Archive for December, 2011


Legalizing Marijuana Could Save Lives, Study Shows

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Mason Tvert, executive director of Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), and coauthor of Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? was on David Sirota’s progressive talk radio show last Friday to talk about the shocking results of a new study. Well, Mason isn’t shocked, he’s more like, I told ya so!

A study released this week by the University of Colorado Denver (If you’re feeling brainy, check out the whole thing here: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=4915) shows that the legalization of medical marijuana significantly reduces alcohol consumption and, as a result, alcohol-related traffic deaths. The study, hailed as “groundbreaking” by the University, is the first to examine the effect of legalizing medical marijuana on the prevalence of traffic fatalities.

Researchers analyzed traffic fatalities nationwide, and in those states that have legalized medical marijuana they found that alcohol consumption went down among those 20 to 29 years old, resulting in fewer deaths on the road.  The study noted past research that suggests drivers under the influence of alcohol are far more reckless than drivers under the influence of marijuana.  Whereas those using alcohol drive faster, take more risks, and underestimate their level of impairment, those using marijuana drive slower, avoid risks, and recognize when they are too impaired to drive.

It’s just more fuel for the fire for legalization advocates like Tvert, who have argued for the public health benefits of de-criminalizing marijuana for years. Check out Mason’s organization, SAFER, and of course, the book!

David Sirota’s website.

City of Los Angeles Votes to End Corporate Personhood

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

INSTANT UPDATE: Well, before the ink could even dry on this blog post, Occupy Los Angeles and the LA Times reported that the resolution did in fact pass! Great news for the Move to Amend!!

After months of City Hall’s lawn being peacefully occupied by protesters, and a fairly upsetting eviction thereof, the City of Los Angeles looks to actually be considering some positive action toward the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

We just received a link to this article via email:

Los Angeles Stands Up To The Supreme Court, Looks To Revoke Corporate Personhood – Addicting Info

The Los Angeles city council is preparing to vote on a resolution that would revoke corporate personhood. If the council votes accordingly, Los Angeles would become the biggest city in America to strike a blow against Citizens United. Here is [a link to] the language of the resolution as provided by DailyKos.

Our very own Riki Ott, author of Not One Drop, has been at the forefront of the Move to Amend the U.S. Constitution toward this very end.

In honor of her tireless work, we’d like to once again share the video that she made to start it all off. Check it out, and stay tuned for the latest on the anti-corporate personhood front!

6 Shocking Revelations About Wall Street’s “Secret Government”

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Top officials willfully concealed the true extent of the 2008-’09 bailouts from Congress and the public.

By Les Leopold for AlterNet

We now have concrete evidence that Wall Street and Washington are running a secret government far removed from the democratic process. Through a freedom of information request by Bloomberg News, the public now has access to over 29,000 pages of Fed documents and 21,000 additional Fed transactions that were deliberately hidden, and for good reason. (See here and here.)

These documents show how top government officials willfully concealed from Congress and the public the true extent of the 2008-’09 bailouts that enriched the few and enhanced the interests of giant Wall Streets firms. Here’s what we now know:

  • The secret Wall Street bailouts totaled $7.77 trillion, 10 times more than the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed by Congress in 2008.
  • Knowledge of the secret bailout funds was not shared with Congress even while it was drafting and debating legislation to break up the big banks.
  • The secret funding, provided at below-market rates, gave Wall Street banks an additional $13 billion in profits. (That’s enough money to hire more than 325,000 entry level teachers.)
  • The secret loans financed bank mergers so that the largest banks could grow even larger. The money also allowed banks to step up their lobbying efforts.
  • While Henry Paulson (Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury) was informing Congress and the public that only minor reforms were needed to protect Fannie and Freddie from collapse, he met secretly with leading Wall Street hedge fund managers — among them his former colleagues at Goldman Sachs — to alert them that he was about to nationalize the giant mortgage companies – a move that would eradicate nearly all the stock value of the companies. This information was enormously valuable because it allowed these hedge funds to short Fannie and Freddie and thereby make a fortune.
  • While Timothy Geithner was head of the NY Federal Reserve, he argued against legislative efforts by Senator Ted Kaufman, D-Delaware, to limit the size of banks because the issue was “too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions,” Kaufman recalls. Meanwhile, Geithner was fully aware of the enormous secret loans while Senator Kaufman was kept in the dark. Barney Frank, who was authoring key bank reform legislation was also not informed of the secret loans. No one in Congress was told.

So what does this all mean?

1. The big banks and hedge funds were in much more trouble than we were led to believe. 

As many of us suspected, all the big banks were on their knees begging for help – secretly – while telling their investors, the public and Congress that all was well. They had gambled and lost. Under the rules of ideal capitalism, they should have suffered some “creative destruction,” and seen their shareholder value eliminated through bankruptcy, and their managers replaced. The entire banking system should have been reorganized from top to bottom as well. Instead, these colossal failures were secretly rewarded.

2. Wall Street’s secret government made sure the largest banks would grow even larger, aided by the secret funding. 

While Congress was debating legislation to break up the large banks and reinstitute Glass Steagall (to separate risky investment banking from insured commercial banking,) the secret government was using public funds to grow even larger through mergers and acquisitions. Because Congress and the public were unaware of the secret funding and ill-health of all the banks, the legislation was easily defeated. As the chart below makes painfully clear, too-big-to-fail banks grew even bigger.

Read the rest of the article over at AlterNet.

If you’re interested in this issue, stay tuned for our forthcoming book on the global economic situation, Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform by Ross Jackson.

Calling All Curious Minds! Join RMI for a Discussion About Reinventing Fire.

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

How can we get to a new energy era without new federal laws?

Do we really have the technology to get off coal, oil and nuclear energy?

How can we capture $5 trillion in saved economic value—creating jobs and driving global competitiveness—by 2050?

Today Thursday, December 1 at 1:00 p.m. (EST), join us for a live chat with Eric Maurer to answer all of your burning questions about Reinventing Fire, RMI’s boldest vision yet about how business can drive the new energy era and lead the transition to a more secure, robust, and healthy future for our nation. (See the live chat console at the bottom of the page. You don’t need to have an account to participate. Simply ask a question.)

A consultant with Rocky Mountain Institute, Maurer contributed to the research and writing of the electricity chapter, coordinating the post-submission production of Reinventing Fire and the Knowledge Center.

In today’s digital age, it is not enough to simply publish a book such as Reinventing Fire and call it done. To reach as many people as possible, we created an infographic and a video to tell the story. Additionally, we’ve posted dozens of reference points for our conclusions and recommendations in our new Knowledge Center. Thousands of people have taken the time to view and share these resources.

Check out the infographic and video below and then join us for a live chat to explore all the details.

Infographic Video
Infographic Thumbnail Video Thumbnail

The willingness of our visionary supporters to fund RMI’s work was critical to bring Reinventing Fire from vision to reality. And because so many RMI supporters and followers are passionate about energy and well-versed in the nuances of the topic, we know you have questions!

We look forward to a robust discussion touching on a variety of topics.


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