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Bills Presented to the President

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

US House Floor Today

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

A concurrent resolution providing for a conditional adjournment or recess of the Senate and an adjournment of the House of Representatives. (09/19/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015 (09/19/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

US Senate Floor Today

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015 (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2014 (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Thomas Frieden, of New York, to be Representative of the United States on the Executive Board of the World Health Organization, vice Nils Maarten Parin Daulaire, resigned. (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Bathsheba Nell Crocker, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Organization Affairs), vice Esther Brimmer, resigned. (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Alfonso E. Lenhardt, of New York, to be Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Donald Kenneth Steinberg. (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Adam M. Scheinman, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, with the rank of Ambassador. (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Eric Rosenbach, of Pennsylvania, to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, vice Paul N. Stockton, resigned. (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Kevin F. O'Malley, of Missouri, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ireland. (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Posted on Wednesday December 31, 1969

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, of California, to be Deputy Secretary of Energy, vice Daniel B. Poneman. (09/18/2014 legislative day)

Nasa News

Close Encounters: Comet Siding Spring Seen Next to Mars
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

This composite NASA Hubble Space Telescope Image captures the positions of comet Siding Spring and Mars in a never-before-seen close passage of a comet by the Red Planet.

NASA Television Coverage Set for Orbital Resupply Mission to Space Station
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

Orbital Sciences Corp. will launch its next mission to resupply the International Space Station Monday, Oct. 27, and NASA Television will broadcast live coverage of the event, including pre- and post-launch briefings and arrival at the station.

NASA Awards Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder for the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 Mission
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

NASA has awarded a sole source contract modification to Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, of Azusa, California, for the Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder (ATMS) Instrument for flight on the Joint Polar Satellite System-2 (JPSS-2) mission.

NASA TV Broadcasts Space Station Cargo Ship Activities
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

NASA Television will broadcast live the departure of an unpiloted Russian cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station (ISS) Monday, Oct. 27, as well as the launch and docking of its replacement Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Media Invited to Participate in Interactive Space Station Technology Forum
Posted on Monday October 20, 2014

Media are invited to interact with NASA experts who will answer questions about technologies being demonstrated on the International Space Station (ISS) during "Destination Station: ISS Technology Forum" from 10 to 11 a.m. EDT (9 to 10 a.m. CDT) Monday, Oct. 27, at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

NASA Partners with Leading Technology Innovators to Enable Future Exploration
Posted on Friday October 17, 2014

Recognizing that technology drives exploration, NASA has selected four teams of agency technologists for participation in the Early Career Initiative (ECI) pilot program. The program encourages creativity and innovation among early career NASA technologists by engaging them in hands-on technology development opportunities needed for future missions.

New Commercial Rocket Descent Data May Help NASA with Future Mars Landings
Posted on Friday October 17, 2014

NASA successfully captured thermal images of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on its descent after it launched in September from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The data from these thermal images may provide critical engineering information for future missions to the surface of Mars.

Boeing Concludes Commercial Crew Space Act Agreement for CST-100/Atlas V
Posted on Friday October 17, 2014

Boeing has successfully completed the final milestone of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement with NASA. The work and testing completed under the agreement resulted in significant maturation of Boeing’s crew transportation system, including the CST-100 spacecraft and Atlas V rocket.

NASA’s Hubble Finds Extremely Distant Galaxy through Cosmic Magnifying Glass
Posted on Thursday October 16, 2014

Peering through a giant cosmic magnifying glass, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a tiny, faint galaxy -- one of the farthest galaxies ever seen. The diminutive object is estimated to be more than 13 billion light-years away.

NASA Begins Sixth Year of Airborne Antarctic Ice Change Study
Posted on Thursday October 16, 2014

NASA is carrying out its sixth consecutive year of Operation IceBridge research flights over Antarctica to study changes in the continent’s ice sheet, glaciers and sea ice. This year’s airborne campaign, which began its first flight Thursday morning, will revisit a section of the Antarctic ice sheet that recently was found to be in irreversible decline.

VOA News

Analysis: Concerns Rise About US Intel Capabilities on IS
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

Concerns about the capabilities of U.S. intelligence agencies have been steadily rising, sparked in part by comments from President Barack Obama that they “underestimated” the rise of the group known as Islamic State. But far from an intelligence failure, insiders and analysts warn the furor is symptomatic of larger problems that could haunt the U.S. in years to come. For weeks, Islamic State militants have besieged Kobani, the majority-Kurd Syrian city at the doorstep of NATO partner...

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

The World Health Organization said the fight against Ebola should remain focused on the three West African countries where the outbreak has killed nearly 4,900 people. After a meeting in Geneva, the WHO Emergency Committee on Ebola said stopping transmission in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is the most important step for preventing the global spread of the disease. A committee statement said special attention should be paid to the needs of health care workers, in order to encourage...

Baseball Championship Returns to Heart of the USA
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

Major League Baseball’s World Series is under way between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. While the Giants have won the baseball championship in recent years, it’s been almost three decades since the Royals made it this far. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the return of baseball’s biggest game here to Kansas City has energized baseball fans in the heart of the United States, while also providing an economic boost to area attractions.

Baseball's World Series Returns to Heart of the USA
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

Major League Baseball’s World Series is under way between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. While the Giants have won the baseball championship in recent years, it’s been almost three decades since the Royals made it this far. The return of baseball’s championship series here to Kansas City has energized baseball fans in the heart of the United States, while also providing an economic boost to area attractions. Mark Martinez’s decision to arrive at Kauffman Stadium with...

Activists: US-led Airstrikes Killed 553 in Syria
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

Syrian activists said a month of U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria has killed 553 people, mostly militants from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday the deaths include 464 Islamic State fighters and 32 civilians. The group, which has tracked the violence in Syria throughout the country's civil war, said it believes even more Islamic State militants have actually died but remain unreported because of...

White House Fence-Jumper Prompts Lockdown, Again
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

A 23-year-old man is in police custody Thursday after he climbed over a White House fence, prompting a lockdown at the U.S. presidential compound in the second such security breach since September. A Secret Service spokesman said Dominic Adesanya, a Maryland resident, was apprehended after security staff and dogs caught him around 7 p.m. local time. The intruder reportedly kicked at the dogs; two were taken to a veterinarian to be treated for injuries sustained during the incident,...

VOA Exclusive: US Democracy Group Rebuts Hong Kong Meddling Allegations
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

A U.S. nongovernmental organization accused of instigating Hong Kong's pro-democracy "Occupy" street protests says it is engaged in normal cooperation with civic groups in the Chinese territory and has nothing to hide. Chinese state media and pro-Beijing news outlets in Hong Kong have published a series of articles in recent days, accusing the National Endowment for Democracy of funding and advising the protesters, who have occupied major Hong Kong streets since September...

Romanian Princess Turned Cockfighting Queen Sentenced in US Court
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

A Romanian princess who ran a cockfighting business from her U.S. home was sentenced to three years’ probation on Wednesday and ordered to pay a large fine. Irina Walker, the third daughter of former Romanian King Michael I, pleaded guilty along with her husband to hosting the regular gambling events for at least a year, sometimes making $2,000 a day. In cockfighting, roosters are often strapped with knives or razor blades and set loose in a ring to battle each other, often to the...

Man Caught After Jumping White House Fence
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

For the second time in a little more than a month, a man has jumped the White House fence, but this time the intruder was apprehended with the help of Secret Service dogs. The jumper was caught Wednesday evening outside the White House after he scaled the north fence.  A Secret Service spokesman said the suspect kicked at one of the dogs before a second dog subdued him. The jumper was then taken to a nearby hospital.  The White House was put on lockdown during the...

American Detained in North Korea Returns Home
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

An American arrested and held for nearly six months in North Korea has returned home to the United States to hugs and tears of joy from his family. As VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports, analysts say it is still too early to tell whether the release is an effort by Pyongyang to improve relations with Washington.

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Infowars Nighly News

Infowars Nightly News for Monday, October 13, 2014

Infowars Nighly News Tuesday October 14, 2014

Infowars Nightly News: Wednesday October 15, 2014

Infowars Nightly News Thursday October 16, 2014

Infowars Nightly News: Friday October 17, 2014

RT Breaking News


Alex Jones Show: Friday (10-17-14) Full Show

On this Friday, October 17 edition of the Alex Jones Show, Alex continues to break down the eroding Ebola situation as the federal government's response to every new potential case becomes increasingly absurd. Alex will examine how yet another potential victim, a Texas nurse now stuck on a cruise ship in Belizean waters, was able to leave the country without being quarantined, as well as the decision of multiple students at the University of Texas, paralyzed by political correctness, to sign a petition allowing the government to ship in countless Ebola patients. On today's transmission, Alex will likewise discuss how several African countries stopped the virus in its tracks by closing their borders, a decision unlikely to occur domestically as President Obama furthers his dangerous open-border agenda. Alex will also take your calls on today's worldwide broadcast.

Kirk Cameron Presents: MONUMEMTAL

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RT US News

Amber Vinson’s family says she is Ebola-free; CDC, hospital refuse to confirm
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

Amber Vinson, the third person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the US, is free of the disease, her family says. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the hospital where the nurse is being treated won’t confirm that determination.
Read Full Article at RT.com

California prison system agrees to end racial segregation
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

An agreement reached this week in California will see that prison officials are no longer allowed to segregate inmates by race in the event of lockdowns at facilities across the state.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Chilling ad depicts bulletproof vests for children of color in Florida (VIDEO)
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

A public-service ad campaign in Florida, which depicts African American children in bulletproof vests, is urging voter participation to encourage the election of candidates who support repeal of the state’s stand-your-ground gun law.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Zuckerberg stuns Beijing crowd with 30 minute Q&A session in Chinese (VIDEO)
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg shocked an audience in Beijing this week when he conducted a half-hour-long question-and-answer session entirely in Chinese.
Read Full Article at RT.com

US-led airstrikes kill more than 500 militants, 32 civilians – report
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

​United States and coalition airstrikes in Syria over the last month have killed more than 500 jihadists, of both Islamic State and Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and 32 civilians, according to a human rights monitor.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Prison guard sexually assaults dozens of inmates, strikes deal to avoid jail time
Posted on Thursday October 23, 2014

A former Kentucky corrections officer charged with dozens cases of sexual assault, drug trafficking and misconduct all of which he admitted will serve no jail time. In a plea deal he gets seven years of probation.
Read Full Article at RT.com

‘Fracking loophole’ allows drilling companies to use unregulated toxins – report
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

A number of US oil companies are taking advantage of the so-called “Halliburton Loophole” to circumvent federal legislature regulating diesel-based fluids in fracking, instead exploiting the environment with even more toxic chemicals, new report says.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Man jumps White House fence, kicks dog, causes lockdown
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

Just one month after the last White House fence-jumping incident, another man leaped over the barrier and kicked a Secret Service dog sent to attack him. The man was eventually arrested.
Read Full Article at RT.com

Former CIA chief’s new book may have violated secrecy agreement
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

Former Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta may have violated his secrecy agreement with the department over his recently published memoir, a new report claims.
Read Full Article at RT.com

​Protest against police brutality invades NYC’s Times Square
Posted on Wednesday October 22, 2014

Under the rainy skies of New York City, several hundred people marched into Times Square, protesting police brutality and calling for reform and justice on behalf of those killed by law enforcement.
Read Full Article at RT.com



Oath Keepers

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Oath Keepers CPT Journal – Eureka, Montana, October 21, 2014
Posted on Tuesday October 21, 2014

By Brandon Smith, Associate Editor The Ebola issue has certainly brought the concerns of the average prepper/survivalist to the forefront of American social discussion, and has reminded many of us that time is the most precious of commodities. When I think about how many people I have met in my years as an activist who [...]

Posted on Monday October 20, 2014

"We the people of Pennsylvania, Oath Keepers in support of the Constitution of the United States, standing ready to support our local and state police in times of trouble or calamity and to protect the Constitution, insist that our officers stand down in Barrett Township. No citizen of the great Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania should be subjected to the suspension of inalienable rights under the constitution in the common exercise of police discretion. No citizen accused of a crime should have their constitutional protections infringed, as we are assumed innocent until proven guilty. No police presence should take the role of a domestic army positioned to face the citizens rather than our outward enemies. The safety of our family and friends cannot be so threatened by police in the fulfillment of their duties, nor should our citizens be moved to accept such a threat as common to our lives."

The Pentagon Will Use 30 Person “Quick-Strike Team” To Deal With Domestic Ebola Patients
Posted on Monday October 20, 2014

This article was originally published at Zero Hedge President Obama may have been busy golfing this weekend, and his brand new Ebola Czar may have had more pressing matters to attend than the White House’s Saturday evening meeting on the US “response to domestic Ebola cases” (because clearly the Ebola Czar is superfluous at such [...]

Police Chief Accuses Secret Service Of Misconduct
Posted on Sunday October 19, 2014

The Nashville Police Department has made accusations that the Secret Service requested Nashville Police Officers to "fake" a search warrant. The Nashville Officers refused. This is one case of Police Officers respecting the Rights of the residents of Nashville, and it shows they understand their Oath is to the Constitution of the USA and the State of Tennessee.

Obama Administration’s Late And Inadequate Response To The Ebola Outbreak
Posted on Friday October 17, 2014

The Obama Administration has simultaneously endeavored to minimize the significance of the threat posed by the ebola virus and avoid taking responsible steps to reduce the spread of the deadly virus. That obfuscation and inaction has placed the American people at greater risk of the lethal contagion.

Special Exclusive Offer For Oath Keeper Members Only
Posted on Friday October 17, 2014

Kevin Gleason our Nebraska State CPT coordinator had this to say: “I am a retired Army Drill Sergeant, tank commander, and M1A1 Master Gunner. I am also an Oath Keeper and the Nebraska State Community Preparedness Team (CPT) Coordinator. I joined the Pulse O2DA Armory several months ago as an Oath Keeper, allowing me not only the opportunity to access the very impressive Pulse O2DA content and training methodology, but to help fund the Oath Keeper organization and missions.

CFR Globalists Outline Strategy For “North American Community”
Posted on Wednesday October 15, 2014

The global government-promoting Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) published a new report this month demanding further integration of North America, calling for deeper “cooperation” on everything from energy, law enforcement, and healthcare to labor regulations, trade, and education.

Second Ebola-Infected Nurse Identified, Was Symptomatic With 99.5 Degree Fever While Flying
Posted on Wednesday October 15, 2014

Just about an hour ago, the CDC's Tom Frieden held a press conference in which he tried to diffuse the CDC's incompetence for a allowing healthcare workers who cared for the now deceased "Index Patient" Thomas Eric Duncan, to board a plane.

The Mainstream Media: Preppers Aren’t So Crazy Anymore
Posted on Wednesday October 15, 2014

This article was written by Kimberly Paxton and originally published at The Daily Sheeple Usually, when the mainstream media mentions preppers and survivalists, the angle is not flattering.  Maybe someone who considers himself a survivalist has committed a heinous crime and is on the loose.  Perhaps a prepared family is beaming from the [...]

An Ebola Outbreak Would Be Advantageous For Globalists
Posted on Wednesday October 15, 2014

This article was written by Brandon Smith and originally published at Alt-Market.com It’s sad to say with such finality, but a universal fact of existence is that most of the people you meet in this life are fundamentally and functionally ignorant. Not necessarily stupid, but certainly ignorant. Ignorance comes not from [...]

Ron Paul News

Ron Paul: Can Karzai’s Antics Help Us Save Face in Afghanistan?
Posted on Monday November 25, 2013

by Ron Paul After a year of talks over the post-2014 US military presence in Afghanistan, the US administration announced last week that a new agreement had finally been reached. Under the deal worked out with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the US would keep thousands of troops on nine military bases for at least the […]

Ron Paul: Harry Reid’s ‘Radical’ Rule Changes Guarantees Yellen Confirmation
Posted on Thursday November 21, 2013


Ron Paul: Federal Reserve Steals From the Poor and Gives to the Rich
Posted on Monday November 18, 2013

by Ron Paul Last Thursday the Senate Banking Committee held hearings on Janet Yellen’s nomination as Federal Reserve Board Chairman. As expected, Ms. Yellen indicated that she would continue the Fed’s “quantitative easing” (QE) polices, despite QE’s failure to improve the economy. Coincidentally, two days before the Yellen hearings, Andrew Huszar, an ex-Fed official, publicly […]

Ron Paul: The Hidden Truth about Inflation
Posted on Monday November 11, 2013

by Ron Paul One of the least discussed, but potentially most significant, provisions in President Obama’s budget is the use of the “chained consumer price index” (chained CPI), to measure the effect of inflation on people’s standard of living. Chained CPI is an effort to alter the perceived impact of inflation via the gimmick of […]

Ron Paul: The Interventionists Haven’t Learned their Lesson from the Iraq Debacle
Posted on Monday November 04, 2013

by Ron Paul October was Iraq’s deadliest month since April, 2008. In those five and a half years, not only has there been no improvement in Iraq’s security situation, but things have gotten much worse. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq last month, the vast majority of them civilians. Another 1,600 were wounded, […]

Ron Paul: Debt Ceiling Deal a Victory for the Political Class and Special Interests
Posted on Monday October 21, 2013

by Ron Paul Washington, DC, Wall Street, and central bankers around the world rejoiced this week as Congress came to an agreement to end the government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling. The latest spending-and-debt deal was negotiated by Congressional leaders behind closed doors, and was rushed through Congress before most members had time to […]

Ron Paul: New Fed Boss, Same as the Old Boss
Posted on Sunday October 13, 2013

by Ron Paul The news that Janet Yellen was nominated to become the next Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System was greeted with joy by financial markets and the financial press. Wall Street saw Yellen’s nomination as a harbinger of continued easy money. Contrast this with the hand-wringing that took […]

Ron Paul Warns of Martial Law and Economic Collapse
Posted on Saturday October 12, 2013


Ron Paul: Neocons Infuriated by Iran Peace Talks
Posted on Monday October 07, 2013

Last week, for the first time since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the US president spoke with his Iranian counterpart. Their 15 minute telephone call was reported to open the door to further high-level discussions. This is a very important event. I have been saying for years that we should just talk to the Iranians. After […]

Ron Paul: The U.S. Government Won’t Default
Posted on Wednesday October 02, 2013



Meet the Researcher Who Thinks Cancer Can be Prevented -- Even Reversed -- Through Diet
Posted on Monday October 20, 2014

T. Colin Campbell has set off a war with the food industry.

He says the CIA has shown up at his door with questions. Colleagues have warned him not to pursue his controversial research findings. One of his professional organizations considered kicking him out because of his research, and national panels that once wooed him now ignore him.

But in the end, T. Colin Campbell is a consummate researcher. When his findings belied one of his own foundational beliefs about nutrition, Campbell found himself standing alone at a crossroads: continue a respected and tenured academic career at a prestigious school or go public and advocate for scientific findings that counter established tenets of nutrition, contradict government dietary guidelines, are misunderstood by the medical establishment and belie the marketing claims of major food corporations.

Campbell says he chose the truth. In response to a comment that he picked a fight with a billion-dollar industry, Campbell said, “No, it’s a trillion-dollar industry.”

The professor emeritus in nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University said research has proven that consumption of animal products, including meat, fish and dairy, triggers chronic diseases and impaired health and poses a greater risk than heredity or environment. He has linked casein, a protein in milk, with breast cancer. His lifelong professional focus has been cancer and nutrition, and Campbell says that our national and global fight with cancer has targeted the wrong enemy.

Though he is scholarly and genteel, Campbell is not reserved. He's impatient and blunt. He dismisses the Atkins diet, Paleo diet, South Beach diet and high protein diet. He’s not a supporter of celebrity physicians who prescribe diets of wild salmon, expensive grass-fed beef and costly nutritional supplements. He comes down firmly on the side of health for everyone, not just the wealthy who can afford pharmaceutical supplements of questionable health benefit and expensive prescription medications for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

Campbell advocates disease prevention at the end of a fork. He was prominently featured in the award-winning documentary Forks Over Knives, and is the focus of a new documentary Plant Pure Nation, due out in early 2015 and produced by his son Nelson Campbell.

Colin Campbell discounts physicians as reliable sources of nutritional advice for their patients. Physicians, he said, received minimal to no nutritional education in medical school and have not generally conducted investigative laboratory research themselves.

Campbell, however, has spent more than five decades in laboratory research, much of it publicly funded. He’s adamant the public has a right to know his results.  

“Diet can be used to prevent and reverse cancer just like it prevents and reverses heart disease,” he said. “A diet high in animal protein increases the amount of carcinogens going to the cells. It increases the enzyme MFO (mixed function oxidase) that causes increased carcinogenic activity.”

In the lab, Campbell has shown that increasing consumption of animal protein alters MFO and activates cancer while decreasing consumption detoxifies cancer. A high protein diet derived from animal products increases cell replication and increases oxygen free radicals associated with cancer and aging.

“High-protein bars are crazy,” Campbell said. “Plants alone can easily provide all the protein we need.”    

By demeanor and upbringing, Campbell is an unlikely warrior. He grew up on a dairy farm in Virginia convinced of the nutritional value of milk. Early in his academic career as one of the youngest tenured professors at Cornell University, Campbell was researching dietary protein among children in the Philippines and was surprised to see a high correlation between consumption of animal protein and liver cancer. He was further surprised when he read an obscure research paper published by scientists in India linking dairy protein with cancer.

“This was counter to everything we believed,” he said.

The work started a line of inquiry that amassed the scientific foundation for what Campbell calls a “whole-food, plant-based diet: whole foods, no processed foods, only plants, no meat, fish or dairy and no added oils.” He wrote about the diet and his epidemiological studies in his book The China Study. The book, written with his son Thomas Campbell, was published in 2005 and was expected to have a limited audience. It has now sold over a million copies and been translated into 25 languages. Campbell’s sequel, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, came out in 2013 and is a New York Times bestseller.

After 50 years of nutritional biochemical research, Campbell views casein as one of the most relevant chemical carcinogens ever identified. He’s critical of the Komen Foundation for ignoring the research and expanding its marketing income by putting pink ribbons on yogurt containers.

Komen spokeswoman Andrea Rader said, “We focus on studies with humans. What we attempt to do is present scientific evidence. There are no large, peer-reviewed studies” linking casein with human breast cancer.

Some of Campbell’s research is epidemiological and based on animal studies, but that does not make it less compelling, said Mladen Golubic, chief medical director at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Disease Reversal. Golubic suggested the Komen pink ribbon should not go on yogurt but on kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

“Campbell’s research is basic science. It’s very compelling and elegantly done,” Golubic said. “When it comes to human cancer, the data is not as clear. But knowing that not a single nutrient in milk can’t be gotten from plants, there is no reason not to avoid milk.”

Golubic said epidemiological studies like Campbell’s work published in The China Study are not flawed, but are weaker than randomized control clinical trials with human subjects.

There have been no large-scale clinical trials with humans to test the efficacy of the whole-food, plant-based diet for prevention and treatment of cancer; however, a small study at the Cleveland Clinic has shown the whole-food, plant-based diet reversed coronary heart disease among patients.

Greg Miller, executive vice president of the National Dairy Council, a dairy industry group, said a claim linking dairy with disease is a misinterpretation.

“The weight of the evidence indicates that a healthy, balanced diet includes fat-free and low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt,” Miller said in a statement. “Researchers have examined the potential of milk and milk products and many of milk’s components (e.g. casein, calcium and vitamin D) to be associated with specific cancers such as colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. The research overall is inconclusive.”

He claims the science is more conclusive linking dairy consumption with health and prevention of cancer.

Rekha Chaudhary is not so convinced. Program director in hematology and oncology at the University of Cincinnati school of medicine, Chaudhary invited Campbell to present at the school recently to physicians and medical students. She said she invited him because he speaks with the authority of sound scientific research. She credits his research with changing the way she treats her own patients.  

“When a cancer patient used to ask me ‘What about diet? What changes should I make?’ my response was ‘none. Go home and eat some ice cream,’” she said. “That’s not what I say now. I’m a very different doctor now. Dr. Campbell has 57 years researching the effects of nutrition on health, specifically nutrition on cancer. I am now very enthusiastic about the role of nutrition in fighting cancer.”

Chaudhary said she had no instruction in plant-based diets when she was in medical school. That was also the experience of Thomas M. Campbell, co-author of The China Study with his father. After immersing himself in research for the book for several years, Thomas Campbell decided to enter medical school. Although the book was called the "Grand Prix of epidemiology” by the New York Times, it wasn’t influencing medical education in this country.  

“The role of diet in health is one of the most crucial questions of our time, but nutrition is a forgotten science,” Thomas Campbell said.

Now a family practitioner in Rochester, NY and director of the Campbell Institute for Nutrition,” Campbell said, “In 2001, my father asked if I would help with the book. I read thousands of abstracts and studies, and became more interested in nutrition and health. During this period, I completed my transition [away from meat and dairy].”

He entered medical school with this background in nutritional science and was confronted firsthand not only with the total lack of nutritional education but misinformation about nutrition.

“I put my head down and learned. I decided I can’t advance this idea without experiencing the conventional structure of education and work within the system,” he said. “There were times of intense personal irritation, but it was neither the time nor place to educate people.”

He recalls one lecture during his second year of medical school when a question was asked about whether there was any evidence showing heart disease is related to diet.

“People snickered at the idea. A cardiologist said there is a little evidence, but no one would want to follow the [prescribed] diet,” he said. “I held my tongue, but after the lecture I went to the computer lab with another student, pulled up the Ornish and Esselstyn diets [plant-based, whole-food diets] and pointed out that 75 percent of people who start these diets stick with the diets.”

Today, as a physician, he tells his patients, including children, to avoid all animal products.

“I tell them they can get off their medications and reverse their disease,” he said. “I tell them this is absolutely the best diet for kids and adults. The evidence is deep and clearly established for reversing heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There is also good evidence of its role in kidney stones and gallbladder. For cancer prevention, there is a lot of evidence this diet helps. In terms of reversing cancer, there is a lack of direct evidence, but there is good evidence nutrition likely plays a role.”

What is needed are large-scale, randomized clinical trials, he said.

His book, The Campbell Plan, covers the how-to of the diet and comes out in March 2015 published by Rodale Press.  

Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said diet is the leading cause of poor health in this country and worldwide. His own research findings are compatible with Campbell’s work.

“The diet Campbell advocates, the whole-food, plant-based diet, really is a healthy diet. It is perhaps the healthiest diet people can achieve. But will everyone adopt it?” he said. “If anyone asks me what is the best diet, it’s reasonable to recommend it, but there are other healthy diets.”

However, even as a supporter of Campbell’s work, Giovannucci said the link between casein and breast cancer may be too reductionist and may not cause other nutritional synergies. Even Campbell says focusing on casein and human health is reductionist, but he adds that laboratory science bears out the link.

“I agree with Campbell when he is speaking broadly and holistically, but I’m not convinced casein is the worst factor in diet,” Giovannucci said. “The worst thing in the western diet is eating too much. Body size.”

Despite that, Giovannucci said there is no nutritional benefit in dairy that is not available from plant sources.

The science is sound showing a plant-based diet is superior to consumption of animal products, Giovannucci said, but public health policy continues to recommend animal consumption.

“Why doesn’t the science translate into public health policy? Because public policy is driven by commercial interests,” he said. “Even well-meaning people like pediatricians continue to recommend dairy.”

While it may be valid to choose milk over sweetened beverages, he said, the research does not support dairy providing strong bones later in life.

“Advocating the benefits of dairy is too simplistic,” he said, noting research shows increased dairy consumption actually correlates with increased risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Research that concludes dairy is beneficial must be questioned, he said, because such “research is shaped by commercial interests.”

Although more randomized controlled clinical trials are needed to study the plant-based diet and disease, Giovannucci said it is unrealistic to insist that epidemiological work like Campbell’s is inconclusive.

If we were to dismiss epidemiological work as inconclusive, we’d still be debating  the health problems associated with smoking, he said.

Miller of the National Dairy Council said research funded by the dairy industry is subject to the same scrutiny all published research goes through as part of the peer-review process. He cited a Tufts University report comparing dairy checkoff-funded obesity research with research done by the National Institutes of Health that concluded industry research was unaffected by its funding. Countering Giovannucci, Miller maintained that research shows consumption of dairy foods improves bone health.

The Cornell Chronicle, published by Cornell University, was slated to publish an article on Campbell’s work this spring. A staffer at the publication sent Campbell a copy of the piece, but it was later spiked with no explanation. Campbell said this is just another example of a university yielding to industry pressure. A spokesman at Cornell declined to comment or issue a statement about the school’s situation with Campbell.

“Cornell is now working hard to discredit me,” Campbell said.

He understood years ago that researching the health benefits of a plant-based diet would challenge the status quo. When he returned to the United States from China following field work for his massive epidemiological study, the CIA turned up at his door.

“They offered me 'assistance' with translation,” he said wryly, speculating that they really wanted access to his collection of blood and urine specimens. He declined the assistance.

Another pioneer in the field of dietary and lifestyle changes, Dean Ornish, said “Dr. Campbell made a very landmark contribution by showing that people in Asia and China who ate a whole-food, plant-based diet had lower rates of the major chronic diseases that afflict not only our country but countries throughout the world” as they adopt the American diet.

As a result, we are seeing the “globalization of chronic diseases,” he said.

Ornish combines his dietary recommendations with other lifestyle recommendations. For the past three and a half years, Medicare has covered the Ornish program, and the doctor said cost savings are significant.

Questioned about the correlation between dairy casein and breast cancer, Ornish said, “There are studies that show a link, but I think the jury is still out to make that definitive.”

However, he said his program combining diet guidelines calling for elimination of meat and dairy with lifestyle changes has shown that progression of early-stage prostate cancer can be arrested and reversed. He expects to see similar results with breast cancer.

“We haven’t studied breast cancer, but we are doing that now, and most things that affect prostate cancer affect breast cancer as well because they are both hormonal diseases to a large extent,” he said.

In his book Whole, Campbell wrote about the effort of key people in the American Society for Nutrition to expel him from membership. The Society did not offer a spokesperson to be interviewed for this article and did not give a written statement about Campbell’s claims.

Today, Campbell divides his time between homes in New York and North Carolina and a rigorous lecture schedule. He is blunt in his assessment of the role of government in public health policy and nutrition, contending government is ignoring science and giving too much weight to corporate research.

A vast, global economy stretches from agriculture, including crops, livestock and agrochemical corporations, to the medical establishment, including hospitals, drug and pharmaceutical companies. That economy, Campbell said, is based on established dietary guidelines calling for consumption of meat and dairy.

“Research shows nutrition can determine if a carcinogenic exposure results in the development of cancer or whether the cancer cells are suppressed. Chemotherapy is really not a good approach. Radiation and surgery are not the best approach. We’ve been on the wrong track,” he said. “The public is being misled with tragic consequences.”


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Shocking New Report: Superrich Have Grabbed Half the World's Assets
Posted on Tuesday October 21, 2014

They're eyeing the other half.

According to a new report, the richest one percent have got their mitts on almost half the world's assets. Think that’s the end of the story? Think again. This is only the beginning.

The “Global Annual Wealth Report,” freshly released by investment giant Credit Suisse, analyzes the shocking trend of growing wealth inequality around the world. What the researchers find is that global wealth has increased every year since 2008, and that personal wealth seems to be rising at the fastest rate ever recorded, much of it driven by strong equity markets. But the benefits of this growth have largely been channeled to those who are already affluent. While the restaurant workers in America struggled to achieve wages of $10 an hour for their labor, those invested in equities saw their wealth soar without lifting a finger. So it goes around the world.

The bottom half of the world’s people now own less than 1 percent of total wealth, and they’re struggling to hold onto even that minuscule portion. On the other hand, the wealthiest 10 percent have accumulated a staggering 87 percent of global asssets. The top percentile has 48.2 percent of the world wealth. For now.

One of the scary things about the wealth of the supperich is what French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in his best-selling book, Capital in the 21st Century. Once they’ve got a big chunk of wealth, their share will get bigger even if they sit by and do absolutely nothing. Piketty sums up this economic reality in a simple and horrifying formula: r > g. 

Basically, this means that when rate of return on wealth is greater than the overall rate of growth of the economy, as it has nearly always been throughout history, the rich will grown inevitably richer and the poor poorer unless there is some kind of intervention, like higher taxes on wealth, for example. If r is less than g, the assets of the super-wealthy will erode, but if r is greater than g, you eventually get the explosion of gigantic inherited fortunes and dynasties.

This is happening now: If you look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in America, you see a lot more inherited fortunes in the upper ranks than you did a couple of decades ago, when the policies that held inequality at bay began to get dismantled. In today’s top 10, there are more scions of the Walton family than entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. These people have essentially done nothing of value for society, and yet their undue influence shapes our political landscape with the wave of a wad of cash. 

There have been moments in history when things were not so lopsided. During the post-war period, inequality was contained because governments made sure their rich didn’t accumulate at such alarming rates by doing things like taxing their estates at a high rate. At the same time, they created policies to lift the incomes of the less well-off and allow them to have some basic security. But that’s an exception in history. Most of the time, this kind of intervention did not happen, and so the rich kept gobbling more and accumulating more power to keep it that way until one of two things happened — a revolution or some kind of catastrophe or disruptive event, like a war, shook things up.

As the Credit Suisse report states:

“[Wealth inequality] has been the case throughout most of human history, with wealth ownership often equating with land holdings, and wealth more often acquired via inheritance or conquest rather than talent or hard work. However, a combination of factors caused wealth inequality to trend downwards in high income countries during much of the 20th century, suggesting that a new era had emerged. That downward trend now appears to have stalled, and posssibly gone into reverse.”

That’s right. We’re on a turbo-charged ride back to the days of Downton Abbey. Piketty warns that we’re in the early stages of reverting right back to periods of massive inequality, like 19th-century Britain or 18th-century France, where great dynastic fortunes ruled and everybody else fought for scraps.

What the statistics and formulas don’t show is the kind of human suffering that results from this kind of extreme inequality. While the global elite zip around the world in private jets and watch their stock portfolios expand on computer screens from within their gated mansions, the bottom half stays awake at night trying to think of how to pay for medicine for a sick child. The things that give life dignity and meaning, like a quality education, a decent job, and the security of knowing you have a roof over your head and a doctor to care for you when you are ill grow further and further out of reach. Anxiety never leaves because one unforeseen mishap can push you down into poverty, and if you’re already there, you spend much of your time searching, often fruitlessly, for a way out.

But there’s a little bit of anxiety percolating at the top, too. On the June cover of the conservative magazine American Spectator, a cartoon shows an incensed mob looking on as a monocled fatcat is led to a bloody guillotine — a scene evoking the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. The caption reads, “The New Class Warfare: Thomas Piketty’s intellectual cover for confiscation.” In the story that accompanies the image, James Pierson warns of revolution and a growing class of suffering people who want to punish the rich and take away their toys.

That would be one way to address things. Another would be the recognition that inequality is extremely destabilizing and dangerous, and that non-violent interventions are possible, as we saw in American with the New Deal. Things like robust tax reform, unions, regulation, changes in corporate governance and CEO pay, affordable education, jobs programs, expansion of Social Security and universal healthcare.

Or we could just do things the old-fashioned way and wait for a disaster even bigger than the meltdown of 2007-'08. In that case, fasten your seatbelts. This ride could get very rough.


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The Facts About Fearbola
Posted on Monday October 20, 2014

You'd think we know the difference between the truth claims of science and the tribal claims of culture -- it's tempting, but delusional.

When the young woman in the seat next to me asked the flight attendant for a glass of cabernet, I took it as a sign that projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea would not be part of my trip from PHL to LAX.   I also took it as a reminder that the Ebola irrationality I’ve slammed in others is not as foreign to me as I’d like to believe.

I’d been in Philadelphia for a conference on science communication.  Scientists, social scientists, doctors, journalists and kindred spirits had come together to examine how facts make their way, or don’t, to policy makers and to the public.

Should there be a tax on carbon to reduce greenhouse gases?  How should we handle the conflict between parents who don’t want their kids vaccinated, and the public good of herd immunity? If you think that the quality of decisions like those depends on getting the most knowledge to the most people, then you believe what most scientists believe: it’s called the “knowledge deficit” model.  Explain to people that 97 percent of scientists agree that humans cause global warming, and they’ll realize that the jury on climate change is not still out.  Properly present the earth’s fossil record to people, and they’ll abandon creationism for evolution.  If only the media took the trouble to get the facts out, the myths would melt away.

But as I heard at the conference, cognitive scientists say that the knowledge deficit model is wrong.  Contrary facts don’t change our minds, they just make us dig our heels in harder.  We process information both rationally and emotionally, and our emotional apparatus gets there faster.  We use shortcuts, called heuristics, to deal with the data bombarding us, but those shortcuts are riddled with unconscious biases.  The problem isn’t that people are unaware of the facts.  It’s that awareness isn’t a machine – it’s a neural network, more like a lizard brain than an iPhone.

Our brains aren’t blackboards to write facts on; they’re billboards announcing our identities.  Facts aren’t simply facts – they’re tribal badges, ways to declare who we are.  We locate ourselves in culture not only by where we live, what we do and whom we love, but also by the information we’re willing to authorize as factual.  Trying to get people to change their minds about facts is a misbegotten enterprise because it amounts to forcing them to change their hearts about themselves.  As Yale professor Daniel Kahan, one of the conference’s organizers, has put it, “Don’t make reasoning, free people choose between knowing what’s known and being who they are.”

It’s tempting to think that people who conflate knowledge and identity are Others, not Us.  Our team knows better; we get the difference between the truth claims of science and the tribal claims of culture.  It’s tempting, but it’s delusional. 

That was driven home to me last Friday, on the final morning of the conference. Just before the session began, one of the panelists showed me a distraught message he’d received from a faculty member at Syracuse University.  The night before, I read in the email, Syracuse provost Eric Spina had disinvited Washington Post photojournalist Michel duCille from a workshop at the Newhouse School of Public Communications because he’d been in Liberia three weeks before.  For the 21 days since he’d been in West Africa, which the CDC says is Ebola’s incubation period, duCille had monitored his temperature twice a day.   As far as the experts were concerned, with no symptoms he was in the clear. 

But that didn’t cut it for Syracuse.  The Post story about the rescinded invitation quoted Newhouse dean Lorraine Branham saying this: “And that 21 day thing, some suggest the incubation period should be longer…. We thought it best to proceed with an abundance of caution.”  I had the same reaction to that as the faculty member who’d sent the email, and as Michel duCille, who told the Post: “I’m pissed off and embarrassed and completely weirded out that a journalism institution that should be seeking out facts and details is basically pandering to hysteria.”

If a student wrote that “some suggest” the CDC is wrong about the incubation period, I know what any good journalism instructor would say:  Who’s the source?  Who’s the “some” doing the suggesting?  Rand Paul?  Some cable news fearmonger?  The CDC isn’t infallible, but they don’t pull numbers out of the air, either; they’re scientists, and their guidelines come from evidence.  “Some suggest” that vaccines cause autism.  Should Syracuse, out of “an abundance of caution,” make inoculations optional?  If a journalism school doesn’t have an obligation to avoid false equivalence between science and paranoia, it might as well fold up its tent.

But by the time I got to the airport, I’d had a change of heart.  What if I were a parent of a Newhouse student?  What if 21 days is just an average?  What’s the harm in delaying the workshop for a week or two?  What if this young woman sitting next to me on the plane is a nurse, or a roommate of a nurse, at Texas Presbyterian?

There’s plenty of Ebola ignorance going around and plenty of political and financial incentives to keep it that way.  I’d like to say that the antidote to my fevered speculations is familiarity with the facts.  But if that were fully true, I’d be more Vulcan than human.  I’d like to believe that my calculations of risk are driven by what science knows about infectious diseases, not by my identities as parent, catastrophist, bureaucrat or disaster-porn addict.  But if I were able to process information independent of my affiliations and afflictions, I’d be an algorithm, not a person.  The next time I try to persuade someone that they’re wrong and science is right, I hope I first take a moment to walk in their shoes, and to feel uncomfortable about how comfortably they fit.

The Impulse Society: How Our Growing Desperation for Instant Connection Is Ruining Us
Posted on Wednesday October 15, 2014

Consumer culture does everything in its power to persuade us that adversity have no place in our lives.

The following is an excerpt from Paul Roberts' new book, The Impulse Society: America in the Age of Instant Gratification (Bloomsbury, 2014). Reprinted here with permission.

The metaphor of the expanding fragile modern self is quite apt. To personalize is, in effect, to reject the world “as is,” and instead to insist on bending it to our preferences, as if mastery and dominance were our only mode. But humans aren’t meant only for mastery. We’re also meant to adapt to something larger. Our large brains are specialized for cooperation and compromise and negotiation—with other individuals, but also with the broader world, which, for most of history, did not cater to our preferences or likes. For all our ancestors’ tremendous skills at modifying and improving their environment, daily survival depended as much on their capacity to conform themselves and their expectations to the world as they found it. Indeed, it was only by enduring adversity and disappointment that we humans gained the strength and knowledge and perspective that are essential to sustainable mastery.

Virtually every traditional culture understood this and regarded adversity as inseparable from, and essential to, the formation of strong, self-sufficient individuals. Yet the modern conception of “character” now leaves little space for discomfort or real adversity. To the contrary, under the Impulse Society, consumer culture does everything in its considerable power to persuade us that adversity and difficulty and even awkwardness have no place in our lives (or belong only in discrete, self-enhancing moments, such as ropes courses or really hard ab workouts). Discomfort, difficulty, anxiety, suffering, depression, rejection, uncertainty, or ambiguity—in the Impulse Society, these aren’t opportunities to mature and toughen or become. Rather, they represent errors and inefficiencies, and thus opportunities to correct—nearly always with more consumption and self-expression.

So rather than having to wait a few days for a package, we have it overnighted. Or we pay for same-day service. Or we pine for the moment when Amazon launches drone delivery and can get us our package in thirty minutes.* And as the system gets faster at gratifying our desires, the possibility that we might actually be more satisfied by waiting and enduring a delay never arises. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, the efficient consumer market abhors delay and adversity, and by extension, it cannot abide the strength of character that delay and adversity and inefficiency generally might produce. To the efficient market, “character” and “virtue” are themselves inefficiencies—impediments to the volume-based, share-price-maximizing economy. Once some new increment of self-expressive, self-gratifying, self-promoting capability is made available, the unstated but overriding assumption of contemporary consumer culture is that this capability can and should be put to use. Which means we now allow the efficient market and the treadmills and the relentless cycles of capital and innovation to determine how, and how far, we will take our self-expression and, by extension, our selves— even when doing so leaves us in a weaker state.

Consider the way our social relationships, and the larger processes of community, are changing under the relentless pressure of our new efficiencies. We know how important community is for individual development. It’s in the context of community that we absorb the social rules and prerequisites for interaction and success. It’s here that we come to understand and, ideally, to internalize, the need for limits and self-control, for patience and persistence and long-term commitments; the pressure of community is one way society persuades us to control our myopia and selfishness. (Or as economists Sam Bowles and Herbert Gintis have put it, community is the vehicle through which “society’s ‘oughts’ become its members’ ‘wants.’ ”) But community’s function isn’t simply to say “no.” It’s in the context of our social relationships where we discover our capacities and strengths. It’s here that we gain our sense of worth as individuals, as citizens and as social producers—active participants who don’t merely consume social goods, but contribute something the community needs.

But community doesn’t simply teach us to be productive citizens. People with strong social connections generally have a much better time. We enjoy better physical and mental health, recover faster from sickness or injury, and are less likely to suffer eating or sleeping disorders. We report being happier and rank our quality of life as higher—and do so even when the community that we’re connected to isn’t particularly well off or educated. Indeed, social connectedness is actually more important than affluence: regular social activities such as volunteering, church attendance, entertaining friends, or joining a club provide us with the same boost to happiness as does a doubling of personal income. As Harvard’s Robert Putnam notes, “The single most common finding from a half century’s research on the correlates of life satisfaction, not only in the United States but around the world, is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections.”

Unfortunately, for all the importance of social connectedness, we haven’t done a terribly good job of preserving it under the Impulse Society. Under the steady pressure of commercial and technological efficiencies, many of the tight social structures of the past have been eliminated or replaced with entirely new social arrangements. True, many of these new arrangements are clearly superior—even in ostensibly free societies, traditional communities left little room for individual growth or experimentation or happiness. Yet our new arrangements, which invariably seek to give individuals substantially more control over how they connect, exact a price. More and more, social connection becomes just another form of consumption, one we expect to tailor to our personal preferences and schedules—almost as if community was no longer a necessity or an obligation, but a matter of personal style, something to engage as it suits our mood or preference. And while such freedom has its obvious attractions, it clearly has downsides. In gaining so much control over the process of social connection, we may be depriving ourselves of some of the robust give-and-take of traditional interaction that is essential to becoming a functional, fulfilled individual.

Consider our vaunted and increasing capacity to communicate and connect digitally. In theory, our smartphones and social media allow us the opportunity to be more social than at any time in history. And yet, because there are few natural limits to this format—we can, in effect, communicate incessantly, posting every conceivable life event, expressing every thought no matter how incompletely formed or inappropriate or mundane—we may be diluting the value of the connection. 

Studies suggest, for example, that the efficiency with which we can respond to an online provocation routinely leads to escalations that can destroy offline relationships. “People seem aware that these kinds of crucial conversations should not take place on social media,” notes Joseph Grenny, whose firm, VitalSmarts, surveys online behavior. “Yet there seems to be a compulsion to resolve emotions right now and via the convenience of these channels.”

Even when our online communications are entirely friendly, the ease with which we can reach out often undermines the very connection we seek to create. Sherry Turkle, a sociologist and clinical psychologist who has spent decades researching digital interactions, argues that because it is now possible to be in virtually constant contact with others, we tend to communicate so excessively that even a momentary lapse can leave us feeling isolated or abandoned. Where people in the pre-digital age did not think it alarming to go hours or days or even weeks without hearing from someone, the digital mind can become uncomfortable and anxious without instant feedback. In her book Alone Together, Turkle describes a social world of collapsing time horizons. College students text their parents daily, and even hourly, over the smallest matters—and feel anxious if they can’t get a quick response. Lovers break up over the failure to reply instantly to a text; friendships sour when posts aren’t “liked” fast enough. Parents call 911 if Junior doesn’t respond immediately to a text or a phone call—a degree of panic that was simply unknown before constant digital contact. Here, too, is a world made increasingly insecure by its own capabilities and its own accelerating efficiencies.

This same efficiency-driven insecurity now lurks just below the surface in nearly all digital interactions. Whatever the relationship (romantic, familial, professional), the very nature of our technology inclines us to a constant state of emotional suspense. Thanks to the casual, abbreviated nature of digital communication, we converse in fragments of thoughts and feelings that can be completed only through more interaction—we are always waiting to know how the story ends. The result, Turkle says, is a communication style, and a relationship style, that allow us to “express emotions while they are being formed” and in which “feelings are not fully experienced until they are communicated.” In other words, what was once primarily an interior process—thoughts were formed and feelings experienced before we expressed them—has now become a process that is external and iterative and public. Identity itself comes to depend on iterative interaction—giving rise to what Turkle calls the “collaborative self.” Meanwhile, our skills as a private, self-contained person vanish. “What is not being cultivated here,” Turkle writes, “is the ability to be alone and reflect on one’s emotions in private.” For all the emphasis on independence and individual freedom under the Impulse Society, we may be losing the capacity to truly be on our own.

In a culture obsessed with individual self-interest, such an incapacity is surely one of the greatest ironies of the Impulse Society. Yet it many ways it was inevitable. Herded along by a consumer culture that is both solicitous and manipulative, one that proposes absolute individual liberty while enforcing absolute material dependence—we rely completely on the machine of the marketplace—it is all too easy to emerge with a self-image, and a sense of self, that are both wildly inflated and fundamentally weak and insecure. Unable to fully experience the satisfactions of genuine independence and individuality, we compensate with more personalized self-expression and gratification, which only push us further from the real relationships that might have helped us to a stable, fulfilling existence.



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Right-Wing Publication Tries to Claim That Obama Is a Conservative
Posted on Tuesday October 21, 2014

The president “has bent over backward to protect corporate profits,” says ex-Reagan administration domestic policy aide Bruce Bartlett

President Barack Obama “has governed as a moderate conservative,” former Reagan administration domestic policy aide Bruce Bartlett writes in a new essay for the eclectic American Conservative magazine.

Bartlett, an economic policy expert who left the Republican Party amid disgust with President George W. Bush’s fiscal policies and backed Obama in 2008, contends that a look at Obama’s track record reveals a president who’s basically a liberal Republican of yore. From the beginning of his administration, Bartlett argues, Obama has charted a center-right course on both foreign and domestic policy issues.

Populating his administration with hawks like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama has presided over new military engagements abroad while overseeing a draconian crackdown on national security leaks at home, Bartlett notes.

Meanwhile, Obama has pursued “very conservative” fiscal policies, Bartlett writes, signing a stimulus package that was far smaller than what experts and advisers like Christina Romer found would be necessary to really prime the nation’s economic pump. Moreover, Obama has conducted himself like a deficit hawk, “proposing much deeper cuts in spending and the deficit than did the Republicans during the 2011 budget negotiations,” when a deal eluded the two parties. And don’t buy into the the GOP “harping” that Obama hates business, Bartlett cautions. The president, he says, “has bent over backward to protect corporate profits.”

What about the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement? That, too, is evidence of Obama’s conservatism, Bartlett writes. Observing that Obamacare’s market-based approach drew on a model put forth by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Bartlett contrasts Obamacare with a real left-wing alternative like universal Medicare. So why are conservatives so obstinately opposed to a fundamentally conservative health care law? “The only thing is that it was now supported by a Democratic president that Republicans vowed to fight on every single issue,” Bartlett writes.

While Bartlett doesn’t see viscerally anti-Obama conservatives as likely to acknowledge the president’s conservatism, he concludes that philosopher and activist Cornel West “nailed it” when he recently declared that Obama has given the country “a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency.”

Read Barlett’s essay here.


Victims of Domestic Violence Getting Longer Prison Sentences Than Their Childs' Abuser?
Posted on Friday October 17, 2014

How 'failure to protect' laws are locking up mothers whose partners commit child abuse.

When they first started dating, Arlena Lindley said Alonzo Turner was a sweet guy. She said he was kind to her and her toddler son Titches. But a few months later, Turner began abusing them both. Punching, throwing, choking became part of their daily lives. When Lindley once tried to escape to her father’s house, Turner tracked her down, threw her in the trunk of his car and brought her back home.

Lindley tried to escape again after Turner whipped Titches with a belt, threw him against the wall and stuck his face in the toilet. She grabbed Titches and ran for the door, but Turner snatched him from her and locked her out of the house. Titches was dead by the end of the day. Turner pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to prison for life. Yet, Lindley was sent to prison, too. She got 45 years under Texas’ injury to a child by omission law.

Lindley’s story was reported in a Buzzfeed news investigation which exposed the dangerous outcomes of these “failure to protect” laws.  Buzzfeed found 28 mothers and domestic violence victims in 11 states who were sent to prison for at least 10 years for failing to protect their children from abuse:

"Almost half, 13 mothers, were given 20 years or more. In one case, the mother was given a life sentence for failing to protect her son, just like the man who murdered the infant boy. In another, the sentences were effectively the same: The killer got life, and the mother got75 years, of which she must serve at least 63 years and nine months. In yet another, the mother got a longer sentence than the man who raped her son. In one more, a father fractured an infant girl’s toe, femur, and seven ribs and was sentenced to two years; for failing to intervenethe mother got 30."

Buzzfeed found that at least 29 states have failure-to-protect laws, such as injury to a child “by omission,” by “permitting child abuse” or “enabling child abuse.” Nineteen other states have laws that could also be used to prosecute parents, such as “criminal negligence in the care of a child.” Maximum prison sentences for breaking these laws vary from one year to life. And in some states, they carry the same sentence as child abuse itself.

While these laws are designed to both hold mother and father responsible for protecting their children, the law isn’t applied equally. Buzzfeed found a total 73 cases against mothers, yet only four against fathers. Women commit 34 percent of serious or fatal cases of child abuse.

“Mothers are held to a very different standard,” law professor Kris McDaniel-Miccio said. 

Being victims of domestic violence is often used against mothers. Buzzfeed explains that when Texas, where Lindley was charged, created its law in 1977, lawmakers didn’t have domestic violence victims in mind. In fact, it was more geared toward parents who purposely put their children in harm's way, for instance, by not feeding them so they would starve. Many of these state laws were created in the 1960s during a movement of tougher child abuse laws. By the 1970s, domestic violence advocates organized for protections against victims. In the 1990s, Texas added such a protection to its law, but it didn’t guard mothers who were aware of previous acts of child abuse.  

The author of an Oklahoma failure-to-protect law, Rep. Jari Askins (D-OK), said she understands the complexity of domestic violence, but doesn’t believe laws need to offer such specific protections for domestic violence victims. Instead, she has faith in defense lawyers to present the full story to the jury and judge.

But instead of working in the victim's favor, a history of domestic violence is often held against victims. Buzzfeed wrote:

"Some point to failed attempts to leave the abusive partner as proof that the mother wasn’t completely helpless and could have done more to save her child. Others cite contact with police or social service workers about domestic violence prior to the child’s injury as missed opportunities to disclose more about the danger posed to the child. Many, in one way or another, present the man’s violence as a testament to the mother’s poor decision-making."

Stephanie Avalon, resource specialist for the federally funded Battered Women’s Justice Project, said, “It’s the ultimate blaming of the victim.”

In a followup article, Buzzfeed explored the effects these laws have on children who survive child abuse. The piece featured Collin Grant, whose mother went to jail for 20 years under Oklahoma’s “enabling child abuse” law. Colin’s mother was also a victim of domestic violence. However, she got a longer prison sentence than her former husband, who was sentenced to 15 years for raping Colin.

Colin didn’t see his mother for five years, until he turned 18. He grew up being shuffled between shelters and group homes. Colin said he wished he would have never come forward about his stepfather’s abuse, because he essentially lost his mother.

“The one person I was supposed to be able to turn to for almost anything — I didn’t have that,” he said. “My mother is one of the most caring people in the world.” 


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How the Media's Hyper Ebola Anxiety Is Playing into the Hands of the Republicans
Posted on Monday October 20, 2014

If Republicans want the media to remain relentlessly focused on the anxious Ebola storyline prior to Election Day, they're in luck.

As Republicans seek to gain a partisan advantage by ginning up fear about the Ebola virus in preparation for the midterm election cycle, they're getting a major assist from the news media, which seem to be equally anxious to spread anxiety about the virus, and to implicate President Obama for the health scare. At times, Republicans, journalists, and commentators appear to be in complete sync as they market fear and kindle confusion. ("You could feel a shiver of panic coursing through the American body politic this week.")

The result is a frightening level of misinformation about Ebola and a deep lack of understanding of the virus by most Americans. Indeed, despite weeks of endless coverage, most news consumers still don't understand key facts about Ebola.

If the news media's job is to educate, and especially to clarify during times of steep public concerns, then the news media have utterly failed during the Ebola threat. And politically, that translates into a win for Republicans because it means there's fertile ground for their paranoia to grow. (Sen. Rand Paul: Ebola is "incredibly contagious.")

"They have all caught the Ebola bug and are now transmitting the fear it engenders to millions of Americans," lamented a recent Asbury Park (NJ) editorial, chastising the cable news channels. "It turns out that fear-mongering translates not only into dollars and cents for news-gathering organizations, but also allows talking heads to politicize the issue."

If Republicans want the media to remain relentlessly focused on the anxious Ebola storyline prior to Election Day, they're in luck. Last night, the homepage for the Washington Post featured at least 15 Ebola-related articles and columns. Already this week, the cable news channels have mentioned "Ebola" more than 4,000 times according to TVeyes.com -- or roughly 700 on-air references each day. The unfolding crisis is undoubtedly a major news story, but so much of the coverage --particularly on cable news -- has been more focused on fearmongering than solid information. It's a drumbeat that eventually becomes synonymous with fear and uncertainty, which dovetails with GOP's preferred talking point this campaign season.

And for Republicans, it's not just Ebola. The election season scare strategy that has emerged revolves around portraying the virus as the latest symptom of an America that's in startling decline and without any White House leadership able to deal with the crisis. As the New York Times reported on October 9, what has emerged as the GOP's unifying campaign theme is "decidedly grim." It alleges "President Obama and the Democratic Party run a government that is so fundamentally broken it cannot offer its people the most basic protection from harm."

Message: Panic looms. We stand exposed. Nobody's in charge. It's worse than you think.

The truth? "The risk of contracting Ebola is so low in the United States that most people would have to go out of their way to put themselves in any danger," as Medical Daily noted this week. Added one Florida doctor, "I tell people you're more apt to be hit by lightning right now than you are to get Ebola."

Yet two weeks into the domestic Ebola scare and it's often not easy to distinguish who's pushing the doomsday themes more energetically, the media or the Republican Party. I understand, for purely partisan reasons, why Republicans and their allies in the right-wing press are touting fear and paranoia in place of facts. But what's the news media's rationale?

The Times noted that the media assist on the GOP scare campaign is unmistakable: "Hear it on cable television and talk radio, where pundits and politicians play scientists speculating on whether Ebola will mutate into an airborne virus that kills millions."

On Wednesday, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza dubbed the Ebola virus the "October surprise" of the 2014 elections and stressed that the panic and anxiety associated with the story is bound to swing votes. The next day, the Boston Globe announced Ebola "moved closer to becoming the next great American panic -- an anthrax or SARS for the social media age."

In fact, there are almost no outwards signs of an American Ebola panic. If there were a true panic, newscasts would be filled with reports of hospitals being flooded with patients terrified they might have the disease, travelers staying home en masse, people hoarding supplies, or tens of thousands of parents keeping their kids home from school. Instead, the virus hasn't hasn't yet infected anyone outside of a single hospital in Dallas. (And why, in a nation of 320 million people, would there be a "panic" over a virus that has killed one and infected two others?)

Nonetheless, echoing that Republican spin about faith and incompetence, Beltway pundits keep insisting Americans don't trust the government to deal with the Ebola threat, even though polling results keep debunking that campaign season talking point.

Appearing on Face the Nation, USA Today's Susan Page announced the following [emphasis added]:

I think both these stories, the Ebola virus and the threat from ISIS are feeding into a sense that a lot of Americans have that the world is not only a dangerous place but that the government is not competent to handle them. Even the Secret Service controversy I think contributes to that sense.I think that's a very dangerous thing for President Obama, the sense that his administration is not competent to protect the American people that is the most fundamental job of a U.S. President.


Last week, a Pew Research poll found a majority of Americans, including 48 percent of Republicans, were confident in the government's ability to deal effectively with the Ebola situation. And this week an ABC News/Washington Postsurvey confirmed that finding: A majority of Americans are confident in "the federal government's ability to respond effectively to an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the United States." That includes a majority of Democratic voters, independents and Republicans.

So why the GOP-friendly Beltway chatter about how the Ebola story has destroyed our trust in government? And why is the press effortlessly amplifying Republican fear just weeks before the midterms?


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My Father Was Killed by a Computer, Says 7-Year-Old Afghan Child
Posted on Tuesday October 21, 2014

If Imal were a white American kid, this drone strike tragedy would not have befallen his father.

Imal, a 7 year old Afghan student in the 2nd grade, came to visit us in Kabul.

As Imal grew up, he kept asking his mother where his father was. His mother finally told Imal that his father had been killed by a drone when he was still a baby.

If you could see Imal in this video, you would want to hug Imal immediately.

If Imal were a white American kid, this tragedy would not have befallen his father. Which American would allow any U.S. citizen to be killed by a foreign drone?

Suppose the UK wanted to hunt ‘terrorists’ in the U.S., with their drones, and every Tuesday, David Cameron signed a ‘secret kill list’ like Obama does. Drones operated from Waddington Base in the UK fly over U.S. skies to drop bombs on their targets, and the bombs leave a 7 year old American kid, say, John, fatherless.

John’s father is killed, shattered to charred pieces by a bomb, dropped by a drone, operated by a human, under orders from the Prime Minister /Commander-in-Chief.

“John, we’re sorry that your father happened to be near our ‘terrorist’ target.’ He was collateral damage. It was ‘worth it’ for the sake of UK national security.”

Unfortunately, no U.S. official or military personnel had met with Imal’s widowed mother to apologize.

Raz, Imal’s uncle who brought him to visit us, asked his young nephew,

“Will you bring me some marbles to play with?”

Imal was friendly, like any other 7 year old kid. “Yes!” His voice was a trusting one, eager to be a good friend and playmate.

“Do you also play with walnuts? Tell us how you play with walnuts,” Raz requests.

“We put them in a line, and flick a walnut to hit other walnuts, like playing with marbles,” Imal explains diligently, like he was telling a story we should all be interested in.

“Besides beans, what other food do you like?”

“I also like… potatoes… and meat… …and… rice!” All of us were smiling with the familiar love of Afghan oiled ‘palao’ or ‘Qabuli’ rice.”

Imal knew what my laptop was. He said, “We can look at photos & watch films…”

But, then, it seemed that he took on the understanding of an older person when his voice became serious.

”My father was killed by a computer.”

I wanted to tell Imal that nowadays, it takes children and young people like Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai to tell us adults the plain facts.

When Malala was 16 years old and met with the Obamas at the White House, Malala had told Obama that drones were fueling terrorism.

Do we get it? Drones are employed in the ‘war against terrorism’, but instead, drones fuel terrorism.

How many drone attacks are there in Afghanistan every month, and how many women, children and young men like Imal’s father are killed?

We don’t know. It’s not a transparent strategy.

We would all want to know everything about the possible effects of a drone strategy on our children, especially if our country was the most drone-bombed country in the world, like Afghanistan is.

A Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s ‘Naming the Dead’ report says that fewer than 4% of the people killed by drone attacks in Pakistan have been identified by available records as named members of Al Qaeda. If this is true for drone attack victims in Afghanistan too, then 96% of drone victims in Afghanistan have been innocent civilians like Imal’s father.

In another Bureau of Investigative Journalism report, ‘Tracking drone strikes in Afghanistan’, (July, 2014),the Bureau states that “nobody systematically publishes insurgent and civilian deaths from drones on a strike-by-strike basis. Neither the US nor UK authorities publishes data on the casualties of their drone operations.”

So, we are unable to find out for Imal’s mother if it was a U.S./UK drone that killed her husband, and who the drone operator was.

If Imal were John, could he or his mother sue David Cameron? Stop the drone? Stop the human drone operator? Disable the computer?

We gave Imal a Borderfree blue scarf, and thanked him for coming.

His eyes were bright and cheerful, taking in the photos on the wall, including a poster of Gandhi and Badshah Khan. Badshah Khan was a Pashtun like Imal, and has been called the Frontier Gandhi for his lifelong struggle for nonviolence.

I have been thinking hard about Imal, about whether anyone would hear him, when few among the elites who declare wars and order drone strikes seem to have heard the now famous Malala, not even President Obama.

“I wish to tell the world, ‘We don’t want war. Don’t fight!’”


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Why Oregon Is About to Be the Poster Child for How to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana
Posted on Tuesday October 14, 2014

25 percent of tax revenues will go to mental health and substance abuse agencies.

At the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Portland last month, the atmosphere was that of a winning NASCAR pit crew during the victory lap. Bullish is too weak a word to characterize the 700 vape pen purveyors and cannabis attorneys in attendance (they’d come from as far as Alabama and India). The vibe was bullish but congenial. Inclusive, not cutthroat. On Day Two, an attendee was doing tai chi in the Portland Convention Center hallway in between speakers.

This was not lost on the producer of the event, 43-year-old Alex Rogers. “Let’s face it, Oregon’s a relaxed place, a collaborative place,” he said. “You can leave your pretentions and hangups at the door and you won’t get kicked when you do business.”

The Oregon business mode, to Rogers, is nothing less than part of  “a cultural transformation. If you’re in the cannabis and hemp industry, you will fail if you’re only about the money with no ethics; no consciousness about this plant.”

But Rogers, perhaps practicing that ethic himself, quickly added that there was another, bottom-line reason for the touchy-feely aura at an event whose entrance fee was $499. “We’re at the point in the cannabis industry’s evolution where even your competitor’s growth is good for you,” he said. 

When not producing one of the traveling ICBC conferences (the next one’s in San Francisco in February), Rogers owns one of Oregon's largest medical marijuana clinics. He told me he has no problems with profit. In fact, Roger’s win-win economic growth curve for legal cannabis is reason number-one why the passage of Oregon’s Measure 91, which will legalize and regulate all forms of cannabis (including hemp) if voters approve it on November 4, matters to my family, even here in New Mexico. It provides a new Green Standard for how to make legalization work for everyone from families to law enforcement to home cultivators. (The measure had a four-point lead in a September poll, though I predict an eight-point margin of victory.)

Drafted by Portland’s Anthony Johnson and his nationally funded New Approach Oregon team, Measure 91 is the best cannabis regulation model in the world to date. In fairness, Colorado had to do it Colorado’s way, and Washington had to do it Washington’s way. The savvy initiative drafters in those states did what they had to do to tear down the drug war Berlin Wall—they had 70 years of drug war lies to deal with. Oregon is benefitting from seeing what can be done better, and I hope the whole world is watching.

There are a number of key reasons why Measure 91 is the new benchmark. The first reason sticks to the economic benefits theme: revenues (including both tax revenue and an immediate $71 million in annual savings in cannabis enforcement) are expected to be $100 million per year, according to a 2012 study by Harvard economist and Cato Institute fellow Jeffrey Miron.

I’m not the only one who thinks Miron’s estimate is conservative, not just because of the industry growth curve Rogers described at the ICBC, but because a single county I followed in California for a year generates $6 billion annually from its wholesale cannabis crop. Add to that total significant ancillary tax revenue from garden stores, farm equipment retailers and local tourism jobs. Colorado, at $25 million in taxes collected alone and counting, is far ahead of projections for its first, cautious year of retail cannabis sales.

Whatever the total on the ground, the Oregon bounty is divvied in a brilliantly conceived way, both to dampen law enforcement opposition and generate real revenue for the state by eliminating the black market for the world’s number-one harvest.

Fifteen percent of tax revenues go to state police, 10 percent to city police, 10 percent to county law enforcement, 40 percent to education (via the state’s Common School Fund), and 25 percent to agencies dealing with mental health and substance abuse. That breakdown has the former U.S. Attorney for Oregon Kris Olsen, former Oregon state Supreme Court Justice William Riggs, Methodist Minister David Bean, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer and the state’s former director of addiction and mental health services Richard Harris speaking in support of the initiative, not to mention pretty much all regional media and the New York Times

The health perspective has been getting a good deal of play in the Beaver State. That’s because “Measure 91 will offer education, prevention and treatment,” for people with substance abuse problems, mental health expert Harris said.

As for what is being legalized: adults can possess up to eight ounces of cannabis and cultivate up to four plants. Producers will be taxed at $35 per ounce of flowers. (Leaves and immature plants are taxed differently.)

In an earlier interview, Graham Boyd, former director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Drug Policy Litigation Project, and a fellow who has been involved in cannabis initiatives since 1996, told me that Measure 91 “represents a very strong team of legal minds working on a responsible initiative at a time of growing voter support for our side of the issue.”

That’s why the big boys of drug peace have contributed generously. New Approach has raised $1.5 million both from grassroots efforts and from the usual suspects in successful cannabis regulation campaigns. The late Peter Lewis’ organization and George Soros’ Drug Policy Alliance are both in to the tune of six figures. Opposition has been late and scant, with $150,000 in funding for groups like the state Sherriff’s Association and the Narcotics Enforcement Association; a sign of the times and the strength of the initiative. Indeed, last week one Measure 91 opponent, a county DA named Josh Marquis, told Oregon Public Radio that even he “would not object to a measure that actually said it’s legal to grow, as an adult, say one or two plants at home.” The whole problem is a difference of two plants in a garden? That’s a tepid, and let us hope, a losing strategy.

The truly beneficial reality of the initiative’s nuts and bolts are important, especially as bottom-line arguments for undecided voters who aren’t cannabis aficionados. But for Anthony Johnson, the reason Measure 91 is so important is much more personal. “A good friend of mine in high school had his life ruined by a small cannabis possession arrest,” he told me at the ICBC conference as he manned the booth of the new Oregon Cannabis Industry Association.

Even with Measure 91’s passage, he said, “I’ll continue to work for sensible cannabis laws across the country and across the world until the best policies are in place everywhere. Until no one is judged, let along going to prison for using this plant that’s much safer than alcohol.”

The 37-year-old Johnson will talk to you about the benefits of Measure 91 to Oregon’s tax coffers—he co-wrote the wording. But for him generating revenues for the state from the cannabis and hemp industry is just “the icing on the cake. This is about civil liberties, the best parts of America. About freeing law enforcement to go after dangerous criminals. We’re trying to lead the country to a better future.”

As of the last Gallup poll, close to 60% of Americans nationwide support this valuable crop being snatched from organized crime, and brought into the tax base. Seniors and veterans awakening to the value of aboveground cannabis for economic and health reasons have added to majority support for ending the war on cannabis in once unheard-of places like Kentucky, Texas, Illinois and Florida.

Cannabis legalization (which means its removal from the federal Controlled Substances Act to allow states to regulate it) has, in remarkably rapid fashion, transformed from political liability to campaign rallying cry. Want proof? In California (which will fully legalize cannabis in 2016), cannabis advocates are throwing support to a Republican pro-legalization attorney general candidate over Obama darling but cannabis-silent Kamala Harris, the Democrat.

How did that seemingly counter-intuitive reality come about? Partly through staunch legalization resistance by entrenched California Democrats with strong pharmaceutical company ties. But it’s proved a fragile resistance among the rank and file. Forty percent of Colorado Republicans voted to legalize cannabis in 2012, and this election cycle that awareness is working its way into platforms. Plus, youth turnout, the Holy Grail for Democrats, was up hugely in both Colorado and Washington in the 2012 cannabis legalization elections. That has even traditionally resistant Democratic political camps like the Clintons putting out drug peace feelers.

As a sustainability journalist and solar-powered goat rancher, it is vital to me that the coming cannabis industry (and indeed any industry) prove environmentally sustainable. Unsurprisingly (if you’ve ever spent a minute in Oregon), Measure 91 deals successfully with both of these issues. The home cultivation clause in the initiative is a key one on the sustainability side, to codify the presence of cannabis as part of American outdoor garden, and to prevent big business monopolies and genetic patenting. And the comprehensive addressing of cannabis products like edibles and tinctures pushes cannabis past the final hurdle remaining in front of the true drug peace finish line: social stigma.


This is how I characterize that hurdle: most Americans today, even those who have enjoyed cannabis, if they read a news story about a pilot or teacher who was fired simply because cannabis was in her life, accept it, as they wouldn’t had the pilot or teacher been in possession of a more dangerous beer (or prescribed pharmaceutical). Victory in the drug war is a reversal of that assumption. Be thankful when it’s just legal cannabis and not an opiate, not a violent drunk.

Oregon, in Measure 91’s details (there is no “per se” blood intoxication percentage for cannabis included in Measure 91, for instance), permits us to finally begin to address the importance of updated intoxication laws in this medicated era. It does that by leveling the playing field between cannabis and alcohol, and allowing society to create its sobriety laws based on science, rather than rhetoric. The studies so far indicate that’s going to be bad for drinkers and users of pharmaceuticals, and good for responsible cannabis aficionados. Especially if they haven’t ingested cannabis in the hours before they are driving, flying or teaching—the same expectations we have for folks who enjoy alcohol.

Earlier this year, I asked a Eugene-area state legislator named Floyd Prozanksi about the advent of public venues designed to allow cannabis enjoyment alongside Oregon’s famous (and profitable) microbrew market. “We don’t have a free-for-all with alcohol,” he said. “We have open-container laws, and I can foresee licensed establishments providing cannabis access.” 

Imagine not being a criminal for choosing, in responsible adult social situations where a beer would be acceptable, an herb rather than alcohol. That, let us pray, becomes reality on November 4 in the Beaver State. 

But the absolute best part of Measure 91 is the inclusion of an industrial hemp clause mandating that the state agriculture division issue permits to farmers to cultivate cannabis with less than .3% THC. This is needed. Even though Oregon is one of the 19 states totally in accord with federal law if it permits hemp research farms (as Kentucky, Colorado and Vermont have done this year), it denied the only permit application that came before it in 2014. That hurt the crop the state should most be assisting, and put Oregon a year behind other states that want to profit from what, in Canada, is already a billion-dollar industry. In fairness, one of the agriculture division’s explanations for the hemp application denial was that the state needed time to establish a program, which it says it will in time for planting season in the spring.

That single application was brought forth by Portland attorney Courtney Moran on behalf of eastern Oregon farmer Rick Rutherford. Moran said her motivation for the pro bono work was that, “hemp is truly the greatest renewable resource available to mankind.”

Another former Oregon family farmer, Ryan Basile of Silverton, wants to get back to the land with a hemp crop so badly that he filmed a powerful ”Yes on 91” television commercial set against a classic Oregon farm and barn background.

“The hemp clothing you see at the store and the hemp seed you eat comes from abroad,” Basile says in the spot, with a soft-spoken, no-nonsense, I’m-a-rural-Oregonian delivery. “That’s money we can be keeping in Oregon. Farming is a difficult business. With a cash crop like hemp, it can make all the difference.”

Fresh back from visiting four debut Kentucky hemp harvests this week, I know that industrial hemp is going to be even bigger than psychoactive cannabis.You have to start somewhere. Even profitable new (if traditional) crops don’t magically appear in soil. Seems getting said crop in the ground takes more than just farmers, seed and rain. It takes voters, ag bureaucrats and lawyers, too, evidently. With the passage of Measure 91, hemp is going to be healing monoculture-damaged Oregon soil by the thousands of acres while putting family farmers back to work as of 2015. Better still, this is just the birth of an industry that will within twenty years out-earn any other crop in Oregon.

Which brings us back to ICBC producer Rogers’ point on the real dollar value of Oregon’s progressive, un-stressed, optimistic culture. “As a kid activist twenty years ago I used to shout about how hemp can save the planet and people would laugh. Now no one’s laughing. I didn’t realize how right we were. Oregon is ready to capitalize on the truth about this plant.” (Not just Oregon. Washington hemp farmers are poised for a big 2015 as well.)

What we’re seeing in the Pacific Northwest is a future for humanity, if these modes catch on, that isn’t bleak. As a patriot, a father, and a cannabis researcher, I can say with confidence that Measure 91 is part and parcel of that journey to a stronger, safer, healthier America.


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13 Most Ugly, Offensive,and Weird Costumes for Halloween 2014
Posted on Tuesday October 21, 2014

The bad news: Dozens of "Indian Princess" costumes continue to exist. The good news: You can be a sexy lobster instead.

Putting on my judgy face at the Halloween store.
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Putting on my judgy face at the Halloween store.


Content note: Some images may not be safe for work.

Ah, Halloween, that time of year when even usually well-adjusted people come up with extraordinarily complex puns and turn them into costumes, when sexy corn becomes a brief and beautiful reality, and when some folks very nearly ruin everything by dressing up in horribly misguided ensembles.

It’s not that Halloween itself is bad. Halloween is a damn good time. Who can hate a holiday that is half about dressing up and half about candy? It’s just that at some point in the past few years, Halloween has turned into a strange meta event in which the certainty that offensive and bizarre costumes will happen somehow feeds their creation.

Thus, the “Ebola containment suit” costume was probably, sadly, inevitable.

“Ebola containment suit” costume
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 Ha ha ha ha.... oh.


Never mind that it explicably has “Ebola” printed on it, as though the costume itself is the virus, or contains the disease ("Get yer Ebola right here!"). It’s kind of like those “sexy” costumes that have the word “sexy” right on them, in case you were confused as to their purpose.

The fact that the copy for this ensemble says, “This will literally be the most ‘viral’ costume of the year,” is enough to wish it dead.

As always, I have spent long hours combing costume sites looking for the oddest selections, the most offensive mass-produced options and the simply, utterly bizarre.

And we’re going to start with the fake private parts of "ladies" as mockingly worn by men.

Fake parts of ladies.
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 The guy modeling this is also the model for a TON of the most horrible dude-joke costumes and I'm not sure whether I should hate him or feel sorry for him.

Pubic hair. It exists. For as long as human women have been walking upright, most of them have been growing some amount of hair between their legs. I don’t know the whole history of down-there hair removal, but I know that even as American Apparel has tried to revive big ol’ hedges recently, women have been mowing their ladygardens -- and not doing so -- for millenia.

The "Anita Waxin" costume attempts to provoke a thoughtful conversation about hair politics. Or it's just something frat dudes wear to make their bros laugh. Still, I don’t see how pubic hair is all that funny. But I also don’t laugh when someone farts either.

Photo Credit: 
 Low-hanging fruit indeed.

The “Droopers” copy explains its premise:

Ever wonder what happens to the girls that work at Hooters? There's no real retirement plan when you're a waitress - you've just gotta keep on working!

Which should put it in the finals for the award for most unintentionally depressing Halloween costume description. Even if you aren’t put off by the “LOL WAITRESSES SO POOR” approach, this is pretty terrible.

Gropin’ Granny.”
Photo Credit: 
 Oh, that's it, that was the sound of my last shred of faith in humanity dying.


And for the gentleman who wants to cover BOTH the saggy-breast AND unusually-giant-bush bases, we have the “Gropin’ Granny” costume, complete with dramatic nipples and flasher-housecoat.

Elderly women! The lowest-hanging fruit is always good for a laugh. And it’s extra fun because they’re unlikely to defend themselves.

Cherokee princess
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Moving on to the appropriation set: deranged and unsinkable optimist that I am, every October I think, “Surely this will be the year that twenty bazillion ‘new’ ‘Indian Princess’ costumes DON’T get made,” and I’m wrong. There are SO MANY of these costumes.

The URL identifies the example above as a “Cherokee princess” and I can’t decide if it’s more offensive to use the name of an actual tribe to describe a mocking ensemble contained in a plastic bag and hanging on a hook at the Halloween store, or if it’s worse to just assume that "Indians are Indians" and there is no distinction between tribes to be made. They’re probably equally horrible for their own unique reasons.

Even a cursory look through any Halloween costume site reveals literally dozens of these mass-produced costumes on the market -- so many that it’s not that surprising that folks doggedly continue to believe there is nothing gross about dressing up as native cultures that only continue to exist as a result of the strength of those who have fought to preserve them even in the face of devastating abuse and erasure on the part of white Europeans who “discovered” a land hundreds of years back and immediately went to work on destroying the people already living there, a process that, in degrees, continues even today.

Depressing? For sure. Who wants to bring that to a party?

Senorita death.
Photo Credit: 
 Skull sold separately.

What did I just say? Day of the Dead celebrations -- with which sugar skulls are directly connected and which this "Senorita Death" (seriously) costume is inspired by -- can be traced back to the Aztecs. As a general rule, if it’s not your culture, it’s usually a good idea not to dress up in it as a costume, because even if you are intending to do so as a somber homage to its origins, it is probably going to come off as cavalier. ESPECIALLY if you do so by dropping $50 on a crap outfit made in a sweatshop in China.

Tighty Whitey Underwear Briefs Costume
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 I can't.

The “We’re a culture, not a costume” campaign has been often mocked since it first appeared in 2011, which is a shame because the message is totally legit -- these “funny” efforts can have measurable negative effects on people.

And beyond being potentially hurtful, wearing a stereotype as a costume is pure laziness. The “Tighty Whitey Underwear Briefs Costume” is neither funny nor particularly inventive; it just makes fun of a cultural signifier and a racist caricature. “Sagging,” which this costume attempts to mock, is said to have its roots in the prison system, where belts are often not allowed, and the style was later popularized in hip hop. In the 2000s, some parts of the US were actually trying to make sagging illegal, because I guess pants are only safe for the public when they’re around your waist.

I doubt anyone wearing this costume is going to be arrested, unfortunately. Oh, and it also comes in a child version, so your towheaded little scamp can join the offensive party.

And in case you thought things couldn't possibly get worse, there's even a mass-produced "sexy burqa" costume. Whatever your feelings on the burqa as a symbol (and unless you are Muslim or extraordinarily well educated about Islam, your opinion is probably unfairly negatively influenced), the fact remains that Muslim women are entitled to choose how they dress and present themselves in public, and should their personal standards -- and personal safety -- dictate a certain degree of modesty, it’s not acceptable to mock that choice.

Sexy burqa.
Photo Credit: 
 I really, really, really can't.

More to the point, the burqa and other Muslim headcoverings are typically a religious choice as well. Muslims in the U.S. are already misunderstood and misrepresented enough on every other day besides Halloween. Turning a burqa -- the purpose of which, in part, is to cover a woman’s body and avoid her being sexualized against her will -- into a sexual garment is so disrespectful it boggles the mind that this costume even exists.

And there are so many other, better sexy costumes. Enjoy a few, as a palate cleanser after the above:

Sexy lobster.
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Sexy Lobster. In fact, there are TWO sexy lobsters, in case this one isn’t meeting your precise babely-crustacean needs.


Sexy taco.
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Sexy Taco, although I'd argue that ALL tacos are sexy. Will this be 2014's Sexy Hamburger? Time will tell.

Sexy Mr. Peanut.
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Sexy Mr Peanut. I have nothing bad to say about this. I kind of love it.


Sexy droog
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Sexy Droog? Actually I don't know if this is hilarious and brilliant or terrible. I'll leave that decision to you.

Vagina hat.
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Or, you could just cut through the bullshit and wear a vagina hat.

This is probably what most men see when they look at women anyway. (Misandry rimshot!)

Did I miss any bizarre or offensive costumes you’ve seen? Let us know your favorites -- or tell us about your painstakingly handcrafted Sexy Something-That-Is-Not-Usually-Sexy costume -- in comments.

Read more from Lesley.


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