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Monday, March 16, 2009

WHY POT COULD BE CALIFORNIA'S NEW CASH CROP



Former SF supervisor wants public to cash in on $13.8 billion pot crop


By JACKSON WEST


Updated 12:18 PM PDT, Mon, Mar 2, 2009

Besides raising revenue, marijuana decriminalization would save the state in enforcement and incarceration costs.

Tom Ammiano wants to effectively legalize-- and tax -- California's trade in cannabis.

AB 390 "would remove all penalties in California law on cultivation, transportation, sale, purchase, possession, or use of marijuana, natural THC, or paraphernalia for persons over the age of 21," Ammiano's press secretary Quintin Mecke told the San Francisco Weekly.

Ammiano, a rookie state legislator and former San Francisco supervisor, may have a unique opportunity to win support for the bill in the wake of the state's budget debacle.

"California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana," he said.

Mecke suggested taxes on the trade could amount to $1 billion according to advocates.

And I'd bet that's a conservative estimate.

"With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense," Ammiano said at a morning news conference at the state building on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco.

Estimates value the state's crop of marijuana at $13.8 billion, double that of the vegetable and grape markets combined. Nationwide, it may be the fourth largest cash crop, behind corn, soy and hay but ahead of wheat.

The proposed bill would allow Californians over the age of 21 to grow, transport, sell, possess and consume the plant, with state and local law enforcement professionals barred from enforcing the federal ban.

The tax would amount to $50 per ounce of marijuana, which retails on the black market for anywhere from $250 to $500 depending on the source and quality.

While it may sound like a pipe dream, with communities from the emerald triangle of Humboldt, Mendecino and Trinity Counties to liberal districts all along California's cost all strapped for cash, other lawmakers and voters might just tune in and turn on.

Frankly, I think they should sign an endorsement deal with Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps.

Jackson West figures libertarian stoners will inevitably complain about the tax.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

OBAMA COMPARED TO HITLER AGAIN

In my last blogpost I warned readers to be on the lookout for more insults, barbs and racist attacks to be leveled against President Obama. This past Monday an African American reporter, by the name of Harris Faulkner, read two comments from their website. One of them compared Obama to Hitler while the other called him a monkey. These types of comparisons are expected from the general public, but it is totally out of order for a major news organization like Fox to read it over the air. Theses kinds of comments should not reach the light of day and should certainly not be given credence by responsible purveyors of the daily news.

Well, that explains it! Obviously, Fox News network is not a responsible news agency, as evidenced by the fact that this is not the first time Fox News has read these kinds of incendiary comments on the evening news. On February 14th, 2008 Tom Sullivan a Fox News radio personality took a call from a listener that compared Obama to Hitler. The funny thing is that he already had a tape of Hitler and a tape of Obama cued up ready to play if a listener called in making this comparison and wasted no time in playing them back to back.

"When a later caller complained that Sullivan was "denigrating" Obama with the comparison, Sullivan said he wouldn't play it again, then begged: 'Can I, please, one more time? Just one more time? Then I won't do it again. ... Until the next time.'"


There's an old saying that when you point one finger at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at you. Seeing as how the Fox broadcasters have Hitler recordings so handy, it appears as though they may be some of his biggest fans. How else do you explain their ability to pull up a Hitler recording at a moments notice.

I understand the NAACP has started a campaign to bring these racist assaults to a halt. As Dick Gregory used to say to us in the 70's "you young people have a big job to do." Certainly, it is a big job. Racism is woven into the fabric of this country, which makes it particularly difficult to eradicate without destroying the fabric itself.



"Fox News' Faulkner highlights viewer blog comments on stem cell policy invoking Hitler, comparing Obama to a monkey." Media Matters staff, 3/9/2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

BILL & MELINDA GATES SUPPORT MODEL EDUCATION PROGRAM IMPLEMENTED BY APS



"KnowledgeWorks in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Education is transforming Ohio’s public schools, where only 7 in 10 students graduate every year, from a one-size-fits-all education system into schools where respect for the individual is paramount, and every child is considered 'college material.'"

The village of Stewart Africentric met last week with Superintendent James where he answered questions and spoke of the vision that APS has for Stewart Africentric as they prepare to move into their new home within the Crouse Community Learning Center.

He brought with him a new board member by the name of Amy Grom who is in support of applying the "school-within-a-school" model, which is looked upon very favorably by KnowledgeWorks, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that are both working with the Ohio Department of Education to improve the success rate of students in Ohio public schools.

Stewart Africentric was created as a small school that could give more focused attention to each and every student to increase the likelihood that they would not only successfully graduate from high school, but also successfully matriculate from the college of their choice. The recently retired superintendent was very supportive of the Stewart model. The village of Stewart Africentric expects that they will receive even more support in the future.

According to an ERIC report on the "school-within-a-school" model there are a number of factors that will lead to

success with this model. Two of the most important factors are:

Making sure the "guest" program is autonomous by having the "guest" program administered by an APS administrator.

Fully funding and staffing the "guest" program with all the staff necessary to ensure the success of the program.


One of the encumbrances that teaching staffs have had to contend with under the Bush administration is embodied in the NCLB, an unfunded government mandate. In this case government was not the solution but has caused more harm than good. By requiring the students of all public schools to meet the standards of the NCLB without giving them the financial support to meet these criteria they've created a "Catch 22" like situation within the elementary education system.

" . . . smaller schools help struggling students by raising graduation and achievement rates, according to more than 30 years of research. Small schools in other states have successfully improved student performance, reduced violence, and increased student graduation rates."


Crouse Community Learning Center (CLC) is in a new state of the art building with all of the modern accouterments necessary to run a top notch school, there's no question about that. The question is how committed is the district to the ideals of Stewart Africentric? Superintendent James has made it perfectly clear in his last two meetings with the Stewart community that over the past 10 years there have been several occasions where Stewart has been on the chopping block. He also stated that the school's overall academic performance needed to be improved in order for the program to continue, but without the proper support, particularly financially, it's a plan that's destined to fail.

The Akron Public School system has a chance to be on the cutting edge, in terms of elementary education. Smaller schools are the wave of the future and the "school-within-a-school" model is one of the ways this small school model can be implemented. The benefits are worth the effort and the expense it will take to make this model successful. The KnowledgeWorks Foundation is prepared to make an investment in our childrens' future. What is APS doing to take advantage of this opportunity? What is APS doing to prepare our elementary students to begin doing college level work from the 10th grade through 12th grade.

George Crouse Elementary School was built in 1919. It was named after one of the major benefactors and original trustees of Buchtel College, the precursor of Akron University. Buchtel College was instrumental in making Akron the "Rubber Capitol" of the world. Akron is no longer the "Rubber Capitol." In fact, Akron is a city in search of a new identity. The choices we make now, regarding the education of our children, will determine what the future will hold for Akron and the role our children and grandchildren will play in that future.

We can all agree, "it takes a village to raise a child." The question now is, what role will Stewart Africentric play in the development of that village. Moving into a modern facility is obviously a good thing for the students of Stewart Africentric. But, it could be just as beneficial for the Crouse students, by giving them an example of how to function using a different paradigm. Success at Crouse CLC can also serve as a model for other schools within APS that are going to have to operate under one roof.

At the high school level this school-within-a-school model has led to higher test scores, improved morale and decreased incidents of violence, all of which lead to improved overall academics.

The Stewart Africentric village still needs more details in regards to the implementation of this school-within-a-school model. Hopefully, some of these details will be forthcoming at the meeting with Superintendent James, at Stewart Africentric, this Friday at 11:30 AM.

Unanswered questions that remain include how will the students be prepared before they move? How will the two schools maintain their separate identities while living under the same roof, if the Crouse school colors dominate the building, as they do now? The Crouse colors dominate the majority of the walls, furniture and floors tiles throughout the building. There are also questions about students transferring from one program to the other within the building.

If this move is done right it could create a atmosphere of camaraderie and unity within the two programs, and between their respective staff members and students, making Crouse CLC a shining example for the entire district.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

DR. LEARY SPEAKS ON: POST TRAUMATIC SLAVE SYNDROME

I pulled this down from Youtube and was not only impressed, but enlightened by her analysis. What she talks about here is directly related to what I've experienced myself in my relationships. Check out the segment I've included. Double click the picture to go to Youtube and put all 11 segments together in one playlist so they can be played as one video.


She also has a book out that can be purchased at Amazon or Half.com, under the same title. Read the book or view the video and realize just how significant the impact of slavery is in our present situation.

Every year Congressman John Conyers reintroduces H.R. 40 in Congress. This bill calls for the establishment of a committee to study the need for reparations and a method of delivering them to the sons and daughter of Africa in America. Dr. Leary's thesis that we continue to suffer from Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is powerful. She's been able to explain, in short order, why we react to certain situations and cues the way we do.

I lived in Los Angeles, CA for 10 years. I still refer to L.A. as "Hell A." I loved living in a place with a moderate temperature and a star studded background, but it took its toll on my psyche. The first five years I had very few valuables, other than my life. But, during those five years that primary valuable was always in jeopardy. When I first moved to the city I didn't know who to be more afraid of the police or the gangs. I figured the police could shoot you on purpose and call it justifiable homicide (legal lynching). The gangs might shoot you and they'd call it collateral damage. I didn't know anyone who got shot by the police in all my years in L.A., but I did see a drive by go down, when I lived in Compton and I did know of someone who got shot outside a party in a driveby. So, the possibility was there of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But, for me and many others, as well, the everyday threat was that my vehicles would be burglarized, vandalized or just broken into. That happened on a regular basis. It got to the point that I knew who was doing it, but was powerless to do anything about it, for fear of retribution.

I moved from Hollywood to Costa Mesa, in Orange County, CA. Life was sublime there, but the mother of my children would get pulled over by the police all the time. So, everything was not right. Finally, we moved out of state to Seattle, WA in the early 90's. We bought a brand new vehicle after selling our late model VW's and things began to feel "normal." It still took one year for me to realize that I was, in fact, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It dawned on me one day that the fear I had in L.A. of my vehicle being towed, or ticketed by the police, because we had to park on the street; the fear of the Cholos using my car as a drug drop; the fear of parts of my car, that would incapacitate it coming up missing, for no reason; the fear of my battery, headlights, car seat, etc. coming up missing, for no reason was unreasonable, because we had moved into a totally different environment.

That whole process took one year. Imagine if my wife had been raped! Imagine if I had been physically assaulted! Imagine if I had been torn away from my children as they were sold down the river. Imagine if many of the things that we came to experience during slavery had happened to us, not in secret, but right out in the open. I just read a tale description of one of the most barbaric punishments imaginable, where women would be stuffed with gunpowder and blown up in front of the slave community. This was domestic terrorism at its worst. Imagine the impact that would have on the children, born and unborn, the men and the women.

I've got a relative who lives in the north and refuses to return to Georgia, the land of her birth, because her mother was shot to death by a White man while she was in her arms. Now, this relative is more than grown, she's in her 70's or 80's, but the pain of that occurrence is ever present. How could slavery have been any milder. Certainly, the after effects continue to ripple like the waves, not on a pond, but on the ocean, because these incidents didn't end with the demise of plantation slavery. Following slavery we lived through reconstruction and the subsequent development of the Klan, The Knights of the White Camellia, The John Birch Society and numerous other groups of White Nationalists, so called patriots, who are still with us today.

We continue to read stories in the daily news of brutal acts committed by Whites on Black people from all across this nation. We continually see reports of white mobs, individuals and organizations perpetuating violent acts on members of our community for no other reason than they can do it and get away with it. So, the trauma of slavery, the stain of slavery still covers this nation like a pall.

Dr. Carol Swain claims that asking for reparations would be upsetting to whites and that really all we need is an apology. An apology would be a start, but it cannot be the end result, for an apology negates the fact that not only was harm caused in the past, but that we continue to be harmed in the present, because there were no long lasting consequences for the heinous crimes committed by the slave owners and their affiliates under color of law.

It wasn't just the acts that were grievous, it was the laws themselves, which is why we should, in all honesty charge the U.S. government with crimes against humanity and seek remuneration. They would have us believe that to pay such a price would be foolish, because we wouldn't know how to spend it. Bogus, that's never brought up when someone sues for real, psychological and emotional damages in court. They would have us believe that we're just a bunch of lazy nerdowells, negating the fact that we built this "great country" that everyone wants to immigrate to. They'd have us believe that our plight is due to our own lack of vision and planning, when they know darn well that they continue to place stumbling blocks in our path, at every turn.

At this point we'd love if the playing field could be leveled. But at the same time part of leveling that playing field should include reparations for damages that have been and continue to be done to the members of our community separately and collectively.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Stewart Africentric Elementary Relocates to Crouse Community Learning Center

Contrary to misleading reports, in the Akron Beacon Journal, Stewart Africentric Elementary is not closing. The building will not be used after this year, but the Stewart community will be relocating to Crouse Community Learning Center at 1000 Diagonal Road in Akron. The current building for Crouse Elementary has been in continuous use since 1919.



At the end of this school year Crouse Elementary will be razed and out of its ashes will be born a new community learning center (CLC). As of the Fall 2009 Crouse CLC will be the home of the current student body already in attendance at Crouse and the student body of Stewart Africentric Elementary school.


Teachers, parents and interested community members took a look at their soon to be new home in the Crouse Community Learning Center. A parent meeting will be held at Stewart Africentric Elementary School on March 5th, 2009 at 6 PM to answer any questions community members may have. You can also reach school officials for more information at 330/873-3396.

The newly constructed building stands on the same plot of land as the old Crouse we all remember. But, instead of 3 - 4 floors, depending on how you count, the new building has a low profile with only 2 stories and lots of windows. As we toured the building the afternoon sun lit up every room. The inclusion of a number of large windows in strategic locations was a brilliant design stroke. From the rear of the building it looks somewhat foreboding. But, from the front it has a much more open and inviting feeling.

This feeling only lasts for a moment though, because all visitors will have to enter through the main office which is secured and will require visitors to be buzzed in by the receptionist who will have a birdseye view of anyone coming in the front door, while also being able to view all other entrances on a monitor from their office.

The building will house the 200 Crouse students currently enrolled and 120 additional students from Stewart Africentric Elementary. For the moment plans have not been announced for the current building housing Stewart's students. However, from all indications their will only be one principal with the possibility of an assistant principal. Whether or not there will be an assistant principal is unsure. All of the students from Stewart will be housed on the second floor. Crouse students will be on the first floor and will also occupy one additional area on the second floor in a separate wing of the building.



There will be some areas that the students from both schools will share, primarily the gym, cafeteria/auditorium, clinic, art room and the music room, not to mention the outside playground area.

The playground and a second parking lot that will allow people to enter the gymnasium at ground level are still in the works.



Overall the building itself gets a 4 out of 4 stars rating. It seems that they've thought of everything and have a realistic plan. The school will house 500 students at capacity, but will start with around 350 students. There will be a number of openings so parents whose children are not already enrolled at Crouse or Stewart should contact APS as soon as possible. These openings will not last long. When Helen Arnold CLC opened the demand exceeded their capacity to meet it, so some students were turned away in that instance.



It will be a real challenge for the Stewart parents and staff to maintain the Africentric program in their new environment. Hopefully, they won't be swallowed up in the new building or lose their unique identity. I'm hopeful, this merger with Crouse will work out better than expected and both programs will flourish in the bright light of day which will bathe the school on every sunny day.