Category: Drugs

Alleged Conservative Vice Lords Gang Member Shot Dead

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

An alleged gang-member was fatally shot near his home Thursday night in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood.

Brandon Chambers, 21, of the 100 block of North Lavergne Avenue, was pronounced dead at 9:41 p.m. Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez said Chambers was walking on the sidewalk in the 160 block of North Lavergne Avenue when a dark-colored car — possibly a Pontiac G6 — approached and somebody inside called Chambers to the car.

Somebody inside the car then opened fire, striking Chambers in the head, Perez said. An autopsy is scheduled for later Friday, according to the medical examiner’s office.

It’s all about drugs.

Legalize them.  All of them.  Regulate them.  All of them.

Right now, the gangs control the drug market.  And our young are dying every day.

Keith Olbermann’s Closing Commentary on Health Care Reform

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

If you missed Countdown tonight, at least watch the last 11 minutes of tonight’s show, which was dedicated in its entirety to a call for health care reform.

I was expecting a rant.  Instead, Keith personalized the issue by talking about his father. This was no rant.

Olbermann’s right.  We need the medical community on our side.

Go to MSNBC to watch the entire show.

The Terrible Tragedy of Chris Kelly’s Death

I absolutely feel nothing but profound regret learning of the death of Chris Kelly, one of the ex-governor’s closest friends and advisers.  I fear that this terrible tragedy is only harbinger of things to come in the weird mess that is Rod Blagojevich’s soap opera.

I can’t even comment on Blago’s response in the aftermath of Kelly’s death, today ruled a suicide by Country Club Hills police.

From the Sun-Times:

Country Club Hills police confirmed today that Chris Kelly — a one-time top aide to former Gov. Blagojevich — committed suicide Saturday.

No one else is believed to have been involved in his death.

The political insider, who sources said ingested an “extraordinarily large dose of aspirin,’’ did so in a construction trailer in a lot where he kept construction equipment, police said.

A sleeping bag, photos of his three children, an empty bottle of Aleve, and an unopened box of rat poison were found at the scene near 173rd and Cicero, police said.

How tragic.  What a terrible way to go.

And it’s not over.  The legacy of Rod Blagojevich is shrouded in the blood of his friends.

From the Chicago Tribune:

[Country Club Hills Police Chief Regina] Evans said the suburb’s investigation has concluded the death “was an apparent suicide” and no one else was involved. “There is no evidence whatsoever of involvement by other persons.”

The chief said a friend of Kelly’s gave police a note that may have been written by Kelly. She stopped short of calling it a suicide note, and declined to describe its contents in deference to Kelly’s family. 

Evans described the note as rambling and “personal in nature,” but not addressed to anyone in particular.

She said it hasn’t even been confirmed it was written by Kelly, but the “implication was it may have been.” The note has been sent to the state crime lab for analysis, she said.

What a mess.  Thanks, Rod.  Continue to argue for your innocence.

But, remember, Rod, the death of Chris Kelly is now your legacy.

Is America Ready to Decriminalize Drugs?

For four decades, the United States has been waging a war on drugs. Drugs won.

Drug dealers won.  The criminal justice system won.  Millions upon millions of dollars have been directed toward the construction of prisons in the United States.  Hundreds of thousands of young people and adults have found themselves behind bars for non-violent actions involving drugs.  In these prisons, serving time along side murderers, thieves and rapists, these non-violent offenders learned the real meaning of crime.

Is America ready for the change that’s needed?

There are a few recent developments we need to consider.

First, there is a wave of decriminalization sweeping through Latin America.

From The Guardian:

Bruno Avangera, a 40-year-old web designer from Tucumán inArgentina, pauses to relight a half-smoked joint of cannabis. Then he speaks approvingly of “progress and the right decision” by the country’s seven supreme court judges, who decided last week that prosecuting people for the private consumption of small amounts of narcotics was unconstitutional.

“Last year three of my friends were caught smoking a spliff in a park and were treated like traffickers,” he said. “They went to court, which took six months. One went to jail alongside murderers. The others were sent to rehab, where they were treated for an addiction they didn’t have, alongside serious heroin and crack users. It was pointless and destroyed their lives.”

The court’s ruling was based on a case involving several men caught with joints in their pockets. As a result, judges struck down an existing law stipulating a sentence of up to two years in jail for those caught with any amount of narcotics. “Each individual adult is responsible for making decisions freely about their desired lifestyle without state interference,” the ruling said. “Private conduct is allowed unless it constitutes a real danger or causes damage to property or the rights of others.”

Is the “war on drugs” ending? The Argentinian ruling does not stand alone. Across Latin America and Mexico, there is a wave of drug law reform which constitutes a stark rebuff to the United States as it prepares to mark the 40th anniversary of a conflict officially declared by President Richard Nixon and fronted by his wife, Pat, in 1969.

That “war” has incarcerated an average of a million US citizens a year, as every stratum of American society demonstrates its insatiable need to get high. And it has also engulfed not only America, but the Americas.

The incarceration of a million US citizens every year is something we’ve long neglected to face.  After all, the law can’t be wrong.  Drugs are illegal!

I had a circuitous discussion with my brother just a few weeks ago that went along those lines exactly.  When I suggested that we decriminalize drugs and treat drug addiction as a medical condition, he responded (several times), “You can’t! Drugs are illegal!”

Again, from The Observer, this time from the editorial section:

In June 1971, US President Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs”. Drugs won.

The policy of deploying the full might of the state against the production, supply and consumption of illegal drugs has not worked. Pretty much anyone in the developed world who wants to take illicit substances can buy them. Those purchases fund a multibillion dollar global industry that has enriched mighty criminal cartels, for whom law enforcement agencies are mostly just a nuisance, rarely a threat. Meanwhile, the terrible harm that drug dependency does to individuals and societies has not been reduced. Demand and supply flourish.

“It is time to admit the obvious,” writes Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil, in the Observer today. “The ‘war on drugs’ has failed.”

The ‘war on drugs’ has failed.

Another cogent observation we forget about this ‘war’:

One point of general agreement is that heroin is the big problem. It is highly addictive and those who are dependent – up to 300,000 in Britain – tend to commit a lot of crime to fund their habit. But then it is hard to tell how much of the problem is contained by prohibition and how much caused by it.

Leaving gangsters in charge of supply ensures that addicts get a more toxic product and get ever more ensnared in criminality.

In the Chicagoland area, hardly a day goes by without a drive-by shooting, gang members fighting gang members over drug turf.

We have lost the ‘war on drugs’ because drug prohibition is bad policy.  It’s black and white thinking over an issue that demands critical thought and consideration.  Drug addiction is a medical issue, and the use of recreational drugs does not necessarily mean one is addicted to anything.

At any rate, I’m only getting warmed up on this one.

Someone Tell Mike Huckabee to Shut the Hell Up

Mike Huckabee is only the latest inglorious ultra-conservative to exploit the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, claiming that Kennedy would have been urged to die earlier under ObamaCare.

Win at all costs.  Is that it, Mike? Just another hater waiting to dance on the Senators grave?

From Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:

Conservative media figures are blasting Democrats for trying to draw political gain from the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. But on Thursday, it was one of their own — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — who went there.

The 2008 Republican presidential candidate suggested during his radio show, “The Huckabee Report,” on Thursday that, under President Obama’s health care plan, Kennedy would have been told to “go home to take pain pills and die” during his last year of life.

“[I]t was President Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don’t have as long to live might want to consider just taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them,” said Huckabee. “Yet when Sen. Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 77, did he give up on life and go home to take pain pills and die? Of course not. He freely did what most of us would do. He choose an expensive operation and painful follow up treatments. He saw his work as vitally important and so he fought for every minute he could stay on this earth doing it. He would be a very fortunate man if his heroic last few months were what future generations remember him most for.”

As it happens, Huckabee made his remarks shortly after he derided Democrats for using Kennedy’s death to make the pitch that “Congress must hurry and pass the health care reform bill and do it in his memory,”

“That not only defies good taste,” said Huckabee, “it defies logic.”

Huckabee defies logic. And ethics. And good taste.

For more and an audio clip, go here.

Mexico Decriminalizes Possession of Five Grams of Pot


Mexican President Felipe Calderon signed legislation last week decriminalizing the personal possession of small quantities of cannabis and other controlled substances.

The legislation, passed by Congress in May, eliminates criminal penalties for the personal possession of up to five grams of marijuana. The possession of small amounts of other illicit substances, including heroin and cocaine, will also no longer be prosecutable.

Under the new law, anyone caught by law enforcement with small amounts of illicit drugs will be encouraged to seek treatment. Drug treatment will be mandatory for third-time offenders.

The new legislation authorizes state and local police to enforce drug trafficking laws. Previously, only federal police (about five percent of Mexico’s law enforcement personnel) had the authority to arrest individuals suspected of selling drugs.

State lawmakers have up to a year to implement the new law.

In 2006, Mexico’s Congress passed a virtually identical measure, only to have it vetoed by former President Vincente Fox. Fox’s veto came after political pressure from members of the US State Department, who alleged that enacting such a law would promote “drug tourism.”

At the Netroots Nation conference a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh, I interviewed members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

Their arguments in favor of the legalization of all drugs are very compelling.

I’ll work on finally transcribing the interviews this weekend.  We need to bring this to the forefront before another young person is dragged to prison and punished for a medical issue.

More on this to come soon.

Michael Jackson Murdered: Gone Too Soon

I was just beginning to appreciate Michael Jackson: his music, his genius, his vision.

I went along with the crowd all too often when I was young.  There’s no way, at mostly-white, very conservative, Notre Dame, in the early 1980s, that I would have really, really listened to Michael Jackson.

I just started listening to Michael Jackson at a gym I belong to.  Before he died.

Before he was killed.  Murdered.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Not only are things looking very menacing for Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, I’ve learned the expected indictment of the King of Pop’s personal physician is causing quite the stir within the Jackson family.

‘‘There’s a lot of finger-pointing,’’ said a longtime family associate Monday. ‘‘Everyone from Jermaine to Joe to Katherine Jackson herself are blaming all kinds of people — including each other — for not stepping in earlier, when it was obvious Michael was being overmedicated, even more than usual.’’

After reports surfaced Monday that the Los Angeles County coroner had ruled Jackson’s death a homicide, ‘‘you could almost hear the squeak of the rope in the noose tightening around Murray’s neck,’’ said the Jackson source.

The metaphor seemed apt, as the coroner’s long-awaited forensic tests determined a fatal combination of drugs given to the music superstar hours before he died included the powerful anesthetic propofol, along with two other sedatives Murray has admitted administering to Jackson.

More here.

Michael, I’m sorry.  With all the family members pointing fingers at each other, let me be the one to say, “Michael, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry I let my opinion of you be defined by the irresponsible members of the media, always looking for their next lynching victim.

Michael, we miss you, Gone Too Soon.

12 Charged With Running Major Marijuana Ring; Who Cares?

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

For the last five years, John Duzicky and James Gleason have been dues-paying members of the Sewickley Heights Manor Homes Association, leading quiet lives in the upscale Aleppo housing development with manicured lawns and tennis courts.

At the same time, they played leading roles in a drug ring that smuggled thousands of pounds of Mexican marijuana from Arizona to Allegheny and Beaver counties, bringing more than $2 million worth of the drug here between 2007 and 2009, according to a grand jury presentment.

State Attorney General Tom Corbett yesterday announced that Mr. Duzicky, Mr. Gleason, and 10 other men face charges of conspiracy, drug possession and possession with intent to deliver.

“The drug organization dismantled today represents just one of thousands of criminal enterprises across the country involved in the illegal trafficking of narcotics across the border form Mexico,” Mr. Corbett said during a news conference at the Sewickley police station, with 30 pounds of marijuana on a table in front of him.

Mr. Duzicky, 37, is being held at a prison in Arizona, as are Larry and Richard Catlin, brothers who routinely carried marijuana from the southwest to Pennsylvania in trucks with secret compartments, Mr. Corbett said.

According to the attorney general, Mr. Duzicky was the leader of the drug ring, and he had been smuggling pot from Arizona, where he also has a home, since 1990.

Who cares?  Why are we locking people up for marijuana-related offenses?  Stop the madness already!

Faith Based Initiative Seeks Alternatives to Incarceration at Drug Policy Conference

Turning Left is helping to get the word out about this conference.  The organization Protestants for the Common Good is working towards the legalization of marijuana:

Chicago, IL– State-wide education and advocacy organization, Protestants for the Common Good, is hosting a drug policy conference at Roosevelt University the morning of Friday, June 12th to explore new directions for drug policy and alternatives to incarceration. A diverse group of experts will highlight strategies employed locally, nationally and internationally for coping with issues related to incarceration due to illegal drug use and abuse.

“By hosting this conference, we hope to inspire a new initiative for Illinois drug laws, one which focuses on street level intervention initiatives, no?entry strategies, and successful reentry programs, ”says Rev. Alexander Sharp, Executive Director of PCG.

“Our faith tells us that all individuals in society deserve a second chance, and current social systems are not only discriminatory, but work in exactly the opposite direction.”

The program will also bring forward the personal testimonies of two Chicagoans whose lives were altered by addiction, and will include information from Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy Research.

Key policy alternatives such as decriminalization and legalization will be discussed, with special guest Rep. Jeffrion Aubry (D?35) from the New York State General Assembly speaking to the recently repealed Rockefeller Drug Laws. These laws enforced mandatory sentencing and lowered trigger amounts leading to mass incarceration over the past 30 years. Similar laws exist in Illinois, and have exacerbated the problem by emphasizing a punitive solution.

Featured speakers on the agenda include: Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance: Rep. Louis Lang (D?16), Illinois General Assembly: Don MacPherson, Drug Policy Coordinator, Vancouver, Canada: Rep. Arthur Turner (D?9) Illinois House of Representatives, and Pamela Rodriguez, Executive Vice President, TASC?Illinois.

The event speaks directly to crucial issues for PCG, an organization that has worked for the past decade to reform injustice where it appears in the police, judicial, and penal systems, to reestablish rehabilitative resources and services in jails and prisons, and to remove legal and employment barriers for ex?offenders so they may become productive contributors to the common good.

“We have become a prison nation in the past 30 years, and people are incarcerated with a racial disparity that is immoral. There are far better alternatives than recycling individuals through prison, with enormous cost to society and with little or no opportunity to flourish for the rest of their lives,” concludes Rev. Sharp.

Local government, community organizations, and faith leaders will be in attendance.

Source: Protestants for the Common Good

If You Go to Crestwood, Don’t Drink the Water

Residents of Crestwood have reason to be concerned.  For over two decades, Crestwood supplied residents with tainted drinking water.  Mayor Robert Stranczek repeats his assertions that “the public’s health was never at risk,” and there was no evidence the village was ever informed by environmental regulators that the water was unsafe.

There is evidence to the contrary, however.

From the Southtown Star:

But doubt has been thrown on that statement, as it has been reported that the U.S. EPA has said there is no safe exposure to one of the chemicals found in the water, vinyl chloride.

Moreover, the state EPA ordered Crestwood to shut down the well that was the source of the tainted water in 2007, when the agency discovered to its surprise that the well was still in use.

And then there is the question of why Crestwood did not publicly disclose for decades that residents were drinking well water mixed in with safe, treated water from Lake Michigan.

Stranczek emphasized that on average each year only 10 percent of the water the village supplied was from the well and that the water was always mixed with lake water.

Vinyl chloride, CH2:CHCl, is toxic.

From the CDC:

Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas. It burns easily and it is not stable at high temperatures. It has a mild, sweet odor. It is a manufactured substance that does not occur naturally. It can be formed when other substances such as trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene are broken down. Vinyl chloride is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is used to make a variety of plastic products, including pipes, wire and cable coatings, and packaging materials.

And then there’s this, also from the CDC:

How can vinyl chloride affect my health?

Breathing high levels of vinyl chloride can cause you to feel dizzy or sleepy. Breathing very high levels can cause you to pass out, and breathing extremely high levels can cause death.

Some people who have breathed vinyl chloride for several years have changes in the structure of their livers. People are more likely to develop these changes if they breathe high levels of vinyl chloride. Some people who work with vinyl chloride have nerve damage and develop immune reactions. The lowest levels that produce liver changes, nerve damage, and immune reaction in people are not known. Some workers exposed to very high levels of vinyl chloride have problems with the blood flow in their hands. Their fingers turn white and hurt when they go into the cold.

The effects of drinking high levels of vinyl chloride are unknown. If you spill vinyl chloride on your skin, it will cause numbness, redness, and blisters.

Animal studies have shown that long-term exposure to vinyl chloride can damage the sperm and testes.

How likely is vinyl chloride to cause cancer?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has determined that vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. Studies in workers who have breathed vinyl chloride over many years showed an increased risk of liver, brain, lung cancer, and some cancers of the blood have also been observed in workers.

How can vinyl chloride affect children?

It has not been proven that vinyl chloride causes birth defects in humans, but studies in animals suggest that vinyl chloride might affect growth and development. Animal studies also suggest that infants and young children might be more susceptible than adults to vinyl chloride-induced cancer.

It is unconscionable, unthinkable, and unbelievable that this has not been detected in more than two decades.

Calling Erin Brockovich…