Most Americans Want Legal Marijuana


Erik Altieri | NORML | April 4, 2013

For the first time since they began polling the question four decades ago, Pew Research Polling has released new survey data that reveals 52% of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. Only 45% were opposed.

This support is spread across demographics. The Baby Boomers (50%), Generation X (54%), and Millenials (65%) all have majority support for legalization. The only age demographic that remains opposed is the Silent Generation, those born before 1942, though support in this age group has also significantly increased. 32% of this age group now support legalization, up from 17% in 2002.

According to this polling data, most Americans have also tried marijuana personally. 48% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked if they consume marijuana, up from 38% about a decade ago.

Not only are Americans becoming more supportive of legalization, but there has been a dramatic change in how Americans view marijuana use. In 2006, Pew Research found that 50% of Americans believed smoking marijuana was “morally wrong” and only 35% did not think it was a moral issue. Today these numbers have completely flipped, 50% of Americans responded in this latest survey that using marijuana is not a moral issue and only 32% stated it was morally wrong.

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What Is The Real Threat From North Korea?


Hayes Brown | Think Progess | April 4, 2013

CNN reported Thursday morning that intercepted communications indicate that North Korea may be planning to launch ballistic missiles “within days,” in yet another potential escalation. South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin also told a government panel on Thursday that North Korea has moved a medium-range missile to its eastern coast, possibly in preparation for either a test or military demonstration.

North Korea’s threat comes from three factors: the unpredictability of its leader, Kim Jong Un; its ongoing nuclear weapons program; and its large amount of conventional weapons. Despite the difficulty it has seen in testing and its lack of large stockpiles of fissile material, North Korea’s nuclear program remains a major concern. North Korea appears to have jump-started the process of getting its plutonium reactor at Yongbon back online, but it will possibly take years to produce enough material for new weapons. At present, North Korea is estimated to have enough plutonium for 10 nuclear warheads, but Pyongyang’s ability to shrink down a nuclear warhead to the size where it would fit on a missile has advanced significantly and the country theoretically maintains rudimentary delivery methods within the region. There is also concern that North Korea could sell its weapons and/or weapons technology to third parties.

Even in light of Pyongyang’s nuclear capacity, North Korea’s large array of missiles and rockets remain a considerable threat to the peace and stability of the region. Of those conventional weapons, North Korea’s short-range Scud and Rodong missiles pose the greatest risk to U.S. assets in the area, given their high number and accuracy. With an estimated 1,800-mile range, the Musudan medium-range missile — which is mostly likely the type moved to the North Korean cost on Thursday — also may pose a significant threat, but its effectiveness has been questioned given the missile’s lack of prominent testing.

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How will Supreme Court rule on marriage?


 | Washington Blade | April 3, 2013

Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are expected to issue rulings on the Prop 8 and DOMA cases in June. (Photo public domain)

The nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court are expected to reach a decision by the end of June in two high-profile LGBT rights cases on which they heard oral arguments last week challenging California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The justices could reach any number of decisions on either or both of the cases — upholding the anti-gay measures, dismissing the cases for lack of standing or jurisdiction, striking down Prop 8 and DOMA on grounds they violate the rights of same-sex couples under the U.S. Constitution — or even issuing a national ruling in favor of marriage equality.

Predicting how they might rule is tricky. But several of the justices made statements and asked questions during the oral arguments that offered some hints. Perhaps more significantly, many of them have a record of ruling in gay rights cases that might indicate their leanings on marriage. The Washington Blade has compiled profiles of the justices to assess how they might rule in the two marriage cases before them.

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Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients. Blame the sequester.


Sarah Kliff | WonkBlog | Washington Post | April 3, 2013

Dr. Ralph V. Boccia, of The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, runs a cancer clinic that is in danger of losing funding due to the sequester cuts. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Ralph V. Boccia of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders runs a cancer clinic that is in danger of losing funding due to the sequester cuts. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts.

Oncologists say the reduced funding, which took effect for Medicare on April 1, makes it impossible to administer expensive chemotherapy drugs while staying afloat financially.

Patients at these clinics would need to seek treatment elsewhere, such as at hospitals that might not have the capacity to accommodate them.

“If we treated the patients receiving the most expensive drugs, we’d be out of business in six months to a year,” said Jeff Vacirca, chief executive of North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates in New York. “The drugs we’re going to lose money on we’re not going to administer right now.”

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Iowa Celebrates Four Years Of Gay Marriage


On Top Magazine | April 4, 2013

Gay marriage celebrated its fourth anniversary in Iowa on Wednesday.

In was on April 3, 2009 that the Iowa Supreme Court handed down its unanimous Varnum v. Briendecision which brought marriage equality to the Midwest.

The following year, angry social conservatives successfully campaigned to oust three judges from the bench.  The Republican-led House in 2011 approved a constitutional amendment which would define marriage as a heterosexual union, but Democrats have blocked the measure in the Senate.

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Minnesota Rep. Tim Kelly Announces Civil Unions Bill


Carlos Santoscoy | On Top Magazine | April 4, 2013

Minnesota Rep. Tim Kelly on Wednesday announced  a bill which seeks to recognize gay and lesbian couples with civil unions.

Kelly, a Republican, announced the proposal during a news conference at the Capitol.

“Government’s role is to protect the individual,” Kelly said, adding that his bill would do just that for gay couples.

The bill’s introduction comes after gay marriage bills have cleared legislative committees in both the House and Senate and await floor votes.

Two years ago, Kelly was one of four Republicans who voted against placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot defining marriage as a heterosexual union.  Voters rejected the amendment last November.

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Anti-HIV Antibodies May Spur AIDS Vaccine Development


 | TIME | April 4, 2013

Researchers report a breakthrough in generating powerful antibodies that can neutralize HIV.

 

An HIV infection is really an intensive molecular arms race launched from the minute the virus infects a new host. AIDS progresses not because the body isn’t capable of fighting off HIV – it is. But the immune defenses eventually succumb to the virus in the final standoff. Now researchers, led by Barton Haynes, director of the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University School of Medicine, believe they have found a way to tip the odds in the immune system’s favor.

From the moment of infection, the immune system goes on alert and immediately generates antibodies designed to attach to and destroy HIV. And for the first few weeks, these antibodies are successful, eliminating all but a few viruses that remain hidden away from the body’s surveillance systems. These viral stalwarts then mutate to escape detection and start to flourish, expanding until new antibodies are generated to dispatch them. That launches another wave of viral destruction that pushes HIV to mutate yet again, prompting another immune attack, and so on, until eventually the body isn’t able to keep up with the virus and pushes out poor, or no more additional antibodies that can neutralize HIV.

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Marijuana Has Won The War On Drugs


Walter Hickey | Business Insider | April 4, 2013

At least when it comes to marijuana, the war on drugs is over.

 

Two states have passed marijuana  legalization laws that fly in the face of national drug policy.

Polling on the issue shows a rejection of  prohibition. The opinions of law enforcement commanders has begun to shift.

For some who want to cut the budget, the  drug war is looking like a good place to start.

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Obama budget to offer program cuts, seek deficit deal: official


Mark Felsenthal | Reuters | Yahoo News | April 5, 2013

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will offer cuts to Social Security and other entitlement programs in a budget proposal aimed at swaying Republicans to compromise on a deficit-reduction deal, a senior administration official said on Friday.

              Under a proposal that would cut the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, the president will offer to apply a less generous measure of inflation to calculate cost-of-living increases, the official said on condition of anonymity. That change would result in lower payments to some beneficiaries of the Social Security program for retirees and is staunchly opposed by many congressional Democrats as well as labor and retiree groups.

              Obama would agree to cuts to other so-called entitlement programs, the official said.

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UK judges question lesbian asylum seekers based on ignorant stereotypes


Anna Leach

Judges at immigration tribunals in the UK are asking 'insensitive and inappropriate' questions to lesbian asylum seekers

Lesbian asylum seekers in the UK are subjected to ignorant and inappropriate questions from judges based on western stereotypes of gay women, new research from the University of Southampton shows.

Claire Bennett, a researcher at the Centre for Population Change, interviewed 12 lesbian women from countries with institutionalized homophobia – Pakistan, Uganda, Jamaica and Saudi Arabia, The Independent reports.

Bennett discovered that judges trying to ascertain the ‘legitimacy’ of the asylum seekers’ claims asked ‘inappropriate and insensitive’ questions to women from socially conservative countries with little gay culture.

A judge asked a teetotal Muslim asylum seeker ‘if you are a lesbian you go to clubs – which ones?’ and questioned whether she could be gay if she had never been to a Pride march.

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