Sunday, April 30, 2006

May I have blogroll please...

I'm still plugging along trying to get the blogroll updated. Along with the new Music Makers, all of whom are friends of mine, I'm adding these three women to a new section I'm calling Girl Talk. They don't do politics or drug reform; they're slice of life bloggers with interesting points of view. I expect I'll add a few more as time goes on, but you gotta start somewhere, so say hello to:

The lovely Lisa W at Lemons and Lollipops. Lisa is a prolific commenter on a lot of blogs I read regularly (including the occassional comment here) and she finally started her own blog recently. She's got a great outlook on life and is not afraid to disclose those tantalizing little personal secrets like her tickle fetish. Check it out.

Stevie at Caught in the X-Fire is no nonsense blogger who spills her daily life onto the page and is prone to cuss words. I don't always agree with her thinking but she's kick-ass honest and I admire that a lot. It's her birthday today so go on over and wish her a great one.

Last but certainly not least, the very young but worldly Alena has been a long time commenter here. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age. A smart women who occassionally does stupid stuff and has an overdeveloped sense of adventure. Check out her ongoing chronicle of a life well lived.

Quick Hits

As you may have gathered from my cranky posts, I've been in a terrible funk the last couple of days. I can't really talk about it because I promised not to but in an effort to snap out of it, I've been cruising around looking for some lighter fare this morning. Gotta love the internets. There's always something.

This is the must click of the day. Welcome to the escape hatch. I hope somebody told them that digital pictures can be traced back to a specific camera.

A blast from the past with Stop the madness, Nancy Reagan's only music video.

And talk about finding amusement in unexpected places, from the indescribable Bane, a peek at LegoLand, a place I've always wanted to go to and just for us girls, men are like....., well -- they're just like his mom says they are.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mexico moves towards legalization

The other big news of the week is Mexico's move to legalize personal possession of all drugs. It's an enlightened piece of legislation coming from a country that the xenophobes in the US like to characterize as backwards.
Mexican officials hope the law will help police focus on large-scale trafficking operations, rather than minor drug busts.
The Mexicans are looking like visionary genuises with this approach, especially compared to the prohibitionists here who are still stuck on self-defeating punishment models out of the Dark Ages.

It's a done deal -- Rush in high spirits

Of course you've heard by now that Rush Limbaugh turned himself for a plea deal that will result in his record being expunged after eighteen months. I put up a long post at the DetNews with my analysis so I won't repeat it here.

I have to admit, my first reaction was deep disgust that he didn't have to plead guilty to anything. My first thought was Rush gets off and Richard Paey rots in jail for a lesser "crime." But I realized that I let my loathing for the bile-spewing excuse for a human being color my response. On reflection, I think it's good the vile blowhard got away with it. I hope every defendant in similar circumstances gets off on the basis of the outcome of Limbaugh's case. At least that way it would serve some greater purpose.

About those Mohammed cartoons

I was very cranky about my internet problems yesterday and spoke a bit too harshly about those bloggers who chose to post the stupid cartoons. As a commenter reminded me, some bloggers I like and otherwise respect posted them too, so perhaps I should qualify those statements. When I called them lamebrained idiots, I was speaking about the situation over the cartoons and not their intellect in general. FUB has this to say in comments:
But it's just plain silly, if not defeatist, to tiptoe around afraid to insult an enemy who has sworn to kill you if you insult their so-called religion.

The people doing the DOS aren't poor misunderstood peaceful religious adherents. They are scum who have hijacked a religion to carry out a war to the death on everyone who doesn't bow down to them.

You're not afraid to insult the scum who make and enforce totalitarian drug policy. Why be so nice to scum who want to kill you and every other person on the planet who won't worship the way they think people should?
Well, here's the thing. Number one, the cartoons sucked. They had no artistic value. They didn't make any kind of political statement. I found them to be the equivalent of a school yard bully taunting the smart kid (who showed him up in class) with something brilliant like -- yeah your mother is ugly.

Second, the cartoons offend all Muslims, not just the ones who were threatening to kill people. How would you feel if someone who was pissed at your neighbor started posting naked pictures of your mother on the net because , what the hey -- you must think like he does because you look like him and you live next door. Sorry, but if you want to take the fight to extremist scum, get out your gun and go find out who they are and start shooting. Please don't be drawing lines in the sand here and daring them to retaliate.

I don't think this is the same as insulting the prohibs or the administration because when I criticize, I try very hard to keep it specific to the perpetrators of the policies and not paint every person who disagrees with me with the same broad brush.

So sorry if I offended those of you on the other side of the fence on this with a poor choice of words in a fit of pique, but I simply think posting the cartoons is counterproductive and I also think that kind of mockery is not bravery but is instead uncivilized foolishness. Aren't we supposed to behave better than them? Not to mention when you deliberately incite the extremists, you put not only yourself in danger but also those of us who didn't participate. As the saying goes, discretion is the greater part of valor.

Update: For what it's worth, I cross posted this to The Impolitic and I left a more focused explanation of what bothers me about posting these cartoons in a response to a comment there.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I'm having internet issues today. I hear there's a big denial of service attack on all the idiot bloggers who thought it would be cool to infuriate Muslims by posting rude cartoons of Mohammed, but that shouldn't affect me since I didn't do it and spoke out against the lamebrains that thought this was appropriate conduct in a civilized society. Not to mention it seems to be centered on a different host server.

It could just be the customary crap-out of the connection here. Time Warner is just as bad as Comcast ever was for reliability, although I have to admit it's been happening more often since I started blogging about internet neutrality so I don't deny that I'm somewhat paranoid that this is some kind of corporate payback. Whatever it is, it's working momentarily now so I'm just going to post these couple of leftover photos from my walk the other afternoon.

This yard is my favorite in the hood. It looks like it should be in the Southwest instead of here and they have the only cactus I've ever seen growing outside this far north. This puppy is big and it's just gorgeous.

I'm waiting for this bud to bust into a flower. I figure it should be any time now, after the soaking rain we finally had in the last couple of days. I think it's going to be impressive.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Vote Nall Y'All

Woo Hoo. Loretta's campaign is picking up steam. She's scheduled to be a guest on Air America on the Stasy Taylor show tomorrow morning, Friday April 28th at 10 am CST. You can listen live here.

Meanwhile, she had a little adventure the other day where a car in which she was a passenger was stopped by the police. It could have been ugly. Interestingly, when the police found out she was the Libertarian candidate of governor of Alabama, they let them go.

Quite a story. We're, of course, glad that it turned out well but one wonders if the outcome would have been the same a month ago, before she secured the nomination.

South Carolina legislator proposes rendition for American prisoners

Tom Angell at the DARE Generation Diary tells us something's rotten in the State of South Carolina. The same legislator that considers sex toys a matter of legislative concern also proposes to solve prison overcrowding by sending all drug offenders to foreign countries for them to do with as they will, along with anyone convicted of sexual crimes against children.

As Tom notes, it's hard to say what's more offensive. That Rep. Davenport would send Americans into countries known to abuse human rights or that he equates marijuana consumers with pedophiles. But perhaps he's on to something here. Maybe we can get these countries to take legislators that waste our tax dollars on proposing inane legislation. That ought to be a crime.

Berkshire DA campaigns with tough on teenagers platform

This should be interesting. The DA responsible for prosecuting teenagers under the school zone law in the Bershires sting is up for re-election. Capeless is unapologetic for his heavy handed tactics against the teens who were entrapped by a questionable undercover operation in Great Barrington. While Capeless also touts his success in prosecuting a major adult dealer in the area, he says, ""I have a very clear message ... to anyone here in Berkshire County or anyone who would think about coming to set up shop here: If you make the decision to sell drugs, we will catch you and we will prosecute you."

He doesn't mention how he feels about near children being tricked and practically browbeaten into obtaining marijuana for adult cops. He goes on to say, "I support rehabilitation and counseling for those who are ravaged by the problem of drug abuse that affects our society. But I have no sympathy ... (for) the people who will take advantage of drug abuse, who will try to profit from that misery."

He also notes that anyone willing to rat out their supplier can win leniency from his office. His opponent, Judith C. Knight, an attorney who successfully won an acquittal at the trial of one of these young defendants, says not every one of these teens was given the opportunity to cooperate. Knight says "she would take a 'reasoned approach' to drug prosecutions, seeking to punish the hardcore dealers and to find a better alternative for minor, first-time offenders."

Capeless has the political connections and the experience. Knight has a common sense rather than a vindictive approach to justice. We'll be watching this race to see if the voters recognize the difference.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A little bit of soul...

I was so sick today I took an afternoon nap and I didn't read a thing all day so here's a meme that I thought that I was better than average.

You Are a Dreaming Soul

Your vivid emotions and imagination takes you away from this world
So much so that you tend to live in your head most of the time
You have great dreams and ambitions that could be the envy of all...
But for you, following through with your dreams is a bit difficult

You are charming, endearing, and people tend to love you.
Forgiving and tolerant, you see the world through rose colored glasses.
Underneath it all, you have a ton of passion that you hide from others.
Always hopeful, you tend to expect positive outcomes in your life.

Souls you are most compatible with: Newborn Soul, Prophet Soul, and Traveler Soul


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Homeland torture

The torture at Abu Ghraib received a lot of attention and appalled the world. Unfortunately, this sort of obscene conduct was perfected on the bodies of Americans and it receives no press attention. It happens daily in our prisons and often in small towns who exercise little oversight over their law enforcement agents. It's been a long day so I'm just going to quote Richard Lake directly on this one.
When Tennessee law enforcement officials showed up at the home of Lester Siler, a first-time convicted drug dealer out on probation, they asked his wife and 8 year-old son to leave. They didn't know that Lester's wife had turned on a tape recorder in the kitchen. When Lester exercised his constitutional right not to sign a consent to search his house, these officers spent the next two hours torturing him. They beat him with bats and guns, held loaded guns to his head, threatened to shoot him, dunked his head in the toilet, burned him with lighters, attached his testicles to a battery charger, threatened to cut off his fingers, and threatened to torture his wife. Then they arrested him for "evading arrest". It wasn't until his wife showed up at the FBI with the tape recording that all hell broke loose. And go figure, even though these officers have been convicted in federal court, not ONE national media outlet covered this story.

This was truly the most horrifying audio tape I have ever listened to. I didn't make it all the way through. I quit after 30 minutes because it was literally making me nauseous. Local coverage is available here. This happened in America, to an American citizen. I don't care if he was a two bit dealer, no human being, much less an American should suffer this sort of treatment at the hands of our government.

Thunder -- lightning

Whoa baby. Big line of storm cells passing through all of a sudden. This one going to hit us. I can feel the floor rumbling from the thunder. I may lose power. If not, I'll be back.

Thunder -- lightning

Save internet neutrality

This is the biggest issue of the week, perhaps of the century and it concerns absolutely everybody who uses the internets. The internet is the only true democracy on the planet. For all these years, anyone with an good idea, the ambition and the tech knowledge could become a cyberspace success. The internet is a worldwide town meeting hall, an international marketplace and a planetary storehouse of knowledge and information. Our Congress and the major access providers want to end all that. The House Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a measure that would hand control of your access over to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

What this means is that your access would be limited to only those sites willing and able to pay the price to the providers. How this could very well play out in practical terms is downright frightening. Your favorite search engine could either be slowed down to an unuseable crawl or blocked altogether. Major corporate websites would be the only ones accessible at the current speed. The pay for purchase features on small websites could be slowed in order to steer you to higher priced vendors that could afford high speed loading. Vendors such as iTunes could download a snail's pace while higher priced more expensive corporate vendors would load at the current speeds. Activist websites could be disabled. Disfavored charities and non-profit groups could be destroyed by slow loading donation pages. The possibilities are endless and the bottom line is that internet users would not only lose their free choice of content but would also pay the increased costs for the fees the companies pay to the providers.

Both Democrats and Republicans are supporting this move. The time to act is now. Watch this short video. Sign the petition and contact your Congressmen immediately and tell them to keep the choice of internet content in hands of the people, not under the control of corporate interests. If we don't stop them, the corporations say that they will create premium lanes on the Internet for higher fees, and give preferential access to their own services and those who can afford extra charges. The rest of us will be left to use an inferior version of the Internet.

This issue is so vital and time is so short I'm crossposting to all my blogs and asking everyone to please spread the word.

[hat tip FireDogLake]

Monday, April 24, 2006

South Carolina - just say no to sex toys

Ladies of the red states, better hollow out a book so you can hide your "little helper." South Carolina is jumping on the bandwagon already started in other southern states by the nanny government loving religious righties and is planning to ban sex toys. Just kidding. I don't think they're planning to make possession a crime -- yet, only the sales.

The Dare Generation imagines the black market caused by the prohibition of what used to called martial aids in a hilarious, must read post. I'm only giving you one quote.
"Officer Smith, does this Pez dispenser look like a sex toy to you?"

"Hmm... check to see what the manual from the Office of National Dildo Control Policy has to say."
Now go read the rest.

The good, the bad and the ugly

Hope this posts. Blogger has been working in fits and starts today. It took all morning to publish a couple of items on the other blog.

Anyway, it's my last day of freedom for a while. It's back to work tomorrow and it's promising to be a brutal seven weeks coming up but then they tell me the worst will be over. Meanwhile, the drug war news is backing up like a clogged drain in my inbox, so I'm just going to do a quick hit post to clear some of this stuff out that's worth reading but I don't have time to fully pontificate on.

More supression of medical research proving marijuana use is not harmful. A story on a study done over five years in Jamaica that reveals there was no difference in children's development between those born to mother's who smoked marijuana during pregnancy and those who didn't.

A long but excellent read on The US Gulag Prison System. Steve Lendman breaks connects the dots between the drug war, the prison industrial system and the greater goals of the government to strip us of our civil rights. [hat tip Tammera Halphen]

The WaPo has a good profile piece on a pain management doctor, who knows the practice from both sides -- as a patient and a provider. [hat tip Jay]

A good editorial from the Chicago Tribune on the FDA's absurd justification for refusing to validate the medicinal worth of marijuana.

The ONDCP's statement on the FDA's decision. Provide your own vomit bucket. You'll notice Johnny boy doesn't mention that former sidekick Andrea Barthwell is making a ton of money shilling for Sativex -- which is essentially a tincture of the natural plant. But that will be sold by big pharma companies, so it's aokay. [hat tip Tim Meehan]

The editor of Scientific American slams the FDA in this piece. I'm told the comments are fascinating. I haven't had time to read them yet. [hat tip Vleeptron]

The NYT also slams the FDA's decision, noting as have many others how disingenous an argument the agency makes to justify its decision since they cite lack of research while simultaneously preventing any research from being conducted.

Take your blood pressure pills before reading this hopelessly lame op-ed from some backwater Bozo who thinks the FDA decision is just great because it will somehow magically make tokers disappear and he won't have to worry about waiting in line to pay for gas anymore. [hat tip Richard Lake]

Finally, if you're still with me, here's a sweet little video featuring Rob Kampia explaining the origin of the 420 holiday. [hat tip Preston Peet].

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I'm glad I wasn't raking when this puppy came down. That would have hurt. It's bigger than it looks in the photo and it was pretty heavy when I dragged it over to the brush pile. It was still mostly live wood. I love that beech tree but it's not in good shape. It's got a huge split in the trunk and it's always dropping major branches. I'm glad it's by the road and not by the house.

On a brighter note, I discovered a little patch of coreopsis has volunteered to bloom in the lawn. I'm glad Ortega didn't show up today. I hope he doesn't show up early tomorrow so I can go out and rescue them before he mows. I think I'm going to transplant them to the garden for now. The strawberries didn't come back because of the deer decimation last summer so I have lots of room and this seems to be a variety that doesn't spread as fast as some of the others.

Maybe I'll try transplanting some of the really blue bluets as well. I always lose them when the mowing season starts and I think they'll bloom for a while yet if I can get them moved without shocking them horribly. Guess it's worth a shot because I'll lose them either way.

Photos from the walk I took this afternoon are here.

The conversation continues....

They started a new thread on legalization at the Corrente Wire. Unsurprisingly I added a few more thoughts on the subject.

April is Poetry month

Blue-Butterfly Day

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring,
And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry
There is more unmixed color on the wing
Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry.

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing:
And now from having ridden out desire
They lie closed over in the wind and cling
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire.

Robert Frost

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Target practice

So I got into a troll fight today. It's a long thread but here's the the backstory.

This was of many threads started over a religious rally on the green to promote the dissolution of the separation of church and state. The troll, emoore, jumped in around page 7 or so on this one. I'm new in this forum at my old home town newspaper. The troll has a long history with the regs there.

He's a real jerk. I made an offhand remark to someone else about rightwingers who whine about insults while spewing their own bile, so I guess technically I started it but the guy is creepy. He makes inappropriate sexual references all the time. I suspect he gets his jollies from "talking dirty" on the forums.

So we got into it, during the course of which he called me a wide assortment of derogatory names as only a ten year old can, including accusing me of "sucking male members at bus stations." I of course, never being one to back down from a fight, not only unhorsed him but dismembered him limb by limb with my acidic wit.

His final weak parry was this.
Kum buy yer, hur?
I moved in for the kill and posted: Were you going for incomprehensible there or is that Pig Latin for, "Could you please tell my mommy I wet my pants again?"

He declared victory and slunk away. His last post.
High libby, I checked out your blog very interesting the way you talk to yourself. We gang it has been fun but again I proved you to be ignorant biggots with no minds or thought patterns. You came back to your normal flying monkey routine.

Well until the next time you need to be brought out in the open I leave you in piece.
By the way, this guy claims to be a teacher and to have been the benefactor of a $100,000 education. He's probably a 14 year dropout with no friends. But I'm almost going to miss him. Guys like him pop up like clay pigeons at a skeet range in Detroit but I can't take them down there for a number of reasons. I hate to admit it felt good to finally take my shot at one of these idiots and blow him to smithereens.

Don't blame the victims

Once again, via the lovely Avedon Carol, here's a fascinating thread at Corrente Wire. I think some of the commenters were being a little hard on poor Sarah's post. She only got it half wrong. At least she admitted the drug war is a sham. She just blamed the wrong people for it.

I left a comment. You can too.

Perpetual motion

It's such a dreary day in the south. We need the rain badly but it doesn't do much for my get up and go. It's the kind of day you want to curl up in an easy chair and read a book. Since my eyesight is going, I can't read as much as I used to so I curled up in front of the computer instead, listening to the birds outside and reading the morning away. I'll be back with some actual posting but to get you started, via the lovely Avedon, here's a fun little video. It's 13 minutes long and at first I thought I'd just watch the beginning but I was mesmerized and couldn't turn it off. I love those things. The down side is now I've got that silly jingle stuck in my head.

Meanwhile, if you're in the mood for a cute little three minute political parody, try this one.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Canda's gone crazy

In contrast to last year when a cannabis rally was allowed to go forward in peace, this rally didn't end on such a high note. This just in.
BREAKING - The Up in Smoke Cafe has been raided by Hamilton Police Service this afternoon. Details are sketchy but several customers as well as activists Chris Lawson, Matt Mernagh, Adam and John (Gluten) have been arrested. Some have been charged with trafficking presumably stemming from yesterday's "Free Pot Smoke Out." Police have the keys to the establishment and it is unclear when the cafe will reopen.
I'm telling you this new conservative government in Canada is just as insane as our own neo-cons.

[hat tip Tim Meehan]

Moonlight ride

For those of you who are still celebrating 420 and for those who aren't a little old fashioned psychedelia with a scientific twist. Take a ride with the Vleeptron Air Force. And it comes with a flight plan.

The cherry and the tiger molecules at the top are both THC. Elsewhere there's thujone, the Fun Molecule in absinthe; MDMA, LSD; and atropine, the Fun Molecule in Belladonna, Datura and other plant sources.

Good news from the North

This just in from The Marijuana Policy Project.
On Wednesday, against all odds, the Alaska House of Representatives voted 21-19 to reject Gov. Frank Murkowski's (R) bill to wipe out Alaska's good marijuana law — the best state marijuana law in the nation.

Wednesday's House vote was a searing setback for Murkowski, but the battle isn't over. Now the House and Senate will meet again to try to work out the differences between the different versions of the bill, so we need to keep the pressure on ... by continuing to run the radio ads and generating more calls from constituents to their state legislators to ensure that a revised version of the bill doesn't pass in the 18 days remaining before the legislative session ends on May 9.
This effort is costing about $1,000 a day. If you got any spare cash, send it to MPP to help underwrite this effort.

When politics trump science -- FDA rules against medical marijuana

By now I'm sure you've heard that the FDA finally ruled on medical marijuana. Unsurprisingly, they found it to have no medicinal value. The NYT covers the story and provides the nauseating quotes from the agency.
WASHINGTON, April 20 — The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that "no sound scientific studies" supported the medical use of marijuana, contradicting a 1999 review by a panel of highly regarded scientists. [...]

Susan Bro, an agency spokeswoman, said Thursday's statement resulted from a past combined review by federal drug enforcement, regulatory and research agencies that concluded "smoked marijuana has no currently accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is not an approved medical treatment."

Ms. Bro said the agency issued the statement in response to numerous inquiries from Capitol Hill but would probably do nothing to enforce it.

"Any enforcement based on this finding would need to be by D.E.A. since this falls outside of F.D.A.'s regulatory authority," she said. [...]

The Food and Drug Administration statement directly contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific advisory agency. That review found marijuana to be "moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting."
This insanity leaves someone like me sputtering in rage and disbelief. I mean why do we waste tax dollars on studies the government ignores when it doesn't support their agenda? That's a rhetorical question of course, since we know why.
"Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the F.D.A. making pronouncements that seem to be driven more by ideology than by science," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a medical professor at Harvard Medical School.

Representative Maurice D. Hinchey, a New York Democrat who has sponsored legislation to allow medicinal uses of marijuana, said the statement reflected the influence of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which he said had long pressured the F.D.A. to help in its fight against marijuana.
Meanwhile the prohibition profiteers are greatly pleased with themselves.
Tom Riley, a spokesman for Mr. Walters, hailed the food and drug agency's statement, saying it would put to rest what he called "the bizarre public discussion" that has led to some legalization of medical marijuana.
Right. How bizarre for the public discourse to include fact based discussion over fear based propaganda. It's so irritating. I've been leaving this comment on the blogs outside of the reform community that are covering the story.
This dunderheaded ruling is part and parcel of the administration's declared war on marijuana consumers. They're not just ignoring the 1999 study. Nixon ordered The Schaffer Commission to undertake one and then ignored its results. Furthermore the most comprehensive, Marijuana: Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission 1893-1894, came to the same conclusions over a century ago. Marijuana use, even recreational, is not harmful and in fact can be beneficial. And that's just the major research. Study after study has been done proving the worth of this plant. Check out Drug War Facts and Lindesmith Library collection.

Meanwhile this administration actively seeks to prevent any meaningful modern day research. There's simply no excuse for instance, for the DEA to have blocked the UMASS program except to protect their own interests. They're making a ton of money on the prohibition and it's easy work. It's disgustingly crass and unconsciousable.
What really makes me want to hurl is that you just know that somewhere, that idiot Mark Souder is doing the happy dance, thrilled that his thousands of little lies trumped common sense again.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Putting their mouth where their money is

This is interesting, particularly at a time when psychiatric disorders are more and more being treated with drugs rather than traditional therapy and also when the diagnoses of mental disorders starts as early as kindergarten age children.
Every psychiatric expert involved in writing the standard diagnostic criteria for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia has had financial ties to drug companies that sell medications for those illnesses, a new analysis has found.
We're talking about the bible of disagnotic criteria here, that every professional shrink relies on in making their diagnosis. The experts of course claim their financial ties to big pharma have no influence on their recommended course of drug treatments.
"It shouldn't be assumed there is a true conflict of interest," said Kane, who said his panel's conclusions were driven only by science. "To me, a conflict of interest implies that someone's judgment is going to be influenced by this relationship, and that is not necessarily the case. . . ."
Right. It's just human nature to make decisions based on what won't benefit you and your benefactors that financed your research grant. I find it hard to believe they can't come up with experts who aren't making money on both sides of the fence. It seems more likely these experts get on these panels in the first place because of their connections, no despite of them.

Astounding there's no disclosure requirement so doctors relying on the information are likely to be unaware of the potential conflict of interest. I might suggest it's time to institute one.

Alaska's nanny government seeks to turn back the clock

Since 1975, it's been legal for an Alaska resident to possess up to four ounces of marijuana for personal use. The current legislators, who were obviously swept in on the coattails of the conservative takeover of our governments, sneakily slipped in amendments to an anti-meth bill, seeking to recriminalize the herb despite 56% of the population indicating they do not support the amendments. The good news:
If the bill becomes law, it will likely compel the Court to revisit its 1975 ruling. If that happens, NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup predicts that the Court will strike down the new law.

"The right to privacy, enshrined in the Alaska state constitution, is more important to the Court and to most Alaskans than the Governor's ill-advised war on marijuana smokers," Stroup says.
One expects the Alaskan voters will also remember this subversion of the public will and sweep the nanny legislators right back out of office in the next cycle.

Happy 4:20

It's cannabis consumer day. All you consumers out there, please have a hit for me. And don't forget the Global Marijuana March on May 6th. A list of participating cities is here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

All on a sunny afternoon

I wasted way too much time chit chatting again today and I spent way too much bandwidth sparring with my co-blogger in Detroit over Michelle Malkin's insane fatwah.

It wasn't a total loss. I had a couple of interesting coversations. I cut my hair -- a lot -- and it came out great. My head feels lighter and it's got some bounce. I don't know why I didn't start cutting my hair myself a long time ago. I've been doing it for about three years now and every cut has been better than anything I paid fifty dollars for. It's such a quirky mop. Nobody understands it like I do.

But the best thing is Ortega showed up at my door today. I've been sending him subliminal messages for the the last three days as I was out there diligently raking the yard. My back is so screwed up I can only do it for an hour and a half a day. You don't get far at that rate and meanwhile what passes for a lawn has started growing like crazy. There's places where it's just too long to rake anymore. Most of it's not even grass. It's moss and wildflowers of various sorts and lots of onion grass. It's the onion grass that makes it look so messy, well besides the branches and the remaining leaves.

Anyway, as long time readers know, I don't have Ortega's phone number. The young girl who used to work at the convenience hooked me up with him and after the first time, he just showed last summer whenever the grass got long. I was wondering how I was going to find him again since Jeannie doesn't work there anymore. And there he was, my yard work angel. I could almost see the halo around him. He's going to come and make it all nice and tidy again.

He's a slight guy but wiry, smaller than me, with close cropped hair and skin the color of rich choclate. He's really pleasant. He has a wide smile with slightly yellowed teeth. He's certainly not poor, he drives a nice car and he's got a good truck and trailer to carry his mower. And he's clearly hardworking. He mows on the side. He always shows up in a clean work uniform from the furniture company. He does a great job on the lawn too.

I imagine him as being married with a bunch of kids but I'm not sure. He sort of subtly flirts with me, in a respectful sort of way. He doesn't press the point when I ignore it. And I've seen the women really bat their eyes at him when I've run into him at the store. It's hard to say. Sometimes I'm half tempted to invite him on the porch for beer when he's done mowing because I'm curious about his story. I've known him for over a year but we've never exchanged more than a few sentences when I hand him the cash. This summer I may just do it.

Song in my head

Keeping on the theme of poetry month, for some reason this song I wrote after my daughter and I had a fight just popped into my head. I wrote it about ten years ago so I can only remember the first verse. I wish now I had tried to get one of my friends to record it but I was too shy back then to sing it for them.
Reason to Cry

You say that I'm no good tonight
that I never have cared.
You said that I have let you down
when you needed me, I wasn't there.
I only tried to do my best
I can't change the time that's passed by.

You got a lot of living to do
before you die
And I know, sometimes
you just need a reason to cry.
One of these days I'll dig out my box of all the scraps of writing I did before I had a computer and find the rest of the verses.

April is Poetry Month

Inspired by The Heretik who has been posting some wonderful poems, I thought I'd share one of my favorite poets here.

Tower Of Light

O tower of light, sad beauty
that magnified necklaces and statues in the sea,
calcareous eye, insignia of the vast waters, cry
of the mourning petrel, tooth of the sea, wife
of the Oceanian wind, O separate rose
from the long stem of the trampled bush
that the depths, converted into archipelago,
O natural star, green diadem,
alone in your lonesome dynasty,
still unattainable, elusive, desolate
like one drop, like one grape, like the sea.

Pablo Neruda

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Who knows where the time goes...

I frittered away the day chit-chatting and leaving long winded comments around the Blogdom. I barely blogged all day. The ordeal of shaving my legs exhausted me. Since I never see anybody these days, I didn't do it for a long time. When you wait that long you kind of have to mow it twice and the real estate has expanded since I got here. I really have to join the swimming pool this summer and get more exercise.

I checked out my garden yesterday. When I pulled a few weeds I discovered my sage, oregano and pinks came back. The sage looks so good this year, I have this urge to make sage pancakes. Of course I won't since that would require me to dig my kitchen utensils out of storage and I'd have to buy flour, and whatever else you use to make pancakes. But it's a really great spring tonic kind of meal so I'll tell you how to make them.

Make some pancake batter for the crepelike kind of pancakes, the kind that stay flat instead of rising but you don't want it be sweet obviously. You can chop the sage and mix it in but it's too intense that way. I use the whole leaves. When you pour in the batter, lay the leaves on top. You don't want to cover it, they should be fairly widely spaced. Let them sink into the batter and then flip and cook it. A little butter on top and it's a weird meal but it always made me feel healthier for having eaten it. It tastes better than you think.

Meanwhile, I think I'm becoming Southernized. I rarely watch TV and I rather loathe reality shows but I've become hooked on Nashville Star. I guess it's like the country version of American Idol. Not that I've seen American Idol to make a comparison. Anyway, I'm hooked on this show. I started watching at the end of last season. Lee Ann Rimes was host then. This season Wynona Ryder and some guy whose name I always forget are hosting. Boy did she get fat. Her mother was a guest judge a couple of weeks ago and she turned into this really strange kind of senior citizen coquette. I kind of remember them being a hot singing duo.

I don't know why I'm watching it. The contestants do mostly covers so it's barely a step above karoke but I watch it every week anyway. I'm getting to love the music.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mexican government admits crime is out of control

Here's a followup on my last post about how the White House is using the war on some drugs to vilify Hugo Chavez and further their political ambitions in Latin America. It appears my skepticism was on target. Venezuela had nothing to do with the drug runners outside of tipping the authorities to the shipment.
The Mexican Public Functions Office (SFP) denounced the absence of mechanisms and national security laws to detect and stop organized crime´s infiltration into the government, which cripples the battle against crime and corruption.

The statement relates to Monday's arrest of three pilots of the National Water Commission in Campeche, southeast Mexico, while flying more than five tons of cocaine.

Two of the accused, Fernando Poot Perez, assistant flight coordination manager, and Marco Aurelio Perez, flight staff coordinator, are both ex military. The first served time in jail for crimes against health. The third pilot was Colombian Miguel Vazquez Guerra, 47.
Of course I found this clarification in a Costa Rican newspaper. You might notice that a paper with no axe to grind with Chavez doesn't even mention him since no Venezuelans were involved in the smuggling. But don't hold your breath waiting for the US press to correct the record. It doesn't fit into the White House agenda.

Quick hits

I woke up feeling kind of crummy today so I'm having a heckva time getting going. While I pull myself together, here's a few links off the top of the inbox.

Hammer of Truth posts an uplifting email from Steve Kubby who is finally a free man. He's still on probation of some sort for two years but he's out of jail and discovered through his ordeal that Marinol is an effective if not perfect medication for his cancer.

Just your usual have a fire - find marijuana in the basement story but it's a good illustration of why cultivation should be legal. Although it had nothing to do with the fire, the house was rigged so the electricity use didn't register on the meter in order to avoid detection. In a legal market, this wouldn't happen. Just one more revenue source lost to the prohibition approach

I liked this one, Fantastic Voyage, a longish but moving story about a class trip to DC by a bunch of kids who live on the Texas border. The story touches on how poverty and drugs define their community, said to be one of the poorest in the country. Here's the money quote.
In a world with few options, the drug trade is almost too tempting to resist. The children amid the flowering trees and well-kept statuary of official Washington are two years from getting their driver's licenses. Maybe they will get a part-time job at Roma's Burger King or Pizza Hut, but more likely someone will give them a chance to drive the truck. What's in the truck? Don't ask.

But someone can get paid $5,000 to drive it from Roma to Corpus Christi or San Antonio. Maybe $15,000 for getting it across the border from Mexico. Everyone knows Los Zetas pay better than the government or the handful of fast-food joints in town.
Ironically, for these people, although it would make their community safer, the downside of drug legalization is they would no longer have an opportunity to make that kind of money. Unfortunately for them, black market employment is virtually the only avenue for the uneducated to lift themselves out of poverty.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Designed to combine the attributes of an airplane and an automobile in one vehicle, the Aerocar I was conceived in the fertile mind of Molt Taylor in the late 1940’s. The Aerocar was certified by the FAA as an airplane and also had the ability to meet all highway regulations of 1950. In the air, the Aerocar was powered by a Lycoming O-290 engine of 125 hp, and propelled by a pusher propeller. On the ground, the wings folded back to allow the front wheel drive car section to drive away.

I found a couple of great items for Sunday aircraft blogging today. Besides the cool plane, (I thought the only flying cars were on The Jetsons), I have a nice ten minute video of the Sun'n'Fun airshow. It seems very light jets are the wave of the future. They look pretty sweet but the "reasonable" cost at a mil and half puts those out of my price range. Some nice footage of the stunt planes though, at the end of the piece.

Meanwhile, we've all been on commercial flights where some obnoxious passenger ruined our napping time. I can usually counter the irritation with a stiff drink. Helps you see the humor but my worst flight was a two hour morning run. Too early to drink, the plane absolutely full and I'm stuck in a three seater with a couple and their screaming baby. I could handle that part actually. Babies cry but eventually they fall asleep, which this one did. However, not before it deposited a godawful skunky load of poop into its diaper.

I have a pretty high tolerance for baby poop too, but this was like being swallowed whole by a tidal wave of putrid stench, like being beaten repeatedly over the head with a stink stick. I wanted to reach for the barf bag. It was only about 15 minutes into the flight. You would think the mother would have changed the poor little tyke -- but no. For the entire rest of the flight, the fetid fumes wafted through the plane, permeating every barely breathable atom of air. It was a very quiet flight.

Quite a contrast from this one where an unruly passenger forced an unscheduled landing.
One flight attendant told an FBI agent that Yankovsky was drinking from a bottle of wine while the plane was taxiing at the Las Vegas airport, according to court documents.

After the flight attendant took away the bottle, Yankovsky allegedly demanded her "red water" back and began singing, chanting and touching other passengers.
The plane still was climbing after takeoff when two passengers asked flight attendants to "do something" about Yankovsky, court documents said. But when flight attendants tried to calm Yankovsky down, she allegedly told them, "Not good, plane crash, all die."

"Yankovsky continued her erratic behavior by 'hexing' the aircraft, the crew, and the other passengers," an FBI agent's affidavit said. "Yankovsky was singing and chanting in the aircraft and saying that everyone was going to die, their children would die, and their grandchildren would die."

It said the plane's four flight attendants gathered in the rear of the plane to discuss how to handle Yankovsky, and considered using the restraints that were on board and asking other passengers to help them subdue the woman. They got out the restraints, but were afraid to use them, the affidavit said.

When flight attendant Sandra McKibben approached Yankovsky and tried to quiet her, Yankovsky slapped her in the face, it said.
The pilot landed at the nearest available airport and the passenger was duly handed over to federal authorities in Denver.

A followup story on the local TV station reveals Ms. Yanlovsky is a famous Russian gypsy folk singer. However, future Delta passengers have no need to fear a repeat performance. Svetlana is not allowed on commercial airliners for a long while. You might want to avoid Greyhound though. She advised she was planning to take a bus home to New York.

[graphics gratitude]

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why not just call it a practice prison?

One kid in the Whitesboro School District, which appears to be in Oklahoma, had a drug problem. They don't say what kind of problem. Could be he just got caught with a little marijuana or something. The parents apparently went into full panic mode and the school board jumped in with new more stringent drug policies. They now plan to require all athletes, students enrolled in extra-cirricular activities and kids who drive to school to sign a release, agreeing to be randomly tested.
Starting next fall 20 percent of the students who sign waivers will be randomly tested each month. Whitesboro I-S-D has also installed cameras in every hallway and parking lot. They are also planning on bringing drug dogs to visit the campus 4-times a month.
No danger of finding a rocket scientist in this crowd. I mean, way to go to keep the kids likely to abuse drugs on the street getting in trouble instead of engaging in some more enriching extra-cirricular activities. And drug dog sweeps once a week? Talk about disrupting the educational environment.

I find it incomprehensible that these testing proponents don't see the fatal flaws in this. The population they are purportedly trying to help are the very ones that will be alienated by it. It may keep drugs out of the school, but it won't stop kids from experimenting with drugs, despite the couple of students they found in favor of the program -- if they were indeed really in favor of it.

You have to ask if you were a teenager and a reporter asked you a question like that, that you knew your teachers and parents were going to see -- what would you say? And you if you were a kid with a drug problem, how likely would you be to approach an adult with it in that kind of environment. It's just plain dumb.

Better living through agriculture

Americans who have been taken in by government propaganda tend to believe that the trend towards the left in the Latin Americas is somehow being caused by their leaders, who in cahoots with Castro are determined to bring socialism to the area. But the truth is, the leaders are being elected because they reflect the sentiments of their populations who have already figured out that the US and its corporate cronies don't really have their best interests at heart. Nowhere is this more apparent than the US sponsored anti-coca campaign.

While cocaine is indisputably a dangerous drug when it's abused, the coca leaf is a plant rich in nutrients that lends itself to a vast variety of practical uses. Beyond its millennia old importance in their religious life, it provides important sustenance to the chronically impoverished indigineous peasants who chew it to combat hunger, altitude sickness and to provide nourishment. It's used for everything from tea to toothpaste to flour. The obvious benefits to allowing it's cultivation strike at the heart of the US' ill-conceived eradication campaigns, Plan Colombia being the poster child for the failed programs of the drug war.

Following the lead of the others in the Andean countries who are being allowed agricultural uses for the plant, a small group of Colombians have been quietly developing their own alternate economy around the beneficial uses of the plant -- the latest being coca-sek, a soft drink that harks back to the days when the coca in Coca-Cola was truly the real thing. Looking at the numbers, there is no reason to believe that commercial use couldn't supplant the cocaine producers hold over the farmers.
In Colombia, the drive to make legitimate products from the coca leaf is being led by the Calderas reservation, one of half a dozen Nasa communities clustered around Inza. The community pays $15 for each 30-pound bag of coca leaves. Each bag makes enough syrup to produce 300 bottles of Coca-Sek.

That price tops the $12 a bag paid by local drug traffickers, who are always willing to buy leaves, said David Curtidor, who helps manage the soft drink business and touts the beverage as a weapon in the war on drugs. "Each leaf that goes to making the drink is one leaf less for the narcos," Curtidor said.
Critics cite the lack of testing and the danger of abuse. For instance if someone used 80 teabags in a pot of tea, it would be toxic. Rather a weak argument considering if someone took 80 aspirin, that would be toxic too. Heck, one would think 80 cups of coffee in one day could do some damage to your health.

Ignoring the beneficial uses of the plant will not stop processed cocaine from being manufactured and smuggled into the US. Embracing those uses just might do what billions of tax dollars and thousands of gallons of dangerous herbicides couldn't -- that is to eliminate the farmers' need to deal with drug makers. Even if the drug lords then upped the price to the farmer to compete with the legitimate market, that would cause a price increase that could ease the demand here in the US.

Looks a win/win situation to me, but again, that would presuppose that our drug war warriors are actually interesting in winning the war, rather than profiting from the prohibition.

[hat tip Preston Peet]

Au naturel

I've never been one to troll for hits with sexy posts but I must admit I was tempted by join the Carnival of the Undraped Torso, like these two guys.

I found I was simply too shy to join in, (not to mention my family reads this blog) but I just noticed yesterday that I have a tree in the yard willing to --ahem-- rise to the occassion.

I post, you decide. Natural wonder or au naturel tree porn?

Friday, April 14, 2006

If it don't need fixing -- break it?

This is such a good column that I'm going to lift most of it because it's subscription only. Dan Gardner in The Ottawa Citizen nails what's been bugging me about what's going in Canada with the new conservative government.
It would be nice to think that federal ministers keep up to speed on the news. It would be particularly good to know that ministers keep themselves informed about events related to their ministries. That way, if there were -- oh, I don't know -- a horrific slaughter of outlaw bikers, the justice minister would know at least as much about it as dear Aunt Beatrice who always watches Peter Mansbridge before bed, bless her.

But I have to wonder about Vic Toews. Granted the new justice minister is busy. His government has big plans on the justice file. Re-modelling Canada's criminal justice system along the lines of the brutal, unjust, ineffective, socially corrosive and fantastically expensive criminal justice systems in the United States is a lot of work.

Still, he really should look at a newspaper now and then.

On Wednesday, Mr. Toews gave a speech at the University of Western Ontario in London outlining how his government will put a stop to the unacceptable fact that Canada is one of the safest countries on the planet.

It was the usual Conservative spiel. Tougher sentences. More cops. Stepping up the war on drugs. Pretty much all the wonderful ideas that helped give the U.S. a homicide rate almost three times higher than Canada's, a prison population bigger than China's, and an incarceration rate higher than Russia's.


We need a national organized crime strategy, he said, including laws modelled after American anti-gang legislation. Mr. Toews is particularly fond of the "RICO" law passed in 1970 by Richard Nixon to win the war on drugs and crime. That much I understand. Who wouldn't be impressed with the way Richard Nixon turned the U.S. into a peaceful, drug-free country? It's something else I don't get.

It starts with the affiliation of the bikers who bought, and were deposited on, the farm. They were Bandidos. Everyone who pays attention to the news knows that. The killings got so much coverage even Aunt Bea could describe the gang's patch. Yes, it's a little guy with a sombrero. Another thing Aunt Bea knows is that the Bandidos aren't from Canada. The sombrero kind of gives that away. So does the name, which isn't in either official language.

"Bandido" is Spanish. That's a rather strong hint that the Bandidos come from somewhere well south of the 49th parallel. Where might that be? I won't keep the reader in suspense because the very fact that you're reading this newspaper means you already know that the home of the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle gang is the great state of Texas. Yes, Texas. Or, as it says on envelopes mailed to Texas: "Texas, U.S.A."


Interestingly, another thing Texas has a lot of is prisoners. State and county lock-ups alone -- leaving out federal pens -- hold almost 170,000 people. That's slightly more than the total prison populations of Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Austria, and Switzerland combined. There's a reason why nobody ever said the Texas criminal justice system is soft.

So, now, let's imagine you are the justice minister. You are about to give a speech not far from where one of the most horrible organized crime massacres in Canadian history has just been discovered. And let's say you know the accused and the corpses are linked to the Bandidos. And let's say you know that the Bandidos are an outlaw motorcycle gang from Texas. And let's say you know that while the Bandidos are close to extinct in this country, they are a thriving species in the U.S. Will you now tell your audience that the solution to organized crime in Canada is to adopt American laws which have worked wonders in the U.S.? No, you wouldn't. Why? Because you are not an idiot, that's why.

It so happens that I do not think that Vic Toews is an idiot, either. It thus follows logically that he must be unaware of these facts. But to be unaware of these facts, he must not follow the news. And that's not good.

Please, will somebody buy the minister a newspaper subscription?
Hope somebody gets him one so he can read that column. Smart guy that Gardner.

Justice served in Canada

This is cheering. A Canadian judge threw out a grow op charge on the grounds the evidence was illegally obtained. The judge ruled the installation of a device to measure electricity usage in the absence of credible evidence to do so, violated the defendants' right to privacy. This is a huge decision since the police have used it over 400 times to bust growers and especially heartening since the defendants were Oriental - a population profiled as a criminal class in Canada.

I'm betting this one will go to their Supreme Court since the police won't want to give up the practice and I would think this decision effectively prevents them from using it.

[hat tip to Tim Meehan]

Scottish cops call for legalization

This is big. The Strathclyde Police Federation, some 7,000 members strong, has called for the legalization of all drugs.
Officers claim this would cut drug deaths and divert police resources to other crime-fighting priorities. It is the first time that an organisation representing officers has made such a demand.

Opponents today said the move would only increase the availability of drugs. But the federation believes millions of pounds are wasted on enforcing existing laws, with little impact on the availability of drugs on the street.

Inspector Jim Duffy, chairman of the federation, said: "We are not winning the war against drugs and we need to think about different ways to tackle it."
Wouldn't it be nice to read in the NYT that Manhattan's police association showed the same common sense?

[hat tip Tim Meehan]

Don't get mad about gas prices -- get even

My sister sent this to me. It's seems like a rather effective plan of action for a consumer protest.
Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL. If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers.
I'm in. Please pass it on.

UPDATE: I'm told that Snopes debunked this theory and it won't work. Too bad. I like the idea of dissing Mobil-Exxon.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Who needs lobbyists when you have drug money

Corruption is not just for our politicians inside the Beltway. It reaches into every agency, especially those concerned with drug trafficking.
EL PASO, Texas - The former head of the FBI office in El Paso was indicted Wednesday on charges he lied about his relationship with a Mexican businessman who authorities suspected of links to drug traffickers.

Hardrick Crawford, special agent in charge of the El Paso from 2001 to 2003 could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the five criminal counts in the indictment, handed up by a federal grand jury.

The indictment said he accepted gifts including trips to Las Vegas and Mexico City, a country club membership and weekly lawn service at his home from Jose Maria Guardia, owner of a racetrack in Juarez across the border from El Paso.

...Guardia also gave a $5,000-a-month job to Crawford’s wife.

In return, Crawford “assisted Guardia with visa difficulties and vouched for (him) with American investors and suppliers,” the indictment said.
Crawford, who is now conveniently retired, lied to investigators about his knowledge of Guardia's drug activities despite having been told repeatedly by other agents about them. The hell of it is, even if he's convicted -- and I'm not holding my breath -- he probably won't even lose his cushy government pension.

[hat tip Skald]

Birds and the bees

It's another beautiful day in the south. Going to be damn hot in the next couple of days. They're talking 90s for Sunday but this morning is perfect. Racing up to 70 and I've got my doors open already to let in the fresh air. The birds are delighted, singing their little hearts out. It's regular symphony out there these days. I seem to have a lot of new species this year. I can't even identify them all but I'm happy to see my cardinal couple has been sticking around and I think it's their baby that's been visiting the window ledge lately. The tufted titmouse is also a regular guest and the giant redheaded woodpecker has been hanging in the trees for a couple of weeks now.

Meanwhile, I can be pretty clever when I'm desperate. I managed to get rid of the giant bumblebee that was stuck inside the screen porch. The poor little guy beat himself senseless against the screening and finally just sat there on the ledge. I thought he was near death he looked so miserable but then I had the brilliant idea of catching him in a pint glass.

When I put the glass over him he woke up some, but I was able to slide the glass onto a piece of cardboard and carry him outside. He was buzzing pretty good by then and I was a little worried he would be pissed and buzz me when I let him go, but I'm happy to report he shot straight out of the glass and made a beeline north for places unknown. I'm hoping the word will get out in the bee community that I'm a bee savior now and they'll leave me alone.

US uses drug war to further political interests

The Mexican army seized 5 1/2 tons of cocaine on a commercial airliner that had arrived outside Mexico City from Venezuela. It's a big haul but hardly remarkable enough to mention except for the way they slant the story to smear Venezuela's President Chavez. Take these 2 closing paragraphs.
A U.S. State Department report released in March said that Venezuela has become a key transit point for drugs because of “rampant corruption at the highest levels of law enforcement and a weak judicial system.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suspended cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in August, accusing its agents of spying.
Leaving aside the rank hypocrisy of our State Dept throwing pot shots at rampant corruption in law enforcement, as if it doesn't occur here regularly, look at the other information buried in the middle of in the article. [emphasis added]
The army was waiting for the plane on Monday at the airport of Cuidad de Carmen, 550 miles east of Mexico City, after receiving information from Venezuelan and U.S. authorities, Gen. Carlos Gaytan told a news conference.
That suggests cooperation doesn't it? And what's the point of this paragraph?
U.S. and Mexican officials say that cocaine and heroin is increasingly passing from Colombia through Venezuela to Mexico where it is smuggled into the United States. While drug traffickers used planes to smuggle large quantities of drugs in the 1990s, most Mexican traffickers now use land and sea routes.
This shipment was found on a commercial plane. It has nothing to do with overland smuggling. So why bring it up except to smear Venezuela? And then there's this little item.
Soldiers arrested Colombian Miguel Vazquez, 47, who was the plane’s co-pilot, but the pilot escaped, Gaytan said. There were no passengers.
You'll notice they don't identify the carrier or the orgination point of the flight. My guess is it was a Colombian airliner that merely stopped in VZ to refuel. This is how our government uses the drug war to further its political agenda.

Chavez is on their hit list. They desperately want to neutralize him and regain mega-corporate control of his oil reserves that they lost when Chavez nationalized the oil companies in Venezuela. Plus they want to neutralize Chavez period since they blame him for creating the current political climate in the Latin Americas that has swept so called leftist candidates into office. As if it can't be blamed on malevolent US drug war and trade policies that has kept the indigenous populations living in fear and poverty. But how convenient to blame Chavez for their failures.

[hat tip Skald]

Nall campaign building steam

Loretta Nall is destined to become the media darling in the Alabama gubernatorial campaign. Her recent press conference was well covered by the local outlets, including radio and TV. And the Montgomery Advertiser wrote an reasonably good piece, although they just had to mention Loretta's pending case for possession of less than a gram of marijuana, that by the way was planted by the police when they raided her home with a SWAT team and helicopter. Not that they mention that part.

I guess you can't blame the press for it. Drug reform does define her persona to a great extent since her political experience rests largely on reform activism and the bust makes a good hook for them. Anyway, there's no such thing as bad press unless they spell your name wrong.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Get ready for Loretta

Loretta Nall is gaining some steam in the press now that her nomination as Libertarian candidate has been confirmed. Unsurprisingly, the media want to make her marijuana legalization work the focus of any piece but Loretta is succeeding in broadening the discussion to her larger platform. And who wouldn't want to vote for a candidate who has this to say about the Patriot and REAL ID Acts.
"They're the two most offensive documents ever signed into law by the United States of America," Nall said. "We don't need the government with their noses up our asses."
Look out people, cause here she comes...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

1943 Boeing Stearman

Got an extra $90 Gs burning a hole in your pocket? You could buy this little cutie. I'd love to get a ride in one someday. I've never been in a biplane but I was at a airshow once in North Adams, MA where they had about six of them doing a little demo at the end of the day.

A most astonishing event. They let us sit practically on the runway while they were doing touch and go's for about half an hour before somebody finally came and kicked us off.

The guy said "Sorry but you're making the pilots nervous."

I had to laugh. "I can't believe how long it took you to kick us off the field," I said.

Looking back, it was kind of crazy for us to sit out there and for them to let us do it. Lucky for everybody the pilots were such old-timers.

When the demo was over the planes just sort of pulled over to edge of the greenway. I went and apologized to each one of them, rattling on at great length how I got carried away because I love flying so much and I how much I loved bi-planes, hinting broadly that I would really love a quick flight.

None of them offered. Maybe because my then husband, was glowering behind me. God was he a jealous man. Not of the pilots, who were older than my father, but of the idea that I might get a ride and he wouldn't.

Jazz, Drugs and Mental Health

This is mildly amusing. According to Inside Costa Rica, British researchers have come to a shocking conclusion. Jazz musicians are eight times more likely to do drugs and they suffer more mental health maladies than the general population.
Dr Geoffrey Wills, a psychologist from Stockport, Greater Manchester, looked at the biographies of 40 world-renowned musicians. [...]

Dr Wills said: "I am not trying to say that all jazz musicians are crazy, but I have highlighted a trend in mental health problems that is comparable to other creative people."

The research was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Who pays for these things? I could have told them that for free. I know a lot of jazz musicians. And I know rock and rollers and songwriters and folkies and writers and artists. They're all a little crazy but in a good way. They think outside the box. Some might call that creativity.

Shopping and other irritations

Well it's a gorgeous day in the south but I missed most of it. I was up until 3:00am trying to find this one particular toy on the internet so I slept in this morning. I have a baby birthday coming up and I had bookmarked what I thought was the perfect gift. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that it was unavailable at the time. So I figured I'd just find it somewhere else.

Well I'm here to tell you that you cannot find a Mega Bloks Neighborhood play set. The Mega Bloks company is willing to keep my info and email me if they find one anywhere in the world but I can't wait that long. I even tried Ebay, although I wasn't really willing to get a used one, sometimes that guy from England has overstocks that you can pay an arm and a leg for. I would have done it too, but no go. Worse yet, my alternate choices weren't available either. I don't know why they make you look at this stuff if they don't have it.

Meanwhile, the downside of sunny weather has begun to manifest. The insects are back and they mean business. Right now I have a bumblebee the size of a 747 stuck inside my screen porch. I don't how the heck they get in. The gap on the door isn't really big enough for them to get through, but whatever -- the bugger is flying around there, getting more pissed off by the minute that he can't get out. There's no spiders around yet to kill him so I don't know what I'm going to do about it. One thing for sure, I'm not going to be out there reading the paper this afternoon.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Anti-eradiction candidate winning in Peru

Ollanta Humala, running on a platform that includes opposing US coca eradication programs has received about 27 percent of the vote in the early returns in Peru's presidential election. Not enough for an outright win but he's guaranteed a spot in the mandated runoff. One hopes this is a good omen for drug war reform.

It's official - Vote Nall Y'All

Congratulations to Loretta Nall, who just got the nod from the Alabama Libertarian Party. She will be appearing on the ballot as the official Libertarian candidate for the gubernatorial slot.

Mark my words, she's going to pull off the major upset of the decade and win this race.

Lady luck

Maybe my luck is turning. I'm on a roll with the scratch tickets. I traded in my three dollar winner and sank three more dollars into it because there was a new ticket I hadn't tried yet. I won ten bucks. The way I figure it, I'm about five bucks ahead right now.

I suppose I could take my winnings and run but what would be the fun of that? I'll roll them over again next time I go to the store. Wish me luck.

Sex, Lies and undercover cops

Here's more on the high school bust in Falmouth. The Boston Globe coverage brings up an important angle on this investigation I hadn't immediately considered. How creepy is it for a 23 year old woman to be tempting 16 year old boys into commiting crimes? If she wasn't a cop it would be considered pedophilia.
"My kid was impressed by this pretty undercover drug officer," said the mother of a 16-year-old Falmouth student arraigned yesterday in juvenile court.
I mean look at these young boys. At that age they're walking sacks of hormones. You remember high school. Assuming she was passed as a senior, how hard is it to imagine a teenage boy willing to do anything to impress an attractive upperclass[wo]men? And she actively pursued these kids.
Several students yesterday described the undercover officer as shy but always looking for a party. "She would tell people that her mother was dead and that her dad was in the Navy and that she needed pot to cope," said Julia Massi, a 17-year-old senior who said she was in English class with the officer. "She made people feel bad for her. She would say 'Hey, if you see a party, give me a shout.' "
What did our kids learn from this investigation? Certainly nothing about honesty and a lot about betrayal of their natural impulse to help their peers.

And what is the school left with? A handful of teenagers with ruined lives and a new atmosphere of distrust. It certainly won't stop the kids from using drugs. It will simply create a job opening for a new dealer to step in. Perhaps it will be someone who wouldn't have started dealing except for the void left by the kids who were busted. Hell of a stupid way to "protect" our kids from drugs if you ask me.

On a side note, this quote says it all about surveys on drug use that rely on self-reported information.
Most students indicated in a school survey they had not used marijuana in the past month, [the superintendent] said. "About 85 percent said they hadn't," he said.

[A student], Massi said she took that survey, but got bored because it was so long, and filled in some responses without reading the questions. "A lot of students didn't want to tell the truth," she said.
It seems unlikely they will be any more inclined to be honest after this investigation.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

You're invited

Whew. I expected to have a half a day today but that didn't work out. Just getting home now but I'm looking at two whole weeks off. Meanwhile, for my Happy Valley readers, this just in.


DAVID HOOSE is the leading anti-death penalty defense lawyer in Massachusetts. He has defended, among other capital defendants, Kristen Gilbert, the nurse recently tried in federal court in Springfield for capital murder for deaths at the VA Hospital in Leeds.

MARTINA JACKSON is the Executive Director of Massachusetts Citizens Against the Dealth Penalty.

JUDGE W.MICHAEL RYAN is an historian, expert on the case of Daley and Halligan.

RICHARD MORAN is a professor at Mount Holyoke College, is a national expert on the death penalty.

Bill Newman will be the moderator for the event as Western Mass. Director of the ACLU (and as a lawyer who has done some capital defense work with Buz Eisenberg and David Hoose in the South).
These folks are all dear to me and are great public speakers. I would encourage anyone who is free to attend the event.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Busting teenagers

Maybe the Goose Creek litigation has something to do with this new trend I've been noticing lately. It seems you see less news of these random drug sweeps and more stories like this undercover operation.

Police said the undercover officer, Kaitlin Keane, [a 23-year-old employee of the sheriff's department] made 31 purchases of marijuana and one purchase of ecstasy from the students since January, when she began attending classes.

Keane told students her mother was dead, she had an absentee father and she needed drugs to dull the pain, Falmouth High students told The Boston Globe.

Jamie Heide, 16, a sophomore and member of the school's track team, said the undercover officer talked about drugs incessantly.

"It seemed like she was trying to score from everyone," he said.
One has to think that at least some of those kids may have been moved by her plight and simply hooked her up out of sympathy. The practical effect of this mode of investigation entices teens into obtaining drugs. Some may have not even thought of it before she hounded them.

But even if they were drug users, what possible purpose does it serve to criminalize teenage experimentation? It won't stop it, it will simply drive it underground and it seems more than a little counterproductive to be saddling teens with arrest records for non-violent crimes that will shadow them all their adult lives. It's unlikely to have any impact on the availability of drugs in the larger community and surely there's better uses for police resources.

Justice served
I'm late getting to this release from The DARE Generation but I don't want to let such a rare occassion as this go by without congratulating the students from Goose Creek who filed suit after the horrifying drug raid in their school. Fifty nine of them who participated in the action won a 1.2 million dollar judgment against the school district.

The timing and brutality of the raid, early in the morning when mostly black students were in the school and the lack of arrests certainly weighed in the students' favor. As Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy remarked, “It appears the Goose Creek Police Department succeeded in finding the one drug-free high school in America.”

One is hopeful the judgment will give other school districts pause before they authorize such Gestappo tactics against our children. As D'Alliance notes, as least one has come to the conclusion that raids that reek of racisim is bad policy. A California school district refused to authorize a raid against a college whose study body is predominantly African-American.

Luck of the draw

I can't believe it's almost 6:00 and I've done nothing today. I've been fooling around at the forum and answering a week's worth of email and dizzing around the net. The muse has completely deserted me. Probably too much sleep.

I slept in till after 9:00 this morning. Would have slept till noon if it wasn't for the thunderstorm. The thunder I could sleep through, but the hail was such a foreign noise that it woke me up. I was hoping for some impressive ice balls, but it was just about pea sized. Still it was worth getting up to see. There was enough so it collected on the ground. Closest thing I saw to snow this year.

Meanwhile, as you can see, North Carolina finally started their lottery. It's only scratch tickets, I prefer a Powerball kind of game myself. Since I never win, I like the lag time to dream about what to do with my winnings should my luck turn. I used to spend about four bucks a week up north on those. Never won more than a free ticket but I figured I got a dollar's worth of fun out of them anyway. I did better when I switched to the daily numbers. I actually came out ahead on those but I didn't play them for very long because I only started right before I left town. But I won several times, often from fifty to close to a hundred bucks.

Scratch tickets were never my thing. They're messy and you lose so fast. I didn't play them often although I did give them out as gifts on birthdays and holidays. I gave away a couple of hundred dollar winners but never won more than four bucks myself. Nonetheless, since they just started and I haven't played a gambling game since I got here, I bought four tickets the other day. I was only going to buy one of each but the clerk talked me into buying two each instead.

It was good counsel. I won a dollar on the extra ticket. I would have busted otherwise. I turned that winner in and bought an extra a few days ago. I forgot to scratch them until last night. I won three dollars. Guess I'll keep rolling them over until I lose. Who knows, maybe I'll finally get lucky. If I won five grand I could afford to go the beach next week.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Quick hits

I'm still vainly trying to adjust to the time change so I'm unlikely to be back here tonight but here's a couple of items to hold you until tomorrow.

How an Oregon newspaper created a meth "epidemic" out of an ordinary shift in drug preferences. You can thank them next time you get a cold and can't get cold medicine at the convenience store.

Steve Kubby was released early from jail, after 20 days of a 60 day sentence. The good news is he discovered Marinol was helpful for his condition. The bad news is our government spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to extradite him, merely to punish him when his "crime" barely warranted a jail sentence. They don't go to that much trouble to hunt down murderers.

Feds hit new low

Taking forfeiture to the next level.
A defense expert and the attorneys for two men facing federal drug charges in Tacoma are crying foul over efforts by federal prosecutors and officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to have the gold-capped teeth — commonly called "grills" or "grillz" — removed from their clients' mouths.

"I've been doing this for over 30 years and I have never heard of anything like this," said Richard Troberman, past president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and an expert on forfeiture law. "It sounds like Nazi Germany when they were removing the gold teeth from the bodies, but at least then they waited until they were dead."
Amen to that. These guys weren't even convicted yet and the government issues orders to remove their fillings? The cops claim they didn't know the grillz were permanently bonded or they wouldn't have tried to take them. These grillz are apparently worth from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Even if they were worth a few thou, are they saying they think it's okay to seize body parts under forfeiture?

The experts, along with myself, are awaiting with interest the unsealing of the records to see "what legal or evidentiary argument led the judge to sign the warrant."
"This is especially egregious because these two had not been convicted and are presumed to be innocent," added forfeiture expert Troberman, who is not involved in the case. "What are they going to do next? Start taking artificial limbs from amputees?"
Not to mention they attempted this seizure under secret order. The defendants were thrown in a van and told they were on their way to dentist to have the grillz removed. If they hadn't reached their lawyers, these two would have been living with some serious dental damage.

The almost happened because the defendants were charged with a drug violation. They're not allowed to treat murderers and rapists like that.

[hat tip Mad Maxx]

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lollipops the new gateway drug?

Spare me. I wanted to archive this irritating little LTE by a former ONDCP in-house counsel. Michael C. Barnes, Esq., would like us to believe that hemp contains enough THC to accumulate in the body and turn people into addicts. He says, "Hemp is low-potency cannabis, i.e., marijuana."

Putting aside the absurdity of that false assertion, and the fact that hemp products are actually some of the most nutritionally rich foods on the planet, that's like saying if you eat a poppy seed bagel every day, you'll end up an opium addict.

He goes on to equate a valuable agricultural product of almost unlimited uses with drugs, death and destruction. Never mind that it was grown widely in the US for centuries. Thomas Jefferson grew it without destroying society. It's pathetic that these drug warriors would fight against a plant that has has no intoxicating properties and has the potential to greatly benefit Americans simply because they're so afraid of losing their useless jobs.

[graphic gratitude]