Cripes — even Pat Robertson backs legalizing Marijuana

Of the many roles Pat Robertson has assumed over his five-decade-long career as an evangelical leader — including presidential candidate and provocative voice of the right wing — his newest guise may perhaps surprise his followers the most: marijuana legalization advocate.

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in an interview on Wednesday. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

Mr. Robertson’s remarks echoed statements he made last week on “The 700 Club,” the signature program of his Christian Broadcasting Network, and other comments he made in 2010. While those earlier remarks were largely dismissed by his followers, Mr. Robertson has now apparently fully embraced the idea of legalizing marijuana, arguing that it is a way to bring down soaring rates of incarceration and reduce the social and financial costs…

“I love him, man, I really do,” said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of current and former law enforcement officials who oppose the drug war. “He’s singing my song.”

For his part, Mr. Robertson said that he “absolutely” supported the ballot measures, though he would not campaign for them. “I’m not a crusader,” he said…

“Pat Robertson still has an audience of millions of people, and they respect what he has to say,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for more liberal drug laws. “And he’s not backtracking. He’s doubling down…”

While Mr. Robertson said his earlier hints at support for legalization had led to him being “assailed by those who thought that it was terrible that I had forsaken the straight and narrow,” he added that he was not worried about criticism this time around.

“I just want to be on the right side,” he said. “And I think on this one, I’m on the right side.”

Cripes. I tend to be amazed when common sense about law, decriminalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana just like every other similar mood-altering substances – like beer and wine – sinks in through the ponderous filter paper that is biblical rote. But, I ain’t in any hurry to reject someone with the clout of Pat Robertson taking a stand on the side of ordinary Americans – and the angels.

“You’re stopping my food stamps because I won a million dollars?!”

A Michigan woman who won the lottery but continued to receive food assistance from the state government has had her benefits pulled, officials said.

Amanda Clayton hit it big playing the Michigan Lottery. Like many winners, she used her $1 million prize to buy a new house. But the Lincoln Park, Michigan, resident continued to receive money in another form — $200 a month in state food assistance, according to CNN Detroit affiliate WDIV.

…On Thursday, the state’s Department of Human Services announced that she is no longer getting the benefits.

According to Michigan law, welfare recipients must report any changes in assets or income to the agency within 10 days. The department “relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status. If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits,” Director Maura Corrigan said in a statement…

“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought, maybe, it was OK because I’m not working,” Clayton, 24, told WDIV when it asked whether it was appropriate for her to receive the money…

In October, Clayton walked away with $1 million in the “Make Me Rich!” lottery game show. She also bought a car…

After taking a lump sum and paying taxes, the unemployed woman said she ended up with just more than $500,000.

Asked if she had the right to the public assistance money, Clayton answered, “I kind of do. I have no income, and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.”

Sheesh. Somewhere inside that peabrain there are an insufficient numbers of functional synapses.

What does she think she is? An oil company?

Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama mark International Women’s Day

Michelle Obama, Maj. Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo of Brazil, Hillary Clinton
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

First lady Michelle Obama and former first lady-turned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented the 2012 Women of Courage awards to 10 women from around the world who have worked to improve the lives of women and girls despite obstacles and dangers that included imprisonment, torture and rape.

The awards, presented at a ceremony at the State Department today, which is International Women’s Day, went to women from countries such as Afghanistan, Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, Myanmar, Sudan, Colombia and Brazil, among others.

“They are all here today because somewhere along the line, they decided they could no longer accept the world as it is, and they committed themselves to fighting for the world as they know it should be,” Obama said…

She also praised Clinton, who ran a strong race for the Democratic presidential nomination that Barack Obama won in 2008, as an “inspiration” and “role model” for herself and women around the world. “So with all the respect and admiration that I can give to her, I will be wherever she needs me to be, whenever she needs me to be there,” Obama promised…

The women they were there to honor had brave, inspiring and terrible stories. Jineth Bedoya Lima, an investigative journalist from Colombia, has continued to write about women’s issues despite having been kidnapped, gang-raped and tortured for uncovering an arms smuggling network. Zin Mar Aung of Myanmar (Burma, as the British called it) spent years as a political prisoner. Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo, of the Rio de Janeiro military police, worked to shut down drug-dealing operations and arrest gang members.

The awards, aimed at honoring women and girls who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness and willingness to sacrifice for others for women’s rights, have been presented every year since 2007; so far, 46 women from 34 countries have been honored. The awards were established by Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under the George W. Bush administration.

And, today, Condi would probably be welcomed by a minority of the party she belongs to. That’s the saddest part of being bright enough to recognize a need for collaborative effort against repression – but, for some so-called conservatives in 2012, repression is a higher priority than cooperation.

Any Republican-sponsored celebrations of International Women’s Day in your neck of the prairie?

Anti-abortion crusaders cut financing for women’s health care services in Texas clinics

Leticia Parra, a mother of five scraping by on income from her husband’s sporadic construction jobs, relied on the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Carlos, an impoverished town in South Texas, for breast cancer screenings, free birth control pills and pap smears for cervical cancer. But the clinic closed in October, along with more than a dozen others in the state, after financing for women’s health was slashed by two-thirds by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The cuts, which left many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, grew out of the effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although the cuts also forced clinics that were not affiliated with the agency to close — and none of them, even the ones run by Planned Parenthood, performed abortions — supporters of the cutbacks said they were motivated by the fight against abortion.

Which proves one of two things – or both: [1] anti-abortion crusaders are fanatics who don’t care who they crush in the course of their religious blitzkrieg; [2] anti-abortion crusaders really consider all questions of women’s health to be unimportant — matching their attitude about women in general.

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MIT awards pirate certificates to undergraduates

As far as MIT is concerned, Jacob Hurwitz is a pirate.

The sophomore has the certificate to prove it. Hurwitz “is no longer a lily-livered landlubber,’’ the MIT document affirms. “Ahoy, Avast, and finally, Arrrrrr!’’

It’s been an unofficial, underground practice among students at MIT for at least 20 years: Any student who completes courses in pistol, archery, sailing, and fencing is considered a pirate.

But last fall MIT made it official, granting pirate status to six students, with many more expected to follow.

MIT, which requires undergrads to take four physical education courses, is a haven for competitive, unconventional students, and some of them wanted official recognition for their efforts. Carrie Sampson Moore, MIT’s director of physical education, said she is contacted every year by students who want to receive a tangible pirate document.

“I always tell them it’s a student initiative,’’ she said, “and they’re very disappointed.’’ Not anymore. As of this school year, the physical education department is formally conferring pirate status on students, printing certificates on faux parchment with diploma-esque calligraphy. Each paper, authorized by the “swashbucklin’ ’’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, certifies that the named “salty dog’’ is entitled to a Pirate Certificate “with all its privileges and obligations thereof.’’

“It’s something to work toward and you can brag about it,’ said Hurwitz, a math and computer science major. Hurwitz, who for years has observed International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), showed up for an interview with the Globe wearing a pirate hat, eye patch, earring, knickers, and a stuffed parrot on his shoulder…

RTFA for the gory details. And the inevitable MIT add-ons to make the process more complex.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Spanish town makes sense – growing marijuana to pay off debts

A small town in northeastern Spain, believes it has found a novel way to pay of its debt: cultivating cannabis.

Tucked in the hills of one of Spain’s most picturesque regions, the Catalonian village of Rasquera has agreed to rent out land to grow marijuana, an enterprise the local authorities say will allow them to pay off their 1.3 million euro debt in two years.

Local authorities are keeping the location of the site top secret while Spain’s attorney general investigates the legality of the project. The Catalan regional government has also asked the village for further information about the plan.

Spanish towns are swamped in debt after a decade-long construction boom that imploded in 2008. Almost one in four Spanish workers is jobless and many cities are months behind in salaries for street cleaners and other municipal employees…

The mayor of Rasquera, with 900 inhabitants, said the project will not only benefit locals, but also eliminate organized crime and the tax evasion associated with the cannabis industry thanks to government supervision…

“The only thing this humble mayor wants and has tried to do is to supervise all this in order to benefit society and the neighbors of our village,” he added…

The mayor said residents of Rasquera have welcomed the initiative, as long as it abides by the law, and that he is responding to the wishes of the people.

Makes more sense than any plan offered by Congress, the White House and the Department of Justice. I realize that 19th Century moralists and hypocrites can’t be expected to propose much to resolve modern questions. But, even the tax gangsters are taken care of in a plan like this one.