Tag Archives: Washington

Senate Examines Marijuana Policy

English: Close up shot of some high quality ma...

English: Close up shot of some high quality marijuana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following Colorado and Washington’s vote to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing examined emerging tensions between federal and state marijuana policy.

Inimai Chettiar writes on MSNBC.com that the government has yet to find a solution to the question of how to reform marijuana laws. “The new approach will do little to mitigate the failed ‘war on drugs’,” she explained. “To create genuine and lasting progress, federal drug laws must be completely revamped.” Removing harsh mandatory minimum sentences, Chettiar said, should be the first step.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Law

Another Texas Politician Calls for Secession

texas our texas

texas our texas (Photo credit: jmtimages)

Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, who is running to be the next state Attorney General, is preparing his state to secede and become an “independent nation.”

In an interview with WND, a right-wing hub, Smitherman argued that Texas can survive without the rest of the country and is taking steps to prepare for that day. “Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation,” he declared. “I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity.”

From the interview:

We are uniquely situated because we have energy resources, fossil and otherwise, and our own independent electrical grid. Generally speaking, we have made great progress in becoming an independent nation, an ‘island nation’ if you will, and I think we want to continue down that path so that if the rest of the country falls apart, Texas can operate as a stand-alone entity with energy, food, water and roads as if we were a closed-loop system.”

Smitherman said he feels Texas officials must do what they can to prepare the state.

“This was one of my goals at the Utility Commission and it is one my goals currently as chairman of the Railroad Commission. That’s why I stress so vehemently oil and gas production, permitting turnaround times, and everything that enables the industry to produce as much as it can, as quickly as it can,” he said.

As Railroad Commissioner, Smitherman is charge of regulating the state’s energy industry, including oil, gas, and coal. (The Railroad Commission no longer regulates Texas’ railroads.)

In 2009, Gov. Rick Perry (R), told reporters that Texas may have to secede “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people.”

Texas and a handful of other states tried secession once before. It didn’t end well.

Via TP.

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Filed under National, Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Man Tries to Shoot Pot into a Jail, Katniss-Style

English: Tsimishian shaman ceremonial bow and ...

English: Tsimishian shaman ceremonial bow and arrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, a Bellingham, Washington man wrapped a baggie of marijuana around an arrow and fired it at the second-floor recreation area of Whatcom County Jail.

David Wayne Jordan, 36, later claimed he had aimed at a squirrel. “He had no explanation as to why squirrel hunting requires attaching marijuana to an arrow,” said Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo.

Mr. Jordan’s attempt was seen by a jail employee who noticed Jordan getting out of his pickup with a hunting bow outside of the jail. I’ll just let the Bellingham Herald’s Caleb Hutton describe the event:

He fired the marijuana missile upward toward a mesh screen near the top of the second-floor, fresh-air exercise area for inmates, Elfo said. If fired at a perfect angle, the sheriff added, an arrow might squeeze through the screen.

But, apparently, this marksman was no Robin Hood. The arrow — along with a few grams of marijuana and a yet-to-be-identified substance — missed its target and landed on the roof. Jordan fled the scene in his Ford, but the civilian employee wrote down its license plate, Elfo said.

The targeted recreation area was empty, so “deputies aren’t sure if the arrow had an intended recipient.”

Jordan had been jailed earlier this month on charges of assault and resisting arrest, and had just gotten out last Friday. He was arrested and booked Tuesday “on suspicion of introducing contraband to a corrections facility” and other charges. Hutton notes that Jordan’s “current cell is on the first floor.”

Read more at http://wonkette.com/527076/washington-man-shooting-pot-arrows-at-jail-was-just-trying-to-get-the-squirrels-hiiiiiiigh#eAcuqFLVFjVt5o7z.99

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Stupid Is As Stupid Does

U.S. Defends Suspending Food Program to N. Korea

area map of Pyongyang Category:North Korea

area map of Pyongyang Category:North Korea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. has defended its decision to suspend a food aid program to North Korea, drawing criticism from an nongovernmental organization which said that Washington had missed an opportunity to help “severely hungry people.”

A State Department spokesperson told reporters that a satellite launch planned for April by the North, which caused the suspension of the food aid program, goes against conditions in an agreement between the two nations.

Under that agreement, Washington would have delivered 240,000 tons of food to Pyongyang over twelve months in exchange for a suspension of missile tests and permission for international inspectors to visit the North’s nuclear facilities.

According to the State Department, the launch of a satellite, atop a rocket that experts say could be used to deliver a nuclear warhead, is in breach of the “Leap Day” agreement and calls into question Pyongyang’s “good faith.”

North Korea maintains that the rocket does not represent a missile test, and that its payload is a scientific weather satellite.

During a three-day trip to Seoul that wrapped up Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama “made clear … we’re not going to be rewarding provocation.”

Pyongyang plans to blast the satellite into orbit between April 12 and 16.

Via Radio Free Asia.

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Filed under National, World

Thank Starbucks for Supporting Marriage Equality

Starbucks' headquarters building in Seattle.

Starbucks' headquarters building in Seattle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starbucks stuck its neck out to publicly support the right of all people to marry, regardless of the gender of their partners, and it is under attack by the ultra-conservative National Organization for Marriage (“NOM”). More than 20,000 NOM members have pledged to boycott Starbucks, and NOM is threatening to run ads against Starbucks in fifty-five countries.

Show your support for Starbucks by signing this giant Thank You card.

NOM is targeting Starbucks because the company supported gay marriage legislation in Washington. When it passed, the bill’s lead sponsor said that support from business convinced moderate legislators to vote for it. Without support from companies like Starbucks, the gay marriage law might have failed.

Starbucks isn’t perfect, but it’s a big deal when a giant multinational corporation with no particular connection to the gay community realizes that there are real business benefits to standing up for progressive ideals. We can’t just criticize corporations when they do bad. We also want to encourage them when they do good.

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Filed under Business, Law, Sick Sad World

Eight Female Service Members Sue for Sexual Assault

Eight U.S. service members have filed a lawsuit alleging they were raped, assaulted, or harassed while serving and retaliated against once they reported the abuse.

Among the defendants are current and former Defense and Navy secretaries and Marine Corps commandants.

The suit outlines a pattern of abuse and portrays the experiences of the eight female service members (two former Marine Corps officers, one active duty enlisted Marine, one former enlisted member of the Marine Corps and four former enlisted members of the Navy).

Via CNN.

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Filed under National, Sidebar

Maryland Becomes 8th State with Marriage Equality

English: A woman makes her support of her marr...

Image via Wikipedia

With Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature, marriage equality will become law in Maryland. Maryland will be the eighth state to enact such a law.

In just three weeks, following a major court victory against Proposition 8, marriage equality bills have passed in Washington, New Jersey, and now Maryland.

Despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s heartbreaking veto, the legislature’s pro-equality vote marked a powerful moment in this years-long battle.

These victories are exhilarating, but they are not accidents. All of these gains are the result of years of working together to elect fair-minded candidates and placing organizers on the ground to build support for these bills.

Join thousands around the country in congratulating Maryland on this remarkable moment.

Congratulations, Maryland!

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Filed under Cheers!, Family, Politics

Washington Poised to Require Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance

English: Rep. Albert Wynn (left) joins Gloria ...

Image via Wikipedia

At a time when many states are making it harder for women to get abortions, Washington appears headed in the opposite direction.

Fifteen states restrict insurers from covering abortions. Twelve are considering such measures. By contrast, a bill that has passed Washington’s House and is working its way through the Senate would make the state the first to require all health-insurance plans except those claiming a conscience-based exemption to include abortion coverage.

The measure, House Bill 2330, would require insurers who cover maternity care, which Washington insurers must offer, to pay for abortions. New York is the only other state considering similar rules, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Supporters say the state is protected by its existing conscience exemptions and note the bill has a self-destruct clause nullifying it in the event it were found to conflict with federal law. They say it would simply makes sure that women in Washington, one of four states to have legalized abortion before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, continue to have easy access to abortions once changes in federal health-care laws take effect in 2014.

“Washington state has historically been in the forefront for women’s reproductive rights,” said Rep. Eileen Cody. “We’re just trying to maintain the status quo.”

Via The Seattle Times.

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Filed under Cheers!, Health, Politics

Snowe Announces Retirement

, U.S. Senator.

Image via Wikipedia

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine will retire and not seek re-election this year.

In a statement, Sen. Snowe said she was frustrated “that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”

Sen. Snowe is known as a moderate who sometimes sides with Democrats in the increasingly partisan environment of Washington politics.

Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, but Democrats and the independents who caucus with them are defending twenty-three of the thirty-three seats up for grabs in November.

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Filed under Politics

Ranchers Wary of New Cattle Ear Tag Requirement

Cattle

Image by CameliaTWU via Flickr

Many ranchers in Western states look with suspicion on a federal plan to begin an identification system for cattle, one that emphasizes numbered ear tags and not brands.

Ranchers worry that the new regulation represents a first step toward ending branding.

Federal officials have long argued that a national identification system is necessary to trace outbreaks of diseases like mad cow, and that it would protect not only the health of animals and humans but also the cattle industry, which suffered in 2003 after the discovery of mad cow disease in Washington.

The new rule would require tagging with radio frequency devices or metal “brite” tags of cattle moved across state lines. Each tag would carry a unique numeric code. The codes would allow animal health authorities to decide where an animal came from in the event of a disease outbreak.

Aware that it is on delicate territory, the Department of Agriculture has included an exception, allowing brands to be used as unofficial identification in trade between states that agree to accept the method. Fourteen states have brand inspection laws.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has given support to the proposal but said it would like the inclusion of branding as an official identification method.

Opposition is especially strong among ranchers in Western states. Although the Agriculture Department has said it will initially offer metal ear tags at no cost, many ranchers believe the program will prove costly. They are also leery of federal intrusion into their businesses.

Most ranchers recognize the need for some sort of tracking system, and many use electronic ear tags as a marketing tool and not for identification.

Electronic tags are increasingly important in exports to other countries, which account for about 15% of American beef and over $5 billion in sales. Japan and South Korea both require electronic identification tags that verify the animal’s age and place of birth.

Via The New York Times.

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