------------------------------------------------------------------- Portland: Free Screening of "Sex, Drugs & Democracy," 1/28 (A news release from the Drug Reform Coordination Network says director Jonathan Blank and producer Barclay Powers will attend the showing Thursday night at the Fifth Avenue Cinema of the documentary about the success of Dutch cannabis policies.) Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 17:53:17 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: DRCNet (email@example.com) Subject: PORTLAND: Free Screening of Sex, Drugs & Democracy, 1/28 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org DRCNet members and other interested parties are invited to attend a free screening of the documentary "Sex, Drugs & Democracy" on Thursday, January 28, 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm, at the Fifth Avenue Cinema, 510 SW Hall, (503) 725-4470. Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis at Borders Books in downtown Portland at 708 SW 3rd Avenue, (503) 220-5911. Director Jonathan Blank and producer Barclay Powers will be in attendance at the screenings and available for questions. "Sex Drugs & Democracy," written and directed by Jonathan Blank, looks at the policies and politics of The Netherlands, especially as they relate to drug policy and the sex industry. Copies of this film were recently sent to every member of Congress by a wealthy businessman seeking to stimulate debate. "Sex, Drugs & Democracy" is also available as a free gift to any DRCNet member who donates $75 or more to our work. To donate by credit card, or to print out a form to mail in with your check or money order, use our secure online form at https://www.drcnet.org/cgi-shl/drcreg.cgi. For information on purchasing the video independently, visit http://www.redhatproductions.com, or ask at your local video store. Jonathan Blank's newest film, Anarchy TV, featuring Alan Thicke, Dweezil, Moon, Ahmet and Diva Zappa, Jonathan Penner, Jessica Hecht and others, will receive its world premier in Portland at Cinema 21 on February 5th. For more information or to schedule an interview with Jonathan Blank, call Wendy Brickman at (408) 633-4444.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Steven Dons: New Information Developed (A list subscriber who's apparently been reading the Portland NORML news notes prohibition agents from the Marijuana Task Force apparently became interested in the future cop killer while violating a legal settlement in which they had agreed to stop using a "trap-and-trace" device identifying callers who telephoned American Agriculture, the hydroponics store at Southeast 92nd Avenue and Stark Street.) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 03:28:45 -0800 From: Paul Freedom (email@example.com) Organization: Oregon Libertarian Patriots To: CRRH mailing list (firstname.lastname@example.org), Constitutional Cannabis Patriots (email@example.com) Subject: [cp] [Fwd: Steven Dons: New Information Developed -------- Original Message -------- Subject: Steven Dons: New Information Developed Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 11:48:44 -0800 From: wolfeyes (firstname.lastname@example.org) Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: CWA To: Paul Freedom (firstname.lastname@example.org) Carl Worden wrote: Hi Paul: You can and perhaps should, pass this on to the cp group. I received a call from an individual today who claims to have information impacting the Dons case as well as all those "knock & talks" we're so fond of. The cops have always stated on their affidavits that CRI's [Confidential and Reliable Informant - ed.] have been responsible for leads generating "walk & talks". It now appears the so-called CRI was really an illegal wire-tap on a company called American Agriculture, a company marijuana growers often frequent and call. Here's the best part: One of the cops in the "know" got fooled into believing he was talking to another cop, and he spilled the beans on the entire operation -- ON TAPE!!! That tape has been used to throw out one case already. I am in the process of securing the transcripts of that tape recording. Be patient. If true, the cops were led to Dons' door on illegally obtained evidence, and not the word of a Confidential and Reliable Informant. We have also learned the cops have used the old "smell" tactic before to make a warrantless search once they get to the home they were led to by the illegal tap. Steven Dons' surviving family members need to know about this. More to follow. Carl F. Worden Liaison & Intelligence Officer Southern Oregon Militia *** To subscribe to the Constitutional Cannabis Patriots send a blank message to email@example.com Posting:To post to the Constitutional Cannabis Patriots send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Constitutional Cannabis Patriots http://www.teleport.com/~nepal/canpat.htm
------------------------------------------------------------------- Records Show Drugs On Treasurer's Shirt (The Herald, in Everett, Washington, says police documents obtained Monday by the newspaper allege traces of cocaine were found in the pocket of the pajamas worn by Snohomish County Treasurer Bob Dantini during a May altercation with his former fiancee. Dantini indicates the woman is trying to frame him, and the woman has stopped cooperating with authorities. No charges will be filed and Dantini will seek re-election.) Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 17:50:03 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US WA: Records Show Drugs On Treasurer's Shirt Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Source: Herald, The (WA) Copyright: 1999 The Daily Herald Co. Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.heraldnet.com/ Author: Scott North And Jim Haley RECORDS SHOW DRUGS ON TREASURER'S SHIRT Dantini Denies Cocaine Use, Won't Face Criminal Charges Traces of cocaine were found in the pocket of pajamas that Snohomish County Treasurer Bob Dantini was wearing during a May altercation with his former fiancee, according to police documents obtained Monday by The Herald. Dantini was stunned by the news, and denied ever using cocaine. "Never," he said. "Not once." The particles of cocaine were found in tests conducted by the Washington State Patrol crime lab after Dantini, 48, was arrested May 28 following an alleged drug-related fracas with his ex-girlfriend, then 27, the documents show. The woman told investigators from the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office that Dantini had a drug problem, and that the pair fought that night after she allegedly caught him using cocaine in the bathroom of his home near Snohomish, records show. The woman claimed she ripped Dantini's plaid flannel pajama top trying to get at a vial of cocaine he allegedly stuffed in a pocket, according to police reports. The woman said she hid the drugs in a shoe in her car, and tearfully told deputies where to find it after they were summoned to the home with a 911 call, according to court documents. Dantini is not charged with a crime and won't be, the state Attorney General's Office announced Thursday. There are problems with the case, notably that the woman has ceased to cooperate with police and prosecutors, assistant attorney general Jerry Ackerman said Monday. Dantini said he was surprised by the lab report, and insisted the cocaine "wasn't in the pocket when I had the shirt on." He alleged the cocaine found on his clothing came from his former fiancee. The woman had access to the pajama top during the hours he was jailed in the aftermath of the fight, he said. "If they (police) found cocaine, that's the only possibility," he said. The fight wasn't over drugs, but his desire to end his four-year relationship with the woman, Dantini said, adding that she was the aggressor and he had merely protected himself. Dantini said the pajama top was torn in the altercation, and that he asked deputies the morning after the fight to take it as evidence in support of his story. The treasurer initially was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence assault, but the charge was swiftly dropped after lab tests showed cocaine was involved. Sheriff Rick Bart on Monday stood by his investigation and his department's decision to recommend that prosecutors consider filing a drug possession charge against Dantini. Bart said he instructed detectives to have Dantini's pajama top examined for drugs in part to test the veracity of the woman's story. "When the results from the lab test came back, we felt we had enough probable cause to refer the case as a felony," he said. Ackerman said he understood why sheriff's detectives would recommend charges. But he also said that the woman swiftly stopped cooperating with investigators and has made it clear that she won't be a witness against her former boyfriend. What the woman told detectives immediately after the fracas with Dantini would not be admissible in a criminal case unless she was willing to testify herself, Ackerman said. Conversely, the woman can't be hauled into court and forced to testify about the drugs because of her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, Ackerman said. "What we know is the vial of cocaine was hidden in her shoe in her car," he said. Moreover, the woman acknowledged handling the cocaine and ripping Dantini's shirt, he said. Given those facts, there is no way to show that the woman herself didn't somehow leave the drug traces on Dantini's clothing, and no way to convince a jury otherwise, Ackerman said. "Without her testimony, I can't see any way that we are going to do that," he added. Dantini is nearing the end of his first four-year term in office. He intends to seek re-election, and said earlier he is hopeful his legal troubles won't be an issue in the race. The Herald obtained the lab test and police reports using state public record laws. The documents had been secret during the investigation, but became public records after the case was closed Thursday without charges being filed.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Drug Tests Support Claims Against Snohomish County Official (The Seattle Times version) Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 19:34:02 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US WA: Drug Tests Support Claims Against Snohomish County Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John Smith Pubdate: Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Source: Seattle Times (WA) Copyright: 1999 The Seattle Times Company Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.seattletimes.com/ Author: Nancy Montgomery, Seattle Times Snohomish County bureau DRUG TESTS SUPPORT CLAIMS AGAINST SNOHOMISH COUNTY OFFICIAL Lab tests showed cocaine on the pajama top Bob Dantini, Snohomish County treasurer, wore the night he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, according to police documents released yesterday. According to a State Patrol crime-lab report released to The Seattle Times under the state open-records law, examination of a plaid flannel top Dantini provided to county sheriff's deputies armed with a search warrant turned up cocaine residue in the left breast pocket. The evidence is consistent with what Dantini's girlfriend told deputies May 28, when she called 911 from Dantini's Snohomish-area home. Crying and trembling, she told officers Dantini had assaulted her because she had torn a vial of cocaine from his pajama pocket after she'd found him with it in a bathroom. She then led officers to a vial of what tests later proved to be cocaine, which she said she'd taken from Dantini's pocket and hidden in a shoe inside her car. Dantini could not be reached for comment yesterday. Through his attorney, James Trujillo, he has previously denied having cocaine and has denied assaulting the woman, saying she assaulted him because she was jealous of his relationship with another woman. The state Attorney General's Office on Thursday declined prosecuting drug charges against Dantini, 48, because the girlfriend would not cooperate with investigators. Without her testimony, said Jerry Ackerman, an assistant attorney general to whom Snohomish County prosecutors had referred the case, there was nothing to tie the cocaine to Dantini. Ackerman last night said the cocaine found in the pocket didn't change that fact. Without the woman's testimony, Ackerman said, her statements to police would be inadmissible "hearsay" in court, and a jury would not hear her version of how the cocaine came to be on the pajama top. Instead, they would learn only that a vial of cocaine was found in her car - and perhaps that she had torn Dantini's pocket during a confrontation. The woman, 27, told officers that she did not want to help in Dantini's prosecution because she was concerned about his career, according to police reports, and that she just wanted to "move on." If she had agreed to testify, Ackerman said, chances are the case would have been prosecuted. The case was referred to the Attorney General's Office to avoid a conflict of interest: County prosecutors represent Dantini in his position as county treasurer. Sheriff Rick Bart said last night he was "frustrated" by the decision not to prosecute Dantini - and the fact it took seven months to be made.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cops Spied on Kubbys' Bedroom (A list subscriber and associate of Steve Kubby, the medical marijuana patient/activist and 1998 Libertarian for California governor, says the police report on the investigation that led to Kubby's bust for cultivation last Tuesday indicated prohibition agents videotaped Kubby and his wife and co-defendant from a hill behind their home with a clear view of the master bedroom. A DEA agent also lied to the Kubbys' landlord in an attempt to have her evict them.) Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 00:10:54 -0700 (MST) From: Citizens for Compassionate Cannabis (email@example.com) To: Citizens for Compassionate Cannabis (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Cops Spied on Kubbys' Bedroom Evidence in Kubby Case Obtained Through Bedroom Surveillance *** FREE THE KUBBYS! NATIONAL CALL/FAX-IN DAY WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27, 1999 The first "HEMP CHIPS FOR FREEDOM" CAMPAIGN To participate, see: http://www.levellers.org/sk_callin.htm *** Narcs observed and videotaped Kubbys having sex Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 00:22:56 -0600 From: Arthur Sobey (email@example.com) Friends, I just spoke with Steve, and he relayed some new information. Today their attorney received the official police report on the investigation that led to the raid last Tuesday. It is disturbing. They haven't read more than the first few pages of a five inch thick report. So far they know the following: The investigation began with the receipt of an anonymous letter that was mailed in Long Beach, California. The anonymous author claimed the Kubbys were growing thousands of marijuana plants and were feeding marijuana to their small daughter Brooke, age three. I don't believe the anonymous letter was genuine, but consider the action if an anonymous letter was received claiming that Governor Davis was growing pot and feeding it to his kids. I'm sure it would have been trashed as a crank letter. The Kubbys were surveilled from a hill behind their house with a clear view of the master bedroom. Their toilet habits and sexual habits were videotaped by the pigs during the surveillance. Michele is distraught as you can well imagine. Steve is just angry. I've seen it all before, and know that this is just the beginning of a very traumatic experience for them both. Cops in this country are out of control. The day of the arrest a female DEA agent went to their landlord and told her that over 400 four foot tall plants were seized, that the home reeked of marijuana, and that it was so badly trashed out that it would require extensive repairs if the government didn't seize it first. Cool huh? This DEA NARC wanted to panic the landlord into kicking them out on the street. The landlord was most relieved today to find the home in good condition. She - the landlord - couldn't believe the lies told to her face by the DEA NARC. She assured the Kubbys that they can stay as long as they want, warpig lies and all. I just had to get this out tonight. This isn't the country I invested my life in. Cops in this country aren't supposed to videotape your sexual activities and toilet activities based on an anonymous crank letter that was probably a police plant to begin with. Steve and Michele aren't the only ones who feel raped when such things occur. I feel like kicking a hole in the wall of my living room and throwing up at the same time. There will be much more info after their attorney has had time to read the entire report. I usually sign my posts with "peace." Tonight call me ANGRY! Art Sobey For more information on the Kubby case and how you can help, see: American Medical Marijuana Organization http://www.levellers.org/ammo.htm
------------------------------------------------------------------- Lockyer Won't Get Involved In Prosecution Of Gubernatorial Candidate (According to the Associated Press, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer told the Auburn Journal that Bill Lockyer would not intervene in the prosecution of the 1998 Libertarian candidate and his wife, who are accused of growing marijuana at their home, despite their status as medical-marijuana patients.) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 07:26:23 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Wire: MMJ: Lockyer Won't Get Involved In Prosecution Of Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1999 Associated Press Note: MAP is one of the sponsors of the "Wed., Jan. 27 - Nat'l Free the Kubbys Call-In Day." Please support this effort. Let the AG and the local DA know what you think! Details are at: http://www.levellers.org/sk_callin.htm LOCKYER WON'T GET INVOLVED IN PROSECUTION OF GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE TAHOE CITY, Calif. (AP) -- Attorney General Bill Lockyer won't intervene in the prosecution of the 1998 California Libertarian candidate for governor and his wife, who are accused of growing marijuana plants at their home. The state's Libertarian Party sent a letter to Lockyer urging his support. But a Lockyer spokeswoman told the Auburn Journal that the attorney general would not get involved in the case despite his support of Proposition 215, the California medical marijuana initiative. "Mr. Lockyer voted for Prop. 215 and supported it, but he did not go out and campaign for the measure," press secretary Hilary McLean said. Steve Kubby, and his wife, Michele, were arrested Jan. 19 after a search warrant served at their Olympic Valley home resulted in the discovery of 360 plants in four rooms. The couple claimed to be growing marijuana for medical use under a doctor's direction. Prosecutors said they will be charged with felony counts of cultivation, possession for sale and conspiracy at their arraignment Thursday. Steven Kubby was a key proponent of Proposition 215, and openly described using marijuana, during his gubernatorial campaign, for the adrenal cancer he has had for more than two decades. In a letter to Lockyer, state Libertarian Party chairman Mark Hinkle called on the attorney general "to bring the full weight of your office down in this matter and investigate the North Tahoe Task Force and Placer County District Attorney's Office to determine the cause of this unnecessary police action." Hinkle also noted the more than 5 million Californians who voted for Proposition 215 in 1996. Kubby, 52, publisher of an online recreation magazine, ran fourth in the race for governor last November, taking nearly 1 percent of the vote.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Banks' Big Brother (A staff editorial in the Gazette, in Colorado, pans the Know Your Customer rule proposed for banks in the United States, which would be obligated ot track the transaction histories of depositors and develop profiles on them, in search of behavior deemed suspicious. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and three other federal agencies are accepting public comment until March 8.) Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 20:24:03 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Banks' Big Brother/Feds Make Private.... Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tues, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Gazette, The (CO) Copyright: 1999, The Gazette Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.gazette.com/ BANKS' BIG BROTHER/ Feds make private institutions play snitch on public's financial affairs So this is what the drug war has come to: Nosing into the bank accounts of law-abiding people, even tracking the transaction histories of depositors and developing profiles on them, in search of behavior deemed suspicious. After all, maybe that $15,000 just dumped into a savings account was some smack peddler's haul. Or maybe it was just your Great Aunt Gladys, at last heeding your advice, moving her life's savings from a mattress to a more conventional institution. Oh well, better safe than sorry. For some years now the banking public has had to face such scrutiny by the federal government - to the dismay of both depositors and bankers - and the surveillance is about to take on a new dimension. As many readers learned from a Saturday Gazette front-page report as well as from recent comments on these pages, federal agencies that regulate banks are proposing to consolidate rules dating to 1984 that are meant to weed out criminal activity. The Know Your Customer rule, on which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and three other federal agencies are accepting public comment until March 8, arguably would be more of a burden to bankers themselves than to depositors, seeing as the feds already have been getting the information they want on banking customers. The new rule, which could become law at the regulators' behest, imposes upon bankers in effect to collate the information That poses more paperwork for the banking industry and perhaps escalates banks' involvement as forced government snoops to the level of "drug enforcement officers and IRS agents," as State Bank & Trust President John Jackson put it. Whether or not law enforcement authorities will be better able to hunt down the likes of money laundering, the long-standing rules as well as the latest proposed embellishment upon it surely jeopardize our privacy. Is there a constitutional issue here, involving the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure? Not to Federal Reserve assistant director Richard Small, who smugly observed that banks are private entities, and any information customers give them isn't constitutionally protected. He didn't mention, of course, that the only way to stay open for business as a bank is by submitting to extensive regulation and passing on to the regulators whatever information they deem necessary. The feds protest this is nothing new, just a more cohesive form of standing law - as if we should have stopped carping and accepted out fate by now. More disingenuously, the regulators insist this meddling, including the latest dubious upgrade, helps ensure the soundness of banking. That, of course, is nonsense. Banks, as competitive businesses vying for customers in the marketplace, are perfectly capable of looking after their own good reputations. It's in their interest to do so. They know better than any government entity what it takes to provide a stable financial climate for customers. There's a bigger issue here. Though the government contends this imminent move, and the current laws it combines, aim to stem a broad array of crime, Jackson summed up the proposal's more precise intent with his reference to drug enforcement officers and IRS agents. If there are two areas of law enforcement that have gotten way out of hand - when considering the crime they curb vs. the ordinary, law-abiding citizens they ensnare - it's the drug war and income-tax collection. However urgent either of those priorities - separate debates in themselves - each at times has turned the justice system on its head. Neither the neverending war on drugs nor the infinite search for federal revenue has any business treating the majority of us like criminals to nab the minority who are. Whether the proposed new rule winds up affecting very many consumers isn't the point. Taxes aside, our financial affairs aren't the feds' business. Lethal death tax A proposal made for this president? Two Republican Colorado lawmakers in Congress are pushing legislation in the House and Senate to abolish the so-called "death tax" on estates and gifts. Rep. Scott McInnis introduced a bill to abolish the tax last year but it was not acted on before Congress adjourned. He will reintroduce the bill this session. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell introduced a bill last week that would slowly phase out the federal estate and gift tax by 5 percent each year until it is eliminated. McInnis tells the Associated Press he hopes to eliminate federal taxes on estates and gifts because, in part, families are often forced to sell family-run farms or businesses in order to meet the estate tax demands. He also says he expects the legislation to be resisted by the Clinton administration. That's too bad. Here's a chance for the president to remove an onerous burden from middle-income Americans; to shore up the family and, in sparing farms from subdivision and development - to preserve open space. All were priorities enunciated by President Clinton in his State of the Union message.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Prison System Grows Fat From Fear And Greed (Milwaukee Sentinel Journal columnist Eugene Kane ponders the prison-industrrial complex in Wisconsin after reading Eric Schlosser's article in the December issue of the Atlantic Monthly, which defines the complex as "a confluence of special interests that has given prison construction in the United States a seemingly unstoppable momentum." Gov. Tommy Thompson has based his political fortunes on building more prisons while cutting welfare for the poor. Doreatha Mbalia of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee took a look at the difference in money spent for prisons and education and found that Wisconsin spends $241 million to incarcerate minorities, compared with $81.3 million in funding grants earmarked for minority students. In some neighborhoods young people come to view prison as a rite of passage instead of college. A few months ago in Milwaukee, young people were buying orange jumpsuits similar to those issued to inmates at Milwaukee County Jail, to wear as fashion statements.) Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 20:44:14 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US WI: Column: Prison System Grows Fat From Fear And Greed Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) Copyright: 1999, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Fax: 414-224-8280 Website: http://www.jsonline.com/ Forum: http://www.jsonline.com/cgi-bin/ubb/ultimate.cgi Contact: email@example.com Author: Eugene Kane Journal Sentinel columnist Pubdate: 26 Jan 1999 PRISON SYSTEM GROWS FAT FROM FEAR AND GREED By Eugene Kane Journal Sentinel columnist [Call Eugene Kane at 223-5521 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org ] From time to time, I will get a call or a letter from someone behind bars. My first assumption is to expect the plea of an innocent man done wrong, tales of judicial corruption or complaints about an incompetent attorney. Surprisingly, many of the inmates who call or write these days don't want to profess their innocence as much as they want to complain about conditions inside what has come to be described as "the prison industrial complex." They complain about the high price of phone calls to loved ones. Or, they complain about conditions inside a so-called minimum security facility. Or, about being sent outside Wisconsin to a prison in Texas, far away from their family. These letters from inmates usually don't make for great news stories; most of us have been raised to think if someone's behind bars, they probably deserve it. Of course, if you are African-American or Latino behind bars for a non-violent offense, you might think differently. For example, although most experts believe black and white men use illegal drugs at about the same rate, a black man is five times as likely to be arrested for a drug offense. For lesser offenses too, a black or brown face carries a much greater chance of conviction. Because of that fact, many see the prison system as the very personification of institutional racism. No wonder it is distressing for some to note -- even with violent crime decreasing nationwide -- that building more prisons has never been more popular. The December issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine described the prison industrial complex as "a confluence of special interests that has given prison construction in the United States a seemingly unstoppable momentum." Some of those special interests include politicians -- conservative and liberal -- who use fear of crime to gain votes; rural communities seeking to use prisons as an economic boon; and private companies that see prisons as a lucrative market. This speaks particularly well to our situation in Wisconsin, where Gov. Tommy Thompson has based his political fortunes on building more prisons while cutting welfare for the poorest citizens. Doreatha Mbalia, chairwoman of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Department of Africology, took a look at the difference in money spent for prisons and education in Wisconsin for a recent community forum on the criminal justice system. She came away shocked at the disparity. The state of Wisconsin spends $241 million to incarcerate minorities, compared with $81.3 million in funding grants earmarked for minority students, according to her findings. Mbalia said that disparity was evidence of misplaced priorities. "It is very significant," she said. "Those statistics (on education) are what jumped out at me. Somehow, we have to rectify the money spent on education versus prisons." One disastrous result of the disparity is that in some neighborhoods young people come to view prison as a rite of passage instead of college. "Isn't it something, when some youth coming out of prison can get a reputation for being cool, the idea that if you've served time, you're something special?" asked Mbalia. Or, just as disturbing to me, a news story a few months ago: in Milwaukee some young people were buying orange jumpsuits, similar to the ones issued inmates at Milwaukee County Jail, to wear as fashion statements. When jailhouse clothing becomes a fashion statement, that's a sure sign the prison industrial complex is one business ready to explode through the roof. It is a beast that demands to be fed.
------------------------------------------------------------------- State's Highest Court Asked To Decide Free Speech Issue (The Associated Press says the Maryland Supreme Court will decide whether Wayne N. Davis of Ocean City was exercising his right to freedom of speech in 1991 or hindering prohibition agents in the line of duty when he disclosed the identity of two undercover narcs.) Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 15:35:32 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MD: Wire: State's Highest Court Asked To Decide Free Speech Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: email@example.com (Frank S. World) Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Associated Press Copyright: 1999 The Associated Press STATE'S HIGHEST COURT ASKED TO DECIDE FREE SPEECH ISSUE ANNAPOLIS - The state's highest court is being asked to decide whether a man who disclosed the identity of two undercover officers was exercising his right to freedom of speech or hindering enforcement officials in the line of duty. Wayne N. Davis was arrested in July 1991. A few weeks before, he had said to a friend ``Those girls are narcs'' as two women came out of The Cork Bar on an Ocean City side street known for its drug trade. He apparently said it loudly enough for the two women to hear, despite the commotion of people going in and out of bars at 1 a.m. The two women, Bernadette DiPino and Alice Brumbley, were undercover officers. DiPino arrested Davis for blowing their cover, in technical terms, for hindering enforcement officials in the line of duty. Davis first met the officers as he was bicycling on the boardwalk, and, according to the officers, expressed an interest in buying marijuana. DiPino and Brumbley arranged to meet Davis at a bar soon after. DiPino asked a fellow officer, Gary Holtzman, to attend the meeting. During that meeting, Davis recognized Holtzman as an undercover officer. Their daughters went to the same elementary school. Davis warned DiPino and Brumbley - unaware that they were undercover officers - not to discuss drugs because of Holtzman. DiPino and Brumbley then dropped their investigation of Davis. That apparently gave him a clue as to their role. Shortly after Davis' arrest from the Cork Bar incident, prosecutors dropped the case. But Davis sued DiPino and the municipality of Ocean City for damages. The trial court found for the city and the officers in the civil case. Davis appealed. Maryland's lower appellate court split 7-6 in favor of Davis. Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Joseph F. Murphy Jr., who was not with the majority, said the Davis case was not about the right of free speech, but about whether there is a right to "blow the cover'' of an undercover officer. Such a right has never been established "in Maryland or anywhere else,'' Murphy said. The Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case earlier this month and was expected to decide in the Davis case by the end of the year. Davis, meanwhile, has secured some influential allies, including the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and former Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs. Davis "may not have been an articulate or thoughtful critic of government policy,'' Sachs wrote the court. "But it cannot be disputed that Davis was arrested, jailed and charged because a government agent disliked and feared his words." "This is precisely what the First Amendment forbids,'' Sachs said, writing on behalf of the ACLU.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Senate Backs Bill To Add Drug Prosecutors (The Florida Times-Union says the Georgia state senate unanimously passed a bill yesterday to provide additional prosecutors to go after "drug" peddlers. The bill was proposed by Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor last fall during an election campaign in which he admitted using cocaine in his 20s without ever being arrested. Hiring, equipping and training one additional prosecutor for each of the 47 judicial circuits in Georgia would cost an estimated $3.6 million the first year, but the bill doesn't include any funding. "The costs to the state are relatively low when the benefits are considered," Taylor said. Apparently nobody asked to see his cost-benefit analysis.) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 03:27:26 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US GA: Senate Backs Bill To Add Drug Prosecutors Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Florida Times-Union (FL) Copyright: The Florida Times-Union 1999 Website: http://www.times-union.com/ Forum: http://cafe.jacksonville.com/cafesociety.html Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org SENATE BACKS BILL TO ADD DRUG PROSECUTORS ATLANTA -- The state Senate unanimously passed a bill yesterday to provide additional prosecutors across the state to go after drug peddlers. The bill was proposed by Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor last fall during an election campaign in which he also admitted he had used cocaine in his 20s. He was never charged and has since apologized. Hiring, equipping and training one additional prosecutor for each of the 47 judicial circuits in Georgia would cost an estimated $3.6 million the first year. "The costs to the state are relatively low when the benefits are considered," Taylor said. There is no provision for funding the prosecutors in Gov. Roy Barnes' proposed budget request for fiscal year 2000, which begins July 1. Sen. Greg Hecht, D-Jonesboro, who argued for the bill during debate, said the Senate could add funding when it votes on the budget. Nearly the same bill passed the Senate last year, but failed to come out of the House Judiciary Committee. Though Senate Republicans supported the bill, eight of them offered an amendment that would have required convicted criminals to serve at least 90 percent of their sentences before being eligible for parole. The amendment would have made law a policy adopted last year by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. But Taylor, who presides over the Senate, stopped the Republicans before their proposal could be voted on by declaring it violated rules requiring amendments stick closely to the subject of the main bill. Both parties grappled over the issue of sentencing reform during last year's General Assembly session, and tried to use the differences in their plans against each other in last fall's elections. "We wanted to make the point from Day One that we will continue to fight for this bill by any means necessary," said Senate Minority Leader Eric Johnson, R- Savannah. Republicans will try to attach their amendment to any bill they think is germaine, he said. "This was a bill about putting people in jail, and we had an amendment about keeping them in jail," said Sen. Clay Land, R-Columbus. "It was germaine." Regardless of the politics behind Taylor's bill, the extra drug prosecutors will be welcome, if funded. "The most important thing that does for us is give us additional resources," said Danny Craig, Augusta district attorney. "It will lighten the load." Craig's office has 14 prosecutors that he says typically work long hours and weekends.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cuban Exile Arrested In Drug Case (According to the Miami Herald, Drug Enforcement Administration officials said Monday that one of the seven Cuban exiles charged in Puerto Rico with plotting to kill Fidel Castro has been arrested in Miami in a major cocaine-smuggling case.) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 18:45:22 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US FL: Cuban Exile Arrested In Drug Case Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Miami Herald (FL) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.herald.com/ Forum: http://krwebx.infi.net/webxmulti/cgi-bin/WebX?mherald Copyright: 1999 The Miami Herald Author: JUAN O. TAMAYO, Herald Staff Writer CUBAN EXILE ARRESTED IN DRUG CASE Man is also a suspect in Castro death plot One of the seven Cuban exiles charged in Puerto Rico with plotting to kill Fidel Castro has been arrested in Miami in a major cocaine-smuggling case, Drug Enforcement Administration officials said Monday. The two cases are not linked, although DEA wiretaps that led to the drug charges against Juan Bautista Marquez also intercepted his talks with Castro-plot defendants, other officials said. Marquez, 61, and six other exiles were charged with plotting to kill the Cuban president after the U.S. Coast Guard in Puerto Rico found two sniper rifles hidden in a Miami-registered yacht in October 1997. He was arrested again last week on a seven-count indictment accusing him of importing 365 kilos of cocaine, conspiracy to import up to 2,000 kilos and money laundering, said DEA spokeswoman Pam Brown. Also arrested by the DEA-led Southeast Florida Regional Task Force, based in Fort Lauderdale, were: Marquez's son, Juan Alberto, 26; Robert A. Alfaro, 27; Sergio R. Sigler; and Arturo L. Abascal, all from Miami-Dade County. Six others are to be indicted in the same case later this week. DEA officials said the 365-kilo shipment was intercepted on the high seas in December. Undercover agents arrested Marquez and the others last week as they delivered what the suspects believed were parts of the load. Marquez owns a boat rental business in the Mexican resort of Cancun and a small farm in Panama, according to court records in the Puerto Rico case. DEA officials confirmed that wiretaps were used in the drug case beginning in June 1997 -- four months before Marquez's arrest in Puerto Rico -- but declined further comment, saying the tapes were sealed under court order. But a knowledgeable law enforcement official not with the DEA said the wiretaps had captured Marquez talking to another exile about the yacht Esperanza both before and after his arrest in Puerto Rico. Those portions of the tape relating to the boat trip have been turned over to the FBI, which has jurisdiction over anti-terrorism cases, the official said. FBI officials in Puerto Rico could not be reached for comment. DEA officials said that after Marquez was arrested in Puerto Rico, they notified federal prosecutors on the island that he was under investigation in the Florida drug case. That set off a brief investigation to determine whether the alleged Castro plot was in fact a cover for a drug-smuggling operation, but that proved wrong, law enforcement sources said. DEA officials said the case dates back to a money laundering investigation of a Broward County person begun in spring 1997, which quickly led them to focus on Marquez. Wiretaps put in place that June expanded the circle of suspects, said DEA officials, and later showed the group was coordinating and transporting loads of cocaine being smuggled into South Florida. The decision by the Coast Guard to search the Esperanza as it sailed near Puerto Rico in October 1997 was "purely coincidental" and not related to the DEA's watch on Marquez, officials said. Arrested with Marquez aboard the Esperanza were Angel Alfonso Aleman, 57, of Union City, N.J.; Francisco Secundino Cordova, 50, of Marathon; and Angel Hernandez Rojo, 64, of Miami. A federal grand jury in Puerto Rico later expanded the charges to include the attempted murder of Castro and three new defendants: Jose Antonio Rodriguez, 61, a Miami lumber dealer; Jose Antonio Llama, who owned the yacht Esperanza and is a director of the Cuban American National Foundation; and Alfredo Otero, 62, another Miami lumber dealer. Court records in Puerto Rico show that Marquez, who was free on bail, received permission to visit his business in Cancun in December. A woman who identified herself as the maid in his house there said he had returned to Miami about Dec. 30. Marquez's arrest Jan. 14 came just two days after the seven Puerto Rico defendants won a motion to move their trial to Miami, where attorneys believe jurors may be more sympathetic to the anti-Castro cause. Prosecutors last week filed an appeal against that ruling by Judge Hector M. Laffitte.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Assassination Suspect Charged (The UPI version) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 18:45:17 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US FL: Wire: Assassination Suspect Charged Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Wire: United Press International Copyright: 1999 United Press International ASSASSINATION SUSPECT CHARGED MIAMI, Jan. 26 - A Cuban exile already charged with plotting the death of Fidel Castro faces new charges in a drug case. Juan Bautista Marquez has been charged with importing 365 kilos of cocaine, conspiracy to import 2,000 kilos and money laundering. The DEA says four others have been indicted in the case and six more are expected later this week. Marquez is charged with conspiracy in an alleged plot to kill Castro during a visit to South America in 1997. The DEA says the two cases are not related although the same wiretaps were used in both cases.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Jails nearing crisis: report (The Montreal Gazette says a wide-ranging, year-long study of Quebec's 17 prisons, released yesterday by the provincial ombudsman, Daniel Jacoby, finds dangerous overcrowding, rampant drug use and a tension-ridden system that must be fixed immediately. Jacoby saved his most critical comments for the zero-tolerance drug policy, saying it was "a fiasco that hasn't achieved its goals." He estimated that between $40 million and $60 million in drugs flow through the prisons annually. "There is a commercial enterprise of drug dealing in the prisons," he said. Jacoby went so far as to characterize the explosion of drug use in prisons as an unintended effect of the province's crackdown on outlaw bikers and warring criminal gangs. Reacting to the report, Public Security Minister Serge Menard said, "We're in the strange situation where criminal activity is going down, but the number of prisoners is going up." Last year, Quebec cut $5.2 million from its prison budget and 600 workers were laid off from the correctional system.) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt Elrod) To: email@example.com Subject: Canada: Jails nearing crisis: report Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 08:58:21 -0800 Lines: 188 Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Source: Montreal Gazette (Canada) Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: Tuesday 26 January 1999 Authors: Sean Gordon and Kate Swoger Jails nearing crisis: report After a year-long study of Quebec prisons, ombudsman Daniel Jacoby finds dangerous overcrowding, rampant drug use and a tension-ridden system that must be fixed immediately. Quebec prisons are in a terrible mess and on the brink of crisis, says a wide-ranging 80-page report released yesterday by the provincial ombudsman. After a year-long study of the system, Daniel Jacoby's findings paint a dismal picture of dilapidated jails, rampant drug use, dangerous overcrowding and a tension-ridden corrections system. "It's a mess," said Jacoby, a former Quebec deputy minister of justice and lawyer. "I don't know if I would yet call it dramatic, but there is a situation of crisis." The report, compiled after visits to the province's 17 correctional institutions, features 53 recommendations. Among the key findings, Jacoby calls for the immediate suspension of proposed budget cuts in the penal system, an examination of the prison drug policy and the closing of at least one institution. "The budget cuts have seriously compromised the system's ability to provide for the safety of inmates and guards," Jacoby said. "We have noticed an alarming increase in the number of substantiated inmate complaints. ''We find that many disciplinary methods are abusive and the level of training and counseling for inmates is unacceptable," he said. Jacoby saved his most critical comments for the zero-tolerance drug policy, saying it was "a fiasco that hasn't achieved its goals." And he even went as far as to characterize the explosion of drug use in prisons as an unintended effect of the province's crackdown on outlaw bikers and warring criminal gangs. "The government has spent millions arresting and prosecuting outlaw bikers, and this is good E but they haven't spent a dime on prisons. This should have been planned," Jacoby said. The Hell's Angels bikers and their rivals, the Rock Machine criminal gang, have for years waged a bloody turf war over the province's illegal-drug trade. In his report, Jacoby estimated that between $40 million and $60 million in drugs flow through the prisons annually. "There is a commercial enterprise of drug dealing in the prisons,'' he said. Another startling conclusion: the inmate population in Quebec has the highest suicide rate of any prison system in the country - a rate that is seven times that of the provincial average. And Jacoby found the overcrowding problem is worst in Montreal's Bordeaux jail and Quebec's Orsainville prison. Provincial figures show there are 3,700 prison inmates in Quebec at any given time. Most are incarcerated for very short periods of time, in fact, the law mandates that only inmates serving sentences shorter than two years be housed in provincial prisons. About 35 per cent of inmates currently housed in provincial jails are awaiting trial. Reacting to the report, Public Security Minister Serge Menard told a press conference yesterday that the main problems with prisons is overcrowding. "We're in the strange situation where criminal activity is going down, but the number of prisoners is going up," he said. But Menard said he was skeptical that Quebec would find more money in its next budget for spending on prisons. "I can make a request - like the other ministers," he said. "But I'm realistic. We will continue to cut (the budget) for at least one year." Menard pointed out that, for example, jailing those who cannot afford to pay fines for traffic violations adds to the overcrowding problem. He added that such prisoners are also taking up much needed space in rehabilitation programs. He said the recent increase in convictions of organized criminals has also contributed to the troubled prison environment. Menard explained that his government's policy of zero tolerance for organized criminals, like bikers, has meant many of them are being put in prison for minor infractions. They go to provincial jails rather than federal penitentiaries, he said. Menard agreed that drug use and drug sales run rampant in jails. His department, he said, will work harder to tackle this problem. When asked if he thought Quebec needs more prisons, Menard said the province needs to consider alternatives to putting people behind bars. "I can't say we jail people too much, but I can say one thing, we jail people more than other (Western) countries, except for the United States." He said he has already promised the ombudsman the co-operation of all his department's staff to attack the most serious problems. Jacoby, whose candour has long provided a source of irritation for Parti Quebecois premiers Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, said many of his report's recommendations are administrative and attitudinal. He estimated the total cost of his reforms would be about $4 million. The ombudsman's report held few surprises for both the union representing the province's prison guards and a Quebec inmate-rights group. "The thing that I find striking about this report is the similarities it bears toward a 1985 ombudsman's report by Yves Labonte," said Jean-Claude Bernheim, of the Prisoners Rights Office of Quebec. "We've been saying for years that there's a crisis. There's nothing new to these concerns." Bernheim cited the report's conclusions that prisoners' rights are systematically violated as the most damning. "We've always found these difficulties with guards abusing the rights of the inmates, most of whom, we have to remember, are there for an average of three months," Bernheim said. Bernheim said his office's research shows that nearly 40 per cent of inmates sent to jail each year are locked up for failing to pay fines. Gilles Bergeron, head of the Syndicats des Agents de la Paix en Services Correctionels du Quebec, which represents about 1,900 guards, presents a different interpretation. "For years, we've been putting a Band-aid on the wound hoping it will go away. "Our biggest problem are the budget cuts. We just don't have the resources to separate inmates. At mealtime, there are 180 inmates, with sometimes only four guards watching them," Bergeron said. He said that deteriorating conditions are the result of increased drug and gang activity, particularly on the part of the legions of warring gangs housed in the institutions. He admitted that sometimes the prison situation escalates to the point where guards act inappropriately and circumvent the prisoners' rights. "There comes a time where the violence is so great that officers aren't reacting the same way anymore. Nobody thinks that's good, but it's how it is," Bergeron said. Despite their differing views on the report, the guards and the inmate-rights group were united in their appeal for action from Menard. "We would hope that the minister will take this seriously, and move ahead and act on them," Bergeron said. His sentiments were echoed by Bernheim, who said the government will either "take the ombudsman seriously, or show they don't care what he says, like other governments have done." The Liberals' corrections critic also said it's incumbent on the government to act. "It's completely inconceivable that inside these detention centres it's no longer possible to ensure total and adequate protection for inmates," said MNA Jacques Dupuis, a former crown prosecutor who worked closely with the province's biker task force. Jacoby recommended that the province abolish 23-hour confinement, renovate a handful of institutions where conditions are a threat to the inmates' health and not house more than two inmates per cell. The province cut $5.2 million from its prison budget last year and 600 jobs have been lost in the prison system. (c)1998 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
------------------------------------------------------------------- US Anti-Drug Chief Criticizes IOC Bribe Scandal (Reuters says the White House drug czar, General Barry McCaffrey, criticized the Olympic bribery scandal on Monday, saying it raised doubts about whether the International Olympic Committee could police illegal drug use by its athletes. McCaffrey, who is leading a U.S. delegation to an IOC conference on drugs in sports next month in Lausanne, Switzerland, said IOC reforms are needed if the sporting body is to stop its athletes from using illegal drugs and end blood doping.) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 18:45:20 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US: Wire: US Anti-Drug Chief Criticizes IOC Bribe Scandal Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Wire: Reuters Copyright: 1999 Reuters Limited. Author: Mark Weinraub A SENIOR U.S. U.S. ANTI-DRUG CHIEF CRITICIZES IOC BRIBE SCANDAL WASHINGTON, Jan 15 - A senior U.S. official in the war on drugs criticized the Olympic bribery scandal on Monday, saying it raised doubts about whether the International Olympic Committee could police illegal drug use by its athletes. Barry McCaffrey, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told a news conference that IOC reforms are needed if the sporting body is to stop its athletes from using illegal drugs and end blood doping. Blood doping, usually linked to endurance sports such as cycling, involves giving athletes blood transfusions to boost their red blood cell count. "There must be institutional reform if the IOC can do the heavy lifting required to protect athletes from a doping regime," said McCaffrey, who is leading a U.S. delegation to an IOC conference on drugs in sports next month in Lausanne, Switzerland. McCaffrey said the scandal currently sweeping the IOC will make it hard to make progress on the anti-drug initiative. "Clearly the institution is in serious disruption now," he said. "It's hard to imagine how this issue can be moved forward if the institution lacks legitimacy to address it." The scandal erupted after the IOC conducted an internal investigation into claims that Salt Lake City had offered bribes during it successful bid to host the 2002 Winter Games. So far, it has led to six suspensions and three resignations from the 115 member committee. A vote on banning the suspended members will be held during a meeting March 17-18 at which IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch will also seek a vote of confidence. The U.S. Justice Department is also conducting an investigation into allegations that 13 members received $600,000 worth of goods and services from Salt Lake City before it won a IOC vote to stage the Games. McCaffrey said the IOC should be less secretive in its dealings so that it can be held accountable by people outside the committee. "There simply must be open books in the IOC," he said. They must have open votes in the IOC and there must be some connection between an elected membership that responds in some way to the international sports federations and to the national Olympic committees." In the long run, the scandal could be good for the IOC and the Olympics as whole, McCaffrey said. "This crisis they're now undergoing may allow us to take a fresh look at some very tough problems."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Lettuce: Nature's Narcotic (The Daily Telegraph, in Britain, says the most commonly mentioned remedy for insomnia is lettuce. In a learned article in the British Medical Journal, Dr Tony Carter, a consultant anaesthetist at North Staffordshire Hospital, points out that, in France, the wild lettuce, Lactuca virosa, is a commonly used sedative and, combined with other herbal compounds, induces anaesthesia. The lettuce - also advertised as a smoking herb in High Times, by the way - contains morphine-like chemicals.) Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 18:45:16 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: UK: Lettuce, Nature's Narcotic Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 Source: Daily Telegraph (UK) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ Copyright: of Telegraph Group Limited 1999 LETTUCE: NATURE'S NARCOTIC IT IS regrettable that many doctors remain ambivalent about prescribing sleeping pills. They worry that such pills are over- prescribed - as were mild tranquillisers, such as Valium, in the Seventies - and fear encouraging "dependency" in their patients. But the treatment of chronic insomnia should be seen in the same way as that of depression. Both are presumably related to some abnormality of brain chemistry and, just as Prozac is an effective anti-depressant, so sleeping pills may be the only treatment for insomnia, by correcting whatever chemical defect might be responsible. A reader from Norfolk would like to know if there might be other remedies: "Three hours' oblivion out of 24 is soul-destroying," she writes, "so help of any kind would be a bonus." First come remedies concerned with mitigating physical conditions that can prevent sleep. Margo Jones of West Sussex recommends a cold hot-water bottle: "Tucked away down the side of the bed, it soothes hot and aching feet, eases cramps and affords some relief to whatever arthritic pain might strike." Most readers will know of other remedies for sleep-disturbing muscle afflictions, such as cramps and restless legs. Sandra Bigley describes the value of corks for cramps, whose efficacy she has tested on her skeptical husband, "who is prone to leaping from bed in the early hours of the morning". She started by putting a few under the mattress - which achieved partial success. So she "doubled the dose" - and "there have been no more cramps". Priscilla Martin of the Irish Republic reports that her spouse benefited from another simple remedy: "He was told by a physiotherapist friend to try wearing bedsocks." Interestingly, she points out that her husband had always wondered why he never suffered cramps on holiday - until he realised that, away from home, "he always wore bedsocks because he is allergic to sheets washed in detergent". As for insomnia itself, the most commonly mentioned remedy is lettuce. In a learned article in the British Medical Journal, Dr Tony Carter, consultant anaesthetist at North Staffordshire Hospital, points out that, in France, the wild lettuce, Lactuca virosa, is a commonly used sedative and, combined with other herbal compounds, induces anaesthesia. The juice of the lettuce, it would seem, contains morphine-like chemicals which, like all opiates, can offer a temporary escape. Harold Smith of Wiltshire recalls that the memoirs of an American country doctor working among poor hillbilly families during the Depression include an incident in which the doctor, calling on a family in the middle of the day, found them all sleeping. "He learnt from a neighbour that poor people ate large quantities of lettuce for relief from their misery." For the truly sleep-deprived, a salad for supper could just be the thing. -------------------------------------------------------------------
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