Telegraph, UK – Prominent rock bands such as Massive Attack, Rage Against the Machine and Elbow have joined forces with a legal charity to campaign against the use of music as a instrument of torture.

US military interrogators play tracks by artists such as Metallica, AC/DC, Eminem, Bruce Springsteen and even Britney Spears at deafening volume to detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

The music is blasted relentlessly in a bid to “break” prisoners, according to Reprieve, which says the practice continues despite a ban on the use of loud music in interrogations by the United Nations and European Court of Human Rights.

Using loud music “to create fear and disorient detainee(s) and prolong capture shock” was among a host of interrogation tactics authorized by then commander in Iraq Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez in a memo dated September 14, 2003. . .

Musicians backing the initiative include Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, who at a recent concert suggested taking revenge on President George W Bush by putting him in a cell and blasting his own band’s music at him.

“What we’re talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them,” singer-songwriter David Gray has said of the practice.

“That is torture. That is nothing but torture. It doesn’t matter what the music is – it could be Tchaikovsky’s finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn’t matter, it’s going to drive you completely nuts.”

According to Reprieve, some of the music used by interrogators is written for children. Christopher Cerf, who wrote music for Sesame Street, told the Associated Press he was horrified to learn songs from the children’s show were used in interrogations. “I wouldn’t want my music to be a party to that.”

Binyam Mohamed, a Guantanamo inmate and former London resident, told Reprieve he suffered months of torture at the hands of CIA operatives while in a secret prison.

“There was loud music, (Eminem’s) Slim Shady and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this nonstop over and over,” he said. “The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night for the months before I left. Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off.”

Other supporters of the campaign include Mercury Prize winners Elbow, The Magic Numbers, James Lavelle of UNKLE, comedian Bill Bailey and The Musicians’ Union, which represents more than 30,000 musicians.


INDEPENDENT, UK – In selected watering holes across America, it’s party time tonight. In Washington, the festivities will centER on the venerable City Tavern in Georgetown; for $90, you can taste the cocktail offerings of the capital’s most expert bartenders (or “mixologists” as they like to term themselves), listen to a jazz band and, in the words of the invitation, “party like it’s 1933”.

In San Francisco, after a parade through the streets, celebrants will make their way to the 21st Amendment Brewery, gaining entrance to the revelries within by use of a special password. Similar events are being held in New York, Chicago, New Orleans and other US cities associated with an understanding acceptance of human frailty and having a good time.

By now the reason for these goings-on will be plain. Tonight is the 75th anniversary of the end of Prohibition – of 5 December 1933 when Utah became the deciding 36th state to ratify the 21st amendment to the constitution, and restore to the country’s citizens the basic human right to go out and have a drink.

Rarely in the annals of human experience has so well intentioned an idea been such a monument to failure as America’s 13-year attempt to eradicate the evil of alcohol. The National Prohibition (or Volstead) Act was passed by Congress in October 1919, overriding the veto of President Woodrow Wilson. The following January, the Act was ratified as the 18th amendment of the constitution after it had been approved by the required three-quarters majority of US states.

The “noble experiment”, as its supporters termed it, did indeed lead to a modest decline in alcohol consumption and an overall improvement in public health. But those meager and transient advantages were nothing compared to the unintended side-effects of Prohibition: a drastic decline in federal and state revenues, a surge in clandestine binge drinking and of course speak-easies, bootlegging, moonlighting and mobsters, not to mention the criminalization of millions of US citizens, including some its most eminent politicians, who were technically flouting the law of the land.

Ethan A. Nadelmann, Wall Street Journal – We should consider why our forebears rejoiced at the relegalization of a powerful drug long associated with bountiful pleasure and pain, and consider too the lessons for our time.

The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption.

The change from just 15 years earlier, when most Americans saw alcohol as the root of the problem and voted to ban it, was dramatic. Prohibition’s failure to create an Alcohol Free Society sank in quickly. Booze flowed as readily as before, but now it was illicit, filling criminal coffers at taxpayer expense. . .

When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.

Consider the consequences of drug prohibition today: 500,000 people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails for nonviolent drug-law violations; 1.8 million drug arrests last year; tens of billions of taxpayer dollars expended annually to fund a drug war that 76% of Americans say has failed; millions now marked for life as former drug felons; many thousands dying each year from drug overdoses that have more to do with prohibitionist policies than the drugs themselves, and tens of thousands more needlessly infected with AIDS and Hepatitis C because those same policies undermine and block responsible public-health policies.

And look abroad. At Afghanistan, where a third or more of the national economy is both beneficiary and victim of the failed global drug prohibition regime. At Mexico, which makes Chicago under Al Capone look like a day in the park. And elsewhere in Latin America, where prohibition-related crime, violence and corruption undermine civil authority and public safety, and mindless drug eradication campaigns wreak environmental havoc.

All this, and much more, are the consequences not of drugs per se but of prohibitionist policies that have failed for too long and that can never succeed in an open society, given the lessons of history. Perhaps a totalitarian American could do better, but at what cost to our most fundamental values?

Why did our forebears wise up so quickly while Americans today still struggle with sorting out the consequences of drug misuse from those of drug prohibition?

It’s not because alcohol is any less dangerous than the drugs that are banned today. Marijuana, by comparison, is relatively harmless: little association with violent behavior, no chance of dying from an overdose, and not nearly as dangerous as alcohol if one misuses it or becomes addicted. Most of heroin’s dangers are more a consequence of its prohibition than the drug’s distinctive properties. That’s why 70% of Swiss voters approved a referendum this past weekend endorsing the government’s provision of pharmaceutical heroin to addicts who could not quit their addictions by other means. It is also why a growing number of other countries, including Canada, are doing likewise.


WJLA – A farm couple got a huge surprise when they opened their fields to anyone who wanted to pick up free vegetables left over after the harvest – 40,000 people showed up. Joe and Chris Miller’s fields were picked so clean that a second day of gleaning – the ancient practice of picking up leftover food in farm fields – was canceled “Overwhelmed is putting it mildly,” Chris Miller said. “People obviously need food.”

She said she expected 5,000 to 10,000 people would show up Saturday to collect free potatoes, carrots and leeks. Instead, an estimated 11,000 vehicles snaked around cornfields and backed up more than two miles. About 30 acres of the 600-acre farm 37 miles north of Denver became a parking lot.

“Everybody is so depressed about the economy,” said Sandra Justice of Greeley, who works at a technology company. “This was a pure party. Everybody having a a great time getting something for free.” Justice and her mother and son picked 10 bags of vegetables.

Miller said they opened the farm to the free public harvest for the first time this year after hearing reports of food being stolen from churches. It was meant as a thank you for customers.

Farm operations manager Dave Patterson said that in previous years the Millers allowed schoolchildren and some church groups to come to the farm during the fall to harvest their own food.

He estimated some 600,000 pounds of produce was harvested Saturday.

Weld County sheriff’s deputies helped direct traffic and the Colorado State Patrol issued citations for cars illegally parked on the side of the road.


Apparently in 1978 there was a program on CBC Network that featured Jack Nicholson demonstrating a 1978 Chevy that was modified to run on hydrogen. They show the car being driven around and the media descending with their cameras…

Then they cut to a discussion about how the technology works and how it can clean up the atmosphere…

The remarkable thing about this video is that it is from 1978!


“And we could do it with government printed money – and not more debt – because it will be public works that creates wealth and employment rather than inflation.”

The reason government printed money does not create inflation is because it does not have to have a compounding interest payment attached to it.

Say my local council borrows say $10 million from a bank over 30 years to build a new swimming pool. We will end up paying back $30 million depending upon the interest rate. We end up paying for it three times and we only have one pool. If government created money was used the local council could just pay the federal government back the $10 million interest free and then could take the money out of existence. We only pay $10 million once and don’t encumber future taxpayers with a debt for a worn out pool in 20 years time.

The interest bearing, debt based money creation system we have now is best equated as a debt spiral. The money supply has to ever keep increasing to enable all the indebted people to pay off their old debts. The problem is the bankers create the credit but do not create the interest payments. The only way to prop up the system is to keep creating more debts to keep money flowing in the system. It is bit like having to keep filling the bucket that has a hole in it. This is best demonstrated in an example:

We are all trying to pull more money out of the economy than is already there. How do we keep the system afloat? Create more debt. What is “growth” but the pretext to create more debt? The money supply has to keep growing so we can all continue pay off our doubling and tripling debts. That it, until our debts get too big for our ability to pay. Our incomes and growth rates are not compounding. Eventually, the interest bearing debt based money system must collapse and reset itself.

Three things become apparent. One, interest makes everything expensive. Two, the doubling or tripling of all the debts in an economy over time is what inflation is. Your dollar today buys so much less today because there is so much more money in the economy than 30 years ago. The debt spiral is inflation.

Three, the banks create the debt from nothing and then charge you a private tax called compounding interest on top. This money creation is a fraud and the interest charged makes it a spectacular rip off. A bank is like no other business like it in our society. Create money out of nothing and charge a private tax on it. The returns are phenomenal. No wonder the bankers want to keep hold of the money creating power. It is absolute power.

So, until we have real money creation reform and put it back in the hands of the population we will be at the mercy of a handful of men who create and issue our money. The bankers have created the world financial crises we are in. We are the one who will pay the price. We should not allow them to do it all again. – Flavian, Adelaide, Australia


The Progressive – Nonviolent resistance is not only the morally superior choice. It is also twice as effective as the violent variety. That’s the startling and reassuring discovery by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth, who analyzed an astonishing 323 resistance campaigns from 1900 to 2006.

“Our findings show that major nonviolent campaigns have achieved success 53 percent of the time, compared with 26 percent for violent resistance campaigns,” the authors note in the journal International Security:

“First, a campaign’s commitment to nonviolent methods enhances its domestic and international legitimacy and encourages more broad-based participation in the resistance, which translates into increased pressure being brought to bear on the target,” they state. “Second, whereas governments easily justify violent counterattacks against armed insurgents, regime violence against nonviolent movements is more likely to backfire against the regime.”

In an interesting aside that has relevance for our times, the authors also write that, “Our study does not explicitly compare terrorism to nonviolent resistance, but our argument sheds light on why terrorism has been so unsuccessful.”

To their credit, the authors don’t gloss over nonviolent campaigns that haven’t been successes. They give a clear-eyed assessment of the failure so far of the nonviolent movement in Burma, one of the three detailed case studies in the piece, along with East Timor and the Philippines.


Roger Roots – Historians of Soviet Russia occasionally note that the communist workers paradise was originally intended to adhere to a written constitution that expressly guaranteed freedoms such as speech, press and assembly. In practice, however, none of the freedoms guaranteed in the Soviet constitution were recognized in the country s legal system, and millions of dissenters and suspected dissenters were imprisoned or killed for disagreeing with the commissars of the state.

The United States Constitution, by contrast, is thought to be in good standing. Yet there are numerous provisions of the U.S. Constitution that are never enforced. These provisions, analogous to dead letters in the U.S. Postal System, are either totally ignored by federal judges or given such a narrow construction that they might as well not exist. As columnist and curmudgeon Joseph Sobran has written, the Supreme Court has, in essence, exercised a “line-item veto” over the document, totally ignoring provisions that interfere with the justices national vision or social objectives.

When the Supreme Court switched to discretionary certiorari in 1925 (thus allowing the court to pick and choose its own docket), the Court paved the way for a highly selective treatment of the Constitution. While some constitutional provisions (e.g., the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment) are routinely accorded Supreme Court consideration, many others are almost completely ignored.

It can hardly be a coincidence that all of the dead letters happen to place limitations on the scope and power of government. In contrast, the few provisions of the Constitution granting powers to government have been interpreted expansively. The clause giving Congress power to regulate interstate commerce, for example, has been interpreted by the courts to allow Congress to imprison people for acts that can be linked to either commerce or interstate activities only by a tenuous series of conceptual inferences.

There are even provisions which were included in the Constitution to limit government but which have now been interpreted to empower government. The Takings Clause, which states that no person shall be deprived of property “without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” was recently construed by the Supreme Court to give government at all levels near carte blanche power over all property. In a 2005 decision entitled Kelo v. City of New London, the Court reinterpreted the phrase “for public use” to mean for whatever use any government desires including private use.

Similarly, the Fifth Amendment Grand Jury clause was placed in the Constitution in order to limit government but has now been interpreted in a way that empowers government. As the criminal law grew more complicated during the 1800s, courts began allowing public prosecutors to appear and discuss cases before grand juries (a practice strictly forbidden at the time of the Founding). This became embedded in grand jury practice by the 1900s. Today s Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure state that prosecutors may be present before grand juries at all times and prohibit grand jurors from issuing independent presentments.

There is nothing new about this insidious trend. The Necessary and Proper clause was originally intended to bind Congress to legislating only in ways that were “necessary” to carry out the few limited powers the national government had been granted. By the early nineteenth century, however, the Supreme Court had already interpreted “necessary and proper” to mean only “proper” in the eyes of the government. As Jefferson observed, “[t]he natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”

Courts have increasingly subjected all rights mentioned in the Constitution to balancing tests, meaning that rights have become mere interests to be balanced against the (always pressing) interests of government. Thus, it is asserted that “no rights are absolute” and that courts may deny the application of a right where “the Government s regulatory interest in community safety . . . outweigh[s] an individual s liberty interest.” However, the Supreme Court has abandoned any pretense of balancing tests with regard to governmental powers (such as those found in the Tax Clause or the Spending Clause), for which the Constitution s provisions are described as plenary .

Some rights enshrined in the Constitution are rendered dead by the lack of any remedy to enforce them. For example, in 1974, the Supreme Court held that no taxpayer ever has standing to challenge the secret budget of the CIA (which clearly violates Article 1 s requirement that “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by law; and a regular Statement and Account . . . of all public Money shall be published”).

Finally, there are newly invented “maxims” of law that have crept into modern jurisprudence by means of pronouncements that they are long-recognized. One such so-called maxim originated with Justice Stone s “Footnote Four” in the 1938 case of United States v. Carolene Products Company. Justice Stone proclaimed that most congressional enactments are “presumed constitutional” and will be struck down only if they blatantly contradict explicit constitutional protections. Stone s “presumption of validity” has been cited in dozens if not hundreds of appellate decisions to turn away constitutional challenges. . .

A list of other recently invented “maxims” would include (1) Justice Robert H. Jackson s proclamation in 1949 that the Constitution is not a “suicide pact” (i.e., it should never be interpreted to mean the government is not always in control), and (2) the doctrine of “harmless error” (invented in 1967 in Chapman v. California) by which an appellate court may concede a constitutional violation but uphold a criminal conviction by proclaiming that the defendant would have been convicted even if the Constitution had been followed. There are also insidious doctrines such as “sovereign immunity” (which allows government agents to escape liability for illegal acts on the ground that they are with the government) and the “state secrets” doctrine (which deprives citizens of any redress by the assertion that proof of a constitutional violation would expose intelligence sources or methods), which are found nowhere in the text or the original understanding of the Constitution.

Of course, liberty dies incrementally, and the leviathanic government we see today took generations to bring about. It has been largely forgotten that the prohibition of intrastate liquor sales in the early twentieth century required a constitutional amendment (the Eighteenth) because policymakers and judges recognized that Congress had no constitutional authority to regulate intrastate sales of any commodity. The Supreme Court even wrote in a 1932 decision that “sales of [ ] forbidden drugs qua sales” was “a matter entirely beyond the authority of Congress.” The recent Gonzales v. Raich decision (upholding federal drugs laws as trumping California s medical marijuana protections) highlights the fact that recent generations of Supreme Court justices have amended the Constitution without formal process.

A list of constitutional dead letters follows below. I honestly don t know what weight to give some of the Bush Administration s “unitary executive” practices such as its warrantless domestic eavesdropping and treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which amount to complete abdications of the procedural rights laid out in the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments. (If such matters are considered, it becomes arguable that the entirety of the Bill of Rights is a dead letter even if some of the rights are partially recognized for some people.) The list enumerated below, to paraphrase the dead-lettered Ninth Amendment, should not be considered all-inclusive, and there are, no doubt, other dead-lettered constitutional provisions I have neglected to identify.

– The House origination clause requiring that all “Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” has been rendered a dead letter by neglect. As Congressman Ron Paul has pointed out, the 2008 bank bailout bill with all its tax implications was deliberately introduced in the Senate after House members rejected it a plain violation of this clause. Similar practices have gone on for many years.

– The congressional declaration of war clause. No “war” in the constitutional sense has been declared since 1941, although the executive branch has engaged in numerous undeclared wars and military escapades around the globe.

– The public accounting clause. As already discussed, the secret budget of the CIA is in plain conflict with Article I of the Constitution . . .

The Legal Tender Clause, prohibiting states from making “any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” The application of the Federal Reserve Act and many other statutes and executive orders are in plain violation of this clause. State and Federal governments demand and provide payment in paper currencies that are unbacked by any precious metals.

The prohibition against bills of attainder, which was supposed to ensure that no one could ever be punished by the legislature has been addressed only four times by the Supreme Court. Congress regularly enacts new laws placing extrajudicial punishments on various groups (felons, convicted sex offenders, disfavored corporations such as Wal-Mart, and even entire industries (e.g., “Big Tobacco”)).

– The Contract Clause, prohibiting states from impairing contractual obligations. Long dead and buried. Today the federal courts uphold wage, work, production, pricing, licensing and advertising regulations of every manner, irrespective of the Contract Clause.

The Second Amendment right to bear arms. Despite the recent Heller decision (which issued a “landmark” ruling that the Amendment protects an individual right), there are still thousands of felons and other persons in federal prison for the mere possession of firearms. No defendant has ever been released from prison or cleared of gun charges in federal court on account of judges recognizing the right to bear arms. The gist of the Heller decision is that the Amendment protects a “reasonable” right to bear government-approved arms so long as you are government-approved. Of course, such a limited and conditional reading of the Second Amendment renders it a dead letter. The leaders of the American Revolution were themselves accused (and some convicted) felons, and several were notorious criminals (e.g., John Hancock, an accused tax evader and smuggler; John Paul Jones, a twice-indicted murderer who adopted his name as an alias to avoid arrest).

The Fifth Amendment Grand Jury clause. While federal grand juries do still exist, they are now wholly subject to the control of federal prosecutors the very persons the Clause was intended to limit. The grand juries known to the Framers were civilian institutions that acted independently of prosecutors, could investigate prosecutors, and could indict prosecutors. Today, prosecutors dispense all evidence, witnesses and testimony to the grand jurors, who then retire to a deliberation room to vote on whether to approve the prosecutors wishes. (A “no” vote will just mean that the prosecutors will coerce another grand jury to vote on the same case.)

The Fifth Amendment Double Jeopardy clause. Today, the federal government commonly charges defendants who have been previously charged with essentially the same offense in state court (and vice versa). This usually happens after an acquittal or a “light” sentence in the first prosecution. Because Congress has federalized almost every state crime over the past four decades (something the Founders could never have imagined), federal and state prosecutors are able to get two bites at the apple despite the double jeopardy clause.

The Sixth Amendment right to jury trial in criminal cases. My inclusion of this one may puzzle some readers, because thousands of jury trials take place in American courtrooms annually. But the right to jury trial has been stripped for the vast majority of criminal prosecutions. Supreme Court rulings beginning in the late 1800s confined this right to cases of “serious” rather than “petty” crimes (i.e., punishable by less than six months imprisonment). This distinction exists nowhere in constitutional text, which explicitly guarantees a jury trial “in all criminal prosecutions ” and for “all crimes.” The change has allowed government to impose its will on the populace with far greater efficiency. Justices Black and Douglas observed in a 1970 concurrence that their colleagues on the Supreme Court had effectively amended the Constitution by applying a balancing test and that “those who wrote and adopted our Constitution and Bill of Rights engaged in all the balancing necessary. They decided that the value of a jury trial far outweighed its costs for ” all crimes” and “in all criminal prosecutions.”

Of course, plea bargains have replaced jury trials in most “serious” cases, allowing government to prosecute and imprison a far higher proportion of the American population than the Framers could have anticipated. And even where defendants take their charges to trial, they are tried before emasculated juries that are ordered to follow the judges interpretations of the Constitution and the laws. The Founders would have condemned this wholesale takeover of juries by modern judges.

The Sixth Amendment vicinage clause (requiring an “impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed”). In practice today, most federal court proceedings have been centralized into the largest urban areas of each federal court district, leaving rural defendants in many cases to face trials before urban juries drawn from jury districts that do not include the scene(s) of the alleged offense(s).

The Seventh Amendment right to jury trial in civil cases where the amount in controversy exceeds twenty dollars ($20). The eternal drive of government officials at every level to collect petty duties, traffic and parking tickets, fees and other tributes has necessitated that they circumvent the plain language of the Seventh Amendment. Today the Seventh Amendment is one of three articles in the Bill of Rights not incorporated into state court practice by the Fourteenth Amendment. Even in federal courts, the civil remedies mandated by the Seventh Amendment are painted into an extremely narrow corner.

The Ninth Amendment protection of other “rights retained by the people.” As already discussed, this important provision, insisted upon by the Anti-Federalists in 1791, has been dead-lettered by a combination of judicial doctrines, maxims and sophistries that in essence leave the people with few or no reserved rights.

The Tenth Amendment. At the heart of the Supreme Court’s dead letter file is the abandonment of federalism in order to create a centralized regime run from Washington. Under the Founders intent, of course, each state was to retain its own sovereignty while the federal government was to act as the states mutual delegate in matters of foreign and interstate affairs. The absence of this rule in the pre-amendment Constitution precipitated massive resistance across the colonies. Yet today the federal courts regard the Tenth Amendment as a quaint “truism” a mere statement that the States get to keep whatever jurisdiction is not overtaken by the federal government.

The Fourteenth Amendment Privileges and Immunities clause, which was intended to require states to recognize legal rights recognized by the federal government and other states, was mostly dead-lettered in 1873 in The Slaughterhouse Cases, in which the Supreme Court held the provision applied primarily to freed slaves. In recent decades, courts have looked to the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process clause to replace the dead-lettered Privileges and Immunities clause.

The Twenty-Seventh Amendment, which requires that “No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened,” has been rendered a dead letter by means of the Supreme Court s “standing” jurisprudence.

Roger Roots, J.D., Ph.D. is an attorney and criminologist from the state of Montana.

Sam Smith on Marriage and the whole Prop 8 issue

Sam Smith, Progressive Review – I’ve long felt that on both the abortion and the gay marriage issue, activists were not strong enough in making the case that negative laws on such matters are irrefutably the result of religious views and regulations and hence government’s involvement represents making  a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” in clear violation of the Constitution.

In other words, instead of considering the issue from the viewpoint of women or gays, look at it from the viewpoint of religions or churches within religions that permit such practices as abortion or gay marriage. They don’t have to be in the majority; they simply have to exist. In effect, the government is placing Catholicism or Mormonism above more liberal faiths.

It can be rightfully argued that the government has some interest in such matters – most significantly from the health standpoint – but it may not ignore the Constitution simply because a prohibition is traditional or favors the religions of the majority of voters.

In 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their ‘legislature’ should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

James Madison’s views were similar: “Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a preeminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform.”

Wikipedia –  From the early Christian era, marriage was thought of as primarily a private matter, with no religious or other ceremony being required. Prior to 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties. The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required. This promise was known as the “verbum.” If made in the present tense (e.g., “I marry you”), it was unquestionably binding; if made in the future tense (“I will marry you”), it would constitute a betrothal. But if the couple proceeded to have sexual relations, the union was a marriage. One of the functions of churches from the Middle Ages was to register marriages, which was not obligatory. There was no state involvement in marriage and personal status, with these issues being adjudicated in ecclesiastical courts.

It was only after the Council of Trent in 1545, as part of the Counter-Reformation, that a Roman Catholic marriage would be recognized only if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a priest with two witnesses. The Council also authorized a Catechism, issued in 1566, which defined marriage as, “The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life.”

This change did not extend to the regions affected by the Protestant Reformation, where marriage by consent continued to be the norm. As part of the Reformation, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state; by the 1600s many of the Protestant European countries had a state involvement in marriage.

In the early modern period, John Calvin and his Protestant colleagues reformulated Christian marriage by enacting the Marriage Ordinance of Geneva, which imposed “The dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage” for recognition. That was the first state involvement in marriage.

In England and Wales, Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 1753 required a formal ceremony of marriage, thereby curtailing the practice of Fleet Marriage. . . The Act required a marriage ceremony to be officiated by an Anglican priest in the Anglican Church with two witnesses and registration. The Act did not apply to Jewish marriages or those of Quakers, whose marriages continued to be governed by their own customs.


Slate – The narrow margin of victory for California’s Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, may be attributable to millions of dollars in donations from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons’ support for the ballot measure is no small irony given the Church’s onetime support of polygamy. The Church disavowed that doctrine in 1890 so that Utah could become a state, but renegade Mormon sects continue to practice polygamy today. . .

LDS leaders expressed support for Proposition 8 in letters to congregations, Web videos, and outreach efforts with the Protect Marriage Coalition. Church elders pressed followers to “support in every way possible the sacred institution of marriage as we know it to be.” That translated into at least $14 million in donations from individual Mormons and Mormon-owned businesses, according to a 25-page spreadsheet posted on the Web site Mormonsfor8.com (excerpts below and on the following two pages).

Stop All Monsters – The Mormons dumped tons of money into California to take away the rights of gay Californians to marry. They won. Now, we fight back. So, first up on the Mormon boycott list is Brent Andrus. Brent runs a few hotels, called the Courtyard Marriott, Fairfield Inn Marriott, Residence Inn Marriott and the Spring Hill Suites Marriott.
Please do not do business with these hotels.

Voters in Michigan and Massachusetts passed MPP’s landmark ballot initiatives to change marijuana policy in their states.

Today, voters in Michigan and Massachusetts passed MPP’s landmark ballot initiatives to change marijuana policy in their states.

Of the 13 marijuana policy statewide initiative victories in the history of the country, we just scored the second and third most important. (The first was California’s medical marijuana law in 1996.)

MPP’s Massachusetts initiative was the first time in history that a decriminalization initiative appeared on any statewide ballot, and voters passed it by what appears to be an overwhelming majority. The measure removes all criminal penalties for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana — replacing it with a $100 fine, which can be paid through the mail without lawyers or court appearances, just like a speeding ticket.

And Michigan voters passed MPP’s medical marijuana initiative, making Michigan the first Midwestern state to permit medical marijuana use by seriously ill patients (and the 13th in the U.S.). Michigan now becomes the second largest medical marijuana state in the country (second only to California). And as a result of tonight’s victory, almost one quarter of the nation now resides in states with medical marijuana laws.

Despite formidable opposition (including lies and dirty tricks from our opponents), common sense won — in large part because of thousands of MPP supporters who donated as generously as they could to both campaign committees.

The majority of these donors don’t even live in Michigan or Massachusetts but donated because this is what the movement for changing marijuana laws is all about — a partnership between people across the country, giving whatever they can afford in order to push change forward. The people of Michigan and Massachusetts owe a debt of gratitude to thousands of people in the other 48 states and Washington, D.C., who donated money for victories that they won’t personally see in their own states. And this is exactly how it works: In the upcoming two-year cycle, we’re going to be choosing a new slate of states, and we’ll all pitch in nationwide to pass those too … which includes passing bills through state legislatures too.

I’ll have more on our upcoming plans for you soon. But for now, please join me in celebrating two incredible victories.


Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.