Woman sues park ranger for alleged transphobic tazing

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/11/woman-sues-park-ranger-for-allleged-transphobic-tazing/

By Arturo Garcia
Sunday, November 11, 2012

A California woman filed a lawsuit against both the U.S. and a Bureau of Land Management ranger she said tazed her twice because she used to be a man.

According to KGTV-TV, Brooke Fantelli’s lawsuit (PDF) names both “the United States of America” and the ranger, identified only as “J. Peter” as defendants for their roles in an Oct. 27 2011 encounter where the ranger tazed her twice despite her not resisting arrest.

At the time, Fantelli said she did refuse to lay down on the ground, but cell phone video she provided the station showed she was standing away from the ranger with her hands up in the air, seemingly not threatening him.

“I’ve got plenty of money invested in myself in the area of $65,000 worth of plastic surgery, braces and other things that are important to me,” she said last year.

Fantelli was arrested and charged with public intoxication for the incident, and said the ranger, upon learning she was transgender by looking at her identification, switched from referring to her with female pronouns like “ma’am” and “miss” to calling her “dude” and “sir,” and tazed her a second time in the genitalia while restraining her on the ground.

Complete article at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/11/woman-sues-park-ranger-for-allleged-transphobic-tazing/

Trans Prisoners Fight Abuse

From In These Times:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13990/trans_prisoners_fight_abuse

Trans prisoners and queer-rights groups protest unfair treatment behind bars.

BY Toshio Meronek
November 10, 2012

“Imagine being told, ‘You have no right to be who you are,’ ” says Faith Phillips, remarking on her first days in prison. The transition was even harder for Phillips than it is for most prisoners: Phillips, a transgender (trans) woman, was held in a men’s prison.

According to recent studies, 16-33 percent of trans people have spent time behind bars, compared with less than 4 percent of the general U.S. population. Another statistic provides a clue as to why: 26 percent of transgender people report being fired because of their gender identity. Forced into the underground economy, some enter prison for “survival crimes” such as sex work. Once inside, people who don’t conform to the gender regulations—both written and unwritten—face a form of punishment far harsher than their original sentences.

Growing up in California’s San Bernardino County, Phillips was abused by her transphobic father and was one of the few people of color in her community. When she landed in central California’s Avenal State Prison at 21, she witnessed the same ill treatment of trans people she’d experienced as a child. So, in March 2008, when a queer prisoner was threatened with a transfer to a ward where he knew he’d be unsafe, she staged a protest, refusing to leave the prison yard when the correctional officers (COs) announced that it was time.

“Might as well take me to the hole, because I’m not moving,” she remembers telling the COs. “Then the whole queer community said, ‘We’re going to the hole, too.’ ” Night fell. The temperature dropped. Prisoners who were inside managed to push blankets out to the protestors underneath a doorway. Eventually, the transfer of the at-risk prisoner was cancelled.

Phillips and her fellow prison-yard occupiers also came up with a list of demands that included HIV and sex education, the return of appropriately gendered clothes that had been taken from them, an end to harassment by staff, and a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex support group. The prison’s warden agreed to their demands (apart from the clothing) after a sympathetic captain pled their case.

In retribution for her activism, Phillips says, she was put through a series of prison transfers, drugged and sent to solitary confinement. She claims prison administrators threatened, “If you ever think about doing this again, we’ll bury you.” But Phillips soon became an information collector for the San Francisco-based Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), one of a handful of trans prisoner support organizations that documents abuses inside prisons.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13990/trans_prisoners_fight_abuse

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My Son Wore a Dress for Halloween

Some folks still embrace the ideals of Marlo Thomas and “Free to be You, Free to be Me.

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-byrom/my-son-wore-a-dress-for-halloween_b_2096630.html


Editor’s note: This post uses pseudonyms to protect the identities of minors.

My family lives in a very conservative area, and we aren’t exactly walking into open arms in our community when we go trick-or-treating. This is the second year our son has worn a dress on Halloween. Last year he went as Minnie Mouse:

When Twirl declared that he wanted to be Minnie Mouse for Halloween, it wasn’t a surprise. He had been obsessed with her for a while. We ordered the costume, and I wish I had been filming when that sucker came in the mail: I’m not sure whether I’d ever seen a happier boy. I admit I was nervous. I hadn’t really thought about it when we ordered it, but when we left our house to go trick-or-treating, my stomach was uneasy. We told Twirl that some people might just think he was a girl and that that was OK, and that he could correct them if he wanted to — or not. I wanted to go into an hour-long speech on how wonderful and perfect he is and how he should not pay attention to anything hurtful anyone may say, but I am also careful to not overdo it or make it a big deal. I think maybe two or three people thought he was a girl, and he did correct them, and it was no big deal. We got some weird side looks, but thankfully no one said anything to him or to us in a negative tone. I will point out that Firecracker was dressed as a dragon, but there was no worry about her being in a more boy-typical costume, and no one said a word. That is our society.

Fast-forward to this year. Twirl said he wanted to be a fairy. His favorite is the Disney fairy Rosetta; she wears pink, after all. We went to look at the costumes, and when we held up the Rosetta costume… well, the skirt was really short! Twirl was on the tall end of the size, and I found myself saying something I would have said were it my daughter Firecracker: “That skirt is just too short. We need to find something longer.” This still makes me laugh, but seriously, it was really short. So he decided on Silvermist, the blue fairy who has a longer, blue dress with a little purple in it. I knew he didn’t have any shoes to wear with it, and his pink Converses weren’t exactly going to complement that outfit, so we went to the shoe section, and he picked some glittery, purple Mary Janes. He was so excited to try them on, and they are without a doubt his favorite part of the costume.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-byrom/my-son-wore-a-dress-for-halloween_b_2096630.html

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PETITION: Human Rights Commission of the US Congress: Investigate NOM for Anti-Gay Hate-Mongering in Qatar

From Change.Org:  http://www.change.org/petitions/human-rights-commission-of-the-us-congress-investigate-nom-for-anti-gay-hate-mongering-in-qatar

The so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM) reacted to recent democratic repudiation of its radical anti-gay agenda by threatening to endanger LGBTers in Qatar.

Specifically, NOM is threatening to wage an enhanced anti-LGBT hate speech campaign in Qatar to get Qataris to reject the presence of Starbucks — an American company — in their country because of Starbucks’ support for LGBT rights in the US.

NOM has already translated its anti-gay hate speech into Arabic and put online detailed maps of every Starbucks location in the Middle East. Meanwhile, it is known that in Qatar, gay people’s human rights are violated through whippings and imprisonments. As NOM intensifies anti-gay hatreds in the country, it is to be expected that gay Americans in such places as Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar will find themselves at heightened risk of violence.

NOM is run by Princeton University Professor Robert George, but other prominent NOM bigot leaders include Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, Thomas Peters and John Eastman. The US government must keep a close watch on these anti-gay criminals. NOM has sponsored anti-gay hate rallies where its chosen speakers yell through megaphones that homosexuals are “worthy to death.” In 2012, NOM pleaded guilty to 18 counts of California State Campaign Finance law violations and had to pay fines to the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Stop these NOM criminals before they provoke the deaths of innocent LGBTers and Starbucks employees in Qatar.

Click Here to Sign Petition

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NOM To Blackmail Equality-Supporting Companies By Stoking Middle East Anti-Gay Persecution

There has to be something ironic about Christo-Fascists forming  alliances with Islamo-Fascists.  Uniting in homophobic bigotry.

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/09/1175721/nom-to-blackmail-equality-supporting-companies-by-stoking-middle-east-anti-gay-persecution/

By Zack Beauchamp
on Nov 9, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) plans to expand its campaign to stoke homophobia abroad to undermine pro-equality American companies, according to audio of a conference call obtained by The American Independent. When asked during the call about Starbucks, which had spoken out against anti-gay ballot referenda, NOM President Brian Brown suggested his organization planned to intensify its campaignagainst Starbucks and other similar companies in countries where homophobia is pervasive:

Their international outreach is where we can have the most effect…So for example, in Qatar, in the Middle East, we’ve begun working to make sure that there’s some price to be paid for this. These are not countries that look kindly on same-sex marriage. And this is where Starbucks wants to expand, as well as India. So we have done some of this; we’ve got to do a lot more.

This strategy is incredibly irresponsible: by associating Starbucks with gay rights in homophobic countries, NOM is singling out Starbucks employees for anti-gay abuse and more generally stoking anger towards LGBT people. The broader Middle East is home to three out of the five countries in the world where homosexuality is punishable by death. Though Qatar specifically isn’t one of them, its government defends other countries’ right to execute LGBT persons and, according to the State Department, “there was an underlying pattern of discrimination towards LGBT persons based on conservative cultural and religious values prevalent in the society.” The situation in India, the other country NOM singled out, is also dire:

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/09/1175721/nom-to-blackmail-equality-supporting-companies-by-stoking-middle-east-anti-gay-persecution/

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Boycott Papa John’s Over Corporate Greed

From Opposing Views:  http://www.opposingviews.com/i/money/jobs-and-careers/boycott-papa-johns-over-corporate-greed

By Back 2 Stonewall,
Sun, November 11, 2012

Papa John, John Schnatter President, the CEO of Papa Johns Pizza has a net worth of about 350 Million dollars and is was a Romney supporter who held secret fund-raisers on his sprawling mansion grounds.

He’s also a greedy jerk who, to get around paying for Obama’s Affordable Care Act, plans on cutting all his employee’s hours to below the mandated threshold so he doesn’t have to pay for it — because it would cost him too much money.

How much money would it cost him exactly? About 14 cents per pizza.

Yes, 14 cents per pizza is the cost of health care for his employees so they can remain healthy and be more productive. This is nothing more than corporate greed at its worst.

And, unfortunately, Papa John’s is not alone. Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster have all jumped on this bus. Threatening to freeze full hirings and/or reduce employees to skirt the ACA regulations.

Now, bear in mind, that Papa John’s, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster are not small businesses.  Each of these companies make millions in profits each year and its workforce is amongst the lowest paid and hardest working in the country. And they care so little about the health and welfare of their employees that they would rather cut their already few low-paying hours than make sure that they are taken care of.

Now, this is America and they have the right to do with their businesses what they want, no matter how scummy it is.

But these businesses need to bear in mind that they are not the only pizza joints, seafood places, and Iitalian restaurants in the country. A loss of business, any loss of business, will hurt them greatly and, in Papa John’s case, will cost him much more than 14 cents per pizza in the end.

It’s time for the people of America to stand up against these corporate misers who think that their workforce is nothing.

I for one will not be eating at any of these places from this moment forward.  And I would ask the same of you also until they state that they will not reduce thier workforce and hours.

This is America and as Americans it’s time that we start standing up for our fellow countrymen and begin to teach BIG BUSINESS that they are nothing without us.

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The ethics of outing your rapist

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/09/ethics-of-outing-rapist

In naming her father on YouTube as her rapist, a woman is taking possession of the right to tell her story

guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 November 2012

What are the ethics of outing your rapist? That’s a question being debated around the internet after a “New Orleans beauty guru” posted a video on YouTube, saying that her father raped and abused her repeatedly from the time she was four years old until she was 13. She names him and his wife, and says he physically abused her, her brother and her mother for years. Her father was never tried for raping her, let alone convicted. He denies the allegations. Her mother was granted a divorce from him in 2000 on the grounds of “habitual cruel and inhuman treatment”.

She isn’t the first woman to name and shame the person she says assaulted her. Savannah Dietrich, a 17-year-old girl from Kentucky, was sexually assaulted by two classmates while she was passed out; the boys took photos and circulated them around school. Dietrich pressed charges, and the boys agreed to a plea bargain that gave them a relatively lenient sentence. Dietrich then ignored an order to keep quiet about the case and tweeted the boys’ names. She faced potential jail time for doing so.

Other women have named their rapists on Facebook, on Twitter, on Tumblr and on other sites. Every time, concern springs up: isn’t this vigilante justice? Aren’t accused criminals innocent until proven guilty?

In a US court of law, yes – but while we live under the rule of law, we don’t live in a court. Outside of the courtroom, people are entitled to their own narratives about their own lives. Concerns about the burden of proof and vigilantism are sometimes legitimate, but those same concerns don’t seem to arise when someone says, “my super broke into my apartment and stole my stereo” or “my grandmother’s caretaker has been pilfering money from her purse.” There’s no admonishment to withhold personal judgment or not take action; there’s no suggestion that the accuser is probably lying or that she should keep her mouth shut until a jury of her peers finds the alleged criminal guilty.

Protection for criminal defendants is crucial, and so is protection for the falsely accused and wrongly convicted. Putting the burden of proving guilt on the prosecution is a strength of the US legal system. But the video blogger is on YouTube, not in a court room. Her father isn’t facing the curtailment of his liberties by the state. She isn’t posting anonymously while naming her alleged assailant; she’s using her full name and attaching her accusations to her own face and reputation. To suggest that she can’t or shouldn’t tell her own story – to suggest that she has to turn her story over to a court before we can accept her word as her own truth – effectively muzzles her and many other women. It clips our agency. It puts our own narrative in the hands of someone who presumably knows better.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/09/ethics-of-outing-rapist

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Melissa Harris-Perry’s Open Letter To Richard Mourdock – Rape Survivors ‘Are The Gift To Ourselves’

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The Republican Party: The death of America’s angry white man

From The Independent UK:   http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-republican-party-the-death-of-americas-angry-white-man-8303846.html

If the GOP wants to win next time, its leaders need to wrest power from the Tea Party fringe and embrace the changes in the US

Rupert Cornwell
Sunday 11 November 2012They truly expected Mitt would win. Not just the right-wing talk-show hosts and the dedicated Republican pundits living in their parallel universe, but the top campaign brass, even the candidate himself, who had prepared only a victory speech. That incidentally may explain the brevity and grace of Romney’s concession in Boston on Tuesday night. In the event, nothing became him in defeat so much as the way he took it.

And it wasn’t just a defeat, it was a big one, whose dimensions were a surprise even to many Democrats: over 2 per cent in the popular vote and a crushing 332 votes to 206 in the electoral college, in what is supposed to be a 50/50 country. And this in a year when the struggling economy was the main issue, and Republicans were fielding a candidate whose selling point was his economic and business expertise. What went wrong?

The initial reaction, as with a patient who is told their illness is terminal, was denial. Nothing was wrong, some of the true believers said at first; after all the party had kept control of the House of Representatives. The problem had been the dastardly negative tactics of the opposition (“Obama succeeded by suppressing the vote,” blathered Karl Rove, one-time campaign guru of George W Bush). Others blamed the electorate: “We don’t need to change to appeal to voters,” insisted the conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham. “We need voters and their mindsets to change.”

But this weekend, cold reality is sinking in. One sign is the fact that almost no one is blaming Romney himself for the defeat, or evoking other, better candidates who might have won. Normally the knives would already be out, and until the very last weeks, Romney indeed waged a poor campaign, passive and gaffe-prone. But if anyone is being made scapegoat, it is New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie, guilty of actually praising President Barack Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy. But the problems run far deeper than one or two individuals, or a storm that arrived at the worst possible moment.

The Republicans lost because America has changed, and the extreme conservatism they currently expound has indeed lost its appeal. As everyone points out, correctly, it is a matter of demographics. The archetypal Republican voter is older, white, male and non-urban, at a time when the country is more diversified and urban than ever, and when the votes of women and Hispanics – two constituencies whom the party this time seemed to go out of its way to alienate – have become crucial.

Continue reading at:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-republican-party-the-death-of-americas-angry-white-man-8303846.html

See also The New York Tines:  Maureen Dowd:  Romney Is President

See also:  The Washington Post:  After Obama reelection, Murray Energy CEO reads prayer, announces layoffs

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Medicaid Expansion To Poorest Southerners Denied By Republicans

From  Huffington Post:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/medicaid-expansion_n_2103384.html


If you’re poor and you live in the South, there’s a good chance health care reform won’t reach you. Intransigent Republican governors from Florida to Texas remain steadfastly resistant to President Barack Obama’s plan to expand Medicaid to their neediest constituents.

The health care reform law Obama enacted in 2010 depends heavily on Medicaid, a joint federal-state health benefits program, to reach the goal of near-universal health care. If every state participated, 17 million uninsured people would gain coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program between 2014 and 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The law extends Medicaid to anyone who earns up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $14,856 this year.

But at least a half-dozen governors say they simply won’t go along with the law. When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in June, justices ruled states could opt out of the Medicaid expansion. The decision threatens to leave 3 million of the poorest Americans without health coverage, the Congressional Budget Office predicts.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — all Republicans — are on record so far as resistors to expanding Medicaid, according to an analyses updated Thursday by the Advisory Board, a Washington-based health care consulting company.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/medicaid-expansion_n_2103384.html

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Harris-Perry on poverty: ‘Those aren’t numbers. Those are people’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/11/harris-perry-on-poverty-those-arent-numbers-those-are-people/

By Arturo Garcia
Sunday, November 11, 2012

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry debuted a new regular segment Sunday focusing on poverty, which she noted many people did not want to touch, even as the national poverty rate remained at 15 percent of the population last year, or just over 46 million people, with 21.9 percent of them being minors.

“Let me be crystal clear,” she said. “Those aren’t numbers. Those are people.”

President Barack Obama’s administration, Harris-Perry noted, has already at least broached the subject; days before his re-election, a campaign spokesperson cited programs like Choice Neighborhoods, Promise Neighborhoods and others in a response to The Nation as proof Obama took the issue seriously.


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Occupy Sandy: A Movement Moves to Relief

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/nyregion/where-fema-fell-short-occupy-sandy-was-there.html

Published: November 9, 2012

ON Wednesday night, as a fierce northeaster bore down on the weather-beaten Rockaways, the relief groups with a noticeable presence on the battered Queens peninsula were these: the National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Police and Sanitation Departments — and Occupy Sandy, a do-it-yourself outfit recently established by Occupy Wall Street.

This stretch of the coast remained apocalyptic, with buildings burned like Dresden and ragged figures shuffling past the trash heaps. There was still no power, and parking lots were awash with ruined cars. On Wednesday morning, as the winds picked up and FEMA closed its office “due to weather,” an enclave of Occupiers was huddled in a storefront amid the devastation, handing out supplies and trying to make sure that those bombarded by last month’s storm stayed safe and warm and dry this time.

“Candles?” asked a dull-eyed woman arriving at the door.

“I’m sorry, but we’re out,” said Sofia Gallisa, a field coordinator who had been there for a week. Ms. Gallisa escorted the woman in, and someone gave her batteries for her flashlight. As she walked away, word arrived that a firehouse nearby was closing for the night; the firefighters there were hurrying their rigs to higher ground.

“It’s crazy,” Ms. Gallisa later said of the official response. “For a long time, we were the only people out here doing relief work.”

After its encampment in Zuccotti Park, which changed the public discourse about economic inequality and introduced the nation to the trope of the 1 percent, the Occupy movement has wandered in a desert of more intellectual, less visible projects, like farming, fighting debt and theorizing on banking. While several nouns have been occupied — from summer camp to health care — it is only with Hurricane Sandy that the times have conspired to deliver an event that fully calls upon the movement’s talents and caters to its strengths.

Maligned for months for its purported ineffectiveness, Occupy Wall Street has managed through its storm-related efforts not only to renew the impromptu passions of Zuccotti, but also to tap into an unfulfilled desire among the residents of the city to assist in the recovery. This altruistic urge was initially unmet by larger, more established charity groups, which seemed slow to deliver aid and turned away potential volunteers in droves during the early days of the disaster.

In the past two weeks, Occupy Sandy has set up distribution sites at a pair of Brooklyn churches where hundreds of New Yorkers muster daily to cook hot meals for the afflicted and to sort through a medieval marketplace of donated blankets, clothes and food. There is an Occupy motor pool of borrowed cars and pickup trucks that ferries volunteers to ravaged areas. An Occupy weatherman sits at his computer and issues regular forecasts. Occupy construction teams and medical committees have been formed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/nyregion/where-fema-fell-short-occupy-sandy-was-there.html

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As US states legalise marijuana, is this the end of the drugs war?

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/11/eugene-jarecki-us-states-legalise-marijuana

The director of a landmark documentary which chronicles how the current penal approach has resulted in social disaster says the greatest legacy of the US elections may be shifting attitudes towards illegal narcotics

The Observer, Saturday 10 November 2012

Last week was a momentous week, the beginning of the end, perhaps, of a national depravity – the “war on drugs“. The voters of Colorado and Washington passed measures to legalise marijuana, amounting to local shifts, for the moment. So we shouldn’t delude ourselves that the country will be transformed overnight, but the public thinking, the public spirit is being transformed. Finally, there is a growing realisation that this “war” has produced nothing but a legacy of failure. And who wants to be associated with failure?

Let’s be clear what we’re discussing here. Not in question is the ravaging impact drugs can have on individuals – too many of us know people who have suffered in this way. But we need to see addiction for what it is – not a criminal matter but a public health issue, and a huge social issue, especially for the young. In fact, instead of a “war on drugs”, better to call it a war on children.

In many parts of our country, a child strays a little at 14; tries a drug, can’t think of any way to pay for it, and then sinks into the underground economy. Before long, he has a strike on his record, a strike that will be with him for the rest of his life. So you have a cycle of degradation, starting at 13, 14, and he never gets out of it. We now know so much about child development, the importance of the early years, how communities develop. Instead we eviscerate neighbourhoods, we strip away the infrastructure that once provided towns with resources.

And with this “war”, we’re talking about the erasure of a population – which was once black America, now just poor America. These are people removed from the official American story – just last week the millions of them locked up, often for non-violent drug-related crimes, did not participate in our democracy. So, at the very minimum, you are taking the poor away from the levers of power.

There is a new consensus that the economic view is becoming more influential in shifting attitudes on drugs, that the amount of money saved from policing and the amount gained through taxing legalised drugs is swaying opinion. Obviously we would all shudder to think we live in a country where only the economic collapse of a depravity like this should bring about its end. But I think it’s also true that what’s happening is more complicated – economic calculations meeting up with humanitarian concerns. So you have the likes of Grover Norquist, the conservative founder of Americans for Tax Reform, and Chris Christie, the Republican New Jersey governor, finding unlikely bedfellows with Russell Simmons and Danny Glover, producers on my film. All see a failed approach.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/11/eugene-jarecki-us-states-legalise-marijuana

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