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Sunday, 17 August 2014 12:44
The 14th annual Global Fest in the Barrens (www.barrenglobalfest.com) returns to Glasgow-Barren County on Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 10:00 A.M. To 5:00 P.M. held on the Glasgow Public Square in Glasgow, Kentucky. Global Fest is a Celebration of World Cultures and American Unity that promotes interaction among diverse individuals by discovering their similarities and differences. A fun filled day promoting Education, Entertainment, Children’s Activities, sharing and enjoying the Diversity in our community. New this year is recognition of Global Fest Deceased Members. We also welcome Pleasant Valley Baptist, Uno who will sponsor International Games and Crafts for youth and Caveland Church who will sponsor Children’s activities. New entertainment this year is Plain Jane Rock Band, Hector Montenegro, and the Head Liner this year is Perfect Fit Band.
Brother Jordan Woodie from Coral Hill Baptist will provide the Invocation and Julie Ann will sing the National Anthem.
Kentucky Music will provide the Sound System that will fill the air with Gospel Music provided by the Nesbitt Family from Tennessee. Country Music will be provided by Silver Eagle Band, Author Hatfield and Buck Creek, will provide Blue Grass Music,
Hector Montenegro will sing love songs.
The Head liner this year is Perfect Fit who will present a Genre of R&B, Motown, Blues and Top Hits.
Omega Force Worlds Famous Strong Team will deliver a message of hope.
Sisters with Praise will deliver a message through song and dance.
Children’s World (next to Commonwealth Broadway Building) is sponsored by Glasgow Barren Co. Tourist and Convention Commission, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brother & Big Sister, Pleasant Valley Baptist of Uno, and Cave Land Church. Children will talk to Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer look a likes. Broadway the Clown will entertain the children with balloons and candy. The Zippy Pets, Train Ride and Bungee Bounce Jump will return this year. Activities for the children will include Face painting, Inflatable, Piñata Burst, and International Crafts and Games.
Cultural Educational Exhibits include: African American, American, African, Chinese, Japan, Mexican, Native Americans Indians, Nicaragua, Philippine, Thailand, German, Italian, Bosnian and Cambodian, French, and Spanish. Movies of World Cultures will be showing at George J’s. Passports and Stamps will be available in the Gazebo near the stage. A prize will be given away to the person who collects all the stamps in the Passport.
Tasty Cuisine will be provided by: B&D BBQ, New Orleans Style Snowball & BBQ, Tater BBQ, C & D BBQ, Shogun- Japanese, Anna’s Greek Restaurant – Greek, Backyard Party Creation- Carnival food, and Papa John’s Pizza, La Nacional-Mexican Food and Horse Cave Baptist Church Male Ministry-Fish, George J’s Diner-French.
Support Local Glasgow Downtown Businesses. Global Fest welcomes two new restaurants in downtown Glasgow, Shogun and Miqueals Bistro.
The information desk is located on the right of the main stage. Register for door prizes, festival schedule information and Tourist Travel Logs.
Global Fest is a Free Family Community Festival.
Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014 10:34 pm
Candidates in nonpartisan races participated Thursday in a drawing to determine ballot positions for the Nov. 4 general election.
The drawing was at the Kentucky secretary of state’s office for candidates who filed there, but each county also had a drawing for local candidates in municipal and school board races.
Proceeding one race at a time, candidates or their proxies drew a number in the order in which they filed to run for their respective offices. In the order indicated by that number, each person then drew another number that determined the ballot position. Anyone who was not present and did not have a proxy designated and submitted by the time the drawing began automatically got the bottom spot on the list.
The party listed first on the ballot for partisan races is determined at the secretary of state’s office according to state law, said Amanda Sturgeon, elections coordinator in the Barren County Clerk’s Office, after the drawings had concluded.
The Caverna Independent Schools district is in both Barren and Hart counties, so the clerks in those counties decide which county will have the drawing to determine ballot positions for board of education candidates in both counties, Sturgeon said. On Thursday, the drawing was in Barren County.
Voters residing within that school district in either county can vote for any of the six candidates, regardless of the candidates’ counties of residence.
Drawings did not take place Thursday for races with only enough candidates to fill the available seats – such as the Glasgow Independent Schools Board of Education, which has three slots and three candidates.
The ballot positions determined in Thursday’s drawing – in the order of the drawings – in the Fiscal Court Chambers in the Barren County Government Center are:
Glasgow City Council
By Todd Starnes
Published July 02, 2014
A government-contracted security force threatened to arrest doctors and nurses if they divulged any information about the contagion threat at a refugee camp housing illegal alien children at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, sources say.
In spite of the threat, several former camp workers broke their confidentiality agreements and shared exclusive details with me about the dangerous conditions at the camp. They said taxpayers deserve to know about the contagious diseases and the risks the children pose to Americans. I have agreed to not to disclose their identities because they fear retaliation and prosecution.
My sources say Americans should be very concerned about the secrecy of the government camps.
“There were several of us who wanted to talk about the camps, but the agents made it clear we would be arrested,” a psychiatric counselor told me. “We were under orders not to say anything.”
The sources said workers were guarded by a security force from the Baptist Family & Children’s Services, which the Department of Health and Human Services hired to run the Lackland Camp.
The sources say security forces called themselves the “Brown Shirts.”
“It was a very submissive atmosphere,” the counselor said. “Once you stepped onto the grounds, you abided by their laws – the Brown Shirt laws.”
She said the workers were stripped of their cellphones and other communication devices. Anyone caught with a phone was immediately fired.
“Everyone was paranoid,” she said. “The children had more rights than the workers.”
She said children in the camp had measles, scabies, chicken pox and strep throat as well as mental and emotional issues.
“It was not a good atmosphere in terms of health,” she said. “I would be talking to children and lice would just be climbing down their hair.”
A former nurse at the camp told me she was horrified by what she saw.
“We have so many kids coming in that there was no way to control all of the sickness – all this stuff coming into the country,” she said. “We were very concerned at one point about strep going around the base.”
Both the counselor and the nurse said their superiors tried to cover up the extent of the illnesses.
“When they found out the kids had scabies, the charge nurse was adamant – ‘Don’t mention that. Don’t say scabies,’” the nurse recounted. “But everybody knew they had scabies. Some of the workers were very concerned about touching things and picking things up. They asked if they should be concerned, but they were told don’t worry about it.”
The nurse said the lice issue was epidemic – but everything was kept “hush-hush.”
“You could see the bugs crawling through their hair,” she said. “After we would rinse out their hair, the sink would be loaded with black bugs.”
The nurse told me she became especially alarmed because their files indicated the children had been transported to Lackland on domestic charter buses and airplanes.
“That’s what alerted me,” she said. “Oh, my God. They’re flying these kids around. Nobody knows that these children have scabies and lice. To tell you the truth, there’s no way to control it.”
I don’t mean to upset anyone’s Independence Day vacation plans, but were these kids transported to the camps before or after they were deloused? Anyone who flies the friendly skies could be facing a public health concern.
The counselor told me the refugee camp resembled a giant emergency room – off limits to the public.
“They did not want the community to know,” she said. “I initially spoke out at Lackland because I had a concern the children’s mental health care was not being taken care of.”
She said the breaking point came when camp officials refused to hospitalize several children who were suicidal.
“I made a recommendation that a child needed to be sent to a psychiatric unit,” the counselor told me. “He was reaching psychosis. He was suicidal. Instead of treating him, they sent him off to a family in the United States.”
She said she filed a Child Protective Services report and quit her job.
“I didn’t want to lose my license if this kid committed suicide,” she told me. “I was done.”
The counselor kept a detailed journal about what happened during her tenure at the facility.
“When people read that journal they are going to be astonished,” she said. ‘I don’t think they will believe what is going on in America.”
So it was not a great surprise, she said, when she received a call from federal agents demanding that she return to the military base and hand over her journal.
She said she declined to do so.
“I didn’t go back to Lackland,” she said.
Both workers told me while they have no regrets, they want to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
“They’re going to crush the system,” the nurse told me. “We can’t sustain this. They are overwhelming the system and I think it’s a travesty.”
Baptist Family & Childen’s Services spokeswoman Krista Piferrer tells me the agency takes “any allegation of malfeasance or inappropriate care of a child very seriously.”
“There are a number of checks and balances to ensure children are receiving appropriate and adequate mental health care,” she said.
Piferrer said the clinicians are supervised by a federal field specialist from HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. She also said BFCS have 58 medical professionals serving at Lackland.
“Every illness, whether it is a headache or something more serious, is recorded in a child’s electronic medical record and posted on WebEOC – a real-time, web-based platform that is visible to not only BFCS but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” she said.
As for those brown shirts, the BFCS said they are “incident management team personnel” – who happen to wear tan shirts.
My sources say Americans should be very concerned about the secrecy of the government camps.
“This is just the beginning,” one source told me. "It is a long-term financial responsibility.”
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is "God Less America”.
The War On Coal Miners: How Companies Hide The Threat Of Black Lung From Watchdogs And Workers
Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 11:16 am
By the Daily News |
A Metcalfe County judge issued a domestic violence order of protection against Glasgow Police Department Sgt. Jarrod Steele, department spokeswoman Julie Anne Williams said.
The order is in place for two years and prohibits Steele from possession of any guns while not on police duty, Williams said.
Glasgow Police Chief Guy Turcotte put Steele on paid administrative leave until further notice.
This is the second Glasgow officer in two weeks to face domestic violence accusations.
Officer Joseph Ford’s estranged wife, Katja Ford, 38, filed June 10 for an emergency protective order, Barren Circuit Court records show. The following day, she filed for divorce.
The file containing the protection order is not open for public inspection. Kentucky State Police served a domestic violence summons on Ford earlier.
By MONEY MORNING STAFF REPORTS
Until now, Operation BlueStar has been kept hidden from the public by members of Congress, governors of four states, and major silicon heavyweights.
But by the end of 2015, it’s set to impact 98% of the U.S. population.
Initially, Operation BlueStar is expected to disrupt $737 billion of the U.S. economy. And that’s just the beginning.
Forbes describes the end game of what’s been put in motion as “world-changing.”
See More: Robinson reveals the exact location of Operation BlueStar, which military experts have dubbed the “New Area 51.” Once you see what’s going to be built there, you’ll understand why this has been kept so secret. Click here for more.
The top military think tank, the Rocky Mountain Institute, described its impact as the equivalent of “reinventing fire.”
Yet, few Americans have any idea what Operation BlueStar is, or how it’s about to transform this country. That’s why 34-year Silicon Valley insider Michael Robinson performed his own investigation into it.
Robinson says there’s an “economic war” brewing among the states trying to control Operation BlueStar.
The stakes couldn’t be higher—the potential to control $737 billion of the U.S. economy and impact 8 million jobs.
Robinson’s research has led him to four states in particular that are at the center of this project.
And he’s found the exact location of this secretive military project, which is projected to be 1,000 acres and include a 10-million square foot facility.
Robinson isn’t the only one investigating Operation BlueStar.
Morgan Stanley released its own report on the project and determined that, "We are witnessing the most disruptive intersection of manufacturing, innovation and capital experienced in more than a century."
Wired Magazine believes this is starting a “truly transformative revolution.”
At 10-million square feet – or about the size of 174 football fields – the production facility alone will be enormous.
Editor’s Note: For full access to Robinson’s research on Operation BlueStar, what it’s all about, and how it will radically impact your life, go here.
A not guilty plea was entered Friday on behalf of a Fayette County jail sergeant charged with sodomy and sexual abuse.
Sgt. John Thomas Lowe, 39, appeared in district court for an arraignment. Lowe, wearing a a black suit, stayed quiet as his lawyer spoke for him. He is charged with two counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of sexual abuse.
Lexington police arrested Lowe Thursday. He was placed in protective custody at the detention center, but was released after posting a $20,000 full cash bond.
Lowe, who has worked at the jail since 2002, was placed on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
He is scheduled to appear in court June 26 for a preliminary hearing.
Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety
by Chelsea Rabideau
Posted on May 11, 2014 at 12:05 AM
Updated yesterday at 12:06 AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One brewery is bringing back a hoppy bit of beer history. Apocalypse Brew Works is digging in the archives to re-introduce the Oertels 92 brand.
It’s the first pint to be pulled in decades of Oertels 1912, a dark cream ale brewed in Louisville. “It was actually Louisville’s first beer. Then all the other, Fehr’s, Falls City, and what not, came after it,” said Danny Barhorst. His family owns the Oertels recipes. He and his mother, Jan Schnur come from a brewing family. “Our family comes from a long line of, a deep background of brewers actually,” explained Barhorst, “My grandfather bootlegged beer from Texas to St. Louis.”
In 1992, the family tried to bring Oertels back in Louisville, but the deal fell through. Since then, Jan has held onto the trademarked name and recipe, waiting for the perfect opportunity. “For the last 22 years, I have been hoping to do something like this,” she said.
They found the partner they’d been waiting for in Apocalypse head brewer Leah Dienes. “We’re just grateful to bring these old recipes back to life,” she said. Dienes did her research before beginning to brew. “We have copies of the original brew logs,” she explained of their process. No detail was overlooked, from the hops that would’ve been available in Oertels’ original hay day over 100 years ago, to the perfect coloring. Seven months later, Oertels made the long awaited comeback.
Dienes says she hopes to brew some of the other Oertels recipes, as long as Jan will let her. The Oertels 1912 is meant to be a warm weather ale, so the comeback was timed just right.
Posted on May 10, 2014 at 4:34 PM
COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A drug recovery advocacy group says it is organizing heroin syringe cleanups in Northern Kentucky.
The Kentucky Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/1legXB5 ) Northern Kentucky residents have spotted used hypodermic needles in parking lots, tree lawns, front yards and alleys. Officials say heroin addicts discard the needles after using them, and the syringes could cause health problems like hepatitis and HIV.
A CONVERSATION WITH K4MM
Mark L Bradley
May 1 at 6:46pm
I am not trying to start crap but if you support medicinal marijuana, or even full legalization we must unite. I have been to Frankfort 3 times and each time the people i ran into lobbying for us were all from ky4mm. We can have as many pages and such but we all must have one in common and it needs to be ky4mm. We are lobbying on a regular basis for us all but we need support of all to get anything accomplished. This last session we got our bill further than any marijuana bill has been and i feel confident with a consolidation of groups we can win next session as we need more than just our group calling for them to recognize change. It is baby steps to this point because we are split but if everyone will follow my lead we will win. There is no doubt in my mind. Its all about unity especially when dealing with government bs.
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Mark L Bradley facebook page for ky4mm is Kentuckians for medicinal marijuna
May 1 at 6:59pm · Like
Sheree Krider Yeah, I admin that group too. And I feel what you are saying. But as far as I am concerned, REPEAL is the only safe way to go for the people to be free of prosecution from “marijuana law” – even if it IS legalized. Look what is happening in Canada, and in “legal” states such as Colorado….if it isn’t the state prosecuting for some ridiculous reason it’s the Feds RAIDing dispensaries and patients. Do you really want to deal with that just to have a written law on the books that says “medical marijuana” is legal? I BELIEVE IN MEDICAL MJ also – I have used it most of my life. But I also believe in our right to freedom from persecution of a plant….. ANY plant….If they can take one plant out of our garden they can take them all and that isn’t acceptable. If they told you it was illegal to grow corn and green beans on your property, or CATNIP, or OREGANO, what would you think? It is perfectly fine for Pharma’s to make meds out of this plant – IT IS NOT FINE FOR THEM TO TELL ME I CAN’T HAVE IT IN MY GARDEN…and if they do legalize MJ in Ky that is what will happen if we keep on with it in the way we are now. Have you noticed what they are doing with hemp legalization? A corp came in and bought up property and is going to plant hemp on it. NOT our farmer’s….http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.org/…/179-polaris… LET KENTUCKY BE THE FIRST STATE TO DO IT RIGHT! Oh yeah, I forgot – they decided to let Veterans “plant the seed”…..http://kentuckymarijuanaparty.org/…/179-polaris… Think about all this and let me know what everyone wants!
Polaris International Holdings Enters Joint Venture for Kentucky Hemp Project
U.S. Marijuana Party of Kentucky
Clayton Lockett’s agonizing final minutes were the results of a failed experiment, proving states can no longer be trusted to run their laboratories. Let’s stop tinkering with the machinery of death
In 1972, the supreme court issued a moratorium after determining that the death penalty was being imposed in an arbitrary and capricious manner. What’s happening now is certainly capricious. Photograph: T Woodard / Flickr via Creative Commons
My recollections of the one execution I attended amount to memories of a ghastly, surrealistic encounter with justice. The condemned prisoner lay covered with a sheet, which hid from the witnesses the intravenous lines threaded into both of his arms.
Sitting just a few yards away, I held the hand of his wife, who wept, prayed and spoke in tongues as the ritualistic killing unfolded. The inmate said goodbye to her, to his lawyers, to his spiritual advisors. Then the series of poisons entered his bloodstream, and he breathed in a labored manner, gradually turning a deep purple, and died.
In all respects it was a calm, orderly, cold-blooded and super-premeditated killing of one human being by another. Stripped of the sanction of law, the execution could have served as a perfect example of first-degree murder, punishable by death in 32 states in America.
Needless to say, the execution of that man, in 1995, was vastly different from Oklahoma’s ghoulishly botched attempt to execute Clayton Lockett on Tuesday night.
As the world is now well aware, my state’s effort to execute two prisoners in the same day for the first time since 1937 turned into a horrible miscarriage. We should have seen it coming, of course, as the secrecy and the scarcity of the drug cocktail in the execution mixed with the bickering and the borderline constitutional crisis in the halls of Oklahoma government, where all hell was breaking loose. Until, that is, hell came to the death chamber.
Lockett’s body twitched before he attempted to sit up, began to nod, mumbled and writhed, was injected with a failed sedative, revived, then suffered a "vein failure", and died, of a massive heart attack, nearly 45 minutes later.
Botched lethal injections are hardly rare, and the protocols and drugs used vary from state to state – from a gasping inmate in Ohio, to the Oklahoma man whose last words were "my whole body is burning", to Texas and Florida and beyond.
In 1972, the US supreme court declared a moratorium on executions after determining that the death penalty was being imposed in an arbitrary and capricious manner. The lack of standards in capital cases caused the high court to equate being sentenced to death to being struck by lightning.
When the supreme court reinstated the death penalty four years later, it didn’t establish a one-size-fits-all process for capital cases. Instead, as is true of criminal justice in general, the court recognized that states were free to craft their own death penalty procedures, and each state could serve as a laboratory.
By submitting different processes to the crucible of adversary testing at the state level, the legal thinking went, surely the best and most reliable decisions about who deserved to die would be made – of course the most humane method of execution would emerge. The past 38 years have demonstrated that this undeniably laudable goal, to let America’s laboratories of democracy kill as they see fit, has been far from realized.
The constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, as understood by the 2008 US supreme court decision in Baze v Rees, is designed to prevent the gratuitous infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering on those each state seeks to kill. The notion, again, appears to be that states which choose to kill killers should endeavor to occupy a higher moral plane than those whose crimes have merited their extermination.
However, as execution drugs become increasingly scarce, death states are forced to experiment with substitute drugs, to tinker with dosages, to rely on questionable suppliers. Shielding these drugs and their sources from public scrutiny greatly enhances the risk of an unnecessarily painful and consequently unconstitutional execution.
In a tragic sense, Clayton Lockett’s agonizing death was the result of a failed experiment. He was convicted of shooting of 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and reportedly watched as accomplices buried her alive, but justice requires better than bad chemistry. Given that lethal injection is the execution method in all 32 death states, as well as the military and federal government, we can expect that other human science experiments will result in unconstitutional executions.
Now is the time to ask: what progress has really been made since the supreme court’s short-lived moratorium on executions? Today, blacks, who comprise roughly 13% of the American population, account for 42% of the death row population. Since 1973, around 140 prisoners have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. The death penalty remains a punishment most likely to be imposed in cases involving poor minority defendants accused of killing white victims.
Governors in two death penalty states – Washington and Oregon – have imposed moratoriums on executions. Five other states (Kansas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Mexico) have either performed no executions or have only executed volunteers.
The former supreme court Justice Harry Blackmun was right about what he said way back in 1994: the time "to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed" and to "stop tinker[ing] with the machinery of death" is long overdue.
Now is the time for the supreme court to step in, once again, and impose a nationwide moratorium on executions. These justices may never end capital punishment themselves, but America has more than enough reasons for pause. When the majority of death sentences are reversed, the efficacy of the entire capital punishment system gets called into question. A majority of justices agree that the death penalty does not deter would-be killers. In economic terms, death penalty cases are far more expensive than cases which result in life without parole sentences.
The exercise by a state of its most awesome power – the power to deprive a citizen of his life – must be accompanied by due process and complete transparency. A government which seeks to kill its citizens by way of a process veiled in secret – that is a government which does not deliver justice.
A Porterville man was arrested Thursday after police found more than 1,200 marijuana plants and more than 500 opium poppy plants growing at his home, Porterville police reported.
Police found opium poppy plants growing in the front yards of two adjacent homes in the 200 block of South Indiana Street on Thursday morning.
Cornerstone Participates in City of Glasgow, KY Project Converting Landfill Methane Gas Into Electrical Power
MIDDLETOWN, NY–(Marketwired – Apr 24, 2014) – Cornerstone Environmental Group, LLC announces that it is providing landfill gas engineering and air permitting services to the City of Glasgow, Kentucky for a project that will convert methane gas produced by the City’s landfill into electrical power. At peak production, the project will supply the electrical power needs of about 450 residences as well as serve as a back-up power source for the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
The unique sustainable green energy project involves a partnership between the City of Glasgow and the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) through its local affiliate, Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative (Farmers), to install the landfill gas collection system and sell the captured gas to EKPC at a wholesale rate. EKPC will generate electricity from the landfill gas for sale to Farmers. The $1.3 million gas collection system is being funded by loans and grants, as well as the City of Glasgow itself.
Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear was recently at the site to present a check for $100,000 that the city received from a Kentucky Energy Efficiency and Conservation for Local Governments grant, which will be used to help fund the project. "This effort is the ultimate recycling project — using science and innovation to literally turn trash in to energy," said Governor Beshear. "Thanks to the vision and creativity of both the public and private partners in this project, the city of Glasgow will have a renewable energy source, save local tax dollars and reduce their carbon footprint on the planet."
Matthew Davies, Co-President of Cornerstone agreed, adding, "What sets the Glasgow project apart from other landfill gas-to-energy projects we have worked on is the extremely high level of collaboration among the partners and the leadership and foresight of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the City of Glasgow. This economic development project will provide high quality jobs and affordable reliable renewable electricity, as well as environmental benefits. We are so excited to be supporting the City of Glasgow and EKPC and cannot wait to be present when commercial power production starts."
About Cornerstone Environmental Group, LLC
Cornerstone Environmental Group, LLC is an engineering and environmental consulting firm dedicated to providing landfill design and permitting and landfill gas design and engineering, hydrogeology, environmental compliance, air quality, site and civil design, facilities, construction, and operations and maintenance services to the solid waste industry and commercial and industrial clients. With about 160 employees located in 12 offices across the United States, the company is headquartered in Middletown, NY with a local office in Lexington, KY. Additional information on Cornerstone is available at http://www.cornerstoneeg.com or by contacting Cathie Swyka at 845-695-0207 or via email at email@example.com.
Cornerstone Environmental Group
Keystone Activists: Make Your Voice Heard
Take Action: Tell Secretary Kerry to Say No to Keystone XL
It’s time to take the Keystone XL pipeline fight to the streets — and we need your help.
We’re asking people around the country to make their voices heard. Put a sign in your yard. Protest at your local park or storefront. Paste a flyer to the windshield of your car. Send factsheets to your friends. Organize a gathering or other event to teach people about Keystone and spread the word.
The Center for Biological Diversity will stand by you each step of the way. We’ve made a series of signs you can print, including two versions of each: one 8 ½ by 11 inches (perfect for your car window or bulletin board), and another 18 by 25 inches (great to display in your front yard or march with at a rally). We’re also providing an awesome polar bear mask for you to print, cut out and put on a stick or string for you very own polar bear protest — plus a factsheet to help you get out all the right information.
Read our report on the imperiled species at risk from Keystone XL, In Harm’s Way: How the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Have Ignored the Dangers of the Keystone XL Pipeline to Endangered Species. We also have a Web page all about these species.
LEARN ABOUT KEYSTONE EVENTS WE’RE PLANNING ACROSS THE COUNTRY:
• April 26: “Reject and Protect” — Mass No KXL Rally in D.C. (DC)
• Ongoing: Host an Action to Stop Keystone (nationwide)
Check out our new No Keystone rap video, in which the Center’s Frostpaw the Polar Bear tells President Obama why he must reject this disastrous pipeline pronto.
We live in the only country in the world where a child can be sentenced to be in prison until they die.
What’s worse is that it’s not even rare — more than 2,500 people who were sentenced as kids will spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Juwan is one of them. He was a skinny 16-year-old kid when he was arrested after he saw a companion kill a pizza deliveryman. The shooter was never convicted, but because Juwan was present and had a gun, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Without the possibility of parole, Juwan will never have a second chance for rehabilitation.
Just one year before Juwan was sentenced, the Supreme Court decided that mandatory juvenile life without parole was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.
The problem is — the decision left gaping loopholes and didn’t ban the sentence outright, meaning that Juwan and other children became victims of poor timing and inadequate policy implementation. While six states have moved to ban the practice, this barbaric punishment is still perfectly legal in 44 states.
But the Department of Justice has the power to close some of these loopholes and set the standard on the federal level. By providing policy guidelines for U.S. attorneys, the DOJ can ensure that judges are empowered to use discretion and give appropriate sentences based on unique circumstances.
Attorney General Eric Holder has already endorsed proposals that limit life without parole sentences for non-violent drug offenders. If he hears from thousands of us who support criminal justice reform, he can provide the tools needed to limit juvenile life without parole sentences.
It’s time that we give kids like Juwan a second chance at life.
The case to ban fracking grows stronger every day. Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. It’s a water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid — a mix of water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer — are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This releases extra oil and gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.
But the process of fracking introduces additional industrial activity into communities beyond the well. Clearing land to build new access roads and new well sites, drilling and encasing the well, fracking the well and generating the waste, trucking in heavy equipment and materials and trucking out the vast amounts of toxic waste — all of these steps contribute to air and water pollution risks and devaluation of land that are turning our communities into sacrifice zones. Fracking threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we all depend. That’s why over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and why Vermont, France and Bulgaria have stopped it.
Why a Ban? Can Regulations Make Fracking Safe?
Ban Fracking in Your Area
No. Fracking is inherently unsafe and we cannot rely on regulation to protect communities’ water, air and public health. The industry enjoys exemptions from key federal legislation protecting our air and water, thanks to aggressive lobbying and cozy relationships with our federal decision makers (the exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act is often referred to as the Cheney or Halliburton Loophole, because it was negotiated by then-Vice President Dick Cheney with Congress in 2005). Plus, the industry is aggressively clamping down on local and state efforts to regulate fracking by buying influence and even bringing lawsuits to stop them from being implemented. That’s why fracking can’t be made safe through government oversight or regulations. An all out ban on fracking is the only way to protect our communities.
- How much do you know about fracking? Take our quiz!
- Get the facts about fracking and why we need a ban in our Ban Fracking Now fact sheet.
- Learn how free trade agreements could fast track fracking.
- Read the Issue Brief: Fracking Colorado: Illusory Benefits, Hidden Costs
- Read the Report: U.S. Energy Insecurity: Why Fracking for Oil and Natural Gas Is a False Solution
- Read the Report: Exposing the Oil and Gas Industry’s False Jobs Promise for Shale Gas Development
- How do climate change, fracking and a global water crisis go hand-in-hand?
- Watch our video
- Learn how fracking affects our nation’s food system
- Why is fracking contributing to the global water crisis?
- How is the industry lying about the economic benefits of fracking?
- Undermining Local Democracy: Fast Track, the TPP and Your Community December 2, 2013
- Ban Fracking Now! October 17, 2013
- Frackademia May 28, 2013
- Fracking: The New Global Water Crisis May 7, 2013
- Natural Gas Pipelines: Problems From Beginning to End January 23, 2013
I do not want to be a politician, nor a lawyer. However, at this point I do wish I had a Law degree!
But I do not want to be put into a position where I can no longer say what I feel is right, but must succumb to the "for the greater good of the people" clause which they use in order to be able to lie to us with a straight face.
I originally came to the USMJParty in 2005 as the Kentucky Chair and Website Administrator. In 2010 I accepted VP of USMJParty although an official Charter was never set up.
In 2011 I appointed William A. Chengelis to Head Chair and Colorado and I resigned the VP position but continued on as Kentucky Chair and help keep up the websites for Kentucky and USMJParty.
Richard Rawlings who was the former Head Chair/President had resigned due to illness, but was still the owner of all of the Websites for the "Party".
Upon his death in February of 2013 I was left with the websites and decided to act as the "Organizer" and Kentucky Chair until such time as the USMJParty sets up an Official Charter and can elect a permanent Head Chairperson.
As Organizer of the U.S. Marijuana Party I can focus on leading the masses thru education and information and get their attention on at least one of the worst Human Rights abuses I have seen in my lifetime with the scope and magnitude of the lies that were spread across virtually the entire GLOBE concerning Cannabis Medications and Hemp, as well as Cannabis for recreational use…
The U.S. Marijuana Party (USMJP) is a "Anti-Prohibition – Repeal and Nullify" Party with regard to Cannabis/Hemp Laws (vs. Legalization – which "leaves" the plant under the total control of the Government and us without any inherit rights to the plant at all). Effectively it is a Pharmaceutical takeover of the plant.
WE ARE MOST IMPORTANTLY A HUMAN RIGHTS PARTY. We need educated – (self-taught is always acceptable), informed, and politically motivated people to run for office under the USMJP. We also need dedicated Chair People and others to set up State Chapters. It is only YOU that can help save our Earth and bring it to peace by petition, voting rights, running for office and activism in whatever form. We are Constitutionalists who believe in adhering to the "Civil Rights" which we were given by the Forefathers of our Country. All of these are important: Human Rights, Civil Rights, Constitutional Rights, Religious Rights, PATIENTS Rights, and many more issues as well, including but not limited to: Global Warming, All other Ecological concerns, Coal Fly Ash and ponds, Fracking, GMO’s and their usage. Human Trafficking, Prison abuse, Children’s Rights, 1st and 2nd Amendment Rights, etc., (It goes on and on…)
After all, as Gatewood Galbraith once said: "There are only two ways to win a war. One is politically and the other to take it to the streets". I damn sure hope the streets isn’t where we end up….
Peace and Prayers to You All!
This petition will be delivered to: Missouri, Gov. Jeremiah Nixon
Petition by Chris Mizanskey Sedalia, MO
My father Jeff Mizanskey has been in prison for 20 years and has no possibility of parole. For non-violent, marijuana-only offenses, my father has been sentenced to die in prison because of a "three strikes" mandatory sentencing policy in the State of Missouri.
Dad’s first offense was in 1984 when he sold an ounce to an undercover informant, and then was found to possess a half pound of marijuana when police raided his house the next day. His next offense occurred in 1991, when he was caught in possession of a couple of ounces. But for my father’s final strike in 1993, he became an easy fall guy in a conspiracy to distribute marijuana. My dad was driving a friend to a deal that turned out to be a sting operation. All of the other convicted men involved were set free years ago, but my dad was given a virtual death sentence.
My dad is, and always has been, a good man. He taught my brother and I all about construction and a good work ethic. He has never been violent and he is a model prisoner. And over the 20 years he has been in that little cell, he has watched as violent criminals, rapists, and murderers have "paid their debts" and left – sometimes just to return a few months later.
My father is 61 years old, and has been in prison since he was 41. His parents – my grandparents – have since passed. While my dad has been trapped behind bars, generations of kids and grandkids have been born into our family who have never even met the man. The State of Missouri spends roughly $22,000/year to keep him locked up. Meanwhile all my dad wants to do is be a productive part of society, work and pay taxes, be with his family. And I want my dad back.
Governor Jay Nixon is the only person who has the power to bring my dad home by granting clemency to Jeff and calling 20 years punishment enough. Please help us reach a just and reasonable end to his prison sentence by signing and sharing this petition.
Gov. Jeremiah Nixon, Missouri
Jeff Mizanskey is a non-violent, marijuana-only offender who has spent the last 20 years in a Missouri prison. He has been sentenced to be there for the rest of his life, and he has no opportunity for parole. The only hope he has to ever to become a working member of society or to hold his grandchildren in his hands is for you to grant him clemency.
His sentence was imposed because of the Prior and Persistent Drug Offender sentencing structure which requires life in prison without parole for his three felony marijuana-only offenses.
Jeff Mizanskey has never committed violence and is most certainly a model prisoner. For 20 years he has sat behind bars, only to watch as rapists and murders come and go and sometimes come back again. Meanwhile the State of Missouri spends roughly $22,000 annually to house him – over $400,000 has been spent so far.
On February 3, 2011, Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice William Ray Price, Jr., delivered his final State of the Judiciary address to the Missouri General Assembly. In that speech, Chief Justice Price lambasted Missouri’s "three strikes" drug-sentencing laws as enormously costly and ineffective. "Punishment," Price said, "is a necessary part of our criminal justice system. But our real goal for nonviolent offenders is to teach them their lesson so they can become productive law-abiding members of our society. The goal is not to lock them into a life of crime, to make them permanent wards of the state."
Jeff Mizanskey has been punished for 20 years. He has learned his lesson and wants to become a productive, law-abiding member of our society. The goal Price mentions has been more than reached, and it is time to give Jeff back his life.
On July 6, 2012, you signed the Justice Reinvestment Act, which was intended to reduce our prison population, save the state money, and ensure that punishments are proportional to violations for non-violent offenders. While this has done a great deal of good for so many Missourians, Jeff’s status has remained unchanged.
In October 2013, Gallup released a poll showing 58% of Americans support marijuana legalization. 58% of Americans recognize the principle that imprisoning Jeff Mizanskey for the rest of his life has no net positive social benefit.
In the spirit of the Justice Reinvestment Act and in the spirit of justice itself, please grant clemency to Jeff Mizanskey today. Please pardon Jeff Mizanskey so that he does not die in prison just for marijuana.
The mission of Special Olympics Ohio is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities by giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Special Olympics is founded on the belief that people with intellectual disabilities can, with proper instruction and encouragement, learn, enjoy and benefit from participation in individual and team sports, adapted as necessary to meet the needs of those special mental and physical limitations.
(FOLLOW THE LINK ABOVE TO DONATE TO MICHAEL OR READ MORE ABOUT IT)
“I am jumping as a representative of Central Ohio NORML and the Ohio Rights Group
and I’m out to prove that marijuana users are active, productive members of the
community and it would be amazing if people could show their support.”
Support Michael Revercomb-Hickman by donating to a wonderful charity cause. Whether it be $5 or $100
any and all donations will be highly appreciated. He will be participating in the 2014 polar plunge.
Proceeds go to the 2014 special Olympics. Thanks in advance!
*The U.S. Marijuana Party and Kentucky Marijuana Party endorses Michael’s efforts and applauds him for his devotion.
By Karen Weise January 09, 2014
If ever a hippie dream existed, it would probably look something like what’s being proposed in Washington by Democratic State Senator Bob Hasegawa. He wants to open a state-run bank specifically to serve Washington’s newly legal marijuana industry. The proposal would solve two real problems: Pot businesses would no longer be trapped in an all-cash economy thanks to federal laws that prohibit banks from handling drug money, and the state would send less money to Wall Street.
There’s just one state-run bank in the country: the Bank of North Dakota. It uses the revenue collected through taxes and other government income to provide capital for low-interest loans to state residents, including students, homeowners, and farmers. The bank’s operations return millions to the state’s coffers. (It’s worth noting that the bank has nothing to do with pot.)
As the financial crisis caused a credit crunch for borrowers, some citizens and states themselves started looking to North Dakota as a model of how to keep lending afloat. “After the banking crisis in 2008, some farmers came to me from eastern Washington, literally in tears, saying their credit was being cut off,” Hasegawa says.
Heather Morton, who tracks financial regulation at the National Conference of State Legislatures, found bills in six state legislatures in 2010 related to the creation of state-run banks. Interest swelled as the economy continued to struggle and the Occupy Wall Street movement took up the idea of state banks as an alternative to Wall Street. By 2011 the number of states with bills contemplating the creation of their own banks hit 15, according to Morton’s research, before legislation eventually tapered off last year as the economy improved.
In Washington, one of eight states in which legislation was put forward in 2013, the state-banking push predates the advent of a legal marijuana retail sector. Hasegawa’s bill, which he has sponsored for several years, gained support from 44 out of 98 lawmakers in 2012 but was killed in the banking committee. Each year, Hasegawa tinkers with the legislation in response to opponents, who include the state’s banking community, bond brokers, and the state treasurer. The critics argue that the effort is too risky and would diminish competition, among other things. (After lengthy study, a formal commission in Massachusetts recommended against creating a bank there, saying the effort would be more capital-intensive than it’s worth.)
After voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana in Washington last year, however, Hasegawa saw a new opening. Marijuana businesses have had to resort to largely operating in cash and have been agitating for federal authorities to give banks permission to handle pot accounts. Because pot isn’t legal at the national level, federal money-laundering laws prevent financial institutions from handing marijuana-related money.
Hasegawa has submitted a new bill for the 2014 legislative session that would create a state-run bank as the sole depository for the state’s marijuana businesses. Passage of the bill, which Hasegawa knows is a long shot, would provide “a foot in the door” to a broader state-run bank. But even if it fails, the state senator still sees an upside: “It has drawn the debate away from the detractors of the other arguments.” Washington’s legislative session opens on Jan. 13, and recreational sales in the state are expected to start this spring.
Opposition has now “focused on the illegality of marijuana itself,” Hasegawa says, “which makes me think a lot of their other arguments are really just smoke screens.”
After a chemical spilled into the Elk River in Charleston, W. Virginia, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered 100,000 customers of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.
By John Raby, Associated Press / January 10, 2014
Charleston, W. Va.
Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day’s business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the cause and extent of the incident remained unclear.
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The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. About 100,000 water customers, or 300,000 people total, were affected, state officials said they reported in requesting the federal declaration.
Shortly after the Thursday spill from Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order to customer of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.
The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries and overran a containment area. Officials from Freedom, a manufacturer of chemicals for the mining, steel, and cement industries, hadn’t commented since the spill, but a woman who answered the phone at the company said it would issue a statement later Friday.
Other officials say the orders were issued as a precaution, as they were still not sure exactly what hazard the spill posed to residents. It also was not immediately clear how much of the chemical spilled into the river and at what concentration.
"I don’t know if the water is not safe," water company president Jeff McIntyre said. "Until we get out and flush the actual system and do more testing, we can’t say how long this (advisory) will last at this time."
McIntyre said the chemical isn’t lethal in its strongest form. Kanawha County emergency officials said the chemical is called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.
According to a fact sheet from Fisher Scientific, the chemical is harmful if swallowed — and could be so if inhaled — and causes eye and skin irritation.
The emergency declaration involves customers in all or parts of the counties of Kanawha, Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane. State Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said schools in at least five of the counties will be closed.
The smell from the spill — similar to licorice or cough syrup — was especially strong at the Charleston Marriott hotel a few blocks from the Elk River, which flows into the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston. The Marriott shut off all water to rooms, and then turned it back on so guests could flush toilets. Each guest was given two 16.9-ounce bottles of spring water upon returning to the hotel.
Even as the National Guard made plans to mobilize at an air base at Charleston’s Yeager Airport, many people — told to use water only for flushing toilets — weren’t waiting for outside help.
Once word got out about the governor’s declaration Thursday, customers stripped store shelves in many areas of items such as bottled water, paper cups and bowls. As many as 50 customers had lined up to buy water at a convenience store near the state Capitol in Charleston.
"It was chaos, that’s what it was," cashier Danny Cardwell said.
Tomblin said the advisory also extends to restaurants, hospitals, nursing homes and other establishments that use tap water.
Early Friday, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina said he wasn’t aware of any hospitals closing and that area medical centers "seemed to have adequate water supply, at least for the short term."
At the Little India restaurant in Charleston, about 12 customers were asked to leave when bar manager Bill LaCourse learned about the shutdown notice.
Karlee Bolen, 16, of Charleston, said her family, including her parents, two sisters and brother, were considering the possibility of heading to her grandmother’s home in Braxton County, where tap water was unaffected, an hour to the northeast.
"I kind of want to shower and brush my teeth," she said.
RECOMMENDED: 10 organizations that protect the environment
Associated Press writers Brendan Farrington and Jonathan Mattise contributed to this report.
Roland A. Duby
There are a lot of scammers out there trying to take your money and not deliver the product. it is sad that so many people see this as a way to defraud the sick and it is sad to see so many pot activist, who are treating this oil as a business opportunity when the actual truth this is not a business it is a PARADIGM SHIFT.
The bible talks of the tree of life in revelations 22:2 And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. I believe this plant is the tree of life and I have for a long time. Cannabis is the plant of renown in Ezekiel 34:29 “And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more.”
I think this is the potheads rising up and no longer being shunned and thought of as heathens.
So this is not a business. this is the prophecies coming to life in marijuana! Jesus Christ was anointed with gallons of marijuana oil mixed with olive oil and other spices.
THE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY OF KENTUCKY HAS BEEN INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS IMPORTANT EVENT IN OUR STATE…
SPEAKERS INCLUDE BUT NOT LIMITED TO REV. MARY THOMAS-SPEARS SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF REPEAL OF PROHIBITION OF THIS PLANT AND HOW REPEAL WILL END THE WAR ON CANNABIS FOR EVERYONE.
PLEASE PLAN TO ATTEND ….
One citizen-journalist’s journey into the drug war bureaucracy shows why previous efforts to reschedule pot have been DEA’d on arrival.
October 30, 2013
Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug in America. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Cannabis sativa is as dangerous as heroin. (You know… as in heroin!) To justify this ranking, the DEA has declared that the plant has absolutely no medical value. Zero. Nada. Zip. The federal government has determined that this position is backed by science.
Marijuana’s current status as one of the most dangerous drugs in America became official in 1970, during the Nixon administration. (Putting matters in ludicrous perspective, cocaine and even Breaking Bad meth are Schedule II.) Every administration since then has treated marijuana as mad, bad and dangerous to know, with virtually no attempt made to reclassify it. And that list includes the current one.
About the Author
Harmon Leon is the author of six books, including The American Dream, The Harmon Chronicles and Republican Like Me. His…
“It’s a bit of an Alice in Wonderland scenario with the Obama administration,” explains Kris Hermes of American for Safe Access (ASA). “He made statements prior to being elected about changing the policy on marijuana, but in reality the opposite has happened.”
Not only have there been more medical marijuana arrests during Obama’s administration than the entire Bush regime, but even in states like California and Washington, there’s been a steady rise in the number of people being raided even though they’re in full compliance with state law. The federal government has threatened landlords and financial institutions working with medical marijuana businesses; the IRS has been involved with audits; pro-pot lawmakers have been bullied; and veterans using marijuana for conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder have been denied medical benefits by the Veterans Administration—all because of marijuana’s Schedule I status.
On the other hand, dropping pot down a notch to Schedule II (let alone III, IV or V, or removing it from the Controlled Substances Act completely) would be a big step in resolving the clash between state and federal law, since such a move would at least acknowledge marijuana’s medical utility and allow doctors to legally prescribe it.
So what can be done to reschedule marijuana in a country where the “drug czar” is required by law to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a Schedule I substance—in any form?
Time to put on our citizen-journalist’s hat and go through the looking glass into the bizarre legal labyrinth of the rescheduling process. Kris Hermes warned that it wouldn’t be easy: “Bureaucrats shut down and refuse to talk when it’s convenient for them not to talk… when it suits their purpose!”
I Contact the DEA
Phoning the DEA is an unnerving experience—a sensation similar to being in high school and calling your dad at 2 am to inform him that you’ve crashed the family car (though now safe in the knowledge that the NSA will keep tabs on me).
I get a DEA representative on the phone. He goes by the name Rusty. (Perhaps because of his employer’s corroded views on ending the drug war?)
“Could I get any information regarding the rescheduling of medical marijuana?”
“I don’t want to spark a debate,” Rusty from the DEA replies. “I don’t know if that’s something we’d weigh in on. I don’t know what the point would be—our stance is pretty much on our website.”
Rusty from the DEA informs me that the agency’s position on medical marijuana can be found under the tab astutely labeled “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse.” (The thirty-page PDF reads like some bureaucrat’s idea for a remake of Reefer Madness.)
The key words in this manifesto: dangers, consequences, abuse. That doesn’t seem to indicate much willingness to consider pot’s medical value. Apparently, the DEA is still convinced that cancer victims are merely “abusing” marijuana to alleviate their chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea.
Rusty from the DEA adds: “You know, Congress can change this at any point—which people seem to forget.”
Perfect. That would be the same body that recently shut down the federal government and threatened the United States with default. But while the DEA might say that rescheduling is up to Congress, according to the ASA, that’s not exactly the case. The DEA actually delays the process—with no time limit imposed for answering rescheduling petitions, the agency takes the longest possible time before reaching a decision. (And then it says no.) To get around to denying the ASA’s rescheduling petition, it took the federal government a whopping nine years.
I Contact the FDA
According to a memorandum of understanding between the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration, a rescheduling petition has to go through the FDA. (Despite the fact that the DEA is under no obligation to recognize the conclusions of that agency.) Meanwhile, roughly every nineteen minutes, an American dies of accidental prescription-drug overdose—and these are pills approved by the FDA. (“Approved!”) Since the big pharmaceutical companies can’t make money off homegrown medical marijuana, might that be swaying the FDA’s recommendation?
“Can I ask a few questions about the rescheduling of medical marijuana?” I ask an unnamed FDA representative.
“I’m looking into this for you,” she replies.
“We cannot comment on this topic due to pending citizen petitions, other than to say our analyses and decision-making processes are ongoing.”
Not much to work with there, though I’m intrigued by the mention of “pending citizen petitions.” I press on: “What would be the process needed for medical marijuana to be approved by the FDA?”
“As you are aware, Schedule 1 drugs have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and as I indicated before, we cannot comment on this topic of rescheduling due to pending citizen petitions.”
My information parade has been rained out. Why so cagey? After all, the FDA approved Marinol, whose active ingredient is 100 percent synthetic THC (i.e., the stuff that makes pot so dangerous and addictive that it has to be classified as Schedule I). And Marinol, strangely enough, is Schedule III—even though no pot plant in the history of marijuana has tested at 100 percent THC. (Even the strongest pot these days clocks in at under 40 percent.)
So my basic question goes unanswered, though the FDA representative does grant me an open invitation to check out the agency’s website—anytime I please!
My inquiry at the Justice Department yields similar results: “Hi Harmon—DOJ’s enforcement policy on marijuana is in the attached. Thanks.”
My attempt at securing a comment from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals—which threw out the ASA’s appeal on its rescheduling petition—doesn’t go much better: “I’m sorry. I don’t know the answer to your question. I am sure there must be subject matter experts out there who would know.… Good luck!”
Down and Down the Rabbit Hole…
At the heart of the approval process is the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Ironically—or maybe not—the organization is funded by the federal government. Catch-22: for the DEA to reschedule marijuana, scientific studies authorized by NIDA have to prove its medical benefits. This is basically like putting the mice in charge of the mousey snacks. In his now-famous about-face on medical marijuana, Dr. Sanjay Gupta pointed out how many of NIDA’s studies are actually designed to find detrimental effects—with only about 6 percent, he estimates, looking into medical benefits. The end result of NIDA’s efforts: the almost-complete suppression of research into the therapeutic value of marijuana.
“Will Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s statement have any impact on rescheduling medical marijuana?” I ask the NIDA rep.
NIDA’s response: “The best resource for questions about rescheduling is the Drug Enforcement Administration.” (A phone number is provided.)
Reaching deep into my citizen-journalist’s bag of tricks, I try a more straightforward approach: “What would it take to have medical marijuana rescheduled? Clearly we’re at a crossroads where public opinion is changing, yet the federal government doesn’t want to change its stance. Is it left to further scientific studies or any other factors?”
“You’ll need to contact the DEA for questions about rescheduling.”
And so I’m back at square one. It turns out that getting an answer from the federal government on rescheduling marijuana is a lot like contacting the local Scientology center and asking them to go on record about the planet Xenu. In the meantime, the Supreme Court recently declined to hear ASA’s appeal on its rescheduling petition—the one that the DEA waited nine years to reject, and that the DC Circuit Court turned down on appeal, declaring that only Congress has the power to amend the Controlled Substances Act.
If the federal government is determined to maintain marijuana as a highly illegal Schedule 1 substance—despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary and an ongoing sea change in public opinion—then perhaps its best ploy at this point would be to sit on its hands and do absolutely nothing.
Also In This Issue
Katrina vanden Heuvel: “Why Its Always Been Time to Legalize Marijuana”
Mike Riggs: “Obama’s War on Pot”
Carl L. Hart: “Pot Reform’s Race Problem”
Kristen Gwynne: “Can Medical Marijuana Survive in Washington State?”
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian: “Baking Bad: A Potted History of High Times”
Various Contributors: “The Drug War Touched My Life: Why I’m Fighting Back”
And only online…
J. Hoberman: “The Cineaste’s Guide to Watching Movies While Stoned”
Seth Zuckerman: “Is Pot-Growing Bad for the Environment?”
October 30, 2013
By John Kozy
Global Research, October 29, 2013
The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of life. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.
That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.
One would like to believe that human institutions exist to enhance the lives of people, but there is very little evidence to support that view. If enhancing the lives of people is not the purpose of human institutions, what is? The American Constitution lists six goals the founders expected the nation to accomplish:
We the People of the United States, in Order to (1) form a more perfect Union, (2) establish Justice, (3) insure domestic Tranquility, (4) provide for the common defence, (5) promote the general Welfare, and (6) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Unfortunately, no American government has ever tried to govern in a way that seeks to attain these goals. So the American government is either an unconstitutional, failed state or else the framers of the Constitution must be thought of as having engaged in unrealistic political propaganda. At any rate, the American government is not what the Constitution makes it out to be. The question is why? The answer is the stupid political economy!
The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of strife. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.
That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.
The English were engaged in economic activities for hundreds of years before Adam Smith published his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation; all he did was provide English merchants with a rationalization for what they had always done and wanted to do more of. Laissez-faire (let [them] do), to them, meant the ability to engage in economic practices without being subjected to governmental restrictions and tariffs. Then, like today, merchants wanted the freedom to profiteer by buying cheap and selling dear. Merchants, then or now, have had little interest in abstruse economic theory unless its models promise greater profit.
But buying cheap and selling dear applies to labor as well as materials, and the classical economists provide a rationalization for that maxim too. The subsistence theory of wages, advanced by classical economists, holds that the market price of labour always tends toward the minimum required for subsistence (that is, for basic needs such as food and shelter). Even Alfred Marshall, America’s first modern economist, was of the opinion that wages in the long run would tend to equal maintenance and reproduction costs. So when the Republican party seeks to eliminate regulations and keep the minimum wage low, they are acting just like sixteenth century English merchants and their boot-licking economists. Merchants become sheep dogs that herd human sheep, and our economists think nothing of it. They have adopted the British way of strife totally.
Although this impoverishment of labor is bad enough, in a globalized economy it is devastating. The classical economists held that a subsistence wage had to be high enough to enable the workforce to reproduce itself in order to maintain a labor supply; in a globalized economy, the workforce needed exists in underdeveloped countries. A domestic workforce is entirely unnecessary, so there is no need to even grant it subsistence wages or any other humane benefit. From a merchants’/economists’ point of view, domestic labor becomes expendable. Why pay it anything at all?
What a lovely world our economists advocate! Economics is not merely a dismal science, it is a murderous one.
Merchants and economists constitute a class of totally inhumane human beings. (Isn’t inhumane human a contradiction?) It seems as though two entirely different races have intermingled—the human race and an inhumane one. In the words of Pope Francis,
“A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost . . . of exploitation without thinking of people.”
What kind of person would support this economy? Although they may revel in their fortunes and often act and speak like the rest of us, they are not like us. They are evil to the marrow of their bones. Logically, the inhumane are either not human or deranged.
One such person is Arnaud Costinot, an MIT economist, who uses the doctrine of comparative advantage to justify globalization. He is said to hold this:
“Ricardo thought that instead of trying to produce a wide range of goods, countries could grow by specializing in the goods they could produce most cheaply, and then trading those goods with other countries. This made sense, Ricardo claimed, even when a country could make multiple products more cheaply, in absolute terms, than other countries.
How? Suppose, Ricardo posited, that England produces cloth more cheaply than wine, while Portugal produces wine more cheaply than cloth. And suppose Portugal produces both products more cheaply than England does. Both countries could still benefit from trading in equal terms: England could specialize in making cloth, and trade that for wine. But Portugal could specialize in making wine, and trade that for England’s cloth — which would be the cheapest way to acquire cloth, even if Portugal’s own cloth was cheaper to make than England’s.”
Only thing is, Ricardo never wrote any such thing, and to describe what he wrote in this way is intellectual dishonesty at its worst. Ricardo never uses the word “cheaply.” He uses “the number of man hours needed to produce one unit of cloth or wine,” ‘Man hours worked’ is not a wage or a value of currency. The production may not be cheap. By deliberately misstating what Ricardo writes, economists advocate the exploitation and impoverishment of workers and ultimately their destruction—a truly evil and inhumane goal.
This is the only explanation for the right wing’s war on the poor. Beasts of burden are disposed of when they have lost their usefulness, so destroying the middle class is not to be lamented. When the labor of underdeveloped countries became available to manufacturers, the American middle class became expendable. That is the American Republican party’s goal. It seeks to shrink the size of government by eliminating the people who need to be taken care of.
Economists want us to believe that free trade makes everyone richer, but experience teaches us otherwise.
The Internet is replete with articles both pro and con, but the attitudes of people to offshoring is quite consistent. The peoples in underdeveloped nations involved in making products for the West chafe at the extent of the exploitation. Whether in Latin America, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, or Poland exploited labor is never described as prosperous. Neither has prosperity blessed America’s laborers. Exploitation and prosperity are alien concepts. The exploited are never prosperous and the prosperous are never exploited. No nation can boast of its prosperity gotten by offshoring. The empirical evidence gotten anecdotally is better than the dubious statistical evidence cited by economists (see The Real Cost of Offshoring.) India’s laborers are not getting rich working for American companies. NAFTA has not brought prosperity to Mexican or American workers. A low-wage job is not a gainful (prosperous) one. Marx asked workers of the world to unite; Western corporate leaders tell them to be damned. Any economist who does not see what is happening is intellectually blind. Or perhaps, just plain evil.
In The Story so Far, the Economist put it this way:
ONCE UPON A time the rich world’s manufacturing firms largely produced in the rich world for the rich world, and most services were produced close to where they were consumed. Then Western firms started sending manufacturing work abroad on a large scale. By the 1980s this was well established. The movement was overwhelmingly in one direction: away from rich countries to places where workers with adequate skills were much cheaper.
Whether openly stated or not, lower labour costs were almost always the chief rationale.
To corporations, workers are likened to beasts of burden and the economic elite who advocate this economic practice are then likened to vicious dogs. What a wonderful world! It will not change until the welfare of mankind, rather than profit, becomes the goal of political-economy. If the human race is to survive, the welfare of human beings must be the goal of human institutions.
John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.
Reported by: Aaron Adelson
Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says he hopes Kentucky farmers plant hemp in April.
"We used to grow tobacco on the farm and now basically we just have cattle and grow hay, and it just
seems like a good alternative crop," said Steven Albert, a farmer from Green County.
Albert came to a Hemp Commission meeting to learn more.
The state legalized industrialized hemp if federal law would allow it.
Well, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would not prosecute the two states that legalized marijuana. Furthermore,
Comer says the man who wrote the memo testified the government would not prosecute hemp farmers.
Comer says this gives Kentucky the green light.
"This is a very exciting first step, and we’ll just have to see.
History will decide whether this was a defining moment in Kentucky agriculture, or not," said Comer.
He and Senator Rand Paul plan to send the DOJ a letter announcing the state’s intent to move forward.
"I can’t imagine why they would be opposed to it," said Comer.
Things are moving quickly, but farmers like Albert need to learn how to grow hemp.
"Farmers in Green County know how to grow tobacco, tomatoes, anything you can think of,
but when I ask them how do you grow hemp? How do you harvest hemp? Most of them say they don’t know," said Albert.
The state needs to work out some regulatory issues before anybody puts seeds in the ground.
Indonesia correspondent for Fairfax Media
Another nuance of activity occurred in Bali on Tuesday, as the parole process for Schapelle Corby inched forward once again. Representatives of an agency of the Indonesian Justice Department visited the house where she would be required to live if she were let out of jail early.
Even though she has not yet applied for parole, as with all things Corby, the "news" drove some of the frothier parts of the Australian media into habitual overdrive.
Schapelle Corby is escorted by police to a courtroom in Denpasar in 2006. Photo: AFP
Some outlets have even put a date on her release – October 30.
Well, that may or may not be so. Like the last time a date was so confidently predicted (in May last year, August 2012 was said to be when she would return to Australia), it’s far enough away to be possible, yet not so close that anyone is held accountable if the date is missed.
So, assuming her release is coming up after almost nine years in jail, let’s take the opportunity to assess our attitude to Schapelle Corby.
Schapelle Corby and fellow convicted drug mule Renae Lawrence in Kerobokan Jail in 2010. Photo: Jason Childs
Many people have spent a great deal of time and energy poring over this one woman’s case – the Australian consulate in Bali; authors; lawyers; dozens, if not hundreds of journalists; prison officials, professional internet conspiracy theorists, politicians in both Australia and Indonesia.
It’s not only the Australian media who go into a frenzy at the mention of her name. She has become a touchstone in the Indonesian press, too. There, though, it’s not about an innocent entrapped in a third-world system, it’s about the ugly habit of Westerners to aggressively demand special treatment.
The head of Bali’s Kerobokan jail, Gusti Ngurah Wiratna, remarked to the press in frustration recently: "I’ve got 1000 prisoners, why are you only interested in Schapelle?"
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of dollars, have changed hands – for paid interviews with the family, internet ads, defamation actions and other civil court actions, royalties and lawyers fees.
Her 2004 arrest and imprisonment has turned into a Schapelle industry.
Sadly, for several years, the subject of that industry has suffered from severe mental health issues, and has largely removed herself from its centre. Even the Corby family-friendly journalists can only quote "those who know and live with her" in their stories because Corby herself refuses any direct interaction with the press.
She does not even go to the visitor’s area of Kerobokan in case there might be journalists there. Her absence, for the same reason, from compulsory prison events, has potentially even harmed her cause.
Views of her innocence in the broader public are likely to be higher, but substantially lower than at the height of the "Our Schapelle" frenzy of 2004 and 2005.
It’s her perceived innocence that initially drove the Corby story to the point of obsession, but even though this has changed, nine years later, we in the media remain closely focused on every detail of her incarceration and possible release.
Perhaps we assume people will be moved by the same impulses, or the echoes of the impulses, that moved them a decade ago.
But let’s consider what all this will mean when she is ultimately released, whether on parole or at the end of her sentence.
After 10 years in a bubble, Corby will be exposed to the world.
She’ll be walking the narrow streets of Kuta, living in a Balinese compound whose address is well known, with the world’s media – including a chaotic Indonesian press pack – on her doorstep.
The inevitable paid interviews will create an appetite among the unsuccessful bidders for exclusives of a different kind – for evidence of her poor mental state, for pictures of her drinking her first beer, wearing a bikini at the beach, hanging out with a man, throwing a tantrum.
In the open, she’ll lack the protection afforded by the Australian consulate from the tourists and stickybeaks who even now occasionally try to get into the jail to visit her.
The local police are unwilling and unequipped to provide any protection.
Whatever you think of her guilt or innocence, Corby has served a long sentence, and her adjustment to life on the outside – difficult as it will be already – can only be made immeasurably harder by such attention.
Perhaps it’s time to let go of our decade-long obsession and finally just leave Schapelle Corby alone.
CORBY: THE FACTS
• Corby has been eligible for parole for more than a year, since the Indonesian president granted her clemency with a five-year sentence reduction;
• She has not yet applied for parole, and the Indonesians have not started the process, because the Indonesian immigration department has not yet confirmed that she can get a visa to be able to serve out her sentence in Bali with her sister Mercedes and brother-in-law Wayan;
• All the other conditions for parole – including an unprecedented letter from the Australian government guaranteeing her good behaviour – are in place;
• With continued remission for good behaviour, she is likely to be out in 2015 even if she does not win parole.
CONORD, N.H. – Federal officials preparing to sell the New Hampshire compound of a tax-evading couple convicted of amassing an arsenal of weapons can’t guarantee that explosives and other booby traps aren’t hidden on the 103-acre spread.
In fact, they will openly warn bidders that land mines might be planted throughout Ed and Elaine Brown’s bucolic property in the small town of Plainfield. And they say prospective buyers won’t be allowed on the grounds until they submit a winning bid that frees the government of liability for dismemberment or death.
"It’s going to be a very interesting sale," said Chief U.S. Deputy Marshal Brenda Mikelson, who’s in charge of the auction.
The Browns, who do not recognize the federal government’s authority to tax its citizens, were in a nine-month standoff with authorities in 2007 after they were sentenced to five years in prison for tax evasion. U.S. marshals posing as supporters arrested them peacefully.
They were convicted in 2009 of amassing weapons, explosives and booby traps and of plotting to kill federal agents who came to arrest them.
Ed and Elaine Brown, now in their 70s, are serving sentences of 37 and 35 years respectively.
Mikelson said she has contacted numerous federal agencies that have explosive detection equipment and dogs, and none could ensure a clean sweep of the property, which is set back from the road and includes acres of storm-damaged trees and other natural debris.
"With the size of the property, there’s no way to search it and have any guarantees," Mikelson said.
However, the hilltop house and the grounds up to the tree line have been searched extensively and are deemed free of improvised explosive devices and other booby traps, Mikelson said.
Federal marshals say they are still hammering out the language of the disclaimer and the auction won’t take place before September.
Also being auctioned is Elaine Brown’s dental office in West Lebanon in the heart of the retail hub of New Hampshire’s Upper Valley region.
That commercial property has its own set of complications involving the disposal of patient records to protect their privacy, but it isn’t considered potentially dangerous.
By federal court order, the properties must be sold as is. Minimum bid for the Plainfield compound is $250,000, while the Lebanon office must sell for at least $507,500.
The court has ruled that the Browns and any heirs have no claims to the properties or any assets from their sale.
While the Browns kept federal marshals at bay, they welcomed a parade of anti-tax and anti-government supporters including Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were killed along with a deputy U.S. marshal in a 1992 shootout on Weaver’s property in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
Mikelson cited those sympathizers as another reason not to open the property to bidders and gawkers.
"They had a lot of supporters," Mikelson. "We’re trying to maintain safety for all."
If the properties sell, the first entities to be paid would be the municipalities of Plainfield and Lebanon, which are owed back property taxes.
Attorney Shawn Tanguay, who represents Lebanon, said that the city as of mid-July was owed roughly $211,500 in taxes, interest and penalties. Plainfield tax collector Michelle Marsh says the town is owed $152,550 on the Browns’ property there.
"We’re all sort of waiting with bated breath to get this settled," Tanguay said.
As Gatewood Galbraith once said, "Our Father’s and Grandfather’s did not go to the beaches of Normandy so that their children could piss in a cup to get a job"…
Corporate "Drug Testing" aided by Pharmaceutical Companies who develop and produce these tests have taken our very right to be able to work away. So long as they are allowed to do this our country will never be truly free and we will have not won ANY war.
The drug testing laws have forced us to be liar’s, cheater’s and last but most important – unemployed.
There is virtually no "blue collar" job for which there is not drug testing.
Everyone already knows how unfair it is to the casual marijuana smoker as the cannabinoids remain in your body for an extended length of time – which in and of itself is a GOOD thing, but Corporate Fascist have condemed us to be "worthless", for corporate use…
Some smaller businesses may be ignorant of the fact that the "1988 Drug Free Workplace Act (DFWA)" DOES NOT require the majority of these businesses conduct drug testing. Other’s are part of the corporate majority who will adhere to drug testing to try to lower their insurance premiums and "slap the hands" of anyone who would like to use marijuana either for personal or medical reasons. They do this in order to continue the "Elkhorn Manifesto" regime to keep cannabis out of the hands of those who would attempt to put an end to the oil based society which we now "enjoy".
It’s all about where the profit is and how far they are willing to go to keep it.
The slaves were never set free. Everyone just became "equal" in color and was run off of their farms and into the Industrial Revolution.
The slaves are us. All of us.
Until we can get the drug testing laws eradicated we will continue on as slaves long after the "law" has been changed regarding the use of marijuana/cannabis.
It may not be in the government’s best interest to keep paying for incarceration for use, but it IS in corporate America’s best interest to keep the cannabis off the shelf.
Thats life in America…let the "private sector" handle it…
Drug-Free Workplaces do NOT have to test for marijuana (Updated) – November 21, 2012 by Russ Belville
WASHINGTON — The government wants businesses to drug test their workers to boost productivity and reduce health care costs, according to the 2012 National Drug Control Report released Tuesday.
Farmers have always saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game.
June 20, 2013 |
The following content originally appeared on TruthOut.
There has been mixed news for the agrochemical giant Monsanto recently. On the one hand, there was the surprise announcement on June 1 by company spokesman Brandon Mitchener: "We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe… Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops."
The embattled corporation has decided to stop tilting against the windmill of European resistance to its controversial biotech seeds. Eight EU nations have already prohibited GM (genetically modified) cultivation on their territory and banned the import of genetically modified foods from abroad.
But Monsanto’s prospects in the United States took a very different turn last month when the US Supreme Court ordered Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman to pay Monsanto over $80,000 for planting its GM soybean seeds. Bowman had purchased the seeds from a grain elevator rather than from Monsanto itself, as their corporate contract requires. The seeds had been saved from an earlier crop.
For as long as humans have been growing food, farmers have saved seeds from their harvest to sow the following year. But Monsanto and other big seed companies have changed the rules of the game. They have successfully argued that they spend millions of dollars developing new crop varieties and that these products should be treated as proprietary inventions with full patent protection. Just as one can’t legally reproduce a CD or DVD, farmers are now prohibited from copying the GM seeds that they purchase from companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta.
In one sense, these corporations no longer sell seeds – they lease them, requiring farmers to renew their lease with every subsequent growing season. Monsanto itself compares its GM seeds to rental cars. When you are finished using them, rights revert to the owner of the "intellectual property" contained within the seed.
Some farmers have saved their seeds anyway (called "brown bagging"), in some cases to save money, in others because they don’t like the big companies telling them how to farm. Monsanto has responded with an all-out effort to track down the brown baggers and prosecute them as an example to others who might be tempted to violate its patent. By aggressively enforcing its "no replant policy," Monsanto has initiated a permanent low-grade war against farmers. At the time of this writing, the company had not responded to emailed questions about its seed saving policies.
"I don’t know of [another] company that chooses to sue its own customer base," Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety told Vanity Fair Magazine. " It’s a very bizarre business strategy."
Yet the strategy appears to be working. Over 90 percent of the soybeans, corn, canola and cotton grown in the United States are patented genetically modified organisms (commonly known as GMOs). The soybean variety that Bowman planted has proved popular with farmers because it has been modified to survive multiple sprayings by Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, whose active agent is glyphosate. While Monsanto claims that GMOs increase crop yields, there is little evidence that this is the case. The chemical giant turned seed company also claims that the new technology decreases the need for agrochemicals. Yet 85 percent of all GM crops are bred to be herbicide resistant, which has meant that pesticide use is increasing as a result of the spread of GM crops. What GMOs were designed to do – and indeed accomplish – is create plants that can be grown efficiently in the chemical-intensive large scale monocultures that dominate American agriculture.
A wealthy Maryland journalist (who’s neither a Democrat or Republican) has exposed a scandal brewing within the current Administration.
He says it could ruin Obama’s entire Presidency… and would also result in some of the most dramatic changes to ordinary American life in more than 50 years.
Senior politicians reveal that US counter-terrorism efforts have swept up personal data from American citizens for years
The scale of America’s surveillance state was laid bare on Thursday as senior politicians revealed that the US counter-terrorism effort had swept up swaths of personal data from the phone calls of millions of citizens for years.
After the revelation by the Guardian of a sweeping secret court order that authorised the FBI to seize all call records from a subsidiary of Verizon, the Obama administration sought to defuse mounting anger over what critics described as the broadest surveillance ruling ever issued.
A White House spokesman said that laws governing such orders "are something that have been in place for a number of years now" and were vital for protecting national security. Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the Verizon court order had been in place for seven years. "People want the homeland kept safe," Feinstein said.
But as the implications of the blanket approval for obtaining phone data reverberated around Washington and beyond, anger grew among other politicians.
Intelligence committee member Mark Udall, who has previously warned in broad terms about the scale of government snooping, said: "This sort of widescale surveillance should concern all of us and is the kind of government overreach I’ve said Americans would find shocking." Former vice-president Al Gore described the "secret blanket surveillance" as "obscenely outrageous".
The Verizon order was made under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) as amended by the Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But one of the authors of the Patriot Act, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, said he was troubled by the Guardian revelations. He said that he had written to the attorney general, Eric Holder, questioning whether "US constitutional rights were secure".
He said: "I do not believe the broadly drafted Fisa order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American."
The White House sought to defend what it called "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats". White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Fisa orders were used to "support important and highly sensitive intelligence collection operations" on which members of Congress were fully briefed.
"The intelligence community is conducting court-authorized intelligence activities pursuant to a public statute with the knowledge and oversight of Congress and the intelligence community in both houses of Congress," Earnest said.
He pointed out that the order only relates to the so-called metadata surrounding phone calls rather than the content of the calls themselves. "The order reprinted overnight does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls," Earnest said.
"The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to call details, such as a telephone number or the length of a telephone call."
But such metadata can provide authorities with vast knowledge about a caller’s identity. Particularly when cross-checked against other public records, the metadata can reveal someone’s name, address, driver’s licence, credit history, social security number and more. Government analysts would be able to work out whether the relationship between two people was ongoing, occasional or a one-off.
The disclosure has reignited longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.
Ron Wyden of Oregon, a member of the Senate intelligence committee who, along with Udell, has expressed concern about the extent of US government surveillance, warned of "sweeping, dragnet surveillance". He said: "I am barred by Senate rules from commenting on some of the details at this time, However, I believe that when law-abiding Americans call their friends, who they call, when they call, and where they call from is private information.
"Collecting this data about every single phone call that every American makes every day would be a massive invasion of Americans’ privacy."
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said: "From a civil liberties perspective, the program could hardly be any more alarming. It’s a program in which some untold number of innocent people have been put under the constant surveillance of government agents.
"It is beyond Orwellian, and it provides further evidence of the extent to which basic democratic rights are being surrendered in secret to the demands of unaccountable intelligence agencies."
Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice under President Obama.
The order names Verizon Business Services, a division of Verizon Communications. In its first-quarter earnings report, published in April, Verizon Communications listed about 10 million commercial lines out of a total of 121 million customers. The court order, which lasts for three months from 25 April, does not specify what type of lines are being tracked. It is not clear whether any additional orders exist to cover Verizon’s wireless and residential customers, or those of other phone carriers.
Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific, named target suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets. The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual.
Senators Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and Saxby Chambliss, the vice chairman, speak to reporters about the NSA cull of phone records. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Feinstein said she believed the order had been in place for some time. She said: "As far as I know this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been the case for the past seven years. This renewal is carried out by the [foreign intelligence surveillance] court under the business records section of the Patriot Act. Therefore it is lawful. It has been briefed to Congress."
The Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement that the secret court order was unprecedented. "As far as we know this order from the Fisa court is the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon [business services] subscribers anywhere in the US.
"The Patriot Act’s incredibly broad surveillance provision purportedly authorizes an order of this sort, though its constitutionality is in question and several senators have complained about it."
Russell Tice, a retired National Security Agency intelligence analyst and whistleblower, said: "What is going on is much larger and more systemic than anything anyone has ever suspected or imagined."
Although an anonymous senior Obama administration official said that "on its face" the court order revealed by the Guardian did not authorise the government to listen in on people’s phone calls, Tice now believes the NSA has constructed such a capability.
"I figured it would probably be about 2015" before the NSA had "the computer capacity … to collect all digital communications word for word," Tice said. "But I think I’m wrong. I think they have it right now."
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Originally posted on CBS Los Angeles:
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Privacy advocates are questioning whether the Los Angeles Police Department’s alleged use of a controversial cellphone tracking technology is legal.
KNX 1070’s Claudia Peschiutta reports that police have lauded the effectiveness of the portable StingRay device in tracking down a suspect. However, critics are worried that other citizens’ data could be compromised in the process.[cbs-audio url="http://cbsla.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/stingray-cpe-seg.mp3" size="" download="" name="Privacy Fears Linger Over LAPD's Alleged Use Of Cellphone Tracking Device" artist="Claudia Peschiutta"]
Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said his organization obtained documents that show the LAPD used the portable StingRay device 21 times out of a total of 155 cell phone searches over a four-month period in 2012.
“One of the concerns about it is that, although the police may be looking for a particular cell phone, they also are able to get the same information from other cell phones,” Scheer said…
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