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Starting the New Year Badly and Well

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By Thomas Neuburger (aka Gaius) Originally published at DownWithTyranny! BREAKING: Gov. Jay Inslee to offer pardons for thousands with misdemeanor pot convictions https://t.co/EesejA88hz via @seattletimes — Jim Brunner (@Jim_Brunner) January 4, 2019 As we gear up for the full blast of the next new year, I want to offer a selection of items for your consideration. All are important, some are related, all show the kind of year we’re determined to have. First, a bit of good news. Correcting a Massive Injustice This should have been done ages ago, and should have been promised by every pro-marijuana legalization presidential candidate in 2016. Gov. Jay Inslee offers pardons for thousands with misdemeanor pot convictions Under the plan, Washington state will pardon anyone who has an otherwise

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By Thomas Neuburger (aka Gaius) Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

As we gear up for the full blast of the next new year, I want to offer a selection of items for your consideration. All are important, some are related, all show the kind of year we’re determined to have.

First, a bit of good news.

Correcting a Massive Injustice

This should have been done ages ago, and should have been promised by every pro-marijuana legalization presidential candidate in 2016.

Gov. Jay Inslee offers pardons for thousands with misdemeanor pot convictions

Under the plan, Washington state will pardon anyone who has an otherwise clean criminal record but with a sole conviction as an adult for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Gov. Jay Inslee will offer pardons to thousands of people with misdemeanor marijuana convictions, in an effort to help them move on from minor criminal records that can hinder housing and job prospects.

Under the plan, Inslee will pardon anyone who has an otherwise clean criminal record but with a sole conviction as an adult for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in Washington state. … “We shouldn’t be punishing people for something that is no longer illegal behavior in the state of Washington,” Inslee said[.]

Let me offer an analogy. Before the 1960s, the Catholic Church had declared that eating meat on Friday was a mortal sin, which, if unforgiven, would send you straight to hell. In 1966, the Church, in its infinite wisdom, reversed that stand, saying that eating meat on Friday would no longer by itself be cause for eternal damnation.

Imagine the scene in hell when that announcement takes place. What, one wonders, would go through the minds of those damned forever for committing this “sin” as they watched others do what they did with no consequences at all? If you were in hell for eating meat on Friday, what would you be thinking at that moment?

Now take yourself to an American prison, where millions languish for the “crime” of using recreational marijuana, as you watch these laws repealed in state after state. Imagine the cruelty of keeping these men and women in the hell that is America’s prison system.

Every pro-marijuana candidate in the U.S. must make it a corollary policy to release these people, with full pardons, immediately.

Hubristic Democrats Committing Suicide

In response to this: “Hours after Rep. Rashida Tlaib made headlines for being sworn in as one of the two first Muslim female members of Congress on Thursday (alongside Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar), she told a cheering crowd about her mission against Donald Trump: ‘Impeach the motherfucker.'”

Former Democratic leader (and ex-Congressman) Joe Crowley said this, as repeated and amplified by current NBC (and former pro-Clinton) reporter Andrea Mitchell:

This fire died as quickly soon after it was lit, but it burned brightly. The Bipartisan Washington Consensus has identified the new House members — Occasio-Cortez, Tlaib — as enemies, and leadership Democrats (and their media amplifiers) are leading the charge against them.

How is that good for the Democratic Party and their chances in 2020?

More Democrats Committing Suicide

Parsing the unparsable, Nancy Pelosi weighed in on Black Lives Matter:

“Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” are code for two very opposite movements. The first says, “Cops should stop murdering black people.” The second says, “Stop criticizing cops.” Pelosi either mindfully wants it both ways, or mindlessly doesn’t understand the difference.

I’ll bet black people though, who mainly vote Democratic, know the difference, and they may remember that difference in 2020.

By the way, “past grievances,” Ms. Pelosi?

Police change explanation — again — after killing black man they mistook for an active shooter

Alabama police have backtracked further from their claims about Emantic Bradford Jr., who was initially described as an active shooter after an officer killed him in a suburban Birmingham shopping mall on Thanksgiving evening.

In a regretful statement the next day, police said the actual gunman had apparently escaped the Riverchase Galleria — but still maintained that Bradford, 21, “was fleeing the shooting scene while brandishing a handgun” when an officer shot him in a corridor outside the JCPenney store.

In a third statement Monday, police raised doubts about whether Bradford even had his gun out when officers encountered him.

And so it goes.

Even More Dems Committing Suicide

The top priority for Democrats in the new Senate seems to be support for a bill, not to open the government, or do any of a dozen good things for this country, but to protect another country, Israel, from criticism by Americans:

U.S. Senate’s First Bill, in Midst of Shutdown, is a Bipartisan Defense of the Israeli Government from Boycotts

When each new Congress is gaveled into session, the chambers attach symbolic importance to the first piece of legislation to be considered. For that reason, it bears the lofty designation of H.R.1 in the House, and S.1 in the Senate.

In the newly controlled Democratic House, H.R.1 – meant to signal the new majority’s priorities – is an anti-corruption bill that combines election and campaign finance reform, strengthening of voting rights, and matching public funds for small-dollar candidates. …

But in the 2019 GOP-controlled Senate, the first bill to be considered – S.1 – is not designed to protect American workers, bolster U.S. companies, or address the various debates over border security and immigration. It’s not a bill to open the government. Instead, according to multiple sources involved in the legislative process, S.1 will be a compendium containing a handful of foreign-policy related measures, a main one of which is a provision, with Florida’s GOP Sen. Marco Rubio as a lead sponsor, to defend the Israeli government. The bill is a top legislative priority for AIPAC.

The bill, which punishes companies that take part in any boycott of Israel, could sweep up individuals as well, and is widely considered unconstitutional:

In the previous Congress, that measure was known as S.170, and it gives state and local governments explicit legal authority to boycott any U.S. companies which themselves are participating in a boycott against Israel. As the Intercept reported last month, 26 states now have enacted some version of a law to punish or otherwise sanction entities which participate in or support the boycott of Israel, while similar laws are pending in at least 13 additional states. Rubio’s bill is designed to strengthen the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenge.

Punishment aimed at companies which choose to boycott Israel can also sweep up individual American citizens in its punitive net, because individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity. That was the case with Texas elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi, who lost her job working with autistic and speech-impaired children in Austin because she refused to promise not to boycott goods produced in Israel and/or illegal Israeli settlements.

If it passes, it will be with Democrats’ — and Chuck Schumer’s — support:

With the seven Democratic co-sponsors, the bill would have the 60 votes it needs to overcome a filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. – who supported Sen. Cardin’s far more draconian bill of last year and is one of the Senate’s most reliable AIPAC loyalists – also plans to support the Rubio bill, rather than whip votes against it, sources working on the bill said. Schumer’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. [emphasis added]

Not the best look coming into the new year. Expect more stories like this.

Another Deadly Obesity Disease

This tale is indirectly about the food industry. Directly, it’s about a new disease — condition, actually — that affects obese American. It’s on the rise (as you’d expect), and it lurks undiagnosed. Usually, when it’s discovered, the only way to save the patient is with a liver transplant.

The $35 billion race to cure a silent killer that affects 30 million Americans

At the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, the liver transplant group is busy handling an onslaught of patients who have come from all over the country in hopes of a chance at life. For many, a liver transplant is their last hope, after being diagnosed with a deadly disease sweeping the nation at epic proportions. People crowd the unit and undergo scores of testing and evaluation in an effort to get on the hospital’s coveted transplant list. It’s a program with a 94 percent survival rate after liver transplant, one of the highest in the nation.

For many the culprit is a serious form of fatty liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, also known as NASH. An outgrowth of the obesity epidemic in the Western world and around the globe, it causes scarring and inflammation that can lead to liver cirrhosis, cardiac and lung complications, liver cancer and death. Yet few people know about it.

Across the United States, millions of people of all ages suffer from this silent killer that slowly morphs from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that now affects 89 million in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Analysis. The National Institutes of Health estimates as many as 30 million people, or 12 percent of U.S. adults, now have NASH.

Much of the rest of the article is about the money some company could make if they find a cure: “Industry experts estimate the global market for these new drugs is $35 billion,” but that kind of pathology is what you’d expect from CNBC. The pathology of NASH, the condition itself, is our point.

I said this is a story about food. Americans are obese because of their food, especially the modified food starch–loaded fast food eaten by the poor and middle class. In that sense, this is an economic story, just as the opioid crisis is an economic story. Expect more like these as well.

The New Year

This feels like a birth of sorts, the start of this new year — for myself, no longer authoring as “Gaius,” and for the world. I’m encouraged by the first story. Not so much the rest.

We’re coming into campaign season for 2020, the last presidential campaign, in my estimation, that can elect a candidate who can make a real difference in the trajectory of the nation, and indeed the species. Those alive today will see what comes as we read the start of the last chapter of the final book most of us will be characters in.

Welcome to the New Year, all. It could be a bumpy ride.

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