Archive for August 9th, 2013

by lizard

Saudi Arabia hasn’t executed any homosexuals since 2002, when three men were beheaded. The consequences for being gay are mostly flogging and imprisonment.

I came across the above information in a Guardian piece from three years ago about a Saudi Arabian diplomat who asked the US for asylum:

Saudi Arabia may be a miserable place to live, but it’s not very often that a Saudi diplomat seeks refuge in the United States. The last time it happened was in 1994.

At the weekend, though, it emerged that Ali Ahmad Asseri, first secretary of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles, has applied for asylum in the US on the grounds that he is gay. He says his employers have refused to renew his diplomatic passport – effectively terminating his job – after finding out about his sexuality. He adds they were also unhappy about his friendship with a Jewish woman.

The Saudis are reportedly demanding his return to the kingdom, where Asseri fears he would be killed “in broad daylight”.

I mention this because Saudi Arabia’s domestic suppression of their citizens subjects’ sexual orientation will not be making headlines any time soon.

But what is making headlines, and eliciting a response from the president, is Russia’s domestic policy:

President Barack Obama said Friday that he did not favor boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, rejecting calls from LGBT activists to do so over a new law banning so-called homosexual propaganda.

“I want to say very clearly. I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics,” he said at a news conference. But he added that he hoped gay and lesbian American athletes would bring home medals and reiterated his opposition to the law.

“If Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then it will probably make their team weaker,” he said.

A law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” and the law is written so vaguely that many fear that it will be used to crack down against gays and lesbians broadly. Since foreigners who violate the law can potentially be deported, many fear LGBT athletes from other countries who are competing in the Olympics may be targeted.

“Nobody is more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation than you’ve been seeing in Russia,” Obama said.

It’s too bad time, resources, and energy will be spent on boycotting the winter Olympics in Sochi because of this. Well-intentioned activists will be playing directly into the geopolitics lurking behind this issue, and the geopolitics is absolutely NOT concerned with improving equality for the LGBT community in Russia.

by lizard

The US war against drugs has been costly, stupid, and completely ineffective. The drug war also exposes how criminal the criminal justice system has become; asset forfeiture turns innocent until proven guilty on its head, for example, and a few days ago it was disclosed that the DEA has been using NSA data, and then backtracking to hide this fact.

There was a recent bright spot: Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a piece titled Why I changed my mind on weed:

Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called “Weed.” The title “Weed” may sound cavalier, but the content is not.

I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled “Why I would Vote No on Pot.”

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, until now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.

Instead, I lumped them with the high-visibility malingerers, just looking to get high. I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have “no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.”

They didn’t have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn’t have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works. Take the case of Charlotte Figi, who I met in Colorado. She started having seizures soon after birth. By age 3, she was having 300 a week, despite being on seven different medications. Medical marijuana has calmed her brain, limiting her seizures to 2 or 3 per month.

I have seen more patients like Charlotte first hand, spent time with them and come to the realization that it is irresponsible not to provide the best care we can as a medical community, care that could involve marijuana.

We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that.

Yes, we have, and it’s nice to hear someone in a somewhat influential position acknowledge that. Remember, Gupta was being seriously considered by Obama after his first election to be the US Surgeon General. Maybe if Gupta is in an apologizing mood, he can also apologize to Michael Moore for his false comments regarding Sicko.

Locally, the Missoulian recently reported on Jason Washington breaking his post-trial silence:

Jason Washington broke his post-trial media silence Tuesday in a phone interview with the Missoulian from a private prison in Shelby.

“It’s been a blatant, mean, ugly attack,” he said.

His medical marijuana business, Big Sky Medical Marijuana Dispensary, was one of the largest operations in the state, which also made it appealing to federal investigators, he said.

And in targeting such a high-profile community member, he contended, prosecutors were able to shut the door on Missoula’s flourishing medical marijuana industry.

“The simple fact is there are still dispensaries in Butte,” Washington said. “They said this is against federal law … then why are there still dispensaries in the state of Montana and 18 other states?”

Washington also said this:

“My understanding was the federal government would only come after people who were in clear violation of state law,” Washington explained.

The reason why Jason Washington thought this is because that is what Eric Holder led people to believe back in 2009 with this memo which states, in part, that:

As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.

Unfortunately, Holder’s DoJ is a cesspool of injustice, and even in the state of Washington, where voters are trying to do that whole democracy thing by voting to legalize cannabis, the raids continue:

In a series of coordinated raids, federal agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided marijuana dispensaries in Washington State on Wednesday, despite the fact the state legalized the substance last November.

DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood confirmed the operation to The Associated Press and said all search warrants had been executed by Wednesday evening. Underwood did not go into detail about the raids.

Voters may vote, and doctors can cite all the evidence they want regarding the absurdity of maintaining the schedule I designation for cannabis. None of that is going to make a difference. Why?

I’m afraid we, as a nation, have gone too far down the police state path to turn back now. The drug war has been one of the main justifications for militarizing the police over the last few decades, and sucking up federal dollars has entrenched that disturbing trend, as exemplified by Radley Balko’s book, Rise of the Warrior Cop.

In a piece put out by the Daily Beast earlier this year, Nick Gillespie writes about how Obama transformed himself from The Choom Gang to Drug Warrior. Here is the introduction:

While a high school student at Honolulu’s elite Punahou School, Barack Obama was a high-flying member of a pot-smoking, party-hearty crew that called itself “the Choom Gang.” As biographer David Maraniss revealed in last year’s Barack Obama: The Story the future president “had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!,’ and took an extra hit.”

In his current trip to meet with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, Obama will once again be talking about illegal drugs and interceptions—and he will almost certainly continue his long habit of bogarting other people’s joints. As CNN summarizes it, one of the “key issues” of the trip is to strengthen efforts to stop the flow of pot, cocaine, methamphetamines, and other drugs from Mexico into the United States.

Despite thinly sourced stories by Obama boosters that the president in his second term “will pivot to the drug war” that he privately considers a “failure,” there’s every reason to believe any new initiatives coming out of this Mexico trip will disappoint the liberals, libertarians, and smattering of conservatives who took Barack Obama seriously when he questioned longstanding drug policies.

Yeah, anyone who still takes the president seriously when he opens his mouth is a fool.

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