RSSCategory: Law

Why is Obama ramping up the war on marijuana?

April 12, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
Why is Obama ramping up the war on marijuana?

The war on drugs, including the war on marijuana (i.e., prohibition) is extremely expensive and destructive, and a strong majority of Democrats now approves of medical marijuana. With that as the backdrop, why is Barack Obama cranking up the war on medical cannabis patients, providers and, in some cases, their advocates?

At Alternet, Paul Armentano reviews the draconian steps being taken by the Obama Administration and considered several possible explanations for reigniting the drug war with regard to marijuana. Is this the result of pressure put on the Administration by Big Pharma, which will soon market a cannabis-based drug? Is it pressure by drug-war hawks? Perhaps these are factors, but Armentano argues that Obama fears that Americans were starting to see the truth about about the hyped-up federal fear-mongering about marijuana:

While the passage and enactment of statewide medical marijuana laws – 16 states and the District of Columbia now have laws recognizing marijuana’s therapeutic use on the books – is not solely driving the public’s shift in support for broader legalization, it is arguably a major factor. Why? The answer is simple. Tens of millions of Americans residing in these states are learning, first hand, that they can coexist with marijuana being legal! And that is the lesson the federal government fears most. In states like California and Colorado, voters have largely become accustomed to the reality that there can be safe, secure, well-run businesses that deliver consistent, reliable, tested cannabis products. They have come to understand that well-regulated cannabis dispensaries can revitalize sagging economies, provide jobs, and contribute taxes to budget-starved localities. Most importantly, the public in these states and others are finally realizing that all the years of scaremongering by the government about what would happen if marijuana were legal, even for sick people, was nothing but hysterical propaganda. As a result, a majority of American voters are now for the first time asking their federal officials: ‘Why we don’t just legalize marijuana for everyone in a similarly responsible manner?’

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Mitt Romney earns $21M, pays 13% in taxes

April 12, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
Mitt Romney earns $21M, pays 13% in taxes

Robert Reich argues that it is grossly unfair that Mitt Romney earns $21M, but pays only 13% in taxes. He argues that many private-equity, hedge-fund, and pension-fund managers are often playing “con games” that screw the American taxpayers. He offers several solutions:

1. Don’t allow private-equity managers to treat their income as capital gains, taxed at 15 percent. Treat this income as ordinary income.

2. Hold them to a “due diligence” standard, so the Pension Guaranty Corporation can claw back bonuses.

3. Raise the capital-gains rate to match the tax rate on ordinary income.

4. Resurrect Glass-Steagall.

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Thirteen ways the federal government loves you

April 10, 2012 | By | Reply More
Thirteen ways the federal government loves you

Actually, these are 13 ways the U.S. government loves to follow you around and spy on you, compiled by Bill Quigley, who is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.

Privacy is eroding fast as technology offers government increasing ways to track and spy on citizens. The Washington Post reported there are 3,984 federal, state and local organizations working on domestic counterterrorism. Most collect information on people in the US.

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More on the U.S. law enforcement warrantless seizures of private data of Americans

April 8, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
More on the U.S. law enforcement warrantless seizures of private data of Americans

I’ve posted on this topic before, based on one of Glenn Greenwald’s articles. I am at a loss for any legitimate reason for the U.S. to seize, without a search warrant, private information of Americans who are in the process of re-entering the United States. This includes seizure of cell phones and laptops and demands for the passwords. Greenwald’s newest report gives the shocking statistics:

A 2011 FOIA request from the ACLU revealed that just in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant. Typifying the target of these invasive searches is Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old dual French-American citizen and an Islamic Studies Ph.D. student who was traveling from Montreal to New York on an Amtrak train in 2011 when he was stopped at the border, questioned by DHS agents, handcuffed, taken off the train and kept in a holding cell for several hours before being released without charges; those DHS agents seized his laptop and returned it 11 days later when, the ACLU explains, “there was evidence that many of his personal files, including research, photos and chats with his girlfriend, had been searched.” That’s just one case of thousands, all without any oversight, transparency, legal checks, or any demonstration of wrongdoing.

Greenwald’s report also gives us details regarding a recent detention of award-winning film-maker Laura Poitras, who has been detained and questioned 40 times by U.S. Border Authority:

Each time this has happened in the past, Poitras has taken notes during the entire process: in order to chronicle what is being done to her, document the journalistic privileges she asserts and her express lack of consent, obtain the names of the agents involved, and just generally to cling to some level of agency. This time, however, she was told by multiple CBP agents that she was prohibited from taking notes on the ground that her pen could be used as a weapon. After she advised them that she was a journalist and that her lawyer had advised her to keep notes of her interrogations, one of them, CBP agent Wassum, threatened to handcuff her if she did not immediately stop taking notes.

Greenwald then details yet another incident, this one involving David House, an activist who helped found the Bradley Manning Support Network. The details are equally disturbing. There is some consolation, in that U.S. District Judge Denise Casper, an Obama-appointed judge in the District of Massachusetts, has reviewed allegations from a case brought by House and so far refused to dismiss House’ case against the United States. Other aspects of that case are less than satisfying, though, for those of us who still think that the First and Fourth Amendments are good ideas.

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Police officer fabricating

March 31, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
Police officer fabricating

A harassed driver named Terrance Huff was lied to and threatened by of a police officer named Michael Reichert outside of the city of Collinsville, Illinois. Huff is also a filmmaker, and he has offered us this vivid lesson in how the police sometimes lie.

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Exploring copyright math

March 30, 2012 | By | Reply More
Exploring copyright math

Rob Reid has some extremely serious points to make through his humorous six-minute talk. Excellent and well-deserved attack on copyright content owners.

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Member of Congress moves protester to solitary confinement

March 28, 2012 | By | Reply More
Member of Congress moves protester to solitary confinement

Remember Tim DeChristopher? The latest news is that a vindictive member of Congress had him moved into solitary confinement.

Tim DeChristopher (climate activist currently serving a 2-year prison sentence for outbidding oil and gas companies at an illegitimate BLM auction in 2008) was summarily removed from the minimum security camp where he has been held since September 2011, and moved into the FCI Herlong’s Special Housing Unit (SHU). Tim was informed by Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington DC, complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his legal fund contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own.

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The joint evil of the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial-Complex

March 23, 2012 | By | Reply More
The joint evil of the War on Drugs and the Prison-Industrial-Complex

From
Fareed Zakaria’s comment at Time Magazine:

In 2009 alone, 1.66 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, more than were arrested on assault or larceny charges. And 4 of 5 of those arrests were simply for possession….[T]he money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education in the past 20 years. In 2011, California spent $9.6 billion on prisons vs. $5.7 billion on the UC system and state colleges. Since 1980, California has built one college campus and 21 prisons. A college student costs the state $8,667 per year; a prisoner costs it $45,006 a year.

The results are gruesome at every ­level. We are creating a vast prisoner under­class in this country at huge expense, increasingly unable to function in normal society, all in the name of a war we have already lost….

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The Other Sides

March 23, 2012 | By | Reply More
The Other Sides

Let’s imagine the conflict known as the Civil War. It had been brewing since before the Constitution was ratified. The issues were marrow deep in American society, so much so that any attempt to address the issue of slavery was, in effect, a deal breaker for the new nation. The South made it abundantly clear that any action on the part of the North to write into the new guiding document the idea that black slaves were somehow deserving of the liberty being claimed for their white owners—and thereby signaling the end of slavery among the Thirteen Colonies—would be met with absolute refusal to play. Had the reformers, exemplified by the likes of Benjamin Franklin, tried to assert any kind of racial equality at the time, the United States would have been stillborn.

Instead, they put a time limit into the document—20 years—which forbade the topic from even being discussed in Congress until that later year, at which time, presumably, the issue would come to the floor for some kind of resolution. History shows that every such attempt was met with denunciations by southern members of Congress and often with threats of secession—which by then were illegal.

Make no mistake, as some revisionists might have you believe, secession was not an option and everyone who voted to ratify the Constitution knew it. Contrary to popular mythology, the original 13 states locked themselves together permanently.

[More . . . ]

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