B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Our government in action, for good, and mostly for worse

A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten

without comments

Marshall Islands On My Globe

The United States military and civilian government both really screwed over the Marshall Islands. Horrifying.

THERE is no consistent air service to the coral atoll of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands, where the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958. On my first trip to the capital, Majuro, in 2010, to study the danger posed there by the rising ocean, I managed to get on a special flight taking dignitaries to Enewetak for the dedication of a school. From there, I boarded a small boat to visit a nuclear waste dump that the world had all but forgotten.

The Marshall Islands are only about six feet above sea level. Its survival and that of other island nations are on the minds of negotiators gathering this week in Lima, Peru, for a United Nations climate change conference.

This place stands out for its misfortunes: ravaged first by radioactivity from tests conducted after World War II and, now, by the rising seas that threaten to swallow it.

(click here to continue reading A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten – NYTimes.com.)

All Your Dreams Won't Protect You
All Your Dreams Won’t Protect You

Detonated an insane amount of nuclear weaponry, then split the scene like a bad morning-after date…

Bikini was so radioactive that there was little hope of allowing its displaced population ever to return home. But the military studied how to clean up Enewetak so that at least some land could become habitable again. The Defense Department concluded that there was so much soil contaminated with cesium-137 and strontium-90 that the safest approach was to leave it alone and let it decay naturally. Both have half-lives of about 30 years.

But also left behind by the blasts was plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. With enough plutonium-239 in the right form, a bomb could be made. That is why the United States participated in a $150 million operation, completed in 2012, to secure and clean up the plutonium at a Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.

At Enewetak, the United States decided in the late 1970s to dump as much plutonium-contaminated soil as it could gather into a 33-foot-deep crater on Runit that had been carved out in 1958 by a bomb roughly the size of the one detonated over Hiroshima.

In addition to the contaminated soil, crews filled 437 plastic bags with plutonium chunks they had picked up from the ground, left behind when one bomb misfired. These also went into the crater, which was then covered with an 18-inch-thick concrete cap. Most of the rest of the radioactive waste, with too little plutonium to trouble with, was bulldozed into the lagoon, over the objections of the Environmental Protection Agency and the displaced people of Enewetak. American officials also chose to leave radiation on the land at levels far higher than would be allowed after a similar cleanup in the United States.

Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands

and with typical American nonchalance for the future, the US didn’t really plan for what would happen to the nuclear waste beyond a few years:

Longevity was not among the design criteria for the Runit dome (unlike Yucca Mountain in Nevada, where, until recently, the federal government planned to deposit its spent nuclear fuel deep underground in facilities designed to be safe for at least one million years). In fact the dome does not meet American standards for landfills for household trash.

A task force of the federal government’s National Research Council warned in 1982 that the dome might be breached by a severe typhoon. But a 2013 report sponsored by the Department of Energy saw no reason to worry. “Catastrophic failure of the concrete dome,” it said, “and instantaneous release of all its contents into the lagoon will not necessarily lead to any significant change in the radiation dose delivered to the local resident population.”

The reason, according to the report, was that the radiation inside the dome was “dwarfed” by the radiation in the sediments in the lagoon. Thus a leak from the dome would be no added threat because it is dirtier on the outside than the inside. Plutonium isotopes recently discovered in the South China Sea have been traced to the Marshall Islands, some 2,800 miles away.

An inspection last year found that the dome was deteriorating, and the radioactive groundwater below rises and falls with the tides. Storms wash sand onto the dome; vines grow in the cracks.

Oh, joy…

Wasted Youth - Guam 1998
Wasted Youth Wanna Make Fight – Guam 1998

You should click through and read the rest of Michael B. Gerrard’s article, you’ll be amazed and terrified. And as the Pacific Ocean rises, all of this nuclear waste is going to sent right into all of our food supplies. Guam may be a thousand miles away or so, but that’s too close for my comfort. We all still live on the same planet…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 7th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Republican Attorneys General

without comments

The Dark Doesn't Hide It
The Dark Doesn’t Hide It.

Here are real world consequences of removing all vestiges of restraint of corporate purchase of elected officials, only partially hidden corruption. We are getting the best politicians money can buy, in other words, with the obvious point being it isn’t our money, but corporate dollars that have all the buying power.

The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

The email exchange from October 2011, obtained through an open-records request, offers a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year.

(click here to continue reading Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General – NYTimes.com.)

Cheap for corporations, $16,000,000 isn’t very much when gutting environmental law is the end result. Remember your high school history books and how indignant the outrage was when discussing the Teapot Dome Scandal? Well, this is a gazillion or two times worse…

Unconventional Solutions
Unconventional Solutions…

Here’s a brief refresher of the Teapot Dome Scandal via Wikipedia:

In the early 20th century, the U.S. Navy largely converted from coal to oil fuel. To ensure the Navy would always have enough fuel available, several oil-producing areas were designated as Naval Oil Reserves by President Taft. In 1921, President Harding issued an executive order that transferred control of Teapot Dome Oil Field in Natrona County, Wyoming, and the Elk Hills and Buena Vista Oil Fields in Kern County, California from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. This was not implemented until 1922, when Interior Secretary Fall persuaded Navy Secretary Edwin C. Denby to transfer control.

Later in 1922, Albert Fall leased the oil production rights at Teapot Dome to Harry F. Sinclair of Mammoth Oil, a subsidiary of Sinclair Oil Corporation. He also leased the Elk Hills reserve to Edward L. Doheny of Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company. Both leases were issued without competitive bidding. This manner of leasing was legal under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.

The lease terms were very favorable to the oil companies, which secretly made Fall a rich man. Fall had received a no-interest loan from Doheny of $100,000 (about $1.32 million today) in November 1921. He received other gifts from Doheny and Sinclair totaling about $404,000 (about $5.34 million today). It was this money changing hands that was illegal, not the leases. Fall attempted to keep his actions secret, but the sudden improvement in his standard of living prompted speculation.

(click here to continue reading Teapot Dome scandal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Discarded Cautions
Discarded Cautions.

Sound familiar? Except in this case, the public isn’t outraged, or even well informed that elected officials are getting paid off in such a brazen manner. 

Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.

“When you use a public office, pretty shamelessly, to vouch for a private party with substantial financial interest without the disclosure of the true authorship, that is a dangerous practice,” said David B. Frohnmayer, a Republican who served a decade as attorney general in Oregon. “The puppeteer behind the stage is pulling strings, and you can’t see. I don’t like that. And when it is exposed, it makes you feel used.”

For Mr. Pruitt, the benefits have been clear. Lobbyists and company officials have been notably solicitous, helping him raise his profile as president for two years of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a post he used to help start what he and allies called the Rule of Law campaign, which was intended to push back against Washington.

(click here to continue reading Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 7th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Rosemont passes law to prevent release of Garth Brooks contract

without comments

Rich Play - Poor Pay - Chicago Tribune
Rich Play – Poor Pay – Chicago Tribune.

There aren’t many times when we align unequivocally with the Chicago Tribune, but this is one such time. What the hell is the Village of Rosemont doing?1 Corporate welfare at its most transparent, and then trying to cover up their tracks? They are spending taxpayer money, right? So why shouldn’t the taxpayers know the details?

Whatever Rosemont had to do, it doesn’t want the public to know about it.

The village recently passed an ordinance to keep secret the financial details related to Brooks’ record-breaking concert run — an unusual move that came after the Chicago Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to his September shows at Allstate Arena.

The ordinance gives the mayor and other officials the power to withhold documents if they believe the release would put village-owned entertainment venues at a competitive disadvantage. In addition to the arena, the town owns and operates the Rosemont Theatre and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

Village officials declined comment on the new law this week, citing the ongoing dispute with the Tribune over the Brooks documents.

The Tribune requested the records on Sept. 11, while Brooks was in the middle of his 11-concert run at Allstate Arena. Brooks, who had not toured in 16 years, sold 183,535 tickets for his Rosemont shows and broke the North American ticket sales record for a single city with an estimated gross of $12 million.

None of those entities, however, rely upon concert and convention revenues as much as Rosemont, which owes more than $400 million on taxpayer-backed loans taken out primarily to build an entertainment district. In 2013, the arena, theater and convention center together generated nearly $38 million in operating revenue and attracted more than 1.9 million visitors, according to village officials.

(click here to continue reading Rosemont passes law to prevent release of Garth Brooks contract – Chicago Tribune.)

To be clear, we are befuddled why such a profitable touring artist would need financial incentives from the public: the government isn’t getting a percentage of the gate. In fact, just the opposite – Rosemont gave a share of concessions, parking, and the like to the promoter. Wacky, just wacky. Smells like corruption to me.

Footnotes:
  1. a suburb of Chicago, five minutes from O’Hare Airport []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 5th, 2014 at 11:04 am

Illinois State Law Requires Drivers to Stop Whenever a Pedestrian Has Entered a Crosswalk

without comments

Urbanized Melodrama
Urbanized Melodrama

Have you noticed those newish stop signs at crosswalks? Cars apparently keep running them over…

The stop signs have been installed citywide at 220 locations since mid-2012 to increase compliance with a 2010 state law requiring drivers to stop whenever a pedestrian has entered a crosswalk.

The law amended a previously existing law, which safety officials considered vague, requiring drivers only to yield to pedestrians. It also applies to all intersections across Illinois, sign or no sign.

More than 3,000 accidents and an average of 30 pedestrian deaths a year in the city are caused by vehicles hitting people, according to the Chicago Police Department. This year’s death toll is 29, authorities said Friday.

Chicago police officers issued 1,933 tickets to drivers who violated the must-stop law during 86 enforcement stings this year at intersections where pedestrian crashes have occurred or where the public has complained about drivers failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, police said Friday.

In the enforcement operations, a plainclothes officer attempts to cross at a crosswalk. Drivers who fail to stop are pursued by squad cars and issued $120 tickets.

(click here to continue reading Most stop-for-pedestrian signs hit by cars, city data shows – Chicago Tribune.)

State Law - Stop For Pedestrians Within Crosswalk

To be honest, I missed the fact that this law has changed. And when I’m a pedestrian, I think most Chicago drivers missed that the law changed too…

Seriously, if the police start really enforcing this law, they could easily do nothing but write tickets all day and all night. Many cars speed up if you step foot in a crosswalk, few slow down, fewer stop. I walk the city streets a lot, in many different neighborhoods, in my quest to photograph everything interesting at least once, and I can count the times a car stopped for me in a crosswalk on my left hand. Not many times, in other words.

Wanderer And Shadow
Wanderer And Shadow

Written by Seth Anderson

November 24th, 2014 at 10:32 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , , ,

House Passes Bill That Makes It Harder For Scientists To Advise The EPA

without comments

 Fragile Handle With Care

Fragile Planet, Handle With Care.

How simply ridiculous. Was this an ALEC bill? A Koch Industry bill? Which industrial baron insisted upon this travesty?

the House on Tuesday quietly passed a bill that environmentalists say would hamper the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to use the best scientific information when crafting regulations to protect public health and the environment.

The House voted 229-191 to pass H.R. 1422, which would change the rules for appointing members to the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group that gives scientific advice to the EPA Administrator.

Also called the Science Advisory Board Reform Act, the bill would make it easier for scientists with financial ties to corporations to serve on the SAB, prohibit independent scientists from talking about their own research on the board, and make it more difficult for scientists who have applied for grants from the EPA to join the board. The purpose of the bill, according to Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), is to increase transparency and accountability to the EPA’s scientific advisors. Burgess said on the floor Tuesday that the board “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” With this bill, Burgess said the inclusion of industry interests would erase “any appearance of impropriety on the board.”

But scientists, environmental groups, and health experts have said that the bill compromises the scientific independence of the SAB, and makes it harder for the Board to do its job, thereby increasing the amount of time it takes to implement EPA regulations.

“The supposed intent [of the bill] is to improve the process of selecting advisors, but in reality, the bill would allow the board to be stacked with industry representatives, while making it more difficult for academics to serve,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) on the House floor on Tuesday. “It benefits no one but the industry, and it harms public health.”

(click here to continue reading House Passes Bill That Makes It Harder For Scientists To Advise The EPA | ThinkProgress.)

Meagre Results for Lost Souls
Meagre Results for Lost Souls

not to mention there is also HR 4012, the so-called “Secret Science” Reform Act, which is another effort to destroy the EPA, or at least delay it from doing its job:

Under HR 4012, some of the best real-world public health research, which relies on patient data like hospital admissions, would be excluded from consideration because personal data could not, and should not, be made public. Demanding public release of full raw data the agency cannot legally disclose is simply a way to accuse the agency of hiding something when it has nothing to hide. What matters is not raw data but the studies based on these data, which have gone through the scientific process, including rigorous peer review, safeguards to protect the privacy of study participants, and careful review to make sure there’s no manipulation for political or financial gain.

As many politicians have taken pains to point out, they are not scientists, so they should listen to scientific advice instead of making spurious demands for unanalyzed data.

HR 1422, the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, sponsored by vocal EPA adversary Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, would similarly erect pointless roadblocks for the agency. The Science Advisory Board, composed of some of our nation’s best independent scientists, exists not to advocate any particular policy, but to evaluate whether the best science was used in agency decisions. This bill would make it easier for experts with ties to corporations affected by new rules to serve on the SAB while excluding independent scientists from talking about their own research.

In other words, academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.

(click here to continue reading Congress Must Block These Attacks on Independent Science | Commentary : Roll Call Opinion.)

So Easily Misunderstood
So Easily Misunderstood

Rep.Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) writes:

Over the past few years, the Republican party has engaged in an unrelenting partisan attack on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They have harassed the administrator, attempted to delay every new regulation, questioned the integrity of academic and EPA scientists, and sided with industrial polluters over the American people. Later this week, the Republican Majority in the House will continue this assault by considering H.R. 4012 and H.R. 1422.

H.R. 4012, the Secret Science Act of 2014, is an insidious attack on the EPA’s ability to use the best science to protect the health of Americans and the environment. Republicans will claim that H.R. 4012 increases EPA’s transparency, but in reality it is an attempt to prevent EPA from using the best science to protect public health and the environment. This bill would prohibit EPA from relying on scientific studies that involve personal health information or other data that is legally protected from public disclosure.

Any effort to limit the scope of science that can be considered by EPA does not strengthen scientific integrity, but instead undermines it. It would also increase the likelihood of litigation because EPA’s actions would be based on inadequate and incomplete science, leaving any regulation open to legal challenges which would delay the implementation of important public health protections. The true intent of H.R. 4012 is to delay EPA action because that is what industrial polluters want. H.R. 4012 is not only bad for public health, but it is also bad for the taxpayer. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the bill as reported would cost American taxpayers as much as $1 billion dollars over four years.

(click here to continue reading Another attack on the EPA and public health | TheHill.)

I Know Deep Down You Are Not To Blame
I Know Deep Down You Are Not To Blame

So happy that 18% of the electorate is able to set pollution policy for the entire nation. I mean, who would want clean air or water? Or lakes and streams one could actually fish in? No, much better to destroy our planet and wait for The Rapture…1

Footnotes:
  1. I’m being sarcastic, in case this is not obvious. You cannot see my smirk after all []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 20th, 2014 at 10:37 am

Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff

without comments

Apple Store in Soho
Apple Store in Soho.

Apparently this ridiculousness is still going on, we blogged about it last month, and previously

The No. 2 official at the Justice Department delivered a blunt message last month to Apple Inc. executives: New encryption technology that renders locked iPhones impervious to law enforcement would lead to tragedy. A child would die, he said, because police wouldn’t be able to scour a suspect’s phone, according to people who attended the meeting.

 …

Apple executives thought the dead-child scenario was inflammatory. They told the government officials law enforcement could obtain the same kind of information elsewhere, including from operators of telecommunications networks and from backup computers and other phones, according to the people who attended.

Technology companies are pushing back more against government requests for cooperation and beefing up their use of encryption. On Tuesday, WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc., said it is now encrypting texts sent from one Android phone to another, and it won’t be able to decrypt the contents for law enforcement.

AT&T Inc. on Monday challenged the legal framework investigators have long used to collect call logs and location information about suspects.

In a filing to a federal appeals court in Atlanta, AT&T said it receives an “enormous volume” of government requests for information about customers, and argued Supreme Court decisions from the 1970s “apply poorly” to modern communications. The company urged the courts to provide new, clear rules on what data the government can take without a probable cause warrant.

(click here to continue reading Apple and Others Encrypt Phones, Fueling Government Standoff – WSJ.)

Law enforcement officials are clever, they can find ways to get data in other ways, like this, for instance…

PRISM
PRISM

And good for Tim Cook – he suggests that Apple Inc. should not be in the business of enabling the police in their quest to snoop on our phones without first getting warrants. You know, like if we were living in a constitutional Democracy with a Bill of Rights again?

In June 2013, Mr. Snowden provided reporters with documents describing a government program called Prism, which gathered huge amounts of data from tech companies. At first, tech-company executives said they hadn’t previously heard of Prism and denied participating. In fact, Prism was an NSA code word for data collection authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Tech companies routinely complied with such requests.

 More than a year later, tech executives say consumers still mistrust them, and they need to take steps to demonstrate their independence from the government.

Customer trust is a big issue at Apple. The company generates 62% of its revenue outside the U.S., where it says encryption is even more important to customers concerned about snooping by their governments.

These days, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook stresses the company’s distance from the government.

“Look, if law enforcement wants something, they should go to the user and get it,” he said at The Wall Street Journal’s global technology conference in October. “It’s not for me to do that.”

In early September, Apple said the encryption on its latest iPhone software would prevent anyone other than the user from accessing user data stored on the phone when it is locked. Until then, Apple had helped police agencies—with a warrant—pull data off a phone. The process wasn’t quick. Investigators had to send the device to Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, and backlogs occurred.

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 19th, 2014 at 11:10 am

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Calls Keystone XL Vote An Act Of War

without comments

Skies of Much Oblige
Skies of Much Oblige

You’d think the Koch Industries lackeys in Congress would understand declarations of war, but maybe not since this is more of a “talking” war instead of a “bombing brown-skinned people” kind of war.

As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote this week on a bill to force approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which the House of Representatives already passed on Friday, American Indian groups who would be directly impacted by the tar sands project are converging on Washington D.C. to voice their opposition.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, whose territory in South Dakota lies along the proposed route of the pipeline, released a statement last week calling Congressional approval of the project an “act of war against our people.”

In a call with reporters on Monday, President Cyril Scott of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe vowed to fight back should the pipeline win government approval.
“Did I declare war on the Keystone XL pipeline? Hell yeah, I did,” said Scott. “I pledge my life to stop these people from harming our children and grandchildren and way of life. They will not cross our treaty lands. We have so much to lose here.”

Scott arrives in D.C. on Tuesday and plans to “rattle the doors” on Capitol Hill ahead of the evening vote. He said he hopes to draw special attention to the fact that the pipeline would cross one of North America’s largest fresh water sources, an aquifer that provides water for a full quarter of the nation’s farmland.

“I’m going to talk to every senator and anybody who will talk to me,” he said. “I will tell them, ‘It’s not a matter of if the pipeline will contaminate the Ogallala Aquifer, but when. And if you contaminate the aquifer, we can’t drink, we can’t grow crops. Where are we going to get our water, from Congress?’”

Besides the environmental threat of the pipeline, which Scott called an “atrocity against all humans,” the Rosebud Sioux say the U.S. government has not met its treaty obligations to ask the tribe for approval of projects that cross their territory. “The U.S. government does not consult us,” he said, noting that concerns brought to the Department of Interior and to the Department of State have been so far ignored. “We have a sovereign nation. We have our own constitution and laws here. But they violated my people’s treaty rights once again.”

(click here to continue reading American Indian Tribe Calls Keystone XL Vote An ‘Act Of War’ | ThinkProgress.)

Moving in Circles - Velvia 100F
Moving in Circles – Velvia 100F

and from the Summit County Voice:

Of course the U.S. government has hardly ever taken Native American concerns seriously, so it would be a surprise if that happened now, but Rosebud Sioux (Sicangu Lakota Oyate) Tribal President Scott said his nation has yet to be properly consulted on the project, which would cross through tribal land. Concerns brought to the Department of Interior and to the Department of State have yet to be addressed, he said in a statement.

“The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren,” Scott said. “We are outraged at the lack of intergovernmental cooperation. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people,” he said.

In February of this year, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and other members of the Great Sioux Nation adopted tribal resolutions opposing the Keystone XL project.

“The Lakota people have always been stewards of this land,” Scott said. “We feel it is imperative that we provide safe and responsible alternative energy resources not only to tribal members but to non-tribal members as well. We need to stop focusing and investing in risky fossil fuel projects like TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. We need to start remembering that the earth is our mother and  stop polluting her and start taking steps to preserve the land, water, and our grandchildren’s future.”

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, along with several other South Dakota Tribes, are unified in opposition to risky and dangerous fossil fuel projects like TransCanada’s Keystone XL. The proposed route of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline crosses directly through Great Sioux Nation (Oceti Sakowin) Treaty lands as defined by both the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties and within the current exterior boundaries of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

(click here to continue reading Environment: South Dakota Native Americans describe House vote on Keystone XL pipeline as an ‘act of war’ | Summit County Citizens Voice.)

Dreams of the Lattice Work
Dreams of the Lattice Work

From Wikipedia’s entry on the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie:

The Treaty of Fort Laramie (also called the Sioux Treaty of 1868) was an agreement between the United States and the Oglala, Miniconjou, and Brulé bands of Lakota people, Yanktonai Dakota, and Arapaho Nation[1] signed on April 29, 1868 at Fort Laramie in the Wyoming Territory, guaranteeing to the Lakota ownership of the Black Hills, and further land and hunting rights in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. The Powder River Country was to be henceforth closed to all whites. The treaty ended Red Cloud’s War.

In the treaty, the U.S. included all Ponca lands in the Great Sioux Reservation. Conflict between the Ponca and the Sioux/Lakota, who now claimed the land as their own by U.S. law, forced the U.S. to remove the Ponca from their own ancestral lands in Nebraska to poor land in Oklahoma.

The treaty includes an article intended to “ensure the civilization” of the Lakota, financial incentives for them to farm land and become competitive, and stipulations that minors should be provided with an “English education” at a “mission building.” To this end the U.S. government included in the treaty that white teachers, blacksmiths, a farmer, a miller, a carpenter, an engineer and a government agent should take up residence within the reservation.

Repeated violations of the otherwise exclusive rights to the land by gold prospectors led to the Black Hills War. Migrant workers seeking gold had crossed the reservation borders, in violation of the treaty. Indians had assaulted these gold prospectors, in violation of the treaty, and war ensued.

(click here to continue reading Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

 

Sioux Reservation map

Sioux Reservation map

–updated with a comment by Meteor Blades of Daily Kos

The splitting up of the Great Sioux Nation is a violation of the 1851 and 1868 treaties, something the Lakota have been battling since before Custer got his comeuppance. The pipeline crosses lots of the territory covered in those treaties:

Inside the blue line is the original 1868 Treaty land for the Sioux (the 1851 Treaty allocated somewhat more).

The Black Hills were taken in 1877, the same year Crazy Horse surrendered and was soon killed in captivity. 1889 and 1910 losses were due to allotments. You can see what happened: All those dark dots in the southern part of South Dakota are allotments still owned by individual Sioux. All the light spaces are land ceded as “surplus” after allotment, bought by the federal government from the tribes or sold off by individual Indians to non-Indians after the expiration of the period during which the land could not be sold.

It was just another of the land rip-offs. The General Allotment Act reduced Indian land from 138 million acres in 1887 to 48 million acres by 1934 when allotment ended.

Don’t tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

by Meteor Blades

(click here to continue reading Congress Commits an Act of War Against the Great Sioux Nation.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Congress Extends Itself Tax Extender Style

without comments

Relentless
Relentless

Gail Collins provides a good elevator pitch description of a tax policy tool called tax extenders…

One of the very, very few things the current Congress seems determined to deal with before it vanishes into the night is the problem of “tax extenders.” Extenders are strange but much-loved little financial mutants. Sort of like hobbits or three-legged kittens.

Congress, in its wisdom, has created a raft of temporary tax breaks for everybody from teachers to banks that make money overseas. Most are really intended to be permanent. But calling them short-term measures tricks the Congressional Budget Office into underestimating how much they cost.
“If you pass a new tax cut, you’ve got to find offsetting spending cuts. But these are in a sense free,” said Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center.

After the election, both parties appeared inclined to just extend all the tax cuts for two years while making principled mumbling about reform down the line.

But then the Koch brothers roared into the picture. They feel that it’s wrong for the government to give a special benefit to an industry that’s one of their competitors. Especially a government that they and their associates devoted nearly $60 million to getting into office. Politico reported that their representatives have been meeting with Speaker Boehner’s staff.

And you know, they have a point. If Congress actually wanted to do serious reform, it should get rid of special tax breaks for the wind and solar energy sectors. While, of course, also removing all the tax breaks for drilling oil.

(click here to continue reading Congress Extends Itself – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 17th, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Americans Cellphones Targeted in Another Secret U.S. Spy Program

without comments

Conversation In Front of 110 N. Wacker Drive
Possible Criminal Conversation In Front of 110 N. Wacker Drive

Devlin Barrett of the WSJ reports that the U.S. Justice Department is collecting data on phones through a novel approach: fake cellphone towers on airplanes that fly around the country. Warrants not necessary, of course, because when you clicked through the EULA terms on your new smartphone, you agreed that you gave up all rights to privacy. Well, probably, because who actually reads those things?

The Justice Department is scooping up data from thousands of mobile phones through devices deployed on airplanes that mimic cellphone towers, a high-tech hunt for criminal suspects that is snagging a large number of innocent Americans, according to people familiar with the operations.

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirt boxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them1—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.

The technology in the two-foot-square device enables investigators to scoop data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location, these people said.

(click here to continue reading Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program – WSJ – WSJ.)

Eye see u Willis
Eye see u Willis

Sounds great. Warrants are so old fashioned, so 20th Century. 

Or as Digby adds:

But never fear, they’ve assured us that they are only using it to catch bad guys.They have no interest in anything you might be doing.  Well, unless you’re doing something wrong.  If you are an upstanding citizen there’s little reason to worry that the police might be re-routing your phone calls without your knowledge right? Why should you care?

In fact, we really need to re-think that whole 4th Amendment thing altogether. When you think about it, you shouldn’t object to the police ransacking your house and your car without any probable cause either. They could be looking for someone they know is in your neighborhood. If you have nothing to hide in your home why would you object? Sure, they might find something they think is suspicious in your house when they go on their fishing expedition but maybe you shouldn’t have suspicious things in your house if you don’t want the cops finding it, eh?

This is what we call liberty.

(click here to continue reading Hullabaloo- Secrets and more secrets .)

Do All Photographers Need a Warrant?
Do All Photographers Need a Warrant?

Mariella Moon of Engadget writes

These dirtboxes are also sophisticated enough to mimic a particular provider. If a drug dealer under surveillance uses Verizon, for instance, then the machine pretends to be a Verizon cell tower and connects only to all the carrier’s subscribers in the area. Once a target’s phone is identified (at which point, connections to other people’s phones are dropped), the box can pinpoint his location within 3 meters and down to a specific room. The WSJ’s sources wouldn’t reveal how often planes loaded with these boxes are deployed (they have a flying range that covers the whole country’s population, by the way), but they said the Cessnas fly out regularly to target a handful of criminals per flight.

Obviously, the more densely populated the target area is, the more data the boxes collect, but it’s unclear what steps are in place to safeguard innocent people’s information. It’s also unclear at this point if they’ve ever used the newer dirtboxes’ capabilities, which include jamming phones and extracting messages, photos and other data remotely. If you’re thinking, “Hmmm fake cell towers? Those sound ominously familiar,” it’s because this isn’t the first time authorities used them. In fact, this dirtbox project sounds like a larger, airborne version of a previous one, wherein feds placed fake towers called “stingrays” in moving cars.

(click here to continue reading Flying fake cell towers target fugitives, but can ID your phone too.)

City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle
City of Chicago Emergency Management Surveillance Vehicle

Footnotes:
  1. Boeing subsidiary Digital Recovery Technology Inc. or DRT []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 15th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

F.B.I. Director James Comey Continues His Obfuscation Tour Re Encrypted Phones

without comments

Old US Post Office building Toned
Old US Post Office building – used in Dark Knight

FBI Director James Comey continues his public obfuscation tour, blaming the upcoming Joker and Riddler crime spree in Gotham on the fairly new ability of consumers to encrypt data on their own phones against unwilling intrusions by governments and other entities.

The director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, said on Thursday that the “post-Snowden pendulum” that has driven Apple and Google to offer fully encrypted cellphones had “gone too far.” He hinted that as a result, the administration might seek regulations and laws forcing companies to create a way for the government to unlock the photos, emails and contacts stored on the phones.

But Mr. Comey appeared to have few answers for critics who have argued that any portal created for the F.B.I. and the police could be exploited by the National Security Agency, or even Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies or criminals. And his position seemed to put him at odds with a White House advisory committee that recommended against any effort to weaken commercial encryption.

Apple and Google have announced new software that would automatically encrypt the contents of cellphones, using codes that even the companies could not crack. Their announcement followed a year of disclosures from Edward J. Snowden, the former government contractor who revealed many government programs that collect electronic data, including information on Americans.

The new encryption would hinder investigations involving phones taken from suspects, recovered at crime scenes or discovered on battlefields. But it would not affect information obtained by real-time wiretaps, such as phone conversations, emails or text messages. And the government could still get information that is stored elsewhere, including emails, call logs and, in some cases, old text messages.

(click here to continue reading James Comey, F.B.I. Director, Hints at Action as Cellphone Data Is Locked – NYTimes.com.)

Warrant - Not Found

You know what isn’t mentioned in this long article? Warrants. I wonder why that is? Could it be that most criminal masterminds do not store their plans to rob Gotham National Bank solely upon their encrypted cellphones, leaving law enforcement completely in the dark? Possibly The Joker leaves other traces of his plan elsewhere? Or discusses his machinations with co-conspirators? According to Mr. Comey, without the government retaining the ability to tap into each and every one of our cellphones at any time, The Joker will win. He’ll win! He’ll win, Batman!

or as Marcy Wheeler rightfully notes, this seems to really be about warrantless searching, especially at the US border:

Encrypting iPhones might have the biggest impact on law enforcement searches that don’t involve warrants, contrary to law enforcement claims this is about warranted searches. As early as 2010, Customs and Border Patrol was searching around 4,600 devices a year and seizing up to 300 using what is called a “border exception.” That is when CBP takes and searches devices from people it is questioning at the border. Just searching such devices does not even require probable cause (though seizing them requires some rationale). These searches increasingly involve smart phones like the iPhone.

These numbers suggest border searches of iPhones may be as common as warranted searches of the devices. Apple provided account content to U.S. law enforcement 155 times last year. It responded to 3,431 device requests, but the “vast majority” of those device requests involved customers seeking help with a lost or stolen phone, not law enforcement trying to get contents off a cell phone (Consumer Reports estimates that 3.1 million Americans will have their smart phones stolen this year). Given that Apple has by far the largest share of the smart phone market in the U.S., a significant number of border device searches involving a smart phone will be an iPhone. Apple’s default encryption will make it far harder for the government to do such searches without obtaining a warrant, which they often don’t have evidence to get.

If law enforcement wants to retain this access, they should be honest about what they might lose and why every iPhone user should be asked to carry a phone that is susceptible to criminal targeting as a result. Trading default encryption for a limited law enforcement purpose is just that — a trade-off — and officials should be prepared to discuss it as such. And, as forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski explains, there’s a mountain of other data still available to help law enforcement solve crimes. “There is such a mount of peripheral evidence out there that only a small handful of cases are even likely to have the iPhone be the sole smoking gun to begin with,” he explained. “Cops have iCloud data, iCloud backups, call records, voicemail records, text messages from the carrier (if obtained within a certain retention period), gmail, email, web logs, trap and trace, proxy logs, not to mention copies of data from other people involved or from the victims themselves, desktop backups (if available), sometimes even a desktop (as many criminals don’t use encryption at all). Add to that they’re eavesdropping on the whole damn Internet.”

(click here to continue reading America’s huge iPhone lie: Why Apple is being accused of coddling child molesters – Salon.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

October 17th, 2014 at 8:29 am

Posted in Apple,government

Tagged with , , , ,

Bad U.S. roads force just in time manufacturers to plan for just in case

without comments

And Have You Traveled Very Far Today?
And Have You Traveled Very Far Today?

Here is another reason why Republican-friendly, Republican-leaning, and straight-out Republican corporations are not served by the current Tea Party ascendency. Government does have a purpose, does need a tax base, or else common good tasks like maintaining roads and other infrastructure cannot be performed. If corporations such as the ones mentioned in the James Kelleher, Reuters article quoted below were smart, they’d put their political capital to work throwing out the Tea Party wing of the GOP.

Companies like Whirlpool and Caterpillar are making costly additions to their otherwise sinewy supply chains to compensate for aging U.S. roads that are too potholed and congested for “just in time” delivery.

Some opt to keep more trucks and inventory on the road. Others are leasing huge “just in case” warehouses and guarded parking lots on the edges of big cities. All that activity raises costs, which are expected to increase even more if roads are allowed to deteriorate further and an improving economy boosts traffic.

Whirlpool, for instance, has set up a network of secure drop lots outside Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. A washing machine that used to go from regional distribution center to local distribution center to customer in one day now sits overnight in a parking lot.

It “adds an extra day of lead time, which means extra inventory,” said Whirlpool Corp logistics chief Michelle VanderMeer.

Then there are the parking lots and the guards. “That’s real physical infrastructure and security that we have to pay for,” she said. “We’d rather be investing our money elsewhere,” she added, declining to estimate Whirlpool’s expenses.

Overall, U.S. companies face billions of dollars in costs due to the limitations of the creaking, overcrowded transportation network, which earned a D+ grade in the most recent report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute estimates that road congestion alone costs shippers $27 billion a year – and that is only the value of wasted driver time and extra fuel.

Outside Chicago, Panasonic Corp, Ingram Micro and Owens & Minor have all leased spaces in recent years to help take congestion-related variability out of their supply chains

(click here to continue reading Bad U.S. roads force just in time manufacturers to plan for ‘just in case’ | Reuters.)

East To Dan Ryan Expy
East To Dan Ryan Expy

for instance, do you think the mouth-breathers in Congress are going to raise the gas tax anytime soon? What kind of odds would you give? A million to one? or a billion to one?

Manufacturers are lobbying Congress to approve new repair funds next year, with low expectations. The Highway Trust Fund, which finances road and bridge repairs, narrowly avoided insolvency this summer when lawmakers approved funding through May.

The current gas tax which funds repairs raises $40 billion annually and has not been raised in two decades. There is little appetite in Washington, D.C to raise the gas tax to bring in the $170 billion the Federal Highway Administration estimates is needed annually to improve roads.

So if you do the math, every year, we have a $120,000,000,000 budget shortfall for roads and bridges. Every year! Even if you discount the $170 Billion number by a bit, because everyone wants a bigger budget, there still is a huge gap between actual money and required money. How long can this go on before the problem gets so bad we turn the corner into a Mad Max type society? But hey, ISIS is an existential threat, so by all means, piss our tax money on the sands of the Middle East instead of on the roads of Iowa and Illinois…

Written by Seth Anderson

October 1st, 2014 at 8:03 am

Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Slows Down N.S.A.

with one comment

Cell phone-iphile
Cell phone-iphile

Remind me again why warrantless searching of personal information is a good thing again? Oh, right, TERROR, and that old shibboleth, kidnapping. Yeah, count me in the “Why not just get a warrant” camp…

The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities.

The phone encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone’s user — and that Apple says it will not possess.

The result, the company is essentially saying, is that if Apple is sent a court order demanding that the contents of an iPhone 6 be provided to intelligence agencies or law enforcement, it will turn over gibberish, along with a note saying that to decode the phone’s emails, contacts and photos, investigators will have to break the code or get the code from the phone’s owner.

Breaking the code, according to an Apple technical guide, could take “more than 5 1/2 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.” (Computer security experts question that figure, because Apple does not fully realize how quickly the N.S.A. supercomputers can crack codes.)

Already the new phone has led to an eruption from the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey.

(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)

If the NSA and related agencies hadn’t been so damn aggressive circumventing American law, perhaps Apple wouldn’t have had to taken this additional step.

Or as Vikas Bajaj writes:

Apple’s new privacy policy does nothing to prevent law enforcement from searching an iPhone or an iPad if they obtain a warrant from a court to do so. The company is merely saying that Apple will no longer be able to unlock those devices for investigators as it did previously. The police will still be free to hack into the devices, just as they are authorized to kick down the door to a house or use a blowtorch to open a safe that they have been given permission to search.

But that’s not good enough for Mr. Comey and others. They want Apple (and Google, which makes the Android mobile phone software) to do the hacking for them.

Furthermore, investigators can often get information stored on phones and tablets through other means. For example, they could get the calling history from wireless phone companies like AT&T; same with text messages. And companies like Google and Yahoo would have to turnover messages on their servers if presented with a search warrant. Lastly, law enforcement agencies could also access any photos and videos stored on the phone have been backed up to Apple’s iCloud servers from the company.

(click here to continue reading Using Scare Tactics to Fight Apple – NYTimes.com.)

Cops on Bikes
Cops on Bikes

Plus there is the issue of a dysfunctional Congress, too mired in partisan bickering to actually update the laws for a modern age. Mostly on the Republican side, but not exclusively.

The move raises a critical issue, the intelligence officials say: Who decides what kind of data the government can access? Until now, those decisions have largely been a matter for Congress, which passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act in 1994, requiring telecommunications companies to build into their systems an ability to carry out a wiretap order if presented with one. But despite intense debate about whether the law should be expanded to cover email and other content, it has not been updated, and it does not cover content contained in a smartphone.

At Apple and Google, company executives say the United States government brought these changes on itself. The revelations by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden not only killed recent efforts to expand the law, but also made nations around the world suspicious that every piece of American hardware and software — from phones to servers made by Cisco Systems — have “back doors” for American intelligence and law enforcement.

Surviving in the global marketplace — especially in places like China, Brazil and Germany — depends on convincing consumers that their data is secure.
Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has emphasized that Apple’s core business is to sell devices to people. That distinguishes Apple from companies that make a profit from collecting and selling users’ personal data to advertisers, he has said.

and a bit of rationality:

Mr. Zdziarski (Jonathan Zdziarski, a security researcher who has taught forensics courses to law enforcement agencies on collecting data from iPhones) said that concerns about Apple’s new encryption to hinder law enforcement seemed overblown. He said there were still plenty of ways for the police to get customer data for investigations. In the example of a kidnapping victim, the police can still request information on call records and geolocation information from phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

“Eliminating the iPhone as one source I don’t think is going to wreck a lot of cases,” he said. “There is such a mountain of other evidence from call logs, email logs, iCloud, Gmail logs. They’re tapping the whole Internet.”

(click here to continue reading Signaling Post-Snowden Era, New iPhone Locks Out N.S.A. – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 27th, 2014 at 8:02 am

Posted in Apple,government

Tagged with , , ,

The Ridiculous Required White House Response on Marijuana

without comments

Nancy Reagan - Just Say Yo
Nancy Reagan – Just Say Yo

When we talk about how dysfunctional American politics is, here is a prime example. Talk about ridiculous “make-work” jobs, sheesh, thanks President Clinton, and Reagan, and Nixon…

When the White House issued a statement last night saying that marijuana should remain illegal — responding to our pro-legalization editorial series — officials there weren’t just expressing an opinion. They were following the law. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is required by statute to oppose all efforts to legalize any banned drug.

It’s one of the most anti-scientific, know-nothing provisions in any federal law, but it remains an active imposition on every White House. The “drug czar,” as the director of the drug control policy office is informally known, must “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance” that’s listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and has no “approved” medical use.

Marijuana fits that description, as do heroin and LSD. But unlike those far more dangerous drugs, marijuana has medical benefits that are widely known and are now officially recognized in 35 states. The drug czar, though, isn’t allowed to recognize them, and whenever any member of Congress tries to change that, the White House office is required to stand up and block the effort. It cannot allow any federal study that might demonstrate the rapidly changing medical consensus on marijuana’s benefits and its relative lack of harm compared to alcohol and tobacco.

(click here to continue reading The Required White House Response on Marijuana – NYTimes.com.)

via the always interesting and informative DrugWarRant.com

Ballin'
Ballin’

and more history of cannabis prohibition from the NYT Editorial Board:

The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that is it almost impervious to reason.

The cannabis plant, also known as hemp, was widely grown in the United States for use in fabric during the mid-19th century. The practice of smoking it appeared in Texas border towns around 1900, brought by Mexican immigrants who cultivated cannabis as an intoxicant and for medicinal purposes as they had done at home.

Within 15 years or so, it was plentiful along the Texas border and was advertised openly at grocery markets and drugstores, some of which shipped small packets by mail to customers in other states.

The law enforcement view of marijuana was indelibly shaped by the fact that it was initially connected to brown people from Mexico and subsequently with black and poor communities in this country. Police in Texas border towns demonized the plant in racial terms as the drug of “immoral” populations who were promptly labeled “fiends.”

(click here to continue reading The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia – NYTimes.com.)

National Library of Medicine

Miarihuana – Weed With Roots In Hell! – An ad for the 1930s film “Marihuana.” Credit National Library of Medicine

Fascinating stuff, yet disheartening that decades of policy was built on xenophobia and intentional, malicious misinformation. You should click the link and read the rest of this overview.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 30th, 2014 at 9:13 am

Hospitals See Troubles In Red States That Snubbed Obamacare’s Medicaid Deal

without comments

St Mary Nazareth Hospital
St Mary Nazareth Hospital

Go figure…

While record numbers of Americans sign up for the larger Medicaid health insurance program for the poor, financial issues are emerging for medical care providers in the two dozen states that didn’t go along with the expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Reports out in the last week indicate the gap between those with health care coverage is widening between states that agreed to go along with the health law’s Medicaid expansion and those generally led by Republican legislatures and GOP governors that are balking at the expansion.

The moves against expansion are “beginning to hurt hospitals in states that opted out,” a report last week from Fitch Ratings said. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services has said Medicaid enrollment in the 26 states and the District of Columbia that agreed to go along with and implemented the expansion by the end of May “rose by 17 percent, while states that have not expanded reported only a 3 percent increase,” HHS said in an enrollment update for the Medicaid program.

“We expect providers in states that have chosen not to participate in expanded Medicaid eligibility to face increasing financial challenges in 2014 and beyond,” Fitch said in its July 16 report. “Nonprofit hospitals and healthcare systems in states that have expanded their Medicaid coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have begun to realize the benefit from increased insurance coverage.”

(click here to continue reading Hospitals See Troubles In Red States That Snubbed Obamacare’s Medicaid Deal – Forbes.)

Not Proclaiming Our Fall
Not Proclaiming Our Fall

What consistently boggles my mind is that the poor, uninsured people in Republican-leaning states still vote for Republicans. Self-hating folk presumedly. Or else the Tea-Bagger propaganda is so powerful, it has convinced them to vote against their own interests. 

A report last week from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute described the coverage difference as a “gulf in percentage of people without health insurance” that is growing larger between states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not.

As of June, the report said 60 percent of the nation’s uninsured residents live in states that did not expand Medicaid. That figure was up from 49.7 percent in September of last year.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2014 at 9:50 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with , , ,

Swedish Covenant wants to dispense medical pot

without comments

 Remember the Past In the Future Perfect Tense

Remember the Past In the Future Perfect Tense

Why shouldn’t medical establishments be able to participate in the great Green Gold Rush?

Medical marijuana will soon be legally distributed in Illinois, and officials at Swedish Covenant Hospital on Chicago’s North Side say their pharmacy deserves to be among the dispensaries.

They say marijuana could benefit patients with cancer and other serious maladies, and that hospital pharmacists already dispense drugs that that are much more potentially dangerous than cannabis.

One problem, though: Pot, medical or otherwise, remains illegal under federal law, and any hospital that fills marijuana prescriptions risks its Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

So for now, Swedish Covenant officials say they can only try to influence the conversation about the distribution of medical marijuana, pointing out what they see as the illogical exclusion of hospital personnel.

“As long as there’s no change to the federal law, we couldn’t jeopardize services by becoming a dispensary … but we’re not afraid of making the noise,” said Marcia Jimenez, hospital director of intergovernmental affairs.

Hospitals around the country have grappled with this conundrum as more states pass medical marijuana laws. Twenty-three states plus the District of Columbia permit medical use of the drug, but Chris Lindsey of the Marijuana Policy Project said he is unaware of any hospital pharmacy that dispenses marijuana.

He said Maryland officials at first required medical marijuana to be distributed through hospitals, but dropped the idea when none would do it.

Marijuana’s continuing illegality under federal law, Lindsey said, “places large organizations such as hospitals in a very risky position, which could lead to criminal charges for officers, doctors or investors, and possible asset forfeiture for hospital property. There is too much on the line for hospitals to go there.”

(click here to continue reading Swedish Covenant wants to dispense medical pot – chicagotribune.com.)

Needed Somewhere To Go
Needed Somewhere To Go

And the federal government really needs to update their policy to reflect the will of the American citizen. Cannabis remains a Schedule 1 drug, meaning the government considers it worse than cocaine, opioids,  methamphetamine, and other powerful inebriants. Nonsensical.

From Wikipedia, the definition of Schedule 1 drugs includes these:

The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

(click here to continue reading List of Schedule I drugs (US) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Yeah, cannabis doesn’t really fit this definition now, does it? High potential for abuse? Uhh, no, not really. No medical use in treatment? Uh, except in states which are collectively 75% of the US population. The third point is the biggest laugh of all: how many people have died from too much consumption of marijuana? Zero. Unless you die from a bale of marijuana falling on you, or you get in a knife fight with a drunk…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 28th, 2014 at 8:29 am