December 12th, 2010


Nice People Use Drugs Too

Nice People Take Drugs. That's the name of a campaign launched by Release, a nonprofit service and advocacy organization in the United Kingdom. The campaign aims to inspire a more honest discussion and approach to drug use in our society and also to highlight the stigma faced by people who use or have used illicit drugs.

I first heard about the campaign when I received a call from someone at Release who was coming to New York and other US cities to take photos of Americans holding up signs with the text "Nice People Take Drugs". These photos of ordinary people identifying as drug users were also snapped in other cities around the world.

The campaign also includes images of elected officials in the UK and the USA with quotes about their drug use. They feature a wide range of cultural, political, and business leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, President Obama, Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bloomberg, Sarah Palin, Richard Branson, and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

There is something simple and powerful about the Nice People Take Drugs campaign. Right off the bat, it challenges people to think about their image of drug users. There are a range of stereotypes when it comes to drug users: on one end of spectrum there is the lazy, stupid couch potatoes who sit around eating Cheetos. Then there is the image of the homeless addict panhandling on the street.

But if you think about it for a second, despite a 40 year "war on drugs" and elected officials calling for a "drug free society", our society is swimming in drugs. Coffee, soda, cigarettes, Prozac, weed, steroids, Ritalin, alcohol, are just a sample of the drugs that people take to get through the day. Yet only certain people and certain drugs are stigmatized, while others are normalized.

Throughout recorded history, people have inevitably altered their consciousness to fall asleep, wake up, deal with stress, and for creative and spiritual purposes.

Sure, drugs can be fun. How many of us enjoy having some drinks and going out dancing? How many of us enjoy a little smoke after a nice dinner with friends? Many people bond with others or find inspiration alone while under the influence of drugs. On the flip side, many people self-medicate to try to ease the pain in their lives. How many have us have had too much to drink to drown our sorrows over a breakup or some other painful event? How many of us smoke cigarettes or take prescription drugs to deal with anxiety, stress, or physical pain?

Why are some drugs legal and other drugs illegal today? It's not based on any scientific assessment of the relative risks of these drugs - it's based on who is associated with these drugs. The first anti-opium laws in the 1870s were directed at Chinese immigrants. The first anti-cocaine laws, in the South in the early 1900s, were directed at black men. The first anti-marijuana laws, in the Midwest and the Southwest during the 1910s and 20s, were directed at Mexican migrants and Mexican Americans. Today, Latino and black communities are still subject to wildly disproportionate drug enforcement and sentencing practices.

While it is clear that drug use doesn't discriminate and the majority of us are using one drug or another, the reality is that the war on drug users does discriminate. More than 1.6 million people were arrested last year on nonviolent drug charges, and the vast majority of these arrests were for low-level possession, not selling or trafficking. In New York City, "moderate" Mayor Bloomberg's police arrested close to 50,000 people for marijuana possession in 2009 - and 87% of those arrested were black and Latino, despite similar rates of marijuana use as whites. Nationally, African Americans are arrested 13 times the rates of whites even thought they use and sell drugs at similar rates. Most people use drugs, but mostly brown and black people go to jail for it.

The stigma and fear that people who use illicit drugs feel is real. If people admit or it is discovered that they use illegal drugs they can lose their job, their housing, and even their children. It is mind-blowing to think that someone who decides to smoke a joint on the weekend, something that can be much safer than drinking or other legal drugs, must fear for their freedom and their family.

Some brave individuals who use drugs, and some organizations, are starting to organize. In New York and San Francisco groups made up of people who use drugs are coming together to demand respect and a seat at the table when it comes to protecting their health and their lives. In New York a dynamic group named Voices of Community Activists and Leaders (VOCAL) was instrumental in passing a law that expands access to clean syringes in order to reduce HIV and Hep C, and promotes proper disposal of used syringes without fear of arrest from the police.

We have to learn how to live with drugs, because they aren't going anywhere. Drugs have been around for thousands of years and will be here for thousands more. We need to educate people about the possible harms of drug use, offer compassion and treatment to people who have problems, and leave in peace the people who are not causing harm. And we need to take action against the incarceration of so many of our brothers and sisters who are suffering behind bars because of the substance that they choose to use.

Nice People Take Drugs. That's why the war on drugs is a war on us.


There is some particularly insightful and articulate comments at the source if anyone is interested.
comedy | Neanderthals

ONTD_Political's PotD: December 11, 2010.

EXPECTING? | Chinese children get a feel what their mothers experienced during pregnancy, at a sex education class in Beijing on December 9, 2010. Chinese health and education experts are changing China's sex education strategy from focusing on teaching married couples birth control, as unmarried young also need to be targeted because parents are too reluctant to teach their children about sex, while more than 13 million abortions are undertaken at registered clinics every year.

STR/AFP/Getty Images
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Prisoners Strike in Georgia

In a protest apparently assembled largely through a network of banned cellphones, inmates across at least six prisons in Georgia have been on strike since Thursday, calling for better conditions and compensation, several inmates and an outside advocate said.

Inmates have refused to leave their cells or perform their jobs, in a demonstration that seems to transcend racial and gang factions that do not often cooperate.

“Their general rage found a home among them — common ground — and they set aside their differences to make an incredible statement,” said Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther leader who has taken up the inmates’ cause. She said that different factions’ leaders recruited members to participate, but the movement lacks a definitive torchbearer.

Ms. Brown said thousands of inmates were participating in the strike.

The Georgia Department of Corrections could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

“We’re not coming out until something is done. We’re not going to work until something is done,” said one inmate at Rogers State Prison in Reidsville. He refused to give his name because he was speaking on a banned cellphone.


The entire article can be read at the New York Times

A list of the prisoners' demands has been posted on the Georgia Green Party's website.

No prisons tag?
mus | like a bird in a cage

Update on the Star Wars bullying story

Katie Goldman's universe extends from her home to her first-grade classroom. She is a big sister to Annie Rose and Cleo, a piano player, a Spanish student, a wearer of glasses. She loathes the patch she has to wear for one lazy eye. She loves magic and princesses and "Star Wars," an obsession she picked up from her dad.

The 7-year-old carried a "Star Wars" water bottle to school in Evanston, Illinois, every day, at least until a few weeks ago, when Katie suddenly asked to take an old pink one instead. The request surprised Katie's mom, Carrie Goldman. It didn't make any sense. Why would her little sci-fi fan make such a quick turn?

Goldman kept pressing for an answer. She wasn't expecting Katie's tears.

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Boehner Still Looking Forward to Golf Date With Obama

WASHINGTON -- Golf-loving Rep. John Boehner , says playing 18 holes with someone is a good way to get to that person. That might be hint from the House speaker-in-waiting to fellow golfer President Barack Obama.

Boehner is about an eight-handicap golfer and when asked on CBS' "60 Minutes" about being better than the president, Boehner said, "He understands that."

Aides say Boehner doesn't have much time for the game lately, and the Ohio Republican says he's never had an invitation to play with Obama.

Boehner says the two have talked a number of times about playing, but it just hasn't happened yet.

Boehner says that on the course, "You can't be somebody that you're not, because all of you shows up."

John Boehner thinks President Barack Obama is engaging, smart and brilliant but also remains smarted by the president accusing him of taking taxpayers hostage to secure a tax break for the rich.

BOEHNER: We have to govern. That's what we were elected to do.
STAHL: But governing means compromising.
BOEHNER: It means working together.
STAHL: It also means compromising.
BOEHNER: It means finding common ground.
STAHL: Okay, is that compromising?
BOEHNER: I made it clear-- I am not going to compromise on my principles, nor am I going to compromise—
STAHL: What are you saying?
BOEHNER: --the will of the American people.
STAHL: You're saying, "I want common ground, but I'm not going to compromise." I don't understand that. I really don't.
BOEHNER: When you say the word "compromise-- "
STAHL: Yeah.
BOEHNER: a lot of Americans look up and go, "Oh, oh, they're going to sell me out." And so finding common ground-- I think (NOISE) makes more sense.

Uncle V wants you

Founder of Muslims for Bush leaves GOP, becomes a Democrat

Colorado Independent: Colorado GOP loses Hasan
By John Tomasic | 12.09.10 | 7:30 am

Muhammad Ali Hasan, a member of the wealthy and influential Colorado Republican Hasan family and a past state House and treasurer candidate, said he is switching parties. Speaking at the University of Colorado-Boulder on his experience growing up Muslim in the American West and later in conversation with the Colorado Independent, Hasan said he is ending his affiliation with the party for the bigotry he believes has shaped Republican politics over the last year. The FOX News regular and founder of Muslims for Bush said he met recently with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the controversial Democratic leader won him over.

“I met her in Los Angeles. For a Republican that’s like He-Man [meeting with] Skeletor,” he said, referencing the Masters of the Universe cartoon arch-enemies. “I am impressed by her vision. She convinced me that the Democrats will work to protect and further the interests and opportunities of minority Americans. That matched with the politics of Reagan for me. He was a champion of the American dream, the idea of America as a shining city on a hill. He expanded opportunities through small business credits and amnesty for immigrants. It was all about opportunity.

“I have three top political heroes: Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and now Nancy Pelosi. She has such a spine, like Reagan and Bush, they all have that in common: a spine of steel that comes from conviction.”
Major financial backers of conservative causes and candidates in the state and friends to national GOP leaders and successive Republican presidential administrations, the Hasans have publicly struggled with the post-Bush Palin-era GOP. Matriarch Seeme Hasan during the “Ground Zero Mosque” debate said she didn’t recognize the party. Ali Hasan’s defection comes in the wake of news that state GOP lawmakers will introduce tough Arizona-style immigration legislation and held a high profile hearing on the topic with a slanted roster of experts that featured almost no immigrant rights groups but several with ties to white supremecist organizations.
Collapse )As someone who lives in metro Detroit, the part of the US with the highest percentage of Arab-Americans, I can say that he's finally caught up with a lot of the locals.  Most of them had given up on Bush in 2004, and have certainly given up on the Republicans by now.  I'm glad to see that he's figure out what's happened to his old party and why he no longer fits in there.
misc. | Holiday Nuts

Vlad the Crooner: Putin Sings "Blueberry Hill".

How different would history be if Nikita Khrushchev, during his 1959 visit to the United States, began belting out American pop tunes?

We'll never know, but Vladimir Putin has now done something no other Russian leader is known to have done, at least in public: Croon an American pop classic that's been the thrill of generations of music fans.

The 58-year-old Russian Prime Minister-pilot-hunter-judo black belt added another line to his resume during a charity event in St. Petersburg Friday night, when he sang "Blueberry Hill" to an appreciative audience that realized they had not seen it all.

The U.K. Daily Mail reports that Putin was urged to the stage by the event's host, and modestly admitted, "Like an overwhelming majority of people, I can neither sing nor play, but I very much like doing it."

He proceeded to tickle the ivories on a piano — stumbling a bit on a Soviet-era patriotic song, "From Where the Motherland Begins" — before the band played the introduction to "Blueberry Hill."

Putin stepped up to the microphone and sang.

The 1940 song (music by Vincent Rose, lyrics by Al Lewis and Larry Stock), has been recorded dozens of times by such artists as Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, the Everly Brothers, Led Zeppelin and Elton John.

According to the Mail, Putin's spokesman explained the former KGB head and president learned the song's lyrics as part of his English language studies.

The event was a charity concert for children suffering from eye diseases and cancer. Spotted in the crowd: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and Sharon Stone.


In Soviet Russia, mind fucks YOU.

I cant believe this dude is 58, shitggoddamnWERQ.
misc - microphone

Why Tom Brokaw Is Wrong on Covering Antigay Viewpoints

Why Tom Brokaw Is Wrong on Covering Antigay Viewpoints

I bookmarked an article in the Advocate earlier this week wherein former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw basically said it was fine to continue to air the views of hate groups like American Family Association and Family Research Council.

As is typical of the mainstream news media, Brokaw blathered about free speech, etc., as an excuse for not monitoring what lies and untruths are being given a semblance of veracity by virtue of being aired on national news shows and other network programing. We know full well - as does Brokaw - that neo-Nazi groups, white supremacy groups and the Klu Klux Klan are not afforded similar opportunities to spew poison on network news, so why the exception for Christianist anti-gay hate groups?

Oh, I forgot - religion, especially Christianity gets special rights not afforded to the rest of the public.

In my view, a major obstacle to LGBT equality is the continued refusal of the mainstream media to call Christianist haters out for what they are. Statements based merely on religious belief are free speech. The dissemination of lies and deliberate falsehoods is something far different.

If the mainstream media intends to continue to provide a platform to AFA, FRC and other SPLC registered hate groups, then they need to, at a minimum, add caveats about the organizations’ hate group status and propensity to cite utterly discredited statistics and bogus research. As for “cross-examination’ of anti-gay mouth pieces, it almost never happens in practice. Brokaw needs to get his head out of the sand. That would be journalistic honesty, but I am not going to hold my breath to see it happen.

Here are highlights from the Advocate article:

The Advocate spoke with Brokaw about complaints against news networks that give airtime to gay rights opponents. “I don’t think you can shut down free speech,” he said. “We’re a free speech society. They’re entitled to their positions however wrong they may be. How do you begin to censor things?”

Last month, Dan Savage of the It Gets Better campaign criticized CNN on air for interviewing anti gay leaders such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group. He said the attention legitimized the idea that there are “two sides” to gay and lesbian issues.

Brokaw argued that coverage of anti-gay viewpoints serves a purpose in that it can generate the kind of outrage that prompts nationwide conversations. He said the issue reminded him of his earlier years reporting on the civil rights movement, although he declined to draw a direct comparison.

Asked how anti-gay views should be presented, he said, “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.”

Perhaps Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and a few others seriously question anti-gay bigots, but I’m sorry, I just don’t see the CBS, NBC and ABC anchors doing this. Instead, the Christianists are given a free pass to lie and an unchallenged platform which makes them look credible to the uninformed and easily duped.
  • merig00

High Speed Rail Authority approves what critics call 'train to nowhere'

Citing a need for jobs and fast approaching federal deadlines for funding, the California High Speed Rail Authority board Thursday unanimously approved construction of the first leg of the state's proposed bullet train — a 65-mile section in the Central Valley that would not carry passengers until more of the system is built.

Costing at least $4.15 billion, the segment would run from the tiny town of Borden to Corcoran, an area hit so hard by the recession and agriculture declines that it has been dubbed the New Appalachia. Stations would be built in Fresno and Hanford.

Included in the plan are tracks, station platforms, bridges and viaducts, which would elevate the line through urban areas. The initial section, however, would not be equipped with maintenance facilities, locomotives, passenger cars or an electrical system necessary to power high-speed trains.

Critics of the initial segment selection, including Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced), have dubbed it a "train to nowhere."

But board members said the choice makes the best use of available money, meets federal requirements and should be viewed in terms of the project's long-range goal of connecting major population centers.

"We wouldn't be here if we thought we would only build one segment of the system," said Tom Umberg, a former state legislator from Orange County and vice chairman of the high-speed rail board.

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