Sunday, July 27, 2014

High Times

The New York Times Endorses Legal Weed

It's long past due. 

"In addition to pointing out that pot is fairly harmless, especially when compared to alcohol or tobacco, the editorial cited "the social costs" of today's hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests — which, it noted, "[fall] disproportionately on young black men" — as the main reason to change the law. "There are no perfect answers to people's legitimate concerns about marijuana use. But neither are there such answers about tobacco or alcohol, and we believe that on every level — health effects, the impact on society and law-and-order issues — the balance falls squarely on the side of national legalization," the Times declared."

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weekend Subway Service Advisories, G-pocalypse Edition

The G-pocalypse begins.  

The local:

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday, July 26 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, July 28, F trains will run local in Queens due to CPM signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Av and Kew Gardens-Union Tpke, and CPM track tie renewal at 65 St

Beginning 10:30 p.m. Friday, July 25, until 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, September 2, G trains are suspended between Long Island City-Court Sq and Nassau Av due to MOW Fix & Fortify Sandy Recovery Work in the Greenpoint Tube. Transfer out-of-system (with MetroCard) between the Broadway G station and Lorimer St JM stations. Free shuttle buses provide alternate service along two routes:

  • Via Manhattan Av between Nassau Av and Court Sq, stopping at Greenpoint Av and 21 St.
  • Via McGuinness Blvd between Lorimer St L and Court Sq, stopping near G stations at Nassau Av, Greenpoint Av, and 21 St.
And the big picture:

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Friday, July 25, 2014

Common Sense

Tasers are part of the problem not the solution
Lost in the militarization of police work: common sense.
"The thrust of this piece is the fact that too many police officers are losing their common sense. A good cop will know when to exert her authority and will understand that it's not necessary in every interaction. It's not the only thing they have to work with --- psychology, patience and compassion are also necessary tools in their arsenal. The militarization of police departments --- this us against them attitude --- is turning them from public servants into occupying soldiers. It's a problem. "

Tasing people, pepper-spraying people, the indiscriminate corralling and detainment of protesters - all these are part of the problem.

The Worst Place In NYC

At PABT, a $90 million bandaid for a gaping wound
The Port Authority Bus Terminal.  A soul-crushing pit of despair that gradually saps the life from all those who pass through its halls, with an absurdly Byzantine layout that is the polar opposite of user friendly.  This $90M is certainly welcome, but the functional equivalent of Bactine on a Komodo dragon bite.
"The exact details of the investments will be unveiled at a Port Authority board meeting in September, but PA officials let slip some details surrounding the plans. According to Foye, the bus terminal will see an improved heating and air conditioning system, better cellphone and wireless service and a more aggressive outreach program for the homeless New Yorkers who, for better or worse, call the bus terminal home. The bathrooms too may see some upgrades. Ultimately and unfortunately, it's insulting to pigs to say this is putting lipstick on a pig. The Port Authority Bus Terminal, simply speaking, is an embarrassment and likely an impediment to more transit service in New York City. People eschew buses because trying to travel through the terminal is a singularly unpleasant experience. But something is better than nothing. At some point, the Port Authority will have to make some tough decisions with regards to its bus terminal. The agency estimates that it could take 10-15 years and at least $1 billion to replace the thing (though a future replacement could include lucrative air rights and development upward). For now, we get air conditioning and some better cell service. I guess that's forward progress, but it sure ain't reinventing something that sorely needs to be reinvented."

I love this city, and I hate every moment I ever have to spend in the PABT.  Fortunately those moments come very infrequently.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Death Penalty Is Institutionalized Brutality

Executions Should Be by Firing Squad, Federal Appeals Court Judge Says
Let's not pretend otherwise.
"Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments," U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent in the Arizona death penalty case of Joseph Rudolph Wood III. "But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf."

I'm opposed to the death penalty.  To the extent we still have one, this business of lethal drug cocktails is sophistry.  Institutional, state-sponsored murder is murder.  There is more dignity and humanity in a gunshot to the back of the head than in this falsely clinical approach.  Putting on scrubs does not turn an executioner into a medic, nor does it change poison into medicine.  Who are we trying to kid?

Decriminalizing Sex Work

The Scientific Case for Decriminalizing Sex Work
It's the least bad option for the worlds oldest profession.  Legalize, regulate and recognize that these are people too.  The current state of affairs is not good for anybody.
"Arguments in favor of decriminalizing prostitution often rely on empathy for sex workers themselves: Activist and journalist Melissa Gira Grant contends, for example, that criminalizing sex work implicitly condones violence against sex workers, who are often afraid to go to the police to report violence and are frequently ignored when they do. Current laws (sex work is illegal in 116 countries) require that sex workers render themselves largely voiceless and invisible — which makes their interests easy to ignore. But new research suggests that existing legislation against sex work may also be harming society at large — and that decriminalizing sex work could help slow the spread of HIV. On Tuesday, scientists at the annual International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, recommended decriminalizing sex work across the globe — arguing that legalization is the most effective way to reduce global HIV infection rates. According to new research — a series of seven studies recently published in the Lancet medical journal — scientists estimate that HIV infection rates among sex workers could be reduced by between 33 and 46 percent if the activity were not illegal. "Governments and policymakers can no longer ignore the evidence," asserted Kate Shannon, an associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and the lead author of the study. "

People operating on the margins of society are vulnerable to predators.  Legalizing and regulating the more benign criminal enterprises e.g., marijuana and sex work eliminates attractive targets for violent criminals, e.g. extortionists, pimps, stick-up crews.

So in addition to the other benefits from this approach, we should expect to see a reduction in violent crime from legalizing, regulating (and taxing) what are currently underground cash businesses.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Not A Halbig F'ing Deal

En Bancing on Halbig and general assholery
I am not as concerned as some, for the reasons expressed below and in gentler terms elsewhere.  Weird to see so many people freaking out over this today; but not everyone views these things from a lawyer's perspective.
"And why am I not particularly worried?  The government can ask for the entire active DC Court of Appeals to hear the case as a body.  En Banc  review is used for high profile cases or where the vast majority of the circuit thinks their colleagues fucked up big time. The DC Court of Appeals currently has a 7-4 Democratic appointee majority and they'll apply normal administrative law procedures to this case and tell their colleagues that they are fucking hacks in appropriately judgy language.  Assuming the en banc review goes the way I think it does, all circuits will then agree that the IRS has the right to interpret ambiguous law as it sees fit as long as the interpretation passes a rationale basis/giggle test .  If there is an all circuit agreement, the Supreme will have a real hard time taking the case to gut Red State subsidies. And now let's talk about the asshole of the day. The two "intellectual fathers" of the anti-Obamacare lawsuits are Michael Cannon and Jonathan Adler.  Their major brief on the Halbig case contains a massive factual error that invalidates their argument.  Balkinization explains: In a recent blog post, Cato scholar Michael Cannon admitted that he and his colleague, Case Western University professor Jonathan Adler, had made a mistake in an amicus brief they submitted to the courts in the Halbig and King cases.  We all make mistakes—indeed Michael has claimed that I have made many mistakes in my analysis of these cases, some of which were indeed mistakes.  This mistake is important, however, because it goes to the central argument that he and Jonathan have relied on in their brief…."

Typos courtesy of my iPhone