Feds barred from prosecuting medical marijuana cases

A federal appeals court has banned the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana cases if no state laws were broken.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the federal agency to show that 10 pending cases in California and Washington state violated medical marijuana laws in those states before continuing with prosecutions…

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but Congress has barred the Justice Department from spending money to prevent states from regulating the use or sale of medical pot.

Federal prosecutors argued unsuccessfully that Congress meant only to bar the department from taking legal action against states and that it could still prosecute individuals who violate federal marijuana laws. The court rejected that, saying that medical marijuana-based prosecutions prevent the states from giving full effect to their own measures…

Federal prosecutors could ask the 9th Circuit to reconsider the case or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue. Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said officials are still reviewing the decision.

Marijuana activists and lawyers representing medical pot suppliers say the ruling is a significant addition to the growing support for broad legalization of the drug. Marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use in 25 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, ten states have marijuana legalizations measures on the November ballot…

Hey, it’s a HUGE election year. So, we have at least four choices among the two old parties: Liberals who support freedom to choose to partake of Freedom Weed; Liberals who fear the religious conservatives in their district and will cop out as usual; Conservatives enlightened sufficiently to consult scientists and physicians on matters of the Demon Weed; Conservatives in bed with every demented religious fundamentalist who promises to deliver a churchload of votes – and forgiveness for decades of corruption and fraud.

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Live in the US? Rejoice! You’re free to pay too much for prescription drugs

Why does the US pay more for prescription drugs than any other country? Monopolies and a government that can’t negotiate, scientists said in a paper that may provide ammunition for lawmakers aiming to lower drug costs.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School dug through medical and health policy papers published in the last 10 years to figure out why people in the US spent almost twice as much on prescription drugs in 2013 compared to 19 other industrialized nations — and why prices are still going up. They found that FDA regulations and patents protect drug companies from competition, and federal law prevents Medicare from negotiating drug prices. All of which work together to allow drug companies to set their own prices…

Aaron Kesselheim and his colleagues propose a number of solutions. Those include giving Medicare the power to negotiate prices, as well as removing some of the regulations that keep generics from speedily entering the market. The authors also suggest educating payers, providers, and patients about how effective competing treatments are, and having pharmacies automatically substitute cheaper generic drugs for pricey brand name prescriptions…

But Kesselheim thinks allowing Medicare to negotiate is small potatoes compared to making sure there’s competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace.

The JAMA paper describes two forms of legal protection that give brand name pharmaceuticals an effective monopoly. The first is exclusivity granted by the FDA that gives new small molecule drugs and biologics windows of five to seven years and 12 years, respectively, before generic versions can be sold. And patents can protect the active ingredient and chemical structure of a drug — as well as less fundamental aspects like its formulation and coating — for 20 years or more. Generic manufacturers can sue to challenge these patents, but in a practice called pay for delay, big name pharma companies settle the suits and pay generics manufacturers to wait it out until the patent expires…

Along those lines, Amy Klobuchar — the senator who called for an investigation into EpiPen price hikes — is co-sponsoring several bills that could, if they passed, help increase competition in the pharmaceutical marketplace by enabling Medicare price negotiation, allowing patients to import pharmaceuticals from Canada, and preventing pharmaceutical companies from blocking generics entering the marketplace.

And as the final healthcare professional interviewed for the article noted – all these remedies can and should be applied to the whole range of price-gouging we face as captive consumers in a nation where our politicians are owned by lobbyists.

OK. I added that last phrase.

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Celtic fans raise money for Palestinian charities after protest — UEFA suits want to fine the football club

Celtic fans support Palestine
Click to enlargeRussell Cheyne/Reuters

UEFA began disciplinary proceedings against Celtic last week after a number of fans displayed Palestinian flags during their 5-2 home victory against Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva in a Champions League qualifier. In an attempt to match an impending UEFA fine for displaying the flags, supporters of the Glasgow club have exceeded their initial target of raising £15,000 for Palestinian charities.

Since UEFA’s threat against the club went viral, supporters have now raised over £140,000 for Palestinian charities. Here’s the link if you wish to donate.

The Green Brigade group of supporters set up an appeal on the gofundme website on Sunday to match the anticipated fine. The fans are raising money for Medical Aid Palestine, which delivers health and medical care to those “worst affected by conflict, occupation and displacement,” and the Lajee Centre, a cultural and sports project for children in Aida refugee camp, in Bethlehem.

BTW, the away leg was played in Israel, this week, and though Hapoel won the match, aggregate score gave victory to Celtic. Hapoel is now out of the tournament. In Israel’s “traditional spirit of fair play”, they limited the number of Celtic supporters allowed to attend the match to 250. They were searched by police before entering the stadium and threatened with arrest if they demonstrated support for Palestinians during the match.

#matchthefineforpalestine

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Moored at sea, generating electricity off the island of Texel


Click to enlargeDamen

Taking just six months from the drawing board to realisation, the BlueTEC Texel tidal energy platform was installed in the summer of 2015 and is operating off the island of Texel in the Netherlands. The prototype is producing electricity from the tides into the local grid.

BlueTEC Modular was designed by Damen to be transported and installed all over in the world to provide clean energy in remote areas and small islands, replacing diesel generators.

Just before the end of 2015, the platform was fitted with a more powerful Tocardo T2 turbine and, in early 2016, the platform was commissioned with a larger T2 tidal turbine. Currently the platform generates clean electricity from the tides in the Wadden Sea of The Netherlands.

Six months start-to-finish. Replacing a diesel-powered generator. How long do you think this would take to design, approve through local, state and federal government, construct and put in place — here in the GOUSA?

Uh-huh.

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Montana city asks residents to limit water use to help coal-fired power company — WTF?


Click to enlargeBilling Gazette

Residents of an eastern Montana city are being asked to limit their water use so one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. can continue to safely operate.

Colstrip Mayor John Williams asked the city’s 2,300 residents to minimize their use of water for sprinkling and irrigation through the end of August.

The notice came at the request of Talen Energy, a Pennsylvania company that operates the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip power plant.

Williams says low water levels and high temperatures have been causing problems with Talen’s water intake system on the Yellowstone River.

The company uses the water to cool its plant. It also provides water for the city under a longstanding agreement.

Talen spokesman Todd Martin said Tuesday there is no danger of the plant shutting down.

No danger of a shutdown till folks get bright enough to make the connection between climate change and the power plant needing more water. “Safely operate” means safe for profits to keep flowing.

Thanks, nikiv

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Are millennials living with mom and dad in your state?

Young adults, often unable to find good jobs, even with a college education, are increasingly staying with their parents…

Almost a third of young adults — 18 to 34 — lived with a parent in 2014, making it the most common living arrangement for that age group for the first time in modern history, according to a study published earlier this year by the Pew Research Center…

Multiple reasons are behind the trend, lingering effects of the Great Recession, high housing costs and student debt among them. Whatever the causes, millennials in some states are living with their parents in far greater numbers than in others.

In New Jersey, a whopping 43.9 percent of young people are living with at least one parent, according to a Stateline analysis of 2014 census data from IPUMS at the University of Minnesota. Connecticut (38.8 percent) was second and New York (37.4 percent) was third, followed by Florida (37.2 percent) and California (36.7 percent).

States with the fewest young people living with a parent were North Dakota (15.6 percent), Wyoming (18.7 percent), South Dakota (19.7 percent) and Nebraska and Iowa (both 20.7 percent).

In New York City and surrounding states, scarce and expensive rental housing is a major factor pushing young adults to return home, said Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California…

Full nests are also prevalent in other areas where renters are severely burdened by housing costs of more than half of their income, such as Los Angeles, Miami and Orlando.

The high cost of homeownership is also a factor. Renters who might otherwise be homeowners end up renting longer, tying up the supply for those coming up behind them…

Millennials are the most educated generation ever. But in areas where housing is extraordinarily expensive, a college degree is not necessarily a ticket out of your childhood bedroom…

But financial stress may be only part of the story. More young people were living with their parents even before the Great Recession hit. Some see cultural factors at work…

Resurgent ethnic traditions may be another factor: In the New York metropolitan area, most adult children of Italian heritage live with parents…

In the New York area, “co-residence” rates are also high for people with Irish, Dominican, Puerto Rican and African-American roots…

And underemployment among young people…who can’t find the work they trained for, is also a factor, said Christopher McCarty, director of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Florida’s official unemployment rate is 5 percent. But McCarty points out that 10.6 percent of workers are unemployed or underemployed, with low-paid jobs they are overqualified for or part-time jobs when they would rather work full-time.

Whatever the reasons, change is often difficult for the families involved, parents and children alike. Some of this brings smiles, scripts for TV sitcoms. Some of it can end in explosive differences, exaggerated intrafamily conflict.

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Facebook now tags you by your politics — it’s how they sell you to advertisers, of course

Whether users are outspoken or not regarding their political views on their Facebook posts, the social network will still label them as either liberal, moderate or conservative.

Facebook has come up with a system to determine a user’s political leanings, based on his or her activity on the social network. The labels are not hidden from users, though, as they can be checked by accessing an account’s advertising preferences on Facebook.

On a browser, users should visit a specific Facebook page containing their ad preferences. They should then choose the Lifestyle and Culture tab under the Interests header and then look for a box labelled US Politics. If it is not there, clicking on the See More button should bring it up.

The label for a user’s political views will be shown in parentheses as liberal, moderate or conservative. Like all the other ad preferences on the page, it can be removed by clicking the X button in the top right corner, in case users are not comfortable with being tagged with such a label for their political leanings…

…The process is likely based on the user’s interests that somehow correlate with political views…but up to what extent and which interests exactly are unknown.

Facebook has been collecting information on its users for years, with all of what the social networks knows about each user accessible through the Ad Preferences page.

Little boxes, little boxes. Everyone making money off your cyberlife loves to put you into little boxes. Packaged all tidy, labeled to fit the crap definitions of a consumerist society – you’re crammed into a larger box of same-as-everyone-else they think you are.

Silly buggers.

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The Ticket whose names may not be uttered aloud

The ultimate Tea Party presidential ticket.

Hat tip to Ian Bremmer

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Of course, cockroaches aren’t too worried about climate change

As the planet warms, insects will migrate into new habitats and environments as they adapt…For some insight into the not-so-humble cockroach and its future, Nexus Media News reached out to journalist Richard Schweid, author of The Cockroach Papers: A Compendium of History and Lore.

Public perception is that cockroaches would survive a nuclear holocaust (though the science on that has been mixed), but are they thriving in a warming planet?

Whether or not cockroaches would survive a nuclear holocaust depends on the level of radiation released, of course. They were reported to have survived the blasts at Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s grounds zero. What is certain is that they can survive substantially higher doses of radiation than Homo sapiens. What’s more, if both species face extinction, it’s a pretty sure bet that we’ll disappear before the roaches will, regardless of whether the cause is radiation, climate change, or some other, as of yet unimagined threat to our fragile existence.

Roaches are designed for survival; compared to them we are barely hanging on. So, unless climate change is reversed, we may be heading toward a planet where cockroaches are the dominant species, thriving and multiplying in a world where humans were a blip on the geological timeline and roaches have inherited the earth. They were here before us, and unless we pay closer attention to how we treat our world, they will inherit it…

What traits have allowed roaches to adapt to a dynamic world?

The cockroach is one of evolution’s grand success stories, a wholly admirable design for survival of a species. It can and will eat anything apart, it is said, from cucumbers.

What they will eat and metabolize ranges from book-binding glue to human feces, dead skin and toenails, to rotten anything-at-all. Those that live far from humans are able to eat whatever their world provides — presumably — from rotting trees to dead animals.

What’s more, cockroach species seem to mutate readily in order to protect themselves.

RTFA. Amusing, scientifically accurate. Perhaps providing additional motivation for you to nudge the political animals in our government most closely resembling cockroaches. You do understand that the pimps for fossil fuel barons and other climate change deniers are certain they are assured immortality.

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Applications for unemployment benefits stay below 300K


We could always go back to Republican solutions

Slightly fewer people filed for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a sign the American job market remains healthy.

THE NUMBERS: The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for jobless aid slipped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 261,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped by 1,250 to 264,000. Overall, the number of people receiving unemployment checks fell by 30,000 to 2.15 million, down 5 percent from a year earlier.

THE TAKEAWAY: Applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have remained below 300,000 for 77 straight weeks, longest streak since 1970. The current reading is even more impressive because the population has grown considerably since then…

KEY DRIVERS: The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.9 percent. Employers added 255,000 jobs in July and 292,000 in June.

Solid hiring amid slow growth is worrisome. It shows that the economy is less productive, with more workers needed to produce the same or slightly more output. Productivity, or the amount of output per hour, has dropped 0.4 percent over the past year.

Discussions about productivity are like the newly hot topic of the value of GDP analysis. Becoming the signal statistic after World War 2, the US economy has been dramatically altered by time, technology, inevitable globalization and political pimps to the military-industrial complex.

I wouldn’t even post about this topic – boring you to semi-consciousness – except the populist pimp hisself keeps throwing it out as evidence of dastardly plots by Progressives, Liberals and banks that won’t re-mortgage Trump Towers.

Fact remains that since the Bush’s Great Recession, Obama’s halfway-competent utilization of modern economics to whip Congress into motion – followed by simple and simplistic nudges from the Fed – have kept our dullish economy functioning better than most in the Western World. 77 straight weeks of sub-300K unemployment applications speaks to that point.

The inevitable whine about rigged numbers from Trumpkins is hilarious – since the essentials haven’t been altered since the days of Nixon who was responsible for criminal manipulation as often was his wont.

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