Democratic candidates roll up to support legal weed

Kamala Harris, asked whether she had ever smoked pot: ‘Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?’


Brian Cahn/Shutterstock

❝ Among 2020 candidates, marijuana legalisation is a mainstream issue. Among Democrats, nearly all have expressed at least some degree of support. Even Donald Trump’s lone Republican challenger, the former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, supports it. Advocates are optimistic that the 2020 election could help bring an end to the federal prohibition of the drug.

“The support for marijuana legalisation has quickly become a litmus test in the 2020 Democratic primary,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml). “With the upcoming primary, it is also clear that support for prohibition is ultimately disqualifying with the Democratic electorate – and with the American electorate generally.”

If you aren’t supporting legalization – for purportedly moral reasons, some particular religious fetish, political dementia which has your brain locked into, say, the 16th Century – then, you might be missing the simple economics of “sin taxes” derived from social use of cannabis just as they are realized from beer and the hard stuff.

States generally include a proviso to spend all or most of those funds on something beneficial like education. Again, another issue which American conservatives seem honor bound to ignore. Hopefully, voters will learn to ignore stupidity as thoroughly as they’re starting to reject incompetence.

What you should know about police shootings and brutality in the United States

1. American police shoot and kill far more people than their peers in other countries

2. There are huge racial disparities in how US police use force

3. Cities across the country have been riddled with accusations of police abuse

4. There’s no good data on how many people police kill each year

5. Police can use deadly force if they merely perceive a threat

6. Cops are almost never prosecuted and convicted for use of force

7. Killings of police officers on duty are near record lows

8. The federal government has helped the militarization of police

9. Reforms have focused on community policing and accountability — but that may not be enough

Another one of those useful VOX card stacks. Data compiled, easy to understand and use for debate and discussion – a delightful addition to the digital world of politics.

How driven by sectarian hatred can American religions be?


This man’s church would prevent him from giving comfort to people who lost so much

A Lutheran pastor who participated in an interfaith prayer service in Newtown, Conn., in the days after the Sandy Hook massacre has apologized after being criticized by the leader of his denomination for violating its prohibition against joint worship with other religions.

The Rev. Rob Morris, a new pastor who lost one of the members of his congregation in the shooting, defended himself in an open letter published by the church, saying that before the tragedy, he had spent hours with his congregation educating them about the differences between Lutheran teaching “and the teachings of false religions such as Islam or Baha’i,” both of which had clergy members at the interfaith service. He also noted that, in his own prayer at the service, he had spoken about Jesus and quoted from the Bible.

“I believed my participation to be, not an act of joint worship, but an act of community chaplaincy,” he wrote.

But he also apologized.

“To those who believe that I have endorsed false teaching, I assure you that was not my intent, and I give you my unreserved apologies,” he wrote…

Mr. Morris, serving his first year of ministry as pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, attracted attention within his denomination when he gave the benediction at the high-profile memorial service on Dec. 16 that was attended by President Obama, the families of the dead, and clergy members from many religions, including the Muslim and Baha’i faiths.

Then, the purity and obvious superiority of obedient sheep belonging to this particular congregation of nutballs is detailed, blah, blah. If you want to waste time on it, click the link and read the article.

I’m posting this to explain one more time to my friends and readers why I so often describe the mouthing of ancient curses and platitudes by representatives of one or another fundamentalist religion to be as worthless as toilet paper made of sandpaper. It denies the purported purpose of the fabric. It causes hearts to bleed instead of heal. This defies any stated purpose for virtually all religions. Meaning they ain’t worth the paper they’re writ large upon.

Malaysian senator’s hubbie busted for £11 million theft


The loving couple

The husband of a Malaysian minister has been charged with misusing almost £11 million of government funds – allegedly to buy luxury apartments, holidays and a Mercedes – a day after she signalled she would quit.

Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Malaysia’s minister for women, family and community, said she would step down next month when her term as senator ends, though she denied any wrongdoing and said she was acting as a responsible member of the government.

The minister became embroiled in the so-called “Cowgate” scandal when accusations surfaced about the misuse of funds earmarked for a £55 million government cattle project run by her husband, Mohamad Salleh Ismail, and three children.

The allegations surrounding the fund has been a source of deep embarrassment to the government of prime minister Najib Razak, who is likely to call an election this year, as he had vowed to root out corruption.

Prosecutors on Monday charged Mohamad Salleh, 64, with two counts of criminal breach of trust and two more of embezzlement relating to almost £11 million, allegedly buy luxury property in Malaysia and neighbouring Singapore. He denied the charges.

The project was designed to play to poorer voters, the bedrock of support for the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). But the “Cowgate” scandal has seen the strategy explode in the government’s face at a time when rising corruption and growing income disparity have eroded its popularity.

What always makes me chuckle is how the corrupt demonstrate such confidence in the corruption of the whole society, in the acceptance of corruption – they seem to feel no one will notice how much has gone missing into their pockets. Forever astounding.

Killer releases his son after SWAT standoff, kills himself


The scene at sunrise this morning – Soto’s SUV at the right

Update 5:10 a.m.: César Meléndez, the 5-year-old boy abducted by his father Tuesday after a shooting in southwest Santa Fe is safe and in the custody of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.

His father, 39-year-old, José Meléndez-Trillo, was located shortly after midnight Wednesday morning and, after a short police pursuit in southwest Santa Fe, barricaded himself and the boy in a 1997 Ford Expedition off County Road 56 west of the Santa Fe Municipal Airport.

After about a four-hour standoff with police, Meléndez-Trillo released the boy and immediately turned a gun on himself around 4 a.m., according to Sheriff’s Office Lt. Adan Mendoza. Police fired no shots and Mendoza credited all local law-enforcement for their assistance with the case.

Update 12:54 a.m.: Lt. Adan Mendoza of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the suspect in Tuesday’s fatal shooting, José Meléndez-Trillo, has been found off County Road 56 west of the Santa Fe Municipal Airport, and officers are negotiating the release of his 5-year-old-son. Mendoza said the man and his son are in a vehicle, but could not elaborate.

The road toward La Cienega was blocked off at Huey Road, one mile west of N.M. 599. By 1 a.m. members of the Santa Fe Police Department’s SWAT team were beginning to assemble near the scene. One officer said Meléndez-Trillo was still armed and officers were in the process of moving the road block east to N.M. 599.

RTFA. This is why we didn’t get any sleep, last night. It all happened just beyond the bosque behind our home.

We were woken by the sirens of the cars chasing Soto down county road 56 just a tad before midnight. By the time I’d run out into the courtyard they were stopped – you could hear him shouting “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! Yo soy an Americano.”

I went back into the house to get shoes on – and as I came back out the scene moved to the petroglyphs parking area a couple hundreds further south – on the west side of the road.

The coppers were superb, professional – especially whoever was in charge of trying to talk Soto out of his Ford Expedition over a loudspeaker. In very good Spanish with an Anglo accent.

He kept ask “Señor Soto” to release his niño – tried to get him to call a phone number which I presume was the officer’s cellphone so they might negotiate. I have no idea if that ever worked.

Around 4AM we heard the shot which must have been Soto killing himself – after releasing his little boy.

Thousands at funeral of young defenders killed by riot gangsters


25,000 mourners remember brave men who died for the whole community
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

In a remarkable show of solidarity and respect, thousands of people gathered today for the funerals of three men killed as they protected their community’s shops and houses from rioters.

Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, died in the early hours of August 10 after being run down by a car in the Winson Green area of Birmingham.

Along with dozens of others, they had turned out to protect their property after gangs of men were seen driving around and attempting to break into shops…

Friends, family and members of the local communities – Asian, white and black – turned out in Summerfield Park in a show of support, many wearing t-shirts showing slogans such as “My Brothers” and “Gone but not forgotten.”

A message on screens read: “Three precious souls gave their lives protecting all of us“, whilst Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, a scholar asked by the families to address the crowd, said: “They made an example of how a Muslim should be and what Islam is. These three people are martyrs and the best we can do for them is to pray for them and for ourselves. To pray for our community.”

Mr Jahan’s father, Tariq Jahan, whose plea for calm on the day his son died was praised by the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Chris Sims, for preventing further violence, thanked the crowd before a private burial service was held, with all three men being laid to rest side by side.

I have nothing new to add about this funeral. I have been to too many. I don’t attend anymore.

I’ve stood alongside old and young, Black and White, religious and atheist willing to stand up and defend their communities against evil and violence – whether that destruction was being visited upon them by anarchy and gangsters, racists, even police and armies representing the “forces of democracy”. In many lands.

I hope the memory of these funerals bring change and the collective power of ordinary people to bear upon the roots of these murders. I always do. Mourning is something we all participate in one way or another.

Gift cards for tons o’ guns – in Chicago


NRA Life Member

There were shiny six-shooter revolvers, polished wooden rifles, semiautomatic handguns, pistols, rifles and even two hand grenades.

In a citywide effort Saturday to try to curb the violence on Chicago streets, police collected more than 4,000 guns and other weapons in exchange for gift cards worth up to $100…

Collecting guns from their owners may seem like a futile effort to skeptics, since those voluntarily turning in their weapons are likely not the ones behind neighborhood violence that has devastated some communities, acknowledged Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis. But the program nonetheless means there are fewer weapons around that could somehow end up in the wrong hands, he said.

We have just too many guns in our society,” said Mayor Richard Daley, speaking before a march in Old Town, on the Near North Side. “When someone has access to a gun, they use it…”

The gun exchange program is in its sixth year and is credited with taking thousands of weapons off the streets…

Those turning in actual guns got $100 gift cards and lower-value gift cards for BB guns and toy replica guns. At St. Sabina Church, on the South Side, the church gave an extra $50 for assault weapons.

Yeah, I know. They’ll probably scrap ’em like they say they will.

Won’t they?

Tweeting about death apparently is controversial

Readers of “mommy blogger” Shellie Ross are used to her sharing information about her life through her blog and also through her Twitter stream. No-one, however, expected a tweet she sent out on Monday that has sparked a storm of protest, criticism, headlines and sympathy. Here is why.

At 17:22 local time from her home in Florida, Ms Ross tweeted that:

“Fog is rolling in thick scared the birds back in the coop.”

Eleven minutes later, her son called 911 to report that his two-year-old brother Bryson was floating unconscious in the pool. The paramedics arrived at the house at 17:38.

At 18:12, Ms Ross tweeted again:

“Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool.”

Tragically, five hours later her son Bryson was declared dead. At 23:08 Ms Ross returned to her Twitter account to update her 5,400-plus followers. “Remembering my million dollar baby.” She also included a photo of Bryson in the post.

The case has now fuelled a debate about parenting and of course about how much someone should share about something so personal. There are equal amounts of shock, sympathy and anger about the affair.

And naturally enough, much of it is being conducted over the internet, especially through Twitter and a number of blogs.

RTFA for some of the commentary.

Regular readers will know that at best I’m non-social, a hermit except for my wife – who probably would also be a hermit except for me and the fact that she can’t telecommute her job. That doesn’t mean we’re anti-social.

I find it easy to comprehend the “social” nature of social media. How individuals find themselves in a collective and social relationship with many other individuals. It’s another part of how we evolved, after all. Personally, this blog is sufficient.

To berate someone for belonging to an atypical community – atypical by 19th Century standards prevalent in societies that have managed to achieve a minimal level of education and even less understanding – is crap!

Living in tents, by the Rules, under a bridge in Rhode Island

The chief emerges from his tent to face the leaden morning light. It had been a rare, rough night in his homeless Brigadoon: a boozy brawl, the wielding of a knife taped to a stick. But the community handled it, he says with pride, his day’s first cigar already aglow.

By community he means 80 or so people living in tents on a spit of state land beside the dusky Providence River: Camp Runamuck, no certain address, downtown Providence.

Because the two men in the fight had violated the community’s written compact, they were escorted off the camp, away from the protection of an abandoned overpass. One was told we’ll discuss this in the morning; the other was voted off the island, his knife tossed into the river, his tent taken down.

The chief flicks his spent cigar into that same river. There is talk of rain tonight.

Behind him, the camp stirs. Other tent cities have sprung up recently around the country, but Rhode Island officials have never seen anything like this. A tea kettle sings…

The chief, John Freitas, is 55, with a gray beard touched by tobacco rust. He did prison time decades ago, worked for years as a factory supervisor, then became homeless for all the familiar, complicated reasons…

He and Ms. Kalil set up camp with another couple in early April. Word of it spread from the shelters to Kennedy Plaza downtown, where homeless people share the same empty Tim Hortons cup to pose as customers worthy of visiting that doughnut chain’s restroom. The camp became 10 people, then 15, then 25. No children allowed.

I was always considered the leader, the chief,” Mr. Freitas says. “I was the one consulted about ‘Where should I put my tent?’ ”…

The community also established a five-member leadership council and a compact that read in part: “No one person shall be greater than the will of the whole.”

RTFA. All I’ve put in place is a portion of how it begins.

Communal survival is generally more successful than solo – at least for greater numbers of people. In a time like ours, with growing numbers of homeless, the collective solutions hold more promise. This is just one of those tales – about human beings – in case you forgot.

Will Chrome OS offend the Open Source Community – WGAS?

I’m reasonably sure that Chrome OS will offend the open source community. There may even be a major reaction against it. You might not see open source luminaries picketing the Googleplex (although I wouldn’t be surprised), but there will almost certainly be a handful of inflammatory blog postings, and some very hot collars.

Here are Chrome OS’s sins, laid out one-by-one:

1. Chrome OS will include proprietary technologies. Linux still lacks a high-quality open source Flash plugin. Practically the only choice for 100% site compatibility is to use Adobe’s proprietary plugin, so Chrome OS will need to license and include it out of the box…

Then there are multimedia codecs. People are gonna want to play their tunes and watch their movies…Google will have to license the patents covering them. This will offend the open source community, who see the software patenting system as broken and corrupt…

2. Chrome OS was created to take away your privacy. Chrome OS exists to give Google access to your data. All of it. Chrome OS might be free of charge but you’ll pay for it with your online soul.

3. Google is big, ergo Google is evil. Open source people are suspicious of corporations, especially ones that are big. I have open source friends who won’t even shop at major supermarket chains, simply because of their size.

Continue reading