My FDL
 

The Grey Lady Turns Green

By: patrick devlin Sunday July 27, 2014 10:52 am

cross posted at mLaw

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana

On the day after the day the NYT finished its internal discussions about the failures of cannabis prohibition the Grey Lady comes out as a green lady.

We at mLaw can’t disagree with the NYT’s reasons as stated and welcome this opinion maker to the world of compassionate and sensible people who abhor unequal application of the law, though it did take time to do all of that internal discussing. The NYT themselves report in their editorial that more than 600,000 US citizens were arrested as criminals in 2012 due to the war on cannabis.

We are reminded on the occasion of the grey turning green of all the years that have passed since Jimmy Carter said to the American people nearly 40 years ago in 1977:

Marijuana continues to be an emotional and controversial issue. After four decades, efforts to discourage its use with stringent laws have still not been successful. More than 45 million Americans have tried marijuana and an estimated 11 million are regular users.

Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use. We can, and should, continue to discourage the use of marijuana, but this can be done without defining the smoker as a criminal. States which have already removed criminal penalties for marijuana use, like Oregon and California, have not noted any significant increase in marijuana smoking. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded five years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations.

Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. This decriminalization is not legalization. It means only that the Federal penalty for possession would be reduced and a person would received a fine rather than a criminal penalty. Federal penalties for trafficking would remain in force and the states would remain free to adopt whatever laws they wish concerning the marijuana smoker.

Today the grey lady becomes green and exclaims with mLaw and all who call for an end to cannabis prohibition: “The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana (cannabis),” and we go further with a call for amnesty for the victims of the war on cannabis.

Your Mother Needs You! Bristol Bay, Alaska

By: KateCA Sunday July 27, 2014 8:03 am

Aerial view of braided wetlands and tundra that is typical of the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska.

Alaska’s Bristol Bay contains “an extraordinary ecosystem that supports an ancient fishing culture and economic powerhouse.” That extraordinary ecosystem is atop the Pebble deposit which “holds copper, gold and molybdenum . . . valued at an estimated $300 billion a few years ago.” And, as you no doubt suspected, there’s an outfit—Pebble Partnership, which owns mineral rights to the Pebble deposit—chomping at the bit to begin extraction in the Pebble deposit that lies beneath the pristine Bristol Bay (here, here and here).

At the moment, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is “proposing protections for . . . Bristol Bay that would restrict plans to develop a mine nearly as deep as the Grand Canyon” and imperil “‘one of the world’s most valuable salmon fisheries’” to say nothing of all the other fauna and flora in the local eco-system. Pebble Partnership’s CEO is having a hissy-fit over the EPA’s proposal, particularly since his corporation is involved in litigation right now concerning the EPA’s “underlying authority” over the Pebble Mine.

But there might be other developments also of concern to Pebble Partnership’s CEO.

In reverse Russian-doll order, the Pebble Limited Partnership is owned by the Northern Dynasty Partnership which is owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals Limited. And there’s more: “The corporate officers and executive board members of Northern Dynasty Minerals Limited are all executive board members and corporate officers of Hunter Dickinson Corporation” of Vancouver, BC.

Major Northern Dynasty Minerals stockholders have recently been divesting from the Pebble mine project. Among them, Rio Tinto, which said in April “it would contribute its 19% holdings in the project equally divided between the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, which had opposed the mine, and the Alaska Community Foundation” which has ties with Northern Dynasty. Rio Tinto’s divestiture follows that of Mitsubishi Corporation and Anglo American, a mining company based in London.

The EPA is now inviting public comment on their Proposal to Protect the Bristol Bay Watershed. The time is ripe to strike, so do take advantage of this opportunity to help protect Mother Earth.

Who Shot Down MH17 over Ukraine?

By: williamboardman

– Reader Supported News

U.S. Government Backs Some War Crimes, Not Others

Amsterdam Airport: Flight MH17 Memorial (Explored)

Amsterdam Airport: Flight MH17 Memorial

Are Ukraine and Gaza both part of the same war? 

The same day that Israeli tanks crossed into Gaza, to continue killing civilians and the occasional Hamas fighter, MSNBC  decided to ignore the Israeli invasion in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of the presumed shoot-down of Malaysian Airliner MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Why would MSNBC make a choice that looks so much like propaganda?

The last time the Israelis invaded Gaza, in 2009, more than 100 Palestinians died for each Israeli killed. The 13 dead Israelis were soldiers on the attack, the 1,400-plus dead Palestinians were mostly civilians with nowhere safe to go. That hasn’t changed much.

The last time someone in Ukraine shot down a civilian airliner, on October 4, 2001, the Kiev government killed 78 people on a Russian plane flying in an international airway to Russia from Israel. Kiev denied the shoot-down for nine days before acknowledging that it was probably responsible for “an accidental hit from an S-200 rocket fired during exercises” in Crimea. Ten years later, Kiev issued a report denying this explanation, without offering a new one.

What’s happening these days in both Ukraine and Gaza shares some ugly and dangerous aspects. In both places, quasi-proxies of the United States are on the offensive. The Kiev government’s assault on separatist-held areas has been as lethal for civilians as Israel’s assault on Gaza (but the war in Ukraine goes almost unreported). Both the governments of Ukraine and Israel prefer to use force against weaker opponents, rather than mediating long-standing, legitimate issues on both sides. Both Ukraine and Israel are protected by the same patron, the U.S. government, with its apparent determination to dominate both regions, at whatever human cost is necessary to those who live there.

Even the propaganda spinning through much of the media is the same for both, focusing on a demonized caricature of an enemy, whether Hamas or Putin/Russia.

What do we know, and how do we know it with any certainty?

The MH17 shoot-down story broke with a quote from Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko calling it a “terrorist attack.” Any time someone uses the word “terrorist” to characterize anything, it’s a red flag signaling manipulation. In Poroshenko’s mouth, “terrorist” is also routine Kiev propaganda that always refers to the Ukrainian separatists as “terrorists,” and usually “pro-Russian” as well. Despite the obvious unreliability of accepting any Kiev version of events as accurate, the U.S. government (including president Obama and vice president Biden) and American media ran with unconfirmed and unconfirmable formulations.

MSNBC especially reiterated the Kiev story about Russian missiles and how the Russians must have either done it or trained the separatists to do it. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others presented it, there was no other possibility. Not even asked was the question: does the Kiev government have the same surface to air missile capability? That seems like a pretty basic question to go unasked in the midst of a story developing with little reliable evidence. Especially since the answer is that Kiev has the same missiles.

Why hasn’t Kiev released air controller conversations with MH17? Kiev released dubious tapes of purported Russians taking credit for the shoot-down. Why hasn’t the U.S. (or anyone else with satellites) released satellite coverage of the shoot-down?  One reason, posed by Robert Parry, might be:

Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBC — Book Salon Preview

By: Elliott Thursday May 17, 2012 7:04 pm

Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBC

Chat with Michael Arria about his new book. Hosted by Steve Horn

Today, 5pm ET, 2pm PT.

Barack Obama wasn’t the only beneficiary of the calamitous Bush years. Something of an industry punchline since its formation in 1996, MSNBC suddenly gained a comprehensible voice during the era, while pinning its hopes upon the inspiring senator from Illinois. Obama’s victory spelled success for the network, which saw a sizable ratings increase and began positioning itself as a viable alternative to the right-wing propaganda of Fox News. However, a close inspection of the station’s programming and an analysis of their celebrity hosts generate troubling questions about the state of the American media. MSNBC has shilled for Obama’s wars, defended the administration’s illegal spying programs and failed to hold our broken political system accountable. Medium Blue serves as a primer to help navigate the ultimate futility of our distinguished liberal media.

Michael Arria is a journalist living on the East Coast who covers American politics and culture. His work has appeared in Vice, CounterPunch, and Truthout. (CounterPunch books)

Panthers in the Hole: French Angola 3 Book Illustrates US Prison Crisis –An interview with Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International France

By: Angola 3 News Saturday July 26, 2014 4:36 pm

Panthers in the Hole: French Angola 3 Book Illustrates US Prison Crisis

–An interview with Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International France

By Angola 3 News

Amnesty International France and La Boîte à Bulles have published a 128-page French language graphic novel entitled Panthers in the Hole. The book’s co-authors David Cénou and Bruno Cénou present with visual art what Amnesty France describes as “la tragique histoire des Trois d’Angola” (the tragic story of the Angola 3).
photo

Robert H. King, Herman Wallace, and Albert Woodfox are the trio of Black Panther political prisoners known collectively as the Angola 3. On October 1, 2013 Herman Wallace was dramatically released from prison after 41 years in solitary confinement. At the time of his release, he had been fighting terminal liver cancer for several months. Three days later, on Oct. 4, Herman was surrounded by loved ones as he passed on at a friend’s house in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Albert Woodfox remains in solitary confinement to this day and with only temporary respite from routine body cavity searches pending an upcoming ruling by the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On April 17, 2014, marking 42 years since Albert Woodfox was first placed in solitary,  Amnesty International renewed its call for his immediate release (view Amnesty’s statement and essay) and today continues their online campaign (sign the petition here).

Robert King spent 29 years in continuous solitary confinement until his conviction was overturned and he was released from Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Prison in 2001. Himself the subject of a recent Canadian film, King spoke in Paris, France this past May at an event celebrating the release of Panthers in the Hole and has traveled Europe many times while on earlier speaking tours.

To further discuss the release of Panthers in the Hole and Amnesty France’s broader support for Albert Woodfox and the Angola 3, we interviewed NicolasKrameyer, who is head of the Individuals at Risk / Human Rights Defenders Program for Amnesty International France.

Angola 3 News:         Can you please tell us about your recent work related to the Angola 3?

Nicolas Krameyer:    Amnesty France has made the Angola 3 (A3) a priority campaign.

We included Albert and Herman’s case as part of our biggest annual event, known as Write for Rights in December 2012. In just a few weeks, at least 50,000 supporters signed the petition for an end to their solitary confinement.

We also organized a solidarity campaign where activists sent Herman and Albert messages of support. The letter-writers quickly received very strong and moving answers from Herman and Albert, which we then shared among other activists.

A few months later, we invited Robert King for a two-week speaking tour in France and Brussels, which gave national media coverage to the A3 and the widespread use of solitary confinement in the USA. Both the A3 case and the issue of solitary confinement were totally unknown to the general public. Even the partners and institutions with whom we normally work on human rights activism were not familiar with these issues.

A3N:   What do you think are the main reasons for the French public’s interest?

NK:     Beside the widespread publicity, I think there are 3 key factors that explain why so many people feel now concerned about the Angola 3 case:

(1) The monstrous nature of the case. There are very few examples in the world of such a blatant human rights violation for such a long period of time: more than 4 decades!

(2) The audience could follow the different steps of the clear campaign of vengeance lead by the local Louisiana authorities, like when the prosecutor appealed Albert’s third overturned conviction, or in October 2013 when the State authorities did their most to impede Herman’s release despite his health. That clearly angered people here in France, and one indicator of this was that journalists were publishing articles every time something new happened, which is quite rare.

(3) Lastly, this has been made possible because of Robert’s presence and strength, which he clearly communicated to all types of audiences, from the media to French officials and activists.

A3N:   Overall, how do you think Amnesty France’s A3 and anti-solitary campaigning has impacted France?

NK:     Previously, solitary confinement was not really considered a big human rights issue, except for some rare experts or USA specialists here. Guantanamo and death penalty continue to be the two main public topics in regards to human rights violations known in France. The A3 and Robert King gave a face to that common practice of cruel and inhumane treatment in the USA.

Even if we can’t go into details here, we know that probably for first time, French and EU governments officially raised this issue with their US counterparts.

A3N:   Can you tell us more about the new graphic novel, entitled Panthers in the Hole? How has it been received since being released in May?

(PHOTO: Artwork displayed at Herman Wallace’s memorial service. See more photos of the memorial service by Ann Harkness.)

Packing Heat in the Brothers’ ’Hood

By: brasch Friday October 3, 2008 1:43 pm

 

 

by Walter Brasch

 

A group of white gun-rights advocates plan to sling rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic assault weapons onto their bodies, and walk through a Black neighborhood in Houston.

PACKING HEAT

Packing Heat

What could possibly go wrong with that?!

The march through Houston’s Fifth Ward is planned for August 16 to educate Texans about their rights to openly carry firearms.

To deflect criticism that the march is racially-insensitive, the testosterone-enhanced group, apparently with straight faces to hide its freeze-dried minds, says all it wants is for racial equality.

It says because the state charges $250 for a gun permit, it unfairly discriminates against Blacks who have twice the poverty rate as Whites, and that’s why the Whites are going to march in a Black neighborhood.

Not only are these civil rights leaders going to “help” the Blacks, they even found a Black to march with them.

That Black is Maurice Muhammad, who believes it’s acceptable to kill police officers, and who has openly called for a race war in the country.

The leader of the march is C.J. Grisham, who won’t be carrying a concealed weapon. Whatever he carries will be out in the open. That’s because he has a criminal record that forbids him from carrying a concealed weapon. His conviction stems from an incident in 2013 when he carried an AR-15 on an urban hike with his teenage son—because, you never know when a herd of feral kittens will attack you. His hike occurred not far from Fort Hood where, in 2009, an Army officer launched an assault that left 13 dead and 30 wounded.

A police officer stopped Grisham; he resisted. In Texas, it’s legal to openly carry semi-automatic assault weapons; it is not legal to resist arrest and attack police officers. Grisham was so upset that his most sacred of all rights—the right to openly be stupid—was violated that he created Open Carry Texas. A jury later found him guilty of interfering with the duties of a police officer. He was fined $2,000, the maximum penalty.

Between arrest and conviction, he and his newly-formed posse decided that because Texas allows the open display of weapons of semi-mass destruction they would just go to a few department stores and restaurants, carrying their big boy toys. As expected, customers panicked, and store managers asked them not to take their guns to town. Naturally, CJ and his hole-in-the-head gang had to explain their rights under Texas law, leading to headlines and a PR disaster. A couple of months later, because sometimes it takes awhile to realize the implications of mental derangement, OCT announced it wouldn’t unleash its arsenal on Chuckie Cheese. Grisham told the Dallas News the reason was because “the gun-control extremists had hijacked our photos, and it was taking away from the focus of our mission.” Apparently, Grisham didn’t mind terrorizing Texas citizens; he did mind that liberals had pictures of what he was doing. Nevertheless, for those who miss being terrorized by nimrods showing off their phallic symbols, they can just show up at the Almeda or Galleria malls near Houston every Saturday morning.

Grisham continued his somewhat uncivil protest at a Veteran’s Day celebration at the state capitol in Austin. The Texas legislature and the executive branch oppose all them gal-dang lib’ral gun control freaks who cite statistics like how the more than 330,000 Americans were killed in the first decade of the 21st century, more than 20 times greater than all the deaths in 22 countries that are closest to the U.S. in wealth and population. They dismiss statistics that reveal there is a 22 times greater possibility of death by firearms if a home has a gun as opposed to one that doesn’t have a gun. They sneer at the facts there are more pre-school children are killed by guns than police officers killed in the line of duty.

These heavily-lobbied legislators believe everyone has a constitutional right to carry and shoot off their mouths or someone else’s legs. But, they also believe there shouldn’t be any guns in the Texas capitol. It’s a survival issue—if the press, visiting school children, and cantankerous legislators all had guns, within a few months there would have to be new elections to replace those who gave their lives for the cause of gun rights advocacy.

The cost to taxpayers of interim elections is a problem for a state that has willingly accepted being under siege by the Tea Party whackadoodle brigade whose mantra of “no guvmint; no taxes” is its justification for whatever it’s trying to justify.

Grisham was politely told three times by police to remove his handgun; three times he explained, in a way that family newspapers can’t reproduce exactly, how he had his rights. Grisham is now trying to convince the Texas legislature that openly carrying handguns, just like in the Wild West, is also the citizens’ rights.

Would there be the same level of Second Amendment concern if a Black or Hispanic gang strapped on weapons and marched through white suburbia— just peaceful-like, y’know. Just to educate the folk about the right to carry guns.

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning journalist, is author of 20 books, including Fracking Pennsylvania, an overall view of the health, environmental, political, and economic issues.]

Sunday Food; Water at Work Sites (Archaeological, especially)

By: Ruth Calvo Friday March 2, 2012 2:00 pm

Archaeology work site, IX’noha, Belize

 

Hot, dirty, work going on.

An unavoidable fact of increasing complexity is our need for water, a resource that is becoming more rare and more precious as population increases and spreads into areas where it is scarce.   Working in the tropics I had daily reminders, written and oral, to stay hydrated, and we took large containers of water with us every day into the fields.

A lecture given in the field instruction was to notice if we showed signs of dehydration, that include slurred speech, crabbiness, loss of balance, and general disorientation.   We were told to watch for those signs in other workers, and the injunction was occasionally given, and taken, that we needed to go have a drink of water.  Sometimes it was a joke, and a comment on silly judgment or behavior that was taken easily.   Occasionally it was serious.

  • The signs and symptoms of dehydration range from minor to severe and include:
    • Increased thirst
    • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
    • Weakness
    • Dizziness
    • Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
    • Confusion
    • Sluggishness fainting
    • Fainting
    • Inability to sweat
    • Decreased urine output

Fussiness was a symptom that had been experienced in the field work we did, so was included in our course of instruction.

Of course, the people out there doing this work were engaged in an avocation that makes it worthwhile, and we found things that made us proud of the work.   Taking safety precautions like making sure we took along large, heavy bottles of water and constantly refilled them, and ourselves, wasn’t onerous if it kept us going.   The few who had to drop out of field work would much have preferred to go on sweating and straining.   There was a lot to do cleaning, sorting, labeling and cataloguing the objects and artifacts that came in from the field and they were producing as much as workers outside in the dirt were, also.

So many people have asked for a bit of information about archaeological digs, that I hope this answers some more questions.   The day in the field is not a full eight hours, because that would be a killer.   Also, full hour at noon for lunch was enforced.   Even our professor contingent didn’t have the lack of supervision that they might keep going.   It’s not worth dying, to take that one last shovelful.

The artifacts that come back from the field are available for display at the museums of the country they are found in, and when I visited Belize City, I did go to the archaeological museum and find a few things about out digs.   There is not a lot of money for the displays, and there is a lot in storage that you only will see if you look for it.  If you want a link to our specific work, here you are.  Incidentally, the fourth largest cache of jade artifacts found in the Americas was discovered at Blue Creek.   The dig we worked on this year is IX’noha, and is conducted by the Blue Creek project as part of its ongoing exploration of the historically rich area.    The Blue Creek jade cache was found on the last day of a dig, something that has become a modus operandi with the Maya Research Program, for reasons unknown and not appreciated.

 

Jade ear ornaments displayed in Belize City archaeology museum from Blue Creek.