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8386NEWS -- 2014.01.10.Friday

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  • James Martin
    Jan 10, 2014
      1) Legal Weed's Strange Economics in Colorado
      2) Conservative Catholic order meets to turn page on scandalous past
      3) 11 tips to avoid a winter pileup from a pro trucker
      4) Franklin Graham chides Christians for not fighting beside Phil Robertson in ‘religious war’
      5) Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children
      EXTRA ---
      In addition to the above, my opinion is --->
      Privatization is a code word for takeover of a government responsibility by those who will feed at the public trough and say they are doing a public service. Prisons, for example. Schools, another example: charter schools.
      Those in high places, such as Obama, are not happy with legalized pot.  --->

      Legal Weed's Strange Economics in Colorado

      By Brian Bremner and Vincent Del Giudice January 09, 2014

      This is a blazing moment for American stoners. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes.

      Libertarians and progressives are thrilled. Addiction specialists are anxious. And economists, well, they’re a little like undergrads lost in a bong-induced thought experiment: One moment the economics of pot seem beautifully elegant, then the real-world implications suddenly become bewilderingly complex.

      The champions of marijuana’s legalization have long argued that regulated sale of the drug would drive down production costs and the retail price. The availability of cheaper, legal cannabis would generate precious tax revenue and refocus drug enforcement efforts on more socially harmful narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth. “On the black market, a lot of folks are compensating drug dealers and everyone else in the supply chain for the risk of arrest and incarceration,” says Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. “If marijuana were fully legalized and you could grow it outdoors like any other commodity, the production costs would plummet over 90 percent.”

      Standing in the way, Kilmer and economists say, are variables including state tax policies, the shifting behavior of buyers and sellers, and contradictory drug laws nationwide. In Colorado, where authorities have levied a 15 percent wholesale and 10 percent retail tax on marijuana transactions, the price of legal commercial-grade pot has doubled to $400 an ounce since the start of the year, says Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. That’s twice the price for medical marijuana at state dispensaries that require a doctor’s prescription. On the black market, high-grade offerings are fetching $156 to $250 an ounce, according to data compiled by Narcotic News.

      That prevailing $400-per-ounce price is no doubt inflated by limited inventory and pent-up consumer demand that may fade over time. To optimize profits, though, enterprising pot retailers will still have an incentive to go high-end, specializing in more potent grades, promoting add-ons such as vaporizer refillable cartridges that can be used for pot consumption, and conjuring up new products (cannabis-infused chocolate lava cake, anyone?). “I don’t think we should expect the legal price to be that different from current [black market] prices,” says Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron. “People will want to pay more for a quality product.”

      For policymakers, the challenge is getting the taxes right, says Kilmer at RAND. In Washington State, authorities will impose a 25 percent excise tax on every phase of the newly liberalized market: production, processing, and final sale. That’s on top of standard state sales tax of 8.75 percent. A consulting firm hired by the state projects these taxes will add 37 percent to the price. In Colorado’s Western Slope region, Gregory Viditz-Ward, owner of a pot retailer called the Telluride Green Room, says he thinks “the black market is going to come back extremely strong,” due to what he considers the high state cannabis tax.

      Back in 2010, California considered pegging taxes to marijuana weight before a failed ballot initiative to legalize pot. (The Golden State is still home to a big legal medical marijuana market.) Critics said the approach would encourage producers to sell more potent products to lower the tax hit. Kilmer suggests states consider taxing pot based on its level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in the drug. “Just as some states differentiate among the alcohol levels of beer, wine, and spirits, you could set a tax based on the amount of THC,” he says.

      There may be a positive net fiscal impact for states from legal marijuana. A 2010 study by the libertarian Cato Institute, co-authored by Harvard’s Miron, forecast that states could save $17.4 billion annually from reduced drug enforcement costs and increased tax revenue, assuming marijuana production and sales were legal nationwide.

      Those gains could be eroded, however, if an expanded market started to displace alcohol sales, which are also taxed. A more worrisome scenario: What if more people consumed marijuana and alcohol together—and in greater amounts? The trend might contribute to more traffic accidents and other health costs, says Kilmer.

      Perhaps the biggest unknown is law enforcement. How seriously Colorado authorities police unlicensed sellers will shape market supply and pricing trends—or determine whether legal Colorado cannabis is illegally sold in other states that still ban the drug. (On Jan. 5, local Colorado police raided a pot-growing operation of 1,200 plants.)

      The production, sale, and use of marijuana has been illegal at the federal level since 1937. The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced that it would not challenge state legalization laws. Who knows if the next administration will be so accommodating, or if a majority of public opinion, as a late-2013 Gallup poll showed, will still support marijuana legalization? “We don’t know what’s going to happen in two years, five years,” says Miron. “Pendulums swing in both directions.”

      The bottom line: Pot prices have doubled to $400 an ounce in Colorado, which has just legalized marijuana use among adults.

      Bremner is an assistant managing editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow him at @bxbremner.
      Del Giudice is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Denver.
      Lots of comments at the URL.

      Conservative Catholic order meets to turn page on scandalous past

      By Philip Pullella, Wednesday 08 January 2014
      VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - How can an order of priests go on serving the Catholic Church and the faithful after revelations that the man who founded it was a fraud who lived a double life as a pedophile, womanizer and drug addict?

      That is the dilemma facing the Legionaries of Christ, as the conservative religious order started a six-week meeting on Wednesday to write a new constitution and chart a future course that would put the stain of scandal behind it.

      The order, once a darling of the Vatican because it attracted more people to religious vocations and made sizeable financial donations to the Church, has been in receivership since 2010.

      At that point, former Pope Benedict appointed a personal delegate to run it while investigations were carried out and preparations made for upcoming changes.

      The order runs private Catholic schools and charitable organizations in 22 countries via its network of some 950 priests and 1,000 seminarians. It operates a Catholic university in Rome and its lay movement, known as Regnum Christi, has around 30,000 members.

      Father Marcial Maciel, a Mexican who founded the order in 1941, ran it like a cult rooted in secrecy, according to former Legionaries. Members took a special vow promising never to criticize the founder or question his motives.

      For decades the Vatican dismissed accusations by seminarians that Maciel had abused them sexually, some when they were as young as 12.

      Pope John Paul II, who is set to become a saint in May, was a strong supporter, appreciating the group's ability to attract more people to clerical life than other religious orders.

      The order also had many wealthy conservative benefactors who saw it as a bulwark against liberalism in the Church.

      --- click on URL to continue ---

      11 tips to avoid a winter pileup from a pro trucker

      By Alan Wrobel January 8, 2014 2:51 PM

      In eight years as a truck driver, Alan Wrobel has driven 810,000 miles (accident-free) in 45 states and Ontario. He now covers Ohio, Michigan, Ontario, and Wisconsin for a beverage distributor. Here’s his advice on how to handle yourself when the snow starts falling:

      When you face a nasty winter storm, use your best judgment. Don’t go out unless you have to, and always make sure you have an emergency kit, warm blankets, and rations in the car.

      Now, here are some tips from Wrobel, basic and advanced, to help ensure you won’t need to use that emergency kit.


      Breathe and stay calm. Panic causes people to overreact. You need to focus.

      Slow Down:

      Drive only as fast as your abilities and the capabilities of the vehicle permit for the road conditions. If you’re out of practice on snow and ice, slow down. If your tires are bad, slow down. If your car has a low ride height, it won’t handle accumulating snow well. Again, just slow down.

      Be Smooth:

      Your actions need to be controlled and deliberate. Hard acceleration, hard braking, and sharp curves all decrease traction. Maintain a consistent speed, open up the distance between you and the car ahead, and be easy on the brakes. Steer gently, and remember that inertia will be a factor.

      Let There Be Light:

      In inclement weather, turn on your headlights. This is so other drivers can see you. Your taillights will be brighter too.

      Use Your Signals:

      Here’s a trucker’s rule of thumb for lane change: Dry or rainy (not freezing) weather: three blinks, then move over for three blinks. Winter weather: four or five blinks, then move over slowly. Signal for turns before you start slowing down.

      If you’re going significantly slower than the traffic around you, turn on your four-way hazards, take the rightmost lane, and just let everyone pass you. The hazards let other drivers know you’re going slower than they are, and this can help prevent a pileup.

      Observe Tire Spray:

      Pay attention to the water coming off of other vehicles’ tires. If there’s a lot of spray, the roads are wet. If there’s less spray and the road's wet, take extra caution; the roadway is starting to freeze. If the road looks wet with little or no spray, you’re on black ice. Be extremely cautious.

      Watch the Truckers:

      When the weather goes south, if the big trucks are slowing down, you should too. If they’re pulling off, perhaps you’d better take a break as well. By no means do I recommend keeping pace with them. (We’re kind of a crazy breed with the advantage of more weight, higher road clearance, more tires, and bigger tires.)

      Do Not Stop:

      If visibility is zero (i.e., you can’t see beyond your hood), do not stop where you are! You WILL be hit. Creep along until you can safely get your vehicle off and away from the road.

      Waiting it Out:

      Exit ramps are typically plowed after the main highways. Rest areas are cleared after that. If you need to get off the road, wait it out in the parking lot of a gas station, 24-hour restaurant, or hotel. You stand a better chance of not being snowed in.

      Traction is Everything:

      Loss of traction in snowy/icy conditions doesn’t happen because you’re on ice. It means you’re hydroplaning on an almost microscopic film of fluid water (in a transitional state) between the ice and the surface of your tires. The lack of cohesion in the fluid gravely reduces friction, which results in less traction.

      Make sure you have snow tires or all-weather radials with wide and deep tread valleys. Siping (small cuts that look like squiggly lines) on the tread studs will help with grip on packed snow and ice.

      When is Cold-Weather Driving Riskiest?

      You face the greatest risk of losing traction on snowy, wet roads when temperatures are between 22 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit. At colder temperatures (10 to 20 degrees or less) snow-covered and icy roads afford more traction than at those warmer (22 to 35 degree) temperatures.

      Don’t believe it? Try this: Take two ice cubes. Place one in a deep freezer for 30 minutes. Drop the other in a glass of water. Try picking it in up with your fingertips. Notice how slippery it is? After 30 minutes, get the other ice cube from the freezer. My bet is it practically sticks to your fingers for a bit.

      The same principle applies to driving. The ice is almost sticky in more extreme cold. But during heavy and slower traffic, more heat is applied to its surface, and traction will be commensurately reduced.

      Ultimately, you’re responsible for exercising your best judgment. If the weather is bad, stay put and let road crews do their jobs.

      Be safe out there.

      View Comments (1,831)


      Franklin Graham chides Christians for not fighting beside Phil Robertson in ‘religious war’

      By Scott Kaufman
      Tuesday, December 31, 2013

      In a statement issued on Monday, Franklin Graham — son of legendary televangelist Billy Graham and CEO of his Evangelical Association — complained about Christians who were unwilling to fight beside Phil Robertson in the “religious war against Christians and the biblical truths [they] stand for.”

      “I appreciate the Robertson family’s strong commitment to biblical principles and their refusal to back down under intense media pressure over Phil Robertson’s comments in a recent interview,” Graham wrote. “As the Robertson controversy winds down—at least for now—I have been amazed at how many churches have apparently ‘ducked’ out on the issue (sin).”

      He chastised those churches that “have fallen into the trap of being politically correct, under the disguise of tolerance.”

      “God is not ‘politically correct,’” he wrote, “and He is certainly not tolerant of sin.”

      He continued by noting that “[t]he Bible tells us that He is going to judge all sin one day; and anyone who is not found under the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, will face an eternity in hell separated from God.”

      Graham’s remarks echo Robertson’s, in that he stresses that pointing out that God will judge a person to be a sinner isn’t the same as personally judging someone to have sinned.


      COMMENTARY by By Janet Allon


      Surprise! Right-Wing Buffoonery Continues in 2014: Pope Pisses Off Rich Republicans Edition

      6. Anti-LGBT hater/crusaders: 'Trans-people are circus freaks.'

      LGBT haters had a tough week, what with Robin Roberts’ coming out and being shown all that love by everybody. Then there’s the apparently unstoppable march toward marriage equality, recent setbacks in Utah notwithstanding. It’s all just a little too much for Peter LaBarbera, director of Americans for the Truth (ha!) About Homosexuality. In a radio interview, he spewed all the bigoted venom he could muster, disparaging Roberts, calling transgendered people “satanic” and saying the “homosexual so-called marriage movement” is a force of “evil” designed to “corrupt children.”

      His host, Vic Eliason of Voice of Christian Youth (VCY) America’s radio show on Thursday joined right in, upping the ante by calling transgender people “circus freaks” and agreeing with LaBarbera that “Satan” is working through them.

      “Every coming out is a tragedy,” LaBarbera said regarding Roberts. Even Michelle Obama, he sighed, is in on the pro-homosexual agenda, which he likened to “evil empire.”

      These are not nice people, and perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked. But we can’t help it — we still are.


      9. Franklin Graham: It’s your Christian duty to defend Phil Robertson.

      Some Christians fell down on the job recently, when they failed to berate critics of Phil Robertson, the “Duck Dynasty” star who has expressed his charming views on homosexuality, black people, and as it turns out, the rightful (married sex-and-kitchen-slave to older men) place of 15-year-old girls. Christians who didn’t defend Robertson, said the son of Billy Graham, who is head of his own evangelical empire, are, well, wimps.

      “I appreciate the Robertson family’s strong commitment to biblical principles and their refusal to back down under intense media pressure over Phil Robertson’s comments in a recent interview,” Graham wrote in a statement this week. “As the Robertson controversy [10] winds down—at least for now—I have been amazed at how many churches have apparently ‘ducked’ out on the issue (sin).”

      He chastised those churches for having “fallen into the trap of being politically correct, under the disguise of tolerance,” adding ominously, “God is not ‘politically correct,' and He is certainly not tolerant of sin.”

      Hear that, all ye sinners? And non-defenders of Saint Phil Robertson?

      My comment ---
      I've watched Duck Dynasty several times since this erupted.  Considering the audience this show appeals to, no one should be surprise that Phil Robertson was re-instated into the show after only two weeks.
      This is a Southern Baptist audience.  And they love the show.
      Southern Baptists are not happy with this at all.

      Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children

      Published on Aug 23, 2012

      Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, aka "the science guy," if grownups want to "deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them."

      -- Transcript:
      Denial of evolution is unique to the United States. I mean, we're the world's most advanced technological—I mean, you could say Japan—but generally, the United States is where most of the innovations still happens. People still move to the United States. And that's largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science. When you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.

      Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's like, it's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You're just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place.

      As my old professor, Carl Sagan, said, "When you're in love you want to tell the world." So, once in a while I get people that really—or that claim—they don't believe in evolution. And my response generally is "Well, why not? Really, why not?" Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution. I mean, here are these ancient dinosaur bones or fossils, here is radioactivity, here are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.

      And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.

      It's just really hard a thing, it's really a hard thing. You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I'm sure, will be, it just won't exist. There's no evidence for it.

      Directed / Produced by
      Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd