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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Barbara J. Weiland, et al., The Journal of Neuroscience: Recent research has suggested that marijuana use is associated with volumetric and shape differences in subcortical structures, including the nucleus accumbens and amygdala, in a dose-dependent fashion...[The results of our recent study show that] No statistically significant differences were found between daily users and nonusers on volume or shape in the regions of interest. Effect sizes suggest that the failure to find differences was not due to a lack of statistical power, but rather was due to the lack of even a modest effect. In sum, the results indicate that, when carefully controlling for alcohol use, gender, age, and other variables, there is no association between marijuana use and standard volumetric or shape measurements of subcortical structures.

Fred Barbash, The Washington Post: The North Miami Beach police department was discovered last month to be using mug shots of African Americans for sniper practice at a firing range. NBC News Channel 6 in Miami broke the story after hearing from a member of the Florida Army National Guard who showed up with her unit for weapons qualification at the same commercial firing range used by the police and discovered the targets left behind, an array of six African Americans. North Miami Police Chief J. Scott Dennis, while conceding that his department "could have used better judgment," denied any racial profiling. He said the department uses pictures of people of all races for target practice. But the day National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant showed up, she saw only African Americans. And what really upset her was that among the mug shots riddled with bullet holes was one of her own brother. read more

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Rolling Stone: Though it smacks of suburban myth or TV make­believe, undercover drug stings occur in high schools with surprising frequency... They're elaborate stings in which adult undercover officers go to great lengths to pass as authentic teens: turning in homework, enduring detention, attending house parties and using current slang... [A] San Diego-area sting last year that practically elevated policing to performance art, in which three undercover deputies had "parents" who attended back-to-school nights; announcing the first of the sting's 19 arrests, Sheriff Bill Gore boasted this method of snaring teens was "almost too easy." [The ease at which the officers were able to 'snare' drug dealing students could be explained by the borderline entrapment methods used in arresting 22 students, 9 of whom were classified as necessitating special education (is there any lower hanging fruit?).] read more

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Jackson Marciana, Counter Current News: The ruling comes in response to a case where John Swartz and his wife Judy Mayton-Swartz were forced to bring suit against two police officers who arrested Swartz back in May of 2006. The arrest was made simply as a result of John Swartz flipping off the officer who was using a radar device at an intersection in St. Johnsville, New York.

Swartz was charged with "disorderly conduct," the common way that officers charge people when they have not committed any crime.

Even though a federal judge in the Northern District of New York had granted summary judgement in favor of the officers back in July of 2011, the Court of Appeals erased that decision. read more

Video was released this week of a December 30 incident in which two Bridgeton, N.J., police officers shot and killed an unarmed man who got out of a car with his hands raised at shoulder level. Jerame Reid of Bridgeton, a passenger in a Jaguar stopped for running a stop sign, was ordered several times not to move after police saw a gun in the glove compartment. Officer Braheme Days, who is black, told Reid, "If you reach for something, you're going to be f---ing dead." Either Reid or the driver said "I'm getting out and getting on the ground" and then Reid got out of the car and stepped towards Days. Reid was then shot six times. read more



Sorry, skeptics: NASA and NOAA were right about the 2014 temperature record

Certainly there are uncertainties in putting all this together, all these datasets. But after considering the uncertainties, we have calculated the probability that 2014, versus other years that were relatively warm, were actually the warmest year on record. And the way you can interpret these data tables is, for the NOAA data, 2014 is two and a half times more likely than the second warmest year on record, 2010, to actually be the warmest on record, after consideration of all the data uncertainties that we take into account. And for the NASA data, that number is on the order of about one and a half times more likely than the second warmest year on their records, which again, is 2010. So clearly, 2014 in both our records were the warmest, and there's a fair bit of confidence that that is indeed the case, even considering data uncertainties.


And this:

Armchair detectives might call it the case of Earth's missing heat: Why have average global surface air temperatures remained essentially steady since 2000, even as greenhouse gases have continued to accumulate in the atmosphere? The suspects include changes in atmospheric water vapor, a strong greenhouse gas, or the noxious sunshade of haze emanating from factories. Others believe the culprit is the mighty Pacific Ocean, which has been sending vast slugs of cold bottom water to the surface. But two fresh investigations finger a new suspect: the Atlantic Ocean. One study, in this issue of Science, presents sea temperature data implying that most of the missing heat has been stored deep in the Atlantic. The other, published online in Nature Climate Change, suggests a warming Atlantic is abetting the Pacific by driving wind patterns that help that ocean cool the atmosphere. But some climate specialists remain skeptical. In a third recent paper, also published online in Nature Climate Change, other researchers argue that the Pacific remains the kingpin. One reason some scientists remain convinced the Pacific is behind the hiatus is a measured speedup in trade winds that drive a massive upwelling of cold water in the eastern Pacific. But there, too, the Atlantic may be responsible, modeling experiments suggest. A consensus about what has put global warming on pause may be years away, but one scientist says the recent papers confirm that Earth's warming has continued during the hiatus, at least in the ocean depths, if not in the air.

They arent sueing for the right to marry, theyre sueing for marriage licenses and legal benefits.

Marriage is a right in and of itself. Check it out:

The best way of summarizing the tradition seems to be this: all adults have a right to choose whom to marry. They have this right because of the emotional and personal significance of marriage, as well as its procreative potential. This right is fundamental for Due Process purposes, and it also has an equality dimension. No group of people may be fenced out of this right without an exceedingly strong state justification. It would seem that the best way to think about the cases of incest and polygamy is that in these cases the state can meet its burden, by showing that policy considerations outweigh the individual's right, although it is not impossible to imagine that these judgments might change over time...

WHAT, THEN, of people who seek to marry someone of the same sex? This is the question with which courts are currently wrestling. Recent state court decisions had to answer four questions (using not only federal constitutional law but also the text and tradition of their own state constitutions): First, will civil unions suffice, or is the status of marriage constitutionally compelled? Second, is this issue one of due process or equal protection or a complex mixture of both? Third, in assessing the putative right against the countervailing claims of state interest, is sexual orientation a suspect classification for equal protection purposes? In other words, does the state forbidding such unions have to show a mere rational basis for the law or a "compelling" state interest? Fourth, what interests might so qualify?

Three states that have recently confronted this question -- Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut -- give different answers to these questions, but there is a large measure of agreement. All agree that, as currently practiced, marriage is a status with a strong component of public dignity. Because of that unique status, it is fundamental to individual self-definition, autonomy, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to marry does not belong only to the potentially procreative. (The Massachusetts court notes, for example, that people who cannot stir from their deathbed are still permitted to marry.)

For all these expressive reasons, it seems that civil unions are a kind of second-class status, lacking the affirmation and recognition characteristic of marriage. As the California court put it, the right is not a right to a particular word, it is the right "to have their family relationship accorded dignity and respect equal to that accorded other officially recognized families." All three courts draw on the miscegenation cases to make this point. The California court notes that if states opposed to miscegenation had created a separate category called "transracial union," while still denying interracial couples the status of "marriage," we would easily see that this was no solution.

All three courts invoke both due process and equal protection. The Massachusetts court notes that the two guarantees frequently "overlap, as they do here." They all agree that the right to marry is an individual liberty right that also involves an equality component: a group of people can't be fenced out of that right without a very strong governmental justification.

How strong? Here the states diverge. The Massachusetts court held that the denial of same-sex marriages fails to pass even the rational basis test. The California and Connecticut courts, by contrast, held that sexual orientation is a suspect classification, analogizing sexual orientation to gender.


And as a result of Snodgrass family suing the school, the school then sues the sheriff's department:

A Southern California school district is suing the Riverside County Sheriff's Department after undercover officers ran a marijuana sting on an autistic teen -- in yet another example of America's disgusting, out of control war on weed.

The lawsuit was dismissed, but:

After four consecutive years of undercover drug investigations at Riverside County high schools, sheriff's officials said there was no investigation of the kind this school year. (Jan. 15, 2015)

With that, the following seems to be the saddest portion of the story:

However, Jonathan Greenberg, superintendent of the Perris Union High School District, said at the time that he wouldn't hesitate to have undercover officers in his schools again, calling the operation an unqualified success. A year later, Greenberg said, his views have not changed.

Greenberg said fellow educators might disagree with his views, but he feels strongly that anything schools can do to reduce the amount of drugs on campus will benefit all students.


The addiction to the War on Drugs and its federal funding has obviously seeped into the education system. The use of the term "anything" in the above context is truly frightening considering this revelation of police tactics.

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