You are browsing the archive for 2015 June.

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Reforming Regressive Regulation to Boost U.S. Economic Growth

June 22, 2015 in Economics

Despite today’s polarized political atmosphere, it is possible to construct an ambitious and highly promising agenda of pro-growth policy reform that can command support across the ideological spectrum.  Such an agenda would focus on policies whose primary effect is to inflate the incomes and wealth of the rich, the powerful, and the well-established by shielding them from market competition. In a new paper, Cato scholar Brink Lindsey identifies four major examples of such “regressive regulation,” and proposes reforms that would open up a new front in the ongoing policy fight.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Does the Internet Need Saving?

June 19, 2015 in Economics

As Title II “net neutrality” moves toward implementation, some proponents are having second thoughts. What is to be done?  In the new issue of Regulation, Gerald R. Faulhaber says that, if we wish to avoid the Internet being sucked into the vortex of Title II public utility regulation, we must depend upon Congress to act.  Also in this issue, Christopher T. Robertson and Keith A. Joiner offer some new approaches to cutting health care costs while expanding access to care, and Edgar O. Olsen suggests reforms to low-income housing assistance.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Medical Marijuana Laws Do Not Lead to Increases in Teen Use

June 16, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Lancet Study Dismantles Main Argument of Opponents of Medical Marijuana

A new Columbia University study published in Lancet Psychiatry shows that teen marijuana use does not increase after the passage of medical marijuana laws. The study, led by Dr. Debra Hasin, looked at past-30-day marijuana use among over one million adolescents over a 24-month period. While rates of use were higher to begin with in medical marijuana states, rates of use did not change after laws went into effect.

June 16, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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New York State Legislature Passes Bipartisan Bill to Create Emergency Access to Medical Marijuana for Critically Ill Patients

June 16, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Frustrated with Inaction by Cuomo, Patients and Families Returned to Legislature for Help

Patients and Families Demand Governor Sign the Bill into Law Immediately

Albany– Last night, in an unusual show of bipartisan support, the New York Senate voted 50 to 12 in favor of a bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo, that directs the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible. The Assembly version, sponsored by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, passed last week by an overwhelming majority (130-18). The bill now goes to Governor Cuomo for his signature or veto.

June 16, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Colorado Supreme Court Affirms Employers Rights to Fire Medical Marijuana Patients for Off-Duty Marijuana Use

June 15, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Advocates Call for State and Federal Reform Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients and Legal Adult Users of Marijuana

Today the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed lower court decisions allowing employers to fire employees for marijuana use while off-duty. The decision hinged on the state’s lawful off-duty activities statute. The Court held that in order for the off-duty conduct to be considered “lawful,” it must be legal under both state and federal law. The unanimous decision was not a surprise to advocates working to reform marijuana law and policy in Colorado.

June 15, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Costa Rican Ministry of Health Releases Criteria for Pending Medical Marijuana Bill

June 15, 2015 in PERSONAL LIBERTY

By drosenfeld

Announcement Followed By First Conference In Central America On Medical Marijuana

Marijuana Reform Initiative Finally Brings Central America Into The Regional Debate

Earlier this month, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health outlined the details for the implementation of a pending bill to research and regulate marijuana for medical and industrial purposes. The bill was introduced by ruling Citizen Action Party legislator Marvin Atencio last year to tax marijuana products and regulate the use of medical marijuana through registration cards for patients provided by the Ministry of Health. Ten months after Atencios’s proposal, the Ministry of Health released its criteria for the implementation of the bill.

June 15, 2015

Drug Policy Alliance

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Source: DRUG POLICY

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Democratic Congressman's Bizarre Bernie Sanders Smear

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) fired off a bizarre missive against Sanders.


It may be a sign Bernie Sanders's campaign has started to gain traction when endorsers of his opponent Hillary Clinton have started launching attacks.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who endorsed Hillary last August, appeared on Larry King's show and reiterated his support for the former Secretary before firing off a bizarre missive against Sanders, saying he doesnt know if he likes immigrants:

GUTIERREZ: We’ve got the socialist, uh I can’t remember his name. Bernie Sanders I don’t know if he likes immigrants because he doesn’t seem to talk about immigrants. But sooner or later, he’ll tell us. I hope he likes immigrants. I haven’t heard him say anything. He’s been kind of quiet and silent. So I hope that when he sees this program, he sees that there’s a lot of people waiting to hear from him.

Sanders's father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland and his mother was born in New York, also to Jewish immigrants. Most of his extended family beyond that were slain in the Holocaust. If for no reason other than his own personal experiences, it's very unlikely that Sanders dislikes immigrants. The experience of his own parents' journeys to America was important enough for him to talk about them in his launch address.

But the Senator has also been a champion of their rights in his legislative record. During his campaign for the presidency, he has spoken in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and ending detention quotas of undocumented immigrants. He vocally supported President Obama's immigration executive order and met with undocumented immigrant activists while traveling around the country last year – as Hillary Clinton refused to talk to them. He voted for 2013's immigration reform bill.

If Gutierrez hasn't heard Sanders talk about immigrants then perhaps he should start listening.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Historic Senate Vote Tells DEA to Butt Out of Medical Marijuana States

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, AlterNet

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted today to rein in the DEA.


Just last week, in a series of successful amendments to the Justice Department appropriations bill, the House sent a clear message to the DEA and DOJ to stop interfering in medical marijuana states. Today, a similar message came from the Senate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted two-to-one today in favor of an amendment from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that prohibits the Justice Department, including the DEA, from using federal funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

While the appropriations bill must still be approved by the Senate as a whole, both houses of Congress are now on record as telling the DEA to butt out of medical marijuana states. The passage of identical amendments in both houses is a good indicator that they will be included in the spending bill when it gets to President Obama's desk.  

While the House has passed similar amendments for the last two years, this is the first time it was offered in the Senate. It mirrors the provisions of the CARERS Act (HR 1538/S.683), introduced earlier this year, but because a ban in an appropriations bill expires at the end of the fiscal year, advocates are still calling for the CARERS Act to move.

The vote was an impressive 21-9, with the only Democrat voting against it being Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Republicans split right down the middle, with eight opposing and eight supporting.

Drug reform advocates were pleased.

“This is another resounding victory for medical marijuana patients, their families, and their care providers. Congress is making it clear that the Department of Justice and the DEA have no business interfering in state medical marijuana laws,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policy for the Marijuana Policy Project.

“The goal of this amendment is to provide deference to the states, making it strikingly similar to the operative provisions of the CARERS Act. Unfortunately, that bipartisan bill has languished for months in the Senate Judiciary Committee because Chairman Chuck Grassley has refused to hold hearings on it. The Senate spoke loudly …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Dark Saudi-Israeli Plot to Tip the Scales in Syria

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus

What does a Saudi-Turkish axis means for the already-troubled region?


A quiet meeting this past March in Saudi Arabia, and a recent anonymous leak from the Israeli military, set the stage for what may be a new and wider war in the Middle East.

Gathering in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh were Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, newly crowned Saudi King Salman, and the organizer of the get-together, the emir of Qatar. The meeting was an opportunity for Turkey and Saudi Arabia to bury a hatchet over Ankara’s support — which Riyadh’s opposes — to the Muslim Brotherhood, and to agree to cooperate in overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

Taking Aim at Assad

The pact prioritized the defeat of the Damascus regime over the threat posed by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and aims to checkmate Iranian influence in the region. However, the Turks and the Saudis are not quite on the same page when it comes to Iran: Turkey sees future business opportunities when the sanctions against Tehran end, while Riyadh sees Iran as nothing but a major regional rival.

The Turkish-Saudi axis means that Turkish weapons, bomb making supplies, and intelligence — accompanied by lots of Saudi money — are openly flowing to extremist groups like the al-Qaeda associated Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, both now united in the so-called “Army of Conquest.”

The new alliance has created a certain amount of friction with the United States, which would also like to overthrow Assad but for the time being is focused on attacking the Islamic State and on inking a nuclear agreement with Iran.

This could change, however, because the Obama administration is divided on how deeply it wants to get entangled in Syria. If Washington decides to supply anti-aircraft weapons to the Army of Conquest, it will mean the United States has thrown in its lot with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — and that the “war on terror” is taking a backseat to regime change in Syria.

Not that the Americans are …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How Sam Brownback Gutted Kansas: Life Under Right-Wing Zealot

June 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Paul Rosenberg, Salon

Conservatives double-down on extremism as a state's economy continues to collapse.


WMDs in Iraq, death panels in Obamacare, widespread voter fraud in America, tax cuts that generate increased government revenue—these are all things that today’s soundbite conservative GOP base has fervently believed in which simply do not exist.

Belief in the first two have faded some with time, but in Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback, the second two are still going strong—even though Kansas is suffering a crippling budget deficit due to the simple fact that, whatever supply-side economics guru Art Laffer may claim, subtraction is not addition.

“Our new pro-growth tax policy will be like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” Brownback promised in 2012, when the tax cuts were first passed.

Brownback’s well-paid tax consultant, the legendary economist Laffer, promised Kansans that the cuts would pay for themselves in supercharged economic growth.  At the time, a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy showed that Laffer had things backward: over the previous decade, economic output per person had grown significantly faster in the nine states levying a “high rate” income tax than it had grown in the nine states with no income tax at all. Without the promised faster growth, there was simply no way that cutting taxes could bring in more revenue, they would only bring in mountains of debt, as Reagan had done nationally when he first took Laffer’s advice in 1981.

As Brownback’s tax-cutting fantasies predictable failed last year, there was a wave of hope that the state might change direction, by voting Brownback out. In March, a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities warned that “Kansas is a cautionary tale, not a model,” explaining that “As other states recover from the recent recession and turn toward the future, Kansas’ huge tax cuts have left that state’s schools and other public services stuck in the recession, and declining further — a serious threat to the state’s long-term economic vitality.

Meanwhile, promises of immediate economic improvement have utterly failed to materialize.” The damage was inescapable—in March, the State Supreme Court ruled, in Gannon …read more

Source: ALTERNET