Friday, April 3, 2009

Marijuana Blogger

Marijuana Chemical May Fight Brain Cancer

Active Component In Marijuana Targets Aggressive Brain Cancer Cells, Study Says

By Kelli Miller Stacy

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

The active chemical in marijuana promotes the death of brain cancer cells by essentially helping them feed upon themselves, researchers in Spain report.

Guillermo Velasco and colleagues at Complutense University in Spain have found that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, causes brain cancer cells to undergo a process called autophagy. Autophagy is the breakdown of a cell that occurs when the cell essentially self-digests.

The team discovered that cannabinoids such as THC had anticancer effects in mice with human brain cancer cells and people with brain tumors. When mice with the human brain cancer cells received the THC, the tumor growth shrank.

Two patients enrolled in a clinical trial received THC directly to the brain as an experimental treatment for recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive brain tumor.  Biopsies taken before and after treatment helped track their progress.  After receiving the THC, there was evidence of increased autophagy activity.

The findings appear in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The patients did not have any toxic effects from the treatment. Previous studies of THC for the treatment of cancer have also found the therapy to be well tolerated, according to background information in journal article.

Study authors say their findings could lead to new strategies for preventing tumor growth.

Drug Wars: Deterioration Turns to Demoralization

by Rusty Fleming

In times past there was a prevailing wisdom that the violence stemming from the drug war equated to just one drug dealer killing another and after they finished killing each other off, things would go back to being peaceful and all would be well— this theory is no longer valid. The escalated violence and corruption the cartels are exhibiting today are quickly eroding Mexico and its democratic institutions to the point that they have caused a serious shift in the entire geopolitical landscape and represent the greatest threat to national security to both the U.S. and Mexico.

One of the more disturbing aspects of the narco-insurgency in North America is the effect it is having on the free press in Mexico. Our own history has proven that exposing the truth in a free press has done more for positive change in government and corporate accountability in our nation than perhaps any other single component, but that simply does not fit in the world of terror that the narcos create and perpetuate. Hardly a single Mexican media outlet in the country operates freely and without fear when it comes to reporting on the narcos and their activities.

The narcos have succeeded in removing nearly all investigative reporting in the Mexican media. Even if reporters are allowed to, or brave enough to, they often remove their bylines, reveal very few facts and almost never name the perpetrators. There are numerous reported cases of media intimidation in the U.S. as well. Newspapers from San Antonio and Dallas have pulled reporters back to as far as New York to get them away from the threats made on them for reporting on cartel activity.

So the question becomes how do you fight against an enemy if you don't even know who he is? Can you imagine going after the Gambino crime family having never mentioned John Gotti's name? So what comes out in the press is essentially body counts and highlights of the brutality prominently displayed by the warring groups that wish to send their messages of fear to authorities, rival gangs and the public at large.

By killing rivals in barbaric fashion—beheading, burning alive and torture, the message is—"This is what happens when you are with the wrong gang"— by killing law enforcement agents the message is—"This will happen to anyone who opposes us" and by killing top government officials, the message is—"We can get to anybody" and to the public who sees the decapitated, burned and tortured remains, the message is— "No one is safe."

New Bill Allowing Industrial Hemp Farming Expected to Be Introduced this Week
For the third time since the federal government outlawed hemp farming in the United States over 50 years ago, a federal bill will be introduced that will remove restrictions on the cultivation of non-psychoactive industrial hemp. The chief sponsors, Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) have circulated a dear colleague letter seeking support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. The bill will be identical to HR 1009 which was introduced in the 110th Congress.

"With so much discussion lately in the media about drug policy, it is surprising the tragedy of American hemp farming hasn't come up as a 'no-brainer' for reform," says Vote Hemp President, Eric Steenstra. "Hemp is a versatile, environmentally friendly crop that has not been grown for over 50 years because of a politicized interpretation of the nation's drug laws by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). President Obama should direct the DEA to avoid confusing industrial hemp and it's genetically distinct cousin marijuana. While the new bill in Congress is a welcome step, the hemp industry is hopeful the new leadership in the White House will prioritize the crop benefits to farmers. There are jobs that would be created over night as there are numerous American companies that have no choice but to import hemp materials valued at $300 million in sales per year," says Steenstra.

U.S. companies that manufacture or sell products made with hemp include Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, a California company who manufactures the number-one-selling natural soap, and FlexForm Technologies, an Indiana company whose natural fiber materials are used in over 2 million cars. Hemp food manufacturers such as French Meadow Bakery, Hempzels, Living Harvest, Nature's Path and Nutiva now make their products from Canadian hemp. Although hemp grows wild across the U.S., a vestige of centuries of hemp farming, the hemp for these products must be imported. Hemp clothing is made around the world by well-known brands such as Patagonia, Bono's Edun and Giorgio Armani.

There is strong support among key national organizations for a change in the federal government's position on hemp. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) "supports revisions to the federal rules and regulations authorizing commercial production of industrial hemp." The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has also passed a pro-hemp resolution.

Numerous individual states have expressed interest in industrial hemp as well. Sixteen states have passed pro-hemp legislation; eight (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. North Dakota has issued state licenses, two years running. The new bill will removes federal barriers and allow laws in these states regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp to take effect.

You're fired

Bagram prisoners can contest detention in U.S. courts

The ruling is almost certain to be appealed by the government


WASHINGTON — Prisoners held by U.S. forces in Afghanistan can challenge their detention in U.S. courts, a federal judge ruled Thursday, rejecting the Obama administration's position.

The ruling – almost certain to be appealed by the government to the Supreme Court – may have sweeping ramifications. It means that hundreds of detainees held at Bagram Air Base may have the same access to U.S. courts as those at Guantanamo, which President Barack Obama vowed to shut down within a year.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Bates was limited only to non-Afghans captured outside of Afghanistan and held at Bagram, some for years. However, he also asked for further submissions on the rights of Afghans captured in Afghanistan and held by U.S. forces.

The ruling echoes high court judgments in Europe and Britain that battlefield captives have at least some rights in the courts of the country that captured them.

In Canada, the Harper government is vigorously contesting a federal court case brought by rights groups that argue Afghan detainees captured by Canadian forces have rights. That case is also expected to reach the Supreme Court of Canada.

"Yet again, a foreign court has held that legal rights 'follow the flag' when the military detains individuals abroad," Paul Champ, the lawyer representing Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Human Rights Association said. "Unfortunately, Canadian courts remain totally out of step on this fundamental human-rights issue."

iPods, First Sale, President Obama, and the Queen of England

Commentary by Fred von Lohmann

President Obama reportedly gave an iPod, loaded with 40 show tunes, to England's Queen Elizabeth II as a gift. Did he violate the law when he did so?

You know your copyright laws are broken when there is no easy answer to this question.

Traditionally, it has been the job of the "first sale" doctrine to enable gift giving -- that's the provision of copyright law that entitles the owner of a CD, book, or other copyrighted work, to give it away (or resell it, for that matter), notwithstanding the copyright owner's exclusive right of distribution.

In the digital era, however, first sale has been under siege, with copyright owners (and even the Copyright Office) arguing that it has no place in a world where "ownership" has been replaced by "licenses" and hand-to-hand exchanges have been replaced by computer-mediated exchanges that necessarily make copies. But it's precisely because first sale is central to everyday activities like giving an iPod to a friend, selling a used CD on eBay, or borrowing a DVD from a library, that EFF and others have been fighting for it in case after case.

So, how does President Obama fare in this? It's nearly impossible to figure out. If he'd simply purchased a "greatest hits" CD of show tunes and given it to the Queen, the first sale doctrine would have taken care of it. But because digital technology is involved here, suddenly it's a legal quagmire. (And, for the remainder of this discussion, I am going to set aside the Presidential immunity issues and the UK copyright law issues, which make it even more of a quagmire.)

First, let's imagine that the President (or his staff) bought the 40 show tunes from the iTunes music store. Do you "own" the music that you buy from iTunes? The nearly 9,000 words of legalese to which you agree before buying don't answer that question (an oversight? I doubt it). Copyright owners have consistently argued in court that many digital products (even physical "promo" CDs!) are "licensed," not "owned," and therefore you're not entitled to resell them or give them away. (And the Amazon MP3 Store terms of service are even worse for consumers than iTunes -- those terms specifically purport to strip you of "ownership" and forbid any "redistribution.")

Second, even if the first sale doctrine applies to iTunes downloads, what about the additional copies made on the iPod? iTunes does not download directly to an iPod. So President Obama's staff made an additional copy onto the Queen's intended iPod. How are those copies excused? The iTunes terms of service say that downloads are "only for personal, noncommercial use." Is giving a copy to a head of state a "personal" use? Seems more like a "diplomatic use," doesn't it? So copyright owners could argue that the copy on the iPod was not authorized, because it was beyond the scope of the iTunes "license." And according to the typical rightsholder argument, any use beyond the scope of the "license" is a copyright infringement.

Perhaps it's a fair use? I'd certainly take that view. But does it matter here whether President Obama's staffer first deleted the copy that is still on her computer? Should that matter? (It does not matter for first sale purposes, which is one reason why the first sale doctrine answers questions so much more clearly.)

Third, what about a breach of contract? As I mentioned above, some might argue that this "use" of iTunes downloads breaches the "personal use" limitation in the agreement. And if it is a breach of the iTunes contract, can the copyright owners sue President Obama as "third party beneficiaries" of the iTunes contract? It's not clear. (In the Amazon terms of service, copyright owners are specifically made third party beneficiaries, which appears to be an attempt to clear a path for record labels to sue Amazon customers for breaches of the contract.)

And all of this even before you start asking what happens when the Queen connects her new iPod to her computer, thereby making even more copies (the UK, after all, lacks a fair use doctrine)...

Hersh: Cheney ‘Left A Stay Behind’ In Obama’s Government, Can ‘Still Control Policy Up To A Point’

cheney.jpgIn an interview on NPR's Fresh Air yesterday, host Terry Gross asked investigative journalist Seymour Hersh if, as he continues to investigate the Bush administration, "more people" were "coming forward" to talk to him now that "the president and vice president are no longer in power." Hersh replied that though "a lot of people that had told me in the last year of Bush, 'call me next, next February,' not many people had talked to him. He implied that they were still scared of Cheney.

"Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward," asked Gross. "I'll make it worse," answered Hersh, adding that he believes Cheney "put people back" in government to "stay behind" in order to "tell him what's going on" and perhaps even "do sabotage":

HERSH: I'll make it worse. I think he's put people left. He's put people back. They call it a stay behind. It's sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you've driven out the, you know, you've lost the war. You leave people behind. It's a stay behind that you can continue to contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney's left a stay behind. He's got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what's going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there's still people that talk to him. He still knows what's going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he's still there. He's still a presence.

Kucinich on Fox: Merrill Lynch Bonuses

President brokers final G-20 agreement

The Group of 20 summit (G-20) reached a final agreement to restore the world's economy Thursday only after President Obama personally intervened and negotiated a compromise between France and China, White House officials said.

LONDON — The Group of 20 summit (G-20) reached a final agreement to restore the world's economy Thursday only after President Obama personally intervened and negotiated a compromise between France and China, White House officials said.

It was a remarkable stroke of personal diplomacy by a new president who made his debut this week on the world stage.

The pact calls for added spending to stimulate growth, new regulation over all "systemically important" financial institutions, including hedge funds, more than $1 trillion for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an effort to list tax havens, as a way to "name and shame" them into becoming more transparent and cooperating with international rules.

Heading into the summit's final hours, however, it appeared the group would fail to reach a consensus. For a tense hour, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Hu Jintao of China were going back and forth about tax havens. In a large conference room at the Excel Center, surrounded by 18 other world leaders, the two men sniped at each other, according to officials.

Sarkozy pushed to have the G-20 spotlight offending tax havens — maybe including Hong Kong and Macau, which are under China's sovereignty — based on a list published Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but China objected, largely because it doesn't belong to the OECD.

Hu appeared angry that Sarkozy was effectively accusing China of lax regulation and that China was being asked to endorse sanctions issued by the OECD, a club of wealthy nations that his country has yet to join.

That was when Obama, long a champion of ending or curbing tax havens, decided to float a compromise and pulled Sarkozy aside, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "The president thought he could be helpful in resolving the differences," the official said.

The account was confirmed by other officials who had been in the room.

Obama proposed that the G-20 merely "take note" of the OECD list, thus opening the door to implicit but not direct endorsement of it.

"He sent a message to the Chinese," the official said. "They were considering it (Obama's message) for some time."

Obama then met with Hu and Sarkozy in a corner of the meeting room, as other world leaders waited.

Upon the trio's reaching agreement, the G-20 summit then agreed to note the list of tax havens. 

The result: "The era of banking secrecy is over," the final communiqué said.

London cops beating the shit out of peaceful G20 demonstrators


Here's some disgraceful footage of London's cops beating the shit out of a group of peaceful G20 protestors who are holding their arms in the air, chanting, "This is not a riot." Look familiar? It's what the British cops did at the last Climate Camp, too. How much you want to bet that no one involved in the authoritarian response to these peaceful protestors pays any price, because they all offer the lame excuse that an entirely different group of protestors broke some windows at a bank in a different part of town?

Film Of Police Attack On G20 Climate Camp

Ron Paul on HR 1207, a bill to audit the Fed

One in 10 Americans gets help from U.S. to buy food

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A record 32.2 million people -- one in every 10 Americans -- received food stamps at the latest count, the government said on Thursday, a reflection of the recession now in its 16th month.

Food stamps, the major U.S. anti-hunger program, help poor people buy groceries. The average benefit was $112.82 per person in January.

The January figure marks the third time in five months that enrollment set a record.

"A weakened economy means that many more individuals are turning to SNAP/Food Stamps," said the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group, using the acronym for the renamed food stamp program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in February, the highest in 25 years. Weekly claims for jobless benefits totaled 669,000 last week, the highest in 26 years, the government said on Thursday.

Food stamp enrollment rose in 46 of the 50 states during January as the national total rose by 580,000 people, or 1.3 percent, from December, when the previous record was set, said Agriculture Department figures.

Judge Must Release Woman Sentenced to Jail for Being Poor, ACLU Says in Court Papers

UPDATE: The ACLU of Michigan is happy to announce that Edwina Nowlin was released today after being represented by the ACLU at  an emergency hearing in Delta County Probate Court today.

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan asked for an emergency hearing today on behalf of an Escanaba woman sentenced to 30 days in jail because she is too poor to reimburse the court for her son's stay in a juvenile detention facility.

"Like many people in these desperate economic times, Ms. Nowlin was laid off from work, lost her home and is destitute," said Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan Legal Director. "Jailing her because of her poverty is not only unconstitutional, it's unconscionable and a shameful waste of resources. It is not a crime to be poor in this country and the government must stop resurrecting debtor's prisons from the dustbin of history."

In December 2008, Ms. Nowlin's 16-year-old son was sentenced to the Bay Pines Center and Ms. Nowlin was ordered to pay $104 per month for his lodging. At the time of this order, Ms. Nowlin was homeless and working part-time with a friend after being laid off from her job. She told the court that she was unable to pay the ordered amount, however the judge found her in contempt for failing to pay. In addition, Ms. Nowlin's requests for a court appointed attorney were denied.

Since March 3, 2009, Ms. Nowlin has been serving her sentence at the Delta County Jail. On March 6, 2009, she was released for one day to work. Once released she picked up her $178.53 check from work thinking that she now could pay the $104.00 to get out of jail. However, upon her return to jail that evening, the sheriff forced her to sign over her check to the jail to cover $120.00 for "room and board." She was also charged $22 for a drug test and the booking fee.

According to the ACLU's motion: "This country did away with debtors' prisons more than a century ago. The imprisonment of Ms. Nowlin because she is too destitute to make payments to the court is a miscarriage of justice."

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