Friday, March 31, 2006

Prison guards sue for damages

Here's something you don't see every day Shorter quotes:
The State Highway Patrol post in Findlay, Ohio has paid $7,500 in settlements in the last five years to 13 people -- most of them state prison guards in Toledo and Lima -- whose vehicles were clawed by Hans or Ringo.

The patrol paid the settlements because no drugs were found. But that doesn't mean they weren't there, Laubacher said. "I have no reason to doubt the dogs - none whatsoever," he said. "If a canine indicates the odor of narcotics, I believe they were in there or are in there."
He probably believes in the tooth fairy as well, because the dogs don't have a 100% record of reliability. Dogs trained in the "aggressive" style are taught to scratch where they smell drugs. Hans apparently is somewhat overzealous in obeying the command. Laubacher however, defends his canine friend.
"I wouldn't call him aggressive," he said. "I'd call him motivated."
Some percentage of prison guards will have had drugs in their vehicles at some time. Drug use crosses all boundaries and all too many guards deal to prisoners. But according to the aggrieved guards, Hans was more goaded than motivated. If the accounts are true, it sounds like a bad combination of an aggressive dog with a near rabid handler.

[hat tip JackL]

Outrage of the week

I swear Canada is getting more like the US every day. Here's a horrifying story of a SWAT team bust gone bad.
An east Vancouver woman who speaks litle English got a shock this week when police kicked down her door, pointed a gun at her and told her to sit on the floor while officers raided her home, looking for a marijuana-growing operation. [...]

Police also handcuffed a Mandarin-speaking Chinese student living in the basement of the home in the 7700-block of Monroe Crescent.
They found nothing. Nada. Zilch. The police are unapologetic.
Vancouver police Const. Howard Chow confirmed that no marijuana was found, but said police do not believe they got the wrong house.

Two men fled out a back door as police arrived, he said. The men were detained but not charged. [emphasis added] He said police found a strong smell of marijuana in the basement and what appeared to be growing equipment in a shed on the property.

He said police had found a growing operation at the same address in 2004, when 950 plants were seized. (Property records show the Chens bought the house in March 2005.)
Tell me this wasn't a case of profiling. The police claim they had 3 sources to obtain the warrant. It's glaringly evident to me they targeted these people because they were Chinese and they bought a former grow house. Sounds just like home doesn't it? Almost like the DEA has been coaching Canadian law enforcement?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

US Embassy recommends coca tea

Vheadline has a good piece on coca. Shorter version:

For thousands of years, coca has been a rich source of nutrients for poor South Americans. It can be made into flour or wine. It's used in these countries for everything from religious ceremonies to toothpaste to tea. In fact, the US Embassy in Boliva recommends that travelers drink the tea to combat altitude sickness, acknowledging that it's less of a stimulant than coffee.

Yet for the last five years the US has embarked on a campaign to eradicate the plant in an ill-conceived bottom end effort to eliminate the refined cocaine trade in the US by bombing small farmers with herbicides in order to force them to stop growing the only crop that thrives in the climate and will provide a bare living for their families.

While the of the black market is hotly debated, it is easy to overlook coca’s importance to the legal economies of these three large producers, and to the culture of those who depend on it.

I thought that was a good point. It's beyond the average American's comprehension that the coca plant could be so utile and so completely beneficial, while cocaine can be so destructive. But I'd bet money the US ambassador drinks the tea every day.

The irony is they could develop a strong market in the US for the legal agricultural products derived from the plant and transform the black market into a legal alternative economy. It's so apparent a solution, you would think the drug warriors would have figured it out themselves. Of course that would presume they actually want to win their war on some drugs.

Just strange

What a weird day. The neighborhood crows had a huge row this morning. I'm figuring they have to have been two competing flocks because they were chasing each other around and making a huge racket. Shortly thereafter I came within a hair's breadth of adopting a stray cat. This little grey guy showed up in the neighbor's yard with a calico companion. She ignored me but he came trotting right over when I called him. They kind of looked like they had been dropped off, as people will do in the country. He looked a little thin but not scraggly and he looked like he really wanted a home. He seemed starved for attention. I had to really restrain myself from opening up a can of tuna for him.

The last thing I need is a pet. I can barely take care of myself and I don't want to deal with fleas and vet bills. But I couldn't watch them starve either. If they show up again two more times I might feed them outside but I'm not bringing them in.

Shortly after that, I just happened to look out the window to see what I guess out west they call a dirt devil. It was a perfect little whirlwind. It crossed the corner of my yard and diagnolly across the neighbor's place. His leaves are worse than mine and the wind picked them up in a perfect low funnel about six feet across. It was like it got stuck in the pile of leaves for a good half a minute. I wanted to get the camera and get a video of it but I was mesmerized by the sight and didn't want to miss a second of it.

Meanwhile, my eyeball was red and swelled up when I got of bed this morning. I didn't want to get up because it wasn't better. I took a trek out in search of eye drops. It took three hours. I went to every possible place that wasn't Walmart first. It's ridiculous that you can't get anything here outside of bare basics.

My pharmacy just built a new store. It's huge but there's still nothing in it. They have a internet cafe attached to the store but they don't even sell contact lens fluids on the floor. I think you had to ask for the eyedrops from the pharmacy, which is gigantic now. It features a driveup window and seems to employ about a dozen people but there was someone ahead of me at the "ask the pharmacist" counter who was being ignored. Not only that, it was a mother with a beautiful little girl and several different packages of lice removing shampoo. No way was I was going to step into that little fabric cubicle. So off to Wallyworld I went.

Of course by then I had driven more than my alloted 15 miles, (it may down to ten now), and my car started stalling while moving. The old Ford doesn't like going to the big box either. The good news was they had a great selection of eye drops and I found what I wanted. I have to admit I also bought a step stool and a camera case. I haven't been able to find those in town either. And I got out of the store reasonably quickly because the self serve supervisor called me out the of the line and cashed me out. She told me she figured she was going to have to assist me anyway. I guess I looked confused or least sufficiently doubtful.

The good news is the eye drops are working so far. The itching has stopped. The bad news is my eyes still feel grainy. I think I have to go back tomorrow and get some artificial tears to lubricate the old eyeballs in between the dose of the other stuff. I meant to do that this afternoon but forgot in my rush to get in and out of the store. I hate when I do that.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

DEA on the defensive over Emery

Sorry folks, I know I've been absent but I seem to have come down something, maybe an allergy, my eyeballs are itching and my nose is running so I'm just going to post this irritating LTE from Karen Tandy and call it a night.
Marc Emery, who distributed millions of marijuana seeds throughout the country, admits the accuracy of the Drug Enforcement Administration's charges against him, but he denies harming Americans ["High Crimes, or a Tokin' Figure?" Style, March 18].

Like all dealers, Mr. Emery turns a blind eye to marijuana's victims -- people like Victoria Rogers, a mother driving with her children when she was killed by a marijuana-intoxicated motorist.

Marijuana feeds thousands of addictions -- so many that more teenagers enter treatment for marijuana dependency than for all other drugs combined. Thousands of adolescents whose brains are still developing also suffer from depression, memory impairment and diminished judgment because of marijuana. Users destroy their lungs because marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more cancer-causing chemicals than tobacco smoke.

That Mr. Emery sees no consequences of his actions does not change the fact that they destroy innocent American lives and that he should and will face legal consequences as a result.
Amazing really how she could pack so many lies in such a short letter. By rights, the WaPo should post her press release at the time of his "capture," gloating over how they destroyed the US drug reform movement.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Odd stuff

Via Henning at Living Rockumentary is this look at the winning entries of MIT's recent origami competition. How do they do that?

Meanwhile, for my Happy Valley readers, check out theDrunk Stuntmen's newly revamped website. Love the new look. They redid the photos and they actually have a functioning message board now. Drop in and say hey to the boys.

I'm excited to see they're heading south in April. I'm hoping I'll be able to catch up with them for a show.

Monday, March 27, 2006

(Pee) testing the waters

I wonder how much this is going to cost the taxpayers? Following the lead of some European countries, THE ONDCP is undertaking a massive peek into the culmative pee of the residents of Virginia. Fairfax County, among others, agreed to "participate in a White House pilot program to analyze wastewater from communities throughout the Potomac River Basin for the urinary byproducts of cocaine." A large sampling has already been sent to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville.

I don't have any great objection to this outside of the cost, but one has to wonder what they hope to gain by compling this data. The other countries who have already done these studies discovered drug use was vastly underestimated. Surely the ONDCP can't believe drug use is overreported here so any data they glean is likely to reflect that drug use is much greater than they have repeatedly stated. It will surely debunk their contention that all the billions they've spent to eliminate drug use has resulted in any kind of meaningful decline.

I suppose they're hoping to fall back on the fear factor, pointing out how large the numbers really are in an attempt to justify their continued operations and ask for increased funding. I can hear Souder now, screeching about the "new" cocaine epidemic...

[hat tip JackL]

Why interdiction fails

So they're talking about building a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants and presumably to also to thwart drug smugglers. It's never going to work, not as long as border guards are tempted by the big bucks of black market bribery.
U.S. Customs Inspector Lizandro Martinez is behind bars, suspected of taking more than $1 million in bribes while waving through more than 50 tons of drugs — more than his law-abiding colleagues seized at eight South Texas ports of entry in an entire year.
Like they say, everybody has a price and a million bucks is tough to turn down for simply waving through a few trucks. More proof that the only way to end drug smuggling is to legalize drugs.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday Aircraft Blogging

If I was rich, I'd have a King Air B200. I'd have to hire a pilot too though. Judging from Capt. James van Etten's flight review, I'd never be able to fly it myself.

Also found via van Etten's excellent weekly, Flight Times, is this photo essay of the Australian Air Force bombing a heroin smuggling ship. Presumably they removed the occupants first.

And although this is not about airplanes, I haven't know an aeronaut yet that wouldn't appreciate this not quite safe for work photo essay. Besides, doesn't Agent Provocateur lingerie show sound kind of aeronautical?

[Graphic gratitude]

Half the news that's fit to print

Well this is just weird. A Canadian pathologist making $224,348 a year was arrested for running a grow-op in his house. That's not the weird part. It makes sense he would want to grow his own rather than risk being exposed as a cannibis consumer via dealing on the black market. The weird part is how he got caught.
Police went to his home late Tuesday morning to investigate a reported abduction. Two men are accused of dragging a woman into the home. She was handcuffed, confined and threatened with a pipe and a baseball bat, police said.

Ryan Scott Leindecker, 19, of 217 Hugill St., was charged with dangerous weapons, wearing a disguise while committing an offence, forcible confinement and also threatening with a weapon.

Chris David Roussel, 24, of 217 Hugill St., faces the same charges plus an additional charge of threatening with a weapon.
Who are these people, what are they doing in this doctor's house and why on earth would they be kidnapping someone while in disguise? The article doesn't say, although it goes on at length about the hospital's discomfort over the situation. That part I could have figured out for myself.

Jeesh. Don't they teach they teach the 4 Ws in journalism school anymore?

Thomas Wolfe was wrong

Thanks to internets, you can go home again. Don't ask me why I would want to. I left Danbury in 1969 and never looked back. I don't have a clue why I felt this sudden compulsion to recapture my childhood memories. Nonetheless in the last two weeks, I've become a woman obsessed. I started reading the old hometown paper on line. I joined their forum. I've spent hours reading high school class sites.

My own class seems to have disappeared but the class of 68 appears to have formed a remarkable bond and I've been in nearly constant email contact with Marc Catone, who's been invaluable in helping me reconstruct my high school years. It's funny, we didn't really know each other then but we knew a lot of the same people and he already feels like an old friend. He has an impeccable memory and the more he prods mine, the more I remember on my own. Two weeks ago I couldn't remember the name of my best friend in tenth grade. Now, thanks to Marc and the vigorous posters on the forum, I'm remembering things from when I was ten years old.

I haven't been on a forum board since I started blogging 3 years ago, but this one is such a trip. The active posters all grew up in or around Danbury but don't live there anymore either. Many are like myself and haven't been back in decades. We all seem to have gravitated to the forum for the same reasons. Partly nostaglia, partly curiousity, partly remaining family ties and partly looking for a connection to our past. They've formed a little family of ex-pat locals there and they welcomed me in so warmly, I think I'll stay.

It's odd. I always thought I avoided confronting my youthful past because it was somewhat unhappy. Now that I'm embracing the memories, I'm discovering I had a pretty damn good childhood after all. But then as I've often said, (despite the bad stuff that has happened along the way), I've always been luckier than I deserved.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ads and the media

Steve Heath brings up the ads in my comment section. Sorry I can't retreive the ones in question Steve. I don't know where they came from and I don't get money from them. I doubt that I could get into my haloscan account to find out. It's been a long time since I accessed it.

I assumed Haloscan added them to defray their own costs when they appeared. Judging from your comments they rotate and they're targeted to your IP location because I see North Carolina related ads on my computer.

An speaking of targeted resources, Media Awareness Project has a new resource page that provides valuable assistance for reformers and researchers of every stripe along with a useful help page to help you navigate.
Here, you will learn about both the basic and advanced features of the powerful MAP search engine, as well as how to "Newshawk" articles, write successful LTEs and press releases, and use our new "Media Contact on Demand" tool. With MAP's Help, you and your organization can connect with thousands of national and international print, radio, and TV news outlets by fax or email -- all for FREE!
They give it to you for free, and it's an invaluable resource but it does cost money to make it available. At the present time they have a donor willing to make a matching grant so your tax deductible donation will go twice as far. You can pass on your spare cash, here.

Border patrol moving the goalposts

I've been meaning to get to this one. The Border Patrol is planning to put 2 permanent checkpoints at up to 75 miles inside our border with Canada. These have already been functioning on a temporary basis for the last two years since the DHS raised the terror alert to orange, right before the elections. This bothers me for a couple of reasons.

They have legal authorization to have checkpoints up to 100 miles inside but I would think it was meant to be used for dragnets, for specific targets. For this administration to set up permanent stations is just one more encroachment on our freedom of movement. It feels like one step closer to a national police force and a dangerous precedent to give to an administration known for its security excesses. Not to mention, the checkpoints have nothing to do with terrorism.
...the stops, in their more than two years of operation, have resulted in the arrests of more than 1,300 illegal aliens and the seizure of more than $478,000 in U.S. currency and about 2,000 pounds of marijuana valued at more than $11 million.
This just another forfeiture sting and a sweet one. People crossing borders carry more cash because they're likely to be visiting or shopping. They get them on any drug violation, no matter how petty and they get to seize their property. And of course there's the safety factor. Four people have already died at the Hudson NY checkpoint when a tractor trailer plowed into their car. As I recall at the time the driver said he wasn't expecting a checkpoint there. No reason to. It's in a rural part of the state and relatively lightly traveled.

As for the illegal aliens, I'm not aware of an influx of Canadian illegals. I think it likely they were mostly cross border people who had family on both sides and crossed over without good paperwork to visit. Bet their money was seized as well. What a racket.

Boobalicous news

I'm remiss in updating you on the discovery of Loretta Nall's cleavage. In the intervening weeks Loretta has been in contact with both Bobs. Bob Martin the editor who furnished the photo and Bob Ingram who wrote the column. They worked things out amicably.

All agreed that Loretta does indeed have a great set of boobs but her creds as a candidate far surpass her natural assets. Both guys promised to keep their eyes above the neck and contact her for future stories. We'll be keeping an eye on them -- above the belt of course.

Meanwhile, the story, along with it's companion piece on the Panty Rebellion, has taken on a life of its own. Can't buy exposure like that.

This is how we're going to take the system back. One brave candidate at a time. Go Nall.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Words fail...

Giving new meaning to the term, "hardened criminal." If I tell you any more, it will spoil the joke.

Quick hits

It's amazing how far behind I can get in a few days. I have at least 50 good articles backed up in my email. No way will I ever catch up but here's a few of the more recent ones you might have missed.

The irrepressible and oft published reformer Kirk Muse has a great LTE published in The Fall River Herald.

I'm late in getting to this one but Flex Your Rights has a good analysis of the 4th Amendment victory in the Supreme Court. Despite John Roberts convoluted dissent and perhaps because Alito wasn't allowed to vote, the court ruled 5-3 that a legal search could not be conducted on the consent of only one occupant of a household.

The Punjab Government in India will be selling bhang, a narcotic drug prepared from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant also known as cannabis. Vending licenses are due to be awarded shortly.

The WaPo posts about a new report from the the Justice Policy Institute that rips into school zone laws. The report analyzes the disproportionate effect it has on black and Latino citizens living in the inner cities and notes, as we often have here, it hasn't resulted in the intended effect of keeping school children safe from drug dealers.

More reasons to be wary of Ritalin.

And an excellent article in Slate examing how random drug testing in schools not only doesn't reduce teenage drug use but in some cases apparently increases the use among 12th graders.

Jane Doe's addiction - fact or fiction?

If this irritiating morality tale doesn't inspire you to fire off an LTE, nothing will. The author couldn't be more aptly named. D.L. McCracken, mccrackens me up with this profile piece of a conveniently anonymous, alleged victim of marijuana. I don't think she could cram one more cliche into this piece. Even giving her the benefit of the doubt that is a real story and not a fairy tale, it proves nothing. Jane Doe surely has some deficit in her personality but her marijuana abuse is clearly a symptom of her disorder, not a cause.

And there's reason to doubt McCracken's veracity. She appears to be a mindless media hound who would take a position for attention rather than on principle and has been known to delete comments on her blog that disprove her arguments. The back story would lend creedence to her critics.

[hat tip Tim Meehan]

Petty prosecutor wins spiteful school zone case

The latest defendant in the Great Barrington kid sting, 18 year old Mitchell Lawrence, was sentenced to 2 years behind bars for selling 1.2 grams of pot to an undercover officer who zealously pursued the deal and lured the teen into a parking lot in order to be able to evoke a school zone violation.

The judge apologized for the sentence that under the grotesque school zone enhancement he was forced to impose. The sentence for the actual marijuana charge amounted to ten days.

The school in question was a preschool that wasn't open at the time of the deal. It wasn't even obviously a school. This is not what the school zone enchancement was meant to combat. The petty, small minded DA Capeless insisted on charging under that provision however -- and at his discretion, he was not compelled to do so -- in order to a punish this teenager for selling an amount of pot that wouldn't fill a thimble.

Is this justice? I think not.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sentence first, trial later (custody pending)

Funny how life works out. I was going to post this one thing last night and Blogger was completely down so I could take the night off without feeling guilty. Let's see it it will publish this morning.

Well this the laugh of the day. Blaring headline: 50 Colombia rebels indicted on drug trafficking - U.S. alleges FARC members sold $25 billion of cocaine to finance terrorism. Wow doesn't that sound big? Fifty FARC narco-terrorist kingpins indicted.
“The FARC’s fingerprint is on most of the cocaine sold in America’s neighborhoods,” DEA chief Karen Tandy said at a news conference to discuss the charges. [...]

U.S. officials said the indictment strikes a major blow against the group because it lays out the FARC’s hierarchy and details of its operations. “Members of the FARC do not want to face American justice,” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said.

Another mission accomplished, eh Al? But here's the punchline.
He acknowledged that 47 of those charged remain at large, probably in well-defended FARC jungle strongholds that have so far proved beyond the reach of Colombian authorities.

Fifty indicted, three in custody, forty-seven at large, meaning the three they have in custody were the chosen sacrificial lambs to placate US prohibs while keeping the pipeline flowing with US anti-narcoterrorism dollars. What a good joke -- on the US taxpayer.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A big virtual hug to the best man in my life

I'm feeling worse as the morning progresses. Maybe I'm coming down with something. Everybody at the homestead is already sick. I'm not sure if I'll be posting again today but before I fade out, let me wish a great big Happy Birthday to the best Dad in the world -- mine. I feel lucky to have him as my Pop.

Hope it's a great day Daddy.

Sleepy head

I've been sleeping like a narcoleptic this week. I think I'm just recovering from last week's bout of insomnia. In any event, I fell asleep sitting up in front of the computer last night, shortly after posting this at DetNews.
Surprisingly, my usual critics in the peanut gallery haven't jumped all over it yet. Of course I posted it late and it's early yet. Or maybe I'm finally getting through to them about the need for legalization.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting for the sweet sixteen tonight to see if I'm going to place in the basketball pool this year. No money in this pool, it's bragging rights only but boy would I like to have bragging rights in this one. I have never placed above dead last. I'll avoid that this year because someone forgot to make their picks. I'm not sure, but I think maybe that one is a ringer that they added so I can at least come in second to last.

Despite no one having answered my pleas for help in making the picks, I started out strong in the early rounds. For a moment there I was enjoying the rarefied air at the number three spot but that soon changed. I'm currently stalled at 16 out of 21 players but having studied the other player's picks, despite my low standing I'm still in the running to come in at third if Duke keeps winning.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Legalization support growing

This is good news. NORML commissioned a poll on legalizing marijuana.
Forty-six percent of respondents -- including a majority of those polled on the east (53 percent) and west (55 percent) coasts -- say they support allowing states to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. Forty-nine percent of respondents opposed taxing and regulating cannabis, and five percent were undecided.
The complete breakdown of the demographics is interesting. It seems our hardcore prohib supporters are Republican die hards, no doubt the same people who believe Bush can do no wrong and misinformed midwestern evangelical Christians. The age range is particularly enlightening. You would think the 30-49 group would know better.

Update: Steve Heath of Media Awareness Project checks into comments with an explanation.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday aircraft blogging

I've been thinking about the Goodyear blimp ever since I stumbled on this site. I've never been in a blimp, although I came close to getting a ride in a Virgin blimp once. It's a little smaller.

I was hanging at the drop zone in Northampton and the blimp was on some promo gig and was buzzing the field all day long. I madly motioned them in every time they passed, using sign language to ask for a ride. Finally they buzzed in low over the runway and damn if they didn't slow down enough for me to hop on. I took off for the blimp but damn if Hubie didn't grab his rig and start running too. I didn't see him until he got past me so he beat to them and they took off. They didn't come back. Like they wanted to take a skydiver.

Man I was pissed. He just wanted another notch for his logbook, but I was chasing my life's dream. Not to mention they were mocking me for trying to motion them in. I didn't speak to him for days until he made it up to me by wangling a ride in Dupont's plane for a jump run. But that's a story for another time.

I really, really want a ride in the Goodyear blimp. Trouble is, you can't buy one. You have to know somebody and I don't. But if I had one of those wish lists on the sidebar like some Bloggers do, that would be number one on the list. The Goodyear, for no apparent reason, maybe its inaccessibility, is my first choice but I would settle for any blimp.

One thing for sure, if I ever get a chance to hitch a ride again, I'm going to run a whole lot faster.

Quick hits

This is a good sign. Some Canadians have brought forward a class action challenging a new civil forfeiture law there. Hope they win, for their country's sake. Forfeiture is a one way ticket to police corruption.

This is bad. Health Canada issued an advisory warning that several commonly used anti-depressants can cause persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborns of mothers who use these drugs during the last half of pregnancy. That's the thing that always gets me about the war on some drugs. They spend billions "fighting" a plant that is safer than the majority of the pharmaceuticals on the legal market.

If you're in the market for drug war lies, it appears Canada has its own meddling "focus on the family" type extremists who offer up a compendium of false propaganda and a virtual who's who of prohib profiteers in the footnotes. Know thy adversary.

And a bit of good news, Charges were dropped against two defendants busted for what was said to be the largest outdoor grow show ever on Vancouver Island. Worth clicking over just to see the shot of the plants. Funny it doesn't look like that big a grow in the picture. Yet I bet they claimed it was worth "millions on the street."

What would our law enforcement do with their time if they weren't spending so much of it chasing down plants?

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Emery finding the silver lining

Here's an MSM item for you. MSNBC has a new profile piece on Marc Emery. I'll spare you the recap of the arrest and just give you the money quotes from Marc.
Emery says he did it all for the movement, not for profit.He claims to have funneled more than $3 million to marches, candidates, lawsuits and ballot drives over a decade. He says he paid taxes and kept very little. He lives modestly in his fiancee's apartment. He doesn't own a car or a house, investments or fancy jewelry, he says. [...]
"I'm interested in whatever would legalize pot fastest," he says. "Part of me believes that going to jail will accelerate that process. And part of me believes that if I die in jail it will accelerate it even faster." [...]

"I'm very interested to see what happens to me, because I think I am a person of destiny," he says, with no trace of modesty. "I haven't been fearful since the moment I was arrested. I just felt my time has finally come. [...]

"I've already got this grand-scale epic going in my head. I am out to destroy the DEA and defeat them. And they are out to destroy me."
They're trying to destroy us too for trying to bring common sense policy that would put them out of business to the table. Leaving the inexcusable waste of tax dollars aside, when the long arm of US drug law insanity can reach over borders to create a crime in order to silence political opponents, it's everyone's problem.

Ironically, this could backfire on the DEA. They want to silence his message so they give the man a microphone? What are they thinking? Marc is a made for MSM defendant. Despite the horribly unflattering photo MSNBC managed to dig up, the camera loves him. He could galvanize the US reform movement with this case because he's so honest about his intentions and he's charismatic. He's never off message and even in that compromising shot, he looks respectable.

He'll get more exposure with this case than he ever could have afforded to buy and it will be hard for our government to paint him as a raging lunatic drug lord. I think Marc is right. His personal misfortune is the reform movement's gain.

[ht SKALD ]

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Some Irish blessings for you.

Dance as if no one were watching,
Sing as if no one were listening,
And live every day as if it were your last.

May your troubles be less,
And your blessing be more.
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door.
Hope you find your pot of gold.

[Graphic gratitude]

Sensible students debunking drug war nonsense

Students for Sensible Drug Policy are working overtime to bring exciting new developments to the forefront of drug policy reform. Kris Krane, formerly with NORML, and who recently came on board as SSDP’s new executive director will be debating the issue of marijuana legalization with former Drug Enforcement Administration official Bob Stutman this Monday at the University of Central Florida. It's rare to find a prohibitionist willing to defend the practice in a debate. This should be a hot ticket event. Wish I could get away to attend it.

SSDP students have also been busy campaigning to make marijuana penalties similar to alcohol penalties by running “SAFER” initiatives on campus, with the latest campaign being waged at The University of Maryland. One looks forward to seeing UofM join the other progressive institutions that have already passed initiatives, making sure students are not punished more severely for marijuana offenses than they are for alcohol violations.

A high school chapter of SSDP meanwhile, raised awareness about random drug testing in high schools with a demonstration in Chicago. Wearing sandwich boards with signs saying “Got Pee? Oppose Suspicionless Student Drug Testing!” students walked up and down the streets in the blistering cold to spread the message to Chicago’s citizens and tourists that drug testing hurts schools and students and destroys trust between students and their teachers.

And speaking of this outrageous practice of warantless peeking at teen's pee, our guy Tom Angell has been representing the voice of sanity at the drug czar's national drug testing summits. John Walters has been trotting his dog and pony show all over the country (on the taxpayer's dime) to shill for his corrupt cronies in the drug testing kit industry. Tom has been holding their feet to the fire, boldly confronting their lies with on the scene proof that makes the prohibs look like the self-serving idiots they are.

Tom apparently was liveposting to the Dare Generation blog, during the last event. Check it out and keep scrolling for news and photos about the last regional SSDP conference. These young folks are some of the hardest working and effective reformers in the community. If you have any cash to spare, please send some their way.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Up on High Street

I lived in Winsted for a couple of years in the late 60s. It was a very hippie town in those days. It's an old New England mill town with a really long Main Street. There were three gas stations on the main drag and they used to get into price wars. I remember paying 13 cents a gallon. In those days we used to drive around the countryside -- it was so undeveloped then -- and try to get lost. We often succeeded.

Overall it was kind of an ugly place but it had a beautiful green on one end and it had a nice little lake a few blocks outside of town. I lived on the lake in a couple of different cottages, as did many of my friends but eventually most of us ended up on Main Street. We took over an apartment building, ironically called the White House. It was across the street from the green and next door to a tiny Dairy Queen. What could be more perfect for a stoned flower child?

The drugs I took there I couldn't begin to count. I doubt I spent a single minute straight in that house but boy did I have some visions. I did a lot of psychedelics in those days.

The heads and the townies didn't mingle much but we co-existed peacefully. The townies would drive their hopped up Trans Ams, and 'Stangs and GTOs up and down Main Street all day and night long, while the hippies took over the green, lounging on the lawns around the fountain, dropping acid and smoking pot and having existential conversations.

Ah, those were golden days. Hiking in the People's Forest. Skinny dipping in the Barkhamstead Reservoir. And music. There was music everywhere and everybody had a band or at least a guitar. There was one band, I can't quite remember their name but I loved them and went to all their gigs. And they loved me. Every time I arrived they would launch into Little Queenie. It was "our" song.

Anyway, this story is what sent me down memory lane. I've walked on this street. I'm glad to see Winsted hasn't changed much in 35 years.

Five months after Christopher Seekins was arrested and charged with cultivating marijuana in his home, neighbors have complained about the giant marijuana leaves he has spray-painted on the outside of his home on High Street.

"There’s no reason anybody should have a problem with it," Seekins said Wednesday.
He's not violating any zoning laws and you get arrested for pictures of pot -- yet -- so town officials say the giant leaves can stay.
Seekins says the large leaves are in support of the cause of the legalization of marijuana. He believes firmly in the usefulness of hemp, the coarse fiber of the cannabis plant, from textiles to paper products.
I don't know, I think the graffiti is little too "in your face" to be productive but don't you love that the kid lives on High Street?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You make me feel like spring has sprung...

I've reached the limits of my outrage tolerance too early today and I just can't face the drug war news so you're getting flower blogging instead. Raking the yard has taken on a new urgency now that the wildflowers started blooming in the yard. I have to do it myself now because I'm the only idiot I know that will spend an extra six hours raking around the flowers. The violets are tough. You can rake right over them without damaging them much.

The bluets are the other hand are a lot less forgiving. I couldn't get a clear shot of these because it was so windy and they're so tiny. They don't call them quaking ladies for nothing. I've dislodged a few but so far I've managed to rake around them because there's not that many yet. I'm hoping to to get it done before they really get going. Last year they covered the yard so much it looked like snow.

The trout lilies are downright fragile. I hand pick the leaves from the periphery around them. It hardly seems worth effort because they're not that long lived but I really like them. They remind of living on the farm. The woods were always full of them and they were so cheering after the long New England winters.

I don't have much hope I'll get the raking done before they're gone past though. I have yet another new system to avoid putting out my back and or reinflaming the rotator cuff injury that flared up again recently. I only work an hour an day on it and bag the leaves while I'm sitting on a lawn chair. I need to get a stool instead that's a little bit lower but it's working out okay so far. And long time readers who remember by new-found bug-o-phobia since I moved here will be suitably impressed that I forged on even when I noticed spiders crawling around in the middle of the pile.

I've about given on burning the leaves although I still have to collect the branches for a bonfire. I have a separate basket for that and I pick those up by hand. G-d knows what the neighbors must think. Hopefully, that I'm such a brave old girl for trying so hard to clean up the yard and not that I'm completely crazy for inventing such an elaborate method for getting it done.

Classical Gas

Rob Smith, aka Acidman, is really sick and in the hospital being treated for peritonitis apparently caused by a perforated ulcer. The stubborn old cracker is lucky to be alive having ignored my excellent advice, and that of about 300 other people over the last week, to call a doctor right away. This after he had already suffered a week with the symptoms thinking it was a simple case of "traveler's sickness" from his Costa Rica trip.

In any event, having become rather fond of the cantankerous curmudgeon, I'm glad he got to the hospital in time, even though the Viking funeral he asked for sounded kind of cool. I've always thought I would like one of those myself ever since I saw that Kirk Douglas movie. But they apparently did immediate surgery and he's going to be all right. The only thing holding him back now is he can't pass gas.

Now this is a sublime irony. Acidman is a professional gas passer. The man blogs about farts at least once a week. He barely has a single story about his life that doesn't feature the foulest, loudest, gale force breaking of wind. To hear him tell it, he could launch ships and level barns on a good day. And yet he's stuck in a hospital bed because he can't manage even a wimpy little gut rumble.

So to help the guy out, I'm organizing a food drive to send him a a case of this stuff. It comes with a guarantee to generate a legendary blast able to clear tall buildings with a single sound.

Safety first

I've spent the whole day answering email and engaging in a conversation at The Impolitic so I'm late getting started today but via Dax here's a fifteen minute 1963 bike safety video that's just priceless.

I don’t remember that specific one myself but it's just like ones readers of a certain age will remember sitting through in the classroom. The narrator is the same guy who narrated the fractured fairy tales on the Bullwinkle and Rocky show. I always loved his voice.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The profits of prohibition

There's a lot written about the cost of prohibition but you don't often hear of the profit side. Hat tip to JackL for this interesting catch from Government Computer News. This will come in handy for the datamining programs.
Federal Prison Industries Inc. plans to greatly increase its sales of technology services to federal agencies both directly and by joining teams of other vendors over the next two years, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Who is the Federal Prison Industries Inc., you ask? According to this site it's a large and diverse corporation.
Some businesses benefit from captive audiences; this company benefits from captive employees. Federal Prison Industries (FPI), known by its trade name UNICOR, uses prisoners to make products and provide services, mainly for the US government. More than 19,300 inmates (about 13% of the total eligible inmate population) are employed in more than 100 FPI factories at 71 prisons. UNICOR, which is part of the Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons, manufactures products such as office furniture, clothing, beds and linens, electronics equipment, and eyewear. It also offers services including data entry, bulk mailing, laundry services, printing, recycling, and refurbishing vehicle components.
This Hoover's Report tells us it's a growth corporation.
UNICOR is an indispensable component of the Federal Prison System and maintains first priority for production of supplies to the federal government. Products manufactured by UNICOR for DSCP are listed in their "Schedule of Products". Any new product line to be manufactured by UNICOR is listed in the Commerce Business Daily prior to production. For a copy of their catalog call 800-827-3168. When UNICOR lacks production capacity authorization is granted for DSCP to acquire products from the commercial sector.
It's fiscal year-end September 2004 sales (mil.) were $879.4, with 1-Year sales Growth of 21.8%. Net Income was (mil.) $63.6. Maybe I'm missing something here. I'm told UNICOR is paying the inmates $.23 to $1.15 per hour for prison labor. Why is a government agency even bidding for contracts, much less turning a profit? Shouldn't they simply be providing needed goods to the government at cost? That would save the taxpayers some money. The added layer of bureaucracy to manage profits, costs us more in overhead and what's the point? The profits don't go back to the government, they go back solely to UNICOR.

Most chilling however, is to discover from the BOP's own website how UNICOR's positive growth is made possible.
As a result of Federal law enforcement efforts and new legislation that dramatically altered sentencing in the Federal criminal justice system, the 1980s brought a significant increase in the number of Federal inmates. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 established determinate sentencing, abolished parole, and reduced good time; additionally, several mandatory minimum sentencing provisions were enacted in 1986, 1988, and 1990. From 1980 to 1989, the inmate population more than doubled, from just over 24,000 to almost 58,000. During the 1990s, the population more than doubled again, reaching approximately 136,000 at the end of 1999 as efforts to combat illegal drugs and illegal immigration contributed to significantly increased conviction rates.

Staffing levels also have risen dramatically in recent years. In 1980, the Bureau had approximately 10,000 employees. That number almost doubled in 10 years to just over 19,000 in 1990. As of June 2003, there were about 34,000 employees in the Bureau.
About half of the inmate/employees of UNICOR are in prison for drug charges. The BOP gets a lot more staff because there's more warm bodies to administer. Seeing a connection here to our government's incomprehensible insistence on pouring money into the War on Some Drugs' programs that do nothing to solve the problems of drug abuse? When common sense fails, money provides the answer. They don't want to solve it, they want to fight it -- forever.


Thanks to Pierre Tristam of Candide's Notebooks for linking to our Condi Rice post in his best blogs of the day section. Cool site. Check it out.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Jumping into the pool

I've been invited into the Souweine family basketball pool again. These guys beat me every year. I always start out strong and then blow it at the final four. I'd like to place better than dead last this time. Anyone got any advice?

Sing, sing a song

I'm late in posting this but it's worth archiving, if only for the photo. Condi Rice met with newly elected Bolivan president Evo Morales on a state visit to attend the inauguration of Chile's first woman president, socialist pediatrician Michelle Bachelet. Morales gifted Rice with a guitar-like instrument.
Rice told Morales, "I'm a musician you know," and strummed the instrument, a typical Bolivian lacquered handicraft with five pairs of strings.

It was unclear whether she immediately realized what adorned it.
As you can see from the photo, it's inlaid with coca leaves, a rather ballsy move on Evo's part I thought, but in keeping with his position on the coca plant, that being, "Yes coca, no cocaine!" He's paying the price for standing on his principles. US anti-drug aid has been reduced to Boliva in response to his refusal to allow the US to foist off Plan Colombia style eradication campaigns on his people.
"We don't want the drug fight to be a political tool to defend geopolitical interests," Morales said last month. "We don't want a drug fight that is a pretext for the U.S. or other powers or governments ... to simply control (Bolivia's) government, blackmail or place conditions."
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Condi will be able to get her present through US customs.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday Aircraft blogging

I missed last week, so I'm posting double this Sunday. The year of my first balloon flight in Glens Falls, I met legendary balloonist Tony Fairbanks at the rally. He brought this balloon La Coquette with him. He didn't fly it but they inflated it for the rally. It took all night to fill it with helium.

Tony was trying to put together an all girl team to take a gas balloon cross country. He invited me to join. I don't know if he ever did it. I was married with a young child and had to opt out. I still have the enameled pin he gave me though.

[Graphic shamelessly stolen from Gas Ballooning]

Submarines - the new drug plane

Colombia seized another submarine "that may have been used by drug traffickers to haul over 4 tons of cocaine for transshipment to the United States."
Adm. Barrera said the submarine brought drug shipments to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where they would be received by speedboats bound for Central America, and then dispatched to the U.S. by land.
Of course they didn't find any actual drugs in this bust, but I feel certain our drug war warriors will claim they prevented 4 tons from reaching our shores.

What's up doc?

Thanks to Phil Smith of DRC Net for this find. I want this guy to be my doctor.
LETLHAKANE - Shortage of paediatric rooms at Letlhakane Primary Hospital has caused congestion of children in the ward.

The health facility has one childrens ward that could only accommodate three patients, according to the hospitals Senior Medical Officer, Dr Daman Marijuana.

With the outbreak of diarrhoea, he said, more children were accommodated in the room thus causing overcrowding, which made it difficult to offer them the necessary care.
Heck, if he ever gives up medicine, with a name like that he could become a famous baseball player.

Sunday Aircraft blogging

I'm not a big one for military planes but there are some that I think are pretty cool. Here's a airplane I probably won't ever get a ride in, but I would have liked to.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Navy’s last two squadrons of F-14 Tomcats are heading home, ending the final combat deployment of the Cold War-era fighter jet that flew into the danger zone with Tom Cruise in “Top Gun.” The Tomcats are to be replaced by F/A-18 Super Hornets later this year.

[Graphic shameslessly stolen from Collect Aire models]

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Action Alert: Tell it to the BBC

Can the war on drugs be won? What do you think of the drug laws in your country?
It's estimated that five percent of the world’s adult population has used drugs over the last twelve months. The illegal trade is said to be worth as much as $400billion per year. ...What's the best way to tackle drug supply and abuse? Is drug use becoming socially acceptable? Would legalisation make the problem better or worse?
These questions will be addressed on the BBC program "Have Your Say" on Sunday, 12 March at 9 am EST, 8 am CST, 7 am MST 6 am PST in North America, or 2 pm (14:00 hours) UTC/GMT wherever you are. The program actually starts at five minutes after the hour immediately after the news break.

This is sure to be a lively and informative discussion between Antonio Marie Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; Danny Kushlick of Transform Drug Policy Foundation, the United Kingdom's leading drug policy reform organization; and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Executive Director, Jack Cole.
The show is broadcast on both radio and TV to 65 countries and over the internet.

For details, see here. To find out how you can listen to the program please go to Radio Schedules here. Please check your local cable/satellite TV listings to see if you may watch the show.

To get involved in the discussion before and during the show, go to the BBC website. Please consider writing at least one short question and submitting it to the producers prior to the show. Also consider writing a follow up note after the broadcast to BBC with your perceptions of the event. You may use this form to provide the BBC with feedback.

Every voice counts.

Exploding the myths of marijuana

So much for the prohibitionist's argument that pot permanently fries your brain cells.
Utrecht, the Netherlands: Frequent cannabis use is not associated with cognitive deficits in memory or attention, according to trial data published in the forthcoming issue of the journal Psychopharmacology.


"No evidence was found for long-term deficits in working memory and selective attention in frequent cannabis users after one week of abstinence" compared to non-using healthy controls, authors concluded. "Furthermore, cannabis users did not differ from controls in terms of overall patterns of brain activity in the regions involved in these cognitive functions."
These results confirm previous studies that have come to the same conclusion, including a A 2003 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society and a 2002 clinical trial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that determined, "Marijuana does not have a long-term negative impact on global intelligence."

I could have told them that. If marijuana really fried your brain, the baby boomers would have become a generation of drooling zombies.

A win for free speech

Love that Ninth Circuit court.
This Ninth Circuit appeal revisits the complicated issue of free speech in a school setting. The administration of Juneau-Douglas High School thought it would be a nice idea to release the students from school one morning so that they could watch the Olympic torch pass by. Senior Joseph Frederick did not make it to school that day, but he did make it to a viewing point across the street from the school, where he unfurled a banner reading, "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." The principal was not thrilled with this display, so she confiscated the banner and suspended Frederick for ten days. Frederick filed suit alleging that his rights had been violated, but the district court dismissed his claims.
The Ninth Circuit reveresed the lower court, ruling that this was a school speech case because school was in session. Further the court found the school’s effort to discourage student drug use does not qualify as an educational mission and thus the prinicipal is not protected under qualified immunity of the relaxed standard for evaluating school censorship.

Glad there's at least one court willing to stick up for students. Just because they're kids, doesn't mean they don't have rights.

[hat tip Vig]

Friday, March 10, 2006

Presents of mind

I'm remiss in thanking my dear friend Michael from Boston for sending me these. Mike is the best shopper I know. He always finds the perfect gift and he never forgets a birthday or other occassions, which is much more than I can say for myself. Since I left my old job with the regular schedule, I no longer remember what day of the week it is, much less what number on the calendar. Blogging doesn't help either. I don't think I've hit even one family birthday on time since I started keeping up three blogs.

Anyway, thanks Michael. Great gift and an unexpected surprise -- or did I forget my own birthday?

[sorry folks, link is fixed]

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fan mail

So I also posted the Ambien story at DetNews yesterday with a different emphasis. You have to love my critics.
From: Michigan_Patriot
City: macomb, MI USA
Subject: Weblog: Libby Spencer

Comments: Hey, you stoned old hag, care to cite the legitimate studies that prove that Ambien is a "medication far more dangerous than marijuana" as you stated in your daily lie?

I don't use either one, but I'd still like to know on what "proof" (outside of NORML) you base this claim on. A true medical study would be nice.
I'm sure this guy is really a former co-blogger, Michael Ward. But it gets better. I love this one.
From: Peter Pettigrew
City: Troy, MI USA
Subject: Weblog

Comments: Marijuana use is dangerous. Numerous studies suggest that is effects on psychological and biological well being are just now being felt. Marijuana use has been linked to anti-social behavior during the 1920’s, crime and violence in the 1930’s which directly lead to WWII, and opiate addiction during the 1960’s which was also the precursor to the Vietnam war as the US government sought out territory to grow its own supply of opiates to keep the hippy population in check.

Marijuana use affects citizenship, motivation, and job performance. It is a well documented fact that citizens that smoke marijuana are more likely to defect to the soviet union (Marijuana: The Red Devils Stepchild, PP 1951). Heavy Marijuana use is consistent with an unproductive life, and undesirable behavior. It is also a fact that it leads to health impairments such as lung disease, chromosome damage, reproductive failure and brain dysfunction (Institute of Medicine, GFT 1889)

Until more research is done on the elderly, pregnant women, and the psychiatrically vulnerable we will have no solid conclusions on just how damaging casual marijuana use is. The risk for disease or dysfunction, particularly on adolescents, need to be studied systematically and carefully.
Love the "more likely to defect" defense. Wish he had provided some documentation for that. But really, what do you say to these guys? Anything you say is a waste of bandwidth; they won't listen to logic. And they're so vitriolic, I don't think anyone really takes them seriously.

Who does he think he's foolin'?

Today's irritating screed comes courtesy of D.L. McCracken in Halifax Live. In Confessions of a Reformed Pot Smoker, he claims to be an aging hippie. A former member of peace and love flower children of the 60s. I think he's lying. He was probably a ROTC guy and jealous of the long haired guys who were having fun -- not to mention the free love thing.

No self respecting hippie would have "written" this column which is little more than an cut and paste of an ONDCP fax. Clearly he wasn't a real hippie if he doesn't remember the legendary strains of weed back then when he "opines" on how today's marijuana is so much stronger than the "recreational pot" we smoked then. But he sets himself forward as a participant. I guess it's like they say, if you claim to remember it, you weren't really a part of it. And all the recycled "hippie slang" in the world doesn't legitimize a lazy columnist's retreaded and false propaganda for prohibition.

News Flash: Women have breasts

Shush. Don't tell anyone but Loretta Nall is well endowed. Alabama's resident political columnist, Bob Ingrams ran a column last week on her natural assets. He was horrified to find out she has cleavage and just had to post a picture of her bosom to prove it. He thinks his mama would have come down with the vapors, had she lived long enough to see the photo.

Maybe his mama didn't have any cleavage. I can sympathize with that. I'm a little short in the cleavage department myself. Never could understand how G-d worked that stuff out, that some women get more than then need and some get less. Why her clevage should be of concern to old Bob, and he is getting up there in years, is a mystery to me.

Loretta has the perfect response:

If I ever get Mr. Ingrams contact information I think I'll start by saying, "Now that you and the rest of Alabama have been introduced to the twins perhaps you'd like to meet the rest of me."

If Ingrams manages to get over his fear of boobs and crawls out from under his bed, it will interesting to hear his response. And if he can tear his eyes off her breasts for a moment, an analysis of her policy positions might be a more appropriate topic for a so called political columnist.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's a war on some drugs

Arrests for Ambien-impaired drivers are markedly up.
Ambien is regularly popping up as a factor in traffic arrests, sometimes involving drivers who don't even remember getting behind the wheel, according to a report in The New York Times Wednesday. In some state toxicology laboratories, Ambien shows up in the top 10 list of drugs found in impaired drivers.
In 2002, 26.5 million prescriptions were filled in the United States. You can be sure that number has risen in the intervening years. It's a drug far more dangerous than marijuana. But you won't hear any call from the prohibitionists to stop this drug scourge. This is a "respectable" drug, prescribed by your doctor and bringing a tidy profit for the pharma corps.

Besides the Big Guys take Ambien. As Colin Powell said back in 11/03, (when he was still in the good graces of the White House), in response to the question of taking sleeping pills.
"Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that," Powell said. "They're a wonderful medication -- not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien, which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien."
That could explain a lot about this administration.

Busy day

Sorry folks for disappearing. I had a bunch of email to catch up on yesterday and then I just faded out early. You know how it is, you just want to lie down to rest your eyes for a minute....

Anyway, I had an ultra early call this morning and I'm expecting it to be a long day but I'll be back at some point tonight with a real post.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Don't have to be a weatherman...

This is good news. He's not free of the charges but Steve Kubby is out of jail. It appears once again the evil designs of the Placer County prohibition team has been thwarted by the sheriff and jailers who would take the heat if Kubby died in custody.

I guess they believe, having seen first hand, that Kubby needs his medical marijuana. The Marinol kept him alive but he's lost 25 pounds in three weeks and I've heard he's had blood pressure flucuations. He went in a healthy and robust man.

As Richard Cowan points out in his exclusive at Marijuna News, "The most important political development here is that there are elements in Placer County law enforcement who know and care which way the wind is blowing."

Taxpayer pays the cost so DEA can be the boss

What is it with our government and extradition these days. Here's yet another tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of tax dollars spent on bringing a drug defendant back to be prosecuted in US courts.
Zeev Rosenstein was driven to Israel's international Ben Gurion Airport, under police escort where he was handed over to US police who accompanied him on a flight to Miami, Florida.

Rosenstein was arrested on November 8, 2004 and placed in provisional detention as part of a joint investigation between the Israeli police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He is suspected of heading up a ring that distributed a million ecstasy tablets in the United States and western Europe. Twenty alleged associates have also been arrested in the United States.
We already have 20 defendants from this alleged drug ring. Presumably this has already cramped their operation and some other ring has taken over to supply the demand. The drugs are alleged to have been distributed in several countries. They already had him in an Israeli jail. So why didn't Israel prosecute him? How about one of the other countries in western Europe? Why didn't they extradite? Could it be the case isn't that strong and we've got the only government willing to waste tax dollars on pursuing a marginal case?

G-d knows being clapped into the private jails of the US gulag while awaiting trial is a cruel punishment in and of itself, but it certainly won't stop the drug from entering the country so why should the US taxpayers be paying for this?

Around the bloggerhood

Thehim at ReLoad catches Bill Maher with a notable quote:
"They're fishing in the wrong pond. They're fishing in the Republican pond. 79 million people last time who could have voted, did not at all. Why don't they fish in that pond? There's got to be a lot votes in the pond that cares about the environment, wants to end the drug war, wants to have a more fair tax base, health care, all these issues that they don't even bring up."
Thehim also posts his regular update to the Drug War Roundup series. He puts together the usual comprehensive compliation of news you might easily have missed otherwise. And of course while you're at the site, don't forget to play a round of Zonk. The second most fun dice game in the world.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


It's hard to get a pictures of the flora in the neighborhood. There's some beautiful trees but it's hard to get a clean shot and the plantings are often set too far back but here's a couple of shots for the colors.

The crabapple bushes are all in full spin, the early maples are about to bust out in flower and there's lots of daffodils. I didn't discover until the light failed that the first violets have bloomed in my back yard. I'm going to try to get a shot of them in the morning. I love the spring.

Emery on TV

I caught the 60 Minutes segment on Marc Emery. I thought it was a pretty sympathetic piece. Bob Simon was practically sneering at the DEA guys several times during the Q&A's. I was struck by one point the DEA apologist agent kept making about Marc being a major drug transporter. At one point he claimed Marc had imported more marijuana into the US than any single person in the history of smuggling.

You could feel Simon biting his tongue. I'm sure he was also thinking if you weighed the seeds they wouldn't amount to more than a few pounds at most. The DEA man kindly elaborated to say that they consider every seed to be the equivalent of a mature plant and would be charging Emery with the same, charges that could result in life imprisonment.

So in other words they're charging him with imaginary plants. It's absurd. Anybody who has tried to grow something from seed knows that no one -- ever -- has a 100% success rate. But I guess it makes a kind of perverse sense. They're fighting an imaginary war by taking down an imaginary kingpin, why not charge him with non-existent plants. Takes up less space in the evidence room that way.

As Dax Montana would say, just damn.

Update: Thanks to Tim Meehan for a link to the transcript of the segment.

While away the hours, conversing with the flowers...

If you like watching tourists aimlessly wandering around, today's the day to check out the Smith College greenhouse cam. The bulb show opened this weekend and the flowers are in full bloom.

I have to admit I watched it for ten minutes to see if I recognized anybody. Of course I didn't. No self respecting townie would go on the opening weekend. The greenhouse is open every day and it's much more fun to go when the place is empty. I went to see it every year on the off hours myself. When you live in the cold and are still looking at six weeks miminum to springlike weather, the show is very restorative and the rest of the greenhouse is always comforting through the many months of winter.

Fond memories but of course here I just look outside. The forsythia are blooming in the hood right now. It doesn't have the same miraculous aspect that the spring blooms have up north, but I'm finding it just as comforting. I may go out for a walk in a bit and try to get some photos. The wind is down again and I think it's going to be a little warmer this afternoon.

Creative advertising

From the classified of the local weekly paper:

Joining Nudist Colony: Must Sell. Washer and Dryer. $300

You'd think they would still want to wash their sheets wouldn't you? Guess they figure they can use the coin-op for that.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

War in Perpetuity

This is how the war on some drugs compromises the public safety.
They cased homes containing drugs, money and weapons like suspects in any other robbery ring, prosecutors say.

But instead of donning ski masks and stealing through windows in the dead of night, the robbers allegedly wore police uniforms and badges as they carried out raids that authorities say were intended to appear like official law enforcement searches. Five of the suspects were sworn officers at the time.

Nineteen people have been charged in the ring, led by then-Los Angeles police Officer Ruben Palomares, prosecutors said Thursday in announcing the results of a four-year investigation.

Palomares and his associates are accused of targeting locations where people were suspected of selling drugs, then gaining access by saying they were conducting a legitimate police search before stealing valuables, prosecutors said. [...]

Stolen property included 600 pounds of marijuana, TVs, jewelry, money and rifles from Los Angeles County sites.
Instead of solving crimes, these officers were seduced by black market profits into commiting them. Then there's the honest cops who are seduced into easy busts for profit on the legalized robbery side. Thanks to forfeiture laws, the police have no incentive to solve the drug problem. They're making a lot of money by seizing property on marginal busts. They don't have to prove anything to take the property. A lot of people don't claim it. Often costs more than its worth to get it back through the courts. Instant funding for as Radley puts it, your local Mayberry's SWAT team equipment.

Meanwhile these small time busts clog the system allowing violent criminals to get out because the courts are overloaded with penny ante possession "with intent" cases and the prisons are overloaded with non-violent offenders sentenced under mandatory minimums. It's a system designed to fail and thus assure its continued relevance. What a racket.

Blogger promote thyself

I know most of you don't read my poliblogs but The Impolitic is in the running for this one. Wampum has opened voting for Round One of the Koufax awards. This is the elimination round for the finalists. If the category was "blog most in need of encouragement", I would urge you to vote for me.

However, The Impolitic is up for Best New Blog and the list is chock full of bloggers with a lot more traffic and who are more focused, better informed and more articulate than me. I know half of these blogs well and I can't even choose. Nonetheless, if you feel like encouraging my folly, you can do it in comments here or if you prefer to do it anonymously -- and who could blame you -- you can email it directly here.

Nall invited to candidate's forum

I'm late getting this posted but how cool is this? Loretta Nall was invited to speak before the Alabama African American Mayors Association yesterday:
Please accept this e-mail as an invitation to speak to a group of African American mayors from across the state of Alabama on tomorrow, March 3,2006 at 12 Noon in Selma, Alabama.
We apologize for the lateness of this correspondence,however, we just learned that you were running for governor.

Former Governor Don Siegeleman, Lt. Governor Lucy Baxley, Mr. Nathan Mathis and
Attorney Harry Lyon will be in attendance.
Needless to say, Loretta accepted. This could be a turning point for the campaign as there's likely to be a press presence with the big name candidates there. I hope she gets some coverage and a video of her speech.

I'm telling you, she can win this. I'm mulling over my dress for the inauguration ball.

Update: Here's the video. Loretta starts about seven minutes in.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Medical marijuana PSAs pulled from public airwaves

Why am I not surprised this happened in Dick Cheney's home state? Marijuana Policy Project's PSA's were pulled from two radio stations after a local police chief complained.
“For me, it was disturbing that the local radio station was running advertising that is counter to what the public and our community stand for …,” Rawlins Police Chief Mike Reed said.
So much for the First Amendment.
“What on earth is broadcasting for, if not to facilitate the exchange of ideas,” Bruce Mirken, director of communications with the Marijuana Policy Project in San Francisco, said Thursday. Mirken said pulling the spots “suggest that you could never talk about whether laws need to be changed.”

Mirken said the PSA announcements featured comments from medical marijuana advocates, including talk show host Montel Williams.
Fortunately, this small minded censorship has not infected the entire country. The PSAs have aired thousands of times in many markets across the US. It's a simple message for compassion and common sense.

You can listen to them here where they are available for upload for free for your local radio stations. Contact your local DJs and encourage them to air them as well.

Bordering on insanity

Buzz Flash posts an interview with Charles Bowden, author of the book Down by the River. Bowden spent over seven years "embedded" in the seamy underbelly of the drug trade in Mexico researching this story. He reaches the same conclusion as every drug policy reformer, the war on some drugs is a sham. It's a war of propaganda never meant to be "won." In fact, should the US prohibitionists ever succeed in eliminating the drug trade, the economy of Mexico would surely collapse and then we would see what a flood of illegal immigrants really looks like.

And here's an interesting point for those who have been following the sightings of apparent Mexican army personnel breaching the border in the southern states.

BuzzFlash: We have an argument about immigration going on in the U.S., now, and there are the Minutemen. A couple of weeks ago, there were allegedly encounters between American immigration officials on the border and people who looked like they were in the Mexican Army.

Charles Bowden: They were in the Mexican Army. No drug dealer would try and look like the Army, they would try and blend in. The Mexican Army is in the drug business. The movie "Traffic" was not a complete fiction.
As to why our country has "fought" this war for decades without any apparent success:
Charles Bowden: Everybody that gets into the drug industry becomes corrupted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cop or a robber. There’s just too much money. All you have to do is blink and you can get paid. You’re standing there waving cars through at the border. You’re a U.S. official. You wave cars through all day. All you have to do is wave one more through and you can make $50-100,000 in the blink of an eye.

I’ll give you an example. They busted a drug ring in 1989. This ring had moved 900 consecutive loads of cocaine into the United States through one crossing in El Paso – one bridge – without ever being detected. That's mathematically impossible unless you buy people.
And the black market is almost too big to comprehend
Charles Bowden: Well, the ring got busted. But it terrified DEA and I’ll tell you why. They took down 21 tons of cocaine in a warehouse in California in 1989, and after they did that, the price of cocaine did not go up. It had no effect on the market, so much was coming in. That was the first time that DEA really understood the magnitude of the drug use in this country, because it’s very hard to track. People don’t report how much coke they use every week.
Thousands of people have died in the border towns as a direct result of this war. As Bowden points out, only one got a book. Not unlike the "collateral damage" in Iraq, most go unnoticed and unmourned outside of their families.

If our society and our civility is to be judged by how we treat the least among us, I'd say we're failing rather badly on all counts. We can't rely on our politicians to solve this. It's up to us.

Update: An alternative view from Jules Siegel who has lived in Mexico for many years and literally wrote the book on Cancun. He contends the premise that the Mexican economy depends on the drug trade is false. He also has his own insights into the drug trade. It's a complicated issue and it appears the only real agreement is our government's current efforts to "control the problem" are only making it worse.

Kubby's health failing

The Las Vegas Review Journal has a good piece on Steve Kubby. He's lost 25 pounds since being extradited from Canada and incarcerated in California. Further, his blood pressure has been problematic and his wife reports he's been suffering from shingles, an indication that his immune system is failing.

The jail refuses to provide him with a proper diet to maintain his health and won't pay for the Marinol that is likely the only reason he's still alive. The family has been forced to absorb the cost of the medicine themselves.

Our government has spent hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars to pursue their vendetta against this medical marijuana activist, pursuing him across borders and tying up law enforcement resources and the courts over one dried up stem of either a mushroom or a cactus button. Apparently they haven't been able to decide which it is, having relabled the exhibit of his "crime" several times. It's possible they even planted this "evidence" during the raid.

Steve Kubby wasn't hurting anyone. He presented no danger to society. If anyone should be charged in this case, it's law enforcement -- for criminal misuse of public money.

[hat tip JackL]

Media Watch - Emery appearance confirmed

The promo for Marc Emery's interview is up on the 60 Minutes page. He look tired in the photo but he remains upbeat in the interview.
"I am blessed by what the DEA has done," he tells Simon. "I would rather see marijuana legalized than me being saved from a U.S. jail. I hope that if I am incarcerated, I can influence tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of young people to take up my cause."
The show will air this Sunday at 7:00 EST. Check your local listings for air time in your area.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Patriot Act passage deals drug policy reform a blow

The good for nothing Senate passed the Patriot Act today "The renewal package would make 14 of 16 temporary provisions permanent and set four-year expirations on the others." They don't say which ones but considering Bush's statement, I'm betting at least some have to do with snaring drug defendants without the bother of probable cause.
This bill will allow our law enforcement officials to continue to use the same tools against terrorists that are already used against drug dealers and other criminals, while safeguarding the civil liberties of the American people," Bush said in a statement from India.

...The renewal includes several measures not directly related to terrorism. One would make it harder for illicit labs to obtain ingredients for methamphetamine by requiring pharmacies to sell nonprescription cold medicines only from behind the counter.
Call me cynical but it looks to me like the drug war thugs pushed through the civil liberties violations they couldn't pass on the floor via the back door of amendments. This is why I've been working in the broader realm of politics for the last couple of years. We would have had reform by now if not for these underhanded systemic machinations.

Post 2222: The Long Rider

I love double numbers. Howard Wooldridge checks in with another amusing little anecdote from the CPAC conference.
In debates on drug prohibition, I stated I was a conservative opposing current policy because I believe in liberty, privacy rights and personal responsibility. Most shot back that I was not a conservative rather a libertarian. So I asked them what they believed in, since it was NOT liberty, privacy rights and personal responsibility. So, what do conservatives believe in, since it is not liberty, privacy rights and personal responsibility. That caused them to stumble and bumble over their beliefs. It was fun and sad.
I'll bet no one has ever asked them that so directly before. In a way Howard reminds me of The Lone Ranger. He's certainly living the Lone Ranger Creed.

Built for comfort, not for speed...

Ah bliss. I'm looking at three days off, it was windy as all get out here today but in the high 70s and the flowering trees all busted into bloom this afternoon. It was uncanny. When I drove out this morning there were no flowers. When I drove home the pear and cherry trees were full out. Feels like a good omen.

Meanwhile, after spending literally hours looking at myself, I think I'm finally done with the head shot problem for the DetNews. I'm sorry to say that I couldn't use the shot Elisson so kindly photoshopped for me because it was reading wrong in their software, whatever that means, so I ended up just sending them a straight untouched shot. From what I understand the background is going to be deleted so there won't be a brick wall either. I may still use that popular shot for my profile which I've sort of been working on. I think I'm coming up to my three year anniversary here, so it's probably time I added one.

In any event, I got a email this afternoon saying they can use what I sent them today so I finally delivered what I promised, albeit nine months late. Considering I would rather be shot with a gun than a camera, it seems about the right amount of time for me to hatch a picture.