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September 11, Puerto Rico and the Racism of Callous Indifference

September 11, Puerto Rico and the Racism of Callous Indifference
September 11, 2018
by William Rivers Pitt

It’s been 17 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks and one year since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico. The death tolls from the two crises are nearly equivalent, but the official US responses to these calamities have been starkly different.

After 9/11, the US government memorialized the victims while pouring trillions of dollars into the process of making millions of new victims by way of permanent war. In the case of Hurricane Maria, the US government has all but washed its hands of the Puerto Ricans — US citizens, all — who still struggle to recover from the storm. Taken together, the aftermath of these two tragedies opens a window on some grim truths the country has yet to face.

Everyone has their own 9/11 story. Mine is tamer than most. Seventeen years ago today I was a teacher on the first day of school. I happened to be grazing through the morning newspapers online before classes started when Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

An hour later, students who had gathered around televisions in the library were wall-eyed with fear when the towers finally fell. It was all over, I soothed them … but as I heard the low growl of fighter jets flying racetrack patterns over the city of Boston, I realized I was lying to children. It had only just begun.

Seventeen years.

High school seniors today have never known anything but a country at war, at several wars up front and by proxy. Those wars have eaten their future. I wonder if they know it yet.

I would like to think we’ve learned something in that wrenching, blood-soaked span of time, but that clearly isn’t the case. The last presidential election saw a Democratic nominee who had voted in favor of the calamitous Iraq war and the total surveillance of the PATRIOT Act. Her opponent, the Republican nominee, was for the war before he was against and then later for it again. Along the way he was also a bombastic liar, proud racist and sexual predator whose only credentials were five bankruptcies and a TV show.

The historical record states 2,996 people perished on September 11, 2001, hijackers included. There remains a lingering doubt as to the final accuracy of that number, as there were reportedly scores of undocumented immigrant workers in the building at the time of the attack, but their families did not inform the authorities they were missing for fear of being deported themselves.

Seventeen years later, and that fear is as present now as it was then, thanks to a president whose policies are grounded and founded in xenophobia and racism. We haven’t learned a damn thing.

One year ago this month, Hurricane Maria tore the island of Puerto Rico to shreds. On September 6, 2017, as the monster storm approached, Donald Trump spoke to the media during a meeting with members of Congress. Addressing the potential dangers represented by the oncoming storm, he said, “Hopefully we can solve them in a rational way, and maybe we won’t be able to.”

The latter half of that sentence has proven prophetic. Puerto Rico has yet to recover from the aftermath of Maria, due in no small part to the barking negligence of the administration and the man who pretends to lead it on TV.

Trump visited Puerto Rico in the immediate, catastrophic wake of the storm, telling Puerto Ricans who were complaining bitterly about wildly insufficient assistance that they “have to give us more help.” This was after he called them “politically motivated ingrates.” During the visit, he threw paper towels at storm victims and fished for compliments wherever he could find them. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said. “But that’s fine, because we’ve saved a lot of lives.”

Odd comment, that. The Trump administration put the death toll in Puerto Rico at 64 people, and that number stayed put as the bodies piled up. Finally, in July of 2018, nearly a year after Maria, the official death toll was revised up to 2,975 people. A scant 21 fewer than September 11. Subtract the terrorists from the equation and the margin drops to two … and, like September 11, that final number is far from firm.

One day after Puerto Rico’s governor added 2,911 names to the victim’s list, Donald Trump praised his administration’s response to Maria in glowing terms. “I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,” he said. “I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we’ve done.”

Splinter News collected letters from people directly affected by the storm. “I remember seeing the Mayor of San Juan,” wrote one survivor, “trying to help her city and those in desperate need all over the island. The help never came and when it did sometimes it was too late, some had died. My God how can we let this happen.” There are many such letters.

The difference in the US responses to the 9/11 attacks and to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is stark. While the death count was the same in both cases, the responses were dramatically different. That difference cannot be chalked up simply to the fact that the former tragedy was an act of will, while the second was an act of nature.

After September 11, the US unleashed two ill-conceived wars that killed, maimed or displaced millions of innocent people, all in the names of those killed in New York and DC. In the 17 years this country has spent bombing the rubble in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere, few here bother to spare a thought for those suffering the immediate consequences of our incoherent wrath.

After Hurricane Maria, in contrast, the US dragged its feet and hesitated to take the most minimal actions for the people of Puerto Rico as thousands perished. Given Trump’s calling-card disdain for those who aren’t a whiter shade of pale, the government’s lack of response to the yearlong disaster in Puerto Rico should come as no shock.

The core calamity, however, goes far beyond one man. In every way that matters, the victims of Hurricane Maria suffer from the US government’s negligence in much the same way the victims of the 9/11 vengeance tour do: Both are targets of indifference born of a strain of racism that goes bone deep and all the way, in both cases, to the White House.

It is all the same carcass to the carrion crows: The war profiteers redoubled their fortunes in Iraq and Afghanistan after September 11, and Wall Street hedge fund pillagers feast on Puerto Rico’s post-Maria debt. George W. Bush, like Donald Trump, walked away from the debacle virtually untouched.

Seventeen years since September 11. One year since Maria and Puerto Rico. We haven’t learned a damn thing.

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

a wise old linux guru told me this, a few years ago, and i’ve found myself smack in the middle of what happens when you follow that maxim… and it doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, at this point.

i have been happily running kubuntu trusty since 2014, which means that, now, there are TWO LTS releases to bring me up to date… Bionic Beaver, and the interim release, Xenial Xerus, which had some notable problems that were notable enough that i decided that… IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT.

now, i’ve actually heard some good things about the new LTS release, and, strangely enough, Amarok broke about two weeks ago (and the amarok user list has gone quiet the past few months, which makes me wonder who to contact), so i’ve been having to resort to qmmp to play music… so i decided to upgrade.

i’ve had some AWFUL experiences upgrading operating systems, and linux is no exception. the last time i upgraded linux, it took me three days to get my computer back. in an attempt to avoid that possibility this time, i have finished uploading my ENTIRE /home directory to the cloud, and am in the process of uploading my ENTIRE music collection to the cloud.

then, on the advice of the linux gurus over at Kubuntu Forums (who have saved my ass more than once), i’m going to go out and get a 2TB SSD on which to install bionic.

the only problem is that i still am not completely sure that my email is going to transfer, because i know that kontact was one of the notable problems i read about with xenial that made me want to avoid upgrading… and i’m not sure the standard “back up everything including the hidden directories from /home” is going to work this time, because i’ve heard that bionic uses something other than akonadi, which was, apparently, the source of the problems with xenial… which would mean that potentially i could lose 7 years worth of email and contact information. 😒

so, we’ll just have to see how it goes… 😐

Wheel Of Dystopia

180821 sorenson wheel of dystopia
180821 sorenson wheel of dystopia

Wheel Of Dystopia

I’m writing this after spending the day hunkered down indoors next to an air purifier, as I have the good fortune of being in Washington state while it’s home to some of the world’s worst air pollution. For the second year in a row, smoke from wildfires has rendered the normally refreshing air practically unbreathable. My primary source of entertainment these days is checking air quality monitoring websites for signs of ominous red and purple bulges making their way down from Canada. Fires in other parts of Washington aren’t helping.

As if things didn’t already feel apocalyptic enough, there’s something about these wildfire episodes, with their sickly grayish-orange skies and sense of entrapment, that truly give one the sense that the end of the Anthropocene is nigh. Scientists say that warming temperatures plus population growth in burn-prone areas are causing the surge in wildfires; meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is, of course, blaming environmentalists. Hard to see how we come back from this brink, since we’re already so far over it.

Enlightenment

ENLIGHTENMENT
180406 by Om Swami

“How do I gain enlightenment?” someone said to me the other day. “Can you not grant me some deep experience? I want a radical change in my life.”

I get this asked frequently by many enthusiastic seekers. They are in search of a panacea, some mystical reality that will solve all their problems (spiritual and emotional) forever. While many aspirants understand the importance of persistence and individual effort, most others are looking for a quick fix. Here’s a beautiful quote by Adya Shanti that mirrors my own thoughts in ways more than one:

Many seekers do not take full responsibility for their own liberation, but wait for one big, final spiritual experience which will catapult them fully into it. It is this search for the final liberating experience which gives rise to a rampant form of spiritual consumerism in which seekers go from one teacher to another, shopping for enlightenment as if shopping for sweets in a candy store. This spiritual promiscuity is rapidly turning the search for enlightenment into a cult of experience seekers. And, while many people indeed have powerful experiences, in most cases these do not lead to the profound transformation of the individual, which is the expression of enlightenment.

One of the greatest misconceptions about enlightenment is that it will just happen. Not so. It has to be earned, it has to be lived. Sometimes I find it challenging to explain to seekers that true enlightenment is not a one-off special moment, but more a culmination of lifelong experiences and practices that result in the dawning of a great insight. I don’t blame them for thinking that by the magical touch of some guru or maybe by being struck by lightning, they will arrive at a moment of enlightenment. Partly because we have plenty of spiritual books out there that give that impression. Even I may have inadvertently conveyed the same by sharing one of my most defining spiritual experiences in my memoir. For that matter, Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree is often construed as an isolated event of extraordinary significance. It was anything but that.

In comprehending and highlighting such experiences, we tend to overlook the tremendous amount of effort that goes in realizing that state. For a moment, think of enlightenment as winning the Nobel Prize. We can’t have it just by visiting other Nobel Laureates and we certainly can’t be awarded it just because we want it. After a lifetime of commitment to a cause or producing a phenomenal body of work, and assuming the circumstances are favorable, the committee might consider your nomination and grant you one. No doubt winning the Nobel Prize will bring about a change in your life and lifestyle to a degree, you will inspire more people and so on. But, beyond that, there’s not much. It’s not going to improve your relationships, it’s not going to fix your physical health etc. Those challenges will remain.

Without preparation and readiness, any spiritual experience is hardly transformational. And if an experience doesn’t trigger some kind of lasting transformation in you, however subtle, it holds little meaning ultimately. When you continue to walk the path sincerely, diligently, many learnings, lessons and experiences give you the wisdom to lead your life differently. Differently so in a manner that it’s more conducive to retaining a state of bliss. Having said that, even if you are enlightened, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience pain or that you will always find joy in everything that goes on in your life.

R.K. Laxman (1921 – 2015), one of India’s most famous cartoonists ever, writes a lovely passage in his travelogue The Distorted Mirror.

People are curious about my profession and try to clear their doubts by putting all sorts of questions. Recently a lady asked me, “Do you do the drawings for your cartoons yourself?” I answered, “Yes, I do.” Then she questioned, “And the captions to the cartoons, do you write them too?” “Of course,” I said. And, finally, she asked, “The ideas for the cartoons, don’t say you think them up too?”

There is one [question] that is rather rarely asked but which makes me go into deep introspection. This is: “When you look around, does everything appear funny to you?”

A cartoonist does not lead a charmed life of perpetual fun out of the reach of the cares and worries that bedevil his fellow men. The fluctuating prices of onions affect me in the same way as they delight or outrage a primary schoolteacher. Likewise, taxes depress my spirit. Bores at the mike, and traffic jams drive me crazy. Surely a doctor does not always look at life in terms of coughs, colds, allergies and bronchial inflammations. A star of the silver screen, I am sure, has enough sense to know that beyond the range of the camera life does not continue to be full of idyllic scenes, sex, songs and ketchup-blood. Why, then, should a cartoonist see living caricatures and hear rib-tickling dialogue all around him? So I comfort myself with the self-assurance that my view of life is normally as banal as that of the next man in the queue for sugar or kerosene.

Enlightenment is something like that. It does not mean that you don’t feel the pain or remain eternally unaffected by everything that goes around you. All of that we must go through based on our karma, temperament and attitude towards life. The only thing that changes is that you grow into a more spiritual being, you become increasingly resilient and kind. What life hurls at you doesn’t change, how you catch it or dodge it, does. When it builds to a tipping point, you become kind of independent, very independent. Less worried about what the world thinks of you, how it perceives you and so on. In other words, you draw your own cartoons, write your own captions and, much to the fascination or disbelief of others, come up with the ideas too.

As the famous Zen saying goes, “Before enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water. After enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water.”

Being a jivan-mukta, a liberated soul, or an enlightened person does not relieve one of his/her duties. Self-realization is not, as Eknath Easwaran put it, a compensation for one’s good deeds. It is but simply an outlook towards life that you gain from experiential understanding. If you really wish to get a grip on the notion of enlightenment then look upon it as a way of life, a commitment to virtues, as a promise to carry yourself a certain way and leading your life in a manner that befits you.

Liberation is not plonking a glorious flag on top of Mount Everest, it is but a mindful and diligent journey meandering through many treks and hikes, stopping and camping along the way, meeting and greeting fellow travelers, absorbing the breathtaking views, appreciating the challenges, rejoicing in where you are already. All this while you remain inward focused but goal-oriented.

When you realize this, a better sense of wellbeing and happiness shrouds you. You understand that there are no dark moments, that you are already enlightened. You just need to live a certain way to experience it. Then you laugh at the discovery that how unnecessarily seriously you’ve been taking yourself. As Thích Nhất Hạnh said:

I laugh when I think how I once sought paradise as a realm outside of the world of birth. It is right in the world of birth and death that the miraculous truth is revealed. But this is not the laughter of someone who suddenly acquires a great fortune; neither is it the laughter of one who has won a victory. It is, rather, the laughter of one who; after having painfully searched for something for a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.

A religious man called a monk and invited him to bless his new home. The monk politely turned down the request saying he’s busy.
“But, what are you doing?” the man insisted.
“Nothing.”
Thinking that the monk was perhaps not in a mood to visit that day, he let it be and phoned again the next day. “Can you come today to bless my home?”
“Sorry,” said the monk, “I’m busy.”
“Doing what?”
“I’m doing nothing,” replied the monk.
“But that was what you were doing yesterday!” said the man.
“Right,” the monk replied. “I’m not finished yet!”

Enlightenment too is an ongoing affair. No doubt, there can be a transformational moment that changes something in you forever. Living that change, however, is a matter of mindfulness and more. True enlightenment, that.

This is it. This life. It’s beautiful. Live it. Love it. For yourself, for others. Laugh it away. That’s all there is to know. Most of the rest, life can do without.

update

story pole update –according to what george braddock says, they didn’t have any native assistance during the design part. i think that’s horse-shit, but george is one of the people who would know, so i’m torn… although i’m leaning heavily in the direction of horse-shit. also, david lewis, the cultural anthropoligist from the confederated tribes of the grande ronde, obviously doesn’t know that there actually were haida people involved, and that they’ve got the blessing of both haida and kalapuya elders. not only that, but the kalapuya, who are native to the area, didn’t have permanent art, because they were nomads, so it’s not really any kind of cultural appropriation. it sounds very much like this guy is in the camp of the lady who is behind this whole thing. 😐

sickness and depression

i’ve been “sick or not” for a week now, and it’s really starting to get on my nerves. i don’t “feel” sick, but if i don’t take immune boosters and/or if i work too hard i get a sore throat and really congested. it never really comes on strong and takes hold, but it also doesn’t seem to want to go away any time soon. i’ve been taking immune boosters along with my 5HTP, and i can feel it helping, but it’s apparently not enough to make the “sickness or not” go away completely. combine that with depression that has been increasing or decreasing in intensity, but never actually going away, ever since #drumpf was elected, and it makes for a really difficult time merely existing in the world.

i’m playing for a burlesque show at the substation in ballard on march 7th, and then a week of moisture festival performances with the fremont philharmonic starting on march 22nd, plus 2 moisture festival performances by snake suspenderz on april 8th, and a gig with snake suspenderz on march 22nd in woodinville that pays $125 an hour, cash…

but i would still prefer it if i died, or, even better, if everybody else died, except for moe, the fremont philharmonic, snake suspenderz, the people with whom i’m doing the burlesque show, the significant others of the aforementioned people… and, MAYBE a few audience members…

All Smoke Is Not Created Equal

All Smoke Is Not Created Equal
by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
January 7, 2016

Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke is demonstrably harmful to health. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and chronic exposure to tobacco smoke is linked to increased incidences of cancer as well as vascular disease. Inhaling tobacco smoke is also associated with a variety of adverse pulmonary effects, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Does smoking cannabis pose similar dangers to lung health? According to a number of recent scientific findings, marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke vary considerably in their health effects. So then why are lawmakers in various states, such a Minnesota and New York, imposing new restrictions explicitly prohibiting the inhalation of herbal preparations of cannabis?

Marijuana Smoke vs. Tobacco Smoke
Writing in the Harm Reduction Journal in 2005, noted cannabis researcher Robert Melamede explained that although tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke have some similar chemical properties, the two substances possess different pharmacological activities and are not equally carcinogenic. Specifically, he affirmed that marijuana smoke contains multiple cannabinoids – many of which possess anti-cancer activity – and therefore likely exerts “a protective effect against pro-carcinogens that require activation.” Melamede concluded, “Components of cannabis smoke minimize some carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances some.”

Marijuana Smoke and Cancer
Consequently, studies have so far failed to identify an association between cannabis smoke exposure and elevated risks of smoking-related cancers, such as cancers of the lung and neck. In fact, the largest case-controlled study ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking reported that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime. Summarizing the study’s findings in The Washington Post, pulmonologist Dr. Donald Tashkin, Professor Emeritus at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, concluded: “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”

A meta-analysis of additional case-control studies, published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2014, similarly reported, “Results from our pooled analyses provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers,” while a 2009 Brown University study determined that those who had a history of marijuana smoking possessed a significantly decreased risk of head and neck cancers as compared to those subjects who did not.

Marijuana Smoke and Pulmonary Function
According to a 2015 study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta, the inhalation of cannabis smoke, even over extended periods of time, is not associated with detrimental effects on pulmonary function, such as forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FCV). Assessing marijuana smoke exposure and lung health in a large representative sample of U.S. adults, age 18 to 59, they maintained, “The pattern of marijuana’s effects seems to be distinctly different when compared to that of tobacco use.” Subjects had inhaled the equivalent of one marijuana cigarette per day for 20 years, yet did not experience FEV1 decline or deleterious change in spirometric values of small airways disease.

Marijuana Smoke and COPD
While tobacco smoking is recognized as a major risk factor for the development of COPD – a chronic inflammation of the airways that may ultimately result in premature death – marijuana smoke exposure (absent concurrent tobacco smoke exposure) appears to present little COPD risk. In 2013, McGill University professor and physician Mark Ware wrote in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society: “Cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or airway cancers… Efforts to develop cleaner cannabinoid delivery systems can and should continue, but at least for now, (those) who smoke small amounts of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can breathe a little bit easier.”

Mitigating Marijuana Smoke Exposure
The use of a water-pipe filtration system primarily cools cannabis smoke, which may reduce throat irritation and cough. However, this technology is not particularly efficient at eliminating the potentially toxic byproducts of combustion or other potential lung irritants.

By contrast, vaporization heats herbal cannabis to a point where cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion – thereby reducing the intake of combustive smoke or other pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and tar. Observational studies show that vaporization allows consumers to experience the rapid onset of effect while avoiding many of the associated respiratory hazards associated with smoking – such as coughing, wheezing, or chronic bronchitis. Clinical trials also report that vaporization results in the delivery of higher plasma concentrations of THC (and likely other cannabinoids) compared to smoked cannabis. As a result, the authors affiliated with the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research and elsewhere now acknowledge that vaporizers provide a “safe and effective” way to for consumers to inhale herbal cannabis.

The Bottom Line
Based on this scientific record, it makes little sense for lawmakers to impose legislative bans on herbal cannabis products, such as those that presently exist for patients in Minnesota and New York and which are now being proposed in several other states (e.g., Georgia and Pennsylvania). Oral cannabis preparations, such as capsules and edibles, possess delayed onset compared to inhaled herbal cannabis, making these options less suitable for patients desiring rapid symptomatic relief. Further, oral administration of cannabis-infused products is associated with significantly greater bioavailability than is inhalation – resulting in more pronounced variation in drug effect from dose to dose (even in cases where the dose is standardized). These restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices and deny them the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical cannabis

now all we’ve got to do is convince the media that it’s really called “cannabis”…

—–

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical cannabis
By Evan Halper at The LA Times

Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana CANNABIS and signals a major shift in drug policy.

The bill’s passage over the weekend marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. It brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana CANNABIS.

Under the provision, states where medical pot CANNABIS is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.

Should the U.S. legalize marijuana CANNABIS?
Bloomberg’s Olivia Sterns reports on the New York Times’ advocacy of the legalization of marijuana.

The Obama administration has largely followed that rule since last year as a matter of policy. But the measure approved as part of the spending bill, which President Obama plans to sign this week, will codify it as a matter of law.

Pot CANNABIS advocates had lobbied Congress to embrace the administration’s policy, which they warned was vulnerable to revision under a less tolerant future administration.

More important, from the standpoint of activists, Congress’ action marked the emergence of a new alliance in marijuana CANNABIS politics: Republicans are taking a prominent role in backing states’ right to allow use of a drug the federal government still officially classifies as more dangerous than cocaine.

“This is a victory for so many,” said the measure’s coauthor, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa. The measure’s approval, he said, represents “the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana CANNABIS.”

By now, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot CANNABIS or its ingredients to treat ailments, a movement that began in the 1990s. Even back then, some states had been approving broader decriminalization measures for two decades.

The medical marijuana CANNABIS movement has picked up considerable momentum in recent years. The Drug Enforcement Administration, however, continues to place marijuana CANNABIS in the most dangerous category of narcotics, with no accepted medical use.

Congress for years had resisted calls to allow states to chart their own path on pot CANNABIS. The marijuana CANNABIS measure, which forbids the federal government from using any of its resources to impede state medical marijuana CANNABIS laws, was previously rejected half a dozen times. When Washington, D.C., voters approved medical marijuana CANNABIS in 1998, Congress used its authority over the city’s affairs to block the law from taking effect for 11 years.

Even as Congress has shifted ground on medical marijuana CANNABIS, lawmakers remain uneasy about full legalization. A separate amendment to the spending package, tacked on at the behest of anti-marijuana crusader Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), will jeopardize the legalization of recreational pot in Washington, D.C., which voters approved last month.

Marijuana CANNABIS proponents nonetheless said they felt more confident than ever that Congress was drifting toward their point of view.

“The war on medical marijuana CANNABIS is over,” said Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, who called the move historic.

“Now the fight moves on to legalization of all marijuana CANNABIS,” he said. “This is the strongest signal we have received from Congress [that] the politics have really shifted. … Congress has been slow to catch up with the states and American people, but it is catching up.”

The measure, which Rohrabacher championed with Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat from Carmel, had the support of large numbers of Democrats for years. Enough Republicans joined them this year to put it over the top. When the House first passed the measure earlier this year, 49 Republicans voted aye.

Some Republicans are pivoting off their traditional anti-drug platform at a time when most voters live in states where medical marijuana CANNABIS is legal, in many cases as a result of ballot measures.

Polls show that while Republican voters are far less likely than the broader public to support outright legalization, they favor allowing marijuana CANNABIS for medical use by a commanding majority. Legalization also has great appeal to millennials, a demographic group with which Republicans are aggressively trying to make inroads.

Approval of the pot CANNABIS measure comes after the Obama administration directed federal prosecutors last year to stop enforcing drug laws that contradict state marijuana policies. Since then, federal raids of marijuana merchants and growers who are operating legally in their states have been limited to those accused of other violations, such as money laundering.

“The federal government should never get in between patients and their medicine,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

unicode geekery

the most current version of UNICODE, (v.7.0) has an emoticons block, which has, predictably, been incorporated into the most recent versions of your most popular operating systems in your most popular “mobile devices” (i.e. cell phones, tablets, etc.)…

but, because of the fact that they’re emoticons, i.e. pictures, rather than words, the interpretation of the emoticons in this block is, apparently, open to wild speculation about what they actually “mean” or “represent”…

which makes things A LOT more confusing, rather than clearing things up, as emoticons were intended to do…

for example, U+1F624 FACE WITH LOOK OF TRIUMPH looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F624

looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F624

and, honestly, to me it looks like a “haughty” face rather than a “triumphant” one… either that, or it’s someone with an outrageous mustache…

another one that is even more confusing is U+1F632 ASTONISHED FACE, which looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F632

and looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F632

which looks to me like a DEAD face… seriously, why don’t they make his eyes OPEN and not X-ed out… 😐

and then we get into non-real (for people in the west, anyway) glyphs, such as U+1F472 MAN WITH GUA PI MAO, which is in the “Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs” block and NOT the “Emoticons” block — a confusing aspect that is shared by a lot of the other “emoticons” in the version of unicode that the general public uses — which looks like this:

U+1F472

and in iOS it looks like this

U+1F472

i guess it is somewhat more understandable if you know that GUA PI MAO is a type of Chinese skullcap, but even knowing that doesn’t make it particularly useful to a western person…

and a lot of the things that pass for emoticons, but are something else, according to the UNICODE standard, are weirder than that… for example, the world-famous U+1F4A9 PILE OF POO, which, according to UNICODE, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

and, according to apple, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

i can think of a few select circumstances where the PILE OF POO glyph might be actually useful, and a whole bunch more that would definitely be silly, but why it got included in UNICODE is so far beyond my understanding that i am totally baffled.

Proposed Legislation Could Federally Legalize Cannabis

Proposed Legislation Could Federally Legalize Cannabis
Joseph Lemiuex
23 February, 2015

On Friday, two congressmen have put forth bills that would ultimately end the federal prohibition of cannabis.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. This act would remove marijuana scheduling from the Controlled Substances Act, and put marijuana under the control of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). This move would regulate cannabis no different than alcohol on the federal level.

The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana.

The bills would not force any state government to legalize marijuana, but it would set a framework for states that are interested. This framework, if passed, would expedite states legalization if they choose to legalize. Cannabis has been making its mark upon the American people, and many are now in support of legalization.

So far, the U.S. has 4 states that out right legalized marijuana, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, and 11 others have legalized marijuana in a restricted shape or form for medical use.

“While President Obama and the Justice Department have allowed the will of voters in states like Colorado and 22 other jurisdictions to move forward, small business owners, medical marijuana patients, and others who follow state laws still live with the fear that a new administration — or this one — could reverse course and turn them into criminals,” Polis said in a statement Friday. “It is time for us to replace the failed prohibition with a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or don’t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders.”

Even though many Americans and states look favorably upon cannabis, it is still a federal crime. While federal guidance has been going easy on the states that have legalized, people are still going to federal prison for marijuana related convictions. This makes you wonder, if these bills pass, what will become of the already convicted felons of marijuana possession? Will the federal government release these inmates, or continue to hold them for a crime the government now deems legal.

Blumenauer called the federal prohibition of marijuana “a failure” that has wasted tax dollars and ruined lives. He also said it’s time for the government to forge a new path ahead for the plant.

“As more states move to legalize marijuana as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done,” Blumenauer said, “it’s imperative the federal government become a full partner in building a workable and safe framework.”

Mushroom-induced brain rewiring could hold the key to fighting mental illness

Mushroom-induced brain rewiring could hold the key to fighting mental illness
Scott Kaufman
31 Oct 2014

Psychedelic mushrooms dramatically increase connectivity between otherwise uncommunicative parts of the brain, according to researchers from Imperial College London in an article to be published in the November edition of the Royal Society’s journal Interface.

Paul Expert and his team analyzed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from two groups of people — one who had ingested a small amount of the active agent in hallucinogenic mushrooms, psilocybin, and another group who was given a placebo.

They found that the main effect was the creation of stable connections between parts of the brain that, under normal conditions, only communicate with each other in dream states — such as the hippocampus (which deals with short term memory and spatial recognition) and anterior cingulate cortex (which regulates rational cognitive functions).

The result of this stable cross-wiring is a more interconnected brain, as shown on the diagram below:

brain rewiring on mushrooms

On the left is a data visualization of a brain administered the placebo; on the right, one that has been subjected to a mild dose of psilocybin.

“We can speculate on the implications of such an organization,” Dr. Expert said. “One possible by-product of this greater communication across the whole brain is the phenomenon of synaesthesia” — which is the experience of having senses overlap, such that certain smells are accompanied by flashes of color, or certain sounds are accompanied by tastes.

It is also believed that rewiring the brain in this manner may allow scientists to find more effective ways to treat depression or help smokers and alcoholics battle their addictions.

This research is only possible thanks to a a recent loosening on the regulations regarding the study of psychedelic drugs for medical purposes. This is a positive measure, said study co-author Giovanni Petri, who told Wired that “in a normal brain, many things are happening. You don’t know what is going on, or what is responsible for that. So you try to perturb the state of consciousness a bit, and see what happens.”

Cannabis use associated with lower death rates in patients with traumatic brain injuries

Cannabis use associated with lower death rates in patients with traumatic brain injuries
2 October, 2014

Surveying patients with traumatic brain injuries, a group of Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) researchers reported today that they found those who tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, were more likely to survive than those who tested negative for the illicit substance.

The findings, published in the October edition of The American Surgeon, suggest THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, may help protect the brain in cases of traumatic brain injury, the researchers said. The study included 446 patients who suffered traumatic brain injuries and underwent a urine test for the presence of THC in their system. The researchers found 82 of the patients had THC in their system. Of those, only 2.4% died. Of the remaining patients who didn’t have THC in their system, 11.5% died.

“Previous studies conducted by other researchers had found certain compounds in cannabis helped protect the brain in animals after a trauma,” said David Plurad, MD, an LA BioMed researcher and the study’s lead author. “This study was one of the first in a clinical setting to specifically associate THC use as an independent predictor of survival after traumatic brain injury.”

The researchers noted that the timing of their study was “pertinent” because of current efforts to decriminalize cannabis and other research that has shown THC can increase appetite, reduce ocular pressure, decrease muscle spasms, relieve pain and alleviate symptoms associated with irritable bowel disease. But they noted that their study has some significant limitations.

“While most — but not all — the deaths in the study can be attributed to the traumatic brain injury itself, it appears that both groups were similarly injured,” Dr. Plurad said. “The similarities in the injuries between the two groups led to the conclusion that testing positive for THC in the system is associated with a decreased mortality in adult patients who have sustained traumatic brain injuries.”

Additional data available from the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

SHELLSHOCK UPDATE

Shellshock: ‘Larger scale attack’ on its way, warn securo-bods

Apple FINALLY patches the ‘don’t worry’ Bash Shellshock vuln

Apple Releases Patches for Shellshock Bug


Every Mac Is Vulnerable to the Shellshock Bash Exploit: Here’s How to Patch OS X
— i upgraded from v.3.2.51(1) to v.3.2.53(1) according to their directions for pre-mavericks computers, and, according to the test i posted last week the system is no longer “vulnerable”, but, because of the fact that it doesn’t actually give a response other than “this is a test”, i can’t tell for sure whether or not they’ve actually patched shellshock, or whether they have just turned off the error message… it would be really nice if i could just upgrade to the current GNU release, which is v.4.3… this is why i am no longer a mac-head… 😐

Apple patches "Shellshock" Bash bug in OS X 10.9, 10.8, and 10.7

SHELLSHOCK UPDATE

Firms BASH Bash bug with new round of Shellshock patches

Cisco splats Bash bug in busy swatting season

i’ve run three rounds of security updates in the past three days, and bash was updated in every one of ’em… eventually they’re gonna fix it for real… maybe i’ll just revert to using csh… or zsh (which was written by paul falstad, my former manager and coworker at openwave) 😐

SHELLSHOCK UPDATE

UPDATE: Bash Vulnerability AKA SHELLSHOCK

The ‘Shellshock’ Bash vulnerability and what it means for OS X

Apple: Most OS X users safe from ‘Shellshock’ exploit, patch coming quickly for advanced Unix users — which, of course, is a blatant falsehood… all macs are as much at risk as -x was, and -x had a patch yesterday… this is why i am no longer a mac-head… 😐

Apple working on “Shellshock” fix, says most users not at risk [Updated] — which includes the following information:

Mac OS X uses version 3.2.51.(1) of GNU bash, released in 2007; the current GNU release of the shell is bash 4.3. However, the current version is released under the GNU Public License version 3 (GPLv3). Apple has avoided bundling GPLv3-licensed software because of its stricter license terms, even dropping the open-source Windows networking service Samba from OS X server in 2011 because Samba had shifted to a GPLv3 license. Therefore, although patches for the vulnerability have now been pushed out for most open-source operating systems, Apple executives may feel they have to have their own developers make modifications to the bash code.

this is the explanation why i haven’t been able to get SAMBA to work on my mac… grumble, mutter… 😐

Still more vulnerabilities in bash? Shellshock becomes whack-a-mole

hey, bono… i’ve found what you’re looking for…

AUTOMATIC SONGS-OF-INNOCENCE REMOVAL TOOL — Apple finally sees the point of millions of disgruntled people like me. hopefully they’ll learn something from it, although i’m not going to hold my breath… 😐

also, Apple puts up support page to get U2 album out of your iTunes — Too many people don’t want U2 anywhere near their libraries

The U in U2 stands for “Unwanted”!!

😡

the U stands for "Unwanted"

Not pro Bono: Apple’s audio junk mail made spammers’ lives easier

Apple: take this fucking U2 album off my iPhone, NOW. I do not want it, I did not ask for it, it takes up space, it’s my device. Go to hell.

Just say BO-NO: Mark Hosler of Negativland on Apple’s ‘U2rusion’

Got iTunes? You got a U2 album. Here’s how to delete it.

unfortunately, it’s not how to delete it. because of the fact that it’s “in the cloud”, it doesn’t necessarily take up space on my device, but i can’t immediately delete it using any of the methods recommended — using iTunes on my computer doesn’t even show that i have a U2 album, so re-synching my device doesn’t do anything, and there’s nothing to un-check, and you can only delete something once you have downloaded it from the cloud…

i don’t use twitter, but i am outraged, and i reflect that guy’s twitter: Apple: take this fucking U2 album off my iPhone, NOW. I do not want it, I did not ask for it, it takes up space, it’s my device. Go to hell. 😡

DON’T SAY THE PLEDGE!

in honour of the eleventh of september…

DON’T SAY THE PLEDGE! — "Under God" compromises the patriotic message of the Pledge

"Under God" wasn’t part of the original Pledge of Allegiance. Those two words were added to the Pledge in 1954, when the country was in the grip of McCarthyism and communist witch-hunt hysteria.

Before 1954, the Pledge affirmed that we were “one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Indivisible means we can rise above our differences, religious or otherwise. Liberty means the right to act and speak freely no matter what one’s faith or philosophy may be. And Justice, of course, means equal rights for all, regardless of whether or not we believe in a deity. The Knights of Columbus — a Catholic men’s group — led the lobbying effort to add “under God.” Now the Pledge is twisted, with divisive religious language that implies true patriots must be believers.

With “under God” added, the Pledge is not a statement of patriotism. Instead, extremist preachers and politicians point to the language to validate their view that those who don’t believe in God don’t belong.

Religious or not, don’t say this altered Pledge
Until the Pledge is restored to its inclusive version, we can take it upon ourselves to refuse to participate in what’s become a discriminatory exercise. (Note: A Supreme Court case — West Virginia vs. Barnette — gives public school students the absolute right to sit out the Pledge, for any reason. Public schools might not tell you about this right, but if anyone questions you about sitting out the Pledge, contact the AHA’s Legal Center.)

Whether you are religious or not, you can make a statement for true inclusiveness. Support liberty and justice for all, and support indivisibility. Stand up for America by sitting down during the Pledge of Allegiance until the inclusive version is restored.

STAND UP FOR AMERICA BY SITTING DOWN!