When will the US Border Patrol stop banning Canadians who say they’ve smoked pot?

❝ The case of a Canadian man barred from US travel because he admitted to having smoked pot recreationally has sparked a debate about US border agents using a federal law against marijuana use, even though pot use is legal in several states and soon to be legal in Canada.

“We obviously need to intensify our discussions with our border authorities in the United States, including the Department of Homeland Security,” the public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation…

“This does seem to be a ludicrous situation,” he said, noting that marijuana is legal in Washington state as well as “three or four other jurisdictions in the United States”.

❝ …British Columbia resident Matthew Harvey was stopped at a US border crossing in Washington state in 2014 and asked about recreational marijuana use. When Harvey, who had a permit to use medical marijuana, said he had smoked pot recreationally, he was denied entry and banned from future entry. While he can apply for a travel waiver to be admitted temporarily, it is costly and discretionary.

❝ The Liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, campaigned on a promise to legalize recreational marijuana and the government has said it would introduce legislation by the spring of 2017.

What will it take to enlighten the government of a nation with the largest, wealthiest economy on the planet to crawl out of the political swamp and into the light of the 21st Century?

Our politicians do everything possible to guarantee every American an opportunity to shoot whoever we wish to, drive drunk until we kill a minimum number of strangers, and – by the way – ensure every opportunity for corporate pimps of every stripe to buy as many politicians as needed to pervert the collection of taxes which could pay for a modern, competent education.

But, don’t cross that border and stand on our sacred soil if you ever smoked a joint.

Know-Nothing Congress roadblocks US policy on mitochondrial therapy

Scientists believe they can now remove disease-causing mitochondrial DNA from human embryos, providing new cures for previously untreatable conditions, but the policy signals coming from Washington DC are in stark contradiction, according to a new Viewpoint essay published in JAMA.

On Feb. 3, 2016, the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies issued a report on mitochondrial replacement therapy commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration. The division recommended that under certain conditions, MRT clinical trials should be allowed to proceed. But just six weeks before, President Obama signed an appropriations bill that included a bit of language essentially forbidding those trials…

❝ “One big step forward was taken by the IOM report when it concluded that it is “ethically permissible” to embark on first-in-human clinical trials of MRT subject to rigorous safety and efficacy imperatives,” wrote Dr. Eli Adashi…and I. Glenn Cohen…“However, two steps back were taken with the enactment of a policy rider which precludes the FDA from further consideration of MRT…”

Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government has approved MRT clinical trials and some might begin this year. But despite the National Academies recommending a similar advance to the FDA, legislation has left U.S. policy at a standstill, wrote Adashi and Cohen.

Whether or not the eventual births of disease-free children in the UK will change congressional hearts and minds remains to be seen,” they wrote. “Failing such, progress in the prevention of mitochondrial DNA diseases will remain the domain of a biomedical enterprise an ocean away.”

The same ignoranus mindset George W Bush brought to US government is alive and well in a Congress governed by shortsighted and foolish conservatives, embraced by Republicans, Tea Party Trumpkins and Blue Dog Democrats. American voters may never learn to vote in their own economic and social interest; but, you’d think they’d eventually figure out that passing laws that help your children to die really ain’t too bright.

Darts fan banned from match for looking like Jesus — Again!

Nathan Grindal
Lawrence Lustig/PDC

For the second year in a row, a British man with long hair and a beard was banned from attending a darts match in Minehead, Somerset, because he looks too much like Jesus.

Last year, Nathan Grindal was ejected from the Cash Converter Players Championship between Phil Taylor and Kim Huybrechts after “Jesus” chants started sweeping through the crowd and security personnel became fearful that the disturbance would interrupt the players.

This year, Grindal’s looks prevented him from even getting in the door.

He was going to collect his ticket to the event when “two big beef-head security guards, including the head of security, dragged me into the office where they told me they wouldn’t let me watch the darts this year,” he said.

“I felt quite intimidated. The head of security told me they would not be letting me into the tournament, because they did not want a repeat of last year. It’s not my fault I look like Jesus. I’m not trying to look like Jesus, I’m not even religious — I’m just an average Joe. I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Grindal is a laborer from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and he keeps his beard long to hide scars on his face…

Frankly, I would sue their butts from here to Aberdeen. Grindal is a nicer guy than that. However, he’s hoping to be compensated for missing work and buying fuel for the 280-mile round trip.

Senate Dems end filibusters of presidential appointees – democracy may yet break out in Congress


Cripes, Harry – you finally did it!

Senate Democrats eased the way for swift approval of President Barack Obama’s current and future nominees on Thursday, voting unilaterally to overturn decades of Senate precedent and undermine Republicans’ ability to block final votes.

The 52-48 vote to undercut filibuster rules on presidential appointees capped more than a decade of struggle in which presidents from both parties complained about delays in confirming appointees, particularly to federal courts.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who spearheaded the movement, accused Republicans of “unbelievable, unprecedented obstruction” of Obama’s selections to fill court vacancies and other offices.

“It’s time to change the Senate, before this institution becomes obsolete,” he said.

His Republican counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, accused Democrats of exercising democracy, saying blah, blah, blah!

At issue was a rule that can require a 60-vote majority to assure a yes-or-no vote on presidential nominees to the courts or to cabinet departments or other agencies.

Under a parliamentary maneuver scripted in advance, Democrats led by Reid sought to change proceedings so that only a simple majority was required to clear the way for a final vote.

Supreme Court nominations would be exempted from the change and subject to a traditional filibuster…Nevertheless, some congressional watchers predict it’s the opening volley in the movement to kill the filibuster altogether

Overdue by decades.

This event will serve to illustrate which organizations and individuals have a heartfelt commitment to rule by democracy. I sincerely hope Americans take note of who wastes time the next few days on television and in the press whining about the partial end of a lousy tradition.

Berlusconi barred from office for two years over fraud conviction


You actually had the balls to say – Mission Accomplished!

A court in Milan has banned Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister, from holding public office for two years, following his conviction for tax fraud…However, the ban must be approved by parliament before taking effect.

Earlier this month, a cross-party panel of the Italian Senate recommended his expulsion from the chamber.

If he is expelled from parliament, Berlusconi will lose his immunity from prosecution in a string of criminal cases.

Berlusconi had threatened to topple the coalition government over the issue but backed down during a confidence vote…

He will also spend a year under house arrest, or doing community service – his preferred option, according to a request he formally submitted last week.

The votes on his expulsion and ban on holding office are expected to take place within the next few weeks.

He was sentenced to four years in prison, automatically reduced to one under a 2006 pardon act. He was also banned from holding public office for five years.

That sentence was upheld in August.

As erratic as the course of justice may be in Italian politics, by comparison, this case is one more example of the ineffectual and cowardly attitude towards politicians in the United States. Liars and frauds like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney committed inexcusable crimes against humanity – and left taxpayers with a bill for trillions of dollars.

The financial cost is conveniently forgotten by Republicans. The ethical failure is ignored by both of the TweedleDeeDum parties we are allowed. Add to this Obama’s legalization of government snooping into the lives of ordinary citizens and you need no explanation as to why America’s international reputation for corruption continues to grow.

NYC strip club stopped showing Giants games – too many losses


UPI /John Angelillo

With the New York Giants going 0-5 so far this season, having the game on is a bit of a buzzkill — especially in a strip club…Apparently there are people that watch sports in strip clubs, and having a losing streak does nothing for business.

Rick’s Cabaret in New York City has implemented a new policy: No more Giants games on the TVs this season. The strip club will continue to air other teams’ games, though…

Rick’s Cabaret Girl Alexandra discussed the Giants/Eagles game. “There’s like a hundred sexy topless girls here and everyone was exceedingly happy until it became clear during the second half that Eli Manning and the Giants were going to lose again.”

Rick’s Cabaret Girl Yvonne said, “I’ve been showing off my new 34Ds and getting compliments all the time, except right after Giants games — the guys are sort of deflated — they take that football stuff too seriously!”

You’d think they could sell more of those 5-dollar beers for fans to drown their sorrows.

Congress bans Chinese scientists from space telescope conference — scientists around the world start boycott

Cold War Congress in NASA

Nasa is facing an extraordinary backlash from US researchers after it emerged that the space agency has banned Chinese scientists, including those working at US institutions, from a conference on grounds of national security.

NASA officials rejected applications from Chinese nationals who hoped to attend the meeting at the agency’s Ames research centre in California next month citing a law, passed in March, which prohibits anyone from China setting foot in a NASA building.

The law is part of a broad and aggressive move initiated by congressman Frank Wolf, chair of the House appropriations committee, which has jurisdiction over NASA. It aims to restrict the foreign nationals’ access to NASA facilities, ostensibly to counter espionage.

But the ban has angered many US scientists who say Chinese students and researchers in their labs are being discriminated against. A growing number of US scientists have now decided to boycott the meeting in protest, with senior academics withdrawing individually, or pulling out their entire research groups.

The conference is being held for US and international teams who work on NASA’s Kepler space telescope programme, which has been searching the cosmos for signs of planets beyond our solar system. The meeting is the most important event in the academic calendar for scientists who specialise in the field…

Geoff Marcy, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been tipped to win a Nobel prize for his pioneering work on exoplanets, or planets outside the solar system, called the ban “completely shameful and unethical”.

In an email sent to the conference organisers, Marcy said: “In good conscience, I cannot attend a meeting that discriminates in this way. The meeting is about planets located trillions of miles away, with no national security implications,” he wrote.

“It is completely unethical for the United States of America to exclude certain countries from pure science research,” Marcy told the Guardian. “It’s an ethical breach that is unacceptable. You have to draw the line…”

Continue reading

Casinos ban gamblers from using Google Glass

google-glass-ban

Casinos in several states are forbidding gamblers from wearing Google Glass, the tiny eyeglasses-mounted device capable of shooting photos, filming video and surfing the Internet.

Regulators say the gadgets could be used to cheat at card games.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a directive on Monday ordering Atlantic City’s 12 casinos to bar casino patrons from using the device…

Similar bans are in place at casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Connecticut, among other places.

…It would be difficult to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the glasses were actually being used to cheat, David Rebuck wrote. For that and other reasons, he decided to ban the glasses on the casino floor and anywhere else gambling is taking place.

‘‘Even if the glasses had not been used for cheating … their presence at a gaming table would lead to the perception that something untoward could be occurring, thereby undermining public confidence in the integrity of gaming,’’ he wrote in the directive.

Perish the thought someone doesn’t trust the Lords of Chance.

In Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts have directed their security workers to ask patrons to remove the devices before beginning to gamble…

The edict will also be applied at casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland.

In Pennsylvania, state regulators plan to advise its 11 casinos that an existing regulation prohibiting gamblers from using electronic devices at a table game also applies to the Google Glass…

Mohegan Sun in Connecticut also bans the devices on the casino floor.

Presented as a public service to geeks who think they just came up with a new way to rake in tons of money at casinos. Too late!

Iran Civil Aviation Organization bans flights during calls to prayer

Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization announced aircraft will be prohibited from flying across the country during the call to prayer five times a day.

The new directive…will also prevent aircraft from taking off until at least 30 minutes after the day’s first call to prayer, al-Fajr, at 5:38 a.m., local time, The New York Times reported…

Hamid Reza Pahlevani, the head of Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization, told the Iranian Students’ News Agency the move is meant to give air travelers time “to carry out their religious duties.” The directive is apparently part of an effort to improve obedience to orthodox Islamic codes of conduct…

The announcement by the aviation organization did not explain how the new rules will affect flight schedules, or whether flights would be forced to land or be rerouted during times of prayer.

A delightful example of how some humans think their gods must be appeased. The affairs of ordinary people trying to get from place-to-place in the Islamic Nation are meaningless compared to edicts from the all-powerful representatives of that mythical guy in the sky.

Absurd.

Russia set to halt imports of U.S. beef, pork

U.S. pork and beef exports to Russia could come to a halt on Saturday following Moscow’s requirement that the meat be tested and certified free of the feed additive ractopamine…

The move could jeopardize the more than $500 million a year in exports of U.S. beef and pork to Russia…

The United States asked Russia, the sixth-largest market for U.S. beef and pork, to suspend the requirement even as it warned domestic meat companies that Moscow might reject their pork shipments that contained ractopamine and stop buying pork from processing plants that produced pork with the drug.

Ractopamine is used as a feed additive to make meat leaner, but countries such as China have banned its use despite scientific evidence that it is safe…

The U.S. Meat Export Federation told its members by email that since the U.S. Department of Agriculture had no testing and certification program in place for ractopamine, the Russian requirement could effectively halt U.S. pork and beef exports to the country by Saturday…

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, in a note posted on its website on Friday afternoon, said: “Exporters are cautioned that Russia may reject U.S. pork shipments and delist producing establishments if ractopamine residues are detected in exported product.”

FSIS also said at the moment it was not requiring meat companies for documentation attesting their pork was free of ractopamine before issuing its export certification.

Are there requirements for measuring ractopamine sold for consumption to Americans, eh?

Analysts said the Russian move was linked to the Senate’s passage of the trade bill and blah, blah, blah

Tyson Foods…a leading U.S. meat company, and agriculture powerhouse Cargill…declined to comment on how a halt in exports would impact them, but both noted the U.S. and Russian governments were in discussions.

Yes, there are 100 countries including the European Union rejecting pork with ractopamine residues. Mother Jones wrote a delightful article in February when Taiwan rejected US shipments – entitled “US Pushes the World to Import Our Dodgy Meat” – and if you’d like some delightful midnight snack reading matter, try this report from the USDA describing the symptoms of some pigs tested with the stuff.