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  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Crisis on the corner

Should we legalize drugs to save the hood?

The War on Drugs has been fought from corner to corner in black communities across the United States. Although African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the general population, 40 percent of drug offenders in federal prisons and 45 percent of offenders in state prisons are black.

It's not that blacks make up 40 or 45 percent of American drug users. A study of New York drug arrests from 1997 to 2006 by sociologist Harry Levine and drug policy activist Deborah Small found that 18-to-25-year-old whites are more likely than blacks or Hispanics to smoke marijuana, yet blacks were five times and Hispanics three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Similar statistics can be found in all kinds of studies out there. All of it leads to black and brown communities where young men committing victimless offenses get criminal records, get sent to jail, lose their families, and enter a system wherein a life of crime is more likely than getting an education and a job.

So it's amazing that the drug war and civil rights haven't been more closely tied together the way linguist and conservative political pundit John McWhorter links them in a recent column for the The New Republic's website titled "Getting Darnell Off the Corners: Why America Should Ride the Anti-Drug-War Wave."

I don't know what that guy on the corner is named, Pookie or Tyrone or whatever, but McWhorter wrote "... with no War on Drugs there would be, within one generation, no 'black problem' in the United States. Poverty in general, yes. An education problem in general — probably. But the idea that black America had a particular crisis would rapidly become history, requiring explanation to young people. The end of the War on Drugs is, in fact, what all people genuinely concerned with black uplift should be focused on. ..."

And, in fact, he says all drugs should be legalized. Some civil rights groups have nibbled at the edges of the drug war, sometimes suggesting that marijuana is not as bad as other drugs. The California NAACP went that route last year when it came out in support of Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana in the state. Proposition 19 lost by a 53.5 to 46.5 percent vote in November. But California NAACP President Alice Huffman threw down the gauntlet in saying marijuana law reform is a civil rights issue.

Neil Franklin, president of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition who worked with Huffman in creating the NAACP policy, casts some wisdom on the roiling waters of drug policy debate.

"We went to a prison here in Baltimore with a section for juveniles; it's a high school in prison for them," says Franklin, an African-American with more than 30 years policing experience in Maryland. "We did a workshop with 12. I think 10 were there for drug violations. We asked them what your neighborhood would be like if drugs were legal tomorrow. The number one answer was that they would have no money. There would pretty much be no money in their households. The drug market provides more money into those communities than anything else. The second answer was that the police would no longer harass us if drugs were legal in the community."

The kids focused in on two important issues: economics and police-community relations. Legalizing drugs would cut the economic legs out from under the drug business because legal drugs would be cheaper and easily obtainable. Drug dealers would no longer be able to finance terrorizing neighborhoods, and drug addicts would be a public health issue not a law enforcement problem. Regarding community relations, growing up without an adversarial relationship with the police goes a long way in creating citizens who would rather cooperate with law enforcement than fight it.

Despite the failure of the drug war to reduce the use of illicit drugs, support for prohibition remains strong among many African-Americans. Carl Taylor, a sociology professor at Michigan State University who focuses on crime and other urban issues, takes a hard line against legalization. "I contend strongly that illegal drugs, legal drugs and alcohol are truly the barbed wire around the neck of the black community. I see not one serious plus in my life experiences professionally or personally from illicit narcotics. ... I don't agree with McWhorter. I don't think he knows what he's talking about. If you put the black market out of business, the fellas out on the street are still going to find deeper and better drugs. Just because I don't know what to do doesn't mean you do something that you've got to be out your mind to do from where I'm sitting. The ignorance of very distorted socialization, the racism, the discrimination is not going to go away, the failure of the family structure, interactions. ..."

Indeed, McWhorter's article tends to gloss over the details of how legalizing drugs will work to "magically" fix race relations, nor does he tell us what job "Darnell" will get when he no longer has drug money fueling his lifestyle. In an e-mail last week, McWhorter told me, "It won't be easy and the jobs won't often be upwardly mobile middle-class jobs. The issue here is very specific: Whatever Darnell does instead, anything at all, is better than selling drugs on the corners. That's what matters. But for starters, the Darnells would start doing vocational training at community colleges. The economy will not be this bad forever. We know Darnell can do this because his brother Eugene already does. Eventually the Darnells would install cable, fix heaters, be bail bondsmen, be real estate inspectors, work on boats, work for UPS, be security guards, be hospital assistants. That is, they would do what Eugene has always done."

But these are tough economic times. Where will the money for job training and job creation come from? Activists have an easy answer for that one: the War on Drugs. The group DrugSense (drugsense.org) keeps a running tally with its "Drug War Clock 2011," and Monday afternoon showed that federal and state governments have spent nearly $2 billion so far in 2011; we spent around $40 billion on the War on Drugs in 2010.

To some, that might be money well spent. But a 1994 study by the RAND Drug Policy Institute found that "treatment is 10 times more effective than interdiction in reducing the use of cocaine." It also found that "every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers more than $7 in societal costs, and that additional domestic law enforcement costs 15 times as much as treatment to achieve the same reduction in societal costs." And that doesn't even take into account potential revenues from taxing drug sales and payroll taxes from employed citizens.

Regardless of which tactic you support, prohibition or legalization, the goal is the same. "We pretty much desire to do exactly what the War on Drugs seeks, to reduce crime, disease, death and addiction," Franklin says. "We aim to do it through legalization, regulation and control of drugs rather than prohibition. It's quite obvious to us that the efforts are ineffective; they have failed and it's time for a different approach."

It certainly seems like it's a conversation worth having without histrionics. Go ahead, talk about it. It's therapeutic.

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