California May Be Forced to Release Up to a Third of All Prisoners

February 10th, 2009
How will the private prison companies manage?

Via: Reuters:

Federal judges on Monday tentatively ordered California to release tens of thousands of inmates, up to a third of all prisoners, in the next three years to stop dangerous overcrowding.

As many as 57,000 could be let go if the current population were cut by the maximum percentage considered by a three-judge panel. Judges said the move could be done without threatening public safety — and might improve a public safety hazard.

The state immediately said it would appeal the final ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trend-setting California, the Golden State, has an immense prison system responsible for nearly 170,000 inmates, and their care has become a major political and budget issue as officials weigh multibillion costs of improved facilities against death and illness behind bars.

Boycott Kellogg’s!

Michael Phelps, marijuana, bong hit, Kellogg's, boycott, bong, swimming, sponsors Someone needs to spank Kellogg’s on its sugar-frosted hiney. And If I bought Kellogg’s products I would join the call to boycott them. How does a company devoted to setting little kids on the path to Type 2 diabetes get all sanctimonious about Michael Phelps and a bong hit? His behavior is inconsistent with its image, the company says. Huh? How can that be? Tony the Tiger is generally the first pusher of addictive substances in a child’s life. That’s the American way.

Take Frosted Flakes. The company recommends a 3/4-cup serving, but come on that’s like eating a handful of  sugary air. A real bowl is about two to three times that amount. That means kids can start the day with up to 36 grams of sugar, or about 9 teaspoons per bowl. Multiply that morning after morning.

Then there are Crack-its, or rather, Cheez-its. I don’t care what the serving portion is, can anyone stop at anything under half a box? Anyway, the larger point is this: He’s a 23-year-old young man who got caught doing what 23-year-old young men do. Phelps has apologized. He can still be president. And most of his other sponsors, like Speedo, seem to be sticking with him.

Why is Kellogg’s hyperventilating over this? Frankly, I think the company is shooting itself in its frosted foot. It will never find a better pitch man. The message was streamlined and simple: eat this food and you too will have to swim 17 hours a day.

Anyway, over on Huffingont Post, Lee Stranahan takes a different tack. He argues that Kellogg’s is alienating its most devoted adult client base, the stoner crowd. Here are snippets from his petition calling for boycott:

1) Kellogg’s is a major manufacturer of cereal and junk food products including but not limited to Frosted Flakes, Pop Tarts, Cheez-Its, Froot Loops, Keebler’s Cookies, Rice Krispies, Eggo Frozen Waffles, Famous Amos Cookies and many other products known to be a part of the diet of many marijuana using Americans

2) Kellogg’s has profited for decades on the food tastes of marijuana using Americans with the munchies. In fact, we believe that most people over the age of twelve would not eat Kellogg’s products were they not wicked high.

3)That Kellogg’s has decided to end their relationship with Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps after pictures of him surfaced doing exactly what most Kellogg’s customers do right before enjoying a bowl of Rice Krispies mixed with Keebler Cookies with an Eggo on top.

The rest is pretty funny and worth a read.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

DEA continues pot raids Obama opposes. President vowed to end policy.

Stephen Dinan and Ben Conery THE WASHINGTON TIMES Thursday, February 5, 2009

Drug Enforcement Administration agents this week raided four medical
marijuana shops in California, contrary to President Obama’s campaign
promises to stop the raids.

DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart

The White House said it expects those kinds of raids to end once Mr.
Obama nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush
administration holdovers.

“The president believes that federal resources should not be used to
circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to
fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review
their policies with that in mind,” White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said.

Medical use of marijuana is legal under the law in California and a dozen
other states, but the federal government under President Bush, bolstered by
a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, argued that federal interests trumped state

Dogged by marijuana advocates throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama repeatedly
said he was opposed to using the federal government to raid medical
marijuana shops, particularly because it was an infringement on states’

“I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent
state laws on this issue,” Mr. Obama told the Mail Tribune newspaper in
Oregon in March, during the Democratic primary campaign.

He told the newspaper the “basic concept of using medical marijuana for the
same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by
doctors, I think that’s entirely appropriate.”

Mr. Obama is still filling key law enforcement posts. For now, DEA is run by
acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, a Bush appointee.

Special Agent Sarah Pullen of the DEA’s Los Angeles office said agents
raided four marijuana dispensaries about noon Tuesday. Two were in Venice
and one each was in Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Ray — all in the Los
Angeles area.

A man who answered the phone at Marina Caregivers in Marina Del Rey said his
shop was the target of a raid but declined to elaborate, saying the shop was
just trying to get back to operating.

Agent Pullen said the four raids seized $10,000 in cash and 224 kilograms of
marijuana and marijuana-laced food, such as cookies. No one was arrested,
she said, but the raid is part of an ongoing investigation seeking to trace
the marijuana back to its suppliers or source.

She said agents have conducted 30 or 40 similar raids in the past several
years, many of which resulted in prosecutions.

“It’s clear that the DEA is showing no respect for President Obama’s
campaign promises,” said Dan Bernath, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy
Project in Washington, which advocates for medical marijuana and for
decriminalizing the drug.

California allows patients whose doctors prescribe marijuana to use the
drug. The state has set up a registry to allow patients to obtain cards
allowing them to possess, grow, transport and use marijuana.

Kris Hermes of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group
in California, called the raids an attempt to undermine state law and said
they were apparently conducted without the knowledge of Los Angeles city or
police officials.

He said the DEA has raided five medical marijuana dispensaries in the state
since Mr. Obama was inaugurated and that the first took place on Jan. 22 in
South Lake Tahoe.

“President Obama needs to keep a promise he made, not just in one campaign
stop, but in multiple speeches that he would not be spending Justice
Department funds on these kinds of raids,” Mr. Hermes said. “We do want to
give him a little bit of leeway, but at the same time we’re expecting him to
stop this egregious enforcement policy that is continuing into his

He said he is aware that Mr. Obama has not installed his own DEA chief but
that new Attorney General “Eric Holder can still suspend these types of

The Justice Department referred questions to the White House.


ENN – Some biofuels cause more health problems than petrol and diesel, according to scientists who have calculated the health costs associated with different types of fuel. The study shows that corn-based bioethanol, which is produced extensively in the US, has a higher combined environmental and health burden than conventional fuels. However, there are high hopes for the next generation of biofuels, which can be made from organic waste or plants grown on marginal land that is not used to grow foods. They have less than half the combined health and environmental costs of standard gasoline and a third of current biofuels.

The work adds to an increasing body of research raising concerns about the impact of modern corn-based biofuels.

Several studies last year showed that growing corn to make ethanol biofuels was pushing up the price of food. Environmentalists have highlighted other problems such deforestation to clear land for growing crops to make the fuels. The UK government’s renewable fuels advisors recommended slowing down the adoption of biofuels until better controls were in place to prevent inadvertent climate impacts.

Using computer models developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the researchers found the total environmental and health costs of gasoline are about 71 cents (50p) per gallon, while an equivalent amount of corn-ethanol fuel has associated costs of 72 cents to $1.45, depending on how it is produced.


President is not a powerful enough position for this guy.

Voter Power makes the News! Initiative 28 MMJ

Voter Power’s recent events have garnered good media attention for both Initiative 28, the Regulated Medical Marijuana Supply System Initiative and medical marijuana in general.  Voter Power’s efforts to help all patients have access to medicine and generate additional revenue for the state were featured in both the Oregonian and local Fox affiliates.

To see the Fox coverage of the symposium at Southern Oregon University regarding the conflict between state medical marijuana laws and the federal government, go to:

The Oregonian covered the Ed Rosenthal Seminar in Portland and the entire story is reproduced below.  For more info, please visit


THE DEAD play Inaugural Ball!!

Here are some youtube  teasers, and the set list…

Dancin’ In The Streets>
Uncle John’s Band>
Sugar Magnolia
Eyes of the World

<<VP Joe Biden Speech & Dance>>

The Wheel>
Touch of Grey
Box of Rain

<<President Obama Speech 1st
couple dance to ‘At Last’>>


I’d say that is a huge argument for the decriminalization of Cannabis. It’s the only illegal drug that will not cause huge social problems if allowed to help restart the economy. A great deal of cannabis is grown domestically by smaller producers, so the money doesn’t go to offshore banks, or propping up careless major banks and their toxic assets, but into local stores, and other local tax paying businesses. Decriminalizing cannabis would support rebuilding the economy from the ground up.

The hard drugs that need to be shipped from South America or SE Asia are the ones that these banks call the “liquid investment capital” they have been depending on. The drugs that cause real harm, and these banks or better yet the executives that made the decisions should be held culpable for the problems of their “liquid capital” source.

Life on Google Earth

From an Amazonian rainforest to a Santa Cruz Canyon, activists are discovering if you can map it, you can save it

by E.B. Boyd

The map didn’t make sense. It was one of those grainy, black-and-white topographical maps, the kind of 8 ½ x 11 photocopy you get in the mail to inform you of an upcoming construction project near your home. The kind you turn this way and that until you give up trying to figure out what it corresponds to in the real world and just toss it into the trash instead.

[Rebecca Moore of Google Earth Outreach teaching Surui tribal Chief Almir Surui how to use Google Earth at a training center in Cacoal, Brazil. The Surui is just one of the groups using Google Earth as a tool to raise awareness for environmental and social issues. (Photo: Andrea Ribeiro)]Rebecca Moore of Google Earth Outreach teaching Surui tribal Chief Almir Surui how to use Google Earth at a training center in Cacoal, Brazil. The Surui is just one of the groups using Google Earth as a tool to raise awareness for environmental and social issues. (Photo: Andrea Ribeiro)

Rebecca Moore, however, did not toss this particular map. It was the summer of 2005, and the map came from a utility company that owned land in the Santa Cruz Mountains near her home. The map was titled “Notice of Intent to Harvest Timber.” Moore thought that sounded like logging. She couldn’t make heads or tails of the boundaries the map proposed to illustrate, but she was determined to figure out where the timber harvest was going to take place.Moore, a computer programmer, had recently started playing around with digital mapping tools. Her original idea had been to plot the hiking trails in her local canyon. But after an ambulance took two hours to find a neighbor’s house, her interest intensified. She learned that rescue workers were relying on 20-year-old hand-drawn maps that were badly out of date. Moore decided to put her new skills to use. She obtained parcel information from local county offices and, using GPS data, she plotted out all the homes and roads in the canyon. The result was a clear, professional-grade map, like the kind you’d buy in any bookstore. Local fire companies snapped it up.

So when Moore got the inscrutable utility company notice, she pulled out her favorite mapping tool, Google Earth. Google had recently acquired the software, which most people are familiar with as the free desktop application you can use to gaze at satellite pictures of your house. But Moore had been toying with the software since before Google acquired it. Most digital geographical information systems just offer the kind of flat topographical views you’d get in a typical hiking map. The Google Earth tool went further. It had satellite imagery, so you could see real pictures of what the land looked like, and its embedded 3-D geographic information allowed you to fly through landscapes as if you were in a helicopter. Moore was so excited about the potential uses for the software that she had recently joined Google as a technical lead for the product.

When Moore turned to her new employer’s software to identify which parcels of land the utility company owned, she was acting only as a private citizen concerned about a local land use issue. But her effort to understand what was happening in her own backyard led to a breakthrough that has had worldwide ramifications for environmental and humanitarian organizations seeking to communicate the significance of their causes.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Google Earth

Los Gatos Creek Canyon, where Moore lives, is the kind of place people move to specifically because they love and care about nature. Secluded houses sit on acres of redwood forest, which is also home to osprey, beavers and even the occasional mountain lion. Hiking trails run up and down the canyon slopes, and neighbors form bonds over communal responsibilities like maintaining the winding roads that lead to their homes. If loggers were going to be removing trees in the area, Moore wanted to know exactly where.

Moore dumped her parcel information into the software and looked for the utility company’s land. The results alarmed her: it was a six-mile swath jutting straight up the canyon, right below private homes, schools and churches. The roads the loggers would take were a mess of hairpin turns. Just recently, a local woman’s car had been crushed after logs had rolled off another logging truck. These are the roads kids use to walk to school, Moore thought. There will be more accidents.

The creek at the base of the canyon provides water for 100,000 people living in the mountains and in nearby Silicon Valley. Soil erosion from the logging would surely degrade water quality, Moore thought, if not gum up the filtration machinery altogether. Plus landslides were already common; the removal of so many trees would certainly precipitate more slides.

A little more digging revealed that the proposal wasn’t even a one-time project. The utility company was seeking an ongoing permit that would allow them to remove redwoods and Douglas fir week in, week out, into perpetuity. It sounded like a bad idea to Moore, and also unnecessary. The proposal purported to be a fire-prevention plan, but from Moore’s point of view, the old-growth trees targeted in the plan weren’t a hazard. In the 1980s, for example, it was a stand of old-growth redwoods, with the fire resistance they’d built up over centuries, which had been credited with stopping a raging fire and saving many homes.

Moore soon learned she wasn’t the only one in the canyon worried about the proposed logging project. A small group of her neighbors were already discussing the proposal’s ramifications and exploring ways to fight it. Normally, community activists face an uphill battle in soliciting support for their causes. And in this case, the group, who adopted the name Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging (NAIL), was told to expect defeat. The utility company was a pro at these kinds of battles, they were told, and the regulatory agencies usually approved these types of requests.

But in this particular David and Goliath showdown, the little guy had a secret weapon. Moore realized she could use Google Earth to take canyon residents on the equivalent of an aerial tour of the proposed logging site, helping them to understand the various risks of running such an operation so close to their homes and communities. Over the course of a weekend, Moore marked up the images in Google Earth, coloring in the land where the logging would take place, and inserting labels to denote well-known landmarks, like schools and playgrounds.

Moore unveiled her work at a community meeting in front of 300 neighbors who so tightly packed the room that some had to stand outside and watch through the windows. She began her tour in outer space with a view of the Earth floating in inky blackness. Then, Moore zoomed in on the planet, like the pilot of a spaceship. The United States came into view, then the West Coast, then the Bay Area, until Moore finally flew to the base of Silicon Valley. The image pivoted toward the local reservoir and then started flying up the canyon.

At first the audience was quiet. But as soon as Moore began to guide the room through the canyon they all knew, people started leaning forward. Real images of the actual trees, roads and buildings in their community popped up. The logging area was marked in a translucent red, clearly bumping up right next to the roads, homes and businesses where audience members lived and played. Using Google Earth’s ruler tool, Moore showed them exactly how far logging would take place from their houses and communities. She showed them the locations of proposed helicopter landing pads for logs that couldn’t be removed by truck and demonstrated how closely timber-laden choppers might pass the local day care center and schools.

“Within 10 minutes of looking at the flyover, people were saying, ‘We can’t have this. This has to stop. We have to get active,'” says Terry Clark, a Los Gatos Creek neighbor and a member of the NAIL steering committee.

“I thought I was well-informed… but I nearly fell off my chair when I had a good look at [the] Google Earth presentation of the logging zone,” resident Lisa Sgarlato wrote to a local magazine after the meeting. “This three-dimensional presentation gave an amazing topographic bird’s eye view of how invasive the logging will be.”

Soon Moore was schlepping her presentation to more community meetings as well as to sit-downs with local politicians. Area news organizations clamored for tape of the flyover to run in primetime. The area’s state assembly member had been planning to travel to the land to take a look for himself. But the flyover gave him the tour he needed and confirmed his opposition to the project. Local papers wrote editorials against the logging plan. Even former Vice President and uber-environmentalist Al Gore signed NAIL’s petition and issued a statement against the plan after seeing the flyover on a visit to Google.

“We didn’t even have to try to convince people,” says Clark, who had struggled with more conventional means of persuasion on previous neighborhood campaigns. “We just put [on the visualization], and they would automatically respond, ‘Oh yes, this has to stop.'”

Envisioning Solutions

Late last year, after numerous meetings and agency reviews, the utility company’s permit request was denied. Ultimately, the ruling was made on the basis that the utility company owned too much land to qualify for the type of permit it was seeking. But organizers and supporters alike say the ability to provide an aerial tour of the impacted area played an essential role in keeping the plan in the spotlight and organizing community opposition.

“For policymakers or environmental activists, this kind of tool that allows you to accurately fly over a site is extremely useful,” says the area’s state assembly member, Ira Ruskin. “It obviates the need for a more arduous way of taking a look at things.”

Following media coverage, environmental groups started contacting Moore to learn how they could use Google Earth for their own campaigns. At Google, Moore started setting up in-house programs to help non-profits. As demand continued to grow, the company began to realize there was an enormous opportunity to help organizations illustrate and advocate for their causes. In 2007, the company set up a new unit, Google Earth Outreach, to do just that – and tapped Moore to lead it.

The U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington has used Google Earth to disseminate information about what some are calling genocide in Darfur. Google Earth users can fly in on villages that have been destroyed and learn more about how many people have been displaced. An east coast non-profit has successfully used the tool to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia and to generate support for a clean water bill in Congress. UNESCO has used it to call attention to endangered world heritage sites. And over the summer, Moore and a Google Earth Outreach team flew to South America to teach an indigenous Amazonian tribe how to use the tool’s satellite images to spot illegal logging and mining activity on their land.

The tool can be used to envision potential solutions as well as to identify problems, Moore says. The Appalachia group, for example, used Google Earth to envision a future where mountaintops were covered with wind turbines, and to show how a renewable energy source like wind could produce far more energy over time than the finite amount of underlying coal.

The work has become a personal mission for Moore, whose environmental leanings germinated during childhood summers spent gamboling on her grandfather’s property in upstate New York. “I want to work on making this tool available to everyone so they can use it to strengthen their communities and protect their environments,” she says.

A strengthened community was just one by-product of the NAIL campaign. Previously, Los Gatos Creek Canyon residents had identified primarily with the specific neighborhood in which they lived. The flyover showed how all the neighborhoods were connected. “Google Earth made it possible for everyone to see what a close-knit community we are,” Clark says. “It bound people together.”

E.B. Boyd is a journalist based in San Francisco who, yes, has used Google Earth to look at satellite pictures of her home.


NASA – Calendar year 2008 was the coolest year since 2000, according to a NASA analysis of worldwide temperature measurements, but it was still in the top ten warmest years since the start of record-keeping in 1880.


The 10 warmest years have all occurred within the 12-year period from 1997-2008. The map above shows global temperature anomalies in 2008 compared to the 1950-1980 baseline period. Most of the world was either near normal or warmer than normal. Eastern Europe, Russia, the Arctic, and the Antarctic Peninsula were exceptionally warm (1.5 to 3.5 degrees Celsius above average). The NASA scientists attribute the relative coolness of 2008 to the persistent La Nina.