Saturday, September 23, 2006

Holy cow

For your amusement, I offer up the following New York Times news brief, in its entirety and without comment:
World Briefing | Europe

Poland: How to Calm a Cow

Published: September 23, 2006

A woman in western Lobez who grew marijuana to calm the nerves of her cow has been charged with cultivating a narcotic. The cow had been “skittish and unruly” — once breaking someone’s arm — until someone suggested mixing marijuana in with the feed, the woman told the police. The plants, grown from seeds bought at a market, reached nearly three yards tall, and the cow, the woman said, “became as calm as a lamb.”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The police state: Defending you from peeing pooches and tired tykes

If Radley Balko updates Overkill (his white paper on botched paramilitary police raids), this one is sure to make the cut:
SCHENECTADY -- A police strike team raided a woman's Prospect Street apartment and handcuffed her children and killed her dog early Tuesday in a $60 pot bust.


Woodyear said she is appalled about the way her children were treated -- and said her 12-year-old daughter was hit with pepper spray.

The dog, a pit bull terrier named Precious, urinated on the floor in fear and tried to run from the police before it was killed, Woodyear said.

Police said the animal was aggressive and left them no choice but to shoot.

Elijah Bradley said he awoke to find armed men in his home. "They had the shotgun in my face," the 11-year-old said. "I punched at him. I didn't know who he was."
All for a $60 bag of pot. I think this spokesperson from the NAACP said it best:
"That seems like an awful lot of firepower for marijuana," said Fred Clark of the Schenectady chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "That's like spending $125,000 for $5."
I would say it's like swatting a fly with a cruise missile.

A half-asleep, urinating fly.

(Thanks to SSDP alum Adam Scavone for the heads up on this one.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

House approves school searches, but the fight continues

Thanks for taking action! SSDP needs your help now more than ever.


I would to thank all of you who took the time this week to write and call your your members of Congress in opposition to the so-called “Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006.” Unfortunately, despite an overwhelming response from SSDP supporters and our allies, the bill passed the House of Representatives last night by a voice vote.

While we are disappointed that the House passed such a reckless bill, we are grateful to the thousands of you who took action to defeat it. In the past four days, SSDP supporters generated thousands of letters and phone calls to Congress. We were confident that the bill would have been defeated if a recorded vote were taken. Unfortunately, no member of Congress called for a roll call vote after the voice vote by just 25 or so representatives in attendance.

Fortunately, this bill has not yet become law. To do so, the Senate would still have to pass a companion bill before the end of the legislative session, and we will be working hard to ensure that this does not happen. Will you please consider making a financial contribution to help SSDP’s legislative efforts today? Please visit if you are able to give anything at all.

Despite being unable to stop the House from passing this bill, SSDP supporters responded to our call to action in unprecedented fashion. SSDP supporters sent more than 3,600 letters to Congress in opposition to this bill. That's more than have taken action on any single piece of legislation in our organization's history. SSDP chapters across the country responded to our call to action by setting up phone banks on their campuses, sending action alerts to their listserves, and spreading our alerts through cyberspace using Facebook and MySpace.

With only four days of lead-time before the vote, we were able to mobilize supporters like never before. I hope you will consider visiting to make a contribution to SSDP today to ensure that we are able to respond even more effectively in the future.

While House members were not forced to go on record on the important issue of students rights’ and privacy last night, many members did take noble stances against the bill. Representatives George Miller (D-CA), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) all gave speeches on the House floor opposing HR 5295. Rep. Woolsey made a passionate speech, vowing, "We will stop any new program that would label all youth as guilty!" In a letter to an SSDP supporter, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) wrote:

“As a former teacher and principal, as well as a member of the Democratic Task Force on Education, I believe it is crucial to make schools as safe as possible for our children. However, I believe this can be done without invading the rights of our students.”

In addition to support from these courageous members of Congress, the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association all issued statements opposing this legislation.

SSDP will continue to keep you informed if a companion bill comes before the Senate. I hope you will consider making a contribution to SSDP today so that we can continue to fight back against harmful attacks on students’ rights in the future.

Please visit today if you can afford any contribution – large or small.

Thank you for your support.


Kris Krane
Executive Director
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

P.S. Please befriend SSDP on MySpace and put us in your top 8 friends. Our profile is at

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This is your brain on YouTube

Amidst Congress's attempt to invade young people's lockers, bookbags, and pockets (the school search bill is today, so it's your last chance to send an email to your congresscritter, kids!), the Office of National Drug Policy is using more weasel-like methods in their attempt to invade young people's hearts and minds.

Yes, they've jumped on the viral video bandwagon and uploaded their ridiculous anti-drug ads to YouTube. They really are suckers for punishment...

From the Associated Press:
The decision to distribute public service announcements and other videos over YouTube represents the first concerted effort by the U.S. government to influence customers of the popular service, which shows more than 100 million videos per day.


"If just one teen sees this and decides illegal drug use is not the path for them, it will be a success," said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
I guess Rafael doesn't read the news. Those of us who have our eyes open know that these ads are an abject failure, and actually increase teen drug use.
"Welcome to the great experiment," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. He predicted computer-savvy critics of U.S. drug policies will quickly edit the government's videos to produce parodies and distribute those on YouTube. "This seems pretty new and pretty adventurous."
Thanks for the challenge, Lee. I've already made some parody print ads and videos, but these YouTube videos will make lampooning this bloated government agency a whole lot easier. While you wait for my next parody, click here to help us take away the ONDCP's budget for these ineffective ads.

Place a call to oppose the school search bill!

Please call the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and give them your address to be connected to your House member’s office.


"My name is [your name] and I live in [your city]. I'm calling to urge [the congressman/the congresswoman] to vote against the deceptively named 'Student and Teacher Safety Act' when it comes to the floor this week. The bill would allow schools and police to invasively search large groups of innocent students based on the mere suspicion that just one of them has drugs. This bill is opposed by the PTA, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association. I hope [the congressman/the congresswoman] will respect young people’s dignity by voting against H.R. 5295. Thank you."


School search bill in the news

There's still time (but not much) to take action - Congress votes today!

Bloomberg Newswire covered SSDP's opposition to the school search bill.
"We should not have another federal mandate passed on to local school districts for them to comply with,'' said Mary Kusler, assistant director for government relations at the American Association of School Administrators, one of the groups opposing the measure. She said the bill seems to be the result of lawmakers seeking "a good election-year issue."


The measure could face a vote in the full House as early as tomorrow, following a decision by Republican leaders to bypass the usual process of a committee vote. That move was designed to help Davis in a close re-election fight against Ken Lucas, said Kusler and Tom Angell, campaigns director at Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a Washington-based advocacy group.
Please contact Congress RIGHT NOW to help us stop this atrocious bill from becoming law. We can't do it without your help!

Monday, September 18, 2006

School Search Bill Update

If you haven't heard, Congress is trying to pull a Drug War fast one on students by passing sweeping legislation that would coerce schools into allowing for large-scale searches of students. But it's not just students who are speaking up against this attack on the Constitution. A congressional office just forwarded us letters from the National PTA, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the National School Boards Association (NSBA), both expressing strong opposition to the school search bill. Here are some tasty excerpts:
National PTA:
"If we are serious about protecting students and teachers, we must provide ways for schools to address the foundation of these problems, not simply allow teachers the relatively unbridled authority to search a student under the veil of school safety."

American Federation of Teachers:
"...teachers are not trained or prepared to make determinations about when searches are 'reasonable and permissible.' This is a role more appropriately conducted by administrators, to whom teachers can report their concerns and suspicions. Finally, it is counterproductive to jeopardize the very federal funds intended to help districts keep schools safe and drug-free."

American Association of School Administrators:
“This is not the time for Congress to act like a local school board by creating policies and mandates beyond their jurisdiction. Schools need to focus on the requirements that have already been handed down from Washington. Now is not the time to be adding more.”

National School Boards Association:
“…this legislation does not do anything to create a more positive learning environment. Worse, H.R. 5295 could mislead school personnel into violating the constitutional rights of students in the errant belief that, as long as their actions conform with the Congress’s general description of “reasonableness,” they must be permissible.”
If school boards and administrators are taking action against this offensive peice of legislation, why don't you? Click here to send a letter to your rep today!

[Here's a link to NSBA's letter. The full text of the AFT, AASA and PTA letters are not yet available.]

Vote on school searches bill tomorrow!!!

Take action now!!!! Send a letter to Congress today!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 18, 2006
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 293-4414 or tom//at//

Congress to Vote on Expanding School Drug Searches

Controversial Bill Skips Committee, Goes Directly to Floor

WASHINGTON, DC – The leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives on
Tuesday will bring to the floor a bill allowing school officials and
police greater authority to search public school students for drugs.
Despite the bill’s controversial nature, House leaders are skipping the
committee deliberation process and are bringing the bill directly to the
floor in an attempt to give its sponsor, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), a
victory to tout during his difficult reelection bid this November.

“It’s offensive that Congress is playing politics with students’
dignity,” said Kris Krane, executive director of Students for Sensible
Drug Policy. “We’re tired of having our constitutional rights trampled
on by the War on Drugs. We demand drug policies that respect and
protect us.”

The bill, “The Student and Teacher Safety Act of 2006,” H.R. 5295, would
allow schools to search groups of dozens of hundreds of students on the
mere suspicion that just one of them has drugs. Similar justification
allowed police officers to storm a high school in Goose Creek, SC, in
2003, forcing dozens of students to the ground and pointing loaded guns
directly at their faces during a widely-criticized raid in which no
drugs were found. The school’s principal resigned, and the school
district and the police department paid over one million dollars in a
lawsuit settlement this July.

Because of the House leadership’s legislative maneuvering, only 1/3 of
House members present need to vote against the bill to defeat it.

In addition to granting schools the ability to carry out expanded drug
searches on administrators’ impulses, the bill mandates that school
districts specifically adopt written policies allowing such searches,
under threat of losing federal anti-drug funding.

The original version of the bill invented a new looser class of evidence
required to justify searches, called “colorable suspicion,” but due to
SSDP’s lobbying efforts to date, the language has been scaled back to
stricter “reasonable suspicion” in the version that will be voted on
this week.

More information about the bill, as well as video of the 2003 Goose
Creek raid, is available on SSDP's blog.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy is an international grassroots network
of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our
communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our
generation and our society. SSDP mobilizes and empowers young people to
participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to
achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against
counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly
harm students and youth.

# # #

That's my boss...

From what I hear, the Boston Freedom Rally was a great success (with the exception of 53 drug busts!). SSDP's executive director, Kris Krane, riled up the crowd, while Franklin Pierce College SSDP members, Jimi Devine and Jon Perri, worked the table (and probably the ladies).

Left to right: Jimi Devine, Kris Krane, Jon Perri

Amazingly, we still don't have any chapters in Beantown. So who's gonna start one?...