You are browsing the archive for 2015 May.

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NSA Surveillance: What Happens Next?

May 22, 2015 in Economics

Key provisions of the controversial post-9/11 anti-terrorism law (including section 215, which authorizes the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ telephone calling records) are set to expire on June 1.  While the House has addressed the issue by passing the USA Freedom Act, the Senate is still dealing with competing proposals. In a ten-and-a-half-hour-long filibuster over the NSA surveillance programs, Sen. Rand Paul cited analysis by former CIA analyst and current Cato scholar Patrick G. Eddington. “Through his filibuster, Paul has all but assured that 215 will sunset — at least until Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess in early June,” notes Eddington.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Waka Flocka Flame for President!

May 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Political Zach Foster

Originally published by
Most of the people reading this will vote for Rand Paul or Gary Johnson in the upcoming Presidential election. However, there’s one candidate that everyone should be paying attention to: Atlanta-based rapper Juaquin James Malphurs, better known by his stage name, Waka Flocka Flame. Pundits are already having a good laugh, but here is what those spineless, arrogant fools are missing: this is a very important candidacy coming to the public at a crucial time.
Yes, it’s true that there’s no way Waka Flocka will make it to the White House in 2016; he’s still 28 years old, or seven years younger than the Constitutional age requirement to be President of the United States. But not everyone runs to get elected. Waka Flocka’s video announcement on Rolling Stone Magazine’s YouTube channel, made on “4/20, the best day of the year,” makes the rapper’s number one issue clear.
Waka Flocka has said over and over that he’ll legalize marijuana on Day 1 in the White House. Foreign Policy’s Benjamin Soloway remarked that this is a “goes-without-saying plan.” But from a libertarian perspective, the simplicity of the issue really does go without saying. There are over 11,000 Executive Orders on the books, most of them dictatorial in some way or another, that are still enforced as law.
All that it would take to bring on the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs would be for one Executive Order with one sentence: Marijuana is legal in the United States. If the next President actually gave a damn about constitutional procedure and didn’t want to bypass Congress, he could still put out a one-sentence Executive Order on Day 1 in office: Possession and distribution of marijuana will not be prosecuted by the government of the United States.
I have much respect for Waka Flocka Flame as he tours the country and brings awareness to the marijuana issue and the only clear solution to America’s current drug problem: legalize it. America tried Prohibition already, and it didn’t work. Prohibition has only grown the prison industrial complex, devastated the black community out of proportion with other ethnic groups, and fueled the flames of civil wars across Latin …read more

Source: ZACH FOSTER RANTS

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Marijuana Concentrates

May 21, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

May 21, 2015

No

There are over 500 chemicals in the marijuana plant and about 80 of those are cannabinoids, which are the active ingredients. Concentrate producers harvest these from the plant and create a substance made up of only these active ingredients, similar to juicing an orange. Concentrates are usually ingested via inhalation, but can also be ingested orally and are often used as an ingredient in infused edible products.

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Matt Taibbi: World’s Largest Banks Admit to Massive Global Financial Crimes, But Escape Jail (Again)

May 21, 2015 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now!

This is about as serious a financial crime as you can possibly get, says the Rolling Stone journalist.

In an interview with Democracy Now!, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi spoke about the recent news surrounding the five major banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS – who pled guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Their fines amount up to more than $5 billion. “They were monkeying around with the prices of every currency on Earth,” Taibbi told Amy Goodman. “So, if you can imagine that anybody who has money, which basically includes anybody who’s breathing on the planet, all of those people were affected by this activity. So if you have dollars in your pocket, they were monkeying around with the prices of dollars versus euros, so you might have had more or less money fractionally, depending on all of this manipulation, every single day.”

Below is an interview with Taibbi, followed by a transcript:

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to the felons on Wall Street. Five of the world’s top banks will pay over $5 billion in fines after pleading guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies and interest rates. Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and euros exchanged in the five trillion foreign exchange—$5 trillion foreign exchange spot market. UBS pleaded guilty for its role in manipulating the Libor benchmark interest rate. On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the deal.

ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA LYNCH: We are here to announce a major law enforcement action against international financial institutions that for years participated in a brazen display of collusion and foreign exchange rate market manipulation, and will, as a result, pay a total of nearly $3 billion in fines and penalties. As a result of our investigation, four of the world’s largest banks have agreed to plead guilty to felony antitrust violations. They are Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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In Historic Vote, Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Veterans Medical Marijuana Amendment

May 21, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

First Time Senate Has Voted on Marijuana Law Reform

Amendment Would Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Marijuana to Their Patients in States Where It’s Legal

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bipartisan amendment today, 18 to 12, allowing Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. The vote is the first time the U.S. Senate has ever moved marijuana law reform legislation forward.

May 21, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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A Plot to Level a Village Isn’t News–When Targets Are Muslim and Plotter Is Christian

May 21, 2015 in Blogs

By Jim Naureckas, FAIR

No crime fascinates US media like terrorism–provided it’s the right sort of terrorism

No crime fascinates US media like terrorism–provided it’s the right sort of terrorism, that is.

The media-approved sort of terrorist is motivated by some fanatic strain of Islam. Terrorists motivated by other ideologies are often forgotten by corporate media (Extra!, 6/13)–sometimes to the point where pundits deny that non-Muslim terrorists exist (FAIR Blog, 12/16/14)–even though the vast majority of terrorist attacks in the United States are carried out by people with agendas unrelated to Islam (Extra!, 8/13)

Sensational acts of or schemes for political violence are ignored because they don’t fit Islamophobic stereotypes (FAIR Blog, 1/11/131/25/14)–or, if the violence is too dramatic to overlook, journalists decline to affix the “terrorism” label to it (FAIR Media Advisory, 4/15/14; FAIR Blog, 6/13/14).

The latest example of the sort of crime story that would be huge news if the perpetrator were Muslim–rather than, in this instance, someone who hates Muslims–is the case of Robert Rankin Doggart, a former congressional candidate from Signal Mountain, Tennessee, who was caught on tape and on social media talking about wiping out a Muslim community in upstate New York.

According to a plea agreement reached in US District Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doggart told an FBI informant that he was planning to attack the residents of a Muslim community known as Islamberg near Hancock, New York.  (Doggart, an ordained Christian minister, apparently became fixated on the hamlet as a result of alarmist reporting on right-wing media.) In a call recorded by the informant, Doggart said:

Those guys [have] to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down. If we can get in there and do that not losing …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Young Black Boys Committing Suicide at Rates Higher Than Ever

May 21, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

For the first time, a cohort of African Americans is dying by their own hands at a rate higher than their white peers.

Researchers have found that between 1993 and 2012, the suicide rate for very young black children, between the ages of 5 and 11, nearly doubled. The increase was driven almost entirely by the suicides of young black boys, who took their own lives in numbers that rose steeply over the nearly two-decade study period. Suicides among young black girls remained essentially level, while the rate of suicide among white children of the same age dropped.

According to researchers, the suicide rate among black boys rose from about 1.8 to nearly 3.5 per one million children. That increase was enough to raise the overall rate of suicide deaths of black children aged 5 to 11 from 1.36 to 2.54 per one million. According to the New York Times, researchers were so stunned by the findings they were concerned about a data error, and delayed the release of their statistics by a year while they double-checked the numbers. The figures held up under scrutiny.

Contrast those findings with the suicides of white children aged 5 to 11, which declined significantly in the study period. Between the years 1993 and 2012, the number of suicides of white children in the aforementiond age cohort fell from 1.14 per million to 0.77. More specifically, the suicide rate among white boys fell from 2 to approximately 1.3 suicides per one million children.

Researchers also noted that gun deaths among white children in the study decreased by 50 percent, while remaining steady among black children. Hanging/suffocation, which was the primary means of suicide overall, increased significantly among black boys, rising by nearly one third.

While health outcomes have long been poorer for African Americans than for white Americans, this marks the first time blacks have outpaced whites in suicide rates for any age group. A number of theories have been posited in trying to determine the underlying cause of the change in those numbers, from the higher likelihood of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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One Month Later, Exposing Baltimore Police Lies In the Death of Freddie Gray

May 21, 2015 in Blogs

By Shaun King, Daily Kos

Basically everything police said was either a lie or PR spin.

Last month we exposed many of the ugly lies about Freddie Gray being spread by conservatives—ranging from the lie that he broke his neck jumping from a window while evading police to the lie that he had a spinal surgery in the weeks before he was killed stemming from a car accident.

It's now been one month since 25-year-old Freddie Gray died because of critical injuries he suffered while in police custody. Six officers having been charged in his murder. And many facts continue to emerge, including a video that was just released showing one of the many stops made while Freddie was in the van.

Below, from the moment when police arrested Freddie Gray until now, we will expose each lie that has been told by the Baltimore police

LIE: The arrest of Freddie Gray was lawful.

TRUTH: Everything about the arrest of Gray was unlawful.

Sadly, we will never fully understand what happened on April 12, because Gray never spoke another word again after he emerged from the police van that day and died one week later from his injuries.

The police claim, in their own timeline, that they chased and subdued Gray (and another unnamed man), but never gave any legal reason for doing so other than making eye contact with them.

The Baltimore police commissioner, Anthony Batts, has already said clearly that “there is no law against running.” What law, then, did Gray break to be pursued and arrested in the first place? It is not legal to simply look at a man and assume it must be a criminal.

Furthermore, while police claim that Gray was carrying an illegal knife at the time of his arrest, two facts about this need to be clarified:

1. The police themselves claimed to have found the knife after they hadchased, caught and cuffed him.

In charging documents, prosecutors say three officers were on patrol near Gilmor Homes when Gray spotted them and began to run.

Prosecutors say the officers chased Gray and soon caught him. They say the officers held him down, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Janice Dickinson Sues Bill Cosby for Defamation

May 21, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

The ex-supermodel says his team's labeling her a liar over sexual assault allegations has damaged her career.

Former supermodel Janice Dickinson has filed a lawsuit against Bill Cosby for defamation, stating that Cosby damaged her public image when his team said she lied about being raped by him in 1982. The suit, filed yesterday, leaves Cosby’s legal team 30 days to respond.

Dickinson is one of more than 30 women who have come forward since October of last year with allegations of rape against Cosby, with some of the charges dating back as far as the late 1960s. Like nearly every other woman allegedly assaulted by Cosby, Dickinson reports being drugged by the comedian—who she says invited her to dinner under the pretense of being able to help her career—then later awakening to find she had been raped. For the most part, it’s been assumed that Cosby won’t face prosecution, since nearly all of the cases are long past the statute of limitations. According to Reuters, Dickson is pursuing a jury trial and monetary damages, though the exact figure isn’t given.

Dickinson’s suit comes in response to a statement from Cosby’s lawyer, Martin Singer, who said in November, “The only story [Ms. Dickinson] gave 12 years ago to the media and in her autobiography was that she refused to sleep with Mr. Cosby and he blew her off. Documentary proof and Ms. Dickinson's own words show that her new story about something she now claims happened back in 1982 is a fabricated lie.”

According to Dickinson’s attorney, Lisa Bloom—who is also the daughter of famed civil rights attorney Gloria Allred—a request for Cosby’s legal team to retract the accusation of lying was made. She says Cosby refused, leading Dickinson to file suit. 

In a televised interview with CNN, Dickinson said, “I want justice done. I want Lisa Bloom to depose Bill Cosby, get him on the stand and in front of a jury and let the law decide.”

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An Open Letter to Governor Hogan: the New Metro Lines Are Too Expensive

May 21, 2015 in Economics

By Randal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole

Dear Governor Hogan,

You have said you would approve the $2.5-billion Purple Line light-rail in suburban DC (along with Baltimore’s $3.0-billion Red Line) if the cost could be substantially reduced. Here is a way to accomplish this goal.

First, use buses instead of railcars. Order buses with wide doors for easy entry and exit and free WiFi to attract young riders, and paint them bright purple to distinguish them from existing transit buses.

Standard 40-seat buses cost under $400,000. Let’s be pessimistic and say that the WiFi, wide doors, purple paint, and a few other amenities raise the cost to $500,000 apiece.

Why should a few heavily subsidized transit riders get to avoid traffic when the auto users who are paying most of those subsidies have to endure the increased congestion caused by light rail?”

Second, operate the buses on existing roads between Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park, and New Carrollton. In moderate traffic, a vehicle can go from Bethesda to New Carrollton on streets approximating the Purple Line route in 50 minutes. With nineteen intermediate stops each lasting about 30 seconds, the total trip time would be just under 60 minutes, comparable to the projected 62.6 minutes for light rail.

Third, run buses every two minutes in each direction during the six busiest hours of each weekday, reducing service to every four minutes during twelve other hours and on weekends and holidays. A fleet of 72 buses costing $36 million should be sufficient to meet this schedule and provide a few spares.

Fourth, to speed service, build platforms level with bus floors at each of 21 stops along the route. Each platform would have ticket machines, turnstiles, a wheelchair ramp or lift, and shelter protecting passengers from harsh weather.

People would pay or use metro farecards to pass through the turnstiles. When buses arrived, people could quickly exit and enter the buses without having to climb stairs at the bus doors.

Some places have built platforms like these for under $100,000, but let’s be pessimistic and assume they cost $250,000 apiece. Larger platforms would be needed for the Bethesda and Silver Spring stops, which are expected to attract the most traffic, so let’s assume those two cost $500,000 each.

Two platforms each at 21 stops would cost $11.5 million, for a total cost of less than $48 million. The federal government’s Bus and Bus Facilities program could cover up to 80 percent …read more

Source: OP-EDS