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27 January 2006

cruelty and foot-shooting, national self-consumption, racist youth-bashing as a continuing public policy goal

Men guilty of treason were hanged, cut down
while still alive and then disembowelled,
castrated, beheaded, and their body
torn into quarters.
This was a very rare
punishment in the eighteenth century.

(from oldbailyonline -- a history
of the Old Bailey
court of justice
in London UK)

If this issue is new to you, I can't think of a better or more instructive Welcome Portal. Vleeptron urges you to take the time to read it thoroughly.

SSDP is Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. Bob is a member of the SSDP Geezer Auxiliary.

For years I merely admired SSDP from afar, but was afraid to open my Oldsmobile door to invite any of the young members in for some candy. Finally a staffer told me I was an idiot, SSDP would be THRILLED to take my cash and enroll me in its membership, and I'd have to take a number and stand in line behind a lot of other geezer members. It is possible I am not the oldest SSDP member in the Rolodex.

Geezers and Geezeusses have been trying to get some fucking justice and sanity into drug and prison policies in the United States for a long fucking time -- well, all the way back to when we were college and high school and junior high school students, too.

But now, if there is to be a Happy Future for drug law and policy reform, it must fall upon the youthful shoulders of Tiffani, Todd, Mark, Scott and Kimberlee, the SSDP kids -- they call themselves "The D.A.R.E. Generation," Google or q.v. -- to secure that Happy Future.

Us Woodstock-1 Hippies tried our best, but we are fadin' fast, we are shootin' our last Finger Peace Signs here on the porch of the Edgewood Manor Structured Assisted Living Facility No Dogs Allowed.

NORML -- for those readers who live on Pluto and are still running dialup -- is America's oldest cannabis reform organization and political lobby, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The issue which has just festered into a nice pustulent fœtid federal lawsuit centered around the Freedom of Information Act -- since the 1960s, an American citizen's lawful right to read almost all the paperwork and e-mails in the bowels of almost any government agency about almost anything his or her curiosity takes a fancy to see -- is one of the ugliest, most mean-spirited pieces of racist anti-kid bashing currently making America sicker and weaker, sillier and more unjust every year.

Amongst Reform circles, it is often called "Souder's Law," after the flying homophobe psycho evangelical fundie Xian fascist, U.S. Representative Mark Souder, of the Republican persuasion; he represents the Good Citizens of Fort Manure, Indiana. He shoved this little legislative bonbon up the ass of a huge federal education reform bill at the last minute, just before a holiday recess, when no one was paying any attention; there were no legislative hearings, no testimony, no public comment period. When everyone woke up and heard the screaming and human suffering a year or two later, it was The Law Of The Land and almost nobody in Congress had the balls or nipples to publicly ask for its repeal or reform.

U.S. Representative Barney Frank, of the Democratic Persuasion, representing Massachusetts, has made himself the sacrificial lightning rod to collect other votes in Congress to get rid of this piece of shit law; last count I think he had more than sixty declared votes. I like Barney Frank a lot and would like to buy him a big hot corned beef sandwich at a deli.

Policy and Law intended to destroy children is as noxious, toxic and foxic as Policy and Law intended to destroy African-Americans, or homosexuals (Barney Frank is a self-outed one), or Hispanics, or Native-Americans. Note should also be made of the recent Presidents of the United States and candidates for the office who, in years gone by, were regularly blasted out of their skulls on a variety of chemical substances, legal and prohibited. Souder's Law would have made it nigh impossible for several of them to have finished college.

Rich People are excused from Souder's Law. They don't need the bank loans guaranteed by the US government to put their kids through a good or a bad college or university. This was not a worry when the Bush family wanted to put a couple of the high-spirited boys through Yale.


The Chronicle of Higher Education (USA)
Friday 27 January 2006

Lawsuit Accuses Education Dept.
of Unfairly Withholding Data
on Drug Offenders
and Student Aid



A drug-reform advocacy group sued the U.S. Education Department on Thursday, accusing agency officials of blocking the release of information about how many students in each state have been denied federal financial aid because they have been convicted of drug offenses.

According to the U.S. Education Department, a total of 175,000 students have had their aid stripped since 2000, when the agency began enforcing a law that bars those who are convicted of possessing or selling illicit drugs from receiving federal grants or loans for college.

In December 2004, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a nonprofit organization with college and high-school chapters, sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the department asking for a state-by-state breakdown of students affected by the ban. In June 2005, the department agreed to provide the data but denied the group's request to waive a processing fee.

The group, known as SSDP, learned that it would have to pay about $4,100 to the agency before it could obtain the information it was seeking. In the lawsuit it filed on Thursday in the federal district court here, the organization is asking the court to require the department to provide the records without any charge.

At issue is whether the organization's request met the government's criteria to receive a waiver: that the release of the information "is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester."

In a letter to the organization in September, Michell Clark, the department's acting chief information officer, explained his rationale for denying the waiver request. He said that he did not believe the release of the data would "contribute meaningfully or significantly to the general public's understanding of the subject of your request."

He explained that the data requested would provide only a partial answer to the group's question. That's because, he said, the organization had asked for information on only those students who had lost their aid because they had acknowledged -- in answer to a question on the financial-aid application form -- that they had been convicted of a drug offense. The group's request, however, did not ask for data on students who had become ineligible for financial aid because they had refused to respond to the question.

"The information in question will not, by itself, show how many people the law affects and how many people are ineligible for student aid because of it," Mr. Clark wrote.

Mr. Clark also said that he believed that the data would benefit Students for Sensible Drug Policy financially. "The principal goal of your organization is to 'end the war on drugs,'" he wrote. "As SSDP's campaign could directly benefit those who would profit from the deregulation or legalization of drugs, I cannot conclude, based on the information you have made available to me, that SSDP has no commercial interest in the disclosure sought."

In the lawsuit the leaders of the advocacy group rejected the arguments that the release of the information wouldn't be in the public interest and that the group would profit from it. They asserted that, by refusing to waive the fee, Bush administration officials are hoping to prevent the group from gaining access to data that could be used to fight the existing policy. The administration supports the denial of aid to students who are convicted of drug offenses while in college.

The group's leaders said that the release of the data is clearly in the public interest as it will provide greater information to lawmakers about how the law is affecting their constituents. They also argued that, as a nonprofit, the organization "could not use the information for monetary gain or commercial advantage."

"It is no big surprise that the government is afraid to reveal the true impact of its punitive drug-war policies," Scarlett Swerdlow, the organization's executive director, who's departing from the top position next week, stated in a news release. "If citizens and legislators knew how this misguided and ineffective policy impacts their communities, we would be much closer to erasing it from the law books."

A budget-cutting bill that Congress is expected to approve next week would soften the student-aid restriction. That measure would allow the government to deny student aid only to applicants convicted of drug-related offenses committed while they were attending college. Now students can be penalized for convictions that occurred as long as a year or two before they actually enroll.

But the leaders of Students for Sensible Drug Policy said they would not be satisfied with anything less than a full repeal of the law.

Copyright © 2006 by The Chronicle of Higher Education


California NORML (415) 563-5858 //
2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114


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