Daily Archive: 08/30/2013

Aug 30 2013

DOJ to Let States Legalize Marijuana

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would no longer seek to reverse state law that legalize the use of marijuana. However, it still leaves the door open for abuse and harassment by individual US Attornies.

Eric Holder Says DOJ Will Let Washington, Colorado Marijuana Laws Go Into Effect

by Ryan J. Reilly and Ryan Grim, Huffington Post

Deputy Attorney General James Cole also issued a three-and-a-half page memo to U.S. attorneys across the country. “The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests,” it reads. “A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.”

The memo also outlines eight priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws. According to the guidance, DOJ will still prosecute individuals or entities to prevent:

  • the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
  • the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  • state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  • violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
  • preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

The eight high-priority areas leave prosecutors bent on targeting marijuana businesses with a fair amount of leeway, especially the exception for “adverse public health consequences.” And prosecutors have shown a willingness to aggressively interpret DOJ guidance in the past, as the many medical marijuana dispensary owners now behind bars can attest.

Longtime investigative reporter and co-founder of FAIR, the national media watch group, Martin Lee joined Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! to discuss the changes:

“There is so much cultural momentum with respect to marijuana, there is a significant shift in place that the politicians are now starting to catch up to it,” says Martin Lee, longtime investigative reporter and author of several books, including “Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational and Scientific.” He also notes that “the guidance issue made by the Department of Justice yesterday is kind of littered with caveats and red flags.”



Transcript can be read here

Aug 30 2013

Rebellion in the small things.

Turn off your TV (I mean, unless you’re watching a movie or something).

Transcript

Transcript

Transcript

Aug 30 2013

Train Wreck

Yup.  That screaming sound you hear is the Obama Administration going off the rails.

In honor of John Kerry who I once voted for, I have written a poem that summarizes his presentation.  It’s called Babies in Incubators.

Babies in Incubators

Of course we can’t tell you how we know.  We just know.  Trust us.

We know.  We know.  We know.

We just know.

Will you guys shut up already?  We have high, high confidence.

It’s just common sense.

Why are you laughing?  Why don’t you believe me?

It matters.  It really matters.  It’s about our credibility.

Who’s this allies kimosabe?

It’s not about proof.  It’s about our phoney baloney jobs.  It’s about history.  Did I mention the dead babies?  Here are some more pictures of dead babies.  Aren’t you outraged yet?  These babies are so much deader than the ones we blew up.

We know we know.  We believe in the United Nations.  They will not name who did this.  Russia will obstruct us.  This is in our interests.

Believe me.

Don’t you understand Tinkerbell will die?

This is totally different from Iraq and Afghanistan.

We KNOW.  We know there is no military solution.  Therefore we must bomb.

Evidence?  I defy you to find a scrap, scintilla, or jot of evidence.

Aug 30 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Hans Blix: Even if Assad Used Chemical Weapons, The West Has No Mandate to Act as a Global Policeman

By ordering air strikes against Syria without UN security council support, Obama will be doing the same as Bush in 2003

It is true that the UN security council is not a reliable global policeman. It may be slow to take action, or paralysed because of disagreement between members. But do we want the US or Nato or “alliances of willing states” as global policemen either? Unlike George Bush in 2003, the Obama administration is not trigger-happy and contemptuous of the United Nations and the rules of its charter, which allow the use of armed force only in self-defence or with an authorisation from the security council. Yet Obama, like Bush and Blair, seems ready to ignore the council and order armed strikes on Syria with political support from only the UK, France and some others.

Such action could not be “in self-defence” or “retaliation”, as the US, the UK and France have not been attacked. To punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons would be the action of self-appointed global policemen – action that, in my view, would be very unwise.

Dan Gillmor: America’s next president had better believe in restoring liberty

Our founders had their flaws, and huge moral blind spots – but on liberty, they were way ahead of their time

Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedules to listen to me. I want you to do more than listen, though; I want you to hear me because nothing I talk about in this campaign is more important than what I’m going to discuss today.

The topic is liberty.

We are losing our liberty. In some cases, it’s being taken away. In others, we are giving it away. If we don’t reverse course, and soon, we will lose it entirely. And if that happens, we will lose our republic.

Liberty is our civic lifeblood. Our founders had their flaws, and huge moral blind spots. But on liberty, as it has come to be understood, they were way ahead of their time. Every American – everyone – should know by heart a quotation from before the American Revolution. It is widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and it goes like this: “Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Paul Rosenberg: Obama is closer to Nixon than to MLK

The US president’s militaristic foreign policy shows how far removed he is from the civil rights leader’s ideas.

Because Barack Obama is the United States’ first black president, there are many who still automatically associate him with Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. And with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it’s virtually a knee-jerk reaction to associate his presidency with the fulfillment of King’s dream.

But, as the almost-simultaneous sentencing of Chelsea nee Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison should remind us, a more accurate historical comparison to that time would link Obama to Richard Nixon, rather than King. Nixon, after all, tried to have Daniel Ellsberg jailed for revealing the Pentagon Papers, and Ellsberg himself has said, “I’m sure that President Obama would have sought a life sentence in my case.”

Laura Flanders: President Obama, The Price for Using the ’63 Movement is a Peace Conference on Syria

Yesterday, on August 28, fifty years after the historic March on Washington, President Obama participated in celebrations on the Lincoln Memorial steps. At the same time, he’s considering authorizing military action in Syria. I’m sorry Mr. President, but you cannot simultaneously commemorate a nonviolent movement and contemplate military strikes.

The King family charged for use of Dr. King’s words and image on the Memorial so many have visited. If there can be a charge for the use of a man’s words can’t there also be a charge for use of his movement?

What would be a fair price? It can’t be more lofty presidential words. President  Obama has given us volumes of words-on closing Guantanamo, ending torture, and respecting the Constitution, even as he’s expanded the war on terror, and let loose another on Americans’ rights with NSA spying and wiretaps.  There have been no trials for war criminals or war profiteers or banksters, but there have been agonizing trials for whistleblowers, the poor and the weakest amongst us.

Amy Goodman: Just say no to nuclear power – from Fukushima to Vermont

Fukushima showed us the intolerable costs of nuclear power. The citizens of Vermont show us the benefits of shutting it down

Welcome to the nuclear renaissance.

Entergy Corp, one of the largest nuclear-power producers in the US, issued a surprise press release Tuesday, saying it plans “to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014.” Although the press release came from the corporation, it was years of people’s protests and state legislative action that forced its closure. At the same time that activists celebrate this key defeat of nuclear power, officials in Japan admitted that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe are far worse than previously acknowledged.

Sonali Kolhatkar: How the FBI Secretly Denies Muslim Immigrants Their Citizenship

When foreign-born US residents apply for citizenship they painstakingly jump through every legal hoop, fill out endless forms, hand over wads of cash, and nervously await a response from the government for months and sometimes years.

They rightly expect their applications to be processed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security. They do not expect to have their citizenship application decided by a law enforcement agency like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

But, for many Muslim applicants, we now know thanks to the ACLU, that the USCIS secretly consults the FBI to exercise a discretionary authority seemingly designed with Muslims in mind, to indefinitely postpone or deny applications if they deem the applicants “suspicious.”

Aug 30 2013

On This Day In History August 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 30 is the 242nd day of the year (243rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 123 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American jurist and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Before becoming a judge, he was a lawyer who was best remembered for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education. He was nominated to the court by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.

Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland on July 2, 1908, the great-grandson of a slave who was born in modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo.His original name was Thoroughgood, but he shortened it to Thurgood  in second grade because he disliked spelling it. His father, William Marshall, who was a railroad porter, instilled in him an appreciation for the Constitution of the United States and the rule of law.

Marshall graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore in 1925 and from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1930. Afterward, Marshall wanted to apply to his hometown law school, the University of Maryland School of Law, but the dean told him that he would not be accepted because of the school’s segregation policy. Later, as a civil rights litigator, he successfully sued the school for this policy in the case of Murray v. Pearson. As he could not attend the University of Maryland, Marshall sought admission and was accepted at Howard University School of Law.

Marshall received his law degree from the Howard University School of Law in 1933 where he graduated first in his class.

Marshall won his very first U.S. Supreme Court case, Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227 (1940), at the age of 32. That same year, he was appointed Chief Counsel for the NAACP. He argued many other cases before the Supreme Court, most of them successfully, including Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944); Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948); Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950); and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950). His most famous case as a lawyer was Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” public education, as established by Plessy v. Ferguson, was not applicable to public education because it could never be truly equal. In total, Marshall won 29 out of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

Marshall served on the Court for the next twenty-four years, compiling a liberal record that included strong support for Constitutional protection of individual rights, especially the rights of criminal suspects against the government. His most frequent ally on the Court (indeed, the pair rarely voted at odds) was Justice William Brennan, who consistently joined him in supporting abortion rights and opposing the death penalty. Brennan and Marshall concluded in Furman v. Georgia that the death penalty was, in all circumstances, unconstitutional, and never accepted the legitimacy of Gregg v. Georgia, which ruled four years later that the death penalty was constitutional in some circumstances. Thereafter, Brennan or Marshall dissented from every denial of certiorari in a capital case and from every decision upholding a sentence of death.[citation needed] In 1987, Marshall gave a controversial speech on the occasion of the bicentennial celebrations of the Constitution of the United States. Marshall stated,

   

“the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and major social transformations to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the freedoms and individual rights, we hold as fundamental today.”

In conclusion Marshall stated

   

“Some may more quietly commemorate the suffering, struggle, and sacrifice that has triumphed over much of what was wrong with the original document, and observe the anniversary with hopes not realized and promises not fulfilled. I plan to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution as a living document, including the Bill of Rights and the other amendments protecting individual freedoms and human rights.”

He retired from the Supreme Court in 1991, and was reportedly unhappy that it would fall to President George H. W. Bush to name his replacement. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace Marshall.

Marshall died of heart failure at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, at 2:58 p.m. on January 24, 1993 at the age of 84. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His second wife and their two sons survived him

On November 30, 1993, Justice Marshall was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.

Aug 30 2013

TDS/TCR (Corn)

TDS TCR

Aug 30 2013

Going Alone

Barack Obama now faces the fact that if the US bombs Syria it will be totally alone and without allies, except maybe France.

The Arab League has condemned Syria but refuses to call for the use of force.

Turkey has backed out after it was reveled the the primary intelligence alleging the Assad government used Chemical Weapons relies on an Israeli communications intercept of a low ranking officer and a Syrian defector who dubiously ‘claims’ inside contacts in the Assad regime.

The UN Security Council will surely reject a authorization to use force and the UN inspection team has withdrawn after inconclusive results.

And now this-

Cameron forced to rule out British attack on Syria after MPs reject motion

Nicholas Watt and Nick Hopkins, Guardian

Thursday 29 August 2013 18.07 EDT

David Cameron indicated on Thursday evening that Britain would not take part in military action against Syria after the government lost a crucial vote on an already watered-down amendment that was designed to pave the way to intervention in the war-torn country.

In a devastating blow to his authority, the prime minister lost a government motion by 272 votes to 285 – an opposition majority of 13 – after scores of Tory MPs voted with Labour.



Labour claimed that the government ran into trouble when Nick Clegg struggled, in the closing minutes of the debate, to answer concerns on all sides of the house that the government motion would have taken Britain closer to joining a US military operation against the Assad regime in Syria after last week’s chemical weapons attack.

One MP shouted “resign” as the results were read out by the speaker. David Cameron said the government would respect the decision of parliament which means that Britain will not take part in military strikes against Syria.

Asked by Ed Miliband for an assurance that he would not use the royal prerogative to sanction British involvement in the military action, the prime told MPs: “I can give that assurance. Let me say, the House has not voted for either motion tonight. I strongly believe in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in respecting the will of this House of Commons.

“It is very clear tonight that, while the House has not passed a motion, it is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action.

“I get that and the government will act accordingly.”



The shock result means that Cameron becomes the first British prime minister in decades unable to deliver British troops to a joint military operation with the US. Whitehall sources had said Barack Obama was willing to show some patience for Britain but he would need to launch strikes against Syria before he leaves for the G20 summit in Russia next Tuesday. The New York Times reported on Thursday night that Obama is preparing to act alone at the weekend.

Earlier, the prime minister had tried to make a virtue out of conceding that MPs were to be given a second vote on any military action by saying that he had allowed UN time and giving parliament a major say on the crisis.

Cameron moved to build the case for action by releasing a three-page assessment of the Joint Intelligence Committee which said it was “highly likely” the Assad regime launched the chemical weapons attack. But the document failed to ascribe a motive to the regime for the attack.

Downing Street also released a government summary of the legal advice by the attorney general, Dominic Grieve, which said military action would be lawful “under the doctrine of humanitarian intervention”.

So, they got nothing except “trust us, we know what we’re doing.”

Neither has Obama.  If the intent was to restore his credibility after he drew a bright red line, that mission has already failed.

No one in the Mid-East, indeed no one in Europe, views him as anything but Netanyahu’s lap dog and no amount of bombing will fix that.

Obama administration to press case on Syria but support for strikes wavers

Paul Lewis and Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Thursday 29 August 2013 15.53 EDT

The UK released an intelligence assessment on Thursday that said it was “highly likely” that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for a chemical attack that killed hundreds in a Damascus suburb last week.

However, the document contained few specifics, and failure by the US and UK to say with absolute certainty that the attacks were conducted by the Syrian government have prompted challenging questions in Congress and led to signs of growing anxiety among traditional US allies.

It has also prompted comparisons with Iraq in 2003, when the US launched an invasion on the pretext of weapons of mass destructions that were never found. “As it relates to the situation in Iraq, I don’t agree these are similar situations,” deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday.



In a sign of the importance the White House is attaching to support from Capitol Hill, the briefings with “congressional leaders and the chairs and ranking members of national security committees” would be given by the secretary of state John Kerry, and secretary of defence Chuck Hagel.

Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice and director of national intelligence James Clapper will also participate in the briefing.



France has also called for a delay to any military action until the UN inspectors complete their work.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, instructed the 20-strong inspection team in Damascus to leave on Saturday, a day before they had expected to leave. Ban also announced the team would report to him immediately on departure.

Military and foreign policy experts were split over whether the US would forge ahead with cruise missile strikes against Syria. Obama, who has long been reluctant to be engaged militarily in the Middle East, is now considering the prospect of taking military action with less international support than George Bush’s 2003 invasion of in Iraq.

However, Earnest, the White House deputy spokesman, seemed to confirm that was a possibility when he was asked whether the US would “go it alone”.

Earnest repeatedly said it was in US “core national security interests” to enforce international chemical weapons norms. “The president of the United States is elected with the duty to protect the national security interests of America,” he said. “The decisions he makes about our foreign policy is with our national security interests front and centre.”

Analysts said that with the Arab League condemning Syria but not backing military action, and no prospect of a UN security council mandate, reluctance on the part of Britain and France could prove a problem for the US.



Ken Pollack, a former CIA analyst now at the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy, said that with continuing uncertainty over the intelligence picture, and no obvious legal mandate for military action, the US will be desperate to secure more international backing to argue intervention is “legitimate”.

“If the administration can’t even count of the full-throated support of our closest ally, the country that stuck by us even during the worst days of Iraq, that legitimacy is going to be called into question,” he said.

Criminal, or just stupid?

The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which followed World War II, called the waging of aggressive war “essentially an evil thing…to initiate a war of aggression…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”- Robert H. Jackson

Aug 30 2013

Where the F*** are our priorities?

Apparently they’re somewhere up Miley Cyrus’s ass, which is where I wouldn’t mind being right now.  Yes, I’m a pig.  Sue me for having a penis and a hetero orientation.

But seriously, where the FUCK are our priorities?  Barry Obama — the fascist who by most honest accounts is even crazier, more totalitarian, more pro-corporate, and demonstrably worse than Dick Cheney — is preparing to wage an unauthorized war against Syria, repeating what he did to Libya (itself carried out in violation of the Constitution).  Our own government is spying on, literally, every single communication it can vacuum up into its databases without so much as a shred of due process.  The dictator of the United States executes American citizens who haven’t even been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime at all, nothing warranting the death penalty.  Those who expose crimes by our government are imprisoned, tortured, prosecuted in kangaroo trials, forced into hiding in foreign countries, or some combination thereof.  The planet is heating up.  Corporations have uncontested control over our daily lives.  People are starving, dying of thirst, forced to endure extreme poverty while the wealthy get fatter and fatter.

But our overwhelming obsession right now is some twenty-year-old hottie grinding up against a no-talent male diva dressed up like he raided Michael Keaton’s wardrobe from the film Beetlejuice.  That same no-talent male diva, by the way, sang a song about “blurred lines” of sexual consent, which was also released to a video featuring naked women prancing around acting like mere sex objects.  No wonder Matt Walsh was going apeshit.  While most critics were bashing some dumb kid barely out of high school, they were ignoring the supposedly grown man (who’s married with kids of his own, by the way) whose own antics really were a lot worse than anything Miley Cyrus could do on her most Lady Gaga-esque day.

What the FUCK, people?

Are people’s priorities really this skewed?  Is there nothing left of American culture but vapid, shallow obsessions with matters that, in a sane world, wouldn’t even merit mention on the nightly news?  Chris Matthews bitches about how unqualified he thinks Anthony Weiner is to be mayor of New York City for trading dirty pictures with his mistress over the cellular phone, even as he ignores the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, David Vitter, and Larry Craig, all of whom have been caught cheating on their wives, and yet never do I hear Matthews declaring that for this they ought to drop out of politics altogether.  Then again, Matthews embodies everything that is wrong with American journalism today: shallow, vapid, craven, and sucking up to power regardless of how criminal those in power are.

While the world goes to hell in a hand basket, more people are talking about Miley Cyrus, the no-talent daughter of a no-talent country singer whose sole claim to fame was standing around in an open flannel shirt twanging a guitar repeating “achy breaky heart” as though that qualifies as music.

Am I the only goddamned grownup left in this country?  No.  But days like today, I feel like I am.