Wednesday, August 6, 2008



Jacob Sullum, Reason
- A perennial story in the annals of drug war stupidity is the Drug Enforcement Administration's tally of cannabis plants destroyed under its Domestic Cannabis Eradication - Suppression Program. Year after year, the figures show that nearly all of the eradicated plants are ditchweed, the feral, non-psychoactive descendants of hemp that American farmers used to legally grown for fiber. A couple years ago, for instance, I noted that "98 percent of the 223 million or so cannabis plants 'eradicated' by American law enforcement agencies in 2005 were feral hemp." Since these plants do not contain enough THC to get anyone high, the program is a vivid illustration of how drug warriors waste taxpayer money. NORML's Paul Armentano reports that the DEA seems finally to have wised up: How much ditchweed did police confiscate in 2007? That would be anyone's guess. . . . In the latest version of the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, visitors will discover that the column that previously reported on "ditchweed" seizures (in prior years' tables, it was seventh column from the left) is now conspicuously missing.


A study at John Hopkins
finds that insurance companies pay psychiatrists more for three 15 minute drug visits than for one 45 minute psychotherapy session. The use of talk therapy has dropped by a third since 1997.


PR Watch -
The New York Times notes that, "in an effort to cast himself as independent of the influence of money on politics, Senator Barack Obama often highlights the campaign contributions of $200 or less that have amounted to fully half of the $340 million he has collected so far. But records show that one-third of his record-breaking haul has come from donations of $1,000 or more: a total of $112 million, more than Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama's Republican rival, or Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, his opponent in the Democratic primaries, raised in contributions of that size. Behind those larger donations is a phalanx of more than 500 Obama 'bundlers,' fund-raisers who have each collected contributions totaling $50,000 or more. Many of the bundlers come from industries with critical interests in Washington. . . Given his decision not to accept public financing, Mr. Obama is counting on his bundlers to help him raise $300 million for his general-election campaign and another $180 million for the Democratic National Committee. An analysis of campaign finance records shows that about two-thirds of his bundlers are concentrated in four major industries: law, securities and investments, real estate and entertainment."


James Randerson, Guardian
- Nearly half of all primate species are now threatened with extinction, according to an evaluation by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. . . In some regions, the thriving bushmeat trade means the animals are being "eaten to extinction". . . . The two biggest threats faced by primates are habitat destruction through logging and hunting for bushmeat and the illegal wildlife trade.


Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg
- U.S. farmland values are at a record high even as the rest of the country suffers the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression, with the highest crop prices ever pushing up agricultural real estate. The value of all land and buildings on farms averaged $2,350 an acre at the start of this year, up 8.8 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in an annual report. Surging corn, wheat and soybean prices boosted values in the Northern Plains, which includes Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, by 15.5 percent, the biggest increase in the country, according to the report. . . The most expensive farmland in the U.S. was in Massachusetts at $12,200 an acre, followed by Rhode Island and Connecticut. The least expensive was in New Mexico, where land prices averaged $630 an acre


Boing Boing -
Lawrence Lessig, a respected Law Professor from Stanford University told an audience at this years Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Half Moon Bay, California, that "There’s going to be an I-9/11 event" which will act as a catalyst for a radical reworking of the law pertaining to the Internet. Lessig also revealed that he had learned, during a dinner with former government Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke, that there is already in existence a cyber equivalent of the Patriot Act, an "I-Patriot Act" if you will, and that the Justice Department is waiting for a cyber terrorism event in order to implement its provisions.
Lessig: "I said 'is there an equivalent to the Patriot Act -- an iPatriot Act -- just sitting waiting for some substantial event just waiting for them to come have the excuse for radically changing the way the Internet works?' And he said, 'Of course there is'"


Oakland Tribune
- University officials say people living and sleeping in the wide street median outside the UC Berkeley tree-sit are creating a messy, dangerous and noisy situation with their tents, litter and drumming circles. But the people in the tents - who act as ground support for a handful of people still living in a university oak grove - say their small encampment is there to protect the grove, help those still perched in the trees and keep a watchful eye on university police, who they've sparred with in the past. . . Three people remain living in a single redwood in the grove. The university is allowing one bag of food and water to go up daily. Ground supporters are out there Advertisement to monitor that exchange and help bring awareness to the long-standing protest, they say. . . People began living in the oak and redwood trees to the west of California Memorial Stadium in December 2006 to protest the university's plan to build a $140 million sports training center for its sports teams. Three groups - the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation - sued to stop the sports center project. Last month, an Alameda County judge ruled in the university's favor, saying Cal can move forward with the project. But the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation filed an appeal and an injunction that had been in place for more than 18 months was extended through Aug. 13. It could be lifted next week.

On this date in 1970, 750 yippies infiltrated Disneyland. According to a report, "They take over Fort Wilderness on Tom Sawyer Island and stage a smoke-in in protest of nuclear weapons to commemorate the anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. They try to march down Main Street and liberate Minnie Mouse. Anaheim police in riot gear attempt to evict them, but the Yippies disburse throughout the park. At this point the park was closed and 30,000 guests are escorted out. Police make 23 arrests."


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