Drug War Briefs The Mayor Lights Up

April 9- Associated Press reports: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be featured in an advertising campaign by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the group said Monday.

The $500,000 campaign will feature bus shelter signs and telephone booth posters carrying a quote from Bloomberg, when asked if he had ever smoked marijuana, declaring: "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it."

Bloomberg made the remark to a New York magazine reporter last year before he was elected mayor. The Washington-based group is using Bloomberg as the centerpiece of its campaign to urge the city to stop arresting and jailing people for smoking marijuana.
Bloomberg said Monday that the city would continue making such arrests, no matter what he may have said in the past.

"I'm not thrilled they're using my name," he said. "I suppose there's that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it."

Reuters adds: The text of the ad said NORML applauds Bloomberg's candor, and lumped him in with former President Bill Clinton, New York Gov. George Pataki and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as another public official who it says has admitted he smoked pot.

"Millions of people smoke marijuana today," said NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup, a lawyer who says he has been smoking pot for 30 years, at a midtown news conference on Tuesday. "They come from all walks of life, and that includes your own mayor."

"We are not here today to bury Caesar, we are here to praise him," NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said at Tuesday's news conference, adding that Bloomberg's remarks were atypical for a political figure.

"We're not trying to hurt the mayor in anyway," Stroup added. "We did not out the mayor. All of these people we have mentioned (in the ad) outed themselves."

In response to a question of whether it was ethical to use Bloomberg's picture in the ads, Stroup said, "I would turn that question around to say 'Is it ethical to talk in a friendly way about your own marijuana smoking while at the same time arresting 50,000 other New Yorkers?"'

UK's The Scotsman, adds: Mr Bloomberg, who last weekend attended New York's Tartan Day celebrations alongside Sir Sean Connery, was a pupil at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore from 1960 to 1964.

There he joined a fraternity that he once described in his autobiography Bloomberg by Bloomberg as "not much different from those in the classic John Belushi movie Animal House."

He wrote: "Though Hopkins was a serious place, and very competitive scholastically, we did drink and party a lot together. Maybe all that enjoyable wasted time had long-term benefits after all."

April 9- Colorado's Daily Camera reports: A large majority of legislators in the Dutch Parliament's lower chamber said Monday that they will support a government-backed bill to legalize marijuana prescriptions for severely ill patients.

Health Ministry spokesman Bas Kuik said marijuana for medicinal purposes will probably be available in drugstores within a year or so.

April 9- West Virginia's Charleston Daily Mail reports: Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass used to oversee the state workers who slashed and burned wild marijuana in an effort to eradicate it from the hills of the Potomac Valley. But that was more than two decades ago. Now Douglass is the man in charge of growing hemp in West Virginia.

"I sit here and whatever the laws demand, we in the Department of Agriculture will attempt to move in that direction," Douglass said this week.

Gov. Bob Wise recently signed the Industrial Hemp Act, kicking into motion a plan for West Virginians to cultivate the marijuana-like plant for use in clothing, bath products, car dashboards and other products.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson kcnelson@premier1.net
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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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