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There Are Now ‘Food Pharmacies’ That Dispense Fruit And Vegetables

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Many medical issues have symptoms that can be managed or preventative with exercise and nutritional care, but access to things like fresh fruits and vegetables or healthy protein can be challenging for certain populations. An experiment in San Francisco called a “food pharmacy” has had amazing results.




The Silver Avenue Family Health Center has expanded a traditional food pantry into a place where patients struggling with high blood pressure and diabetes can discuss nutrition, recipes, and receive cooking demonstrations for improving their diet and health. Mother Jones reports that patients can access the food pharmacy with a referral, and that the program has been so successful, it will be expanding to four other primary care clinics in the coming year.

The program was based on another successful enterprise in Boston, called the Preventative Food Pantry and run by the Boston Medical Center. According to their website, this pantry welcomes patients with “cancer, HIV/AIDS, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity, food allergies and other chronic conditions,” offering them a “prescription” to come by twice a month and pick up enough food for three or four days worth of meals.




While many food pantries emphasize goods that can be stored for a long time, like grains or canned items, BMC’s pantry focuses on healthy perishables that don’t last on shelves, but are good for patients. They offer fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. They now feed over 7,000 people a month, and derive some of their produce from the hospital’s rooftop garden.




Dr. Rita Nguyen, of the San Francisco public health department, spearheaded the effort to open a similar location on her city.

“Often we just pile on prescriptions and ignore the other half of the equation for wellness, which is food,” Nguyen told Mother Jones. She pointed out that most primary care physicians prioritize care that will make them money, which means action over discussion. She says most will not “spend 15 minutes talking to someone about their diet” when they could prescribe something and send them on their way.

It’s difficult to measure the efficiency of the food pantry, since patients are getting their food form other sources as well. But initial findings are positive.

In a three-month trial, 75 percent of patients said they had “greater access to healthy foods.” Half had better blood sugar levels, and 38 percent reported lower blood pressure. For many, the issue isn’t so much a reluctance to eat healthy, but a lack of access to what the pharmacy can offer. With a combination of education and supply, doctors may be able to bridge the gap to health that so many people struggling with poverty and illness need help getting over.

Article originally appeared in Green Matters 

Former Federal Prosecutor Purchases California’s First Legal Cannabis

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(Greenstate) In one of the many surprises from the launch of commercial cannabis sales in California on Jan. 1 was the backstory of the first buyer.
A former federal prosecutor turned legal mastermind of the marijuana industry named Henry Wykowski bought the Golden State’s first legal bag of marijuana. 



 Wykowski paid $20.01 cash for a gram of Neville’s Purple at 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 at the Oakland dispensary Harborside. He didn’t wait in line for hours, either. He’s Harborside’s tax attorney, so the purchase opportunity was a sort of gift from client to counsel for years of effective service.
Not only did cannabis prohibition end in California with a former federal attorney buying marijuana, but Wykowski did it in the very building he saved from federal asset forfeiture.
 Wykowski is one of the world’s top cannabis attorneys and specializes in complex white collar litigation like federal asset forfeiture and tax cases.
Among his many victories, Wykowski prevailed in federal court twice against prosecutors seeking to seize the state’s largest dispensaries — Harborside and Berkeley Patients Group. Both cases were some of the biggest of the 2011 federal crackdown on medical marijuana, and both ended in the government dismissing the forfeiture actions with prejudice, meaning they cannot be tried again for the same crime.
In 2017, Wykowski was in tax court battling for reasonable tax rates for lawful cannabis businesses. Under ‘80s-era tax law, licensed marijuana stores are treated like illegal street dealers and face taxation rates of as much as 80 percent. Harborside prevailing in tax court could help set national precedent.



We met up with Wykowski after his purchase at Harborside for a short Q&A:
GS: When you think back on the arc of your life, did you ever imagine it would lead to this point?
HW: I do remember when we used to smoke in New York and we talked about when we were going to be adults and cannabis would be legal and we’d go to cocktail parties where they’d be handing out not only wine but some joints.
The fact that it’s now legal, I’m so excited about it, I’m — it’s just — wow. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe.
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Library Allows Young Readers to Work Off Late Fees By Reading More

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Adorable little boy, sitting in a book store, looking at books

In today’s technology-obsessed world, getting kids to read more actual books is certainly a worthy goal. Libraries in Los Angeles are trying a new program to ensure young readers log more hours devouring books.




Los Angeles County is working with local schools to ensure that all students are signed up for library cards. Additionally, they are eliminating late fees for readers younger than 21 years old. As a book-obsessed kid who often racked up my fair share of library late fees, this is a perk I definitely could have used!

The new rules go into effect immediately, but is not retroactive for those who had past fines. But, the county is offering a smart solution for those children, too. They will now be able to pay off their balances by simply reading more!

View image on Twitter

 




They’re letting kids eliminate $5 of fees for every hour of reading they do at the library. “You tell them you’ll read and they’ll sign you in and you start,” Leilany Medina, a fifth-grader at Morris K. Hamasaki Elementary in East L.A., explained to the Los Angeles Times. “When your head starts losing the book you can stop reading and they tell you how much money they took away.” Medina is so invested in her reading habit that she hopes to become a librarian herself one day.

Administrators hope that the policy will encourage kids to use the library more, and in turn, read more. “When charges accrue on a young person’s account, generally, they don’t pay the charges and they don’t use the card,” Darcy Hastings, the L.A. County’s assistant library administrator for youth services, said. “A few dollars on their accounts means they stop using library services.”

kids reading books photo
Flickr | PersonalCreations.com

So far, the policy seems to be having the intended effect. According to Aleah Jurnecka, children’s librarian at East L.A. Library, at least 100 students a week opt to read off their debt. She says the policy is also appreciated by parents.

What a great idea! Hopefully other library systems will follow suit.

Article originally appeared in Simply Most 

Oregonians Are Going Nuts Over Pumping Their Own Gas

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A new gas pumping law passed in June of 2017 is now causing a shakeup on social media. The law, which allows people in towns of under 40,0000 to pump their own gas, is inspiring rage, confusion, and quite a bit of trolling from people in other states. Here’s a selection of the best reactions to the law, all inspired by a poll from a Medford Oregon CBS station. We’re not sure which we enjoy more, the hissy fits or the trolls.

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Study: Average American Breaks 3 Laws A Day

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“Outright innocence is not sufficient to escape the brutality of detention.”
If you reside in America and it is dinnertime, you have almost certainly broken the law. In his book Three Felonies a Day, civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate estimates that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day. This toll does not count an avalanche of other laws — for example misdemeanors or civil violations such as disobeying a civil contempt order — all of which confront average people at every turn.




An article in the Economist (July 22, 2010) entitled “Too many laws, too many prisoners” states,

Between 2.3m and 2.4m Americans are behind bars, roughly one in every 100 adults. If those on parole or probation are included, one adult in 31 is under “correctional” supervision. As a proportion of its total population, America incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany and 12 times more than Japan.

By contrast, in 1970, less than one in 400 Americans was incarcerated. Why has the prison population more than quadrupled over a few decades? Why are you, as an average person and daily felon, more vulnerable to arrest than at any other time?

There is a simple answer but no single explanation as to how the situation arose or why it continues to accelerate out of control. The answer: a constant flood of new and broadly interpreted laws are criminalizing entire categories of daily life while, at the same time, the standards required for arrest and conviction have been severely diluted. The result is that far too many people are arrested and imprisoned for acts that should not be viewed as criminal at all or should receive minimal punishment.

In some cases, the violated laws are so obscure, vague, or complicated in language that even the police are ignorant of them. In other cases, outright innocence is not sufficient to escape the brutality of detention.




Some Sample Cases
(Note: the following examples are selected to illustrate the wide range of criminalization that is occurring and so their circumstances differ significantly from each other. Nevertheless, they share certain factors: the criminalization of harmless, trivial acts; the enforcement of unreasonable rules; the severity with which any noncompliance is punished; the indifference to the human devastation wrought by law.)

In 2005, while a passenger in his family car, Anthony W. Florence was mistakenly arrested for a bench warrant on traffic tickets he had already satisfied; the proof of payment he carried was to no avail. During seven days in jail, Florence was strip-searched twice, even though the guards admitted they had no reasonable suspicion of contraband. He was otherwise deprived of rights; for example, guards watched him shower and forced him to undergo a routine delousing.1

Eventually released, the attempt to get justice has taken Florence years. On October 12, the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Florence v. Burlington, et al., in which the question is “whether the Fourth Amendment permits a jail to conduct a suspicionless strip search of every individual arrested for any minor offense no matter what the circumstances.”2

According to his lawsuit, Florence is joined by people who were similarly treated after being arrested and jailed for such crimes as “driving with a noisy muffler, failing to use a turn signal, and riding a bicycle without an audible bell.”Download PDF

In 2003, “three pickup trucks” with “six armed police in flak jackets” pulled up to 66-year-old George Norris’s house in Texas.

Norris was detained for four hours while they ransacked his home and confiscated 37 boxes of possessions without offering a warrant or an explanation. In March 2004, Norris was indicted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species for “smuggling” the orchids he had ordered and paid for to run a side business. Norris was thrown into the same cell as a suspected murder and two suspected drug dealers.3




The Economist reports,

Prosecutors described Mr. Norris as the “kingpin” of an international smuggling ring. He was dumbfounded: his annual profits were never more than about $20,000. When prosecutors suggested that he should inform on other smugglers in return for a lighter sentence, he refused, insisting he knew nothing beyond hearsay. He pleaded innocent. But an undercover federal agent had ordered some orchids from him, a few of which arrived without the correct papers. For this, he was charged with making a false statement to a government official, a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Since he had communicated with his suppliers, he was charged with conspiracy, which also carries a potential five-year term.

Unable to pay legal bills, Norris pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 17 months. For bringing prescription pills into prison, he was thrown into solitary confinement for 71 days. But “[t]he prison was so crowded … that even in solitary he had two room-mates.”

In 2000, a poor kid from foster care named T.J. Hill thought he had found a path to success when he received a wrestling scholarship to Cal State Fullerton. School did not work out, and he was arrested in 2006 for possession of psilocybin (mushrooms).




He was put on five years’ probation with a suspended imposition of sentence. In other words, if he completed his probation successfully, he would not have a criminal record.4

In November 2008, he left the state and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Although the original charge was minor and no further illegal activity occurred, T.J. was jailed on $100,000 bail to prevent flight risk. His family has spent thousands on legal fees. Now well known for his volunteer work with children, even police officers are hoping T.J. escapes more jail time. As one of them said, “He’s a good guy. He’s changed lives.” Whether he will be allowed to continue doing so or will become dehumanized through a senseless, brutal imprisonment waits to be seen.

Such stories abound. Most share characteristics with the foregoing three. For example, the criminal activity being punished is trivial and violates no one’s rights. The crimes are mala prohibita rather than mala en se. The first refers to crimes that exist only because rules were passed to control people’s nonviolent behavior, like the buying of orchids; the second refers to crimes that exist because the acts are intrinsically wrong, like rape. Another characteristic shared: the punishments are extreme and any attempt to correct them is often ruinously expensive in terms of time and money. But the ultimate punishment is usually the police record that follows these “criminals” for life, shutting off worlds of opportunities.




Ask yourself, How different am I from Florence, with his paid-up-but-still-punished traffic tickets? Or from Norris, who accidentally purchased a harmless but illegal flower? Or from T.J. who made a mistake by breaking a malum prohibitum law against drugs?

If something similar happens to you or your children, do you want the lives of those you love to be destroyed by clerical error, understandable ignorance, or a youthful mistake? With every passing law, that prospect becomes more probable.

What Path to Justice?
Even thinking about how to shift a government system toward freedom or justice can be exhausting. The penal system is particularly daunting because its raw brutality seems to leave no room for reason. Fortunately, the best approach may be to address the penal system’s precursors: the legislatures that create laws, the law enforcement and judiciaries that impose them. Without fundamental change at the early stages, effective change at the final stage of imprisonment is unlikely.

“The penal system is particularly daunting because its raw brutality seems to leave no room for reason.”
Libertarianism has evolved sophisticated theories of what constitutes a proper justice system and how to implement it. One of the most popular theories is based on restitution, rather than retribution or punishment. Restitution is the legal system in which a person “makes good” on a harm or wrong done to another individual and does so directly; if you steal $100, then you pay back $100 and reasonable damages directly to the victim of your theft. You do not pay a debt to society or to the state by going to prison. You do not undergo “punishment” other than the damages assessed. You make your victim “whole” — and, perhaps, a bit more for his trouble.

Court Rules Bakers Must Pay $135,000 for Not Making Gay Wedding Cake

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A husband-and-wife baking team must pay a $135,000 fine for declining to make a cake for the wedding of two women, Oregon’s second-highest court has ruled.

A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a decision by a state agency that led to the fine and forced Aaron and Melissa Klein to close their bakery.




The court ruled that baking wedding cakes is not “speech, art, or other expression” protected by the First Amendment. The judges said the state did not “impermissibly burden the Kleins’ right to the free exercise of religion” because it compelled the Christian bakers only to comply with “a neutral law of general applicability.”

Oregon law prohibits businesses from refusing service because of a customer’s sexual orientation, as well as because of race, gender, and other personal characteristics.

“We are very disappointed in the court’s decision,” Michael Berry, deputy general counsel at First Liberty Institute, which represents the Kleins, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Friday. “I think that punishing people for their religious beliefs is … not American, and it’s wrong.”

“It does not matter how you were born or who you love,” one of the lesbians, Laurel Bowman-Cryer, said in a written statement following the ruling. “All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally. Oregon will not allow a ‘Straight Couples Only’ sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores.”

Boyden Gray, former White House counsel to President George H.W. Bush, argued the Kleins’ case. Gray told the three judges that the state violated the two bakers’ rights to free speech, religious freedom, and due process.




The Kleins had owned and operated Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Gresham, Oregon.




After the Kleins declined in 2013 to make a cake for the wedding of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, citing their Christian religious beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, they also faced protests that eventually led them to shut down their bakery.

In July 2015, an administrative judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Kleins violated state law by discriminating against the Bowman-Cryers on the basis of their sexual orientation. The judge ordered the Kleins to pay the $135,000 for physical, emotional, and mental damages to the two women, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

John Stossel Exposes How Bias the New York Times Really Is

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Just how deceitful and bias has the NY Times been this year? Well, John Stossel demonstrates just how bad it’s really been.






What are you thoughts? Do you think the Times is even worth reading anymore?

How a Nonprofit Is Rescuing Food Waste by Turning It Into Soup for the Poor

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A Cincinnati chef named Suzy DeYoung was once a caterer who had first hand experience with how vendors, restaurants, and even grocery stores pick-and-choose the prettiest produce to make meals. The amount of food waste Americans create is staggering, and as a chef DeYoung knew that an ugly vegetable could make as good a meal as the most pristine and spotless one. That’s just not what her high-end customers wanted. DeYoung told Fast Company that she had to pass by a lot of good food to make a pretty plate.




“That always kind of haunted me and I hated that,” she explained.

In her hometown of Cincinnati, the waste seemed particularly egregious. Cincinnati’s childhood poverty rate is nearly double the national average. Knowing this statistic and the amount of food being regularly thrown out, DeYoung decided to do something about it and started a nonprofit called La Soupe. La Soupe collects leftover produce from grocery stores and farmer’s markets, then turns them into soup that can be frozen and distributed to hungry families.




In 2016, La Soupe collected 125,000 pounds of produce, which prevented it from taking up space in a landfill. They distributed 800 quarts a week with the help of 47 agencies around city who participate in La Soupe’s programming during the school year, but estimate on their website that they’ve given out 95,000 servings overall.

It takes 200 volunteers to collect all their ingredients, in a similar system to what’s popular with food banks. They use an app that makes it easy for the company’s donating, like Kroger, Jungle Jims, Crosset, and Sugar Creek, to tell La Soupe what they have to be picked up. Then the volunteers sort what needs to be used first, so it doesn’t spoil, and if anything is truly inedible it gets fed to local farm animals.

But why soup? Well, it’s delicious, obviously, but it also an extremely cost effective meal.

“You can stretch it, meaning if all you have are potatoes and onions you can make a lot by adding water versus just giving somebody a potato,” explained DeYoung. 




It’s also easy for families to heat up to eat, who may be too busy or not have the skills to cook a more complicated meal. But they do have a program for families that want to learn. Cincinnati Gives A Crock is a class they offer that teaches students in schools and community centers how to use a crockpot, and how to make a soup of their own. The great thing about soup is that almost anyone can learn to make something hearty and healthy—and you’ll never know if the carrot was shaped super weird before it went in the blender.

Article originally published in Green Matters

Cop Steals Life-Savings from Innocent Musician

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Phil Parhamovich is a musician from Madison, Wisconsin. Over the years, he saved up $91,800, only to have it seized by Wyoming Highway Patrol during a routine traffic stop near Cheyenne.
Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to take and keep cash, cars and other property without ever charging someone with a crime.




Phil was never accused of, or charged with, a crime. Yet, he found himself in the fight of his life to recover the money that belonged to him.
Luckily, Phil reached out to the Institute for Justice (IJ), and together we got back Phil’s life savings. But the fight is far from over; Phil’s story only highlights the urgent need to end civil forfeiture.
An Unjust Practice 
Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement to take and keep cash, cars and other property without ever charging someone with a crime. Before that fateful March day, Phil had never heard of civil forfeiture. He was just a musician driving through Wyoming to a show in Salt Lake City. Phil had big plans for his life savings, which he brought with him for safekeeping.
He wanted to put a downpayment on a historic music studio in Madison where bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Garbage recorded albums. Phil had dreams of opening up the recording studio to other bands and living in an apartment above.
But Phil’s dream of owning the music studio came to a halt during a windy drive on I-80. Battling famous Wyoming wind, Phil was having a hard time staying in his lane. He was soon pulled over by Wyoming Highway Patrol for failing to signal a lane change. During the stop, the trooper detained Phil in the patrol car and aggressively questioned him about details of his trip. The questions were not even related to the reason for pulling Phil over.




The trooper then circled Phil’s minivan with a drug-sniffing dog. After what appeared to be coaching with a tennis ball, the dog alerted to the van and provided the trooper with an excuse to search it. Neither the trooper nor other officers assisting him found anything illegal during the search. All they could find were Phil’s life savings stowed away inside a music speaker. Carrying cash is not a crime. But Phil had no way of knowing that. So, when the trooper implied that carrying cash was illegal, Phil—scared that he could be arrested—told the trooper that the money did not belong to him.
Seizing on this opportunity, the officers provided Phil with a way out. If he were to sign a pre-printed waiver form “giving” Wyoming law enforcement the money that they just found, he would be free to go. Bizarrely, the waiver stated: “I . . . the owner of the property or currency described below, desire to give this property or currency, along with any and all interests and ownership that I may have in it, to the State of Wyoming, Division of Criminal Investigation, to be used for narcotics law enforcement purposes.” At least two states—Texas and Virginia—have banned law enforcement from using such roadside waivers to pressure motorists to sign away their property.

Hours after IJ announced it was representing Phil, a state judge ordered the government to give back Phil’s money.




One of the officers told Phil that if he signed the form, he would be free to go. And so, on the side of the road and with no attorney present, Phil signed the waiver. The officers wrote Phil a $25 ticket for not wearing his seatbelt and sent him on his way.
The Upside-Down World of Civil Forfeiture 
Four days after the traffic stop, Phil tried to revoke the waiver and get his money back, explaining what happened and asking to be notified of any court hearings. But Wyoming officials never sent Phil a notice regarding the court proceedings, even though they knew exactly where he lived and how to contact him.
This is the upside-down world of civil forfeiture: it creates a perverse incentive for law enforcement to seize and keep as much property as possible. And even though Wyoming passed modest reforms last year, law enforcement found a way to dodge these reforms through the use of roadside waivers.
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Ben Carson Just Admitted The Truth About the War on Drugs (VIDEO)

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(REASON) Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was a typical modern Republican drug warrior during his presidential run in 2016. As Tom Angell at the Marijuana Moment site reminds us, the former neurosurgeon supported medical marijuana but was quick to discuss the alleged IQ damage the drug can cause, believed it could be a “gateway drug” to more harmful practices, and insisted he would, if elected president, enforce federal anti-pot laws even in states that had legalized.




In a speech last week at the Manhattan Institute, Carson showed he recognizes the drug war causes direct, unwarranted harm to America’s poor, encouraging those of us who like to believe even politicians can be persuaded by arguments spread by libertarians (and others) about the deleterious effects of the drug war on America.

In a talk lamenting that “in many communities there are more black males incarcerated than there are in college,” Carson acknowledged “the war on poverty sometimes conflicted with the war on drugs, which often dealt harshly with non-violent offenders, taking men away from their families, and disproportionately affecting minority communities.”




Carson does not, alas, have direct authority to help end government law enforcement policies regarding marijuana and other drugs that have those bad effects. But it is heartening to see the truth seep through the higher levels of the Trump administration. Let’s hope Jeff Sessions might be listening.

Video of the speech, given last week at the Manhattan Institute at a symposium called “Prospects for Black America.” The relevant line, in the context of a critique of aspects of post-Great Society policy, starts around 12:40.