Friday, April 03, 2009

Cafferty says the War on Drugs is insane

Commentary by Jack Cafferty on CNN: War on drugs is insane:
"How many prison cells are filled with drug offenders? And how many corrections officers does it take to guard them? How much food do these convicts consume?

And when they get out, how many parole and probation officers does it take to supervise their release? And how many ex-offenders turn right around and do it again?

So how's this war on drugs going?

Someone described insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. That's a perfect description of the war on drugs."

Hemp for Victory Template Sticker stickerCafferty is right on this. The more you look at the "conventional wisdom" of drug policy, the less sense it makes, the less savory the motives, the more side effects and the less social benefit. And let's remember that this isn't as simple as - say, outlawing chewing gum. It's not even as simple as outlawing the use of Marijuana as a recreational drug. It banned the plant itself - and made all products and uses illegal.

Many of those products and processes have the potential to form the core of next-generation, "green" industries - and if you will note, the United States has a conspicuous and very significant lack of domestic industry and innovation.

Hemp can be rendered into fiber, fuel, plastics, paper and engineered materials - all of which are sustainable. Hemp - before it was banned - was integral to agriculture and industry. The more one looks into the banning of the entire family of hemp plants, the more one begins to believe that the point was not to eliminate drugs - but to eliminate entire industries that, under free-market conditions - would have enormous competitive advantages over tree-based paper, petroleum refineries, cotton grown with petrochemical-based pesticides and so forth.

Perhaps even more significantly, there is little point to large, centralized methanol and biodiesel refineries. The technology to produce fuels from organic materials is far less expensive and unwieldy than petrochemical refining - to the extent that it could well make economic sense for individual farms, and certainly would make sense in any three-elevator prairie town.

The domestic security advantages of a widely distributed fuel supply that is not vulnerable to foreign intervention, terrorism and hurricanes is pretty obvious.

You need an oil press - a simple device. Cold pressed hemp oil can then be processed into biodiesel - or used on your salad. Meanwhile, the fibers are extracted and the leftover biomass is fermented into methanol. It's three crops in the space of one - although obviously, various strains are going to have greater or lesser utility for each of those outcomes.

Oh, it requires no pesticides to grow - and it's an immediate, fast growing crop that can be used, right now, to deal with excess CO2.

Hm. I wonder what that would do to large energy monopolies? More to the immediate point, wouldn't it feel good doing it to them?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Society and Government, 2.0

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I've been concentrating on "social media" for the last week or three. If you knew me well, that would probably amuse the hell out of you. Nonetheless, this particular Aspie has been been driven to understand the motivations and dynamics of the other primates in the preserve for quite some time; it's been a matter of self-preservation.

I've been active on digg and stumbleupon for some time, but of late, I've been focusing on digg, and have started to take twitter very seriously. Twitter - well, it's like a full UUCP newsfeed on crack cut with PCP.

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“Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea- massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it” Gene Spafford
Spafford was deeply involved in creating what amounted to the first social m
edia experiment, Usenet. I fondly remember the days when I had my own UUCP news feed, my sturdy Amiga polling automagically every 10 minutes or so.

I must confess that, due to life circumstances, I'd dived into the nascent Internet in the same way that younger folks seem to be diving into "web 2.0" apps like Twitter and digg, applying the wisdom of crowds to the issues of the day.
All these apps - and twitter, in particular, as it's so very platform-independent - are so intuitively useful and plastic that the main issue seems to be finding the combination of utilities that make it useful for what YOU want to do.  (Yes, you need to follow Christopher Walkin's tweets.) 

It was quickly seized upon by marketers and conservatives. One might argue (and indeed, I do) that is because it is a medium that favors the superficial thought, a bumper sticker mentality. But paradoxically, that's a superficial impression. 

Twitter is not a medium that favors complex thought or deep discussion.
But with the ability to embed hyperlinks, it has an immense power to point the way to places where such discussions DO exist. 

Aggregation and recommendation sites - such as digg - are somewhat paradoxical; often the discussions there are far more eclectic than those on the host sites, by rupturing the boundaries of insular communities, be they political, intellectual or scientific, although they are primarily about superficial and ephemeral issues, they can also create a great deal of buzz about issues that matter to large segments of the population, segments that might have little or no other points of contact. 

In those cases, digg, twitter, yahoo buzz and various other engines can suddenly "stampede the elephants" toward some hapless site, often crushing it into unresponsiveness. 

This can lead to some instructive - and hilarious - interactions. It's sometimes amusing to see what happens when those motivated by indignation are met with information wielded like a supercharged chainsaw. 

You might wonder what the point to such an argument would be. Obviously, it seems to fail the supposed object of dialogue, thesis and antithesis resolving into synthesis. But that is because the synthesis does not occur on the page - or indeed, within the minds of the dedicated proponents and detractors of the respective incompatible world-views. It is left, as it must be, to the audience to take away many separate lessons and for each to come to their own synthesis based on this and other arguments between these particular positions, people and worldviews.

What synthesis may be had? Well, obviously, I can only tell you mine. I'm a rationalist, a freethinker, a theist and a mystic. I hold both objective reality and subjective realities as having equal value - for me. I am a theist in part due to experience that I cannot explain by objective means - but that doesn't mean I consider them definitively inexplicable. Indeed, it's a tenant of my particular faith that all things in the universe are knowable and conform to laws that we have every opportunity to eventually comprehend. 

But that's just me - and it comes from a lifetime of watching, participating and doing. Everyone brings some of each, along with different personalities, early life experience, raw intelligence and even neurology that influence us far more than we would like to think. 

THAT is where the wisdom of crowds and an entirely new approach to going about the business of governing truly applies, what the Internet is rapidly becoming; not an end, but a means. Essentially - and completely without noticing it - we have evolved a world Parliament. Now, you might think that it's irrelevant, that it has no effect on the people actually doing the governing. But that would be wrong. It is increasingly influencing lawmakers and regulators, internationally. 

That, by the way, was supposedly the entire and sole role of Parliament in the first place - a debating society with no great authority; the point was to bring information and various perspectives on it to the attention of The People Who Mattered. 

Well, we know how that turned out, a century or two down the road, back when change was incremental instead of exponential. 

The Internet, as ad-hoc, informal branch of governments worldwide is not operating just as a means of applying pressure to government; increasingly, the electorate is contributing to the insight of their representatives. For good and ill, I expect - but one great and transcendent "good" of all the political ferment of the last several years, playing out as it did ON the Internet in full view, is a general demystification. The composition of politics and sausages are available to all, and to widespread surprise, awareness dawns that there are many varied sorts that you might wish to explore to various ends.

It's going to change everything. And the funniest thing about it is that nobody involved seems to have quite realized how much things have already changed and how little patience any of us have for attempts to maintain politics as usual.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hope Steffey; Starke County's Internet Fueled Nightmare.

The Hope Steffey affair seems unwilling to go away. I haven't blogged about it lately, but search engine traffic keeps finding my earlier stories, and the pace has been picking up. This story seems to be striking a raw nerve on several levels.

A quick recap.

First, we learned this:

Hope Steffey's night started with a call to police for help. It ended with her face down, naked, and sobbing on a jail cell floor. Now, the sheriff's deputies from Stark County, Ohio who allegedly used excessive force during a strip search 15 months ago face a federal lawsuit, and recently released video won’t help their case.

Steffey's ordeal with the Stark County sheriff's deputies began after her cousin called 9-1-1 claiming Steffey had been assaulted by another one of their cousins. When a Stark County police officer arrived, he asked to see Steffey's driver's license. But instead of handing over her own ID, she mistakenly turned over her dead sister's license, which she contends she keeps in her wallet as a memento. That's when the situation became complicated.

"Hope was not treated as a victim," her lawyer told WKYC News. "The officer said to her 'shut up about your dead sister.'"

And then it got bizarre.

It turned out that there were quite a few other women who'd gotten this sort of "special treatment" courtesy of Turgid Tim Swanson.

WKYC reports that since the release of the now-notorious Hope Steffey ’strip search’ video, 4 more Stark County, Ohio women, including Valentina Dyshko of North Canton, have come forward alleging that they were forced to remove their clothing when detained at the Stark County Jail...
BL further reports in a subsequent article that the State Attorney General will be looking into the entire matter.

Larry Shields of the Salem News reports that Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson has officially requested that Ohio Attorney General Mark Dan “review all the circumstances surrounding the arrest and incarceration of Hope Steffey in October of 2006,” a vicious incident labelled “way out of line” by Cuyahoga county Sheriff Gerald McFaul (h/tThePoliticalCat).

Additionally, Muriel Kane of The Raw Story reports that video footage taken prior to the now-infamous strip search tape may exist, noting that “jailhouse surveillance cameras show a deputy with a handheld camera filming Steffey being escorted to her cell.”

Kane also suggests that dashboard video of the arrest, originally believed to be non-existent because the arresting officer claimed the camera was off, may not have been disclosed to Steffey’s lawyers.

Of course, the investigation came to the sort of end you might expect, in a state and countey where things like this could happen in the first place.


According to a grand jury, Stark County deputies committed no criminal acts while arresting Hope Steffey two years ago. Nancy H. Rogers, Ohio attorney general, issued a statement saying that a Stark County grand jury did not hand down any indictments after reviewing the evidence presented by the state’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation Special Prosecution Sections.

The Steffey case was investigtated by Paul Scarsella, the Chief of the Special Prosecutions Section for the Attorney General’s Office where he manages 4 attorneys and support staff. He was assisted by Bridget Carty, Public Integrity Unit Coordinator, and an Assistant Attorney General in the Special Prosecutions Section.

The Special prosecutors, Paul Scarsella and Bridget Carty, said the incident, in which male and female deputies forcibly removed Steffey’s clothes at the Stark County jail, was a suicide precaution. They said the deputies were only following a medical order given by a doctor on duty to remove her clothes. Though the jail has suicide suits for inmates to wear, prosecutor Scarscella said Steffey was not immediately given one because even the suit was deemed too dangerous for her to have.

The Special prosecutors presented the results of their investigation to the grand jury without interviewing Hope Steffey. They said they were unwilling to interview her with her lawyers present, as she requested. Steffey did however appear before the grand jury. The grand jury declined to indict the deputies involved.

Steffey denied that she was suicidal or was given the opportunity to remove her clothes herself. There is no policy that prevents men from removing a female inmate’s clothes during a suicide precaution situation. Men are however prevented from strip-searching a female inmate.

However, the findings of this grand jury will have no bearing on the federal lawsuit that Hope Steffey filed on Oct. 2007, accusing Stark County deputies ofviolating her civil rights by assaulting, strip-searching and leaving her injured and naked for six hours in a Stark County jail cell. She had to use toilet paper to cover herself. Defendants in the case are Swanson, Deputy Sheriff Richard T. Gurlea Jr. and one to 15 other “John and Jane Does” employed at the Stark County Jail, and the Stark County commissioners. That case is scheduled to go to trial in December.

You might be suprised to find that freepers are as pissed off at Starke County Sherriff "Turgid Tim" Swanson as people on the left. But then, there are outlaw bikers who find Starke County to be insufficiently civilized in this regard. Nor have other law enforcement officers been particularly effusive in their support.

But wait, it gets BETTER! Turgid Tim's Tumecent Team are SUING! (The Alliance-Review)

The plaintiffs are six Stark County sheriff's deputies " Kristin Fenstemaker, Laura Rodgers, Tony Gayles, Richard T. Gurlea Jr., Andrea Mays and Brian Michaels " whom the lawsuit states suffered humiliation, severe emotional distress, disrepute in the community, and loss of wages and employment.

The suit stems from investigations and news stories by WKYC TV Inc. and its reporter which "portrayed the deputies as abusing their power, abusing an inmate and wrongfully causing harm to an inmate" " Hope Steffey of Salem.

Specifically named are news reporter Tom Meyer of WKYC TV; Gannett Company Inc., doing business as WKYC TV Inc. at 1333 Lakeside Ave. in Cleveland; and Gannett Satellite Information Network International, c/o CT Corporation at 1300 E. Ninth St., Cleveland. Also named as defendants are three people working for a Channel 3 news program, "The Investigator," whose "true names and addresses are currently unknown."
WKYC keeps up the pressure

Sheriff Swanson says Steffey was considered suicidal so her clothes had to be removed for her own safety. Steffey has denied she was suicidal.

The woman's lawyers discovered during the lawsuit that at least 128 women between 1999 and 2007 were strip-searched or forced to remove their clothing or placed on suicide watch, homicide watch or "naked detention."

The lawyers were unable to obtain the names of these women due to privacy rights. They are using a billboard along a busy four lane road to encourage these women to come forward and to tell their stories.

"This is an honest attempt to find out what, if anything is happening inside that jail that violates constitutional rights," said David Malik, an attorney representing Steffey.

I keep finding other bloggers keeping up the story, and many concerned citizens following it - but very little other media, other than WKYC.

One wonders why. Considering just how juicy this story is. How very much it appeals to tabloid sensiblities. One wonders why it's not wall to wall on CNN and Fox. But it's one more illustration as to why cops fear cameras.

Related Stories:

Sheriff Tim Swanson likes to make sure none of them pretty girls are suicidal.
Starke County deserves a Hellride for Hope.
Hope Steffey: "Rape without Penetration."


Advertising Age Rediscovers Ethics

It's a little crass to gig them about it, but all these "new trends" are very, very old ideas, restated for the information age. And, it's all about the ethics. 

Photography is Not a Crime, It's a First Amendment Right

The headline in today’s New York Times’ article sums up perfectly why so many cops feel threatened by photographers: When Evidence From Surveillance Cameras Leads to Charges Against Officers.

read more | digg story

The Quiet Canadian Agenda


Canadians are internationally known for being rather grey, slightly humorless and unfailingly polite. It's a perception that we encourage because it allows a certain sort of Canadian to have fun with tourists. Some Canadians have made careers of it. 


Others have taken shameless advantage of  an international stereotype of unassuming, polite competenceNational Film Board grants and experience at the CBC allow Canadians to build resumes that make American networks and film companies think we are exceptionally well-qualified to inform and entertain Americans. 

This is true, of course; it's one of the many blessings of literacy. 

We have cleverly used this to infiltrate "American" culture and influence it so that we can impose our vision of social and civil propriety upon all of you. 

Lorne Green; Founder of the Canadian Conspiracy
We do that so easily because so many assume a funny or interesting Canadian could not actually be Canadian. This has allowed people like Lorne Green andWilliam Shatner to penetrate to the very core of American Culture - Television dramas and lifestyle marketing.

Yes, People of the United States - it's already too late. The subversion is complete. Soon we shall rise up, place our toques upon our heads and gently clear our throats so that you may become aware of who's civilization this actually is. 

Did you REALLY think Obama was a secret Indonesian Muslim Jehadi? Really? Think about it!

He's well-spoken, with an amazing command of English and a clear ability to engage in parliamentary debate. But more tellingly, he's polite, courteous and intelligent. His sincerity is credible. He's stunningly, conspicuously - normal. He sounds just like any OTHER Canadian politician.

These very same politicians are cleverly using our  public media to foster the next generation of centrist, sane, competent and intellectually literate leaders. Ostensibly for Canada, of course - but as World Net Daily has insisted, it's really not that difficult to forge a birth certificate. 

Not that we'd do that1.

One might think our Francophone Leaders would be the normalcy that disproves the supposition, but that's simply a question of tactical focus. They have to appear comparatively sane by French standards, as opposed to being seen that way by Americans. There is still a lingering French presence in North America, still ready to subvert our cuisine and viciously taunt us from their Island Fastness.

This is why France is Canada's OTHER target for civilization-by-subversion
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although the  preemptive Jerry Lewis infiltration by the United States has significantly impacted our plans to  supplant mayonnaise-laden pomme frites with Poutine - as God clearly intended!  And to be sure, there have been missteps; Celine Dion is sometimes regarded as the Dieppe of Canadian Cultural Imperialism. That's what you get when you go for a twofer. 

But yet, sooner or later, our conspicuous sanity will prevail and "Peace, Order and Good Entertainment" will be the law of the land. And by God, good beer for all!

Poutine And Smoked Meat Sandwich Photo: Danielle Scott
1: Badly enough to be suspected by the people who write World Net Daily.

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