You are browsing the archive for 2014 July 16.

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U.S. House Votes to Allow Banks to Accept Deposits from Marijuana Stores and Dispensaries

July 16, 2014 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Historic Vote Falls on Heels of Votes in May to Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Medical Marijuana and Hemp Laws

Meanwhile Conflict Over Washington, DC Decrim Law and Legalization Ballot Measure Increases

In a historic vote today the U.S. House passed a bipartisan amendment by Representatives Heck (D-WA), Perlmutter (D-CO), Lee (D-CA) and Rohrabacher (R-CA) preventing the Treasury Department from spending any funding to penalize financial institutions that provide services to marijuana businesses that are legal under state law. The amendment passed 231 to 192.

In May, the House passed an amendment prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws and passed two amendments prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp laws.

July 16, 2014

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America's Response to Child Refugees Fleeing Bloodbaths Is to Take Terrible Care of Them and Send Them Back

July 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Joshua Holland, Bill Moyers

Wingnuts are hurling epithets at fleeing children, and media coverage of their plight is no less repugnant.

Those seething with so much rage and xenophobia that they’d hurl ugly epithets in the faces of children fleeing bloody violence in Central America bring shame to the whole nation. But the response of mainstream America hasn’t been much better.

The media’s characterization of what’s going on at our southern border as a “crisis,” politicians pointing fingers at one another and Washington’s refusal to provide the resources necessary to care for a small wave of refugees — not to mention the bipartisan push to send them back home — is just as shameful when one considers the context.In June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)reported that in 2013, the global population of refugees from war and persecution hit 51.2 million — exceeding 50 million for the first time since World War II.Half of them were children.The vast majority were “internally displaced persons,” homeless people within their home countries. Many live in fetid refugee camps run by underfunded NGOs, where they face continuing privation and abuse.

There are over ten million refugees in Africa, and five million in Asia. More than six million people have been displaced for years, and in some cases decades. The UN estimates that 6.3 million people have been displaced in Syria alone.

The US has had a hand in this global crisis. According to the UNHCR, Afghanistan accounts for the world’s largest population of refugees; in Iraq, many of the two million people who fled the country after the US-led invasion in 2003 are now returning, despite the fact that many of its 1.7 million internally displaced citizens remain homeless, and more than one million new refugees have fled ISIS, or The Islamic State. Iraq has also absorbed about one million refugees from Syria.

Many countries with nowhere near the wealth or infrastructure of the United States have kept their borders open on humanitarian grounds, including Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The BBC reported in June that “the UN is concerned that the burden of caring for refugees is …read more


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5 Surprising Ways Tea Can Improve Your Health

July 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Andreea Nica, AlterNet

Tea's powerful properties have been shown to relieve stress and boost mental clarity.

While some swear by the aromatic, medicinal nature of tea, studies now suggest that tea can help improve quality of life, promote longevity, and help with many illnesses and health conditions.

The idea that tea is good for you originated in China over 4,000 years ago, and word quickly spread to Portugal, India and Britain. Over the last decade, the health advantages of various teas have even garnered interest among researchers. Today, tea is offered in a diverse range of flavors and is brewed with many combinations of herbs and plants. With stress inhibiting substances, cancer-fighting properties, and disease-fighting flavonoids, the medicinal benefits of tea are worth investigating and pursuing.

1. Health

Over the years, tea has been used to promote overall health and well-being. The antioxidants in tea have been found to help fight against a number of illnesses including cancers of the liver, breast and colon. According to the National Cancer Institute, tea is composed of polyphenols, a group of plant chemicals that includes catechins. Catechins are believed to contribute to the many health benefits attributed to tea. Recent studies suggest that green tea may help reduce cardiovascular risks, promote oral health, reduce blood pressure, help with weight control, act as an antibacterial agent, provide protection from harmful UV radiation and help improve skin quality.  Depending on how often you drink tea and your intent in using herbs in tea, the various benefits of tea can empower individuals to mitigate certain health conditions.

2. Caffeine

Tea generally has less caffeine than coffee, which according to some nutritionists is healthier. The idea of attenuation—the gradual loss of intensity—occurs when the intake of caffeine is high. In other words, the more caffeine you pump into your body, the less effect it may have. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to exceed 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine in a day for most healthy adults. Typically, an 8-ounce caffeinated tea drink (green and black) has between 14 to 70 mg of caffeine. But …read more


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The Unconstitutional Border Wars Have Moved Into the Heartland

July 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Todd Miller, Tom Dispatch

The usual rights meant to protect Americans from unreasonable search, seizure and interrogation are up for grabs.

This article originally appeared at

Shena Gutierrez was already cuffed and in an inspection room in Nogales, Arizona, when the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent grabbed her purse, opened it, and dumped its contents onto the floor right in front of her. There couldn’t be a sharper image of the Bill of Rights rollback we are experiencing in the U.S. borderlands in the post-9/11 era.

Tumbling out of that purse came Gutierrez’s life: photos of her kids, business cards, credit cards, and other papers, all now open to the official scrutiny of the Department of Homeland Security. There were also photographs of her husband, Jose Gutierrez Guzman, whom CBP agents beat so badly in 2011 that he suffered permanent brain damage. The supervisory agent, whose name badge on his blue uniform read “Gomez,” now began to trample on her life, quite literally, with his black boots.

“Please stop stepping on the pictures,” Shena asked him.

A U.S. citizen, unlike her husband, she had been returning from a 48-hour vigil against Border Patrol violence in Mexico and was wearing a shirt that said “Stop Border Patrol Brutality” when she was aggressively questioned and cuffed at the CBP’s “port of entry” in Nogales on that hot day in May. She had no doubt that Gomez was stepping all over the contents of her purse in response to her shirt, the evidence of her activism.

Perhaps what bothered Gomez was the photo silkscreened onto that shirt—of her husband during his hospitalization. It showed the aftermath of a beating he received from CBP agents. His head had a partially caved-in look because doctors had removed part of his skull. Over his chest and arms were bruises from Tasering. One tooth was out of place, and he had two black eyes. Although you couldn’t see them in the photo, two heavily armed Homeland Security agents were then guarding his hospital door to prevent the father of two, formerly a sound technician and the lead singer of a …read more


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Sen. Rand Paul Appears on Fox's Hannity – July 15, 2014

July 16, 2014 in Politics & Elections

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Women Are Second-Class Citizens When Pregnancy Makes Us Potential Criminals

July 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Jessica Valenti, The Guardian

A world in which all women of child-bearing age are considered 'pre-pregnant' is the stuff of nightmares.

Late in my pregnancy with my daughter, Layla, I had a glass of red wine every once in a while. And while I took prenatal vitamins, I'm sure I missed a day somewhere in there. I definitely—absolutely, without-a-doubt—ate more junk food than is recommended by most health organizations. Does that mean I should go to jail? It may sound ridiculous, but that's the very real slippery slope we're on, thanks to laws criminalizing pregnant women—and treating their personhood as secondary to their pregnancy.

Earlier this month in Tennessee, 26-year-old new mother Mallory Loyola became the first person arrested under a new law that makes using narcotics while pregnant a criminal offense. Loyola is facing charges of assault against her fetus—she was arrested two days following birth, after she allegedly tested positive for amphetamines.

While Tennessee is the only U.S. state with an explicit law criminalizing drug use by pregnant women, Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, says that multiple states arrest pregnant women anyway, simply by classifying fetuses as children.

Alabama, for example, has arrested over 100 pregnant women since 2006 under a law meant to stop people from bringing children to place where drugs are made, like meth labs. And earlier this year, that state's supreme court ruled that women can be charged with “chemical endangerment” of a child if they use a controlled substance while pregnant. The definition of pregnancy is so broad, Paltrow says, that a woman could smoke some pot with her boyfriend one night, have sex, get pregnant and, under Alabama law, face 10 years in jail for that one use of marijuana.

Obviously, doing drugs while pregnant is a horrible idea. But criminalizing addicted pregnant women who need treatment is bad for babies and their mothers. It's a short-term, punitive measure with no positive lasting impact to simply ensure that pregnant women who need drug treatment and pre-natal care won't seek either of those options, for fear of having their children taken away from them.

It …read more


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Why Aren't Child Migrants Fleeing to the U.S. From Nicaragua?

July 16, 2014 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh


Alex Nowrasteh

U.S. policy is equally generous to unaccompanied children (UAC) from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua — but today’s child migrants are not coming from Nicaragua.

Explaining why Nicaraguan UAC are not part of the recent surge may help explain why so many are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — the so-called Northern Triangle.

Nicaragua has low rates of violent crime, gang membership, and fewer family connections to the United States than the Northern Triangle.

If U.S. policy was the main reason why there is a sudden surge of UAC, it should also pull UAC from Nicaragua. This suggests that other factors like the high levels of violence and strong family connections are the main reasons why UAC from the Northern Triangle are coming and why Nicaraguan UAC are absent.

Nicaragua has a much lower homicide rate than El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. According to the United Nations, there has been a dramatic increase in murder rates across Central America since 2006 — except in Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan gang membership is low compared to other nations in Latin America. The numbers are so low they don’t merit close recording and only one major Central American gang even has a substantial presence there: Los Perrones.


Only about one percent of Nicaraguans in 2010 said that crime was the most important issue facing their country. By contrast, 44 percent of El Salvadorans, 35 percent of Guatemalans, and 25 percent of Hondurans said crime was the most important issue facing their respective countries. Lower homicide rates and gang membership have made Nicaraguans feel much safer than citizens of the Northern Triangle. This also explains the recent large percentage increase in asylum seekers from Northern Triangle countries in other Central American nations, although the numbers remain small.

Violence and family reunification seem to be much bigger factors in explaining the surge in UAC than any recent change in U.S. policy.”

Nicaragua is also a destination for migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In 2012, there were 14,597 Hondurans, 3,291 El Salvadorans, and 1,387 Guatemalans living in Nicaragua.

There is not a history of Nicaraguan unlawful immigration to the United States — it’s not even on the top ten list. There are more Ecuadorian unlawful immigrants to the United States than unlawful Nicaraguan immigrants. As I explained here, the timing and flow of UAC from El …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Driverless Cars Yes, V2I No!

July 16, 2014 in Economics

By Randal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole

Yesterday, President Obama gave a speech in Virginia calling for mandatory installation of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications in all cars. By coincidence, this week the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) is holding its annual symposium on autonomous (that is, driverless) cars in California.

V2V allows vehicles to communicate with one another to allow them to avoid accidents, while V2I allows highway infrastructure (such as traffic signals) to communicate directly with motor vehicles. While Obama touts the safety benefits of these technologies, there are at least four reasons why they should not be mandatory.

First, V2V and V2I communications pose serious security risks for travelers and cities. With V2V communications, an automobile that suffers a fender-bender would communicate to all nearby vehicles that they ought to take a different route to avoid congestion.

V2V and V2I communications pose serious security risks for travelers and cities.”

That sounds good, but what happens when someone hacks the system and puts out radio signals in a hundred or a thousand critical urban intersections that effectively shut down traffic in an entire city? As one expert at the driverless vehicle symposium observed, “just think of the opportunities for chaos!”

Second, V2I communications will allow the nanny state to monitor and control when and where you travel. For example, PC Magazine observes that V2I is “so accurate a revenue-hungry town could write tickets for doing 57 in a 55 zone.”

Worse, suppose your state decides to cut per capita driving in half, which isn’t far fetched considering that in 2008 the Washington legislature passed a law mandating such a reduction by 2050. With V2I communications, the government could decide you have driven enough and simply shut off your car

Third, what happens when all cars are dependent on V2I systems that the government can’t afford to maintain? The federal government is notorious for funding capital projects and then providing inadequate money to maintain them, and state and local governments are little better.

Finally, V2V and V2I communications will be an unnecessary added expense to auto ownership. The Department of Transportation says it won’t even have a draft of rules mandating V2V before 2017, and such rules won’t possibly go into effect before 2018. Yet partially autonomous cars that improve safety by providing steering assistance and collision avoidance are already on the market.

Google, Nissan, and other companies expect cars will be on the market by 2020 that will be completely …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Whoa! Big Banks Hit with Monster $250 Billion Lawsuit for Fraud in Housing Crisis

July 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt blog

Did the banksters just meet their match?

For years, homeowners have been battling Wall Street in an attempt to recover some portion of their massive losses from the housing Ponzi scheme. But progress has been slow, as they have been outgunned and out-spent by the banking titans.

In June, however, the banks may have met their match, as some equally powerful titans strode onto the stage.  Investors led by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and PIMCO, the world’s largest bond-fund manager, have sued some of the world’s largest banks for breach of fiduciary duty as trustees of their investment funds. The investors are seeking damages for losses surpassing $250 billion. That is the equivalent of one million homeowners with $250,000 in damages suing at one time.

The defendants are the so-called trust banks that oversee payments and enforce terms on more than $2 trillion in residential mortgage securities. They include units of Deutsche Bank AG, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings PLC, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Six nearly identical complaints charge the trust banks with breach of their duty to force lenders and sponsors of the mortgage-backed securities to repurchase defective loans.

Why the investors are only now suing is complicated, but it involves a recent court decision on the statute of limitations. Why the trust banks failed to sue the lenders evidently involves the cozy relationship between lenders and trustees. The trustees also securitized loans in pools where they were not trustees. If they had started filing suit demanding repurchases, they might wind up suedon other deals in retaliation. Better to ignore the repurchase provisions of the pooling and servicing agreements and let the investors take the losses—better, at least, until they sued.

Beyond the legal issues are the implications for the solvency of the banking system itself. Can even the largest banks withstand a $250 billion iceberg? The sum is more than 40 times the $6 billion “London Whale” that shook JPMorganChase to its foundations.

Who Will Pay – the Banks or the Depositors?

The world’s largest banks are considered “too big to fail” for …read more


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7 Studies That Prove Mansplaining Exists

July 16, 2014 in Blogs

By Lucy Vernasco, Bitch Magazine

Men often explain things to women, whether or not they know what they’re talking about.

Remember when Kanye West cut off Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs? As Swift launched into her acceptance speech for Best Female Video, West ran onstage and grabbed the mic away from her and said, “Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’m gonna let you finish, but I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” Both Beyoncé and Swift looked stunned.

This is perhaps the most famous pop culture moment of a man interrupting a woman to explain something to her—the YouTube clip of the interruption has been seen 23 million times. Though the crowd greeted West’s interruption with booing, men interrupt women and discredit their accomplishments every day, usually without backlash from any crowd or TV commentators.

For an engaging primer on the realities of mansplaining, look no further than Rebecca Solnit’s new book Men Explain Things to Me, which collects seven essays on feminism, violence, and how men often explain things to women “whether or not they know what they’re talking about.” In May, Soraya Chemaly also addressed the mansplaining phenomena with a great article “10 Simple Words Every Girl Should Learn.” In that piece, Chemaly advised parents who want to combat sexism to teach their daughters to practice saying “Stop interrupting me,” “I just said that,” and “No explanation needed.” As her article points out, women are taught to be overly polite and active listeners in conversations, but men are not taught to socialize this way. 

For example, just last week, Fox News excellently showcased some mansplaining on a segment that instructed women to “not raise their voices” or “talk too much” in the workplace. Within that segment, host Steve Doocey interrupted the guest author as she spoke about her new book.

While individual women might feel like they’re the only ones frustrated at being ignored or interrupted, there are numbers that show it happens all the time: studies show that men interrupt women during meetings, while in groups with friends, and …read more