful chaotic hodgepodge of every possible item from "little red wagons" and dungarees to cast iron cornbread pans and plumbing fixtures. Red wagons aren't cheap by the way. That deluxe model with the wooden sides that come off is over $150.00 but they were running a good sale on dungarees for ten bucks and folding metal chairs for five bucks a piece.

I had a look around and bought some stick on numbers for my mailbox. There a steady stream of locals coming through the whole time, buying the bits and pieces of fixing things. I think I'll go back and get some dungarees and a rake next time.

I'm having a few adjustment issues with home rentership. Garbage disposal becomes a challenge for instance without the dumpster. I finally managed to get my recycling out on the right day but the trash has been a dismal failure. The first time I forgot altogether and last time I apparently didn't get it out early enough. They told me they came first thing in the am to my hood, but who thought that would mean 6:00am? I hope I can still wheel the barrel up the driveway this week. Long driveway and a heavy barrel.

Meanwhile I paid my first round of bills here and I'm still not unpacked - not even close. In defense, lest you think I'm merely lazy, I might point out I haven't been here that much, probably less than two weeks out of the last month and with my erratic schedule, it's likely to take a while yet. I love having the carport though, it's nice not unloading the car in the rain and I love having an office and a coat closet. It makes me feel kind of grown up.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Blog talking

Speaking of the Drug WarRant, Pete has got of boatload of posts up that you shouldn't miss. He's found some new Souder-isms to parse and has a few choice words in return. He has the lowdown on former drug czar-ess Andrea Barthwell and her new organization formed as a vehicle for her speaking tours. And you thought she wasn't going to be able to make money from prohibition once she "quit" the DEA? He also has a photo spread on the local drug task force and an update on the tragic death of Cheryl Noel. It appears the cop shot her in the chest - twice.

Meanwhile Decrimwatch brings us good news from Belgium. "People found in possession of less than 3 grams of cannabis will now only receive a verbal warning from police, and their stash will not be confiscated, according to this report.

And Loretta has the dope on Macaulay Culkin's (you remember that kid in Home Alone) legal problems and an interesting story about an assistant AG in Florida who literally got caught with his pants down when he was mugged by the call girls he invited to his hotel room.
Doggie in the window

Caballes, the dog sniff case continues to generate blog buzz. Jim of Vice Squad, finally back from his travels and sees some good in the case. CrimLaw has an excellent analysis and Pete at Drug WarRant has some compelling further thoughts.

Flex Your Rights also checks in to remind us that Caballes doesn't mean you can't still ask if you are free to go and you can't be held indefinitely waiting for a dog to arrive. For more check out their excellent video - Busted - a must see for every citizen of the US, cannabis consumer or not.

I stand with my first reaction. The ruling is a dog that's torn what little flesh was left off the bones of our Fourth Amendment protections.

Hey There

Welcome to the bloggerhood to Megan Farrington who joins the party going on at D'Alliance. She jumps in with a post on myths about precursors to meth, while Melissa wonders what Robert Novak is smoking.

Meanwhile Weefur explains what happens when Supreme Court justices drive drunk - *hint* they get away with it.

Not fit for man or beast

This is just sad. It seems these three young guys are driving down the road in Colorado and find a half-dead wild cat in the middle of the road. So being humane souls, they stop and rescue the poor thing and it's big - 65 lbs according to the account. In good faith they drive into town and flag down a sherriff.

What's the sherriff's first reaction? In a fit of sympathy for a dying animal, he arrests the kids for possession of marijuana. He looks in the Jeep, says Yep, you boys got yourself a mountain lion in there. Gonna hafta call in wildlife control and by the way, what's that smell?

Even worse, the poor mountain lion, which was only about four months old was too badly injured and had to be put down. But the sherriff gave them a break. He didn't arrest them for illegal possession of wildlife because they were acting in good faith.

Disgusting. And you wonder why people are afraid to get involved anymore. Hat tip to Tammara Halphen who notes, "No good deed goes unpunished."

Out of the inbox

Trying to clear out my email and ran across a few items to share. For those of you who are interested in psychedelics, Media Awareness Project has just archived an excellent article from the NYT on the father of psychedelic drugs, Alexander Shulgin, now nearing 80 years old, who talks about his research and his life.

For flash movie fans, here's an amusing parody on Mr. Hypocrisy himself, Rush Limbaugh.

For researchers and other interested parties, there the interesting Drug Use in Toronto Report done by the The Research Group on Drug Use.

Under the heading, someone needs to remind these guys who they work for, Alaska governor Frank Murkowski wants to subvert the will of the people and the jurisdiction of the courts by introducing a bill that would overturn the state court's decision to make four oz or less of marijuana legal to possess in one's home and make other minor offenses into felony crimes.

In case you were sleeping in a cave for the last three weeks, the Justice Department in a fit of sanity decided not to appeal the ruling striking down the "law recently passed in Congress stating that transit agencies would lose federal funding if they accepted ads advocating the legalization or medical use of such illicit drugs." meaning reform organizations are free to post our side of the argument right up next to the Drug Free America posters at the bus station.

The prison industrial complex at work -burning up your tax dollars. An inmate was shot by an officer during a fight at Wasco State Prison in California. He's in a coma and has been declared brain dead but the prison still won't release him to the custody of his family. Authorities say they are investigating early parole but say otherwise he's got to finish his sentence. Meanwhile, he's shackled and under 24 hour armed guard. I wonder what it costs to guard a dead guy?

Finally, sixty pharmacies in Catalan Spain will begin dispensing medical marijuana under strict medical guidelines. According to the excerpts thoughtfully translated by Jules Siegel, it will be prescribed to treat vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and anorexia in patients with AIDS.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Unexpected Visitor

I don't get alerts when comments are posted so I sometimes I miss them altogether. Thus I was scrolling for something else when I discovered by complete chance that our little blog has been honored by a visit from M. Simon of Power and Control who engaged in a very interesting discussion in the comment section with our friend JackL about this post. Thanks to both for adding so greatly to the content.


The term painfully honest was probably coined for me. I've been in this moral dilemma all day over this Fox News gig. It finally dawned on me that if I get it, and I help make the blog more successful, I'm essentially aiding and abetting the enemy. I would practically be a sponsor of Bill O'Reilly. So I sent my pitch letter in to the editor anyway, but this is what I said:

It does however occur to me that if I get this gig, I will be helping Fox News, an organization that I consider the very embodiment of what's wrong with the media. No offense intended but I find Fox to be a baby step from becoming a full-blown state run media outlet and I loathe the station's spin. If I make TT money, that means I'm supporting the very thing I'm working against.

Next lifetime I'm going to learn how to be politic. Meanwhile, anyone that was holding their breath waiting for me to get this gig - I think you can exhale now.

Update: I appreciate the support but I see by the comments that I'm making myself look too noble here. I said a lot more than just that, and a lot of it was much nicer. I want the gig and I pitched to get it. I can't think of better place to take my meme than right to the doorstep of those who need it most. And I'd do a good job for them. I'd probably make them money.

It was only when I started entertaining the idea that by some inconceivable chance I might get into this group that I had this moral dilemma. I probably should have said it more delicately but it needed to be said upfront. I was really wrestling with it, as in - am I selling out my principles to get the exposure?

I decided the opportunity to widen my forum was worth the tradeoff but only if I could be that honest with the editor. Besides, following this little fantasy to its end, if I did get a slot, it's not like I would diss Fox on their own site but I have an archive full of posts at DetNews equally "frank" on Fox, falafels and O'Reilly. He would have found out eventually, so I was just being blunt, not brave.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Back to school?

More on the high school teacher that was busted for growing marijuana in his garage. It appears he won't be going to back to work today as expected. School district officials are prolonging the investigation despite recommendations by the case review committee that he be immediately reinstated. The principal of his school said last week, "she would welcome Sills back to the school and called him an "outstanding" teacher." In fact, "Sills, who taught advanced placement environmental systems and honors biology, was named a Radio Shack Teacher Scholar last year."

I'd like to know what there is to investigate. The guy wasn't charged with a crime and he's clearly a great teacher - get him back into the classroom.

Inside job - act two

This is why it's so easy to get drugs in prison. You'll notice the absence of masked SWAT teams armed with flashbombs on this one. It's different when it's one of their own.

Inside job

An enterprising UPS driver devised an interesting method of smuggling cannabis. He would have the herb shipped to businesses along his route and simply sign for the packages himself. They were found out when "investigators began tracking the packages after a narcotics team discovered their contents while they were on a conveyor belt at Los Angeles International Airport."

What I want to know is why our government is spending time and money trolling for narcotics at the airport instead of looking for bombs? No one has ever blown up a building using marijuana.

Border busts up in the North

According to a report prepared jointly by government prohibition agencies in the US and Canada, border seizures of marijuana have increased by 259%. That sounds like a lot, but numbers are so deceiving. It still only constitutes 2% of the total amounts coming into the country. Interestingly this still makes Canada the number two importer of the herb, followed closely by Colombia and Jamaica. The actual report is available here.

Most of the imports still come through Mexico of course but they never seem to mention the cannabis grown right here in the US. Judging from the daily reports of grow-op busts around the country, it's got to be significant.

Participants needed for cannabis study

COMPASS, Cannabis for the management of pain, assessment of safety study is a Canadian-based organization that is looking for subjects that use cannabis to control chronic pain. For medical users in their area may want to contribute to the research by volunteering to become subjects in the study, details are available here.