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'This is a historic day': Legal marijuana arrives in New York

March 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith

On March 31, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed legislation that would immediately legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for persons 21 and older and set the stage for a taxed and regulated legal marijuana market in New York State.

In a tweet posted soon after signing the legislation, Cuomo said, “This is a historic day. I thank the Leader and Speaker and the tireless advocacy of so many.”

One day earlier, hours of debate in the New York State Senate ended with a 40-23 vote to approve the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (Senate Bill 854-A). The House followed up hours later, approving the bill with a 100-49 vote.

An embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo had reached an agreement with legislative leaders on the bill over the weekend.

Late on March 30, Cuomo said he was looking forward to signing the bill. “New York has a storied history of being the progressive capital of the nation, and this important legislation will once again carry on that legacy,” he was quoting saying, according to PIX11.

New York has become the 16th state to legalize marijuana and the third to do so through the legislative process. It is also the second most populous state to do so after California. And, along with legalization in New Jersey earlier this year, the Empire State’s decision to end its war on marijuana will undoubtedly add pressure on remaining neighboring pot prohibition states to get on the bandwagon.

Under the bill, people 21 and over will be able to possess up to 3 ounces and grow up to six plants, three of them mature. Past marijuana possession convictions will be automatically expunged. But legal sales will not commence until a state committee sets up rules and regulations for the nascent industry.

Keen recognition of racial injustice in the prosecution of the war on drugs guided legislators as they crafted their vision of progressive marijuana law reform. As a leading bill supporter, State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) enumerated in a statement after the legislation took final form the main features of the bill, which has a strong set of social equity provisions, including:

  • “Dedicating 40 percent of revenue to reinvestment in communities disproportionately impacted by the drug war, with 40 …read more

    Source: ALTERNET

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Rep. Matt Gaetz is trying to take Fox News' Tucker Carlson down with him

March 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Amanda Marcotte

I’m not a fan of pro wrestling so I have never watched two grown men simultaneously try to throw each other out of the ring. But having watched the entire interview Fox News host Tucker Carlson held with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., on Tuesday night, I now see the appeal. No one grabbed anyone by the shoulders — the two were not even in the same room — but it was nonetheless a riveting pas de deux of insinuation and attempted blackmail. It was a rare moment of comeuppance for two of the most ridiculous, yet sinister, figures in American politics, and impossible to look away from.

It was, in other words, great TV. And that is what Fox News is good at, turning politics into a campy wrestling match, devoid of meaningful content but full of stock characters locked in asinine conflicts. The network’s instinct for good TV has elevated figures like Gaetz, a spoiled mediocrity who, in another time, would simply be a faceless grifter warming the congressional seat Daddy bought him, at least until the feds caught up to him. In our era, though, his combination of bottomless self-confidence and a rich kid-honed skill at being a remorseless bully turned him into an aspirational figure for the Fox News audience, a role model for the trigger-the-liberals crowd.

But, as Carlson learned — with a chagrin he struggled to hide under his standard furrowed-brow fake concern face — the problem with prizing sociopathy in the people you elevate as figureheads is that often they turn their predatory gaze upon you. This is exactly what happened last night, when Gaetz, who the New York Times reports is under investigation in a federal sex trafficking probe involving a 17-year-old girl, decided that if he’s going down, his buddy Tucker was coming with him.

“You and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there, and I brought a friend of mine, you’ll remember her,” Gaetz said, rambling on about how his female friend was now supposedly being “threatened” by the FBI in a “pay-for-play scheme.”

Carlson quickly denied remembering any such female friend and acted confused. The audience, however, picked up on what Gaetz was laying down.

Watch the latest video at foxnews.com

Not that anyone should pity Carlson, who, along with the rest …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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New report reveals why Bill Barr didn't want to get caught anywhere with Matt Gaetz

March 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s name has been in the headlines a lot this week — not only in connection with an Axios report that he is considering leaving Congress to work as a pundit at Fox News competitor Newsmax TV, but also, in connection with two federal criminal investigations. And an article written by reporters Matt Dixon and Betsy Woodruff Swan and published by Politico this week explains why former U.S. Attorney General William Barr avoided being seen in public with Gaetz at one point in 2020.

Gaetz is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a broad sex trafficking probe, and one of the things being examined in that probe is allegations that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and paid her to travel with him across lines — which the congressman has vehemently denied. Gaetz has also claimed the FBI is investigating a related extortion plot that Gaetz and his father, former Florida State Senate President Don Gaetz, allege was organized by former federal prosecutor David McGee.

The Politico report points out that the investigation of Gaetz’s conduct began under the Trump administration, undercutting allegations that it’s driven merely by partisan bias.

In 2020, the Politico reporters add, “Then-U.S. Attorney General William Barr was briefed on the Gaetz probe and did not take issue with it, a source familiar with the matter told Politico. Barr and the Office of the Attorney General received multiple briefings on the Gaetz probe, beginning in the summer of 2020, a second person familiar with the probe said. They encouraged Florida prosecutors to move as quickly as they needed to and take whatever steps were appropriate.”

According to Dixon and Swan, Barr even avoided attending a GOP event because of Rep. Gaetz’s presence.

“The briefings were consistent with Barr’s memo requiring notification to department leadership on probes of candidates,” Dixon and Swan explain. “The briefing was important because — among other reasons — Barr didn’t want to accidentally appear anywhere with Gaetz, the person said. At one point, Barr was scheduled for a meet-and-greet with Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. But DOJ canceled his appearance at the event when they saw that Gaetz, a member of that committee, had RSVP’d for it.”

Don Gaetz discussed the other federal investigation — the one involving the alleged extortion …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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My Pillow guy rants about 'a very coordinated plan' to get Trump back in White House this summer

March 31, 2021 in Blogs

By The New Civil Rights Movement

MyPillow founder and far right wing Christian extremist Mike Lindell went on a rambling rant on the radio show of a Trump-supporting conservative Christian radio host to insist that his real audience for his claims Donald Trump actually won re-election are Democrats and the neighbors of the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I said Donald Trump will be in August, and I fully believe that myself. He’ll be back in” the White House, Lindell, as he has said before, told Eric Metaxas.

A devout Trump acolyte, Lindell has become one of the most outspoken purveyors of voter fraud lies, and insists that foreign interference led to Joe Biden fraudulently winning the White House. He claims that he has a tremendous amount of evidence to prove his conspiracy theories, but now is backing away from his recent claim that once the Supreme Court sees what he has to offer they will overturn the election and Trump will return to the White House.

“But I will tell you what the plan is the plan is this: Right now I’m launching that first documentary this week, tomorrow at noon. Then next week I’m launching ‘Absolute Interference.” The week after that we’re going to be launching ‘Absolute cover up.’”

“But, in a parallel track, all the evidence, that evidence now, we’ve checked out every IP address the IDs of the computers, we have everything that it just just came back yesterday, I’m so happy now it’s all we could right now, bring it to the Supreme Court, and they would go 9-0 this is turned down.”

“The reason we’re not” bringing this evidence to the Supreme Court, Lindell claims, “the reason we’re not everybody is because we’ve got some bad people on the Supreme Court that don’t want to look at cases, and we have bad judges in this country that don’t want to look at stuff.”

“So what I decided to do this as Mike Lindell now is I’m going to over the course of the next five weeks, four to five weeks, I’m going to dump all this evidence for all to see every day on my new platform Frank, where the world can’t suppress it, where every single person, my audience I believe is a Democrat, just a Democrat that goes, ‘Wow. China attacked us, this came in, it’s foreign interference, they came in and stole this election through …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Airline CEO slams Georgia’s 'unacceptable' voter suppression law as inconsistent with 'Delta’s values'

March 31, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

One of the ways in which Democrats are attacking Georgia Republicans in response to the voter suppression bill that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp recently signed into law is by reaching out to Corporate America and trying to show that voter suppression is bad for business. And one corporate CEO who has come out against Georgia’s law is Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian, who attacked it in a memo published this week.

Bastian, addressing his colleagues at the Atlanta-based company, wrote, “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.”

In a variety of ways, the law makes it more difficult to vote — from making it harder to obtain an absentee ballot to reducing voting hours. An especially mean-spirited part of the law, which President Joe Biden has slammed as “Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” is a prohibition on giving food or water to someone waiting in line to vote.

Bastian wrote: “After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it’s evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong.”

Kemp has denied that the law is a form of voter suppression, claiming that it is merely designed to promote secure and fraud-free elections. But Bastian believes that the law was passed in response to a major lie: that former President Donald Trump was a victim of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. That lie has been totally debunked by elections officials and security experts. In a statement released on November 12, officials for the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency declared, “The November 3 election was the most secure in American history.”

In his memo to others at Delta, Bastian wrote, “The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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8 Groundbreaking Contributions of Asian Americans Through History

March 31, 2021 in History

By Elizabeth Yuko

From disease cures to influential tech to workers’ rights, Asian American contributions have made huge impacts on people’s lives.

Though the .

In 1972, the Sue brothers founded the Asian American Psychological Association—one year after writing a seminal paper on Chinese American personality. “Derald W. Sue is best known for his work on multicultural counseling and racial microaggression, and Stanley Sue is best known for his work on cultural competence in psychotherapy with Asian Americans and ethnic minorities,” Okazaki explains.

The USB

Intel Chief I/O architect Ajay Bhatt, co-inventor of USB and PCI Express, photographed at Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon, June 25, 2009.

Although Indian American computer architect Ajay Bhatt had a hand in developing a range of computer-related technologies, the one he’s best known for is the Universal Serial Bus—better known as the USB. After emerging on the tech scene in the late 1990s, the USB became one of the most popular ways of transferring data from one device to another. The invention elevated Bhatt to celebrity-status in the computer world.

“I was totally surprised by how it has impacted everybody,” Bhatt told CNN in a 2013 interview. “I mean, my name became a common name—at least at schools and in technical communities. I truly get a rock star treatment and that is quite unusual to me—people asking for your signature, people asking for your picture.”

YouTube


Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube, Inc., poses for a photograph at the Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul, South Korea, March 27, 2013.

Two widely publicized but very different events from 2004—Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl, and the deadly tsunami that ripped through parts of Asia—gave Jawed Karim the idea for a video-sharing site. Along with Karim, a Bangladeshi-German American, the core team behind YouTube included Taiwanese American Steven Chen, as well as Pennsylvania native Chad Hurley. What started out as a way of watching and sharing funny cat videos grew into a much broader platform that captures the attention of billions of people every day.

Functional Cure for HIV-Positive Infants

Throughout her 30-year career, Filipino American physician and pediatric immunologist Katherine Luzuriaga, M.D., has made significant contributions to our understanding of persistent viral infections in children. In addition to developing one of the early diagnostic tests for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in children, Luzuriaga also conducted clinical research into antiretroviral therapies (ART) …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Did William Henry Harrison Really Die From Pneumonia?

March 31, 2021 in History

By Christopher Klein

Research suggests the ninth U.S. president may not have caught a deadly case of pneumonia after his long-winded inaugural address.

It’s common wisdom that

Access hundreds of hours of historical video, commercial free, with HISTORY Vault. Start your free trial today.

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Matt Gaetz gives a bizarre answer to allegations that he's being investigated for suspected sex trafficking

March 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz is under investigation for potentially violating sex trafficking laws, according to a new report Tuesday from the New York Times.

Officials are reportedly investigating his relationship with a 17-year-old girl and whether he had sex with her and paid for her to take take trips with him. It is a federal crime to use money to get an underage person to cross state lines for sexual purposes.

“It was not clear how Mr. Gaetz met the girl, believed to be 17 at the time of encounters about two years ago that investigators are scrutinizing, according to two of the people,” the report said. “The investigation was opened in the final months of the Trump administration under Attorney General William P. Barr, the two people said. Given Mr. Gaetz’s national profile, senior Justice Department officials in Washington — including some appointed by Mr. Trump — were notified of the investigation, the people said.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Axios had reported that Gaetz has considered stepping down from Congress early to join the right-wing outlet Newsmax. It’s not clear if such considerations are related to the investigation reported by the Times.

The Times reported that the investigation of Gaetz grew out from a “broader investigation into a political ally of his, a local official in Florida named Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on an array of charges, including sex trafficking of a child and financially supporting people in exchange for sex, at least one of whom was an underage girl.”

Greenberg shared a picture on Twitter with Gaetz at the White House in June 2019, as the Times pointed out. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Gaetz gave a bizarre and puzzling response to the Times when asked about the case, seeming to confirm at least some parts of the report:

Mr. Gaetz said in an interview that his lawyers had been in touch with the Justice Department and that they were told he was the subject, not the target, of an investigation. “I only know that it has to do with women,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

After this piece and the Times story were initially published, Gaetz gave more extended …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The grim truth about Biden's plan for the border

March 30, 2021 in Blogs

By TomDispatch

Joe Biden entered the White House with some inspiring yet contradictory positions on immigration and Central America. He promised to reverse Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies while, through his “Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America,” restoring “U.S. leadership in the region” that he claimed Trump had abandoned. For Central Americans, though, such “leadership” has an ominous ring.

Although the second half of his plan’s name does, in fact, echo that of left-wing, grassroots organizations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), its content highlights a version of security and prosperity in that region that’s more Cold War-like than CISPES-like. Instead of solidarity (or even partnership) with Central America, Biden’s plan actually promotes an old economic development model that has long benefited U.S. corporations. It also aims to impose a distinctly militarized version of “security” on the people of that region. In addition, it focuses on enlisting Central American governments and, in particular, their militaries to contain migration through the use of repression.

Linking Immigration and Foreign Policy

The clearest statement of the president’s Central America goals appears in his “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021,” sent to Congress on January 20th. That proposal offers a sweeping set of changes aimed at eliminating President Trump’s racist exclusions, restoring rights to asylum, and opening a path to legal status and citizenship for the immigrant population. After the anti-immigrant barrage of the last four years, that proposal seems worth celebrating. It follows in the footsteps of previous bipartisan “comprehensive” compromises like the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and a failed 2013 immigration bill, both of which included a path to citizenship for many undocumented people, while dedicating significant resources to border “security.”

Read closely, a significant portion of Biden’s immigration proposal focuses on the premise that addressing the root causes of Central America’s problems will reduce the flow of immigrants to the U.S. border. In its own words, the Biden plan promises to promote “the rule of law, security, and economic development in Central America” in order to “address the key factors” contributing to emigration. Buried in its fuzzy language, however, are long-standing bipartisan Washington goals that should sound familiar to those who have been paying attention in these years.

Their essence: that millions of dollars in “aid” money should be …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Her name should live in infamy': Conservative writer slams Dr. Birx for whitewashing her Trump support

March 30, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

During a recent interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Deborah Birx discussed some of the difficulties of being on Donald Trump’s White House coronavirus task force in 2020 — when she avoided being openly critical of the then-president despite her frustration. Never Trump conservative Jonathan V. Last discusses that interview this week in his column for The Bulwark, arguing that she didn’t do the United States any favor by keeping quiet when she wanted to speak out.

Birx, during the CNN interview, recalled a “very uncomfortable conversation” with Trump — who often downplayed the pandemic’s severity during his final year in office. And she told Gupta that the COVID-19 death count in the U.S. “could have been mitigated or decreased substantially” if Trump’s administration had taken different actions.

Birx’s defenders have argued that by not being openly critical of Trump in 2020, she increased her chances of remaining on the task force — as speaking out more forcefully would have gotten her fired. And, the argument goes, Birx’s expertise was more useful on the inside than it would have been on the outside. But Last believes that Birx did more harm than good by keeping quiet.


Dr. Birx drops bombshell about US Covid-19 deaths

youtu.be

“I understand the idea that, in an imperfect world, sometimes you have to compromise yourself,” Last writes. “Sometimes, you find that you can do more good working within the system. That’s the impulse that motivated Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster and a bunch of other people who took high-level jobs in the Trump administration.”

The conservative columnist adds, “I can understand the argument that, by standing his ground and daring Trump to fire him, (Dr. Anthony) Fauci was taking a wise course of action. I get that. But whatever Birx was doing, she was also aiding and abetting Trump.”

Last includes some video of Birx from 2020 — and in those clips, Last writes, it’s obvious that Birx’s efforts to remain in Trump’s good graces only had the effect of encouraging his failed COVID-19 response and covering up his blunders.