Federal Court Rules That Gay Couples Have Constitutional Right to Marry

Nicholas Riccardi and Brady McCombs | Associated Press | Reader Supported News | June 36, 2014

he first ruling by a federal appeals court that states cannot prevent gay couples from marrying makes it more likely the Supreme Court will ultimately have to make a decision it has so far avoided — do states have the ability to prohibit same-sex marriage?

The court danced around that question precisely one year ago when it issued a pair of rulings on gay marriage. At the time, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer warned about the high court trying to enforce societal changes through judicial fiat, with Ginsburg citing the lingering abortion rights battle ever since the court legalized the practice in Roe v. Wade.

The high court’s caution was evident in its rulings: It upheld a decision striking down California’s gay marriage ban but relied on technicalities rather than finding a national right for same sex couples to marry. Then it struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, finding same-sex marriages from states where the practice was legal must be recognized.

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Judge Upholds Order Demanding Release of CIA Torture Accounts

Spencer Ackerman | Guardian UK | Reader Supported News | June 26, 2014

US government loses attempt to keep accounts of torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri secret


military judge has rejected the US government’s attempts to keep accounts of the CIA’s torture of a detainee secret, setting up a fateful choice for the Obama administration in staunching the fallout from its predecessor’s brutal interrogations.

In a currently-sealed 24 June ruling at Guantánamo Bay – described to the Guardian – Judge James Pohl upheld his April order demanding the government produce details of the detentions and interrogations of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri during his years in CIA custody. The Miami Herald also reported on the ruling, citing three sources who had seen it.

Among those details are the locations of the “black site” secret prisons in which Nashiri was held until his September 2006 transfer to Guantánamo; the names and communications of CIA personnel there; training and other procedures for guards and interrogators; and discussions of the application of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

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The Pentagon’s Slush Fund Is Arming a War Zone on Main Street

Sadhbh Walshe | Guardian UK | Reader Supported News | June 26, 2014

We’re winding down conflicts abroad, but America’s militarized police forces have access to a veritable firearms sale funnelling from Washington on down to the local station house


few years ago, the police chief in Keene, New Hampshire (population: 23,000) announced plans to patrol the hamlet’s “Pumpkin Festival and other dangerous situations” with a 19,000-pound armored vehicle called the BearCat (price tag: $285,933, courtesy of a federal Homeland Security grant).

The cops in nearby Nashua had already purchased one of the so-called “rescue vehicles” – typically reserved for Swat missions and, you know, IEDs – with hundreds of thousands in drug forfeiture money, but given that the town of Keene has had just three homicides in the last 11 years, some locals thought the gun ports, rotating hatch, battering ram and tear-gas deployment nozzle all might just be a little much.

“The police are already pretty brutal,” said one resident. “The last thing they need is this big piece of military equipment to make them think they’re soldiers.”

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SCOTUS’ Meaningless Ruling on Recess Appointments

Jim Newell | Salon | Reader Supported News | June 26, 2014

SEE ALSO: High Court Rebukes Obama on Recess Appointments

The Court ruled that President Obama’s recess appointments were illegal. Here’s why they’re too late


his morning the Supreme Court ruled to limit the president’s recess appointment powers — but not eliminate them. It upholds a lower court ruling that several recess appointments President Obama made in early 2012 to the National Labor Relations Board were illegal. It does not, however, conclude that the recess appointment power is a thing of the past and should mostly be discarded, as the lower court previously had.

The good thing for the Obama administration, at least, is that in practical terms, today’s ruling no longer really matters. That’s because the Senate majority has since eliminated the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments that was the cause of this whole mess to begin with.

The ruling — in which the Court considered the recess appointments clause for the “first time” — held that “The Recess Appointments Clause empowers the President to fill any existing vacancy during any recess—intra-session or intersession—of sufficient length.” It defines “intra-session” recess as “breaks in the midst of a formal session” and “intersession” as “breaks between formal sessions of the Senate.” So the president, according to the majority opinion, still holds the power to make recess appointments to vacancies when the Senate is either taking a break between sessions or taking time off during a session.

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Federal: Lawmakers Amend Farm Bill To Permit State Sanctioned Hemp Cultivation

NORML | June 26, 2014

Federal lawmakers included language in the 2014 omnibus Farm Bill authorizing states to sponsor industrial hemp research absent federal reclassification of the plant. The change in law allows for licensed farmers to legally grow hemp for the first time since World War II.

The provision, section 7606 of the United States Agricultural Act of 2014,  states, “[A]n  institution  of  higher  education (as defined  in  section  101  of  the  Higher  Education  Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001)) or a State department of agriculture may grow or cultivate industrial hemp if— (1)  the  industrial  hemp  is  grown  or  cultivated for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research; and (2)   the   growing   or   cultivating   of   industrial hemp is allowed under the laws of the State in which such  institution  of  higher  education  or  State  department  of  agriculture  is  located  and  such  research  occurs.”

Since the passage of this provision, lawmakers in six states — Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah — have enacted legislation allowing for state-sponsored hemp cultivation in a manner that is compliant with federal law.

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Study: Habitual Marijuana Smoking Not Associated With Increased Risk Of Lung Cancer

NORML | June 26, 2014

Toronto, Canada: Subjects who regularly inhale cannabis smoke possess no greater risk of contracting lung cancer than do those who consume it occasionally or not at all, according to data published online ahead of print in the International Journal of Cancer.

An international team of investigators from Canada, New Zealand, Great Britian, and the United States analyzed data from six case-control studies involving over 5,000 subjects (2,159 cases and 2,985 controls) from around the world.

Authors concluded, “Results from our pooled analyses provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers.”

The team had previously presented their data at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Academy for Cancer Research.

Their findings are similar to those of a 2013 review published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, which concluded: “[H]abitual use of marijuana alone does not appear to lead to significant abnormalities in lung function. … Overall, the risks of pulmonary complications of regular use of marijuana appear to be relatively small and far lower than those of tobacco smoking.”

An accompanying commentary appearing in the same journal affirmed, “[C]annabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or airway cancers. In fact, there is even a suggestion that at low doses cannabis may be protective for both conditions.”

Preclinical studies have documented that cannabinoids possess potent anti-cancer properties, including the inhibition of lung cancer cell growth. To date, however, scientists have yet to conduct controlled clinical trials replicating these results in human subjects.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Cannabis smoking and lung cancer risk: Pooled analysis in the International Lung Cancer Consortium,” appears in the International Journal of Cancer.