March 30, 2009
Editorial, New York Times
Reviewing Criminal Justice
America’s criminal justice system needs repair. Prisons are overcrowded, sentencing policies are uneven and often unfair, ex-convicts are poorly integrated into society, and the growing problem of gang violence has not received the attention it deserves. For these and other reasons, a bill introduced last week by Senator Jim Webb, Democrat of Virginia, should be given high priority on the Congressional calendar.
The bill, which has strong bipartisan support, would establish a national commission to review the system from top to bottom. It is long overdue, and should be up and running as soon as possible.
The United States has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world. More than 1 in 100 adults are now behind bars, for the first time in history. The incarceration rate has been rising faster than the crime rate, driven by harsh sentencing policies like “three strikes and you’re out,” which impose long sentences that are often out of proportion to the seriousness of the offense.
Keeping people in prison who do not need to be there is not only unjust but also enormously expensive, which makes the problem a priority right now. Hard-pressed states and localities that reduce prison costs will have more money to help the unemployed, avert layoffs of teachers and police officers, and keep hospitals operating. In the last two decades, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report, state corrections spending soared 127 percent, while spending on higher education increased only 21 percent.
Meanwhile, as governments waste money putting the wrong people behind bars, gang activity has been escalating, accounting for as much as 80 percent of the crime in some parts of the country.
The commission would be made up of recognized criminal justice experts, and charged with examining a range of policies that have emerged haphazardly across the country and recommending reforms. In addition to obvious problems like sentencing, the commission would bring much-needed scrutiny to issues like the special obstacles faced by the mentally ill in the system, as well as the shameful problem of prison violence.
Prison management and inmate treatment need special attention now that the Prison Litigation Reform Act has drastically scaled back prisoners’ ability to vindicate their rights in court. Indeed, the commission should consider recommending that the law be modified or repealed.
Mr. Webb has enlisted the support of not only the Senate’s top-ranking Democrats, including the majority leader, Harry Reid, but also influential Republicans like Arlen Specter, the ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham, the ranking member of the crime and drugs subcommittee.
There is no companion bill in the House, and one needs to be written. Judging by the bipartisan support in the Senate, a national consensus has emerged that the criminal justice system is broken.

Pubdate: Wed, 25 Mar 2009
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2009 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Jonathan Saltzman

Officials Want Children Shielded

Dozens of Massachusetts cities and towns are taking steps to impose
stiff new fines for smoking marijuana in public and even to charge
some violators with misdemeanors, a trend that critics say subverts
the state ballot question passed overwhelmingly last fall to
decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

In recent weeks, at least seven communities - Duxbury, Lynn, Methuen,
Medway, Milford, Salem, and Springfield - have passed bylaws that
target people who light up in public. And two dozen cities and towns
expect to vote this spring on similar measures, which proponents liken
to local open container laws that ban drinking alcohol in public.

Police officials say they want to discourage flagrant marijuana
smoking, particularly in public parks, schoolyards, and on beaches
where young children gather. While last year's ballot initiative
reduced possession of an ounce or less from a misdemeanor to a civil
infraction carrying a $100 fine, police say that some marijuana
smokers mistakenly believe that the voters legalized the drug

"If you're smoking marijuana in front of schoolchildren, to me that's
a little bit more serious than smoking a joint by yourself out in the
middle of the woods," said Salem police Captain Brian Gilligan. His
city recently authorized officers to fine public smokers $300 in
addition to the $100 fine for possession. The Salem bylaw also lets
officers give them a misdemeanor summons, although Gilligan predicted
that few will get them.

Advocates of last fall's ballot initiative say the new civil fines for
smoking marijuana in public are, at best, unnecessary because those
individuals can already be fined for possession. At worst, they say,
bylaws that treat smoking violations as a misdemeanor are a backdoor
attempt to subvert the will of Massachusetts voters, who approved
decriminalization in November by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.

Continues: Close Window

Commentary: Legalize Drugs to Stop Violence

Commentary: Legalize drugs to stop violence
Jeffrey Miron: Thousands have been killed in Mexico's ongoing drug war
He says U.S. drug policy leads to corruption of politicians and law enforcement
Miron: Legalizing drugs is the best way to reduce drug violence
He says drugs should be controlled through regulation and taxation
By Jeffrey A. MironSpecial to CNN
Editor's note: Jeffrey A. Miron is senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University.
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Over the past two years, drug violence in Mexico has become a fixture of the daily news. Some of this violence pits drug cartels against one another; some involves confrontations between law enforcement and traffickers.
Recent estimates suggest thousands have lost their lives in this "war on drugs."
The U.S. and Mexican responses to this violence have been predictable: more troops and police, greater border controls and expanded enforcement of every kind. Escalation is the wrong response, however; drug prohibition is the cause of the violence.
Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.
Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after.
Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it's permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question.
The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs. Fortuitously, legalization is the right policy for a slew of other reasons.
Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade. This is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for prohibited industries but rare otherwise. Mexico's recent history illustrates this dramatically.
Prohibition erodes protections against unreasonable search and seizure because neither party to a drug transaction has an incentive to report the activity to the police. Thus, enforcement requires intrusive tactics such as warrantless searches or undercover buys. The victimless nature of this so-called crime also encourages police to engage in racial profiling.
Prohibition has disastrous implications for national security. By eradicating coca plants in Colombia or poppy fields in Afghanistan, prohibition breeds resentment of the United States. By enriching those who produce and supply drugs, prohibition supports terrorists who sell protection services to drug traffickers.
Prohibition harms the public health. Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other conditions cannot use marijuana under the laws of most states or the federal government despite abundant evidence of its efficacy. Terminally ill patients cannot always get adequate pain medication because doctors may fear prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Drug users face restrictions on clean syringes that cause them to share contaminated needles, thereby spreading HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.
Prohibitions breed disrespect for the law because despite draconian penalties and extensive enforcement, huge numbers of people still violate prohibition. This means those who break the law, and those who do not, learn that obeying laws is for suckers.
Prohibition is a drain on the public purse. Federal, state and local governments spend roughly $44 billion per year to enforce drug prohibition. These same governments forego roughly $33 billion per year in tax revenue they could collect from legalized drugs, assuming these were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco. Under prohibition, these revenues accrue to traffickers as increased profits.
The right policy, therefore, is to legalize drugs while using regulation and taxation to dampen irresponsible behavior related to drug use, such as driving under the influence. This makes more sense than prohibition because it avoids creation of a black market. This approach also allows those who believe they benefit from drug use to do so, as long as they do not harm others.
Legalization is desirable for all drugs, not just marijuana. The health risks of marijuana are lower than those of many other drugs, but that is not the crucial issue. Much of the traffic from Mexico or Colombia is for cocaine, heroin and other drugs, while marijuana production is increasingly domestic. Legalizing only marijuana would therefore fail to achieve many benefits of broader legalization.
It is impossible to reconcile respect for individual liberty with drug prohibition. The U.S. has been at the forefront of this puritanical policy for almost a century, with disastrous consequences at home and abroad.
The U.S. repealed Prohibition of alcohol at the height of the Great Depression, in part because of increasing violence and in part because of diminishing tax revenues. Similar concerns apply today, and Attorney General Eric Holder's recent announcement that the Drug Enforcement Administration will not raid medical marijuana distributors in California suggests an openness in the Obama administration to rethinking current practice.
Perhaps history will repeat itself, and the U.S. will abandon one of its most disastrous policy experiments.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jeffrey Miron.
All AboutMexicoIllegal DrugsLaw Enforcement

Find this article at:

Check the box to include the list of links referenced in the article.

� 2008 Cable News Network

After Yucca: America's homeless nuclear waste

In Idaho. In Massachusetts. In Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Louisiana, California, New Mexico -- at 120 locations in 39 states a total of 66,000 tons of used but still dangerously radioactive fuel are stored in concrete containers under the open sky.

And now it has nowhere else to go.
In this June 25, 2002 file photo, the view from the summit ridge of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump near Mercury, Nev.,looking west towards California. (The Associated Press file photo)
But President Barack Obama opposes the repository and has slashed funding for it in his budget proposal. "Both the president and I have made clear that Yucca Mountain is not a workable option and that we will begin a thoughtful dialogue on a better solution for our nuclear storage waste needs," Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a Senate budget panel recently.
Concerns about transportation safety, earthquakes, water contamination and its proximity to millions of Nevadans have stalled the repository's completion after two decades and billions of dollars of study and construction.

Some even contend that the Yucca Mountain project is dead.

Monsanto's Many Attempts to Destroy All Seeds but Their Own

Some say that if farmers don’t want problems from Monsanto, they simply shouldn’t buy Monsanto’s GMO seeds. But it isn’t quite that simple. Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples, and then sues, saying they own the crop.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is taking many other steps to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of normal seeds:

Continue reading at:
http://articles. sites/articles/ archive/2009/ 03/07/monsantos- many-attempts- to-destroy- all-seeds- but-their- own.aspx
Photo from:

Walk'n'Talk - Govan to Glasgow City centre


The agenda for last weeks meeting was:
1 recap of meeting for those not there.
2 formal structure: discussion
3 property info...
4 bike workshop and flag making day, sat 28th march
5 may day
6 CEIS info
7 networking: Johnny asked: Who should he/we be networking with?

At the previous meeting, we agreed we should try to start on time, always take minutes and have a facilitator, and email out those minutes promptly, as well as an agenda for the next meeting.

Bob told us about a fantastic poster he did for the talk on saturday, that perhaps could be used again in future for other events. ask him to explain it if youre interested. its something about history being 'medicine for the masses'.

Kate and Juliana formed a subgroup of the research group, to look into past and existing social centres to see how theyre structured and what we can learn from them.

2 formal structure:
I mentioned some of the info we got from meeting with CEIS, who offer advice for new social enterprises:
I suggested we need to become a constituted group, (ie have a formal constitution), and then think about moving forward with deciding on a structure: eg charity status, social enterprise, community interest company, order to get funding and premises and do business plan...

Johnny asked everyone to send profiles: ie name, email, phone number, (if youre comfortable doing that) and 2 sentences on what you would like to offer (ie workshops youd like to host/take part in) and what you would like to get out of a social centre (in concrete terms, ie what workshops youd like to attend or what youd like to learn about or do)

it was also suggested that this info could be made into a members list, (with whatever info people are happy to give/or omit) and we could keep a hard copy of this once we get a premises. (this info would NOT be online for anyone to see, and would basically be so we can contact each other about organising workshops, meetings etc.

We took another look at the roles that were suggested in an email Pearse sent around a few weeks ago.
WE agreed that we dont like the word 'president' , but that there was a need for people to take responsibility for ensuring certain things get done. We agreed that it would be good to have at least 2/3 people share certain roles: so that its not any one person's responsibility and the duties are shared...and that these roles could rotate every few months (eg. every 3 or 6 months)
Tentative descriptions of those roles are:

a 'chairperson' who would be at every meeting and provide a general overview and recap for others, act as contact person, occasional or fallback facilitator, and would try to do role of providing a general overview of how the group is getting on,as we check in with our consensus and facilitation and general process and progress every few months,

a treasurer to keep record of any money

a secretary to take responsibility for ensuring minutes are taken at each meeting, and emailed out after, WITh an agenda for next meeting... to be added to on email if people want.

(perhaps in future, we could look at PR people, to focus on promoting the centre and networking with other groups in glasgow)

Also would be good to have an 'ass kicker' to check everyone is doing what they say theyll do after each meeting, etc.

It was agreed we need to elaborate exactly what these roles entail, in reality, in the way we work, and what they would be on paper, for the purposes of 'business people' or potential funders, etc.

3: property/premises:
I checked with The Annexe, healthy living centre in Partick. rooms are rented per hour, and are very cheap for constituted groups £5 an hour. this is a good option if we want to plan events for now, until we get a venue. But the group would need to be constituted first. I would be up for holding things like knitting and creative meetings there, as a way of 'doing' what we want social centre to be, as well as 'talking' about it...

4 bike workshop and flag day
this would be a day to construct pedal powered stuff eg smoothie makers, laptops, etc... and to make trailers for bikes, flags to put on bikes, to use at demos, and 'basical bicycle maintenance' skillshare, etc.
It was agreed it would be good if 1 or 2 people took responsibility for organising different parts of the day:
denis will look into pedal power, anyone else want to chip in?
it was mentioned that regan has a leaflet or zine on how to convert a bike to pedal power stuff... is that right?
Juliana offered to do a sewing skillshare to prep for the flag making, hemming material, etc so flags are ready to be painted on the day...she will suggest times next week? she will also see if richard is up for doing a bike fixing skillshare. Johnny also has the number for Ben from Ben's bikes.

IF anyone has any materials that would be good.... we need to get materials. pale cloth for flags, paints, wood and metal for trailers, etc... streamers? decorations for bikes?...
I also suggested if anyone wants to take a trip to local recycling centres to see if we can get some stuff for free... let me know.

5 May Day
we agreed the flag making day would be a prep for may day, and we could do our own event as the social centr,e and tie in with other groups and hopefully use some great bike banners and flags to create visually eye catching images.

6 CEIS: I gave a quick update on what the guy from CEIS said. It was agreed that it would be good to type up the notes from the meeting and give a proper presentation about it to the group, or let them know where the research group is at.

7Johnny and Networking:
it was agreed that an address book, with a list of all the local groups in glasgow that we know about would be a great thing to do.
as well as the big giant map of glasgow that pearse is going to print out for us. we can stick pins in map for all the groups we know about, and find out about, and have names, phone numbers, addresses and emails for them make it easier to network in futre, and to 'see' where a social centre might best be located.

it was also suggested that it would be a great idea to keep a copy of all posters we make, and have photos and footage of all events we hold, and make a archive of the process were going through.

KAte is going to notify property people about a councillor she met who knows a lot about buildings around glasgow that we could rent...

They are the minutes.

I thought we made up an agenda for next week, but i cant find it, so here is my
suggested Agenda for next week: Please amend as you like...

juliana: sewing skillshare dates to be suggested
talk about or look into getting 'constituted' as a group
people to talk about/clarify/volunteer for roles of secretary, chair, treasurer
property list: it came out last week, Can someone from property group let us know any news with it?
people to volunteer for bike and flag workshop to help organise it
Research group to update rest of group on progress/ceis meeting, or whatever else happening...
can someone bring the timeline and leave it at electron club? or bring it each week?
melissa proposal to work at glastonbury

I think thats it. See you at next meeting!

Friday 27th/Minutes

Friday 27th Meeting Minutes

1.We talked excitedly about making fancy flags for the backs of bikes to
make brilliant colourful movingness and discussed the joys of bike
trailers filled with info and food!

-Could build up to doing some fun stuff on May Day.
-Could perhaps do some making as part of the bike extravaganza event at
the Pearce Institute.
Denis and Liam interested in joining Mark in organising this day event.
- Suggestion that it could happen sooner than April – date to be fixed
soon so we can publicise etc.

2.We also discussed briefly how we work as a group. We were only a small
group but we decided that we would try and use consensus to make decisions
but would come back to review this and look more thoroughly at how we work
in 2 months time.

We also decided to be better with meeting formalities – putting the agenda
out in advance(sorry!), taking minutes, having a facilitator decided in
advance etc.
See for information on
Consensus Decision-Making and Facilitating Consensus. (If people are
interested in training in facilitating consensus email Beth off the list
(on and if there's interest i'll see about
arranging it)

3. The following working groups have been established to get things moving
more outside of meetings. Come along or email to hook up with people to
work on the stuff you're interested in.

Working Groups:


Property Group:




Intended Objects of Actors.

An act is a specific operation of a being which results in a change in the ontic state. Or in more common parlance: An act is an operation which results in a change in reality. An act instantiates change.

Since in human acts, the will effects the cause of instantiation, the effects of such acts are attributable to will. Hence the person who initiates an act is the originator of it and thus responsible for it.

If the change effected is a result of the operation of the Will, it is voluntary, otherwise it is involuntary. Furthermore, voluntary actions seek to instantiate a desired ontic state, this state being the object of the act.

The intent on the other hand is the state of reality which the intellect seeks to ultimately bring about; the ontic state which it desires, its' intended object.

Intent is realised through act or acts. However this does not mean that what is instantiated is what is intended. Indeed there may be several acts which may need to be done in order to achieve the intended state.

It appears then that the acting person has two types of motive objects. The object that we directly bring about through an act, the instantional object and the the state of affairs we wish ultimately achieved, the intentional object.

When morally considering actions a consideration of the both the instantional and intentional objects must be made in order to correctly consider the act. For an act to be good both the instantional object and intentional object must be good.

Of note, the intention of the Will can be instantiated by means outside the operating being. If for instance, we wish a man to be killed and by some other means not connected to ourselves, the man is killed, the will's intention is actuated, even though it has not occurred as a result of a specific action of our will. This is why ill will alone is viewed as moral negative.