President Obama Grants Clemency to 22 Drug Offenders

President Obama told the Huffington Post in a recent interview, pictured here, that he plans to use his pardon and clemency powers "more aggressively," with particular focus on cases that represent "the broader issues that we face, particularly around nonviolent drug offenses." (Image via Huffington Post)

President Obama told the Huffington Post in a recent interview, pictured here, that he plans to use his pardon and clemency powers “more aggressively,” with particular focus on cases that represent “the broader issues that we face, particularly around nonviolent drug offenses.” (Image via Huffington Post)

This was originally published on Common Dreams. Read more of Lauren’s posts here.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday granted clemency to 22 individuals serving “outdated” drug sentences.

“Had they been sentenced under current laws and policies, many of these individuals would have already served their time and paid their debt to society,” White House counsel Neil Eggleston said in a statement. “Because many were convicted under an outdated sentencing regime, they served years—in some cases more than a decade—longer than individuals convicted today of the same crime.”

The detainees were each imprisoned for intent to distribute an illegal drug. Eight of the individuals carried lifetime sentences.

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Scientology: My First Audit

AJ+ (a recently launched digital-only news network from Al Jazeera) has just released this short on Scientology. AJ+’s Francesca Fiorentini visited the Church of Scientology in San Francisco for her very first dip into the religion, or, as some would call it, cult. In Scientology, “going clear” means reaching a state of happiness and freedom. To get there, you’ve got to go through “audits.” Years of them.

Follow AJ+ on Facebook.

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Finland is throwing away everything that made its schools the best in the world

alamosbasement (CC BY 2.0)

alamosbasement (CC BY 2.0)

Dennis Hayes, University of Derby

It easy to lampoon education reforms in Finland that aim to scrap the teaching of traditional subjects in favour of broader topics. The new initiative could see history, geography and languages replaced for periods by interdisciplinary “phenomenon-based” projects on topics such as the European Union. Instead of sitting in rows learning facts about the world, pupils can rush around corridors or the web and collect information in a spirit of “joyful learning”.

Ridicule was my immediate response but what is happening has serious and sad consequences. It will ultimately waste not only children’s time, but their education.

The reasons given in Finland for the reforms are a familiar: this set of initiatives is necessary to meet the challenges of working life in “modern society”. What it means is that education is no longer valued for its own sake but is seen as having instrumental value for the economy.… Read the rest

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Buckminster Fuller on The Geodesic Life


Buckminster Fuller on The Geodesic Life | The Experimenters | Blank on Blank from Quoted Studios on Vimeo.

“I must reorganize the environment of man by which then greater numbers of men can prosper” – Buckminster Fuller as told to Studs Terkel during interviews recorded in 1965 and 1970

The Experimenters, from the creators of Blank on Blank: Icons of science, innovation and technology on what spurred their creativity.

Like Blank on Blank on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

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Health and Community Advocates Overwhelmingly Oppose Vitter-Udall Takeover of Nation’s Toxic Chemical Safety Laws

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Photo: Thekohser (CC)

If you’ve seen the powerful disinformation documentary Unacceptable Levels you know that the amount of toxic chemicals in everyday household products is literally out of control. A proposed new law would make things even worse: The Udall-Vitter TSCA bill (S.697) now in Congress aims to block state actions while delaying federal reviews up to 7 years with no deadline for restricting even the most dangerous chemicals. Here’s the statement from the coalition opposing the bill:

Today, advocates from more than 50 environmental justice, health, sustainable business and community organizations delivered a letter to the United States Senate in opposition to S. 697, which could block states from taking new actions to protect consumers and communities from exposure to toxic chemicals.

Advocates noted that the proposed bill would actually be worse than current law and would fail to create effective reform of the nation’s toxic chemical safety program. The law would only require the U.S.… Read the rest

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Florida’s Bathroom Law

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mike LaBossiere via Talking Philosophy:

Being from Maine, I got accustomed to being asked about the cold, lobsters, moose and Stephen King. Living in Florida, I have become accustomed to being asked about why my adopted state is so insane. Most recently, I was asked about the bathroom bill making its way through the House.

The bathroom bill, officially known as HB 583, proposes that it should be a second-degree misdemeanor to “knowingly and willfully” enter a public facility restricted to members “of the other biological sex.” The bill proposes a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Some opponents of the bill contend that it is aimed at discriminating against transgender people. Some part of Florida have laws permitting people to use public facilities based on the gender they identify with rather than their biological sex.

Obviously enough, proponents of the bill are not claiming that they are motivated by a dislike of transgender people.

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Tesla’s Dream Of Wireless Transmission Of Electricity Realized In Japan

Nikola Tesla’s dream realized? Phys.org says it’s happening in Japan:

Japanese scientists have succeeded in transmitting energy wirelessly, in a key step that could one day make solar power generation in space a possibility, an official said Thursday.

Tesla coil (discharge)..JPG

“Tesla coil (discharge).” by Daniel Grohmann (CC)

Researchers used microwaves to deliver 1.8 kilowatts of power—enough to run an electric kettle—through the air with pinpoint accuracy to a receiver 55 metres (170 feet) away.

While the distance was not huge, the technology could pave the way for mankind to eventually tap the vast amount of  available in space and use it here on Earth, a spokesman for The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

“This was the first time anyone has managed to send a high output of nearly two kilowatts of  via microwaves to a small target, using a delicate directivity control device,” he said.

JAXA has been working on devising Space Solar Power Systems for years, the spokesman said.

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Help Wanted, Now Hiring – Leader of the United States

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I view America like this: 70 to 80% [are] pretty reasonable people that truthfully, if they sat down, even on contentious issues, would get along.
And the other 20 percent of the country run it. ”

— Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

On the heels of President Obama’s and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s on-going food fight, Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails and foreign contributions to her foundation, more shootings in Ferguson, and Congressional gridlock over budgets – we will hire a new President next year. Our recent hires have struggled: President Obama’s job approval averaged 42.6 percent for 2014 and former President Bush averaged 37 percent his second term. Congress approval in 2014 averaged a historic low of 15 percent. Americans now tell Gallup that government is our number one problem – even surpassing the economy.

Here is the rub: We get the leadership we select. If we want better leaders we must upgrade our selection criteria.

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DEA Agents Investigating Silk Road Embezzled Bitcoin

Cops pilfering criminals’ loot isn’t exactly new, but perhaps it is when the bounty is Bitcoin. From the Guardian:

“French Maid” wasn’t Carl Force’s officially sanctioned darknet alias.

Bitcoin logo.svg

In his capacity as an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency agent, and a senior member of the team investigating the deep-web drug market Silk Road and its owner, Force used the alias “Nob”.

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road known then as “Dread Pirate Roberts”, believed Nob to be a drug smuggler operating in the US with criminal underworld connections.

But Force also created “French Maid” and “Death from Above” – separate aliases not sanctioned by his bosses which he used to extort from Ulbricht hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bitcoin, according to a complaint filed in a US district court in California.

In 2013, after a two-year investigation, the FBI arrested Ulbricht. In February 2015 he was found guilty on charges of money laundering, conspiracy to traffic drugs and attempted purchase of a murder-for-hire.

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1000-year-old Remedy Kills MRSA Superbug

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This article was sent to us by a reader. He asks, “How did ancient people have this knowledge?”

A medieval remedy of leeks, garlic, wine, and the bile of a cow’s stomach was used as an “eyesalve” circa the 10th Century. Scientists have recently discovered, much to everyone’s surprise, that this salve is also effective against antibiotic-resistant MRSA.

via New Scientist:

Sourcing authentic ingredients was a major challenge, says Harrison. They had to hope for the best with the leeks and garlic because modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different to ancient ones – even those branded as heritage. For the wine they used an organic vintage from a historic English vineyard.

As “brass vessels” would be hard to sterilise – and expensive – they used glass bottles with squares of brass sheet immersed in the mixture. Bullocks gall was easy, though, as cow’s bile salts are sold as a supplement for people who have had their gall bladders removed.

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