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Why the Legal Marijuana Age Has to Be 21

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 1:47 pm

There is no real legal, moral or scientific reason why the age restriction in the state marijuana legalization initiatives should be 21 instead of 19 or 22, but it is a political necessity.

The American people overwhelmingly want the drinking age to remain 21. According to a new Gallup poll, 74 percent would oppose a federal law lowering the drinking age to 18 across the country. It found every major political subgroup opposes this change. From Gallup:

Favor or Oppose Lowering Drinking Age to 18

Given that the American public is still relatively skeptical about the idea of legal marijuana there is no way they would support making marijuana more readily available than alcohol.

While there might be some good arguments for why the United States should bring its drinking age more in line with those in Europe, that is separate debate the American people don’t seem very open to at the moment.

With only a modest majority of voters in support of the idea of marijuana legalization, ballot initiative campaigns can’t afford to alienate voters with an unpopular provision that takes the losing side on this age topic.

In Uruguay it was possible to set the legal age for marijuana purchasing at 18 because they don’t have a higher drinking age, but that won’t work politically in the United States.

For whatever reason Americans have decided they really like an age limit of 21, so that is why all three legalization initiative this year, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C., needed to go with that number.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy


How President Bill Clinton Prepared to Justify Criminalizing All Leaks of Information

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 12:50 pm

President Bill Clinton at Armed Forces Review and Awards Ceremony at Fort Myer, Virginia (Jan 5, 2001)

When President Bill Clinton vetoed anti-leaks provision in 2000 that would have made nearly all unauthorized disclosures of information by officials a felony, he warned of a “serious risk that this legislation” would have “a chilling effect on those who engage in legitimate activities.” But a draft signing statement released by the Clinton Library this month show how he would have defended the provision if he had decided to sign it into law.

Senator Richard Shelby had introduced an amendment to the intelligence authorization bill for fiscal year 2001. Shelby argued the amendment would “fill gaps in existing law by giving the Justice Department new authority to prosecute the knowing and willful unauthorized disclosure of classified information to a person not authorized to receive that information.” It would make it possible for officials to be penalized with fines of up to $10,000 or three years in prison.

He maintained, “While current law bars unauthorized disclosure of certain categories of information, for example, cryptographic or national defense information, many other sensitive intelligence and diplomatic secrets are not protected.” He specifically wanted to stop leaks to news organizations.

Clinton prepared to defend this amendment [PDF] by declaring that “unauthorized disclosures” could be “extremely harmful to the national security interests of the United States” and could “hinder my ability to make decisions affecting our nation’s security and put at risk scarce and irreplaceable intelligence sources and methods indispensable for acquiring the information necessary to make those decisions in the best possible way.”

He also planned to downplay the extent to which the provision might be applied in a draconian manner by suggesting the “new provision should not be applied in a manner that could chill legitimate activity or transform questions of judgment into criminal referrals.”

“It is extraordinarily important, therefore, that the Justice Department use its prosecutorial discretion wisely when apparently unauthorized disclosures are referred to it for possible prosecution under this new provision.”

Yet, the draft signing statement also would have indicated that “many of the problems this legislation seeks to address should normally be handled through strict application of personnel security practices,” which would have been an acknowledgment that this punitive authority to go after leakers was not needed at all.

Silencing the Children of Gaza

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 11:58 am

The video above is an ad produced by the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, in which the names of the children killed in Gaza are read. B’Tselem attempted to buy ad time on Israeli radio but were refused:

More than 600 Palestinians have been killed during the fighting in Gaza so far, including more than 150 children. Yet Israeli media is barely covering the story, other than mentioning the number of casualties. To encourage public debate in Israel on the issue, B’Tselem asked to purchase a spot on IBA Radio in order to have the names of some of the children killed read out. The radio refused, on the grounds that reading out the names of Palestinian children killed in Gaza is politically ‘controversial.’ Yet the refusal is, in itself, far from neutral: it is a powerful statement in favor of silencing public debate over the massive price that Gazan civilians are paying for this operation.

Yet while some voices are silenced, Israeli officials are not only encouraging but in fact paying others. In a report in USA Today from last summer we learned that Israeli students are offered full or part scholarships in return for posting pro-Israel comments on social media that align with government positions.

Of course, it’s not only paid posters who scramble to toe the line.

And while the propaganda wars play out, today in Gaza, a UN School in Beit Hanoun was once again shelled by Israel:

At least 15 people have been reported killed and 200 injured in the Israeli shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza which was being used as a shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.

… Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed. ‘This is a designated emergency shelter,’ he said. ‘The location was conveyed to the Israelis.

‘This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.’

Multiple western journalists reported the same – including Dan Rivers of ITV:

Paul Ryan Calls for Sentencing Reform to Reduce Poverty

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 11:02 am

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) is calling for significant sentencing reform to reduce the prison population. His proposed changes to our prison system were only part of a larger package of ideas to address poverty and improve economic mobility in the country.

Cuomo Administration Interfered With Ethics Investigation

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 10:06 am

How is that Working Families Party endorsement looking now? Members of the administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly interfered with investigators trying to get to the bottom of political corruption in New York State.

Democrats Suffer From Significant Enthusiasm Gap

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 9:12 am

While Democrats hold a small two-point lead in the generic Congressional ballot, the big problem for them is their voters aren’t enthusiastic about turning out.

Leaked Rulebook Reveals Loophole-Ridden Criteria for Placing Individuals on Terrorist Watchlists

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 8:01 am

A secret United States government rulebook for placing “known terrorists” and “suspected terrorists” on government watchlists, including the No-Fly List, has been published by The Intercept. It was obtained from an unnamed “intelligence source.”

US Only Country to Vote No on UN Resolution Against Killing Civilians in Gaza

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 6:52 am

American exceptionalism strikes again. This time it manifested itself as the US being the only country on the United Nations Human Rights Council to vote against investigating the killing of civilians in Operation Protective Edge. The call to respect international legal restrictions on warfare and investigate whether any violations have taken place received a yea or abstention from every other country on the council. The resolution was presented by Ibrahim Khraishi, the ambassador of the Palestinian observer mission to the UN in Geneva.

The Roundup

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 5:45 am

- After reporting their offices in Gaza were targeted by the Israel Defense Force, Al-Jazeera journalists and staff evacuated

- A new law in Russia would collect all information and data of Russian users to stop Internet criticism of the government

- P.K. Winsome (Tim Meadows) jokes with Stephen Colbert on his new plans to impeach President Obama through his latest scheme

The Circle of Strife

By: Thursday July 24, 2014 1:30 am

For every over the top offensive reaction, somewhere there’s an equally offensive counter-reaction, and then a just as offensive counter-counter reaction will occur somewhere else.

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