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n2doc

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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 38,269

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Medical Marijuana Growers in Washington Face Prison

During their trial at the federal courthouse in Spokane last March, Rhonda Firestack-Harvey and her two fellow defendants—her son, Rolland Gregg, and his wife, Michelle Gregg—were not allowed to explain why they were openly growing marijuana on a plot in rural northeastern Washington marked by a big green cross that was visible from the air. According to a pretrial ruling, it was irrelevant that they were using marijuana for medical purposes, as permitted by state law, since federal law recognizes no legitimate use for the plant. But now that Firestack-Harvey and the Greggs have been convicted, they are free to talk about their motivation, and it might even make a difference when they are sentenced on Thursday.

Federal drug agents raided the marijuana garden, which was located outside Firestack-Harvey's home near Kettle Falls, in 2012. In addition to the three defendants who are scheduled to be sentenced this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Washington charged Firestack-Harvey's husband, Larry Harvey, and a family friend, Jason Zucker. Dubbed the Kettle Falls Five, all had doctor's letters recommending marijuana for treatment of various conditions, including gout, anorexia, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and chronic pain from a broken back. Last February prosecutors dropped the charges against Harvey because he has terminal cancer. Zucker, who had a prior marijuana conviction, pleaded guilty just before the trial and agreed to testify against the other defendants in exchange for a 16-month sentence, which was much shorter than the 15-year term he could have received in light of his criminal history.

Although no one was supposed to talk about medical marijuana during the trial, the prosecution kept stumbling onto that taboo subject, because it was clearly relevant to the question of where all the pot went, which was central to the case. Even with Zucker's help, prosecutors had no direct evidence of distribution. They were therefore forced to argue that the defendants must have been selling marijuana because they were growing too much for their own personal consumption.

The government counted 74 plants. According to the defense, the feds double-counted some plants with two stalks emerging from the same root structure. The defendants' lawyers say the correct number is 68. Either way, the total was below Washington's presumptive limit of 15 plants per patient. Testifying for the defense, Jeremy Kaufman, a cannabis consultant, said the number of plants found on the Harveys' property did not seem excessive, especially since only a small part of each plant is usable and may be consumed in the form of extracts, edibles, and juice. Kaufman mentioned that he himself grows 150 plants for his own use. On cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks asked how on earth Kaufman managed to consume that much cannabis, and Kaufman explained that he used it to relieve the symptoms of several medical conditions.

more
http://reason.com/archives/2015/06/08/medical-marijuana-growers-in-washington

A Crisis at the Edge of Physics

By ADAM FRANK and MARCELO GLEISER

DO physicists need empirical evidence to confirm their theories?

You may think that the answer is an obvious yes, experimental confirmation being the very heart of science. But a growing controversy at the frontiers of physics and cosmology suggests that the situation is not so simple.

A few months ago in the journal Nature, two leading researchers, George Ellis and Joseph Silk, published a controversial piece called “Scientific Method: Defend the Integrity of Physics.” They criticized a newfound willingness among some scientists to explicitly set aside the need for experimental confirmation of today’s most ambitious cosmic theories — so long as those theories are “sufficiently elegant and explanatory.” Despite working at the cutting edge of knowledge, such scientists are, for Professors Ellis and Silk, “breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical.”

Whether or not you agree with them, the professors have identified a mounting concern in fundamental physics: Today, our most ambitious science can seem at odds with the empirical methodology that has historically given the field its credibility.

How did we get to this impasse? In a way, the landmark detection three years ago of the elusive Higgs boson particle by researchers at the Large Hadron Collider marked the end of an era. Predicted about 50 years ago, the Higgs particle is the linchpin of what physicists call the “standard model” of particle physics, a powerful mathematical theory that accounts for all the fundamental entities in the quantum world (quarks and leptons) and all the known forces acting between them (gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces).

more

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/a-crisis-at-the-edge-of-physics.html

Monday Toon Roundup

GOP










Killers



Voting




HRC




NSA




Disney






Fracking




The Issue


We bailed you out, and now you want what!?!

By Steven Pearlstein June 7 at 2:27 PM

Americans were angry when Wall Street’s greedy and risky behavior triggered a global financial crisis in 2008. They were angrier still when the government had to borrow and spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rescue mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest banks and the insurance company AIG. They were outraged when they found out that executives at those enterprises were continuing to receive big salaries and bonuses.

So just imagine how it outrageous it would be if some Wall Street sharpies went to court to argue that they didn’t benefit enough from the bailouts and that taxpayers should pay them tens of billions of dollars more.

In fact, they did. And, according to legal observers, they just might prevail.

“Lawsuits of the Rich and Shameless” is how the comedian Jon Stewart dubbed it.

“An absurdist comedy . . . worthy of the Marx Brothers or Mel Brooks,” wrote John Cassidy, the New Yorker’s economics correspondent.

For taxpayers, it looks to be another example of the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

more
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/we-bailed-you-out-and-now-you-want-what/2015/06/05/95ba1be0-0a27-11e5-95fd-d580f1c5d44e_story.html?tid=hpModule_79c38dfc-8691-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394&hpid=z14

It would be a lot harder for them to do this if they were in jail. Just saying.

xpost from GD: House Passes Provision to End All Migratory Bird Protections in the United States

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026796124

House Passes Provision to End All Migratory Bird Protections in the United States

Andrew Wetzler’s Blog:

Spring is finally here, and with it the return of birds to backyards and playgrounds across America. So, naturally, it is also the perfect time for Congressional Republicans to completely suspend one of the main laws protecting them.

First passed in 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is one of America's original conservation laws. It protects familiar visitors like cardinals and chickadees; raptors such as bald eagles and prairie falcons, and, of course, the many ducks and other waterfowl that sportsmen treasure.

Last night, reportedly without a recorded vote, the House of Representatives Commerce, Justice, Science Committee included a rider, offered by Congressman Duncan (R-SC), in the Department of Commerce's and Department of Justice's budget appropriations bill that would prohibit the federal government from prosecuting anyone from violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Here is the exact language:


Yep, forget the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (without the possibility of enforcement, laws don't mean much, do they?). If Representative Duncan gets his way it's open season for birds across the country. Because, really, who needs hummingbirds or eagles?

UPDATE: My original post was mistaken. This amendment was, in fact, added to the appropriations bill by the entire House on a voice vote. It's now up to the Senate and the President to prevent this provision from becoming law.

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/awetzler/no_birds_for_you_house_committ.html

Faculty uneasy about working at UW after cuts, tenure changes

Mahesh Mahanthappa and Gray Jackson both grew up far away from Wisconsin but came here to pursue their passion for chemistry at UW-Madison, a national leader in the field.

Each moved here with a girlfriend originally from Wisconsin returning to be a doctor in her home state.

Soon, Mahanthappa and Jackson will leave Wisconsin, embarking for the University of Minnesota to do their research in plastics there instead. Mahanthappa’s now-fiance, a family practice doctor at UW Health, will leave with him for a new job in Minnesota. Jackson’s girlfriend will remain in Madison to finish medical school.

The big move is happening because Mahanthappa, a tenured professor who is 39 years old, decided he’d have a brighter future in his field in Minnesota, which ranks just above Wisconsin in chemical engineering in national rankings. He found the school’s courtship of him, which started last fall, too good to pass up.

Many factors, including dire financial times and a perceived unfriendly attitude by state lawmakers toward faculty in Wisconsin, forecast better times ahead there and leaner times here, he said.



Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/education/university/faculty-uneasy-about-working-at-uw-after-cuts-tenure-changes/article_79135697-7e0e-5a11-8b86-49eccf2cc909.html

The faculty with big research programs will leave. The ones who can't find work or don't care to will stay.

Toon: Who's Going to Support That?


Toon- The 2016 Campaign Carnival

I was a liberal adjunct professor. My liberal students didn’t scare me at all.

by Amanda Taub

I was a liberal adjunct professor at a large university until 2013, and my liberal students never scared me at all.

I covered sensitive topics in my courses, including rape, capital punishment, female genital mutilation, and disputed accounts of mass atrocities. Our classroom debates were contentious, and forced students to examine their own biases. I kept an "on-call" list that pressured students to participate actively in those discussions. I did not use trigger warnings.

I never had any complaints.

I bring up my own experiences as a reminder that if the plural of anecdote isn't data, the singular of it sure as hell isn't, either. The fact that I enjoyed my time teaching doesn't tell you anything about the state of education in America — and neither does the fact that the pseudonymous author of this Vox article is a liberal professor who is terrified of his liberal students.

more
http://www.vox.com/2015/6/5/8736591/liberal-professor-identity
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