Category: Justice

High Time to repeal Prohibition, again!

NY TIMES Editorial

It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol.

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana.

We reached that conclusion after a great deal of discussion among the members of The Times’s Editorial Board, inspired by a rapidly growing movement among the states to reform marijuana laws…

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide…

We recognize that this Congress is as unlikely to take action on marijuana as it has been on other big issues. But it is long past time to repeal this version of Prohibition.

Nice to see someone as safe and stodgy as the NY TIMES get off their rusty-dusty on questions about marijuana. And it’s worth a smile reading their comment about no expectations of this Congress doing anything about legalization – since they’re incapable of addressing any other national priorities either.

A worthwhile sign of the times we live in – a time when citizens in general are marching light-years ahead of politicians in Congress and even local and state politicians can be pushed into voting for somewhat sensible regulation of America’s favorite weed.

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Israelis shell a UN emergency shelter — kills 15, injures 200


This is how Israel brings Western democracy to the Middle eastMichael Longari/AFP/Getty Images

At least 15 people have been reported killed and 200 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza which was being used as a shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside…

In an interview with Al Jazeera Chris Gunness, the spokesman for UNRWA, the UN’s humanitarian organisation in Gaza, said his organisation had been in contact with Israeli forces as fighting closed in on the shelter.

“We gave the Israelis the precise GPS co-ordinates of the Beit Hanoun shelter. We were trying to co-ordinate a window [for evacuation] and that was never granted…”

He called the attack “tragic and appalling”…

Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed.

This is a designated emergency shelter,” he said. “The location was conveyed to the Israelis.

“This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.

Thoughtful, concerned citizens of many nations want a UN investigation into Israeli war crimes like this and others. Of course, that doesn’t include representatives from the United States government. It really doesn’t matter how many civilians are killed by Israel’s military – to Congress, the White House, to the less-than-courageous journalists of the center and right mass media.

It has never mattered to the Israeli government or their kriegsmaschine.

It takes the Great State of Arizona 2 hours to finish killing Joe Wood

A convicted killer gasped on the gurney as the state of Arizona attempted to execute him on Wednesday, before being declared dead almost two hours after the process began.

Lawyers for Joseph Wood attempted to halt the execution in an emergency court motion, saying he had been “gasping and snorting for more than an hour”. The state attorney general announced Wood had died before the court could rule on the motion.

The developments echoed the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed and groaned on a gurney for nearly 45 minutes before eventually dying of a heart attack. The two-hour process in Wood’s case appeared certain to revive the arguments surrounding the death penalty in the US, as a shortage of execution drugs has forced states to use untried methods and unregulated drugs.

The office of the Arizona attorney general, Tom Horne, said Wood was pronounced dead at 3.49 pm local time, one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started…

The hours leading up to the execution were marked by a frenzied legal battle over the secrecy imposed by state officials on the source of the drugs. It was put on hold several times – first by a federal appeals court, then by the state supreme court of Arizona – only to have the stays lifted and the procedure go ahead.

One reason folks here in the Southwest call Arizona the Mississippi of the West is their politicians share that Southern Stalwart’s contempt for the value of any human life. Apparently an attribute shared by the folks who elect and re-elect the creeps running the state government and many of the flavors of incarceration much beloved of Old Testament ideologues.

Frankly, as a fiscal conservative, I oppose the death penalty for 99% of the cases it involves. It simply costs less to sentence a villain to life without parole. Even in a state like Arizona almost wholly in bed with for-profit prisons.

Some terrible tips for women courtesy of 19th Century Fox

FoxBullshit

Fox & Friends…recently produced a litany of advice for young women that could have been ripped from the pages of a 1950s home economics textbook. Here are a few of the most egregious examples of Fox-approved tips for women:

“Don’t talk too much.”

Over the course of the interview with Hewlett, women are told to “keep their voices down” and avoid “talking too much” no less than four times… Call this the anti-Sheryl Sandberg mantra. Instead of asserting their right to actively participate in workplace discussions, women should refrain from “dominating” the conversation and be sure to monitor the volume and tone of their voices…

“Keep your husband happy.”

In the depressingly simple world of “Princeton Mom” Susan Patton, marriage is the be-all, end-all goal for women. Once you’ve found a husband, your job is to do everything in your power to nurture and care for him, making sure his needs are being met. Even though women comprise 47 percent of the US labor force, and 73 percent of working women hold full-time jobs, it is still, for some bizarre reason, their responsibility to offer their husbands a drink and cook them a meal at the end of the work day.

Never mind that women also spend almost twice as much time as their spouses on childcare each week. Fox’s hosts happily reinforced this sexist message, with Doocy asking Patton “When did it happen when men and husbands became doormats?” Because we all know asking a man to help out around the house or cook dinner is the pinnacle of emasculation. Even more disturbingly, Patton warns against ending relationships that aren’t working out because of “how difficult it would be to replace him.”…

RTFA for more – you’ll have to decide whether to laugh or barf.

19th Century Fox says: don’t talk, look pretty, focus on your family, don’t push for equal rights, and care for your husband. Stupid or ignorant? Your choice!

Thanks, SmartAlix

Atheist freed from Nigerian psychiatric hospital – because of doctor’s strike!

A Nigerian man detained in a hospital psychiatric ward because he did not believe in God has been freed.

Mubarak Bala was released because of a doctors’ strike which has seen many patients discharged, a charity said.

Mr Bala said he now wanted to reconcile with his family who committed him to the hospital in Kano where he says he was held against his will for 18 days.

But he said he wanted to leave the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria after receiving death threats.

A humanist charity which took up his case said that Mr Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, was freed on Tuesday but news of his release was not made public until he was in a secure location.

“There are still deep concerns for Mubarak’s safety in a part of the country where accusations of ‘apostasy’ can be deadly,” the International Humanist and Ethical Union said…

In a statement released on Friday, Mr Bala said he was now staying with some of his family, had been assured of his safety and wanted to put things behind him “for the sake of reconciliation”…

He said he retracted “some derogatory remarks I have made online, out of anger”.

His lawyer, Muhammad Bello Shehu, told the BBC Hausa Service this did not refer to his faith but to remarks he had made about his father who he accused of being an Islamic leader who could not afford to have a non-Muslim in the family.

After the 29-year-old was admitted to a psychiatric ward at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, he sought help from friends via email and social media until his phone was confiscated, according to IHEU.

Mr Shehu said that no further legal action would be taken but that Mr Bala wanted another doctor to evaluate him to put it on the record that he was not suffering from a mental illness as the hospital has concluded.

Good thing we live in a modern country where there is separation of church and state.

Oh.

Blimp flies over NSA data centre protesting our secret police

anti-nsa blimp
Click to enlarge

Activists flew a blimp emblazoned with the words “Illegal Spying Below” over the National Security Agency’s data centre in Utah on Friday in protest against the US government’s mass surveillance programmes.

The one-hour flight was carried out by the environmental group Greenpeace, digital rights activists the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a conservative political organisation, the Tenth Amendment Centre.

The 41 metre blimp, owned by Greenpeace, was adorned with a sign that read “NSA Illegal Spying Below”.

In an email to Reuters the agency declined to comment. But a spokesman did note there was no restricted airspace over the data centre, housed on the grounds of the Utah National Guard’s Camp Williams in Bluffdale, 23 miles (37km) south of Salt Lake City.

The NSA says the facility provides the government with intelligence and warnings about cyber security threats. It is thought to be the agency’s largest data storage centre.

The blimp protest coincided with the launch of an online campaign that rates members of Congress on actions the activists say either further or stop data collection efforts by the NSA…

It’s right pleasing to an old activist like me to see an issue of human rights and privacy carry across ideological boundaries. The only one of the three groups that put this protest together that I’d ever find myself sharing a song together with – would be the EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The occasion is not one for differences but common ground. That being a government that has marched away from the heart of the constitution that is the foundation of this nation. Maybe they tip-toed because they didn’t want us to hear what they were doing. A whistleblower named Edward Snowden took care of that.

Here’s a link to the website they were advertising with their flight. I hope it moves the cause of privacy forward, aids in bringing back the intent of a democratic United States of America.