Homeless in Arizona

Medical Marijuana & Drug War News


Money used to prevent medical marijuana use????

It sounds like they are using the money from medical marijuana prescriptions to discourage people from getting medical marijuana prescriptions. Something I doubt the people that passed the law intended to happen.

But when you let a bunch of drug war tyrants like Jan Brewer and Will Humble run a program to decriminalize marijuana what do you expect.


Medical-marijuana fees to aid Arizona program

State seeks to build partnerships, bring in experts to boost efficiency

by Yvonne Wingett-Sanchez - Sept. 9, 2012 10:15 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Arizona health officials will dip into a pot of money generated by medical-marijuana fees with the goal to improve the state's controversial new program.

The Arizona Department of Health Services will soon spend more than $1.2 million to weed out physicians who improperly recommend marijuana to patients, help train marijuana-dispensary staff, hire private accountants or auditors to examine dispensary financial statements, and hire private attorneys to assist the department with legal issues arising from the program.

The ADHS will also continue to fund a $200,000 contract with the University of Arizona College of Public Health to, in part, review published research about the effectiveness of marijuana in treating medical conditions.

ADHS Director Will Humble said the new partnerships will help health officials keep the program as "medical" as possible.

"I'm trying to hit this from the financial angle, the medical angle, the certification angle to try to close as many gaps as I can that could result in bad outcomes for patients," he said. "That means bringing in expertise that we don't have in-house."

Voters in 2010 passed a measure to allow people with certain debilitating medical conditions, including chronic pain, cancer and muscle spasms, to use medical marijuana.

They must receive a recommendation from a licensed physician and register with the state, which issues identification cards to qualified patients and caregivers. The state has granted about 31,000 people permission to use medical marijuana.

The state has collected about $9.3 million in fees from cardholders and dispensary applicants since last year, when the program began. Officials have spent about $2.5 million on staff, its contract with the University of Arizona and technology. About $6 million remains in the medical-marijuana fund.

One national medical-marijuana expert said she is unaware of any other state spending medical-marijuana program fees in such a manner. Karen O'Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., criticized how Arizona is paying for the training and other programs.

She said patients -- many of whom are poor -- should not have to subsidize state programs to pay for their drugs.

"They're already in a financial hardship, they're already suffering from some kind of ailment," she said.

Within the next few weeks and months, Humble said the ADHS will sign contracts or agreements with:

The Arizona Board of Pharmacy, to fund a position so that staff can more quickly review how many times physicians have accessed the board's controlled-substances database, which tracks prescription-drug use. State rules require physicians to check the database before recommending pot.

In an effort to prevent doctors from encouraging recreational marijuana use, health officials each quarter review how many times physicians who have written more than 200 recommendations accessed the database. Under this new agreement, Humble hopes officials can review that information in real time and more quickly pass information on to the regulatory boards that license and discipline physicians.

As part of that agreement, health officials will also upgrade technology for the pharmacy database so physicians can obtain access to the site almost immediately instead of applying through the mail.

The ADHS will spend up to $200,000 on this agreement the first year, Humble said, and about $150,000 the second year.

Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center and the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, to train the medical directors at future marijuana dispensaries and be available round-the-clock to offer advice.

Medical directors must train dispensary agents; develop guidelines to inform patients about the risks, benefits and side effects of medical marijuana; and know how to recognize signs of substance abuse.

"I want there to be a hub resource so the medical directors have some consistency with the way they operate," Humble said.

Humble hopes the $700,000 partnership will also help ensure patients are properly tracking the amount of marijuana they are ingesting and will ensure they are not combining marijuana with alcohol or narcotics.

A yet-to-be-determined auditing or accounting firm, to ensure future dispensaries are not profiting off medical-marijuana sales.

The dispensaries must be run as non-profits. State rules offer some guidance but provide plenty of wiggle room. Dispensaries must have bylaws that include "provisions for the disposition of revenues" and provide receipts and a business plan showing the facility is operating as a non-profit. There are no limits on compensation for dispensary personnel other than that it be "reasonable."

Humble said the behavior of some dispensary applicants suggests maintaining true non-profit status "may not be their primary motive." Outside auditors will comb through financial statements to ensure dispensaries aren't engaging in a "shell game," where they are grossly overpaying staff, board members and lessors and kicking back money to dispensary operators.

The state will spend an estimated $100,000 each year on this contract.

Private law firm Sherman and Howard, to represent the state Department of Health Services on legal issues. Legal counsel from the Attorney General's Office typically represents the ADHS. But as more legal issues arise with the medical-marijuana program, Humble wanted to hire private attorneys to pick up the extra work so staff attorneys can concentrate on traditional public-health issues.

Rates will range between $450 an hour for partners and $140 an hour for legal assistants, according to public records.

Arizona poised to pull medical-marijuana cards of violators


Arizona poised to pull medical-marijuana cards of violators

by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez - Sept. 11, 2012 09:51 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

The Arizona Department of Health Services could revoke more than a dozen medical-marijuana cards, saying patients and caregivers have either violated the state's new medical-marijuana law since receiving a card or lied about their histories when applying for one.

Health officials on Tuesday said they have revoked the cards of two patients, but because of a confidentiality clause in the law, they could not say specifically why the cards were taken away.

Typically, they said, cards are revoked if a law-enforcement agency notifies health officials of an arrest tied to buying or selling medical marijuana, which is illegal. The law does not allow the sale of marijuana to patients outside of dispensaries, which have not yet opened in Arizona. Instead, patients can only give marijuana to each other, receiving nothing of value in return. Or, health officials said, cards can be revoked if patients fail to properly secure plants in a locked facility.

Health officials have revoked the medical-marijuana cards of two caregivers and are reviewing the histories of 10 others. Caregivers typically grow marijuana for themselves and other patients, too.

Tom Salow, a rules administrator for ADHS, said all those caregivers could soon lose their marijuana cards, too, because they either did not disclose a violent-crime history on their applications or they have violated certain drug laws.

He said the agency has fallen behind in revoking the cards because officials must research applicants' backgrounds and issue the cards in a short time.

"(The law) doesn't give us enough time to get background checks from the Department of Public Safety and make a decision on the application in enough time," Salow said. "We approve the applications, give them a card, and if it comes back with a hit after research ... and a decision to revoke is made, then we revoke. It takes us a little while -- it isn't as easy as we thought it would be."

ADHS Director Will Humble said the agency expects to catch up soon on the backlog and process future cases more quickly with the imminent hiring of outside attorneys.

Those lawyers, paid for with fees generated from the medical-marijuana program, will help health officials more quickly decide whether revocations meet legal standards, he said.

Voters in 2010 passed a measure to allow people with certain debilitating medical conditions, including chronic pain, cancer and muscle spasms, to use medical marijuana.

They must receive a recommendation from a licensed physician and register with the state, which issues ID cards.

Jail any jurors who say they are not qualified???

How are you going to get good jurors if you jail ones that admit not being qualified???

From the governments point of view maybe the message is that if you are a juror you should shut up and rubber stamp and convict anybody the government says is a criminal!

Even if you are a racist bigot like this guy you are certainly qualified to do that.


Juror says he’s too homophobic and racist to serve, now faces prosecution

By Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News | The Sideshow

A British man who said his "extreme homophobic and racist views" should make him ineligible for jury duty now faces prosecution over the claim.

The Daily Echo reports that the man's identity is being kept anonymous for now but that Judge Gary Burrell QC read the leader in open court. In the letter, the man writes:

"I strongly believe that it would be a serious injustice to the legal system to select me for jury service.

"I hold extreme prejudices against homosexuals and black/foreign people and couldn't possibly be impartial if either appeared in court. Therefore it would not be in the court's interest to have me a juror."

In addition, the man said that if he were selected, he also would not pay attention to the case and would simply vote with the majority.

The man had been selected to serve on a jury in the case of a man on trial for assault and reckless driving. And while Burrell questioned the authenticity of the man's claim, he nonetheless dismissed him from jury duty.

Though he escaped jury duty, the man could soon find himself on trial. The prosecutor and defense attorneys in the case, barristers Rebecca Austin and Robert Bryan, stepped outside their traditional role of legal combatants to lodge a joint complaint against the man.

Under Britain's Contempt of Courts Act, he could face prison time or a fine for failing to serve on jury duty.

"The Attorney General's Office is aware of this case, and we await more information from Judge Burrell," said a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.

Prosecution of doctor in overdose cases worries physicians

Cops gotta justify the big bucks they make somehow. And busting doctors is a good way they can brag to the public that they are heroes.

If you ask me this is a lot like the cops arresting a used car salesman when somebody he sold a car to uses the car to commit a crime.

H. L. Mencken says it very well

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

Prosecution of doctor in overdose cases worries physicians

By Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times

September 11, 2012, 8:26 p.m.

When prosecutors earlier this year filed murder charges against a physician for prescribing to patients who overdosed, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said he was also sending a message to other "Dr. Feelgoods" who over-prescribe.

"Enough is enough," he said. "Doctors are not above the law."

But in the months since Rowland Heights physician Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng was charged, there has been a growing debate among medical professionals about whether prosecutors went too far by alleging murder.

Some physicians fear the crackdowns in Los Angeles and other parts of the country could have a chilling effect on the way doctors work and end up making patients suffer needlessly. They also worry authorities are holding doctors criminally liable for the behavior of their patients.

"The question is whether this is a criminal act or medical malpractice," said Dr. Marshall Morgan, chief of emergency medicine at UCLA Medical Center. "The concern that I have as a physician is that it's a slippery slope."

Dr. Kimberly Lovett, who teaches at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, said the Tseng case became a hot topic of conversation at a recent discussion about prescribing opiates among physicians in San Diego. Some doctors expressed fear the prosecution would make them think twice before prescribing pain medication even when it is necessary, Lovett said.

"The legal community is now sending a strong message to physicians: If you prescribe opiates to some ill-defined degree that we consider criminal, we're going to put you away for it and we're going to call you a murderer," said Lovett, who is also a member of the Institute of Health Law Studies at the California Western School of Law. "When physicians adapt to that message, patients will suffer.... You're now putting patients in a position of proving their innocence."

Lovett says she and other physicians do not condone the practices of doctors who deliberately prescribe powerful narcotic medications to addicts despite repeated warnings that their patients are misusing the drugs. But it can be difficult for doctors to discern when patients are lying about pain to get medication, she said.

The district attorney's office issued a statement in March after filing charges against Tseng, saying she and other doctors violated the law "by prescribing drugs for no legitimate medical purpose to otherwise healthy individuals for the sole purpose of the patient getting high. Those victims die while the doctor gets rich."

Still, prosecutions of doctors are rare, and murder charges rarer still, when their treatment of patients results in injury or death. The line between committing a crime and medical malpractice is unclear and depends largely on how reckless and egregious prosecutors consider the misconduct to be, said Tracy Green, a Los Angeles attorney, who has represented doctors.

While some doctors fret over the implications of trying Tseng for murder, the verdict among the relatives of her dead patients is already in. They hailed the charges as a bold — and overdue — move to hold doctors accountable for reckless prescribing. When a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in June decided Tseng should stand trial on the murder charges, patients' relatives embraced outside the courtroom, celebrating the decision.

Joseph Rovero II, the father of one of Tseng's patients who died, said his family was thankful for the charges. "She committed a crime, and she has to answer for it," he said.

Drug-related deaths have doubled in the last decade, fueled by an increase in prescription narcotic overdoses, and now outnumber traffic fatalities, killing more than 37,000 people nationwide, according to a Times analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lawmakers in Florida, where an estimated seven people die of prescription drug overdoses every day, passed tough legislation last year that enhanced penalties for doctors who overprescribe or violate standards of care and made it easier to prosecute such physicians.

The state also banned most doctors from personally dispensing some of the most potent narcotic painkillers, such as oxycodone and methadone, and barred doctors from prescribing more than 72 hours worth of controlled substances unless the doctor documents why more pills are justified.

This year the Florida Medical Directors Assn., which supported the law, said some of its members had reported that patients in skilled nursing facilities had seen their care suffer because of the law.

"Patients are suffering because physicians are afraid to prescribe controlled substances," Dr. John Symeonides, the association's president, said in a statement.

In the last 18 months, more than 50 doctors in the state have been arrested since Florida created regional law enforcement strike teams to target physicians, clinics and healthcare facilities suspected of prescribing or dispensing unnecessary drugs, according to the state attorney general's office.

"I refer to them as drug dealers in white coats," Florida Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi said.

In addition, at least two Florida doctors are facing first-degree murder charges in connection with the overdose of patients.

For years, doctors suspected of overprescribing typically have been charged in federal court with violating the same drug-dealing statutes that apply to street-corner drug dealers. In such cases, prosecutors must prove that doctors acted so far outside the realm of legitimate medical care that their prescribing could be considered criminal activity, but they do not have to prove that physicians caused the death of patients.

In murder cases, prosecutors must go well beyond that and prove that doctors were consciously aware their prescriptions were likely to harm patients and that the drugs they prescribed were factors in the person's death, said David A. Kettel, a Los Angeles white-collar defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor.

Prosecutors say Tseng, 42, prescribed powerful drugs with little to no medical examination and knew her prescribing was dangerous. She has been charged with murder in connection with three patients who fatally overdosed. Prosecutors are using the same theory used to convict drunk drivers with prior convictions who have been warned by authorities of the dangers of drinking and driving but continue to do so.

Prosecutors have named nine other patients who died of overdoses while under Tseng's care. Tseng is not charged in those cases, but prosecutors contend she was aware of the deaths and continued to prescribe, showing a "conscious disregard for human life."

Tseng's attorneys argued that her patients' actions contributed to their deaths, and they died days after she prescribed to them. The doctor was not present when the patients filled their prescriptions, the attorneys said, nor did she advise them to misuse the medication. Her attorneys contended that Tseng wound up behind bars because she believed her patients' claims of pain.

"Doctors can't practice pain management if this is going to be the standard," Donald Marks, one of her attorneys, said during a court hearing.

Tseng is expected to be arraigned on the charges this month.


On the frontier of medical pot to treat boy's epilepsy

Which is more important for the government to do:
1) creating a jobs program for very well paid cops, prosecutors, prison guards and probation officers who arrest harmless pot smokers, jail them, and micromanage their lives

2) using the marijuana extract CBD to treat epilepsy in children like Jayden David

Of course if you ask most of our elected official that question the answer is 1) because the cops, prosecutors, prison guards and probation officers give them big bucks in bribes, opps I mean campaign contributions.


On the frontier of medical pot to treat boy's epilepsy

A U.S. crackdown on pot shops threatens a father's search for cannabidiol in hopes of halting his son's seizures from Dravet syndrome.

By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times

September 13, 2012, 3:46 p.m.

MODESTO —Topamax. Depakote. Phenobarbital. The list goes on. Before Jayden David turned 5, he had tried a dozen powerful medications to tame a rare form of epilepsy. The side effects were devastating.

There were grand mal seizures that lasted more than an hour. Hundreds of times a day, muscle twitches contorted his impish face.

"If he wasn't sleeping, he was seizing," said Jayden's father, Jason David.

Feeling helpless, David said, he contemplated suicide. He prayed. Then one day he heard about a teenager who was expelled from school for using marijuana to help control seizures.

So began the pair's journey into California's medical cannabis culture.

In the 14 months since, the little boy has been swallowing droppers full of a solution made mostly of cannabidiol, or CBD, the second most prominent of marijuana's 100 or so cannabinoids. Unlike the dominant THC, cannabidiol is not psychoactive, so the sweet-tasting infusion Jayden takes four times a day doesn't make him high.

Down from 22 prescription pills per day to four, he now eats solid food, responds to his father's incessant requests for kisses and dances in his Modesto living room to the "Yo Gabba Gabba!" theme song. The frequency and intensity of his seizures have been greatly reduced.

But this summer, federal prosecutors moved to close Oakland's Harborside Health Center — the nation's largest dispensary and the place David has relied on most for help.

The public debate over medical marijuana — which violates federal law but is legal in California, 17 other states and the District of Columbia — for the most part has pitted those who praise its health benefits against those who say it is merely an excuse to get high. Lost in the discussion has been the fact that marijuana has myriad components that affect the body in a number of ways.

CBD, for instance, was virtually bred out of U.S. plants decades ago by growers whose customers preferred the mind-altering properties of high-THC varietals. Yet it is experiencing a resurgence, having shown promise as an anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, neuroprotectant and cancer-fighting agent.

"Nobody is going to a dispensary for this to get high," said Martin Lee, a Bay Area writer who has reported on cannabidiol for years. "With CBD, it's clear that it's just about medicine."


A photo in the kitchen shows a beaming David nuzzled up against his newborn son. But the family's joy soon clouded. Jayden had his first grand mal at 4 1/2 months. The muscle jerks followed, as did seizures that cause sudden collapse.

At 1 1/2, the blue-eyed boy was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a form of infant epilepsy described in medical literature as catastrophic — and potentially fatal.

David and Jayden's mother, whose marriage failed under the stress, consulted top experts, resulting in "more drugs and more ambulance trips," David said.

By late 2010, Jayden had tried 11 medications. The 12th was stiripentol, hailed as a potential Dravet breakthrough. But after six months, Jayden's seizures and side effects were worse. David said his son rarely responded to those around him, had difficulty chewing and often screamed in fear.

"I was going crazy," David said. The onetime jewelry store manager recalled stepping out onto his front lawn in April 2011 to make a phone call: "Mom," he said. "I'm going to shoot myself in the head. I can't stand seeing him this way."

That Sunday, David, a devout Assyrian Christian, and his girlfriend brought Jayden to their parish. "We were asking God for signs," David said.

The TV news story David saw the next day about the epileptic teenager seemed to offer one. Scouring the Internet, he came across decades of research documenting the therapeutic effects of CBD.

It has been shown to relieve, among other things, spasms from multiple sclerosis, anxiety and symptoms of schizophrenia. Animal studies related to the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's, and cancer have proved encouraging.

In an application for a patent awarded in 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deemed non-psychoactive cannabinoids "particularly advantageous to use" as antioxidants and neuroprotectants because they can be administered in high doses without risk of toxicity.

As for epilepsy, tales of cannabis use date to ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions.

Studies have shown THC is "overwhelmingly anticonvulsant" in animals, said Dr. Ben Whalley, a researcher at Britain's University of Reading, but CBD and some other non-psychoactive cannabinoids have shown similar effects without the mind-altering downside.

In a human trial during the 1970s, researchers found that four of the eight subjects who received large doses of CBD remained almost free of epileptic seizures, while three others improved. More recently, Whalley and his colleagues published results of an animal study that strongly supported CBD "as a therapeutic candidate for a diverse range of human epilepsies."

The long-term effect on children is unknown, but studies show CBD is well tolerated by adults and animals, Whalley said. As for side effects, he said, "I would be very surprised to find it to be any worse than either Depakote or clobazam" — the anticonvulsants Jayden still takes.

When David consulted his doctor about the possibility of treating Jayden with medical marijuana, he was told: "If I were you, I would try anything."


Soon after Steve DeAngelo co-founded Harborside in 2004, he went in search of a lab to test his marijuana's potency, as well as screen it for pesticides, mold or other impurities. None would. So he invested in what would become Steep Hill Cannabis Analysis Laboratory.

While obtaining CBD wasn't the original mission, it became a Holy Grail.

The British company GW Pharmaceuticals was marketing a drug for multiple sclerosis patients outside the U.S. that contained equal parts of THC and CBD, and was exploring further uses for the compound. Clearly, in addition to the medical benefits, there was money to be made in CBD — for growers, the dispensaries that sell sought-after strains and the independent testing labs.

Lee, who has tracked the research, said efforts to breed it back to prominence have produced about two dozen CBD-rich strains in California.

But those sold over Harborside's retail counters still contained too much THC for Jayden. Andrew DeAngelo, Steve's brother and a patient liaison, helped direct David to a nonpsychoactive, CBD-infused solution that the dispensary had in stock.

Jayden got his first dose June 4, 2011. Days turned into months that were largely seizure-free, David said. But the second batch didn't work. Testing showed the CBD content was too low.

David took to the Internet again and found Al Coles, a former investment advisor turned cannabis consultant who works out of his Stinson Beach home. Coles had initially experimented with remedies for his own depression, then took up the cause for others.

Since meeting Jayden, he has spent thousands of dollars of his own money formulating and testing various concoctions. His method involves using ethanol to extract the CBD from high-content leaves or flowers, then evaporating it and reinfusing the substance with glycerin and creamed honey. The optimal ratio of THC to CBD for Jayden, his father said, appears to be about 1 to 19.

For legal reasons, Coles can't provide the mixture directly to Jayden, so he takes it to Steep Hill to ensure the CBD content is high enough before handing it over to Harborside to be dispensed.

Coles and Harborside — which oversees customized treatments for about three dozen severely ill patients — are not charging for their services, citing the severity of Jayden's condition and his father's precarious finances. But locating the scarce raw material has fallen largely to David, who has visited as many as 50 dispensaries around the state. Most, he learned, don't even know what high-CBD strains are.

He has paid $310 to $450 for an ounce of marijuana, which can make up to a month's worth of solution. David, who focuses on his son and is no longer working, depends on donations from friends and his parish in nearby Ceres.


Since launching a crackdown last fall, federal prosecutors have closed hundreds of California dispensaries. Calling Harborside a "superstore" for its 108,000 members, they targeted the building's landlords with civil forfeiture actions — a move the dispensary is fighting.

But medical marijuana advocates hold out hope for a favorable ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which will hear oral arguments next month in a lawsuit challenging the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance — a dangerous drug with no medicinal value.

Although David and his son have become celebrities of sorts in the cannabis movement and among families of Dravet sufferers, who follow their journey on Facebook, some in the medical establishment balk at their choices.

"The drugs that come to market have been well screened for safety," said Dr. Donald Olson, who directs the pediatric epilepsy program at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University. "With alternative medicines like this, you are on very shaky ground. If the patient gets better, God bless them. I'm happy for them. But it's not something I can ethically recommend."

As for Jayden, he is now 6 years old and, in many ways, flourishing.

Speech therapy sessions provided by the school district have tripled in length due to his progress and he is being mainstreamed this fall for an hour a day. While on his heavy prescription cocktail, Jayden stumbled frequently and was unable to enter the church sanctuary but now takes Communion and sits for long periods cradled under his father's arm. He hugs everyone who asks.

"The difference is from Earth to heaven," said Serkes Rasho, a St. George parish security guard whom a boisterous Jayden greeted with an embrace. "Before, he couldn't walk. He didn't have eye contact. Now he smiles. He recognizes everyone."


Pigs raid medical marijuana stores in Tucson


High-grade pot seized at 5 marijuana centers; 10 arrested

Kimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star

Raids at five medical marijuana education centers netted local law enforcement 14 pounds of high-grade hydroponically grown pot and 25 pounds of marijuana-medicated hard candy, and resulted in the arrests of 10 people, a Tucson police official said.

Raids were conducted at all five Shop 420 locations - four in Tucson, one in Casa Grande - Wednesday night by Arizona's Counter Narcotics Alliance, a multijurisdictional drug task force consisting of 18 law enforcement and prosecution agencies. The drugs were valued at $50,000.

Articles of incorporation submitted to the Arizona Corporation Commission in December 2010, for Shop420.org LLC state it provides "consulting and education solutions." It is a company in "good standing" according to the commission website. The statutory agent - or representative for the company - listed on the commission website is Erik R. Salazar.

Salazar was one of the 10 arrested. The others are: Renee Valenzuela, 29; Francisco Valenzuela, 32; Primo Camou, 27; John Robles, 24; Richard Leon, 33; Cruz Bradford, 30; Roberto Tapia, 47; Dale Jones, 39; and Jorge Valenzuela, 26.

All 10 suspects are facing charges of conspiracy to unlawfully possess marijuana for sale, unlawful possession of marijuana for sale, money laundering and unlawful possession of narcotic paraphernalia. One suspect is facing a prohibited possessor charge because he was armed with a handgun when arrested.

Residents of one midtown neighborhood were the impetus for the monthlong investigation.

"About a month ago the neighbors alerted us and alerted the police that they were seeing a lot of increased foot traffic," said Ann Charles, chief of staff for Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik. "Based on that, the police were able to investigate. It's a great example of neighbors keeping an eye on things and noticing something that's abnormal," she said.

The Tucson shops were at:

• 408 E. Seventh St., near Tucson High Magnet School.

• 5151 S. 12th Ave., between West Irvington and West Drexel.

• 8250 E. Broadway, near South Sarnoff Drive.

• 3408 E. Grant Road, between North Dodge Boulevard and North Country Club Road.

Reporter Jamar Younger contributed. Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.

Administration warns of 'destructive' budget cuts

From this article it sounds like President Obama is more loyal to the government bureaucrats that work for him, then the "taxpayers" he pretends to work for.


Administration warns of 'destructive' budget cuts

Associated Press

September 14, 2012, 12:29 p.m.

A new White House report issued Friday warns that $110 billion in across-the-board spending cuts at the start of the new year would be "deeply destructive" to the military and core government responsibilities like patrolling U.S. borders and air traffic control.

The report says the automatic cuts, mandated by the failure of last year's congressional deficit "supercommittee" to strike a budget deal, would require an across-the-board cut of 9 percent to most Pentagon programs and an 8 percent cut in many domestic programs. The process of automatic cuts is called sequestration, and the administration has no flexibility in how to distribute the cuts, other than to exempt military personnel and war-fighting accounts.

"Sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions," the report says.

The cuts, combined with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year, have been dubbed the "fiscal cliff." Economists warn that the one-two punch could drive the economy back into recession.

The across-the-board cuts were devised as part of last summer's budget and debt deal between President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Republicans. They were intended to drive the supercommittee — evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans — to strike a compromise. But the panel deadlocked and the warring combatants have spent more time since then blaming each other for the looming cuts than seeking ways to avoid them.

The White House report continues in that vein, blasting House Republicans for an approach to avoiding the sequester that relies on further cuts to domestic programs while protecting upper-bracket taxpayers from higher rates proposed by the president.

In advance of the report's release, White House press secretary Jay Carney went on the offensive, blasting "the adamant refusal of Republicans to accept the fundamental principle that we ought to deal with our fiscal challenges in a balanced way."

In advance of the election, rival Democratic and GOP sides are dug in, unwilling to make the required compromises and unable to trust the other side. It's commonly assumed that there will be more serious efforts to forestall the cuts in a postelection lame duck session, though it may only be for a short time, to give the next Congress and whoever occupies the White House a chance to work out a longer-term solution.

If not, sharp cuts are on the way.

The report warns that the Pentagon faces cuts that "would result in a reduction in readiness of many nondeployed units, delays in investments in new equipment and facilities, cutbacks in equipment repairs, declines in military research and development efforts and reductions in base services for military families." [What rubbish! American spends more on it's military then all of the other countries of the world combined!!!]

On the domestic front, the White House warns of dire effects as well.

"The number of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents, correctional officers and federal prosecutors would be slashed. [Sounds like a great time to end the drug war and fire all the cops, prosecutors, and prison guards that are used to arrest and imprison people for the victimless crime of pot smoking] The Federal Aviation Administration's ability to oversee and manage the nation's airspace and air traffic control would be reduced," the report says. "The Department of Agriculture's efforts to inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne illnesses would be curtailed."

Many big programs, like Social Security, Medicaid, federal employee pensions and veterans' benefits and health care would be exempted. Medicare would be limited to an $11 billion, 2 percent cut in provider payments.

Also cut would be $14 million to treat emergency responders and others made ill as a result of the 9/11 attacks; $33 million for federal prosecution of violent crimes against women; and $2.5 billion for medical research and other work by the National Institutes of Health.

Other cuts would include $5 million from Obama's own office at the White House; $140 million from financial aid for college students; $216 million from efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons; $471 million from highway construction and $1 billion from aid for handicapped and children with other special needs.

The 394-page report, however, simply lists the dollar amount of the cuts but fails to address their real-world impact. For instance, it would cut the number of food inspectors and air traffic controllers on the job. But when asked on a conference call, a top White House official wouldn't say whether such cuts would require closing meatpacking plants or shutting down smaller airports.

"The report makes clear that sequestration would cause great disruptions across many vital services, from cancer research at NIH to food safety efforts at the Department of Agriculture, and public safety at the FBI to lowered military readiness," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the Budget Committee's top Democrat. "It's time to stop the political games and start working together to prevent the sequester, protect the economic recovery and get our fiscal house in order."

Arizona AG Tom Horne on medical marijuana users???

Here is an interesting quote from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

It certainly applies to him when it comes to the way him and his police buddies want to terrorize and imprison medical marijuana users.

For some people with a certain kind of psychology, intimidating others and exercising power over them is one of the pleasures of life.

Into the mind of ... Tom Horne

Sept. 15, 2012 12:00 AM

The Republic | azcentral.com

The Arizona attorney general talks about the legal victory for Arizona's open-ballot law.

What was the significance of a federal judge upholding Arizona's requirement for secret-ballot elections?

If the judge had ruled for the Obama administration, it would have opened the way for union leaders to present workers with "check off" cards and intimidate them to sign up for a union that they did not want to represent them.

The decision upholds the sanctity of the secret ballot, protects workers from intimidation, and treats Arizona as an independent sovereign with the ability to enact laws that protect its own citizens.

Were you always confident Arizona would succeed in this matter?

I thought we deserved to win, but after 30 years of making my living in the courtroom, I learned that no one can accurately predict what a jury or judge will do.

Why is the secret ballot such an important principle to you?

Freedom is at the heart of what we believe in as Americans. Without a secret ballot, we cannot have freedom.

Our vote must be voluntary and free of intimidation. This must apply to all elections whether they are political elections or union elections.

The federal judge said his ruling "should not be construed to foreclose ... challenges if and when they materialize." Do you expect more challenges?

As Yogi Berra said, "It is hard to make predictions, especially about the future." It is conceivable a future challenge could be brought if someone affected by the secret-ballot amendment thinks it is being applied in a manner that conflicts with federal law. But there is no conflict here.

Why do you believe unions oppose Arizona's law?

For some people with a certain kind of psychology, intimidating others and exercising power over them is one of the pleasures of life.

What is your personal view of organized labor?

When I was a student, I read of an era when unions were needed, because people worked under intolerable conditions for subsistence wages.

During the 1970s, I watched highly organized unions in industries such as auto and steel drive up negotiated wages. (They) ultimately benefited at the expense of other workers, drove hyperinflation and made their industries uncompetitive with foreign competition.

Now, they want to be able to intimidate workers by denying them a secret ballot. My views on unions have changed.

Do you believe organized labor helps or hinders the modern economy?


You've said the judge's ruling is a victory for "free elections for all people." What did you mean by that?

Free elections require a secret ballot. Otherwise citizens may be intimidated, thereby, their vote is not free.

This is a fundamental principle of our political philosophy, and I was very shocked at the attempt of the Obama administration to violate it.

Do you believe other states will follow Arizona's lead on preserving secret ballots?

Every state that has common sense will, so I have my doubts about California.

Remember everywhere you go you and your car are being videotaped

While I think ALL victimless crimes such as "drug war" crimes, prostitution and gambling should be legalize I certainly do think that real crimes like this bombing should continue to be illegal.

But this arrest in the Glendale bombing shows how much of a surveillance police state American has become.

If you read this article and the arrest warrant you will see that the cops used surveillance tapes shot at Home Depot and Lowe's of the bomber buying his bombing parts to help make the arrest. The cops also got video surveillance tapes of these suspect's car as he drove to Home Depot and Lowes.

The police also searched the cash register transaction logs looking for the bomb parts that were purchased. And once they found these purchases, they used the date and time of the purchases to look at the store video recordings to get a photo of the person that made the purchase.

So a word to the wise, remember anytime you drive to a store or enter a store you have to assume you and your car are being video taped and that information will later be used against you.

So a word to the wise, remember anytime you drive to a store or enter a store you have to assume you and your car are being video taped and that information will later be used against you.

And of course remember that anything and everything you buy from a large store is being recorded onto a computer and the police can probably get a record of the purchase.

And while these criminals didn't use credit cards, remember anytime you use a credit card it can be tracked back to you.


Arrest made in pipe-bomb explosions at Glendale home

by D.S. Woodfill - Sept. 14, 2012 09:44 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Federal agents arrested a Phoenix man in connection with a series of pipe bombings at the home of a Deer Valley Unified School District employee.

Gary Stephen Vogt, described by some neighbors as seemingly harmless and friendly, was arrested about 8:15 a.m. Friday while driving away from his home in the area of the 3200 block of West Villa Rita Drive, said Tom Mangan, a spokesman from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

ATF agents and Glendale and Phoenix police bomb squads carried off evidence, including firearms, from the home, Mangan said. He said Vogt, 50, is accused of two counts of manufacture and possession of unregistered explosive devices, which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Mangan declined to say whether authorities will seek charges stemming from the repeat bombings at Richard and Wanda Gray's Glendale home, near 67th and Olive avenues, and directed questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The arrest comes a little more than a week after the latest explosion at the Grays' house. The galvanized-pipe bomb was detonated in their driveway on Sept. 5, heavily damaging the vehicles parked outside and spraying the garage door with shrapnel. A second bomb placed next to it did not detonate.

The home was targeted with explosives on June 19, 2011, and July 25, 2011, according to the ATF. No one has been injured.

On Sept. 6, authorities released photos of the bomber. The owners had placed security cameras outside the house after one of the bombings, officials said. The photos show a person kneeling in the victims' driveway and igniting the bomb. The bomber then walked back to a four-door white SUV parked across the street, which appeared to be a late-1990s Chevrolet Suburban.

A criminal complaint against Vogt filed with the U.S. District Court in Phoenix says authorities tracked Vogt down by searching sales records for pipe-bomb components at hardware stores.

On Wednesday, investigators discovered two purchases of galvanized end caps and 2- by 8-inch galvanized-pipe nipples from a Home Depot on Aug. 25 and at a Lowe's Home Improvement store on Aug. 29, according to the documents. Both stores are near Interstate 17 and Thunderbird Road.

The stores' camera footage shows a White man making the purchases. The man is similar in appearance to the man captured in images taken by the Grays' security camera.

A camera at the Home Depot parking lot showed a late-model white Chevy Suburban driving off shortly after the purchase, records show.

In both sets of video footage, the man was carrying a black bag that investigators eventually discovered was an oxygen system, documents said.

Authorities said in the court documents that the oxygen tank was what helped Richard Gray identify Vogt.

Gray, a manager of student-support services at the Deer Valley Unified School District, told investigators he didn't recognize the man in the store security footage but knew someone through work who relies on oxygen and may be holding a grudge against him and the district, documents said.

It wasn't immediately clear what connection Vogt had with the district.

Gray has declined interview requests from the media.

According to the documents, he also told authorities that "Vogt has been unhappy on several occasions with the services and/or rulings of the Deer Valley Unified School District and is someone who has made his displeasure known."

Gray told investigators "although the rulings regarding the services are not his sole purview, he (Gray) is clearly the face of the district and its decisions in these types of matters," the documents said. "Mr. Gray believes that Mr. Vogt would consider Gray his nemesis."

On Thursday, investigators obtained a driver's-license photo of Vogt and compared it with the pictures taken by the cameras at Lowe's and Home Depot. According to court records, they concluded that the descriptions matched and tracked down his home from state motor-vehicle records.

DEA shuts down shipments from Walgreen facility

The fearless drug warriors at the DEA want to make sure no one illegally feels good, even if it means sick people won't get the drugs they need???

Don't the government bureaucrats at the DEA have any "real criminals" to hunt down???


DEA shuts down shipments from Walgreen facility


Sep. 14, 2012 6:46PM PDT

(Reuters) - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said it shut down shipments of controlled substances from Walgreen Co's Florida distribution facility on the suspicion that highly addictive painkillers were being diverted to the black market.

The distribution center in Jupiter, Florida, "failed to conduct due diligence to ensure that the controlled substances were not diverted into other than legitimate channels," the DEA said in a email statement.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration had inspected the facility along with six of the company's pharmacies in April.

The shutdown comes a few days after the DEA said it will revoke the controlled substance licenses of two CVS Caremark Corp drugstores in Florida as part of a government crackdown on addictive painkillers like oxycodone.

According to the DEA, the Walgreen facility has become the largest distributer of oxycodone products in Florida.

The DEA has increased its focus on drug wholesalers and pharmacies as it tries to battle what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call a prescription drug abuse "epidemic."

Deaths from narcotic painkillers now top those of heroin and cocaine combined.

"All DEA Registrants have an obligation to ensure that medications are getting into the hands of legitimate patients, and when they choose to look the other way patients suffer and drug dealers prosper," DEA Special Agent in Charge Mark Trouville said in the email.

Walgreen could not be reached for comment outside regular business hours.

(Reporting by Tej Sapru in Bangalore; Editing by Gary Hill)

Cops using junk science to frame people for baby murders.

A few years back it was discovered that the cops were using junk science to frame people for arson. At least one person in Texas (Cameron Todd Willingham) was executed on death row after being framed by the Texas cops for the murder of his three child, where the cops used junk science to "prove" he committed the murder.

One of those arson cases was in Arizona and that guy (Ray Girdler Jr.) was convicted of murdering his wife and daugher. He was released in 1990 when it was discovered that "junk science" was used to frame him for murder.

Now it sounds like a good number of people have been framed by the cops for murdering baby children using another form "junk science" used to prove babies where shaken to death.

In the science world you publish your theory and then the rest of the scientific world attempts to prove or disprove your results. The system isn't perfect, but it works pretty well.

In the world of cops and prosecutors the prosecutors present their alleged "scientific evidence" to a jury and if the jury convicts the person the prosecutors usually use the the same dog and pony show to give to other juries which are trying other similar crimes.

However just because a jury convicts, does not mean the evidence present supports the verdict. All it means is the prosecutor and cops gave the jury a good enough dog and pony show to get them to convict.


New doubts in 'shaken baby' fatalities

Some in Arizona see convictions overturned

by Richard Ruelas - Sept. 15, 2012 10:53 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Drayton Witt kept insisting he had nothing to do with the death of his 4-month-old baby. He said it the night he brought the near-comatose infant into the emergency room on June 1, 2000. He said it during his sentencing, following his conviction on murdering the boy by shaking him. And he was still proclaiming his innocence as he started serving his 20-year sentence in 2002.

His lamentations didn't gain legal and medical weight until 2012. The Arizona Justice Project, a volunteer group of attorneys, filed a motion to toss out his murder conviction based on the evolving science around what was known as shaken-baby syndrome. The state did not file an argument in response. Witt was released on May 31, becoming the second Arizonan in the last two years to see his guilty verdict in a shaken-baby case erased.

Among those who helped secure Witt's freedom was the 97-year-old British pediatric neurosurgeon who, in 1971, first identified the trio of telltale symptoms that became accepted as proof that a baby had been violently shaken. Attorneys also secured a sworn statement from the medical examiner who originally ruled the baby died from being shaken. His revised conclusion was that the baby died of a disease.

Fifteen months earlier, in February 2011, a Buckeye man named Armando Castillo, 42, had his conviction overturned in the 1998 death of a toddler. Like Witt, Castillo maintained his innocence throughout. And, like Witt, Castillo would be imprisoned a long time before attorneys found medical evidence to back up his story.

In both cases, judges ruled that a jury would likely acquit each man after hearing the new medical understanding of the evidence.

The overturned convictions didn't erase the charges, just sent the cases back for a possible retrial. Prosecutors decided to keep pursuing murder charges in both cases. Castillo pleaded guilty to a reduced charge to avoid the risk of a retrial. Witt's murder trial is scheduled for 2013.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said that his office still believes that Witt was responsible for the death of the 4-month-old baby boy. "Obviously, we believed it the first time around," Montgomery said.

He said prosecutors now focus more on proving that a child was injured, not necessarily that he was shaken. Montgomery said speculation that suspected abused children died from diseases was just defense-attorney theories.

"I think we're still looking at cases where children were injured," Montgomery said. "How we prove that may change."

That's because a growing body of medical and legal experts, nationally and internationally, are casting doubt on what became known as shaken-baby syndrome. Pediatric neurologists and forensic pathologists say the long-held triad of symptoms -- bleeding on the brain, swelling of the brain and bleeding in the eyes -- thought to indicate a baby was violently and intentionally shaken could also be caused by a host of diseases, including infections.

DePaul University law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, who wrote a 2009 study on the use of shaken-baby syndrome in courtrooms, said the easily spotted symptoms became not only a medical diagnosis but also a legal tool adopted quickly and used convincingly in courtrooms nationwide.

Physicians would testify that a shaken child would become unresponsive or go limp almost immediately after the abuse. So the last adult with the child would be the primary suspect. And the shaken-baby diagnosis also provided a motive: a frustrated caregiver looking to quiet a crying child.

Some shaken-baby cases included other signs of violent abuse, such as broken bones, bruises or fractures. But others, like in Witt's case, had no outward signs of injuries. Cases were built solely on the symptoms of shaken-baby syndrome.

"(The syndrome) did all of the work," Tuerkheimer said. Jurors would hear the experts testify with certainty and couple that with an "inclination to want to convict and hold someone responsible for such an awful outcome," she said.

In the last half of the 1990s, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office handled shaken-baby cases at the rate of two a week. During one stretch, it had a conviction rate, in non-fatal cases, of 84 percent.

Tuerkheimer said many of the defendants were convicted in emotional trials, while others took plea deals because they saw little chance of winning. She said there's no way to know whether the Witt and Castillo cases are isolated wrongful convictions or signs of a systemic flaw that will produce hundreds of reversals.

"No one has any sense of the numbers here," Tuerkheimer said.

Witt knows he is No. 2, the second shaken-baby conviction in Arizona to be vacated. But he figures the pattern that police and prosecutors followed in his case was repeated many more times.

"The system is flawed," he said. "I'm sure there's a lot of people like that."

* * *

Maria Holt's baby son, Steven, was just shy of being 5 months old on June 1, 2000. Dressed in a blue and white onesie, he slept in his car seat as Witt dropped Holt off for her evening shift as a waitress at the Bill Johnson's Big Apple restaurant in north Phoenix.

Witt, then 18, and Holt, then 20, had been boyfriend and girlfriend since they'd met two years before, but Steven had been conceived with another man during a breakup. Regardless, Witt saw the baby as his son; he was in the delivery room when Steven was born, and the child carried his last name. It was routine for Witt to care for Steven when Holt was at work; she often called home between tables to check in.

During one call around 8 or 9 that night, Witt told Holt he thought Steven might have had another seizure. His eyes appeared odd, Witt said, and he was fussy. Holt said to come get her at the restaurant and they would take the baby to the emergency room.

Steven had been a sickly baby, in and out of the hospital three times during his short life, including a six-day stay at Phoenix Children's Hospital just a month earlier when doctors couldn't get a bead on what was causing the baby's vomiting and seizures.

On this night, the boy stopped breathing during the 6-mile drive from the restaurant to Paradise Valley Hospital. Witt pulled over and climbed into the back seat to perform CPR while Holt took the wheel. At the hospital, doctors worked to get Steven breathing again. Then the baby's heart stopped. It took them about 30 minutes to stabilize him, after which he was flown to Phoenix Children's Hospital.

A doctor at Paradise Valley Hospital, in a report, diagnosed the cardiac arrest and said the baby was suffering from dehydration and possibly sepsis, a severe reaction to bacteria. He also expressed concern about brain injury caused by dehydration, too much acid in the blood, and not enough oxygen. There was no mention of suspected abuse.

Witt and Holt left Paradise Valley Hospital to drive to Phoenix Children's. Expecting another long hospital stay, they stopped by their home to pick up extra clothes.

* * *

The idea that violent shaking of infants could cause brain injury was first proposed in a medical-journal article in 1971. Not only did it gain acceptance in the medical community over the next two decades, it also seeped into popular culture. Child-abuse prevention groups started awareness campaigns; the phrase "shaken-baby syndrome" entered the Random House dictionary in 1996.

By 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics produced a position paper on shaken-baby syndrome, saying that doctors should presume abuse in any baby under a year old who had head injuries absent obvious trauma, such as a car accident. The paper, published in the journal Pediatrics, said the "constellation" of injuries in a shaken baby could not result from an accidental trip or fall.

The article also offered a psychological profile of adults who shake a child. "Such shaking often results from tension and frustration generated by a baby's crying or irritability," the journal article said, "yet crying is not a legal justification for such violence." It went on to warn that shaken babies were often misdiagnosed, meaning doctors needed to be extremely vigilant to spot them.

After Steven arrived at Phoenix Children's Hospital, a doctor who evaluated him wrote that the baby had no bruising or skull deformities, but showed some bleeding in the eyes. The doctor also noted that "the infant is flaccid. There is no response to pain."

At 3 a.m., a pediatrician wrote on a progress report that the baby's symptoms "raise the possibility of non-accidental trauma."

Medical records show doctors knew their infant patient had been at the hospital a month before for projectile vomiting and flulike symptoms. But by 7 a.m., doctors felt sure of what they were looking at.

"The findings are most consistent with shaken baby, plus or minus hypoxia injury," read a doctor's progress report on the case. Hypoxia refers to an injury caused by lack of oxygen.

Steven's condition did not improve. At noon, doctors declared him brain dead. One wrote the following: "Mom is currently hugging the patient and we are planning to withdraw support and allow him to progress to cardiac death later on this afternoon. The police have been notified of the findings."

Steven was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m. on June 2.

* * *

In a case where shaken-baby syndrome seems a possibility, events quickly and simultaneously move along parallel tracks: doctors working to save a baby, police working to find a suspect.

But once doctors and police believe they are dealing with a shaken-baby case, they often ignore evidence that might suggest a different reason for a baby's illness, said Christina Rubalcava, an attorney with the Arizona Justice Project.

"You're already locked in to what it is," said Rubalcava, an attorney with Osborn Maledon who volunteered her time on the Witt case. She says that in general, once a doctor sees the triad of symptoms, a call to child-welfare agencies and police becomes automatic. The belief in shaken-baby syndrome "is like gospel to them," she said.

But Kathy Coffman, a pediatrician at Phoenix Children's Hospital who specializes in abuse cases, denied that doctors automatically diagnose shaking and ignore disease or infections or other causes. "We go through all the factors to make sure we're not missing something," Coffman said.

Coffman, a pediatrician for 20 years, was not at Phoenix Children's Hospital when Steven was treated and would not comment specifically on this case. She now is the medical director of a specialized unit at the hospital, made up of doctors and social workers, that handles suspected cases of abuse. "I don't think anybody who works in this field, law enforcement or anybody, is cavalier about making these calls," she said.

"The absolute last thing I want to do," she said, "is have someone go to prison for something they didn't do."

In the early morning hours of June 2, Phoenix police interviewed Witt and Holt as they sat in a room near their child. The questions seemed accusatory from the start, Witt said, and he ended the interview. A worker with the state's child-protection agency, in a report written later that morning, would say officers described Witt as "short-tempered and volatile."

After Steven died and Witt and Holt were leaving the hospital to go home, they found their car missing; police had seized it from the parking lot to search it for possible evidence. Friends drove them home, where they found two officers, armed with a warrant, who had been searching the trailer since 11:30 a.m. -- 4 hours before Steven died -- to find evidence to build a case.

"One thing after another," Holt said. "It's heartbreaking."

The police left at 9:30 p.m. They had pulled up carpet samples and took some baby items. The next day, officers knocked on the door and asked to take Witt in for questioning.

"Let's go," Witt said. "I ain't got nothing to hide."

Witt is a man of few words and didn't offer many to police. When detectives questioned him about what happened to the baby, Witt replied that he didn't know and that they should ask the doctors.

Witt was booked into jail on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. He would remain jailed until his trial.

Holt said the arrest was devastating. "I lose my son, and then I lose the man who's done nothing but love me and love my son," she said. She had support from her extended family but felt some friends slip away. When she visited Witt in jail, which was often, she worked to buoy his spirits: "You'll be home soon," she would say. "This is just a misunderstanding. We know the truth."

Witt had a public defender who tried to get a plea deal, but Witt refused to take it. "When they arrested me, I figured somewhere down the line they'd come to their senses and figure out the right stuff," Witt said. "But clearly they didn't."

The trial started in February 2002.

"Steven Witt lived only five months," the prosecutor, Dyanne Greer, told the jury in her opening statement, according to a transcript. "He died as the result of violent, severe shaking. ... He died at the hands of a person who was supposed to be the caretaker ... and that man, ladies and gentlemen, is Drayton Witt."

Holt was called to the stand; she would be the first witness. It would be her job to tell the couple's story: how they "just clicked" when they first met through a friend; how Holt's extremely protective dog immediately warmed up to Witt; how, when she became pregnant by another man, Witt treated the child as if he were his own. She also told the jury about the baby's history of illnesses and hospitalizations, which included a respiratory infection, pneumonia, seizures and vomiting, and how the medicine he was given only seemed to make him worse.

After Holt, four doctors and the medical examiner took the stand. Each testified that Steven's injuries were most likely caused by shaking. To the jury, the evidence would have seemed strong and specific: The boy had certain injuries that, in the absence of major trauma, were possible only if he had been shaken violently. And the narrow, medically accepted time frame of the onset of the baby's symptoms pointed to Witt.

Witt, seated at the defense table, still held out hope. But his defense attorney called only one expert to cast doubt on whether the injuries were caused by shaking. Karen Griest, a forensic pediatric pathologist and former New Mexico coroner, said that "shaken-baby syndrome is sort of a hot topic of debate in the medical community. It's sort of an evolving process to figure out what is going on."

In closing arguments, the prosecutor painted a picture for the jury of Witt shaking the child.

"The defendant knowingly grabbed Steven, shook him so violently that he started to seize," Greer said. "Drayton had to know that Steven was being violently injured while he was shaking him to death, inches in front of his face," she said.

Jurors found Witt guilty of second-degree murder. When it came time for Witt's sentencing in April 2002, he told the judge that although he had been an unruly teenager, he had turned his life around with Holt and Steven. But he was not apologetic.

"I am not sorry, for I didn't do no wrong," Witt said, according to a transcript of the hearing. "I came up here to tell you how much my son meant to me."

The judge sentenced him to 20 years.

* * *

Though Witt asked for protective custody in prison, he said the request was denied, and he was put into the general inmate population. Three years into his sentence, he was attacked in the recreation yard by three men with improvised knives. Witt tucked himself into a ball and tried to cover his head, but said he was stabbed some 70 times before it was over. Ten of those wounds went through one or the other of his hands.

Witt was flown to a Flagstaff hospital, where doctors did surgery to repair his hands. Holt was at work when she got the call from Witt's parents telling her of the attack. When she saw him in his hospital bed, she knew they had to get married.

"Just wanting to make sure that he knew that I was there," she said. "And no matter what, he knew that if it came to 2020, I might be old and gray, but that I would be the one standing by that gate (waiting) for him to come home."

The wedding was in September 2006. The groom wore orange, his "carrot suit," as Witt called it. Prison rules dictate what a bride may wear: A wedding dress must have a neckline above the collarbone and sleeves that cover the arms. And no orange; that color is reserved for inmates. In the end, Holt just bought a dress she liked -- it was maroon -- and pulled a T-shirt over it during the ceremony to cover enough bare skin.

Tradition endures even in the strangest of settings. Witt said he paced in his cell nervously before the ceremony, held just before visiting hours. He would get to wear his wedding band in prison, but the bride had to provide prison officials proof of purchase. Guards did allow the groom to kiss the bride.

"It's emotional, no matter what," Holt said.

At the time of the wedding, all of Witt's appeals had been denied and exhausted. It appeared he would be in prison until 2020.

* * *

In 2009, Deborah Tuerkheimer published her paper, "The Next Innocence Project: Shaken Baby Syndrome and the Criminal Courts" in the Washington University Law Review.

"In its classic formulation, SBS comes as close as one could imagine to a medical diagnosis of murder," Tuerkheimer wrote. "Prosecutors use it to prove the mechanism of death, the intent to harm, and the identity of the killer."

Also that year, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its position paper on shaken-baby syndrome. It urged physicians to stop using that term and instead describe injuries as "abusive head trauma." The group said it urged adoption of the "less mechanistic term" to stop the focus on shaking. Instead, the journal said, doctors should look at a wider range of possible causes.

Witt's prison records show that he was a model inmate after his marriage. He had been moved into protective custody following his assault. While there, he met Armando Castillo, another man who had been convicted of shaking a child to death.

The Arizona Justice Project filed its motion in Castillo's case in April 2010; his conviction was vacated 10 months later. The project took up Drayton Witt's case in 2011, and the news was a blast of hope, Maria Witt said. "You get that light sparked back in your life."

Those working on Witt's case assembled a list of medical experts who reviewed Steven's autopsy photos and medical records. Most concluded that Steven's death was likely caused by a blockage in the vein that drained blood from his brain.

The attorneys also spotted a letter in the New York Times Magazine from Norman Guthkelch, the British pediatric neurosurgeon who first wrote about the symptoms that indicated a shaken baby. In the letter, a response to an article about the changing medical opinions about shaken-baby syndrome, Guthkelch defended his 1971 paper that concluded babies can get severe brain damage from shaking. The city under Guthkelch's name: Tucson.

The Project attorneys asked Guthkelch to look at the records in the case. He filed an affidavit in support of Witt, which marked his first legal involvement on behalf of a person trying to reverse a shaken-baby conviction.

"The death of Steven Witt is the type of case where a diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome should not have been made," Guthkelch wrote. He said there were too many other possibilities that could explain the baby's death, and that while his process offers a possible explanation for some head injuries, any presumption that an injured child was shaken was a "distortion" of his theory.

Also key to the case was the affidavit of A.L. Mosley, the county medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Steven. Mosley was shown new analysis of his autopsy by doctors who spotted errors in his work. Most notably, doctors said, autopsy photos showed a blocked and swollen vein that was not noted in the report.

Mosley, in his affidavit, concluded that "if I were to testify today, I would state that I believe Steven's death was likely the result of a natural disease process, not (shaken-baby syndrome)."

Witt's attorneys filed the motion in February. The state did not file a response. The judge vacated Witt's conviction and ordered his release.

* * *

The newly cast scientific thought on shaken-baby syndrome is affecting other cases. A 2007 case against Lisa Randall, a day-care operator, originally filed as a death-penalty case, was tossed out before it reached trial. An expert hired by the prosecution in 2010 concluded that the child did not die from shaking as originally thought.

In 2009, prosecutors dropped murder charges against Craig Rettig in a shaken-baby case from 2004. The defendant's lawyer located experts who found that the baby died from striking his head on a coffee table, not from being shaken.

Also, in 2009, Keith Roberts asked that expert testimony about shaken-baby syndrome not be allowed in his trial on charges that he killed his infant son. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office argued that both sides should present their experts and leave it for the jury to decide. The judge agreed. Roberts took a plea offer the day before his trial was scheduled to begin. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Witt was released from custody wearing a jail-issued paper suit. He borrowed a cellphone from a passer-by to call his wife. It was 8 a.m. She had been told he wouldn't be released until noon. She broke speed-limit laws driving from the opposite end of town to get him.

Maria Witt said having her husband out of prison is validation.

"To finally have people believe in me," she said, "and be able to start the grieving process and what we missed out on, and be able to start on the life that we missed out on, is more precious than anything."

Drayton Witt, who is working on a construction crew, said he often feels like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle, awakening to find a world where so much is accomplished by cellular phone, or that there are self-checkout lanes at the grocery store.

Witt does not want to take a plea deal like his friend, Castillo, did. He hopes prosecutors drop the case before his trial next year.

He does not blame police or prosecutors for the decade he spent behind bars. He said officers and attorneys were just doing their job. And he always figured the truth would win out.

"You keep screaming," he said. "Eventually, someone will hear you."

Reach the reporter at richard.ruelas@arizonarepublic.com.


'Shaken baby' diagnosis disputed

by Richard Ruelas - Sept. 16, 2012 12:00 AM

The Republic | azcentral.com

On June 13, 1998, Armando Castillo, who had three children of his own, was caring for his girlfriend's 2-year-old while she was at work. The toddler, Steven Young, was asleep on the couch when his mother came home. Castillo left to go pick up his own boys and bring them back to swim in the apartment-complex pool.

While Castillo was gone, the mother, Clara Yates, noticed discharge coming from the toddler's nose and smelled vomit. When she picked him up, according to court records, he gasped for air and then went limp.

Based on the toddler's injuries, the doctor who examined him at St. Joseph's Hospital diagnosed him as having been shaken. Since the syndrome was believed to affect babies immediately, suspicion fell on the mother and Castillo, the last two people who were with the child. According to court records, police quickly ruled out the mother as a suspect and targeted Castillo.

The case followed a path similar to Drayton Witt's case: interviews with law enforcement, an arrest, charges, a trial in which prosecutors and medical experts explained the critical trio of shaken-baby symptoms that Steven Young had suffered in the critical time frame. The jury convicted Castillo of second-degree murder; the judge would sentence him to 20 years.

Years later, after a judge vacated his conviction, even Castillo was aware of how open-and-shut the evidence seemed. After hearing it in court, "I would have found myself guilty," he said.

According to a motion filed by Castillo's attorneys from the Arizona Justice Project, "Any attempt to challenge what was then the settled and accepted medical diagnosis ... would have been futile and unsupported at the time."

Though Castillo maintained his innocence, he agreed to plead guilty to another charge, felony manslaughter. He says he wanted to avoid the risk of another trial. He had hoped he would be sentenced to the time he had served, but the court said he owed more time. He was in custody for an additional two weeks and five days, for a total of about 121/2 years. Castillo was released Wednesday morning from a state prison in Phoenix.

While in prison, he fell in love with and married a family friend and paralegal who was convinced of his innocence. "It's finally over," he told his wife, Sheri, as they hugged outside the prison. -- Richard Ruelas

Kids found in car at bar; parents arrested on FELONY charges

Don't these pigs have any real criminals to hunt down????

You know real criminals that commit real crimes that hurt people? Not some dopey dumb ass parents who leave their kids for a few hours in their car so they can drink a few beers.

And wow the parents were not booked on some chickensh*t misdemeanor charges, but felony charges. This sounds like an outrageous waste of our police and court resources!


Kids found in car at bar; parents arrested

by Cecilia Chan - Sept. 15, 2012 03:00 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested the parents of two young children found alone in a car at a Cave Creek bar parking lot, officials reported Saturday.

Desiree David and Landrey Alex both of Mesa both were found to be intoxicated more than double the legal limit late Friday night, officials said.

Both were arrested and booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on felony child abuse/endangerment charges, officials said.

The two young children, ages 3 and 4, were turned over to their grandmother after CPS was contacted.

A deputy on routine patrol discovered the children at 11:30 p.m. Friday sitting in the car and "it had appeared they had been there for some time," a press release said.

During the investigation, the deputy discovered the children arrived with their parents at the restaurant/bar about at 8:30 p.m. Around 11:00 p.m., the parents were believed to have taken their children back to the car so they could continue drinking, officials said.

The parents came out of the bar shortly after the deputy arrived on scene and were found to be highly intoxicated, officials said.

O.C. police union dispute brings scrutiny of law firm's tactics

Cops are more interested in shaking us down for money then protecting us!!!


O.C. police union dispute brings scrutiny of law firm's tactics

Law firm Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, which represents many police unions, has a reputation for aggressive attacks against city halls. One critic described its tactics as 'litigation terrorism.'

By Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times

September 16, 2012

One after another, people stepped before the Costa Mesa City Council to decry the blight and lawlessness on tiny Ford Road — prostitutes, thieves, home invaders. What the city needs, they pleaded, is more cops.

Councilman Jim Righeimer, a GOP activist and an architect of the city's controversial plan to radically slash its workforce, perceived the parade of concerned citizens as the pawns of a police union and its law firm, with its statewide reputation for bare-knuckle tactics.

"This City Council is being held hostage by the police union," Righeimer railed from his seat at the Aug. 21 meeting. "This council will not be shaken down."

The next afternoon, Righeimer assembled a team of city officials to tour Ford Road and recommend improvements. Afterward, he stopped at a Newport Boulevard pub, Skosh Monahan's, then climbed into his GMC Yukon and drove home.

Minutes later, a policeman arrived at his door to ask if he'd been drinking. Someone had called 911 to say Righeimer had stumbled out of the pub and swerved his car between lanes.

Righeimer passed the field sobriety test, furnished a $6.47 receipt for two Diet Cokes and wasted no time seizing the political moment. He was being set up, he announced at a press conference.

The 911 caller, it emerged, was a private investigator who worked for the police union's Upland-based law firm, Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. The firm insists it did not send the investigator to follow Righeimer, and the police union denies involvement.

The Orange County district attorney's office is now investigating the case, which has thrust Costa Mesa's protracted city-union battle back into the spotlight. It has also raised scrutiny of a law firm with vast influence in the state and a reputation for aggressive attacks against city halls.

In the wake of the Righeimer incident, several unions — including the Costa Mesa Police Officers' Assn. and the Los Angeles Police Protective League — have dropped the firm.

The firm advertises itself as "former cops defending current ones," and its website touts a long list of what it portrays as triumphant contract negotiations with cities on behalf of police-union clients. It has an advertised clientele of more than 120 public safety unions in the state.

Until recently, the website featured a detailed list of "tools" that police associations can employ to push decision-makers "into giving in to your position."

"The association should be like a quiet giant in the position of, 'Do as I ask and don't piss me off,'" the website read.

"Storm city council," the site suggested, to chastise uncooperative elected leaders. Campaign against them. Send attack mailers. Picket. Take out newspaper ads. Launch websites denouncing the city. Use "every high profile crime" to argue that more cops could have prevented it. Pay for billboards.

"Nothing seems to get more attention than a billboard entering the city limits which reads that crime is up and the City could care less about your safety," the site said.

The site suggested using "work slowdown" as a tactic, such as "asking for a backup unit on most calls," as well as "blue flu," a staged sick-out by police officers. The site also touted the effectiveness of tightly focused attacks.

"Focus on a city manager, councilperson, mayor or police chief and keep the pressure up until that person assures you his loyalty and then move on to the next victim," the site read.

The firm has since removed this section, saying it was "historical and educational material" misread as tactical advice.

However, critics of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill say the content represented an accurate description of its tactics.

"If you look at their playbook, we have been the victim of almost all of it," said Montclair City Manager Edward Starr, whose city is in its second year of contract negotiations with police. The city, he said, has spent more than $600,000 defending itself against the law firm.

Rob Pipersky, 59, a Montclair resident and longtime police officer there, said his union is in the grip of Dieter Dammeier and his firm: "They drink the Kool-Aid. They think this guy is the best guy in the world."

At a meeting earlier this year, Pipersky said, his union discussed launching a recall of city leaders who had resisted union demands.

"I ended up calling them carpetbaggers," Pipersky said. "I said, 'You're a bunch of outsiders coming into my town to overthrow my council and put your people in to give you what you want.'"

He said his union has since barred him from meetings.

Attorney Scott Grossberg said he was hired to defend the city of San Gabriel against what he describes as frivolous lawsuits filed by Dammeier.

In one case last year, Grossberg said, the firm filed a tort claim demanding parking fees its clients incurred during a failed mediation session. It was for $40.

"He doesn't write a letter," Grossberg said. "This is what he does. It's knee-jerk, over-the-top bullying. 'If you don't do things my way, you'll see me in court.'"

He described Dammeier's tactics as "litigation terrorism," though within the law.

Buena Park Councilman Fred Smith said when he became mayor in 2010, the city's police union — represented by Lackie, Dammeier & McGill — objected to his choice for police chief and his insistence on installing cameras in patrol cars.

As he left a party that December, he said, a Buena Park policeman pulled him over and gave him a sobriety test, which he passed.

Though he has no evidence linking the law firm to the incident, he said a police union leader called him later and said, "Have you had enough yet?"


In Costa Mesa, Righeimer, a real estate developer, has been the most visible proponent of the city's plan to save money by outsourcing hundreds of municipal jobs. The campaign has made Costa Mesa a model for the GOP and Righeimer an object of deep loathing by public employee unions.

In his 2010 campaign for City Council, Righeimer argued that soaring labor costs were pushing the city toward bankruptcy. He publicized the pay of Costa Mesa's police brass, many of them making more than $200,000.

The unions, in response, publicized Righeimer's personal financial woes, including liens and debts, which Righeimer says he's paid off.

The council, on which Righeimer's bloc enjoys a 4-1 majority, has outsourced the city's police helicopter program, replaced some sworn police officers with civilians and insisted on a less lucrative pension package for new officers.

At the pub on Aug. 22, Righeimer, who describes himself as an infrequent drinker, said he bought a Diet Coke for himself and one for fellow Councilman Steve Mensinger.

As Righeimer left the pub, a white car without license plates followed his Yukon down the block, surveillance video shows.

"I think he's DUI," private investigator Chris Lanzillo told a 911 dispatcher as he followed the councilman. "He's swerving all over the road. I don't know what's wrong with him."

Righeimer said he was given a field sobriety test in front of his three young daughters. He said his wife confronted Lanzillo, who had apparently parked down the block waiting for police to arrive, but he swerved around her and sped away.

Lanzillo says he was on another assignment that afternoon and wasn't tailing Righeimer.

Dammeier described Lanzillo as "one of many PIs we have used" and said that he was not employed or authorized to conduct surveillance on Righeimer.

"We will not apologize for 'aggressively' protecting those that put their lives on the line every day protecting all of us," the firm said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for our clients using every available legal tool at our disposal."

Righeimer said he is eager to know what the district attorney's investigation reveals about Lanzillo, a former Riverside police officer who claimed in a lawsuit he'd been fired for union activities. His former chief told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that Lanzillo was fired for doing "really bad things."


Staff writer Lauren Williams contributed to this report.

Mesa police: Drug-deal texts on man's cellphone

Any attorney will tell you that if you are stopped by the police NEVER, NEVER give them permission to search you, your belonging or your car!!!!!

If this guy had taken that advice he probably would not have been arrested!!!!!


Mesa police: Drug-deal texts on man's cellphone

by Danielle Grobmeier - Sept. 18, 2012 03:25 PM

The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team

A 51-year-old man was arrested Monday in Mesa after police found methamphetamine in the car he was driving and text messages about drug-related transactions on his cellphone, according to a court document.

An officer pulled John Parsons over near Alma School Road and Southern Avenue after the officer noticed that one of the car's headlights was out, according to the document.

Police reported that Parsons told the officer that he was driving a friend's car.

When asked about his arrest history, Parsons told police he had been arrested several months before because of drugs, the document said.

Parsons agreed to let police search him but declined to let them search the vehicle because it was his friend's car, according to the document.

Though police found nothing on Parsons, a K-9 unit was brought to the car to search the outside of the vehicle for drugs, according to the document.

Police reported the service dog alerted to the odor of drugs, and a search of the car revealed a small bag of methamphetamine under the driver's seat.

Parsons told police the vehicle's owner did not use drugs and that he had used methamphetamine two weeks before, the document said.

Parsons agreed to let police look through his cellphone, which was found to contain texts about Parsons receiving $80 and a ring for drugs, according to the document.

Police reported finding $90 and a ring on Parsons.

Undercover prostitute sting nets 40 arrests

Don't these pigs have any real criminals to hunt down???

You know real criminals that hurt people like robbers, rapists and mugger! Not people that are involved in victimless crimes that don't hurt anybody like prostitution or using drugs. Source

Undercover prostitute sting nets 40 arrests

Authorities search adult ads online for investigative leads

by JJ Hensley - Sept. 18, 2012 10:07 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

A recently concluded undercover sting started simply enough: A Maricopa County sheriff's detective conducting surveillance on a drug operation noticed odd activities going on at a central Tempe motel.

Detectives commented on their radios about a woman they saw going from one room to another and, later, a man who stood outside several rooms and appeared to be "keeping time."

The operation soon transitioned from drug surveillance to a prostitution sting. Over the course of a month, detectives made nearly 40 arrests for prostitution-related crimes, drug possession and unlawful-weapon possession in an unincorporated area of the county tucked between Tempe and Guadalupe. The investigation led detectives to east Mesa and south Tempe before the operation was complete.

"It's not just the county island, we've done this in other hotels," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "I'm sure you're not going to stop this type of activity. Some media attention ... might act as a deterrent to others getting involved in this type of thing."

The operation had the familiar feel of any sting, with detectives making contact with suspects who came to a designated hotel. There, the suspects made contact with an undercover deputy, who secured an offer of sex for money and then used a code word as a signal for other deputies to storm the hotel room.

On a recent weeknight, a half-dozen detectives crowded into a Tempe hotel room to run the sting. Two deputies were assigned to contact women advertising as escorts on the Internet. Within 30 minutes, two women had agreed to spend an hour with the undercover detectives in exchange for $200.

Samantha Siqueiros, 24, was arrested soon after she arrived. She discussed the fetishes of some of her clients and noted that she had been in the hotel room before.

Detectives searching her purse found a medical-marijuana card, a switchblade and paperwork indicating she had attended a prostitution-diversion class earlier in the day in an effort to avoid prosecution for an August arrest in Phoenix.

"I like sex," Siqueiros said when detectives asked how she got involved in prostitution. "It's just easy."

In the ongoing battle between Valley police and prostitution rings, Internet sites advertising adult services have become a valuable tool for police. The sites feature photos of women typically wearing little more than lingerie offering body rubs, massages, escorts and companionship. Police use those ads to generate investigative leads.

Backpage.com, an online-classified site owned by alternative-media conglomerate Village Voice Media, whose holdings include the PhoenixNew Times, has garnered national attention for publishing such ads. In response, groups from around the country have protested and encouraged boycotts of businesses that advertise with the media company.

A law was passed in Washington state this spring that threatened five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for anyone who knowingly or indirectly displays content that offers sexual contact for something of value, if the content includes an image of a minor. A federal judge in July issued an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect.

Liz McDougall, an attorney representing Backpage.com, has said the company will not remove the site. It instead wants to create a framework for adult advertising that can be implemented throughout the industry. It would allow cooperation with local law-enforcement agencies to fight human trafficking while developing a comprehensive approach to adult-services advertisements. The concern, according to Backpage supporters, is that shutting down the site might drive the content to offshore networks outside the reach of American law-enforcement agencies.

McDougall said there is another reason Backpage does not intend to shut down: There is minimal likelihood that any of the women are advertising exclusively on its pages.

"When you talk with people who have used Backpage for prostitution, they will tell you you can't make a living with one Internet resource," she said. "I would be shocked if Backpage is their only source of advertising."

McDougall also said the company has worked with law-enforcement agencies to seek out women police have brought to their attention and provided information from other websites.

"We've found a victim on up to 13 other sites," she said.

Sheriff's deputies did not consult with Backpage's monitors for their operation, instead trolling the site for women who advertised services in an unincorporated area of Tempe near Baseline Road and Priest Drive. The area is outside the jurisdiction of surrounding police agencies and not subject to local zoning laws and restrictions.

The sheriff's deputies also did not identify any minors during the monthlong operation that took place near the Arizona Mills mall. But working through Backpage allowed detectives to contact the women, leading to 10 arrests on suspicion of prostitution, five for solicitation and three for allegedly receiving the earnings of a prostitute.

On the night they arrested Siqueiros, detectives arrested another woman and her alleged pimp, a 20-year-old who told deputies that he had picked up the woman, a friend, earlier in the day at a bus station and used his brother's Mercedes to drive her to appointments around the Valley.

The suspect, James King, was carrying a 9mm gun and ammunition in the car. The $960 he had in his wallet was from work at a local record studio, supplemented by gas money from his companion, he said.

The discovery was indicative of what detectives found in the operation, Arpaio said.

"It's not just prostitution," he said.

Marijuana prevents cancer??? Maybe!!!!


Pot compound seen as tool against cancer

Victoria Colliver

Published 5:25 p.m., Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Marijuana, already shown to reduce pain and nausea in cancer patients, may be promising as a cancer-fighting agent against some of the most aggressive forms of the disease.

A growing body of early research shows a compound found in marijuana - one that does not produce the plant's psychotropic high - seems to have the ability to "turn off" the activity of a gene responsible for metastasis in breast and other types of cancers.

Two scientists at San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute first released data five years ago that showed how this compound - called cannabidiol - reduced the aggressiveness of human breast cancer cells in the lab.

Last year, they published a small study that showed it had a similar effect on mice. Now, the researchers are on the cusp of releasing data, also on animals, that expands upon these results, and hope to move forward as soon as possible with human clinical trials.

"The preclinical trial data is very strong, and there's no toxicity. There's really a lot of research to move ahead with and to get people excited," said Sean McAllister, who along with scientist Pierre Desprez, has been studying the active molecules in marijuana - called cannabinoids - as potent inhibitors of metastatic disease for the past decade.

Like many scientific endeavors, connections made between disparate elements - in this case, a plant considered a controlled substance and abnormal cells dividing out of control - involved a high degree of serendipity. The two researchers were seemingly focused on unrelated areas, but found their discoveries pointing in the same direction.

Desprez, who moved to the Bay Area from France for postdoctoral research in the 1990s, was looking at human mammary gland cells and, in particular, the role of a protein called ID-1.

The ID-1 protein is important in embryonic development, after which it essentially turns off and stays off. But when Desprez manipulated cells in the lab to artificially maintain a high level of ID-1 to see if he could stop the secretion of milk, he discovered that these cells began to look and act like cancer cells.

"These cells started to behave really crazy," Desprez said. "They started to migrate, invade other tissues, to behave like metastatic cells."

Based on that discovery, he took a look at metastatic cancer cells - not just standard cancer cells, but those responsible for aggressively spreading the disease throughout the body. He found the vast majority tended to express high levels of ID-1, leading him to conclude that ID-1 must play an important role in causing the disease to spread. Anticancer potential

Meanwhile, McAllister was focused on studying anabolic steroids in drug abuse. McAllister, who also made his way to CPMC from Virginia in the 1990s, became fascinated with the role non-psychotropic cannabidiol, or CBD, interacts with cancer.

Marijuana's better known cannabinoid - delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - had already shown some anticancer properties in tumors, but the non-psychotropic cannabidiol had largely gone unstudied. McAllister initial research showed CBD had anticancer potential as well.

About eight years ago McAllister heard his colleague, Desprez, give an internal seminar about his work on ID-1, the manipulated protein cells that masquerade as cancer cells, and metastases. That produced an idea: How effective would cannabidiol be on targeting metastatic cancer cells?

The pair teamed up - Desprez with his apparently cancer-causing ID-1 and McAllister with his cancer-fighting CBD - deciding to concentrate their research on metastatic cells of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer called "triple negative." It is so named because this type of breast cancer lacks the three hormone receptors that some of the most successful therapies target. About 15 percent of breast cancers fall into this category, and these cells happen to have high levels of ID-1.

Consistent results

When McAllister and Desprez exposed the cells to cannabidiol in a petri dish, the cells not only stopped acting "crazy" but they also started to revert to a normal state. Both scientists were shocked.

"We thought we did the experiment the wrong way," McAllister said. But they got the same results each time they did it.

"I told Sean, 'Maybe your drug is working through my gene,' " Desprez said.

What they found is that the cannabinoid turns off the overexpression of ID-1, which makes the cells lose their ability to travel to distant tissues. In other words, it keeps the cells more local and blocks their ability to metastasize. Cancer kills through its ability to metastasize.

The researchers stressed cannabidiol works only on cancer cells that have these high levels of ID-1 and these do not include all cancerous tumors but, rather, aggressive, metastatic cells. But they've found such high levels in leukemia, colorectal, pancreatic, lung, ovarian, brain and other cancers.

McAllister and Desprez, who hope to publish results of their research before the end of the year, have received various grants through the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the California Breast Cancer Research Program and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Pot smoking of no help

Still, no one is suggesting that patients with metastatic cancer smoke or ingest marijuana to absorb this potentially cancer-fighting compound.

While cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second-most abundant cannabinoid within marijuana, it has largely been bred out of the plant in favor of a higher percentage of THC, the active chemical that causes the psychotropic high widely associated with the plant.

A long way to go

Martin Lee, director of Project CBD, a Sonoma County group that works to raise awareness of the scientific promise of the compound, described the cannabidiol research as potent both as a medicine and a myth buster.

"It debunks the idea that medicinal marijuana is really about people wanting to get stoned," said Lee, author of "Smoke Signals," a book published last month about the medical and social history of marijuana. "Why do they want it when it doesn't even get them high?"

Lee said the role of marijuana in cancer research is not limited to CBD and that further research needs to be done on how it interacts with THC for possibly greater effect. "While CBD is quite amazing as a molecule, it's really a way of drawing attention to the whole plant," he said.

The researchers know there's a long road ahead as they move from animal studies into human clinical trials and ultimately turning it into a pill or an infused drug that people can take. But they are already developing human trial models and hope to test the drug, probably in combination with current chemotherapies.

"They've been doing studies on mice and showing the effect in tumors. All that is wonderful, but what you don't know is whether it will make people go pea green or colorblind," said Dr. William Goodson, a breast cancer specialist at California Pacific Medical Center who is familiar with the researchers' work. Patient intrigued

Nonetheless, Goodson said he is intrigued by the potential to inhibit the factor that makes triple-negative breast and other cancers particularly aggressive. "For people who don't have other options, I think that's an exciting possibility," he said.

Patients with triple-negative breast cancer are eager, too, about the potential of another treatment and hope the research will translate into a drug in the pipeline - sooner rather than later.

Susan Rancourt of San Carlos was just diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in July and is in the middle of chemotherapy.

"I don't have doomsday outlook. I feel like I am going to make it through this. But the trick is the next five years," said Rancourt, 59, who is being treated at Stanford. "If this research is advanced to the point of something (a drug) in the next five years, that will make a difference to me." Sense of immediacy

As for the fact it is derived from marijuana, Rancourt said that's the least of her concerns. "I don't care if it comes from acorns," she said. "It's not the source, it's the result."

Desprez also has a timeline. The researcher learned his 41-year-old sister was recently diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer that has already spread to her lymph nodes. While her cancer is receptive to hormone therapies, he's worried about the potential of recurrence of metastatic disease - one that lacks the hormone receptors and is even more unforgiving.

"I want to be ready for that," he said. "There is a deadline."

The language of cannabis

What is cannabis? Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant from Central Asia that is grown in many parts of the world. In the United States, it is a controlled substance classified as a Schedule I agent, meaning a drug with increased potential for abuse and no known medical use.

What are cannabinoids? Cannabinoids are a class of active molecules in marijuana.

What is THC? The primary cannabinoid and main psychoactive compound in the marijuana plant is delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC.

What is cannabidiol? Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second-most abundant cannabinoid within marijuana, but it does not cause a psychotropic high of THC.

Source: National Cancer Institute

Victoria Colliver is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: vcolliver@sfchronicle.com

3 states could lead movement to legalize pot

I am 100 percent for legalization of ALL drugs, not just marijuana.

But sadly all three of these laws will just replace the "jobs program" marijuana arrests provide for cops, prosecutors, probation officers, and prison guards with jobs programs for other government bureaucrats.

Of course if any of them pass I will still be happy because the governments in those states will stop jailing people for the victimless crimes of smoking, selling or growing marijuana.

Of course the downside is the government thieves will just start stealing from marijuana users that used to put in prison.

Either way sucks, but I would rather have the government crooks steal my money then place me in prison.

Last but not least for all you socialists who think it is OK to tax marijuana remember that is how how the path to the current drug war begin.

The "1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act" didn't start out making drugs illegal. It started out taxing them.

Same for the "1937 Marihuana Tax Act".

The last two words of both laws are "Tax Act".

Then over time they stopped issuing the tax licenses making the drugs illegal. Of course that is just a short summary of what happened, because there is really a lot more to the full story.


3 states could lead movement to legalize pot

Pot could be tax windfall, but skeptics abound

by Kristen Wyatt - Sept. 19, 2012 11:52 AM

Associated Press

DENVER -- A catchy pro-marijuana jingle for Colorado voters considering legalizing the drug goes like this: "Jobs for our people. Money for schools. Who could ask for more?"

It's a bit more complicated than that in the three states -- Colorado, Oregon and Washington -- that could become the first to legalize marijuana this fall.

The debate over how much tax money recreational marijuana laws could produce is playing an outsize role in the campaigns for and against legalization -- and both sides concede they're not really sure what would happen.

At one extreme, pro-pot campaigners say it could prove a windfall for cash-strapped states with new taxes on pot and reduced criminal justice costs.

At the other, state government skeptics warn legalization would lead to costly legal battles and expensive new bureaucracies to regulate marijuana.

In all three states asking voters to decide whether residents can smoke pot, the proponents promise big rewards, though estimates of tax revenue vary widely:

-- Colorado's campaign touts money for school construction. Ads promote the measure with the tag line, "Strict Regulation. Fund Education." State analysts project somewhere between $5 million and $22 million a year. An economist whose study was funded by a pro-pot group projects a $60 million boost by 2017.

-- Washington's campaign promises to devote more than half of marijuana taxes to substance-abuse prevention, research, education and health care. Washington state analysts have produced the most generous estimate of how much tax revenue legal pot could produce, at nearly $2 billion over five years.

-- Oregon's measure, known as the Cannabis Tax Act, would devote 90 percent of recreational marijuana proceeds to the state's general fund. Oregon's fiscal analysts haven't even guessed at the total revenue, citing the many uncertainties inherent in a new marijuana market. They have projected prison savings between $1.4 million and $2.4 million a year if marijuana use was legal without a doctor's recommendation.

"We all know there's a market for marijuana, but right now the profits are all going to drug cartels or underground," said Brian Vicente, a lawyer working for Colorado's Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

But there are numerous questions about the projections, and since no state has legalized marijuana for anything but medical purposes, the actual result is anyone's guess.

Among the problems: No one knows for certain how many people are buying black-market weed. No one knows how demand would change if marijuana were legal. No one knows how much prices would drop, or even what black-market pot smokers are paying now, though economists generally use a national estimate of $225 an ounce based on self-reported prices compiled online.

"It's difficult to size up a market even if it's legal, certainly if it's illegal," said Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University economist who has studied the national tax implications of the legalization of several drugs.

In Colorado, the $60 million figure comes from Christopher Stiffler, an economist for the nonpartisan Colorado Center on Law & Policy. He looked at the state's potential marijuana market in a study funded by the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance. The figure comes from a combination of state and local taxes and projected savings to law enforcement.

Marijuana smokers and dealers, he argued, pay a premium now because the drug is illegal, and if government can find a way to capture that excess, tax collections should rise.

"You can basically take advantage of economies of scale, and the price of marijuana will go down and government can come in and capture the difference," Stiffler said.

The biggest unknown: Would the federal government allow marijuana markets to materialize?

When California voters considered marijuana legalization in 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder warned that the federal government would not look the other way and allow a state marijuana market in defiance of federal drug law. Holder vowed a month before the election to "vigorously enforce" federal marijuana prohibition. Voters rejected the measure.

Holder hasn't been as vocal this year, but that could change. In early September, nine former heads of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration called on Holder to issue similar warnings to Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

That political uncertainty could translate into states spending thousands of dollars to defend the laws, critics say.

"I think it's important that this ballot lay out for the voters how much litigation is going to result from this," said Colorado assistant Attorney General Michael Dougherty, a critic of the legislation.

Legalization proponents counter that some of the 17 medical-marijuana states already collect pot taxes in violation of federal law, which does not condone medical use of the drug. Colorado collects several million dollars a year in pot-related taxes, including sales taxes, licensing fees and fees paid by patients to acquire the drug. Oregon last year doubled the cost of a medical marijuana card to raise money for things like clean water and school health programs.

"Marijuana can be regulated, can be taxed, can be sold. We're doing it now, just currently to sick people," said Vicente, the lawyer working on the Colorado legalization campaign.

Backers concede there are big questions about how marijuana would be taxed and regulated, but they are hoping to sell voters on taking the chance.

"We're like Star Trek. We're heading into a new world," said Art Way of the Drug Policy Alliance, answering tax questions recently posed by law students gathered at the University of Denver to learn about Colorado's initiative.

In the end, voters deciding the marijuana questions won't be making up their minds based on the impact on taxes, said Miron, the Harvard economist.

"It's small potatoes," Miron said of marijuana's tax implications. "I'm as firmly in the pro-legalization camp as anybody in the world, but it's because I think smoking marijuana is not the government's business.

"That is the question -- not whether it will produce revenue, but whether these drugs should be legal."

Cooper reported from Salem, Ore.

If they can tax cigarettes, they can tax medical marijuana

Remember if these government bureaucrats can slap a $5.67 sin tax on a pack of cigarettes, they can also slap a sin tax on marijuana.

Remember socialist Kyrsten Sinema's attempt to slap a 300 percent tax on medical marijuana???

And of course if they can slap a "reasonable" 1 tax on medical marijuana to give the stolen loot to the special interest groups that helped them get elected, they can also slap a super high tax on medical marijuana to effectively make medical marijuana illegal.

That is how drugs became illegal in America to begin with. Both the "1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act" and "1937 Marihuana Tax Act" started out as taxes on drugs, and over the years became taxes that made the drugs illegal, when the Feds stopped issuing the tax license.

If you are going to support the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana or other drugs, please also demand that it be illegal for the government bureaucrats to tax any drugs.


Higher cigarette, amusement taxes in Chicago? Increases could help close $369 million budget gap

By Hal Dardick and John Byrne, Chicago Tribune reporters

9:33 p.m. CDT, September 19, 2012

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering an increase in city taxes on cigarettes and entertainment to help close an anticipated $369 million gap in next year's budget, City Hall sources said Wednesday.

Those tax hikes are among options being discussed by the mayor's top financial aides three weeks before he delivers his budget address, said sources familiar with the talks. At this point, those particular increases are deemed the most palatable, they added.

Emanuel aides declined to address specific options but said no decisions have been made about new revenue sources. "As he has said for the last two years, the mayor will not raise property or sales taxes and is looking to efficiencies first to balance the budget," said Sarah Hamilton, the mayor's spokeswoman.

Under one scenario, the so-called amusement tax on tickets would be increased by 1 percentage point. If that happens, the tax would hit 10 percent on major sporting events and concerts and 5 percent on smaller shows and plays. The tax last went up in 2009 — a 1 percentage point increase under former Mayor Richard Daley.

The city expects the current amusement tax to bring in $89.2 million this year, so a single percentage point increase isn't going to go far toward eliminating the shortfall.

It's unclear how much the cigarette tax might be raised. A city tobacco tax increase would come on the heels of a $1-a-pack state hike that took effect July 1. The city last increased its cigarette tax by 20 cents — to 68 cents a pack — in 2006.

Taxes on a pack of cigarettes in Chicago total $5.67, the second-highest per-pack tax in the nation, behind New York City's $5.85 a pack. The city expects to bring in $18.7 million in cigarette taxes this year, compared with $32.9 million just six years ago, according to city financial records.

The drop-off is the result of smoking bans, a decline in the number of smokers and "increases in prices and tax rates discouraging purchase of cigarettes in the city," according to city financial reports.

The amusement tax has been a hot issue this year as discussions swirled about the possibility of using future increases in both county and city amusement taxes at Cubs games to cover half of the $300 million cost of renovating Wrigley Field.

But talks on that subject have been dormant since mid-May, when it came out that Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the Cubs, was pitched a plan to run racially tinged ads against President Barack Obama's re-election effort.

Ricketts, who backs Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the presidential contest, rejected the ad. But Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, cut off Wrigley renovation talks.

Approval of any Wrigley renovation plan would require state legislation, and few expect that to happen until early next year at the soonest. That's also when discussions on pension reform that could help the city tame its budget woes could come to fruition.

This is Emanuel's second budget. To close last year's projected $636 million gap in a $6.3 billion budget, the mayor reduced the size of the city payroll, increased a host of fees and fines, began moving to a grid-based garbage pickup system and consolidated city departments.

He also began shifting pension costs off City Hall's books to Chicago Public Schools, stepped up debt collection, refinanced some of the city's loans and tapped into surplus funds in the city's special taxing districts.

In addition, the mayor and aldermen increased downtown weekday parking taxes in what they dubbed a congestion tax, and they increased the city portion of the hotel tax. Emanuel also set in motion a series of hikes that will more than double city water and sewer rates by 2015 to finance major upgrades to the water and sewer system.



1 Please not that the webmaster does not think ANY tax is a reasonable tax. Taxes are stealing and any tax is theft, which means any tax is unreasonable.

You can't have a fair reasonable tax any more then a man can rape a woman and call it a fair reasonable rape.

Taxes, like rape are always wrong.

Kyrsten Sinema's 300% tax on Medical Marijuana

Here is a copy of Kyrsten Sinema's outrageous 300 percent tax on medical marijuana.

Does Kyrsten Sinema just want to rob medical marijuana users and give the stolen money to the special interest groups that helped her get elected or is this an attempt to make medical marijuana illegal by slapping an outrageous tax on it!

I suspect she wants to do it for both reasons. The police unions are all big supporters of Kyrsten Sinema and I suspect this tax is a pay back to the police for the campaign contributions they gave to Kyrsten Sinema.

Also when it comes to taxing and spending Kyrsten Sinema is the biggest fan of taxing and spending in the Arizona State Legislature. Think of the woman in the joke that says "my checks can't be bouncing, I still have checks in my check book". Well that is how Kyrsten Sinema is when it comes to spending other people money.


House of Representatives

HB 2557

Sales tax on medical marijuana

Sponsors: Representatives Farley, Ash, Chabin

Committee on Ways and Means

Committee on Health and Human Services

Caucus and COW

House Engrossed


HB 2557 creates a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary transaction privilege tax classification and imposes a transaction privilege tax (TPT) and a use tax on dispensaries. History

Approved by the voters at the November 2, 2010 general election, Proposition 203, known as the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, allows qualifying patients with debilitating medical conditions to obtain certain amounts of marijuana from nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries.

TPT is Arizona’s version of sales tax. Under this tax, the seller is responsible for remitting to the state the entire amount of tax due based on the gross proceeds or gross income of the business. While the tax is commonly passed on to the consumer at the point of sale, it is ultimately the seller’s responsibility to remit the tax. Currently, there are 16 different transaction privilege tax classifications that are mostly taxed at a rate of 6.6 percent (except the mining classification) of their respective tax bases.

Use tax is paid by persons who use, store or consume any tangible personal property upon which tax has not been collected by a retailer. Scenarios in which use tax is collected include out-of-state retailers or utility businesses making sales to Arizona purchasers, Arizona purchasers buying goods using a resale certificate where the goods are used, stored or consumed in Arizona contrary to the purpose stated on the certificate, or where a purchase is made in another state and the sales tax or excise tax imposed is less than the Arizona use tax rate. fiscal impact

A fiscal note prepared in 2010 by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee for SB 1222 (medical marijuana; transaction privilege tax) estimated that annual reported medical marijuana sales in Arizona would be $25,500,000. Provisions

  • Establishes a transaction privilege tax classification for nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries, comprised of the business of selling or dispensing medical marijuana to qualified patients.
  • States that the tax base for the nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary classification is the gross proceeds or gross income derived from the business.
  • Sets the tax rate for the tax base at 300 percent.
  • Stipulates that anyone engaged in business as a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary who sells other tangible personal property at retail must separately account for those sales.
  • Specifies that if separate records of sales of other tangible personal property are not kept, the tax shall apply to the person’s entire gross proceeds or gross income from the business.
  • Excludes the tax revenues collected under the nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary classification from being designated for the statutory distribution base of TPT revenues (A.R.S. § 42-5029).
  • Exempts medical marijuana dispensed by a registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary from the TPT imposed under the retail transaction privilege classification.
  • Levies an excise (use) tax on the storage, use or consumption of tangible personal property purchased from a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary at a tax rate of 300 percent of the sales price.
  • Specifies that for manufactured buildings used in the state but purchased outside Arizona, the tax rate is a percentage of 65 percent of the sales price.
  • Makes technical and conforming changes.

Mug shot and arrest record extortions???

Here is an interesting article about a company that gets public records and photos of people that have been arrested, posts the public record and photos on the internet shaming the people, and then shakes the people down to pay a fee to get their photos and arrest record data removed from their web site.

Yes, it is certainly legal, but is it ethical?

And of course as the article says most of these arrests are not for real crimes that hurt people, but for victimless "drug war" crimes that didn't hurt anyone.

Yavapai County judge bans sale of synthetic drugs

I am a bit confused on how a judge can justify ordering a store to stop selling stuff which I assume is perfectly legal???

I am not fully sure of the status of "spice," ''K2" and "bath salts" in Arizona.

I thought that the DEA thugs in Washington D.C. were given the power by Congress to make any drug they wanted to illegal. And I thought that they recently made these drugs illegal at the Federal level.

I also thought that the twits in the Arizona legislator also recently made "spice," ''K2" and "bath salts" illegal in Arizona.

So I am not quite sure on why the judge did this? Or for that matter if "spice," ''K2" and "bath salts" are currently legal or illegal in Arizona.


Yavapai County judge bans sale of synthetic drugs

Sept. 19, 2012 03:00 PM

Associated Press

CAMP VERDE -- A judge is prohibiting 12 Yavapai County retailers from selling powdered synthetic drugs that authorities call dangerous to those using them and threatening to public safety personnel.

Orders signed by Superior Court Judge Michael Bluff bar the businesses from selling synthetic drugs are sold under such names as "spice," ''K2" and "bath salts."

The judge says the drugs can cause serious injury or even death to users and that responding medical and law enforcement personnel have been physically threatened.

Bluff previously issued a temporary restraining order at the request of County Attorney Sheila Polk against some of the retailers.

Bluff's latest orders signed Monday include a permanent injunction against nine businesses and a preliminary injunction against three others.

Some retailers previously agreed not to sell the synthetic drugs.

Ch*nga La Migra!!!

According to this article Illegal migrants across U.S. taking protests to defiant new level.

Bell Police Chief Randy Adams takes the Fifth 20 times

Defense lawyers will tell you to always take the 5th and never answer police questions.

It's good advice and cops follow it all the time when they get caught committing crimes.

Of course when every I have been stopped by the cops they tell me I can't take the Fifth and that they will put me in jail if I think I have Constitutional rights and don't have to answer their questions.


Former Bell police chief takes the Fifth 20 times

By Jeff Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times

September 21, 2012

Already one of California's highest paid public pensioners, former Bell Police Chief Randy Adams this week asked a state pension panel to double his retirement pay to reflect the huge salary he received during his brief stint as the top cop in the scandal-plagued city.

If Adams wins his case, which is being heard in Orange County, his pension would zoom to $510,000 a year, making him the second-highest-paid public pensioner in California.

On the witness stand Thursday, Adams invoked his 5th Amendment right to not incriminate himself 20 times, including when asked about his Bell salary, which was among the highest law enforcement paychecks in the nation.

The hearing was called to hear Adams' challenge of the California Public Employees' Retirement System's decision not to include his year as Bell chief when computing his pension.

He was asked if he was Bell's former police chief.

"Yes," he replied.

Did he send an email to a Bell city official saying, "I am looking forward to seeing you and taking all of Bell's money?!"

"On the advice of counsel I am going to exercise my right to remain silent," he replied.

For the next 14 minutes, the man who had been a lawman for nearly 40 years, a police chief in three cities, exercised his constitutional right against self-incrimination over and over, refusing to answer most questions.

When an attorney for CalPERS asked him to open a loose-leaf binder of exhibits, he declined. "There's no purpose in looking at it because I can't comment on it," he said.

The hearing Thursday was Adams' first time on the witness stand in a Bell-related matter. Though Adams is not among the eight former city leaders in Bell facing public corruption charges, attorneys in the criminal case have been eager to question him about his salary.

Adams made $457,000 a year as Bell's police chief, about double what he had made as chief in much-larger Glendale. An email exchange he had with Bell administrator Angela Spaccia is also cited in the criminal case.

In the exchange, Adams said: "I am looking forward to seeing you and taking all of Bell's money?!" Spaccia replied: "LOL ... well you can take your share of the pie ... just like us!!! We will all get fat together..."

Adams' current pension is about $240,000 a year, making him CalPERS' eighth highest public pensioner. If he gets credit for his year in Bell, his retirement pay balloons to $510,000, putting him behind only former Vernon official Bruce Malkenhorst.

CalPERS, the state's largest public pension administrator, argues that Adams' contract was not valid since the City Council never approved it, and that Adams engaged in pension spiking. In a letter to the city during negotiations, Adams wrote: "The big difference, and I certainly value this, is that what I earn in this position" will count toward his pension.

Adams says that Robert Rizzo, Bell's then-chief administrative officer, had authority to approve the contract and that CalPERS' decision to disqualify his Bell paycheck is political because of the well-chronicled Bell scandal. During negotiations for the chief's job with Bell, Adams wrote a letter saying that he needed to be paid more than his then-expected pension.

Adams' attorney, George McLean Adam, said the Bell job was "an offer too good to turn down."

The hearing is one of several fights Adams is engaged in over his year in Bell. He has sued the city, saying it owes him a year's severance. In turn, the city has sued him, saying it wants him to return his salary and a portion of the $20 million Bell estimates it lost in the corruption scandal.

Eight former Bell officials, including Rizzo and Spaccia, face charges of looting the city treasury.

Several Bell officials testified during the pension hearing that Rizzo kept Adams' contract hidden.

Adams' attorney seemed to argue that his client regretted taking the Bell job. "In hindsight," he said, "he picked the wrong place to go to work."


Mixing unions and government sucks.

OK, I am not a big union fan and I think unions pretty much suck period.

I don't have a problem with unions, or people unionizing to make their lives better. But sadly most unions use violence to extort money out of their employers and that is wrong.

Sadly one of the biggest unions in government are the police unions, and while they pretend to protect us from criminals, the police unions frequently commit crimes force the government to pay them more money and give them better working conditions.


Patterson: Public unions need to learn government doesn't have infinite resources

Posted: Sunday, September 23, 2012 7:30 am

Guest commentary by Tom Patterson

In 1980 William Clay, the president of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers union (PATCO) told their convention that they must “learn the rules of the game,” which were “that you don’t put the interest of any other group ahead of your own.” They must be “selfish and pragmatic” and emphasize that “what’s good for the federal employees (is) good for the nation.”

PATCO ran into Ronald Reagan, a rare politician willing to stand up to them, and went out of business. But the nation’s air traffic controllers are still unionized and government employee unions are still operating under Mr. Clay’s rules of engagement. Their determination to put their own interests first mocks the notion of public servant. Instead of serving the public, they threaten our ability to fund anything other than their wishes.

In an earlier America, government unions were recognized as incompatible with public welfare. FDR in 1937 rejected government unionism, pointing out that collective bargaining “cannot be transported into the public service” because of “the very nature and purposes of government.” Roosevelt wasn’t breaking new ground here; he was expressing views widely held by American leaders including the founder of modern progressivism, Woodrow Wilson, and the resolutely conservative Calvin Coolidge.

How could we have been so foolish to reject the bright line between public and private sector unions these thinkers recognized? The difference is night and day. For starters, government workers own a monopoly on the services they provide, while private sector workers are unable to keep consumers hostage. They must be careful to keep their demands reasonable so that their employers aren’t priced out of the marketplace. For government workers there are no such boundaries. More is always better, there is no such thing as “enough.”

Government unions are also privileged in getting to pick the negotiators on the other side of the bargaining table. That’s why they’re the major financial supporters of the Democratic Party where teacher’s unions alone supply 20 percent of the national convention delegates. When both sides at the negotiating table are committed to union interests, the results are predictable. Government worker pay, once discounted for job security, is today about 30 percent higher than that earned by private sector workers for the same jobs.

Check out the Chicago Teachers Union to see the result of 50 years of public unionism. This is a union that delivers a terrible product for a financially failing entity. Just 20 percent of Chicago eighth-graders can pass a reading test, while fewer than 8 percent of 11th-graders are deemed college ready by a state test. Yet, Chicago teachers have received raises between 19 percent and 46 percent over the last five years, even though Chicago public schools are $3 billion in debt.

Chicago teachers average $76,000 in salary plus health benefits, pensions, paid days off and summer vacations. The taxpayers footing the bill earn an average of $47,000 annually. In the private sector, the company would be failing and employees would face job loss. The CTU’s response to this state of affairs? Demand even more pay raises and continue to resist efforts to weed out bad employees and provide higher-quality education.

Prior to this month’s strike, the union demanded a 30-percent pay raise over three years, but now seems willing to settle for only 16 percent. But the real point of contention was a plan by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to institute a teacher evaluation system, designed by teachers, that was more based on student academic progress.

Union president Karen Lewis put her foot down, insisting that 6,000 teachers could lose their jobs. The irony of admitting that so many teachers are non-performers was apparently lost on her. The union’s interest — job preservation for its members — must come first. And, in an election year, they mostly got their way.

FDR was right on this one. We never should have allowed collective bargaining to invade the public sphere and we shouldn’t have allowed public unions to amass huge war chests by extracting union dues from workers’ paychecks without their permission.

Now we’re in trouble. Bankruptcy, once unthinkable, is now a looming reality for local governments around the country unable to fund pension obligations to their retired workers. Even government doesn’t have infinite resources.

School requires drug test for 12 year old to play sports????

What part of the 4th and 5th Amendment don't these government tyrants understand????


Middle Schools Add a Team Rule: Get a Drug Test


Published: September 22, 2012

MILFORD, Pa. — As a 12-year-old seventh grader, Glenn and Kathy Kiederer’s older daughter wanted to play sports at Delaware Valley Middle School here. She also wanted to join the scrapbooking club.

One day she took home a permission slip. It said that to participate in the club or any school sport, she would have to consent to drug testing.

“They were asking a 12-year-old to pee in a cup,” Kathy Kiederer said. “I have a problem with that. They’re violating her right to privacy over scrapbooking? Sports?”

Olympic athletes must submit urine samples to prove they are not doping. The same is true for Tour de France cyclists, N.F.L. players, college athletes and even some high school athletes. Now, children in grades as low as middle school are being told that providing a urine sample is required to play sports or participate in extracurricular activities like drama and choir.

Such drug testing at the middle school level is confounding students and stirring objections from parents and proponents of civil liberties.

The Kiederers, whose two daughters are now in high school, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Delaware Valley School District, with the daughters identified only by their first initials, A. and M. The parents said that mandatory drug testing was unnecessary and that it infringed on their daughters’ rights. (For privacy reasons, they asked that their daughters’ first names not be published.)

A lawyer for the school district declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

It is difficult to gauge how many middle schools conduct drug tests on students. States with middle schools that conduct drug testing include Florida, Alabama, Missouri, West Virginia, Arkansas, Ohio, New Jersey and Texas.

Some coaches, teachers and school administrators said drug-testing programs served as a deterrent for middle school students encountering drugs of all kinds, including steroids, marijuana and alcohol.

“We wanted to do it to create a general awareness of drug prevention,” said Steve Klotz, assistant superintendent at Maryville School District in Missouri. “We’re no different than any other community. We have kids who are making those decisions.”

There are no known instances of a middle school student testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs like steroids or human growth hormone. The few positive results among middle school students have been attributed to marijuana, officials said, and even those cases are rare.

Maryville’s drug-testing program, which includes most of its middle and high school students, begins this fall after officials spent 18 months reviewing other programs in the state, Mr. Klotz said. In the fall of 2011, Mr. Klotz said, the school board conducted a survey of parents, and 72 percent said that a drug-testing program was necessary. The cost will be $5,000 to $7,000 a year and will come from the school’s general operating budget.

“Drug testing is a multibillion-dollar industry,” said Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of the Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University. “They go to these schools and say it’s great. But do the schools actually look at the data? Schools don’t know what to do.”

Drug testing for high school athletes, which has been around for years, was deemed constitutional in a 1995 United States Supreme Court ruling. Some districts have expanded their drug-testing programs in recent years to include middle school students.

In 2003, the Department of Education started a program that offered federal money for drug testing in grades 6 through 12, and the last of the grants will be closed out this fall. The program, following the outlines of the Supreme Court decision, allowed testing for students who participated in school activities, or whose parents chose to enroll them.

In the 2004-5 school year, an estimated 14 percent of public school districts conducted some form of random drug testing, according to a Department of Education report. But middle school testing is not thoroughly tracked by officials.

The nature of drug-testing programs at the middle school level varies by school district. In general, an outside testing company conducts the tests under contract with school authorities. Students are generally given little, if any, advance notice and are pulled away from class and asked to urinate in a cup — unsupervised, to comply with privacy laws.

Specimens are sent to a laboratory, and parents and students are notified of any positive result. Some schools require a second test to confirm a positive result; in others, parents may request a challenge to a result, sometimes for a fee. Results are generally not shared with law enforcement.

Punishment for a positive test can range from a warning to removal from a sports team or an activity.

“It starts early with kids,” said Matthew Franz, who owns the drug testing company Sport Safe based in Columbus, Ohio, and is a member of the Student Drug-Testing Coalition, an organization of drug-testing proponents. “You want to get in there and plant these seeds of what’s out there and do prevention early. The 11th and 12th graders, most of them have already made a choice. But the eighth graders, they’re still making decisions, and it helps if you give them that deterrent.”

But some experts doubt the effectiveness of such testing.

“There’s little evidence these programs work,” Dr. Goldberg said. “Drug testing has never been shown to have a deterrent effect.”

In 2007, Dr. Goldberg published the results of a study of athletes at five high schools with drug testing and six schools that had deferred implementing a testing policy. He found that athletes from the two groups did not differ in their recent use of drugs or alcohol.

“I think you have to look at the reason for testing,” Dr. Goldberg said. “With Olympic testing, it’s to weed out the people who are cheating. If you’re using drug testing to weed out a problem in kids, you need to get them in therapy. But it doesn’t reduce whether or not kids use drugs.”

Some coaches and school administrators, however, say the dearth of positive tests is an indication that testing is working effectively as a deterrent.

“We don’t want to catch students,” said Jerry Cecil, assistant superintendent of the Greenwood School District in Arkansas. “We want them not to be using. We don’t consider this community to have a big problem.”

Despite the Supreme Court ruling in 1995, some districts have been challenged in lower courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union won a settlement last year relying on California’s stricter state privacy laws that prevented the schools from conducting random drug testing for students in nonathletic activities absent a reasonable ground for suspicion. The district, in Redding, Calif., discontinued its program as part of the settlement.

Not all parents oppose testing of middle school students. Daniel Alef, the father of an eighth-grade swimmer in Santa Barbara, Calif., said he would support testing at his son’s school.

“Kids today grow up too quickly and have access to way more information,” he said. “But in the end, I think it goes back to the parents.”

In Pennsylvania, the Kiederers are waiting as their case, filed by the civil liberties union in the Court of Common Pleas of Pike County, works through the legal system.

Last year, they won an injunction preventing the district from enforcing its policy and allowing their daughters to participate in extracurricular activities.

“They’re losing their rights every day and you ask yourself, what are we teaching the kids?” Glenn Kiederer said.

High school principle busted for selling meth???

High school principle busted for selling meth???

I think all drugs should be legalized. And if we have high school principles being busted for selling illegal drugs I think that is a good indication that the "war on drugs" is a dismal failure.

It's time to end the insane "war on drugs" and re-legalize all drugs.


CA principal arrested on suspicion of having meth

Published 1:25 p.m., Sunday, September 23, 2012

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The principal of a Santa Clara elementary school has been arrested on suspicion of possessing crystal methamphetamine for sale.

State prosecutors say Eric Dean Lewis was taken into custody on Friday after he arranged to meet an undercover officer he encountered on an online dating site at a Caltrain station and provide him with narcotics.

California Department of Justice spokeswoman Michelle Gregory says police began investigating Lewis after getting a tip that the Montague Elementary School principal was involved in drugs. The San Mateo County Times reports (http://bit.ly/RTi1st ) authorities searched Lewis' house after his arrest and found a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine and the club drug GHB.

Santa Clara Unified School District authorities say Lewis has been placed on unpaid administrative leave.

Lewis, of San Francisco, was booked into Santa Clara County jail. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.


Information from: San Mateo County Times, http://www.sanmateotimes.com


Santa Clara elementary principal busted with meth for sale, police say

By Joshua Melvin


Posted: 09/23/2012 09:24:18 AM PDT

SANTA CLARA -- An elementary school principal faces drug sales charges after investigators found a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine at his San Francisco home, authorities said Sunday.

Agents arrested Eric Dean Lewis, 42, on Friday at a Caltrain station where he had arranged to meet an undercover agent he contacted through a gay dating website, said California Department of Justice spokeswoman Michelle Gregory.

Lewis, principal at Montague Elementary School on Laurie Avenue for the past seven years, was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of having methamphetamine for sale and offering to furnish narcotics.

Santa Clara Unified School District authorities said they are shocked at the arrest of the "well regarded" worker and have placed him on unpaid administrative leave. Lewis could not be reached for comment.

Police began investigating Lewis after getting a tip that he was involved in drugs, said Gregory. That tip led to an undercover officer starting to chat with Lewis on a gay dating website. The principal allegedly offered narcotics, though it was unclear what type, to the agent, who agreed to come to Lewis' home for a date, Gregory said. It was not immediately clear at which Caltrain station they were to meet, but Lewis lives in San Francisco.

After authorities arrested Lewis they searched his house and found a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine, drug scales, an undetermined amount of GHB and some pills that were still undergoing testing, authorities said. Police also seized Lewis' computer.

Santa Clara Unified Superintendent Dr. Bobbie Plough said the arrest comes without warning for the district and has no connection to students.

"The community felt he was well regarded," she said. "It's very much a shock."

Plough said Barbara Friedenbach has been appointed interim principal of Montague and added "our first concern is for students, staff and families."

Lewis is due int Santa Clara Superior Court Monday for arraigment and remains in jail, police said.

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.

Phoenix New Times Newspaper Sold

According to this article the Phoenix New Times Newspaper is being sold.

Over the years the Phoenix New Times has done a great job covering the news about the criminals the run the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Of course that gang of criminals is run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is the self proclaimed "Meanest Sheriff in America".

Hempfest vs. Hempstalk: Which Is The Best Pot Festival?


Hempfest vs. Hempstalk: Which Is The Best Pot Festival?

By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ Wed., Sep. 19 2012 at 10:10 AM

Which is the best pot festival? Local favorite Hempfest is a strong contender, often cited as the biggest and best protestival in the world. Portland's Hempstalk, on the other hand, has only been around eight years. In contrast to Hempfest's three big stages, Hempstalk, held each September in Kelley Point Park, has just one major stage, and draws a much smaller throng than the estimated 200,000 who crowd the Seattle event. How do the two pot festivals compare? Must Seattle continue with its weird inferiority complex regarding our hippie neighbors in Oregon?

Let's take a look.

The Music: Hempfest's musical performers have increasingly gained a certain air of anonymity, despite its proclaimed "six stages of world-class music." Whereas past Hempfests boasted such major musical names as Snoop Dogg, the Kottonmouth Kings, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, there has been a drastic tailing-off in the fame level of Hempfest performers. For the past couple of years, I've been hard-pressed to recognize any.

Hempstalk, on the other hand, features mid-level but solid musical talent such as Los Marijuanos and The Human Solution--the important logistical difference being that you don't have to fight through an elbow-to-elbow crowd to see them all.

Advantage: Hempstalk.

The Access: While at Hempfest there's plenty of room for improvement when it comes to access for those with limited mobility, at least there are sidewalks leading to the fest from both ends. On the downside, those miles to cover from end to end won't do you any favors if you have physical issues. Parking is a big problem; many attendees have to park miles away, adding even more ambulatory challenges.

Hempstalk, though, makes you appreciate the ease of getting into Hempfest, if not so much getting around inside the event once you're there. There's available parking, but it's a real challenge to get from your car to the event if you have mobility issues. Fortunately, golf carts are available to shuttle you from the gate to the festival and back, but their service is spotty, unreliable, and prone to giving priority to attractive young ladies rather than the people who actually need the help. Advantage: Hempfest.

The Vibe: Hempfest remains an overwhelmingly friendly event, but when you get that many people together in a limited space, some stress is inevitably going to be produced. Still, the event is generally peaceful and mellow, other than a few frenetic kids.

Hempstalk is by far the mellower of the two events, owing to the much smaller crowd, a bucolic natural setting way the hell out in the woods, and some hard-to-define factor of hippie Zen which envelops it. There is the occasional belligerent drunk, but they are almost always quickly escorted out. Advantage: It's a tie.

Therefore you must attend both events in 2013 to decide for yourself!


Steve Elliott edits Toke of the Town, Village Voice Media's site of cannabis news, views, rumor, and humor. p>

Why aren't they going to fire more cops & firemen???

My question is why aren't they going to fire more cops & firemen???

In most city budgets, police labor costs account about 40% of the budget and firemen account for 20%.

Closing libraries and parks isn't going to save that much money when about 60% of a cities budget is for cops and firemen!!


Glendale could face hefty cuts to budget

City officials propose $20.1 mil trim, loss of 249 workers if tax hike is undone

by Sonu Munshi - Sept. 24, 2012 10:00 PM

The Republic | azcentral.com

Glendale administrators propose cutting nearly a quarter of the city's employees, or 249 positions, if voters approve a ballot measure in November to repeal a sales-tax hike.

Repeal of the 0.7 percentage-point tax hike that took effect last month would mean the loss of $11 million this year and $25 million annually through 2017, according to city estimates.

The City Council had approved the temporary increase to shore up its deficit-ridden general fund after laying off 49 employees and cutting $10 million from departments at the start of this fiscal year.

A group of business owners and residents criticized the tax increase and obtained signatures to put it before voters on Nov. 6.

Ahead of the election, the city on Monday laid out $20.1 million in possible cuts. The City Council will review the options in a workshop at 1:30 this afternoon in the City Council Chambers.

Proposed cuts include shuttering two of the three city libraries, one of its two aquatic centers, the TV station and all city festivals, including Glendale Glitters.

City officials met with downtown Glendale business owners early Monday to inform them about the possible cuts, particularly to the city festivals, which draw crowds to shops and restaurants.

The city will hold a series of meetings in coming weeks to allow residents to weigh in on the potential cuts.

It's not immediately clear how soon the city would make any cuts, but city spokeswoman Julie Frisoni said some could come this year, depending on voters' decision.

"It's safe to say that should that money go away immediately, some of these cuts could be implemented this fiscal year. Others could be over the course of that five-year period," she said.

Already, Glendale has trimmed about 25 percent from department budgets since the 2008-09 budget year.

But the general fund faces new expenses to manage the city-owned Jobing .com Arena, home of the Phoenix Coyotes, and to pay the debt on Camelback Ranch-Glendale, the spring-training ballpark for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox that opened three years ago. City leaders say they have to prepare for the worst.

But Rod Williams, one of the residents who pushed for the ballot initiative, called it a scare tactic. He was putting up signs around the city on Monday, calling on voters to approve the initiative to repeal the tax increase.

"It's like how teachers' groups always ask for more money for schools -- threatening that without the money, they would have to double up the number of kids in classrooms," Williams said.

He proposed the city reach elsewhere for cuts, such as mileage allowances to administrators.

Public-safety union officials have already raised a hue and cry, with thousands of calls and e-mail blasts to residents about the proposed cuts.

Julie Reed, president of the Glendale Fraternal Order of Police, said budget reductions would hurt officers' ability to keep residents safe in a city that already has seen crime increase.

"This will take cops off the street, and every officer we lose makes Glendale less safe," Reed said.

The Police Department's staffing already has shrunk by 11 percent, or 58 full-time-equivalent positions, from the 2008-09 budget year to this year. Proposed cuts could further shrink the 452-strong department by 66 positions, which includes 20 sworn officers, Reed said. However, nine of those officer positions are currently vacant.

Non-sworn officer positions on the chopping block include a 911 operator and a crime-statistical analyst.

The Fire Department's staffing was cut by 7 percent, or 17 positions, in that same time frame. The current proposal is to slash another 36 positions from the department's current 220.

Joe Hester, president of Glendale's firefighters union, said the proposal could add another two to four minutes to response times, which he said currently average six minutes.

Parks, Recreation and Library Services, which is the third-largest department in the general fund, faces more-drastic cuts. The department, already down 39 percent in the past five years, could lose another 71 of its 111 positions.

The Velma Teague and Foothills Branch libraries could be closed, and operations at the Main library could be privately contracted.

Rose Lane Aquatics Facility in southern Glendale could close, and Foothills Recreation and Aquatics Center could see reduced hours and higher fees as the northern Glendale facility would be required to be self-sustaining.

The city could also cut after-school programs and reduce hours of operation at Glendale Community Center. Programs there would be offered through private providers.

The city could also shut down Glendale 11, the city's cable station. A staff report mentions that would reduce transparency, as recordings of the council meetings would no longer be available.

Councilman Manny Martinez has said the city is not trying to scare residents to discourage them from repealing the tax hike.

"Things are bad," he said. "This is the reality of what could happen if the tax goes away."

Reporter Lisa Halverstadt contributed to this article.

FBI uses free sex to entrap people into committing crimes???


U.S. agent spent taxpayer funds on prostitutes, lawyer alleges

By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times

September 25, 2012, 5:31 a.m.

An undercover FBI agent investigating weapon smuggling in the Philippines spent taxpayer dollars to pay for prostitutes for the suspects and himself at a club later raided for hiring underage girls, a defense attorney has alleged in court filings.

Federal prosecutors acknowledged in court filings that the government reimbursed the agent for $14,500 for entertainment, cocktails and tips over a period of less than a year in 2010 and 2011 in connection with the case. The expenses included $1,600 on a night out in September 2011 at a club known as Area 51 in Manila.

In May, Filipino authorities targeted Area 51 on suspicion of employing minor sex workers and discovered 19 underage girls at the club. In a press release, the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation said minors danced in the nude and offered "sex services" for a fee.

A public defender representing the lead defendant in the weapon-smuggling case last week filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss the case based on "outrageous government misconduct," citing the agent's actions.

Based on a defense investigator's interviews with witnesses in the Philippines, Deputy Federal Public Defender John Littrell alleged that the undercover agent paid for sex for himself as well as the suspects in the case. Littrell alleged the agent took his client and others to the clubs to induce them to participate in a weapons-smuggling scheme.

"The government's actions in this case, if committed by a private citizen, would be serious federal crimes. These crimes were not victimless," Littrell wrote in the motion. "The government's conduct in this case went far beyond any standard of decency and warrants dismissal of the indictment."

A U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman said in an emailed statement: "We will contest the factual assumptions and legal significance of the defendant's challenges in due course." Prosecutors have not yet filed court papers responding to Littrell's allegations.

A spokeswoman with the FBI in Los Angeles declined to comment because the prosecution was pending.

Allegations in the filing were first reported by TickleTheWire.com, a website that reports on federal law enforcement issues.

Littrell represents Sergio Santiago Syjuco, one of three men who were arrested and indicted in January on suspicion of illegally importing high-powered weapons and explosives from the Philippines to the U.S. Syjuco, Cesar Ubaldo and Filipino customs official Arjyl Revereza were charged with smuggling assault rifles, grenade launchers and mortar launchers in June 2011.

In a press release at the time of the indictment, the Justice Department said the Philippines National Bureau of Investigations provided "significant assistance" in the case.

The undercover agent approached the men under the pseudonym "Richard Han," posing as a broker looking to obtain weapons for use by Mexican drug cartels in the United States.

Syjuco and Ubaldo, Littrell contended, were not sophisticated weapons dealers but rather private school graduates from wealthy families in the suburbs of Manila with no criminal backgrounds. The agent approached them when an earlier target backed out after one sale, according to the attorney.

Some of the expenses the FBI agent filed correspond with the dates of criminal activity alleged in the indictment.

For instance, on Nov. 16, 2010, when the agent spent $1,600 on "Dinner and Entertainment," Ubaldo allegedly offered to put the agent in contact with suppliers of high-powered firearms. On May 9, 2011, when the indictment alleges that the three defendants met with the agent to discuss weapons deals and exporting firearms, destructive devices and ballistic vests to the U.S., the agent spent $3,400 in "Entertainment and Cocktails," according to a letter from prosecutors to the defense.

According to the indictment, the men accepted nearly $90,000 for weapons and explosives that were eventually shipped to Long Beach labeled as "Used Personal Effects." Revereza is accused of having received $8,400 in bribes to facilitate the shipment through customs.

Trial for the three men is scheduled for November. According to authorities, they face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.


Supreme court to consider DUI blood issue

I suspect many civil rights legal experts would say that forcing you to take a drug test, or blood test is a violation of the 5th Amendment because it forces you to testify against yourself.

I was reading some stuff that said when fingerprints first came out that civil rights advocates said that forcing people to be fingerprinted and using the results against them was a violation of the 5th Amendment.

I suspect that those folks would also says that forcing people to submit samples of their DNA, which will be used against them in court is also a violation of the 5th Amendment.

Sadly those folks lost.


Supreme court to consider DUI blood issue

Sept. 25, 2012 07:27 AM

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court will decide when law enforcement officers must get a warrant before ordering a blood test on an unwilling drunken-driving suspect.

The issue has divided federal and state courts around the country and the justices on Tuesday agreed to take up a case involving a disputed blood test from Missouri.

In siding with the defendant in the case, the Missouri Supreme Court said police need a warrant to take a suspect's blood except in special circumstances when a delay could threaten a life or destroy potential evidence.

Other courts have ruled that dissipation of alcohol in the blood is reason enough for police to call for a blood test without first getting a warrant.

The Missouri case was one of six new cases accepted for argument in front of the Supreme Court. The new term begins Monday and the cases probably will be argued in January.

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Tyler McNeely, said the arresting officer made no effort to obtain a warrant and didn't think he needed one, not that he feared a delay would lower the level of alcohol in McNeely's blood. The ACLU said the case was not a good one for resolving complex issues of science and law.

According to court records, McNeely said he would refuse to provide a breath test that also can be used to measure blood-alcohol levels. The blood test showed McNeely's blood-alcohol content was .154 percent, well above the .08 percent legal limit.

A Missouri trial court suppressed the evidence, a decision upheld by the state Supreme Court.

The case is Missouri v. McNeely, 11-1425.

Felony charges for medical marijuana arrests in Tucson

The government terrorists in Arizona are doing the best they can to flush Prop 203 down the toilet. Prop 203 is Arizona's medical marijuana law.

Of course the "drug war" is nothing but a jobs program for the highly paid police, and I guess they don't like it when we pass laws that threaten their high paying jobs by legalizing drugs.


6 arrested in pot raid face felony charges

Kim Smith Arizona Daily Star

Six people arrested two weeks ago when law-enforcement officers raided five medical marijuana-education centers have been indicted on the felony charges of illegally conducting an enterprise and conspiracy to commit sale of marijuana.

Primo Borgo Camou, Erik Ricardo Salazar, Robert Ricante Tapia, Francisco Javier Valenzuela, Jorge Valenzuela Jr. and Renee Valenzuela will be arraigned Oct. 2 in Pima County Superior Court.

The six defendants along with others "known and unknown" conspired to sell more than 2 pounds of marijuana and engaged in racketeering on Aug. 21, according to an indictment returned late Monday.

Camou is also charged with sale of marijuana and Francisco Valenzuela is also charged with offering to sell marijuana. Jorge Valenzuela is accused of being a prohibited weapons possessor.

On Sept. 12, the multijurisdictional drug task force known as the Counter Narcotics Alliance conducted raids on four Shop 420 locations in Tucson and one in Casa Grande. Agents seized 14 pounds of high-grade hydroponically grown pot and 25 pounds of marijuana-medicated hard candy, valued at $50,000.

The Tucson shops were at:

• 408 E. Seventh St., near Tucson High Magnet School.

• 5151 S. 12th Ave., between West Irvington and West Drexel roads.

• 8250 E. Broadway, near South Sarnoff Drive.

• 3408 E. Grant Road, between North Dodge Boulevard and North Country Club Road.

Articles of incorporation submitted to the Arizona Corporation Commission in December 2010, for Shop420.org LLC state it provides "consulting and education solutions." Salazar was listed as the statutory agent - or representative for the company.

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com

Arkansas to legalize medical marijuana???


Arkansas court upholds medical pot proposal

by Andrew DeMillo - Sept. 27, 2012 07:52 AM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a proposed ballot measure that, if successful, would make the state the first in the South to legalize medical marijuana.

Justices rejected a challenge by a coalition of conservative groups who had asked the court to block the proposed initiated act from the November ballot or order the state to not count any votes cast on the issue.

The measure would allow patients with qualifying conditions to buy marijuana from nonprofit dispensaries with a doctor's recommendation. The proposal acknowledges that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, but the Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values argued that it doesn't adequately explain that approved users could still face federal prosecution.

"We hold that it is an adequate and fair representation without misleading tendencies or partisan coloring," the court wrote. "Therefore, the act is proper for inclusion on the ballot at the general election on Nov. 6, 2012, and the petition is therefore denied."

Arkansas will be the first Southern state to put the medical marijuana question to voters. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have legalized it in some fashion. Massachusetts voters are also expected to vote on the issue this fall, while the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled a medical marijuana initiative can't appear on that state's ballot.

Jerry Cox, the head of the Arkansas Family Council and a member of the coalition, declined to comment immediately on the ruling and said opponents planned a news conference later Thursday morning. The conservative coalition argued that Arkansas' 384-word ballot question doesn't accurately describe other consequences of passing the 8,700-word law, including a provision that would allow minors to use medical marijuana with parental consent.

Justices disagreed and said the proposed law is fairly summarized in the question that will appear on the ballot.

"Here, after reviewing the ballot title of 384 words, we conclude that the title informs the voters in an intelligible, honest and impartial manner of the substantive matter of the act," the ruling said.

The group behind the measure, Arkansans for Compassionate Care, told the court it believes the measure is sufficiently fair to go before voters. David Couch, an attorney for the group, said he was pleased with the ruling and said it allowed them to shift gears to building support for the measure's passage.

"Now that we've passed muster with the Supreme Court we'll begin our campaign to show the people of the state of Arkansas that this is truly a compassionate measure," Couch said.

Under the proposal, qualifying health conditions would include cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS and Alzheimer's disease. The proposal also would allow qualifying patients or a designated caregiver to grow marijuana if the patient lives more than 5 miles from a dispensary.

The conservative coalition's members include leaders of the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, the Family Council Action Committee and the Families First Foundation.

Past efforts to put medical marijuana on the ballot in Arkansas have faltered, though voters in two cities in the state have approved referendums that encourage police to regard arrests for small amounts of marijuana as a low priority.

Supporters of the current proposal mounted an organized and well-funded campaign that surprised many political observers. Arkansans for Compassionate Care, the group advocating for the measure, won ballot access after submitting far more than the required 62,500 signatures.

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Homeless in Arizona

stinking title