Feds ready to criminalize Salvia since they know little about it.

Today, this mind-altering member of the mint family is broadly available for lawful sale online and in head shops across the United States. Though older Americans typically have never heard of salvia, the psychoactive sage has become something of a phenomenon among this country’s thrill-seeking youth.

More than 5,000 YouTube videos — equal parts “Jackass” and “Up in Smoke” — document their journeys into rubber-legged incoherence. Yet these very images that have helped popularize salvia may also hasten its demise and undermine the promising research into its possible medical uses.

Pharmacologists who believe salvia could open new frontiers for the treatment of addiction, depression and pain fear that its criminalization would make it burdensome to obtain and store the plant, and difficult to gain government permission for tests on human subjects. In state after state, however, including Texas, the YouTube videos have become Exhibit A in legislative efforts to regulate salvia. This year, Florida made possession or sale a felony punishable by 15 years in prison. California took a gentler approach by making it a misdemeanor to sell or distribute to minors…
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Thai court ousts PM because they don’t approve of his cooking

A Thai court has ordered the prime minister to quit for hosting TV cooking shows, but his party said it would re-elect him within the week and protesters vowed to keep up a campaign that has paralyzed the government.

Analysts said the guilty verdict should have provided at least a stop-gap solution to the crisis, but the likelihood of the stalemate dragging on for months will almost certainly take a further toll on Thailand’s financial markets.

Within minutes, the ruling People Power Party (PPP) brushed off the verdict and said it wanted parliament to meet on Friday to re-elect the 73-year-old as prime minister.

Protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who accuse Samak of being a puppet of Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted as premier by the army in a 2006 coup, said they would not move from Government House, where they have barricaded themselves for two weeks…

The PAD, a mix of royalist businessmen, academics and activists united by their hatred of Thaksin, had hoped to bury Samak with the conflict of interest charges…

Another sad example of a former colonial property retaining all the worst of their former oppressors: monarchy, corruption, military always at hand to “sort” elections.

Democracy may be a frustrating taskmaster. It’s still our last best chance for freedom.

Fannie/Freddie CEOs get golden parachutes – you pay for ’em!


Syron & Mudd – the dangerous duo

Taxpayers are now on the hook for tens of billions of dollars of capital necessary to save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The CEOs of both companies–the ones who ran them into the ground–have thankfully been shown the door. But they’re taking a nice pot of money with them.

Specifically, Dan Mudd, the CEO of Fannie Mae, is getting $9.3 million of severance for destroying his company. Richard Syron, the CEO of Freddie Mac, is getting $14.1 million–in part because of a clause he added to his employment contract two months ago, when it was clear the company was headed for disaster…

The severance money comes right out of the pockets of taxpayers, who didn’t agree to the severance deals and aren’t ponying up to save the companies because they want to. Taxpayers are saving Fannie and Freddie because they have to–because Mudd and Syron were incompetent.

Incompetent”? Is that too harsh? Absolutely not. Both men gambled big and lost bigger. The fact that they may not have appreciated how big a risk they were taking is no defense: If they didn’t, they should have.

Both Mudd and Syron chose to run their companies at an astronomical level of leverage, borrowing more than $50 for every $1 they put to work. Why? Because, in the good years, the companies made more money than they would have had they been levered, say, 20-to-1. Just because a housing crash of the current magnitude hasn’t happened since the 1930s doesn’t mean Mudd and Syron shouldn’t have guarded against it. Instead, they chose not to, and the companies–and shareholders and taxpayers–have paid the price.

They should be forced to take what shareholders in the companies are getting: nada, nothing, nuttin’ honey…

Thanks, Justin

Dumb crooks of the month – so far!

Two Wilmington residents are in jail, accused of trying to extort $40 from a woman in exchange for her stolen car.

The owner of the car received a phone call from a man who told her he had her vehicle and if she paid him, he would return the car, according to a Wilmington Police Department release. The woman agreed to meet the man at Water and Dock streets so she could get her car back.

Anthony Antwan Mallette, 30, and Capria Kibibi Rouser, 28, both of Wilmington, were in the stolen car – with Mallette driving – when it arrived at Water and Dock streets at 7:34 p.m. Saturday.

As Mallette and Rouser attempted to exchange the car for cash, they were taken into custody by police.

The suspects obtained the victim’s phone number from paperwork in the vehicle, said police spokeswoman Lucy Crockett.

So, at least they can read numbers.

The article didn’t describe the car; but, I guess it wasn’t a Mercedes.

Infant abductions increasing everywhere except health care facilities

After 23 years of data collection, a report showed that while the number of abductions in hospital settings dramatically declined, those from private homes and public places have increased in incidence. Among private home and public place abductions, there has also been an increase in violence and lower infant recovery rates…

Since 1992, a higher proportion of infants taken from health care facilities have been recovered quickly; however, the recovery rate was lower among infants abducted from non-health care locations, in both the earlier and later periods. Although most abductors first target health care facilities, trends that might reflect the shift in the abduction site from health care facilities to homes include the significant increase in parental injuries and the increased involvement of weapons…

The article categorizes several differences between abductions in health care and no-health care contexts.

One interesting conclusion is that better education about the danger of infant abduction has played a role in shifting scenarios for kidnapping. Administrators and facility staff do a better job at security. The nutballs who snatch babies adapt their efforts to match.

Plastic Logic’s e-reader is thin, simple and strong

Why would you want an Amazon Kindle, which is kind of bulky, not too attractive, and of limited scope when you could have a real digital document reader that is thin, easy to use, and very strong? That’s the business case from Plastic Logic, one of the first companies to be on stage at DemoFall.

The company’s plastic reader is designed to store dozens or hundreds of business documents on a very thin digital reader. It can store e-books, magazines, newspapers, PDFs and all kinds of information, the company said.

It’s made with plastic, not glass, meaning that it is designed to be strong and to be able to stand up to being hit with objects or, presumably, even dropped.

It looks pretty cool, and is said to weigh only ounces, “not pounds,” has a battery that lasts days and can be read in bright daylight.

Production starts soon and I guess they’ll come up with a name for the critter that won’t be too dumb.

It certainly has an easier form factor [for me] to deal with compared to existing devices.

Hungry Girl-approved noodles are taking over the diet aisle

Spaghetti-shaped noodles made of tofu and yam flour – and packed in water in a refrigerated plastic bag – have rather suddenly started showing up in U.S. grocery produce aisles.

They smell sort of odd and look a bit curious (at least to American eyes), yet there has been a rise in demand. It traces directly to a small but growing diet franchise run by Lisa Lillien, better known to calorie-counters as the obsessive food lover behind the Hungry Girl Web site, recipe book and e-mail newsletter.

With only 40 calories in a bag weighing 8 ounces, or 225 grams, Tofu Shirataki noodles are a favorite product of Lillien, who has put her Hungry Girl seal of approval on the bag, at no charge to the Japanese company that makes them, House Foods. She calls them “crazy-low in calories but a bit slippery” and suggests serving them with various low-fat cheeses as a kind of faux pasta Alfredo.

Though she is neither a professional nutritionist nor a dietitian, Lillien’s endorsement has become a brass ring for manufacturers of healthy foods. Her logo and recipes grace the packages not only of Tofu Shirataki, but also items like Fiber One and Vitalicious Vita Tops, a type of muffin that comes in several flavors developed by Lillien.

I don’t know if this qualifies for Web 2.o or not. After all, Lisa Lillien hasn’t yet sold out her site for a bushel basket of money. But, she certainly has done a professional job of developing a money-making web presence.

“Monetizing” is a geek Shangri-la.

Jail time for French ‘garage surgeon’

A Frenchman who claimed to be one of the world’s leading cosmetic surgeons, but in fact left patients mutilated, has been sentenced to jail. The judge in the court in Marseille, France, said Michel Maure had “practised garage medicine – which is a sign of total disregard of others”.

Maure was sentenced to four years in prison – one of them suspended.

Maure was a qualified doctor but not a trained plastic surgeon.

There were 96 complaints from former patients against Dr Maure, 59, including allegations that he had carried out painful procedures under local anaesthetic, in a dirty clinic.

Now, if he was an American quack, the worst penalty would be banning him from whichever country club he belonged to.

Yes, Catherine, I stole the photo from your post.