You are browsing the archive for 2015 June 09.

Avatar of admin

by admin

As Clock Runs Out on Legislative Session, Patients & Families Rally in Albany to Demand Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana Before More Loved Ones Needlessly Die

June 9, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Abandoned by Cuomo, Families Turn to Legislature to Pass a Bipartisan Bill

Bill Would Create Emergency Access Program to Provide Relief to Critically Ill Patients, including Children with Epilepsy

Albany– Patients, family members, and advocates stood with legislators from both sides of the aisle today in support of A.7060 (Gottfried) / S.5086 (Griffo), a bill that would direct the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible. The bill, introduced by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried and Assembly Minority Leader Brian M.

June 9, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

read more

…read more


Avatar of admin

by admin

Pay for Roads, Bridges with Per-Mile Fee

June 9, 2015 in Economics

By Randal O’Toole

Randal O’Toole

In 1919, my home state of Oregon was the first to tax gasoline and dedicate the revenue to roads. Now Oregon is moving to become the first state to replace gas taxes with a per-mile fee.

Historically, gas taxes paid for most of our state highways, but there are four reasons why they no longer work. First, gas taxes don’t keep up with inflation. For example, the value of the dollar has fallen by a third since 1993, the last time the federal gas tax was increased.

Second, gas taxes don’t keep up with increasing fuel economy. The average car on the road today uses little more than half the gasoline of the average car in 1970, plus growing numbers of electric cars don’t use gasoline or diesel fuel at all.

Third, federal and state gas taxes have paid for state highways, but most cities and counties don’t collect fuel taxes and must pay for their roads and streets out of general funds. While there is no reason why some people should subsidize other peoples’ travel, an even more serious result is poorly maintained infrastructure as most of the crumbling bridges and roads we keep hearing about are locally owned, while state highways paid for out of user fees tend to be in much better shape.

You deserve to drive on smooth, safe, uncongested roads, and mileage-based user fees will make it possible for that to happen.”

Finally, gas taxes do nothing to mitigate one of the biggest problems in our cities: traffic congestion. While airlines, hotels and other businesses deal with fluctuations in demand by varying prices, auto drivers pay the same fuel tax whether they drive at rush hour or at midnight.

This problem is especially critical because highways are one of the few things whose supply declines when demand increases. A free-flowing freeway lane can move about 2,000 cars an hour. But if traffic slows due to congestion, flows can decline below 1,000 cars an hour. Such roads will remain congested for hours after traffic demand falls below 2,000 cars an hour.

By charging a variable fee depending on the amount of traffic, highway managers can insure that flows never decline. This has the curious result of effectively doubling the capacity of the road to move traffic, which is good news for commuters and travelers everywhere: Imagine cities with no congestion!

Increasing gas taxes would temporarily deal with the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Japan's New Defense Guidelines Encourage U.S. Confrontation with China

June 9, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Japan has always been Washington’s number one Asian ally. That was demonstrated with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Washington, highlighted by a speech to Congress. Unfortunately, the relationship increases the likelihood of a confrontation between the U.S. and China.

World War II ended 70 years ago, but Tokyo’s international role remains stunted. The U.S. occupation authorities imposed the “peace constitution” with Article Nine, which forbids possession of a military. Although Japanese governments conveniently interpreted that provision to allow “Self-Defense Forces,” Tokyo sharply limited their role and budgets.

Public sentiment has shifted toward greater foreign involvement out of concern with both North Korea and the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless, a recent Pew Research survey indicated that two-thirds of Japanese do not want a more active military. Public opposition has forced the Abe government to temper its plans.

During Prime Minister Abe’s visit the two governments released new “Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation.” The document clearly sets America against China.

None of this makes sense from America’s standpoint.”

First, the guidelines’ rewrite targets China. Japan’s greatest security concern is the ongoing Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute and Tokyo had pushed hard for an explicit U.S. guarantee for the unpopulated rocks. Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed the idea that navigation and overflight freedom were “privileges granted by big states to small ones,” leaving no doubt what he meant. Questions and answers at the Abe-Obama press conference reflected great concern with Beijing. Noted Geoff Dyer in the Financial Times: “the threat that ties together [various allied] initiatives is the growing anxiety across Asia about a more powerful China.”

Second, Japan’s promise to do more is merely a wish; the document stated that it created no “legal rights or obligations.” President Obama admitted: “it’s important to recognize we do not expect some instant and major transformation in terms of how Japan projects military power.” Tokyo will remain reluctant to act outside of core Japanese interests.

Third, though the new document removes geographical limits from Japanese operations, most of Japan’s new international responsibilities appeared to be essentially social work (what Prime Minister Abe called “human security”). In his speech to Congress the prime minister said his nation would “take yet more responsibility for the peace and stability in the world,” but cited humanitarian and peace-keeping operations as examples.

Moreover, the guidelines indicate that the SDF’s military involvement will be “from the rear and not on offensive operations,” noted …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

The (Telephony) Matrix Reloaded

June 9, 2015 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

The Obama administration has sought to temporarily relaunch the NSA’s bulk telephone records collection program, which was wound down over recent weeks as its legal foundation, §215 of the Patriot Act, briefly lapsed during the debate over the USA Freedom Act. But may it legally do so? Former Virginia Attorney General (and perennial conservative gadfly) Ken Cuccinelli is teaming with the advocacy group FreedomWorks to challenge the rebooted telephony dragnet.

The Fourth Amendment arguments against the program remain largely unchanged, and so whatever you thought about the constitutionality of indiscriminate collection of domestic telephone records before the passage of the USA Freedom Act, you can probably hang on to your opinion. The statutory argument, however, is rather more complicated. The Second Circuit held prior to the passage of the Freedom Act that in fact the NSA program was never properly authorized by §215. While the Second Circuit’s holdings don’t bind the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, one would at the least expect the FISC to be somewhat circumspect about brushing aside a federal appeals court ruling, and the plaintiffs in that case might well be expected to seek an injunction from the Second Circuit if the FISC should issue another bulk §215 order.

On the assumption that the pre-sunset version of the §215 authority has now been restored (which is fairly clearly what Congress intended, though there is some technical dispute as to whether it successfully did so) without further alteration for the next six months, the Second Circuit ruling would at first blush still seem to apply. Congress did not, after all, modify the “relevance” standard that the court found could not fairly be construed to authorize indiscriminate collection. So there’s a pretty straightforward textual argument that if the telephone records of all Americans could not reasonably be deemed “relevant to an authorized investigation” in May, we should not suppose that they have become relevant to an authorized investigation in June.  Moreover, the House Judiciary report on the bill explicitly disavows any intent to “ratify” the FISC interpretation of “relevance,” and approvingly cites the Second Circuit ruling, which taken in isolation might seem like a pretty clear indication that the authority cannot be used to resume bulk collection under that same language.

The Obama administration has sought to temporarily relaunch the NSA’s bulk telephone records collection program.”

What complicates matters is that the Second Circuit devoted significant space to the question of “ratification”—of whether Congress had, in previously reauthorizing §215, given its blessing …read more

Source: OP-EDS