Wednesday, July 25, 2012

LA Unanimously Votes to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Yesterday LA city council voted unanimously to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries in LA County save for a select few.

A ban that they do not have the appropriate means to enforce. A ban that will only create more lawsuits and cost both the city and patients more grief. Once the mayor signs this into law, all dispensaries in LA county will have 30 days to close.

This useless/senseless ban will overwhelmingly hurt the communities where they generate potential for massive tax dollars and local jobs.
Also note the way most mainstream media outlets relate to these medical marijuana dispensaries as "pot shops",  it speaks to the level of stigma that still surrounds the provision of marijuana as medicine. You have to admit, no one's ever called a CVS pharmacy a speed shop, or heroin bar because it's just society's 'Cheech & Chong'-ed characterization of marijuana use that has created this demonization of marijuana as a hallucinogenic drug. But somehow pills that are derived from the same ingredients as heroin and speed, we have no qualms about.

UPDATE: Ban goes into effect on or around September 1st.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Zimmerman said "Coon" on the 911 call. Zimmerman's friend says no, it was "Goon". Right.

"in fact i spoke with my teenage daughter yesterday, and the word in question, I mean it's the difference between a 'C' and a 'G' from what I understand, and 'GOON' is apparently a term of endearment in the high schools these days...Um I don't know of anyone younger than 40 who uses 'Coon' as a racial epithet"

Oh okay, that makes so much sense. So Zimmerman must have said "f***ing Goon" before pursuing and killing Martin....

No. That makes absolutely no sense at all.
Seriously trying to knock off the hate crime charges with the argument that "goon" is a term of endearment in high schools these days. WOW.
Oh and pretending the word "coon" is a racial epithet reserved to only those over 40 is literally the stupidest reason I could have imagined.
Has he met everyone under 40 and confirmed that none of them use "coon" as a racial epithet anymore?
Come on, of course people still use it as a racial slur, actually I can vouch for that because I've seen and heard it be used in that way by kids when I was in high school only a couple of years ago. Does Zimmerman's friend think we're really living in a time that has overcome racism to the extent where racial slurs don't get uttered and there's no such thing as young people who are racists? I wish! But since that's not the case, we need to stop covering the asses of people who are racist murderers and reveal them for what they really are!

Some of the things people are saying about this case just blow my mind.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We should repeal 'stand your ground' laws out of respect for innocent victims like Trayvon Martin

Repeal ALL 'Stand Your Ground' Laws and Oppose New Concealed Gun Carry Laws S. 2188 and S. 2213 

We don't want to wait for another innocent life to be lost before we repeal "stand your ground", we want these laws repealed from all 24 states including Florida, now. At least 402 victims have been killed in 32 states since 2007, in deaths involving private citizens that are legally permitted to carry concealed weapons. So we must also oppose the brand new NRA-backed bills, to carry concealed weapons over state lines regardless of their differences in gun laws.
S. 2188 and S. 2213, which were proposed very shortly after Trayvon Martin's death, these laws will endanger and affect the entire nation if passed.

Why we need to repeal “stand your ground” laws:
The recent tragic death of innocent teenager Trayvon Martin has brought to light not only the serious issue of racial profiling, but has proven how dangerous a false sense of authority can be when exercised under the provision of a ‘license to kill’ law like “stand your ground”. This innocent boy's death and the lack of either investigation or arrest of shooter George Zimmerman, has caused a national uproar among those who refuse to let this gross injustice go unpunished.

Sanford Police say what held them back from arresting or further investigating known killer, Zimmerman, was the "stand your ground" law. In a document released by the Sanford City Manager, the Chief of Police’s response to frequently asked questions regarding the Martin case stated that “when the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time.” We concede from this experience and others that have used “stand your ground” in their defense, that the facts prove “Stand Your Ground” to be detrimental to the judicial process in addition to even serving as motivation for individuals to resort to using deadly force, not as a last resort, but because they feel they have the “right” to. The "stand your ground" law is an NRA-backed law that takes the "Castle Doctrine" to new levels, basically making your home, and almost any public place, your castle. As the Tampa Bay Times writes “The old law gave you the right to protect yourself with deadly force inside your home. The 2005 law gives you the right to protect yourself in a park, outside a Chili's, on a highway — just about anywhere. You need only to "reasonably believe" that pulling the trigger or plunging the knife or swinging the bat is necessary to stop the other person from hurting you.” In court, proving that a person didn’t “reasonably believe” that they were in danger is difficult when the only real witness to the situation is dead. So often, the judge will dismiss the case before it even goes to trial. The Tampa Bay Times continued, “Reports of justifiable homicides tripled after the law went into effect, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Last year, twice a week, on average, someone's killing was considered warranted. The self-defense law — known as "stand your ground" — has been invoked in at least 93 cases with 65 deaths, a St. Petersburg Times review found.” There is no doubt that if the NRA had it their way, "stand your ground" laws would be adopted in all 50 states.

Why S. 2188 and S. 2213 are so bad and MUST NOT BE PASSED:

Under the provision of these newly proposed bills to loosen gun regulations even more, an individual like Zimmerman who is legally carrying a gun and has a concealed weapons license, would be able to take his gun along with his concealed weapons license from Florida to any state in America other than D.C. and Illinois where concealed weapons are prohibited..

The passage of these bills, as the Huffington Post writes, "would allow the tens of thousands of concealed carry permit holders… to take their guns and their "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality into Times Square, downtown Los Angeles, Main Street in Des Moines, Iowa, or to your community. If your state has tougher, more sensible laws that might prevent someone like George Zimmerman -- who had an arrest record -- from getting a concealed carry permit, tough luck. This new bill would force your state to honor concealed carry permits of other states, even states like Florida, with abhorrently low standards.” The NRA believes that an American's right to use deadly force against their perceived aggressors, whether wielding a deadly weapon or skittles, is more valuable than an innocent American's right to life. How are such laws not endangering Americans in general more than protecting them, when it has proven to be increasing homicide rates?

The gun rights advocates are indifferent to the Martin case, in fact they blame Trayvon Martin:

What’s most disheartening is how gun-rights advocates are addressing the Martin case so coldly. The Gun Owners of America’s Executive Director Larry Pratt came out on Current TV’s “The Young Turks” stated that Martin had given up his rights and was rightfully shot because once he had knocked Zimmerman to the ground, saying that rather than fight Zimmerman, he should have tried again to run away.
And the NRA’s interpretation of the Martin case is similarly indifferent to the fact that the case has moved so much of the nation. Our outrage against the provision of such a law will not be hindered although the NRA, the Gun Owners of America and other political voices who support radical gun rights will undoubtedly try to minimize the application of this law on the Trayvon Martin case and paint “stand your ground” as a constitutional American ideology that we should buy into. But we know that at least 402 victims have been killed in 32 states since 2007 in deaths involving private citizens that are legally permitted to carry concealed weapons, according to the Legal Community Against Violence.

Who are we asking for help from, and what do we want them to do?

We ask that the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, and the Vice President choose not to sign the new S.2188 and S.2213 bills if they are passed by Senate. We want the appropriate State Attorney Generals, Governors, and Legislators to take the initiative in working to repeal “stand your ground” in their states where the law is active to address the questionable ethics of the way "stand your ground" laws enables criminals to get away with murder. We want our Senators to know that we oppose S.2188 and S. 2213 (as well as H.R.822 which passed the House in November of 2011) and do not wish to extend the opportunity for killers like Zimmerman to bring their concealed weapon into states with different gun laws, defeating the purpose of any state’s stricter gun regulation laws.

The right to bear arms needs to be considered in a rational context where the sacrifice of innocent human life is not up for discussion. Please join us in fighting to repeal these active laws and stop the passage of bills which deny states their ability to enforce safer gun regulation.

*states with "stand your ground" laws
Washington, Oregon, Nevada, S. Dakota, Illinois, N. Carolina, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Michigan, Kentucky, S. Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Indiana, W. Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Kansas, Florida, Tennessee

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Conservatives take advantage of the opportunity to spread their propaganda to students..

Upon beginning my microeconomics class in college this semester and finding some of the social and political conclusions in the book severely biased with the use of unrealistic data as promotion of conservative economic rhetoric, I looked up the author, Mankiw. What I found was that he was the economic advisor to President George W. Bush and is now GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's economic advisor. In short this guy is not a huge fan of social welfare.
The point is though, that I never knew that they were spreading conservative rhetoric, like being anti-government regulation of certain industries like banks, oil and healthcare, discouraging any kind of taxes in markets or on goods and denying the gender-pay gap for example, in a way that's hard to dispute for the average student; through cleverly manipulated economic data.

So I felt inclined to look into the subject when I saw this video. It's trying to prove that the gender pay gap no longer exists in any way at all, on the grounds that because women make different choices, we find this outcome of women making less than men. Be warned, the "Institute for Humane Studies" is associated with the Koch Foundation Organization.

Let's look at each piece of reasoning Prof. Steven Horowitz uses to present his argument.
Prof. Horowitz argues that women and men invest differently in their educations, their job experience, and differ in their expectations of work. He truthfully states the fact that women tend to major in social sciences to pursue careers in Psychology and Nursing. He also truthfully states the fact that most men enter fields of engineering. He then examines the data formed by taking all men in all fields of work, and all women in all fields of work, and comparatively proves that based on a woman's likelihood to enter a career path that pays less, and a woman being more likely to work part-time or take time off to raise children, those factors cause her to make lower pay in relation to a man who is working in a different field that pays more. This much is accurate from the standpoint of comparing all working men and women in general. So according to Prof. Horowitz we should be able to fairly compare the gender wage gap by considering the factors of education, job experience, and expectation of work. The professor goes on to say "Studies that have tried to control for these factors have shown that if you take a man and a woman same experience, same education, same job, and compare their salaries, what you find is that women make about 98% of what men do. That gender wage gap pretty much disappears." Unfortunately this is only true for certain fields, because as the New York Times pointed out based on information provided by PayScale, "In jobs that pay more than $100,000, women earn just 87 percent of what men receive, even after adjusting for outside factors...For jobs paying below $100,000, the gap narrows further." It goes on to say that "After controlling for outside factors, some of the biggest gender pay gaps are in jobs like chief executive (in which, after PayScale adjusted the data, women earn 71 percent of what men earn), hospital administrator (women earn 77 percent of what equally qualified men earn) and chief operating officer (women earn 80 percent of what equally qualified men earn)." This brings out a very important point, what these jobs particularly have in common is "in each of these jobs, performance quality is a relatively subjective measure" and when you "compare those jobs to positions like engineers, actuaries or electricians, where the criteria for a job well done might be relatively more concrete or measurable" you can see the "salaries earned by men and women are roughly equal".
So it's not exactly just a difference in choosing to gain knowledge, job experience, or education, it's a difference in pay based on how subjective the criteria for a pay raise would be in any given field. This tells you that the more one's job performance is left up to an employer's personal opinion, the more likely a women is to be paid less than a man in the same position. This video played down the issue of the gender wage gap to seem as though it doesn't exist, even though when looking at the facts the issue does exist, it's just that you have to be more specific to point it out.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why I think Amy Poehler is one of the greatest people ever...

Amy Poehler is a brilliant writer and performer.
Her latest success of a show, Parks & Recreation, combines my two favorite things; politics and comedy.
Having grown up watching her on SNL, she's been a hilarious and vital contribution to my definition of what's funny. Something that speaks to her character as a person is how the comedy veteran, with the establishments of two Upright Citizens Brigade comedy schools/theaters one in LA and one in NY, is loyal to her original comedy troupe in addition to creating this platform for future performers.

But here's why I really love Amy Poehler, she's an activist. These days there's so much stigma attached to words like activist, or as Ms. Peohler would more likely be labeled, a feminist. People like Rush Limbaugh don't help much when equating feminism with Nazi perpetrators of the holocaust, calling women like Sandra Fluke who care about equal rights "Feminazis" and additionally labeling them 'sluts' and 'prostitutes'.

For me, seeing Amy Poehler use her comedic wit and far-reaching influence to shine light on an issue that is truly unbelievable in this day and age, is like the glimmer of hope that there are people out there who realize this is outrageous. These GOP candidates say they want to minimize government in terms of how it limits rich people like themselves, by lowering taxes on carried interest? Really? Do average Americans rely mostly on the money they make from carried interest? No, just rich dudes like all of the current GOP candidates, but as Romney said he's not that worried about the poor people.  In a move of absolute hypocrisy, these candidates then want to extend the reach of government into the sex lives and health decisions of Americans and go so far as to deny women the right for contraception to be provided by insurance when it is often used for medical purposes like to treat heavy periods that keep a woman from leading a normal life, to treat chronic migraines, and as Sandra Fluke would've testified if given the opportunity, the birth control pill is even used to treat ovarian cysts. They argue that it's wrong to "force" beliefs on employers with different religious values. But is it really encroaching upon their religious values, to provide the insurance they're already providing, the only difference being that the insurance company now is being required to provide the contraception if a woman needs it? Because it is often a medical need.

This topic is a magnet for conservatives to spew rhetoric that contradicts itself, which is actually typical for them. If the conservatives are so pro-life why wouldn't they be down for contraception? Being that it's the #1 way to prevent abortions by avoiding a conception in the first place!
I could go on all day about it because it baffles me to see men trying to run women's lives with so little insight or even willingness to gain insight into what effects such positions would have on their human rights, but my better judgement tells me to stop before I've rambled on too long.

Without further ado, here is Ms. Poehler's much funnier and more concise interpretation/reaction to this conservative war on women.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why doesn't the MPAA want kids to see "Bully"?

Bullying has existed in different forms for centuries, but the prevalence of such incidences manifesting themselves in new ways over social networking sites and driving kids to suicide in our modern day is what is so alarming. Indeed, recently there have been various meaningful victories for equal rights in America such as gays being able to serve openly in the military. We've even seen celebrities take part in spreading awareness of the seriousness of homophobic hate crimes and bullying in schools while providing an optimistic message for the victims and encouraging them to look to the future.
So in light of how bullying has taken so many different forms, why would the MPAA give the new documentary, "Bully", an R rating?
I understand there will be some violence in there and there will probably be some coarse language used too. But my argument is this: kids in middle school and high school see this every day. Why, when this information could be used for positive change, are we limiting the audience that will be able to view this film?
The idea that the kids over 13 but under 17 will somehow be negatively affected by watching this film, is absolutely ludicrous. At risk of sounding redundant I repeat, the media within this film is nothing short of an exact portrayal of what they already see and deal with every single day at school. The only difference is that in the real world they're watching it without the guidance or commentary of their parents!
I'll be honest, part of my issue with the MPAA's decision to give the doc an R rating is due in part to the fact that they are a completely secretive and privately run organization lacking any reasonable transparency. The very board of individuals who rate these movies remain protected by anonymity.

None of it makes any sense, and after giving it some thought, I realized there's probably an ulterior motive behind this decision to give "Bully" its R rating. Perhaps, those running the MPAA and all their rich buddies, don't want to spread this message of tolerance too widely. Why, you ask? Because if the kids were to become more tolerant of their differences they'd realize the truth about many of America's most influential figures; that they're just a bunch of bullies. Those kids would then become tomorrow's voters, and a tolerant and compassionate generation would never support the radical conservative agenda that seems to be the strong undercurrent driving our policies today. Instances like Republican representative Virgil Peck saying we should shoot immigrants like feral hogs, or when commentator Ann Coulter coldly joked about gay stereotypes saying if she had a gay son she would ask for help redecorating the dining room after telling him he was adopted, would never fly with a compassionate audience let alone have their vote. Would they then not have a much harder time selling their conservative elitist agenda to an informed generation of voters who act on compassion and acceptance of diversity?
I say all this, slightly kidding. I don't really know what the MPAA has to gain from a conservative agenda, even though they've been known to show favoritism to major studios over independent films among other inconsistencies... But the idea's not that far-fetched.
Here's a clip from the documentary, "This Film is Not Yet Rated" which goes into the secretive and unjust nature of the MPAA, and the way that they dictate who should watch what movies.

If you agree that "Bully" will do more GOOD than harm with a PG-13 rating, sign this petition.
The children, who are the victims in all of this, are waiting for society to change their attitude on the issue of bullying, to take it seriously. But how will that ever happen when the first work that could actually provide a basis for that dialogue is rated R?

Now you be the judge. This is the trailer for "Bully", being only a few minutes long there is not a whole lot to go by, but clearly a central point of director Lee Hirsch is that the problem of bullying is often ignored and left unaddressed by teachers and fellow students, who are an essential component in turning this problem around. Hopefully enough people will sign the petition to put the necessary pressure on the MPAA to assign the film a PG-13 rating. Otherwise, a very large part of the target audience may not see this film until they are old enough and by then they'll be graduating from high school.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Just how bad is poverty, unemployment and debt in America?

The answer is that America is still stuck in an economic rut where the $15 trillion dollars in debt we've accumulated is a very real and heavy burden that does not appear to be going any where any time soon. However, at 8.5% unemployment, the country appears to be on a steady incline in terms of jobs, and that is indeed something to be glad for.  Of course, in order to address the increasingly larger-growing national debt, talks of cutting social welfare programs are also on the incline. In my opinion, we are still looking at major holes in the systems of healthcare and education, places where changes would make a significant impact on our people's high rates of poverty and debt. Cutting funding to such areas, that are already in such desperate need of financial assistance, will only further reinforce the gap that has "more than tripled in the last three decades" between the very rich minority and the much poorer majority. I'll go into what changes in policy I personally believe would best address these issues a little later. 
First, I think its important to examine the hard facts. The statistics show us that the people of the United States of America are in need of unemployment assistance, they're in need of better and more affordable education, the elderly have been proven to be doing relatively well only because social security has yet to be cut. 
Social welfare should be the absolute last resort on the metaphorical budgetary chopping block, and only after all other options have been exhausted.

Poverty Rate (current)
the qualifying income level of someone living under poverty level is below $22,314 a year for a family of four
below $11,139 a year for individuals 

USA- 46.2 Million in poverty, that's 15.1% of Americans (more than 1 in 5 children are currently living in poverty)

CA- higher than the national average, 16.3% of California's population is living in poverty

poverty rates by gender, race

percentage of men living in poverty: 14% women: 16.2%

percentage of single fathers: 15.8% single mothers: 31.6%  

percentage of blacks: 27.4% non-hispanic white: 9.9% hispanic:26.6% asian: 12.1%

People lacking medical benefits (2011)

USA- 49.9 million Americans lacked medical benefits

CA- 6.9 million Californians are uninsured, that's the highest in the nation

Average debt of students leaving a 4 year institution (2010)

US-$25,250 average debt of all students in the US

CA-$18,113 for 48% of graduates

OR-$23,967 for 63% of graduates

IO-$29,598 for 72% of graduates

PA-$28,599 for 70% of graduates

Unemployment rates (current)

US- has recently fallen to 8.5%

CA- at 11.3% unemployment

links to the data
#of uninsured:
student loans: