DEA official freaks out at Senate hearing: Reckless marijuana legalization ‘scares us’

After all Marijuana Legalization could put a bunch of pigs out of work and harm the Prison Industrial Complex.

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, January 16, 2014

The chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration railed against the legalization of marijuana on Wednesday, warning the “experiment” was highly dangerous.

“I have to say this… going down the path to legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible,” James L. Capra said during a Senate hearing. “I’m talking about the long-term impact of legalization in the United States. It scares us.”

Resident in Colorado and Washington state voted in 2012 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The U.S. Department of Justice later said it would not target individuals and marijuana dispensaries that were in compliance with state laws.

Capra claimed marijuana legalization had failed in every place it had been tried.

“There are more dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks,” Capra remarked. “The idea somehow… that this is somehow good for us as a nation, that this is good for the next generation coming up is wrong. It’s a bad thing, and this body will get its door knocked on ten years from now and say, ‘How did we get where we got?’”

He said at an international drug conference in Moscow, foreign officials wondered why the United States was scaling back its war on drugs.

“Almost everyone looked at us and said: Why are you doing this, you’re pointing a finger at us as a source state,” Capra said. “I have no answer for them. I don’t have an answer for them.”

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Can Everyone Stop Freaking Out Over Which Bathroom Transgender People Use?

From Vice:

By Paris Lees
Jan 10 2014

There’s a crazy right wing conspiracy against transgender people and it’s just turned ugly.

Conservatives are trying to deny transgender students the right to use the bathroom. Just to put this into context, in Britain trans people use whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable in. As a British gal, it both surprises and depresses me that trans restroom rights is even an issue in the States. It doesn’t have to be a big deal unless you, um, you know, want it to be. There’s a major political battle over California’s School Success and Opportunity Act right now that makes trans rights the focus of a national culture war between religious right and liberal left. Republicans are using human rights for trans students as pawns to discredit Democrats. Just like gay marriage, restroom rights have become a political football.

It’s an imaginary debate. You’ve probably already been in a public restroom with a transgender person and not even realized. Last time I checked, trans people are included in “everyone.” So yeah, we’re in that line in the bathroom, trying to get a line in the bathroom.

There are around 700,000 trans people in America and I’m kinda sure they all piss and poop. (I don’t poop. I defecated once in 2006, it was sparkly and glittery and scented with Chanel and I’ve never done anything like that since.) Let’s assume though that trans people dare to carry on existing and also continue to need bathrooms and whatnot. Conservatives say that if we give trans people restroom and locker rights, men will pretend to be trans to sexually harass women.

Number one: Since when is crazy straight guys pretending to be trans a reason to deny trans people rights? Number two: The whole thing, frankly, is bullshit—it’s an argument based on ignorance, fear, and zero evidence.

Say hello to the Pacific Justice Institute, a hate group that spreads propaganda about trans people. Sometimes mainstream media outlets repeat these lies. Like ABC’s Michael Chen who, last October, mentioned the case of a trans girl peering over bathroom stalls to look at others girls. Except she didn’t. When activist site TransAdvocate investigated—using complex methods like picking up a phone—the school informed them that the story was “fabricated.” Lies like this hand ammunition to bullies, reactionaries, and mean girls alike. But it’s not like schools have a problem with bullying, right?

Here’s something else that didn’t happen. A trans girl in Colorado didn’t harass other students in the girls’ toilets last autumn. However some girls at the school—some, not all—did feel harassed about her using the girls’ restroom. Never mind that she never actually did or said anything apart from go into the stalls, lock the door, and pee. Or that she got beat up when she used the boys’ room. No one cares about that! But Fox, the Examiner, and MailOnline were super concerned about lovely, regular folk feeling uncomfortable over absolutely nothing and global news coverage soon followed. Strangely enough, the trans student reacted badly to international reports that she was a pervert and she’s since left the school. In the aftermath of this incident, she’s been put on suicide watch.

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“We made an indefensible mistake”: Grantland editor apologizes for story outing trans woman

From Salon:

After a suicide and an outcry, editor in chief Bill Simmons explains

It had begun as a story about a unique piece of sports equipment. It ended with a suicide. Along the way, it became a debate about journalistic ethics, and how far a writer and editors should go into a subject’s personal life. And in a Monday letter from the editor, Grantland’s Bill Simmons gave a lengthy and remarkably candid peek into how a story that may have led to a transgender woman’s death came about.

Last week, the ESPN-owned site Grantland published Caleb Hannan’s “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” a story of the author’s quest to unlock the mystery behind a seemingly “magical” putter, and an inventor named Essay Anne Vanderbilt. Though Dr. V requested that “any subsequent article about her putter focus on the science and not the scientist,” Hannan couldn’t resist. He became intrigued by the “quirks to her character” and a voice that was “deeper than expected.” He began digging and uncovered “discrepancies” in the biographical information she’d supplied, until eventually he was able to declare, “Here is what I now know about Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt, inventor of the Oracle GX1 putter. She was born a boy on July 12, 1953, in Philadelphia. She was given the name Stephen Krol, a person who has not received degrees from MIT or the University of Pennsylvania. She has been married at least twice, and the brother of one of Krol’s ex-wives says Dr. V has two children, possibly more. She was once a mechanic at a Sunoco station that she also may have run in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.”

Was this now the story of a magical putter? Or was it of a businessperson who’d faked her credentials? Or was it, cruelly, just an outing of a trans woman? In the piece, Hannan told how he revealed Dr. V’s secret to one of her investors, saying, “Maybe the most surprising thing about my conversation with Kinney was how calmly he took the news that the woman he thought was an aerospace engineer had once been a man, and a mechanic.” He told of Dr. V’s increasing agitation that Hannan was pursuing the story, an act she calls a “hate crime.” And in the end, he said that she killed herself in October.

Did Grantland kill Dr. V? Of course not. Hannan even noted in his original story that she’d attempted suicide at least once before. But the cavalier invasiveness of the piece, its sly depiction of a trans person as a sneaky liar, inspired a vocal and strongly critical chorus of shock and disgust at Grantland’s choice to run the story. Shakesville’s Melissa McEwan summed it up quite well in a piece whose title says it all: “Careless, Cruel and Unaccountable.”

When Grantland was slow to respond to the criticism, it seemed for a while it might have been trying to stick its head in the sand until the whole thing blew over. But Bill Simmons’ thoughtful, lengthy Sunday letter takes on, from its first sentence, the baffling question of “How could you guys run that?” In it, he praises Hannan’s “well-written” piece and runs down the various checkpoints the story passed until he himself signed off on it. He admits that when Hannan turned in a version in September – a month before Vanderbilt’s suicide, he told him, “Sorry, Caleb, you need to keep reporting this one. It’s not there.”

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The Costs of Austerity: Squandering $2.3 Trillion Yearly of our Productive Resources

From Huffington Post:


The meaning of the term austerity has undergone a significant transformation. It was originally used in Britain during the Second World War when the challenge was how to maximize the output of war materials and how to ration popular consumption.

The “modern” version of austerity began in the western industrialized countries during the mid-seventies, and has been continued at irregular intervals until today. Modern austerity is deliberately created, justified by the need to reduce government debt and fight inflation. Modern austerity policies generate artificial scarcity, rising unemployment and idle productive resources. After the 2008 financial crisis, many nations had to borrow heavily to rescue their banking systems, increasing public debt. This increased debt was then used to justify more austerity in order to satisfy the financiers “worried” about the debts governments had taken on to save them. Public spending is being cut further, reducing aggregate demand. Austerity policies thus create scarcity that is then used to justify the need for more savings. The implementation of austerity becomes its own justification.

Both the extent of the freely available but unused production potential as well as the level of unemployment have subsequently been at record levels in most countries. In the most affected countries, unemployment has reached figures ​​in excess of twenty per cent, in the area of ​​youth unemployment even up to fifty percent. A whole generation is thus being denied the transition to a normal working life.

This dramatic waste of productive resources is especially scandalous because these resources are needed to address urgent global problems such as climate change and poverty reduction. Even the use of a fraction of the available free productive capacity could have a major impact.

The constraints on demand caused by austerity policies mean that we unnecessarily live beneath our actual means. The value of unproduced useful goods and services are the costs of austerity.

We live below our human potential because we fail to use all the productive resources available to us and, as a result, over 200 million people are unemployed around the world. On the other hand, we live beyond our natural limits because we use more natural and finite resources than is sustainable. A huge opportunity thus presents itself: by employing even a portion of the 200 million global unemployed and by implementing a better degree of utilization of available productive capital we can increase our economic potential so as to make significant investments in the transformation of our energy consumption and in the sustainable restructuring of our production methods.

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Alcohol Is a Major Factor for Auto Crashes — So Why Are Govts Focusing on Toking and Driving?

From Alternet:

We should spend more time preventing alcohol fatalities.

By Paul Armentano
January 17, 2014

While numerous substances, from prescription medications to illicit drugs, can impair driving performance, alcohol remains far and away the substance that is most likely to increase one’s risk of experiencing a fatal accident behind the wheel.

So concludes the findings of a major new study, entitled “Drugs and Alcohol: Their Relative Crash Risk,” published this week in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Investigators at the Pacific Research Institute in Maryland and the University of Puerto Rico assessed whether alcohol, licit or illicit drugs, or a combination of substances is most likely to contribute to fatal rash risk. The answer: “[T]he contribution of alcohol to crash risk is much larger than that by other drugs,” researchers concluded.

In fact, even the presence of alcohol in the blood at permissible limits (below 0.08% in the United States) elevated drivers’ risk of accident in a more significant manner than did the presence of barbituates, benzodiazepenes, sleep aids, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, PCP, or marijuana. The authors wrote, “[O]ur finding that the risk of involvement in a fatal crash at a BAC of 0.05% is significantly higher than that for being positive for drugs other than alcohol.”

As for the crash risk associated with the presence of marijuana, authors determined — much to their surprise — that there existed little association at all. They wrote: “Although drugs other than alcohol do contribute to crash risk, we found that such a contribution depends on the type of drug under consideration. Somewhat unexpected was the finding that although marijuana’s crude OR (odds ratios) indicated a significant contribution to fatal crash risk, once it was adjusted by the presence of alcohol and drivers’ demographics, marijuana’s OR was no longer significant among either sober or drinking drivers.”

Overall, authors concluded, “Alcohol was not only found to be an important contributor to fatal crash risk, … it was associated with fatal crash risk levels significantly higher than those for other drugs.  … The much higher crash risk of alcohol compared with that of other drugs suggests that in times of limited resources, efforts to curb drugged driving should not reduce our efforts to pass and implement effective alcohol- elated laws and policies.”

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Wealthy Women Can Afford to Reject Marriage, but Poor Women Can’t

From The Atlantic:

Higher-income “single ladies” often push back against “patriarchy.” But the statistics don’t lie: Low-income, unmarried women face significant economic challenges when they stay single.

Jan 15 2014

In a Wall Street Journal editorial this week, Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer wrote that “‘marriage inequality’ should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t.” He cited statistics about the vast income disparities between single women and married women, regardless of race, and argued that these gaps would shrink if women stayed in school and waited until marriage to have kids.

At an Atlantic summit on female poverty on Wednesday, the women in the room would have none of that.

“When you say to women, to get out of poverty you should get married, my question to them is how many men you have to marry,” said Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of well-known book on low-wage workers, Nickel and Dimed. “Marrying a 10-dollar-an-hour man gets you nowhere, so you’d really have to marry three or four.”

There was laughter and applause. Clearly, the mostly female audience approved of her sharp-tongued dismissal of the “just get married” approach to solving income inequality.

But income actually has a significant effect on how women can afford to think about marriage. Often, self-described feminists question the merits of marriage and urge their fellow women to remain independent if they choose. As Carol Gilligan, a New York University professor who sat on a panel with Ehrenreich, put it, “Does anybody know the word patriarchy?”

Taking a stand against patriarchy is much easier if you’re well-educated, have a stable income, and live in a community where you could theoretically find an educated, employed man to marry. For poor, uneducated women, especially those who have kids, the question of whether to get married looks a lot different: It’s the choice between raising children on one or two incomes, between having someone to help with household chores and child-rearing alone while working multiple jobs.

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Beauty Pressure

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