Archive: September, 2010
UPDATE: This hearing has been cancelled. Oh well.
Press release just in from state Rep. Jennifer L. Mann, D-Lehigh:
Judiciary Committee Vote Wed., Sept. 15 on Mann's Bill to Ban Synthetic Marijuana
HARRISBURG, Sept. 14 â The House Judiciary Committee will vote tomorrow on HB 176, the Act to Ban Synthetic Marijuana, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-Lehigh.
The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Sept. 15 in Room 205 Ryan Office Bldg., State Capitol Complex, Harrisburg.
âI look forward to attending the Judiciary Committee meeting on my bill, and will urge the committee for a unanimous vote to send it to the full House for consideration,â Mann said.
âWe must enact legislation banning synthetic marijuana to protect our children and get this dangerous new drug off the streets. My bill will give the police the tools they need to prosecute people who sell or use synthetic marijuana,â Mann said.
Synthetic marijuana, the most common brand called âK2,â is a blend of herbs treated with chemicals to produce a marijuana-like high in users.
The bill would ban the sale or use of synthetic marijuana, a drug responsible for numerous emergency room visits by adults and children, and even linked to deaths nationwide. Mixes of synthetic marijuana sold on the street contain various dangerous chemicals which present real health risks to users.
Its use almost always causes unwanted and dangerous side effects in its users. Due to the fact it is not a controlled substance, it is sold openly on the internet and in head shops under the names âDemonâ and âHawaiian Haze.â
Emergency rooms across the Commonwealth and country have started seeing an influx of patients who are suffering the ill effects of synthetic marijuana use. Many of the users need heavy tranquilizing to calm down. The drug can cause symptoms such as fast heart rate, confusion, nausea, agitation, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures in its users.
I tend to be skeptical about these almost always overwrought âthink of the childrenâ anti-drug campaigns Slate, for instance, has done a wondrous job knocking down those âpharma partyâ stories that seem to pop up every now and again but hey, the Internets tell us this stuff is bad news, so let's just assume they're correct. According to CNN:
"K2" is a brand name for a dried herbal blend that can be smoked. It produces a high similar to that of marijuana but doesn't contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Instead, K2 contains synthetic chemicals, known as JWH-018 and JWH-073, that mimic THC by acting on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.
JWH-018 and JWH-073 are produced in China and unregulated in the United States. Similar products have been produced and marketed under names such as Spice, Genie, Blaze, Red X Dawn and Zohai. Since 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration has been receiving reports of the abuse of these herbal products.
K2's key ingredients were invented by Dr. John Huffman at Clemson University in 1995 during medical research on the effects of cannabinoids on the brain. He found no medical benefits -- only negative side effects. Unfortunately, marijuana users reproduced the recipe, creating a legal alternative to marijuana.
According to the Times-News, those side effects include:
rapid heart rate, confusion, nausea, agitation, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures
You know what doesn't cause any of those things? Actual marijuana. Just saying.
It's a good question, and one Jamelle Bouie explores admirably.
I understand the logic of incarcerating the elderly a murder committed 40 years ago is still a murder but it's hard to see the enterprise as anything other than absurd. Crime is a game for the young; the vast majority of crimes are committed by men in their late teens and 20s. Criminal behavior drops sharply drops after age 30 and enters a permanent tailspin after late middle age. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for 2009, fewer than 1 percent of all crimes are attributable to those 60 and older. Assuming you could weed out the most dangerous inmates from those who are basically harmless, it makes the most sense to just release prisoners once they reach 65; at that point, they are well past the peak years for criminal behavior. If that's too radical, you could mandate the possibility of parole for any inmate serving a life sentence, or one that would leave them imprisoned past the age of 60.
On the one hand, empirically, Bouie has an undeniably legit point if the sole purpose of life incarceration is to protect society from violent offenders, rather than to punish misdeeds. All the same, in an era of prison overcrowding, might it make sense to release the elderly and infirm to free up resources and space to deal with younger, more violent people? It's a reasonable proposition. On the other hand, many of these elderly prisoners are behind bars for a good reason, and if we are to oppose capital punishment, which I do, on the grounds that, well, it is a backward, medieval, ineffective and expensive system of extracting justice and that's ignoring the ever-present possibility that we'll kill innocents society must have recourse to punish the worst among us, those who through their actions have given up the right to live freely among us.
Feel free to weigh in in the comments.
T-minus 45 minutes for the Inky and DN's prospective buyers to reach an agreement with the holdout drivers' union. Meanwhile, Ed Rendell thinks the union is being stupid: "The vote by the drivers makes no sense at all," Rendell told the Inky, with characteristic tact*. "It appears to me that they didn't understand what the company was offering. The company's offer, under the circumstances, was excellent."
Counters the union: "I don't know how he can say the vote makes no sense without talking to us first," Local 628 President John Laigaie said.
Will they reach a deal? Your guess is as good as mine.
UPDATE: No deal. It now seems the papers are headed back to the auction block next week, and for now, the Brian Tierney era continues.
*I stand corrected.
Jeffrey Billman here with your morning fix:
Footnote: Jim Greer, the former Florida GOP leader who started that whole "indoctrination" meme ahead of last year's back to school speech, has apologized, both for those remarks and for his party's racism. It's worth noting that Greer is now facing criminal charges related to his management of the Florida GOP.
Will Bunch gives a thumbs-up to the new, opinion-friendly Fox 29 news format. Cosign.
If it's a day that ends in "y", there's another Carl Greene scandal hitting the front page.
Tony Blair was in town last night to receive the Liberty Medal from former President Bill Clinton at the National Convention Center. Clinton cited his work on climate change, Kosovo and reconciling with Ireland. We'll leave that unpleasantness about Iraq for another day.
And, finally, someone stole a 50-pound tortoise from a store in Delaware.
It's no secret that this newspaper has promoted the Philly Naked Bike Ride about as vigorously as anyone; members of our staff (though not me, and you're welcome) have been naked bikers, and from an editorial perspective, we've been about as pro-bike as you can possibly be. And I stand by all of that. Every word. Bikes are great and marvelous things, for recreation, for transportation, for exercise. Byko's anti-bike old-man prattling is idiotic, and embarrassing for a major urban newspaper to publish. Et cetera.
That said, while we stand behind your right to bike naked or clothed, whenever and wherever you see fit (within reason, of course), the legal action that Clifford Greer is pushing against a crew that videotaped naked riders at this year's event rubs us (or at least me) the wrong way. First, the e-mail he sent to the PBNR list, then an explanation:
First, keep checking your email for our official count and thank you emails. Before that, we have some unfortunate news to report, and we need your help.
During assembly at Lemon Hill, a video production company called WAPtv (Wild About Philly) shot footage of a number of riders. As far as we know, no one was filmed without permission. WAPtv has produced and is selling a DVD of their footage.
We have seen this DVD and we feel that its content is not in the spirit of our event, and that the riders filmed were not informed that this video would be for sale publicly.
We have sought out volunteer legal assistance in order to halt the sale of this video. The next step for us is to identify those amongst you who are willing to pursue this on an individual basis. If you know you were recorded by WAPtv and do not wish to have your image distributed commercially, please reply to this email with your contact information and full name, include your telephone number please.
Someone from the PNBR team will contact you via telephone and discuss the details. If you are unsure that you were filmed, or were not filmed, please do not respond to this email, we may be able to use your help, but we are going to start with riders who were filmed by WAPtv and may be included in the DVD for sale.
Do not reply to this message seeking comment from PNBR on this issue, or for any information regarding WAPtv or the above mentioned video.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument and as I haven't seen the aforementioned DVD, I'm not making this assumption that WAPtv's doc is exactly as scummy as Greer makes it out to be. Maybe worse. Let's say they secretly video'd scores of naked riders, and will now use that footage in a porno superimposed with humping midgets and sorority-girl bukkake and Asian massage parlor rub-and-tugs (does that get you excited, PW?) and whatever other skeazy shit you can think of.
This would be entirely terrible and extremely unethical, and the people who put it together should be shunned and receive a torrent of letters and nasty e-mails informing them of their shadiness. It would not at least based on my understanding of the law be in any way illegal. Nor, quite frankly, should it be.
See, when you enter a public space, you abrogate your right to privacy; doesn't matter if you are naked or clothed. I have every right to film, video, sketch, or watercolor you and publish this in any way I see fit, no matter how nefarious my motives. Same rules apply if, for instance, I want to sell a video of some tourist busting ass on the sidewalk, not that I would do such a thing (well, maybe I would). I don't need your permission, and I can even do it over your specific objection. And it sure as shit doesn't matter if you don't think whatever I produce is âin the spiritâ of your event. Last year, CP photog Neal Santos created a slideshow of the PBNR; there are already lots of pics from this year's event circulating the Web and yes, some with full frontal. These are by their very nature public events, you don't need permission to document them in any way you see fit, whether the organizers and participants like it or not.
That, friends, is the beauty of the First Amendment.
Simple rule, folks: If you don't want to be photographed naked, don't go into public naked. Sorry.
Wherein Pat Toomey agrees with Robert Bork that hate crimes laws discriminate against bigots, and this is a bad thing
Jeffrey Billman here with your morning fix.
The Republican primary in Delaware is too close to call, as extremist candidate Christine O'Donnell a serious (as in, Victorian) prude, and who the GOP state party leader has said âcould not be elected dogcatcherâ has evened up the race. Chris Coons (and Democrats everywhere) thank you, teabaggers.
Four people, including one Temple student, are killed in a Megabus accident en route to Toronto, when the driver made a wrong turn and the top deck slammed into a railroad bridge.
Dear Pennsylvania, please make Kate Gosselin go away once and for all.
That Oswalt trade is looking pretty good for the Phils. The Eagles lost, and to make matters worse, QB Kevin Kolb and LB Stewart Bradley went out then came back, then went out again with concussions.
A woman is found dead in an, um, illegal massage parlor in Center City. Cops are suspicious.
Looks like we're back to kids killing each other for sneakers. Wonderful.
(Editor's note: We get lots of e-mail. Some of it is about stuff we've written, which is cool. Some of it is general bitching about the city, which is fine, too. But then there's the rest: chain e-mails, press releases, solicitations, ruminations on Obama's secret socialist plans, letters imploring us to find Jesus, etc. Good stuff all, but sometimes it's hard to find a place for it in the paper, what with the diminishing page counts and all. And that's a goddamn shame. So, without further ado, allow us to present Non Sequitur, letters to the editor about whatever. This letter, presented exactly as it hit our inbox, comes from Dave K. of Germantown. Enjoy and if you know the answer to this riddle, feel free to let Dave, and us, know in the comments.)
Am I the only one that thinks the blue and white âLOTIONâ phone sign hanging on the Northeast corner of 10th and Arch is a bit strange? Actually, very strange. Its been there for years now, and there used to be a sort of working pay phone there. A few years ago I showed to my Connie, who had been with Verizon, a real phone company, for some time. Being concerned that the company could possibly make a real dumb sign above one of its devices, she decided to check it out. It accepted coins but did not work. So she called the toll free number on the plate on the phone for help. None available the number was for âthis is Dunkin' Donuts Hon, we don't have any pay phones.â For awhile I thought that maybe the phone worked just for Laotians or something a signage error by a forgetful diversity seeking telecommunications giant perhaps.
I had forgot about this mysterious pay phone sign until I walked by that way the other day and discovered that the âLOTIONâ sign was still there! The phone itself is gone, just the steel housing remains.
Any explanation of this weird decoration of our cityscape would be appreciated.
|H/t Matt Stroud, via FFFFound!|
In reference to the above graph, Roberts writes:
For the most part the American public's feelings on climate change are shallow, sloshing around with the economic and political tides. When people are feeling safer and more prosperous, climate scientists will magically become more persuasive.
As for the professional skeptics and culture warriors, there's little point hashing out the same arguments with them again and again. I have long since abandoned it. Many people do it well and G*d bless them but I've had my fill of sunspots and medieval warming periods and Pacific Decadal Oscillations. Ideological trench warfare is wearisome and there are many other issues in dire need of attention, principally how we're going to respond to climate change. That's a conversation that engages people outside the armed camps.
However! It does seem to me that the right's climate denialism hasn't been properly linked to the larger phenomenon of epistemic closure on the right. When Jim Manzi, everyone's favorite sensible conservative, criticized fellow conservative Mark Levin for peddling intellectually shoddy skeptic arguments in his bestselling book Liberty and Tyranny, Levin went nuts, joined by a half-dozen other NRO writers. How could they not? The very same skeptic talking points in Levin's book appear in thousands of blogs and comment sections across the interwebs. If they are intellectually bankrupt, a whole lot of people are going to look stupid.
But here is what I think is the most important point.
Climate denialism is part of something much broader and scarier on the right. The core idea is most clearly expressed by Rush Limbaugh: âWe really live, folks, in two worlds. There are two worlds. We live in two universes. One universe is a lie. One universe is an entire lie. Everything run, dominated, and controlled by the left here and around the world is a lie. The other universe is where we are, and that's where reality reigns supreme and we deal with it. And seldom do these two universes ever overlap. ... The Four Corners of Deceit: Government, academia, science, and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That's how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.â
The right's project over the last 30 years has been to dismantle the post-war liberal consensus by undermining trust in society's leading institutions. Experts are made elites; their presumption of expertise becomes self-damning. They think they're better than you. They talk down to you. They don't respect people like us, real Americans.
The decline in trust in institutions has generated fear and uncertainty, to which people generally respond by placing their trust in protective authorities. And some subset of people respond with tribalism, nationalism, and xenophobia. The right stokes and exploits modern anxiety relentlessly, but that's not all they do. They also offer a space to huddle in safety among the like-minded. The conservative movement in America has created a self-contained, hermetically sealed epistemological reality -- a closed-loop system of cable news, talk radio, and email forwards -- designed not just as a source of alternative facts but as an identity. That's why when you question climate skepticism you catch hell. You're messing with who people are.
Consider what the Limbaugh/Morano crowd is saying about climate: not only that that the world's scientists and scientific institutions are systematically wrong, but that they are purposefully perpetrating a deception. Virtually all the world's governments, scientific academies, and media are either in on it or duped by it. The only ones who have pierced the veil and seen the truth are American movement conservatives, the ones who found death panels in the healthcare bill. (Emphasis mine.)
This notion that your âcommon senseâ is as important as the âexpertsâ and their âdataâ has been imbedded in movement conservatism from its outset, but it goes back further than that. It's at the root of fundamentalist strains of religion, as well, and has reared its head whenever science came into conflict with religion. During the Scopes Monkey Trial, for instance, William Jennings Bryan, who died soon after arguing the case for the state of Tennessee, insisted that evolution was wrong because one's common sense and Biblical literalism should be taken more seriously than human-generated scientific knowledge. (In one famed moment toward the trial's end, defense attorney and civil libertarian Clarence Darrow snapped , âWe have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States.â)
It strikes me that, in a sense, we're re-litigating the Scopes trial with all this hullaballoo about climate change. There is an overwhelming, and undeniable scientific consensus about the reality of man-made climate change, denied by only a handful of outsiders and a cadre of industry-paid shills. And yet, somehow, the right's counter-argument, that all of these scientists are either idiots or somehow engaged in a socialist plot or whatever has gained traction; the right has, with considerable and alarming success, argued that its members' âcommon senseâ should trump the overwhelming scientific consensus.
PS: In other news, the Flat Earth Society actually has a website. Wow.
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