“This is the second time I have fought for my country,” a marine declared. “But it’s the first time I’ve known my enemy.”
Two weeks after a small band of protesters set up camp in New York’s Liberty Plaza Park, deep in the heart of the financial district, our numbers have expanded to staggering numbers. This is true in two senses. Firstly, the size of the New York protest has virtually grown too big for the park – a rumor on Friday that Radiohead would play drew so many attendees that no one could move in the park, and those numbers grew so that yesterday, when no famous band was expected, every inch of the sidewalks all around the park were also swarming. Secondly, the solidarity protests around the country now range from thousands in Los Angeles to hundreds in Seattle to protests yet to begin in Portland. There are even occupations organizing in Tokyo, Sydney, Montreal, Tijuana, Stockholm, Hamburg and at the London Stock Exchange.
“The Pot Republic” highlights the regulatory issues California faces, operating within a nation that bans the cultivation of marijuana and struggling to cope with increasing numbers of growers, some of whom work on an industrial scale.
Last month, Frontline in association with KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting produced a half hour special, ‘The Pot Republic,’ probing into the state of marijuana in California. Their timing was impeccable; a large scale raid, Operation Full Court Press, which would ultimately net almost half a million marijuana plants, was underway in the Mendocino National Forest. Filming started almost a year ago, in the heady days of Proposition 19 campaigning, when it seemed possible that California might be the first state to pass a sweeping legalisation law, changing the regulatory landscape and issuing a direct challenge to the federal government on a highly contentious topic.
Cultivation, sale, and possession of marijuana remain illegal under federal law, yet California, along with a number of other states, has legalised the use of marijuana for medical use. Proposition 215, passed in 1996, makes the production of wide-scale medical marijuana possible, and creates an environment where dispensaries operate publicly in many major California cities, growers cultivate their crops openly, and law enforcement struggle with an increasing regulatory tangle.
Viewers have been promised a very dark season for Walt, and it’s clear that Breaking Bad means to follow through in hallmark style.
AMC’s Breaking Bad returned last week with a deliciously dark season opener after forcing viewers to wait 13 months after last season’s cliffhanger finale. As the finale had led viewers to suspect, Breaking Bad has turned over a new chapter in its life, and that chapter is a decidedly murky one. With producer Vince Gilligan threatening that he’s only planning on five seasons, the fourth promises to be a whopper; there will be no penultimate series sluggishness here, making Gilligan’s decision, to keep the show crisp and tight rather than dragging it on, an obviously smart one for the series as a whole.
Breaking Bad revolves around the slow slide of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), introduced at the start of the series as a high school chemistry teacher with a terminal diagnosis who just wants to make a little money to support his family after he’s gone. He turns to methamphetamine manufacturing, taking advantage of the booming demand for a drug that has spread like a plague across the United States, hopscotching into the nation’s heartland and destroying lives in its wake. This is a storyline that could very quickly turn after school special, with moralising episodes about methamphetamine and the drug war, but Gilligan has managed to keep it a very human drama, avoiding these pitfalls. This may in part be because of the medium; the networks would feel obligated to include some Very Special Episodes to remind viewers that methamphetamine is bad, whereas Gilligan clearly figures that viewers can come to that understanding all on their own.
I have to wonder why our reaction to the actions of desperate protesters is so much greater than our reaction to the continuing violence perpetrated by societies.
I’m thinking about violence a lot lately.
It seems appropriate, now, to write about it, as we just saw actions around the U.S. to commemorate the anniversary of nonviolent activist Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death by a violent act.
As I arrived at work April 4, the anniversary of King’s murder, my boss read us the article in Haaretz about actor/director/activist Juliano Mer-Khamis‘s death in a refugee camp in Jenin. More violence taking the life of another nonviolent activist.
I’ve commented many times that I don’t consider breaking windows or property damage “violence.” I consider violence to be harm against a human, not a pane of glass. Yet when I retweeted that statement in reference to the March 26 protests in London, I was reminded by Jack Aponte, via Twitter, that smashing windows or walls can be used by domestic abusers to threaten their victims. And Molly Crabapple noted that it’s only a short step from smashing a shop’s windows in the name of “feminism” to smashing art. And we’ve seen more than enough art censorship lately.
Parents were not informed. Consent was not given. Informed consent was non-existent.
After the heartbreaking revelations about the treatment of children in Irish industrial schools, documented in the Ryan Report, it is difficult to imagine how any action by the state or the Catholic Church could continue to shock. Children in industrial schools, run by the Church on behalf of the state, were routinely enslaved, raped, beaten, tortured and starved. Now, it has come to light, that some of these children were also used as test subjects in experimental medical trials. (more…)
In Canada, cars turned over in the street and public violence are a sign of a Stanley Cup loss, not a part of social commentary.
Saturday June 26th, as dignitaries were arriving in Toronto Canada for the G8/G20, the streets of the downtown core were erupting in a violent protest. At first it was a fairly passive display, with women’s groups protesting Prime Minister Harper’s failure to include abortion in his presentation about women’s health, as well as various labour groups protesting for workers rights; however, embedded in the crowd was an alleged group of anarchists intent on destruction. They quickly separated from the so-called official protesters and began to break windows and turn over police cars in the downtown corridor.
Toronto is one of the largest cities in Canada and is therefore not immune from protests; what makes this event stand out is the level of violence. In Canada, cars turned over in the street and public violence are a sign of a Stanley Cup loss, not a part of social commentary. Prior to the summit, Harper came under fire for refusing to include abortion in his maternal health initiative in his flagship policy proposal at the G8/G20, as well as the money spent on hosting this international event. Proving that arrogance was very much a part of his personality, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France declared, “With regard [to] the French G8/G20, even if I can’t confirm the figures that you are talking about in Canada, I can say that in France they will be 10 times less.” (more…)
Priests have greater access to boys.
It is commonly said that the best defence is a good offence, but just because it works in football does not mean that it should be a universal strategy. Someone should mention this to Tarcisio Bertone. If you have not heard, he is a big cheese at the Vatican (technically the Vatican’s secretary of state). In a determined effort to once more abdicate responsibility for clerical sexual abuse and the ensuring cover up, Bertone stated last week that:
“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true… That is the problem.”
Truth it is not. (more…)
The portrayal of Brady as a youthful, ignorant school master is a public relations exercise.
Cardinal Seán Brady celebrated mass on Easter Sunday with some pretty words about rebirth, apologies and child sexual abuse. He did not mention that in the previous week he was asked by survivors of clerical sex abuse to resign. He did not announce his resignation. Instead, during his Easter Sunday sermon, he pledged to remain in his position:
“I am resolved to continue to keep the safeguarding of children central to the Mission of the Catholic Church in Ireland. We all have a critical part to play in safeguarding children.” [source]
Implicitly, Brady refuses to resign. (more…)
Like the Catholic Church, Fort Bragg protects its own.
While the attention of the world has been drawn by recent shocking revelations in the ongoing abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, the Northern California town of Fort Bragg has been riveted by an abuse and molestation scandal of its very own. Both scandals raise uncomfortable questions about how abuse reporting is handled and how communities become complicit in the tolerance of abuse. (more…)
Ireland’s post-revolutionary bourgeoisie let itself off the hook.
Cardinal Seán Brady, majordomo of the Catholic church in Ireland, is in the dock of the court of public opinion following revelations that he was, as a priest in 1975, involved in silencing two young boys abused by notorious priest Fr Brendan Smyth.
Brady’s line manager, Pope Benedict XVI (his ultimate boss being The Man Who Lives In the Clouds) is himself reeling from allegations published by the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Germany that he mishandled similar cases. (more…)
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