You are browsing the archive for 2013 August 16.

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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Eases Restrictions on Medical Marijuana Program

August 16, 2013 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Advocates Applaud Sensible and Compassionate Action

Trenton, NJ— Gov. Chris Christie drew praise from medical marijuana advocates as he announced he would remove certain restrictions from the state’s medical marijuana program.

August 16, 2013

Drug Policy Alliance

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Examining the Social Cost of Carbon

August 16, 2013 in Economics

By Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger

Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

On Friday, Aug. 9, the Federal Register posted an announcement calling for public comments on the use of the “social cost of carbon” in DOE rulemaking. The members of the House of Representatives have already presented their opinions on social cost of carbon by passing a bill just prior to recess prohibiting its use by the EPA without consent of Congress. It is unclear whether the Senate will take up the issue, although the prohibition would almost certainly face a presidential veto. But without good cause.

The social cost of carbon is a poor concept from the start. It is an ill-conceived, one-sided supposed measure of the damages associated with climate change resulting from human emissions of carbon-containing greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane). Or, rather, it is a measure of the damages predicted to occur by a collection of computer models — computer models which themselves largely fail at capturing the climate evolution during recent decades.

Under normal circumstances, little attention would be paid to the esoteric squabbling of economists arguing about how to place a largely theoretical value on a measure which is imprecise and ever-changing by its very nature. However, the social cost of carbon has been elevated to the limelight by the Obama administration which has introduced it into the cost-benefit analysis that must be performed for new rules and regulations.

But in its haste to find a way to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the administration has turned its back on both standing federal guidelines as well as sound science.”

The social cost of carbon — or its converse, the alleged benefits conferred by reducing carbon dioxide emissions — has become one the administration’s favorite tools for counteracting the high costs associated with an ever-growing string of actual and proposed new rules governing everything from microwave oven efficiency to coal-killing power plant emissions standards.

The administration is so empowered by the social cost of carbon, that, realizing still untapped potential, it recently upped its initial estimates of the social cost of carbon by about 50 percent. By assigning a central damage estimate (cost) of $35 for each ton of emitted carbon dioxide rather than $21 per ton, more and costlier regulations can be neutralized by the purported benefits of greenhouse gas reductions.

But in its haste to find a way to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the administration has turned its back …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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PAUL: The madness of mandatory minimums

August 16, 2013 in Politics & Elections

I applaud President Obama’s recognition that mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders needs to end. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s announcement Monday to change federal drug-sentencing policy hopefully signaled a significant shift toward justice in addressing one of the most unjust federal policies of our time.
Mr. Holder called our current system ‘broken,’ and he couldn’t be more right. Congress needs to consider and pass my bipartisan legislation to provide flexibility for federal judges in sentencing nonviolent offenders, which I have introduced with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Many of those people deserve to be in prison; however, some of them do not. They find themselves incarcerated owing to a misguided focus on draconian punishment that does nothing to enhance public safety. As Mr. Holder noted, incarceration rates have grown ‘at an astonishing rate – by almost 800 percent’ since 1980.
Almost half of these inmates are serving time for drug-related crimes.
Many of them find themselves in prison sometimes for making one nonviolent mistake – for decades or more – because our federal government mandates it. Throughout the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, federal mandatory minimum laws were implemented that forced judges to deliver sentences far lengthier than they would have if allowed to use their own discretion. The result has been decades of damage, particularly to young people.
We have all made mistakes in our youth, but we shouldn’t ruin people’s entire lives for making youthful mistakes. By today’s legal standards, the past two presidents could have been imprisoned for decades as punishment for alleged indiscretions in their youth.
These laws are so unrealistic that sometimes the young person convicted didn’t even knowingly make a mistake. The Associated Press reported this week: ‘Former federal appeals court Judge Timothy Lewis recalled that he once had to sentence a 19-year-old to 10 years in prison for conspiracy for being in a car where drugs were found.’ The report continued: ‘Lewis, a former prosecutor, said the teen, who was [black], was on course to be the first person in his family to go to college. Instead, Lewis had to send him to prison as the teen turned and screamed for his mother.’
Judge Lewis‘ hands were tied as he was forced to severely punish this young man. Said Judge Lewis after Mr. Holder’s announcement, ‘I am just glad that someone finally has …read more


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The United States and Egypt

August 16, 2013 in Economics

The crackdown in Egypt has clarified events. The military staged a coup. The civilian regime created by Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi was a façade. The military’s attempt to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood guarantees a violent future, likely including terrorism and perhaps ending in civil war. Despite having spent $75 billion worth of aid into Cairo’s coffers over the years, Washington has no leverage. Foreign aid does not promote economic development, nor does it buy political leverage. In a recent blog post Cato senior fellow Doug Bandow argues that Washington should say no more and leave Egypt’s future to be decided by the Egyptians.

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