Richard Gonzales of National Public Radio reports that in Oakland, California, marijuana vendors 'are actually lobbying for a higher tax on their product.'
Right now the medical marijuana distributors are paying a city tax of $1.20 per every $1,000 they get in revenues. In July, Oakland voters will decide whether the dispensaries should pay even more -- as much as $18 for every $1,000 in gross receipts.
Not only do medical marijuana dispensary owners support the new taxes, it was their idea to raise these taxes in the first place. City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan says the new tax could generate upward of $1 million annually and would make Oakland the first city in the country to directly tax medical marijuana.
"You know, in these economic times, we're trying to find revenue everywhere we can, and we're trying to keep our senior centers open," she said. "We're trying to keep public safety officials hired and with equipment that works, and so to have someone stepping up and say, 'We're willing to pay more,' it's a pretty beautiful thing."
Opponents of medical marijuana, however, aren't convinced, according to Gonzales. Calvina Fay is the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. She said medical marijuana may be legal in California and 12 other states but its sale is still a federal crime.
"I think it is one more step in creating the illusion that they are operating within the law, what they're doing is OK," Fay said.
Ronald Brooks, the president of the National Narcotic Officers' Associations' Coalition, said the ultimate goal is the legalization of cannabis.
"Their strategy has long been that they just can't go to the voters right now in today's environment and say, 'Legalize marijuana.' But they know there is a growing movement that supports marijuana and, unfortunately, when you start to chip away at out national drug policy, you begin to have people believe that somehow this is safe," Brooks said.
June 28, 2009, SAN FRANCISCO -- It's been 40 years since the first uprising against repression of homosexuals. On June 28, 1969, a police raid turned into a melee and riot at a New York City bar called the Stonewall Inn, inadvertently starting the Gay rights movement. Four decades later, homosexuals have the right to marry in five states of the Union but not in most others and the battle for full and equal rights is far from over.
This was a day, however, to celebrate the fact that there's at least one city in the world where they have achieved relative equality and certainly don't have to worry about the intolerance of the majority.
Denis Cuff or the Contra Costa Times reports transit union and management negotiators are struggling to reach an agreement on issues that have 'dogged the transit system for years: benefit costs and work rules,' so the San Francisco Bay Area is now bracing for a possible Bay Area Rapid Transit strike.
'With the recession bleeding BART of sales-tax revenue and fare-paying riders,' writes Cuff, 'BART's board and managers says it needs $100 million in concessions over four years from employee unions. Without the savings, the board says it would be forced to impose more unpopular fare increases or service cuts. BART fares go up 6.1 percent on July 1, just hours after the expiration of four-year agreements for unions representing 2,284 of the district's 3,225 employees.'
"How bad does it have to get before union leaders realize that BART is facing a fiscal crisis and they need to help find a solution to it?" asked BART board Presient Tom Blalock. "We have to improve efficiency and reduce all costs, including the cost of our labor contracts, while at the same time keeping BART affordable for our riders."
Blalock said he is upset the unions on Wednesday asked for a 3 percent pay raise over the next two years, rather than a wage freeze. Union leaders say BART is trying to exploit the recession and bully employees to accept long-term takeaways without knowing how long the economy will stay sluggish.
"The economy is a temporary condition and they want permanent cutbacks," said Lisa Isler, president of Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union. "We feel they're taking advantage of us."
The Associated Press reports the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a school's strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal. In an 8-1 ruling, the justices said school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding in the rural eastern Arizona town of Safford.
Redding, who now attends college, was 13 when officials at Safford Middle School ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear because they were looking for pills -- the equivalent of two Advils. The district bans prescription and over-the-counterdrugs and the school was acting on a tip from another student.
"What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. "We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."
In a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas found the search legal and said the court previously had given school officials "considerable leeway" under the Fourth Amendment in school settings.
Officials had searched the girl's backpack and found nothing, Thomas said. "It was eminently reasonable to conclude the backpack was empty because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one would look," Thomas said.
Thomas warned that the majority's decision could backfire. "Redding would not have been the first person to conceal pills in her undergarments," he said. "Nor will she be the last after today's decision, which announces the safest place to secrete contraband in school."
Richard Harris of National Public Radio reports on a small think tank in Oakland, California, that provides and promotes 'responses to global warming as an economic opportunity -- rather than as a pollution problem that needs to be solved through regulation.
'The Breakthrough Institute doesn't look like much,' says Harris, 'just a few offices in a shared suite in downtown Oakland. There are only five people on staff. ... Michael Shellenberger, 37, and Ted Nordhaus, 43, founded the Breakthrough Institute in 2002.'
"We're stuck in this kind of poor paradigm for dealing with climate change," said Shellenberger, "not because environmentalists are failures, but actually because they were so successful. The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the cap and trade on acid rain -- these things worked really well."
Theoretically, regulation should force companies to develop cleaner alternatives as the price of carbon pollution grows. But Shellenberger said just making the use of carbon more expensive will not work to actually make a real change.
"When was the last time human beings modernized our energy sources by making older power sources more expensive?," he asked. "And, of course, by now you probably know that the answer is 'never.'"
Personal computers didn't take off because there was a tax on typewriters, he elaborated. And the Internet didn't sprout up because the government made telegraphs more expensive.
"So is there a better way to do this? Well, we think that there is. It's very simple: It's that we need to make clean energy cheap worldwide."
For example, he argues, China will never stop burning its massive reserves of coal unless there's something cheap to replace them. And the United States isn't likely to stop burning coal, either. Shellenberger and Nordhaus argue that the best way to develop those clean technologies is to increase federal energy research tenfold, and to create a project akin to the Apollo mission to the moon. But a massive increase in federal energy research spending is not a popular idea at the moment.
"There's this idea that the government shouldn't be involved in technology, the government shouldn't be picking winners and losers," said Shellenberger. "Which is sort of a funny thing to say. It's kind of like, well, why not? And when hasn't the United States government been involved in picking technology winners and losers?"
Chris Moran of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that public education in San Diego is now seeking corporate sponsorship, essentially trading the name of a given school's outdoor camp for big bucks.
'Naming rights deals once associated with sports and entertainment venues are migrating to public education, leading critics to warn that schools may be venturing down the wrong path,' writes Moran. 'The county Office of Education's plan, released last week, would be the biggest corporate sponsorship of its kind in the region.'
"In tough economic times, it's very difficult for parents to raise $270 for a week of their children going to school when you're coming from a socio-economic situation where that's a very difficult choice," county schools Superintendent Randy Ward is quoted in the article. "What we're trying to do is make sure that there's some equity in the experience of outdoor education."
The five-year, naming-rights deal could fund scholarships for an estimated 2,500 students a year, according to Ward.
'For $3 million, the county Office of Education's sixth-grade camp could take a corporate name such as Cuyamaca Outdoor School presented by Mission Federal Credit Union. Or maybe Qualcomm's Camp Cuyamaca,' Moran notes, as an example. 'For $75,000, a company can present the high school girls volleyball championship on ITV, the office's cable channel. For another $75,000, a company president can appear on ITV handing over the trophies to the winning students in a video production contest. And space on the Splash Mobile Lab can be had for $100,000.'
Critics, however, think it puts precisely the wrong message in the minds of future generations.
"One of the purposes of education and of school is to promote reasoning, and advertising by its nature subverts reason, and for that reason alone (advertising) has no place in public schools," said Susan Linn, director of the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood at the Judge baker Children's Center in Boston.
Brad Schmidt of the Portland Oregonian reports a gruesome story of a woman charged with suspicion of murder, accused of killing a pregnant woman, slicing her stomach open and stealing the fetus from her womb.
Korena Elaine Roberts, 27, has pleaded not guilty in the slaying of Heather Snively. Schmidt writes that court documents released yesterday say Roberts had a five-inch scratch at the base of her neck and more injuries appeared on Roberts' arms after being booked into jail.
The pregnant Snively was killed with her unborn son on the afternoon of June 5 and it appears she struggled against her attacker. The documents note that Snively had "bite like" marks on the back of her right elbow and a large cut along her abdomen, where the 21-year-old's baby was stolen from her uterus.
Investigators believe Snively and Roberts met via Craiglist, an online classified network, where both had been looking to buy or trade baby clothing. Roberts claimed to be pregnant with twins but was not, authorities say. Beginning in November, Roberts feigned morning sickness and started participating in mid-wife classes at Portland Community College. She took prenatal vitamins and told her boyfriend, Yan Shubin, that she visited the doctor regularly.
On the morning of Snively's death, Shubin left for work at 6 a.m. He returned to their Beaverton-area home just after 11 a.m. for lunch and Roberts made him a sandwich. Everything seemed normal, Shubin, 26, later told investigators. At 2:30 p.m., Shubin left work and headed to the bank. Roberts called him at 2:37 p.m., Shubin told investigators. "I need you," she said, sounding like she was in pain. Shubin raced home and when he arrived, he saw blood on the floor and headed to the bathroom. Roberts, wearing only a bra, sat in the bathtub holding the baby and the water was running. Someone called 9-1-1 at 2:42 p.m and paramedics responded. When Roberts and the baby arrived at St. Vincent Medical Center at 2:56 p.m., doctors pronounced the baby dead.
Doctors then determined that Roberts had not given birth. Schmidt writes that court documents say at the hospital Roberts spoke to a psychiatrist and Shubin told investigators that Roberts has been taking anti-depressants for at least five years.
At one point, Roberts began to tell Shubin what happened before being interrupted by a nurse who walked in.
"According to Yan, Korena told him that she did a horrible thing," the documents allege. Shubin eventually told police the body of the mother might be in the crawl space under Snively's house. Inside that house, police found a pool of blood under the carpet next to the crawl space. They used a flashlight to look under the house and saw a large mass covered by carpet. They pulled up the carpet and discovered Snively's mutilated body.
A story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from the staff of KOMO TV reports that two women were arrested for suspicion of assaulting an officer yesterday after they jumped two police officers in what the report describes as a "melee" on a cruise ship.
The report says 'officers responded to the scene at about 1:40 a.m. after receiving a 911 call about a large-scale disturbance aboard a cruise ship docked in the 1100 block of Alaskan Way. When police arrived, they found a chaotic scene of more than 100 people on the dock, many of them shouting and arguing. Officers then learned that some passengers were still physically fighting aboard the ship (so they) moved to the dock to begin clearing the ship, where they found a small group of people blocking the gangway and preventing passengers from leaving the vessel. The officers ordered the group to clear the gangway to allow others to leave the ship, but they refused to do so and officers were forced to physically move the group out of the way.
'While police were moving the group off the gangway, a woman in the group suddenly assaulted a male officer by jumping on his back, grabbing his throat and scratching him. She was arrested. Another woman in the group then assaulted a female officer, grabbing and scratching her throat. The second woman was also arrested.'
Phil Willon of the Los Angeles Times reports that more than a thousand demonstrators gathered in front of the Federal Building in Westwood, to show solidarity with those in Iran protesting over allegations of voter fraud in the June 12 Iranian presidential election.
'Holding signs that read "Stop the Killing" and pictures of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dressed as a Nazi,' writes Willon, 'the protesters lined Wilshire Boulevard shouting slogans in English and Persian and were greeted by a chorus of horns from supportive motorists.'
"We're here to show solidarity with the people on the streets of Iran," said Shahin, 31, a computer executive from the San Fernando Valley. "I hope, to people here, this will be another manifest about how the people in Iran are so different than the government."
Shahin moved to California from Tehran about nine years and keeps in touch with his family regularly.
"Today," he said, "I told them not to go out. There obviously was going to be an armed response."
At the peaceful, late-morning rally, most were wearing green arm bands and scarves to show solidarity with Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's reformist challenger, who says the president's election victory was tainted by voter irregularities. A similar protest took place in San Diego, where several hundred demonstrators gathered with signs in front of the federal courthouse. Participants waved to passing motorists and chanted that the Iranian government should nullify the election results.
National Public Radio's Ted Robbins reports on the program All Things Considered that two of the three people charged with killing a Hispanic man and his daughter in Arizona had ties to a group that strongly opposes illegal immigration. Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says the motive behind the killings was robbery -- and he believes the money was to fund the suspects' anti-immigration activity.
"Raul Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter were shot in the head May 30 after a group of people dressed in camouflage entered their home in the small southern Arizona town of Arivaca," said Robbins. "The girl was apparently shot because she was a witness. Her mother, whose name is not being released, was shot in the leg."
"The husband who was murdered has a history of being involved in narcotics and there was a anticipation that there would be a considerable amount of cash at this location, as well as the possibility of drugs," Dupnik said.
"One of the three suspects lived in the area. But the other two, Shawna Forde and Jason Bush, are leaders of an anti-illegal-immigrant group in Washington state called Minutemen American Defense." Robbins reports. "Its Web site says it secures the U.S. border from human and drug trafficking. The largest two Minuteman organizations -- the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and the Minuteman Project -- said Forde and Bush are not associated with them.
The executive director of the Southern California-based Minuteman Project, Stephen Eichler, said that Forde wrote articles that were posted on the Minuteman Project Web site but now they've been removed. Eichler said he and Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist are horrified by the Arizona killings and by some of the people their movement has attracted.
"There's a lot of racists getting into movements because there are a lot of groups that feel threatened today which are very right wing, very conservative. And they feel threatened that our nation is moving in a different direction than it has in, say, the past 30 or 40 years," Eichler said. "So, instead of being reasonable about that, they become hostile."