Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Man Sues After "POLICE" T-Shirt Arrest

A Belleville Police officer arrested a St. Charles man for wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word "POLICE."

Now, Adam C. Weinstein, of St. Charles, has sued the department for what he calls a violation of his constitutional rights.

According to police documents, Weinstein was arrested in 2006 outside a bar in Belleville for "impersonating officers." He was wearing a black t-shirt with the word police striped across the front and back under a sweater. The t-shirt became exposed when he removed the sweater because he was hot.

"Those t-shirts are a sign of solidarity," said Howard A. Shalowitz, an attorney representing Weinstein. "How many people wear NYPD caps? Are they impersonating police?"

According to the lawsuit, a waitress told Weinstein that some police officers wanted to speak with him outside the bar. Weinstein went outside, he said, and was greeted by Belleville Police Officer Jeff Vernatti.

Vernatti, Weinstein alleges, asked him for his police credentials. Weinstein says he told the officer he didn’t have any credentials because he wasn’t a police officer.

That’s when, according to Weinstein, the police officer started screaming curse words and became physically and verbally abusive. Weinstein says he was cuffed and later released by the officer, but made to take the t-shirt off while standing in the cold.

Weinstein was ticketed for impersonating a police officer, but it was later dismissed. The ticket only alleges Weinstein wore the t-shirt.

"I’m afraid to go to Belleville," Weinstein said in an interview. According to the lawsuit, Weinstein is a firefighter.

Weinstein said he bought two of the shirts--one for him, one for his wife--at Leon’s Uniform Company in St. Louis while buying supplies for firefighting.

The lawsuit was filed last week in St. Clair County. Vernatti and the city of Bellevile are named as defendents.

In 2005, Vernatti and the city of Belleville were sued for allegedly tasering a man. That case was later settled before going to trial.

Belleville Mayor Mark W. Eckert declined to comment through an aide. A spokesperson for the Belleville Police also declined to comment. Vernatti couldn’t be reached for comment.

Steven Beckett, professor and director of trial advocacy at the University of Illinois’ law school, said the arrest may be a violation of Weinstein’s First Amendment rights.

"A t-shirt alone isn’t enough to arrest someone," Beckett said. "There must be some overt act."

Beckett added: "The police complaint on its face is inconsistent with the First Amendment."

Dubai & Egypt Stop NYE Celebrations Over Gaza

Dubai Calls off New Year's Eve Extravaganza

Dubai's opulent, multimillion-pound New Year's Eve celebrations have been cancelled due to the Gaza violence, leaving hordes of expatriates hastily making alternative plans.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of the Gulf state, called off festivities late last night.

He said "all public New Year’s celebrations" should be stopped "in solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are currently enduring death, suffering and destruction in Gaza".

Egypt Cancels New Year's Eve Over Gaza 'Massacres'

Egypt has cancelled official New Year's Eve events in solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinians being "massacred" in Gaza, the state-owned Al-Ahram daily reported on Wednesday.
"In solidarity with the painful events in the Palestinian territories and the massacres which Gazans are faced with ... the ministries of culture and information have decided to cancel New Year's festivities," the paper said.

Cancelled events include a special concert by famed Egyptian singer Mohammed Munir set to be held at Cairo's Opera House and a variety performance hosted by the ministry of information due to be broadcast on state television.

Egyptian state television official Ossama al-Sheikh said on Tuesday that the launch of new channel "Nile Comedy," set for January 1, would be delayed "out of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip."

Since Israel unleashed its massive aerial attack on Hamas and the Gaza Strip on Saturday, at least 374 Palestinians, including 39 children, have been killed and 1,720 wounded, Gaza medics say.

During the same period, four Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza.

Monday, December 29, 2008

'Hobbit' Fossils Represent A New Species, Concludes Anthropologist

University of Minnesota anthropology professor Kieran McNulty (along with colleague Karen Baab of Stony Brook University in New York) has made an important contribution toward solving one of the greatest paleoanthropological mysteries in recent history - that fossilized skeletons resembling a mythical "hobbit" creature represent an entirely new species in humanity's evolutionary chain.

Discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, controversy has surrounded the fossilized hominid skeletons of the so-called "hobbit people," or Homo floresiensis ever since. Experts are still debating whether the 18,000-year-old remains merely belong to a diminutive population of modern-day humans (with one individual exhibiting "microcephaly," an abnormally small head) or represent a previously unrecognized branch in humanity's family tree.

Using 3D modeling methods, McNulty and his fellow researchers compared the cranial features of this real-life "hobbit" to those of a simulated fossil human (of similar stature) to determine whether or not such a species was distinct from modern humans.

"[Homo floresiensis] is the most exciting discovery in probably the last 50 years," said McNulty. "The specimens have skulls that resemble something that died a million years earlier, and other body parts reminiscent of our three-million-year-old human ancestors, yet they lived until very recently -- contemporaries with modern humans."

Comparing the simulation to the original Flores skull discovered in 2003, McNulty and Baab were able to demonstrate conclusively that the original "hobbit" skull fits the expectations for a small fossil hominin species and not a modern human. Their study was published online this month in the Journal of Human Evolution.

The cranial structure of the fossilized skull, says the study, clearly places it in humanity's genus Homo, even though it would be smaller in both body and brain size than any other member. The results of the study suggest that the theorized "hobbit" species may have undergone a process of size reduction after branching off from Homo erectus (one of modern day humanity's distant ancestors) or even something more primitive.

"We have shown with this study that the process of size reduction applied to fossil hominins accounts for many features seen in the fossil skull from Flores," McNulty said. "It becomes much more difficult, therefore, to defend the hypothesis that the preserved skull is a modern human who simply suffered from an extremely rare disorder.

Public interest in the discovery, analysis and implications of Flores "hobbits" has been high ever since 2003, inspiring several television specials (including a recent episode of "NOVA" entitled "Alien From Earth") and other media attention.

While the debate over Homo floresiensis will continue, McNulty believes this comprehensive analysis of the relationship between size and shape in human evolution is a critical step toward eventually understanding the place of the Flores "hobbits" in human evolutionary history.

"I think the majority of researchers favor recognizing this as a new species," McNulty said about the categorization of Homo floresiensis. "The evidence is becoming overwhelming, and this study helps confirm that view." via

Friday, December 26, 2008

Be Rational!

Bronze Age Beliefs:
The Earth Was Flat
Constellations Were Celestial Beings
Spitting on a Wound Cured It
Sea Monsters Were Considered a Legitimate Hazard

If you would not believe any of these things that at once were considered 'facts' about the world we live in, why would you believe in a book from the same time period?

Be rational with yourself! Grow up or we all die.....

Bill Maher - Religulous

Shooting of a 3 Year Old Happens Underneath a Crime Cam

Not one suspect and it happened under a crime camera? Then why are you invading people's privacy for safety when you can't even keep these people safe?

A single shell casing remained on the ground this morning at the scene of a Christmas night shooting in the 3800 block of Annunciation Street.

Police say shortly before 9 p.m., between 5 and 10 young men shot into a car in the parking lot of an apartment complex run by the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

A three-year-old boy in the car with his grandmother, aunt and uncle was the only one wounded in the attack.

His cousin who did not to give his name, the toddler is expected to make a full recovery.

"He's doing all right. He got hit in the arm and it came out and grazed him on the chest."

A neighbor says the little boy lives with his extended family in an upstairs apartment. She called the shooting is upsetting and scary. "It could have been a visitor coming to see me. We really don't know what to do."

Joe LaPrieur lives down the street and says he heard six gunshots. "Them boys, man, I'm going to tell you the truth, bro, they got a lot of drugs around here, man," said LaPrieur. "I'm just sick of this place, man."

The shooting happened right underneath one of the much maligned city crime cameras. According to the NOPD, the camera just happened to be pointed in the complete opposition direction. Neighbors aren't surprised.

"(Criminals) don't worry about that crime camera, man," said LaPrieur.

"What good is it to be pointed in that direction when crime and the people that frequent here, hangs in this block," said the other neighbor. "This is basically a project. This could be considered a project. It's just two apartment buildings."

The gunmen ran off after the shooting. Right now, police have few leads and no suspects. They're not sure if any of the three adults in the car was the intended target.

The wounded little boy was last listed in good condition at Children Hospital.

Meet the Second Christ

The minister has the number 666 tattooed on his arm.

But Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is not your typical minister. De Jesus, or "Daddy" as his thousands of followers call him, does not merely pray to God: He says he is God.

"The spirit that is in me is the same spirit that was in Jesus of Nazareth," de Jesus says.

De Jesus' claims of divinity have angered Christian leaders, who say he is a fake. Religious experts say he may be something much more dangerous, a cult leader who really believes he is God. (Watch followers get 666 tattoos for their leader )

"He's in their heads, he's inside the heads of those people," says Prof. Daniel Alvarez, a religion expert at Florida International University who has debated some of de Jesus' followers.

"De Jesus speaks with a kind of conviction that makes me consider him more like David Koresh or Jim Jones."

Is de Jesus really a cult leader like David Koresh, who died with more than 70 of his Branch Davidian followers in a fiery end to a standoff with federal authorities, or Jim Jones, the founder of the Peoples Temple who committed mass suicide with 900 followers in 1978?

Prophets 'spoke to me' - De Jesus and his believers say their church -- "Creciendo en Gracia," Spanish for "Growing in grace" -- is misunderstood. Followers of the movement say they have proof that their minister is divine and that their church will one day soon be a major faith in the world.

But even de Jesus concedes that he is an unlikely leader of a church that claims thousands of members in more than 30 countries.

De Jesus, 61, grew up poor in Puerto Rico. He says he served stints in prison there for petty theft and says he was a heroin addict.

De Jesus says he learned he was Jesus reincarnate when he was visited in a dream by angels.

"The prophets, they spoke about me. It took me time to learn that, but I am what they were expecting, what they have been expecting for 2,000 years," de Jesus says.

The church that he began building 20 years ago in Miami resembles no other:

Followers have protested Christian churches in Miami and Latin America, disrupting services and smashing crosses and statues of Jesus.

De Jesus preaches there is no devil and no sin. His followers, he says, literally can do no wrong in God's eyes.

The church calls itself the "Government of God on Earth" and uses a seal similar to the United States.

Doing God's work with a Lexus and Rolex
If Creciendo en Gracia is an atypical religious group, de Jesus also does not fit the mold of the average church leader. De Jesus flouts traditional vows of poverty.

He says he has a church-paid salary of $136,000 but lives more lavishly than that. During an interview, he showed off a diamond-encrusted Rolex to a CNN crew and said he has three just like them. He travels in armored Lexuses and BMWs, he says, for his safety. All are gifts from his devoted followers.

And what about the tattoo of 666 on his arm?

Although it's a number usually associated with Satan, not the son of God, de Jesus says that 666 and the Antichrist are, like him, misunderstood.

The Antichrist is not the devil, de Jesus tells his congregation; he's the being who replaces Jesus on Earth.

"Antichrist is the best person in the world," he says. "Antichrist means don't put your eyes on Jesus because Jesus of Nazareth wasn't a Christian. Antichrist means do not put your eyes on Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Put it on Jesus after the cross."

And de Jesus says that means him.

So far, de Jesus says that his flock hasn't been scared off by his claims of being the Antichrist. In a show of the sway he holds over the group, 30 members of his congregation Tuesday went to a tattoo parlor to have 666 also permanently etched onto their skin.

He may wield influence over them, but his followers say don't expect them to go the way of people who believed in David Koresh and Jim Jones. Just by finding de Jesus, they say, they have achieved their purpose.

"If somebody tells us drink some Kool-Aid and we'll go to heaven, that's not true. We are already in heavenly places," follower Martita Roca told CNN after having 666 tattooed onto her ankle.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why Obama Really Might Decriminalize Marijuana

The stoner community is clamoring to say it: "Yes we cannabis!" Turns out, with several drug-war veterans close to the president-elect's ear, insiders think reform could come in Obama's second term -- or sooner.

Famously, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved the United States banking system during the first seven days of his first term.

And what did he do on the eighth day? "I think this would be a good time for beer," he said.

Congress had already repealed Prohibition, pending ratification from the states. But the people needed a lift, and legalizing beer would create a million jobs. And lo, booze was back. Two days after the bill passed, Milwaukee brewers hired six hundred people and paid their first $10 million in taxes. Soon the auto industry was tooling up the first $12 million worth of delivery trucks, and brewers were pouring tens of millions into new plants.

"Roosevelt's move to legalize beer had the effect he intended," says Adam Cohen, author of Nothing To Fear, a thrilling new history of FDR's first hundred days. "It was, one journalist observed, 'like a stick of dynamite into a log jam.'"

Many in the marijuana world are now hoping for something similar from Barack Obama. After all, the president-elect said in 2004 that the war on drugs had been "an utter failure" and that America should decriminalize pot:

In July, Obama told Rolling Stone that he believed in "shifting the paradigm" to a public-health approach: "I would start with nonviolent, first-time drug offenders. The notion that we are imposing felonies on them or sending them to prison, where they are getting advanced degrees in criminality, instead of thinking about ways like drug courts that can get them back on track in their lives -- it's expensive, it's counterproductive, and it doesn't make sense."

Meanwhile, economists have been making the beer argument. In a paper titled "Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," Dr. Jeffrey Miron of Harvard argues that legalized marijuana would generate between $10 and $14 billion in savings and taxes every year -- conclusions endorsed by 300 top economists, including Milton "Free Market" Friedman himself.

And two weeks ago, when the Obama team asked the public to vote on the top problems facing America, this was the public's No. 1 question: "Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?"

But alas, the answer from Camp Obama was -- as it has been for years -- a flat one-liner: "President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana." And at least two of Obama's top people are drug-war supporters: Rahm Emanuel has been a long-time enemy of reform, and Joe Biden is a drug-war mainstay who helped create the position of "drug czar."

Meanwhile, in 2007, the last year for which statistics are available, 782,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes (90 percent of them for possession), with approximately 60,000 to 85,000 of them serving sentences in jail or prison. It's the continuation of an unnecessary stream of suffering that now has taught generations of Americans just how capricious their government can be. The irony is that the preference for "decriminalization" over legalization actually supports the continued existence of criminal drug mafias.

Nevertheless, the marijuana community is guardedly optimistic. "Reformers will probably be disappointed that Obama is not going to go as far as they want, but we're probably not going to continue this mindless path of prohibition," NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre tells me.

Some of Obama's biggest financial donors are friends of the legalization movement, St. Pierre notes. "Frankly, George Soros, Peter Lewis, and John Sperling -- this triumvirate of billionaires -- if those three men, who put up $50 to $60 million to get Democrats and Obama elected, can't pick up the phone and actually get a one-to-one meeting on where this drug policy is going, then maybe it's true that when you give money, you don't expect favors."

Another member of that moneyed group: Marsha Rosenbaum, the former head of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance, who quit last year to become a fundraiser for Obama and "bundled" an impressive $204,000 for his campaign. She said that based on what she hears from inside the transition team, she expects Obama to play it very safe. "He said at one point that he's not going to use any political capital with this -- that's a concern," Rosenbaum tells me. And the Path to Change will probably have to pass through the Valley of Studies and Reports. "I'm hoping that what the administration will do," she says, "is something this country hasn't done since 1971, which is to undertake a presidential commission to look at drug policy, convene a group of blue-ribbon experts to look at the issue, and make recommendations."

But ultimately, Rosenbaum remains confident that those recommendations would call for an end to the drug war. "Once everything settles down in the second term, we have a shot at seeing some real reform."

Still, a certain paranoia prevails. Rumors about Obama's choice for drug czar have lingered on Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad. "He's been a standard anti-drug warrior for the whole time he's been in Congress," says St. Pierre. Another possibility is Atlanta police chief Richard Pennington, who raises fears in the legalization community of more of the same law-enforcement model. Another prospect stirring the bong waters is Dr. Don Vereen, the chief drug policy thinker on the transition team. "He's really a believer in prohibition and he can excite an audience," says Rosenbaum, who says a friend on the transition team refused to hint at final contenders for the drug czar pick. "I'm joking with him, 'I'm going to have to open up the New York Times for this, aren't I?'" His answer: "We're going to send out smoke signals."

Friday, December 19, 2008

With the Economy in Shambles, Congress Gets a Raise

Because they have done such a great and wonderful job fixing our problems. This is disgusting and the people need to say something...hello? Anyone home???

A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince lawmakers to freeze their own pay.

Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5 million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups are not happy about it.

“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just $1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League (TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling to keep their heat on this winter.”

However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise that lawmakers receive is only half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustment of Social Security recipients.

Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step of freezing its pay, as lawmakers did in 2000.

“Look at the way the economy is and how most people aren’t counting on a holiday bonus or a pay raise — they’re just happy to have gainful employment,” said Ellis. “But you have the lawmakers who are set up and ready to get their next installment of a pay raise and go happily along their way.”

Member raises are often characterized as examples of wasteful spending, especially when many constituents and businesses in members’ districts are in financial despair.

Rep. Harry Mitchell, a first-term Democrat from Arizona, sponsored legislation earlier this year that would have prevented the automatic pay adjustments from kicking in for members next year. But the bill, which attracted 34 cosponsors, failed to make it out of committee.

“They don’t even go through the front door. They have it set up so that it’s wired so that you actually have to undo the pay raise rather than vote for a pay raise,” Ellis said.

Freezing congressional salaries is hardly a new idea on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers have floated similar proposals in every year dating back to 1995, and long before that. Though the concept of forgoing a raise has attracted some support from more senior members, it is most popular with freshman lawmakers, who are often most vulnerable.

In 2006, after the Republican-led Senate rejected an increase to the minimum wage, Democrats, who had just come to power in the House with a slew of freshmen, vowed to block their own pay raise until the wage increase was passed. The minimum wage was eventually increased and lawmakers received their automatic pay hike.

In the beginning days of 1789, Congress was paid only $6 a day, which would be about $75 daily by modern standards. But by 1965 members were receiving $30,000 a year, which is the modern equivalent of about $195,000.

Currently the average lawmaker makes $169,300 a year, with leadership making slightly more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) makes $217,400, while the minority and majority leaders in the House and Senate make $188,100.

Ellis said that while freezing the pay increase would be a step in the right direction, it would be better to have it set up so that members would have to take action, and vote, for a pay raise and deal with the consequences, rather than get one automatically.

“It is probably never going to be politically popular to raise Congress’s salary,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to find taxpayers saying, ‘Yeah I think I should pay my congressman more’.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Greedy Man Who Conned the World

What the Fuck Did He Need All This Money For?

Investors around the world are counting the spiralling cost of the biggest fraud in history, a $50bn scam that has ensnared billionaire businessmen and tiny charities alike and whose tentacles have stretched further and deeper than anyone imagined.

The fallout from the arrest of the Wall Street grandee Bernard Madoff was continuing to grow last night, as institution after institution detailed the extent of their possible losses, and the victims in the UK were headlined by HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland, which is majority-owned by the British Government.

A charity set up by the Hollywood director Steven Spielberg was among those revealed to be among the victims, along with a foundation set up by Mort Zuckerman, one of the richest media and property magnates in the United States, dozens of Jewish organisations, sports team owners and a New Jersey senator.

But the biggest confessions were coming from Wall Street, from the City of London and from the headquarters of European banks and from banks around the world. They have poured billions of dollars into Mr Madoff's too-good-to-be-true investment fund, which appeared to post double-digit annual returns come rain or shine.

RBS said that it could take a hit of £400m if American authorities find there is nothing left of the money Mr Madoff had pretended to be investing for many years. HSBC, Britain's largest bank, said a "small number" of its clients had exposure totalling $1bn in Mr Madoff's funds.

The Spanish bank Santander, which owns Abbey and the savings business of Bradford & Bingley in the UK, could be on the hook for $3.1bn. Japan's Nomura said it has hundreds of millions of dollars at risk. City analysts said that even banks who invested only on behalf of clients could end up on the hook, because clients are almost certain to sue for bad advice.

Mr Madoff confessed last week that his business was "all one great big lie". The investment returns were fake, and he had been paying old clients with money from new ones. In its conception, the scam is a classic. In its size, it is breathtaking, eclipsing anything seen before. He personally estimated the losses at $50bn, according to the FBI, and as investors owned up to their exposure yesterday that did not seem impossible. For 48 years, until Thursday morning, Mr Madoff was one of Wall Street's best-respected investment managers, able to harvest money from a vast network of contacts and to trade on his name as a former chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange.

His arrest has further shaken confidence in the barely regulated hedge fund industry, which is already suffering some of the worst times in its short history. Mr Madoff – who is now on a $10m bail and under orders not to leave the New York area – was able to operate his fraud under the noses of regulators for many years.

Mort Zuckerman, the owner of the New York Daily News and one of the 200 richest Americans, said that one of the managers of his charitable trust had been so taken by Mr Madoff that he invested $9bn with him, including all the money from Mr Zuckerman's trust. "These are astonishing numbers to be placed with one fund manager," he said. "I think we have another break in whatever level confidence needs to exist in money markets."

Nicola Horlick, the British fund manager known as Superwoman for juggling her high-flying City career with bringing up five children, turned her fire on US regulators. Her Bramdean Alternatives investment fund had put 9 per cent – about £10m – with Mr Madoff. She told BBC Radio: "This is the biggest financial scandal, probably in the history of the markets."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Louisiana Has More Prisoners Than Any Other State

Louisiana is last in education, last in health care and now we can brag about a new accomplishment!

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released figures showing that the United States has more people in prison than any other country in the world. And Louisiana has more than any other state.

As of Dec. 31, 2007, nearly 2.3 million people were in U.S. prisons and according to state correction officials, Louisiana has 37,969 adults behind bars. That number does not include juveniles or those doing municipal time.

The ACLU says Louisiana has nearly five times as many prisoners than in Maine, the state with the lowest rate of incarceration.

ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie R. Esman said that Louisiana continues to lock up too many elderly prisoners and too many people whose biggest problem is addiction.

"We still haven't learned that the solution for many of our problems do not lie in the jailhouse," Esman said. "Of course people who are violent and dangerous to society need to be taken off the streets. But it doesn't make sense to lock up those who are not a danger."

According to figures released in June by the Louisiana Department of Corrections, 13 percent of the prison population in Louisiana is over age 50. More than 30 percent of Louisiana inmates were convicted of drug offenses.

With the current economic crisis, Esman hopes the state legislature will look into other solutions.

"Other states have proven that there are more effective ways to treat the problem of crime at lower costs," she said.

Those include parole and probation reforms, diversion programs, increasing good-time programs for people behind bars, and sentencing reforms for nonviolent offenders, she said.

Estimates put the annual cost of incarceration at about $20,000 per prisoner, Esman said.

"That money could be used to pay for a lot of early childhood education that has been shown to have a significant effect on later problems," she said.

And they clam we are free...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Milwaukee Neighborhoods Could Print Its Own Money

I wonder how long it will takes the feds to get there and stop them.

Residents from the Milwaukee neighborhoods of Riverwest and East Side are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss printing their own money. The idea is that the local cash could be used at neighborhood stores and businesses, thus encouraging local spending. The result, supporters hope, would be a bustling local economy, even as the rest of the nation deals with a recession.

"You have all these people who have local currency, and they're going to spend it at local stores," said Sura Faraj, a community organizer who is helping spearhead the plan. "They can't spend it at the Wal-Mart or the Home Depot, but they can spend it at their local hardware store or their local grocery store."

Incentives could be used to entice consumers into using the new money. For example, perhaps they could trade $100 U.S. for $110 local, essentially netting them a 10 percent discount at participating stores.

It's not a new concept—experts estimate there are at least 2,000 local currencies all over the world—but it is a practice that tends to burgeon during economic downturns. During the Great Depression, scores of communities relied on their own currencies.

And it's completely legal.

As long as communities don't create coins, or print bills that resemble federal dollars, organizations are free to produce their own greenbacks—and they'd don't even have to be green.

Wall Street & Big Business Has Punk'd Us

Monday, December 01, 2008

Legalizing Marijuana Top Issue on

On the website, Americans can submit what they feel should be the things we change in this country. You can post a vision for our nation and then vote on other issues that are important to you.

The legalization of marijuana for recreation and medicinal purposes is ranked number two in the list of top ideas.

The "Dream Act" is ranked at number one, followed by repealing the Patriot Act at number 3. Number 4 is build a U.S. public service academy. With closing the Guantanamo torture camp at number 5.

Check it out, share your ideas and vote.