Thursday, November 29, 2007

Intel Centers Losing Anti-Terror Focus

Intel Centers Losing Anti-Terror Focus

Thursday, November 29, 2007

(11-29) 08:18 PST WASHINGTON (AP) --

Local intelligence-sharing centers set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have had their anti-terrorism mission diluted by a focus on run-of-the-mill street crime and hazards such as hurricanes, a government report concludes.

Of the 43 "fusion centers" already established, only two focus exclusively on preventing terrorism, the Government Accountability Office found in a national survey obtained by The Associated Press. Center directors complain they were hampered by lack of guidance from Washington and were flooded by often redundant information from multiple computer systems.

Administration officials defended the centers and said encompassing all sorts of crimes in the intelligence dragnet is the best way to catch terrorists.

The original idea was to coordinate resources, expertise and information of intelligence agencies so the country could detect and prevent terrorist acts. The concept has been widely embraced, particularly by the Sept. 11 commission, and the federal government has provided $130 million to help get them off the ground. But until recently, there were no guidelines for setting up the centers and as a result, the information shared and how it is used vary.

Centers in Kansas and Rhode Island are the only two focused solely on counterterrorism. Other centers concentrate on all crimes, including drugs and gangs, according to Congress' investigative and auditing arm. Washington state's center, for instance, has an all-hazards mission so it can focus on natural disasters and public health epidemics in addition to terrorism.

"States are at different levels because there wasn't the preconceived game-plan on how to do this," said George Foresman, a former undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department who oversaw the awarding of startup money for many of the centers.

The GAO findings backed up results from a congressional report this year.

"Although many of the centers initially had purely counterterrorism goals, for numerous reasons they have increasingly gravitated toward an all-crimes and even broader all-hazards approach," according to a Congressional Research Service report from June.

To Jack Tomarchio, a senior intelligence official at the Homeland Security Department, that is not a bad thing. "In many cases, there's also a nexus between criminality and terrorism," Tomarchio said. "Terrorists, like anybody else, need money to do their deeds." Often, he said, that means terrorists will be involved in narcotics trafficking and similar crimes.

Most centers are run by state police or other law enforcement agencies. Many also have representatives from a range of other agencies, including fire and public works departments and state gambling regulators. This has raised concerns about privacy as those agencies become linked to a broader intelligence-sharing network. Most of the centers also include federal officials such as analysts from the FBI and Homeland Security.

Some centers are even housed with federal agencies, which can be a benefit. Minnesota's center is in the same building as the FBI, which makes it easier for local officials to access the FBI's networks.

The centers potentially can tap into five separate federal databases containing case files on investigations, reports on suspicious incidents and research material on terrorist weapons and tactics. But not all the facilities are in buildings that have adequate security to access those databases, GAO found.

Each center is independent and not controlled by the federal government. It was only last month that the Bush administration offered guidelines for the centers' missions and operations. The White House published a strategy paper advising centers to share information about all criminal activity, saying that could help uncovered potential terrorist plots.

The federal government, however, still needs to do a better job of explaining what information it can share and how much money it will provide, according to the congressional investigators.

At the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, watch commander Lori Norris said more federal money and guidelines could solve many of the center's frustrations. Arizona's center has representatives from the state's public safety, motor vehicles and liquor control departments, as well as its National Guard and city and county fire departments and federal agencies.

The Arizona center cannot access some of the federal information systems because its building does not meet security requirements. "We would be able to, but again, we don't have the funding for that," Norris said.

In addition, Norris said she would like the government to pick one or two systems for sharing information — not the three or four currently used. "I have to log on with four different passwords into these systems every single day and look at all this stuff," Norris said.

Many centers do not know what information to expect from Washington or how quickly they can expect to receive it.

"There's got to be a clearer definition as to when that information goes out and who it goes out to," Norris said. It's not uncommon, she said, for law enforcement officers to learn of important developments first from the news media.

But when information is sent to the states, it often comes more than once, said Richard Kelly, who heads New Jersey's fusion center.

"If DHS and FBI put out a joint bulletin, we get it twice," Kelly said. "If we ever did get to one standard policy in how to communicate down to the states and locals, that would be a good thing."

The GAO also found that some fusion centers have had a hard time hiring and training analysts, and many say they need federal guidance on what skills the analysts should have. Fusion centers have found it hard to get security clearances for their personnel, and find that even with appropriate clearances, information continues to be withheld. Nineteen centers told GAO that federal agencies, most often the FBI and the Homeland Security Department, wouldn't accept each others' clearances even though the law says they're supposed to.


On the Net:

White House background:

    The California Court of Appeal's terrific 3-0
ruling in the Felix Kha case demolishes the
claims by Prop 215 opponents that federal law
bars local law officers from enforcing Prop 215
and returning patients' medicine:

* The court roundly rejects the notion that
local police are obliged to enforce federal drug
> It must be remembered it is not the job of the
>local police to enforce the federal drug laws as
> For reasons we have explained, state courts can
>only reach conduct subject to federal law
>if such conduct also transcends state law, which
>in this case it does not. To the contrary,
>Kha's conduct is actually sanctioned and made
>"noncriminal" under the CUA. (People v.
>Mower, supra, 28 Cal.4th at p. 471.)
> That may cause a dilemma for local narcotics officers in some instances,
>but it strikes us as being an entirely
>manageable consequence of our federalist form of
>government. By complying with the trial court's
>order, the Garden Grove police will
>actually be facilitating a primary principle of
>federalism, which is to allow the states to
innovate in areas bearing on the health and well-being of their citizens.

Incidentally, the decision fixes a loophole in
SB 420 (the Medical Marijuana Program - MMP),
where Vehicle Code section 23222 (possession of
less than one oz of MJ in an automobile )was
accidentally omitted from the list criminal
offenses from which Prop 215 patients are

>There is an additional, even more fundamental reason why qualified
>patients who are charged with violating Vehicle
>Code section 23222, subdivision (b)
>should be included within the ambit of the
>state's medical marijuana laws. As Kha notes,
>that section prohibits driving with marijuana,
>"[e]xcept as authorized by law." (Veh.
>Code, § 23222, subd. (b).) Since the MMP
>allows the transportation of medical
>marijuana (§ 11362.765, subd. (b)(1); People v.
>Wright, supra, 40 Cal.4th at pp. 93-94),
>the MMP effectively authorizes the conduct
>described in Vehicle Code section 23222,
>subdivision (b), when, as here, the conduct at
>issue is the transportation of a small amount
>of medical marijuana for personal use - conduct "authorized by law."

* The court rejects the myth that medical
marijuana contributes to a "marked increase in
violent crime", as argued in the "Riverside
County District Attorney's Office White Paper,
Medical Marijuana."

>"Suffice it to say, there is nothing in
>the record of this particular case to indicate a
>link between medical marijuana - in
>Riverside or anywhere else - and violent crime in Garden Grove. "

* It also absolves state officers of
accusations that they would be aiding or abetting
violation of federal law:

>Likewise here, holding the City or individual officers responsible for any
>violations of federal law that might ensue from
>the return of Kha's marijuana would
>appear to be beyond the scope of either conspiracy or aiding and abetting.

Overall, a terrific vindication of patients' rights under Prop 215!
- Dale Gieringer, Cal NORML
Dale Gieringer, Director - California NORML,
2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
-(415) 563- 5858 -

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Marijuana compound could help fight breast cancer

KGO By Carolyn Johnson

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 19, 2007 (KGO) - There may be a new weapon in the fight against aggressive forms of breast cancer in the future, and it comes from an unlikely source: Marijuana. Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco believe a compound in marijuana may help.

The research funded by the California Breast Cancer Research Program builds on more than a decade of studies involving the genes responsible for the spread of cancer. Now scientists have found at the cellular level, a compound in cannabis inhibits the gene that controls the spread of cancer.

"The problem is not the cancer itself, the problem is the spread of the cancer," said cancer researcher Yvez Desprez, Ph.D.

Cancer researcher Pierre Desprez points to the gene ID-1 as the trigger.

"When this type of gene is expressed, the cells basically go crazy and they're very aggressive and they metastasize everywhere in the body," said Desprez.

"We could expect that if we create really effective inhibitors against it, we could potentially treat many types of aggressive cancers," said cancer researcher Sean McAllister, Ph.D.

Their research in breast cancer cell lines focused on using a non-toxic compound in cannabis to target the ID-1 gene.

"What we found was cannabidiol is a particularly good inhibitor of this gene that's responsible for the ability of cancer cells to become very aggressive," said McAllister.

Dr. Sean McAllister and Dr. Desprez collaborated on the research and believe several years from now it could lead to an oral or intravenous treatment alternative to chemotherapy.

A non-toxic drug that could slow the spread of cancer, but the research is still in the very early stages, and they caution patients against self- medicating with pot now.

"We are not asking that cancer patients smoke marijuana," said Dr. Desprez.

"You wouldn't expect that you'd be able to reach any effective concentrations by smoking," said Dr. McAllister.

"Our concern about the release of research like this is that patients get very excited about something that isn't there yet," said Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action.

Barbara Brenner of Breast Cancer Action expects her office will receive many calls from patients about the research.

"The translation from cell lines to animals to people is a long and sometime tortuous path," said Brenner.

Scientists at California Pacific Medical Research Center plan to test a variety of cannabidiol compounds in the lab before animal studies begin. If all goes well, it'll still be several years before clinical trials start in humans.

There is already quite a bit of safety data on this marijuana compound and researchers say that should help speed the testing process along.

Copyright 2007, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.



Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2007 9:33 AM by Domenico Montanaro

Filed Under: 





From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan


AUDUBON, IA -- Obama can't seem to escape the 

smoke of his youthful indiscretions wafting after 

him on the campaign trail. Just four days after 

he told a group of high school students that he 

had experimented with drugs in high school, Obama 

had to admit to it again at a town hall here.


When a voter asked Obama if he was for the 

legalization of medical marijuana, Obama said 

that he wasn't in favor of legalization without 

scientific evidence and tight controls. Citing 

his mother who died from cancer young, Obama 

compared marijuana to morphine saying there was 

little difference between the two.


"My attitude is if the science and the doctors 

suggest that the best palliative care and the way 

to relieve pain and suffering is medical 

marijuana then that's something I'm open to 

because there's no difference between that and 

morphine when it comes to just giving people 

relief from pain," Obama said. "But I want to do 

it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed 

in the same way that other painkillers or 

palliative drugs are prescribed."


But he added that he was concerned that the 

reasons for the use of marijuana would grow and 

create a "slippery slope."


"I was feeling really tense, so I needed a 

joint," Obama joked with the crowd of those who 

might try and undermine that type of system.


The question was followed up by another voter 

asking him, "Unlike other presidents, did you 



"I did," Obama said to loud applause and 

laughter. "It's not something that I'm proud of. 

It was a mistake Š But you know, I'm not going 

to.  I never understood that line. The point was 

to inhale. That was the point."


- Derek Rosenzweig

PhillyNORML Co-Chairman

SONOMA: Supes to consider use permit for medical marijuana clinic


The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27, will

hold a public hearing at 2:15 p.m. to consider a request by Creekside

Medical Organics for a use permit to open a level II medical marijuana

dispensary at the old Nicholson Turkey headquarters, 19445 Riverside Drive.


At the request of 1st District Supervisor Valerie Brown, the board agreed to

take direct jurisdiction over the request rather than have it proceed

through the conventional review process by the county's Permit and Resource

Management Department.


Approval of the use permit would allow the applicant, which currently runs a

similar facility in Santa Rosa, to proceed with plans for the clinic.


Last week the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission voted to support

the application for a permit. That vote was only advisory, but it can

influence the decision by the Board of Supervisors.


Newshawk: The Source for Medicinal Marijuana News

Pubdate: Sat, 24 Nov 2007

Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA)

Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group




Author: Tracy Manzer, Staff writer



Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)




Agents Say They're Probing Businesses


LONG BEACH - Tuesday's raid at a local medical marijuana clinic was 

the first of its kind for Long Beach, but it may not be the last, 

according to federal authorities.


Federal agents served the search warrant at Long Beach Compassionate 

Cooperative, 342 E. Fourth St., at about 11 a.m. Tuesday, seizing 33 

kilos of dried marijuana and about $10,000 cash, said Special Agent 

Jose Martinez, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement 

Administration's Los Angeles Field Division.


Agents also arrested a man listed as the dispensary's operator, Martinez said.


He was identified Friday as Samuel Matthew Fata.


Fata was booked on a charge of possession of narcotics for 

distribution and released the same day, Martinez said.


Control of the dispensary was turned back to the operator once the 

search warrant was executed, the agent said.


Since the search warrant, however, the dispensary's doors have 

remained locked and a sign reading "closed indefinitely," hangs in 

the front of the business.


Tuesday's raid was the first of its kind in Long Beach since the 1996 

passage of state Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act that 

legalized marijuana for patients with debilitating and terminal 

medical conditions.


Although state laws authorize the distribution of medical marijuana 

in certain circumstances, federal law still prohibits distribution of 

the drug for any purpose, Martinez explained.


Letters were sent to the property owners who lease space to all the 

dispensaries in the city a few months ago. In the letters, property 

owners were told illegal business was being conducted in the 

locations and must cease immediately, Martinez said.


Rumors were sparked by the warrant earlier in the week with several 

supporters of the medical marijuana initiative questioning the timing 

of the warrant and the selection of just one location.


"It's a very tedious process," Martinez said, adding that the agency 

has only a few agents to cover the entire Los Angeles County region.


Martinez said the warrant at the L.B.C.C. dispensary was the first 

for the area, but it will not be the last if any other dispensaries remain.


"We'll follow up on every location served (with notice)," Martinez promised.


Although the city does not allow business licenses for medical 

marijuana dispensaries, police officials recently identified 11 

dispensaries they said are operating throughout Long Beach. 


Newshawk: Herb
Rate this articleVotes: 0
Pubdate: Wed, 21 Nov 2007
Source: Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD)
Copyright: 2007 Argus Leader
Author: Terry Woster
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


PIERRE -- South Dakota school kids are smoking tobacco less and marijuana more than they did a decade and one-half ago, a state survey of risky behaviors suggests. 

The state Board of Education received the latest Youth Risk Behavior survey earlier this week in Pierre.  The report, based on responses from South Dakota students in grades nine through 12 at randomly selected public, private and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, is done every other year.  The most recent survey is based in 2005 data, and state officials compared the outcome with 1991 responses to outline trends. 

The trend to more pot and less tobacco was among the shifts shown by that comparison. 

The shift in tobacco use was perhaps not as great as anti-smoking forced would like -- 61 percent of students say they have tried cigarettes, compared with 69 percent in 1991.  But 37 percent said they had used marijuana in 2005, compared with 21 percent 14 years ago. 

Other statistics of note included: 

- - Fewer students, 44 percent, say they've had intercourse than in 1991 ( 48 percent ). 

- - Fewer students have been in a vehicle in the past month with a drinking driver or have driven a vehicle themselves when drinking alcohol.  In 1991, 50 percent of those asked said they'd ridden with a drinking driver and 28 percent said they'd driven while drinking.  The 2005 data showed 32 percent had ridden with a drinking driver and 17 percent had driven while drinking. 

- - About one in three students, 34 percent, reported binge drinking in the previous month in the most recent survey.  In 1991, 41 percent of those asked said they'd done that. 

- - While 19 percent of students in 2005 said they'd considered suicide, that percentage was down from 30 percent in 1991. 

- - And more students are at risk for becoming obese, 14 percent in the latest survey, compared to 11 percent in 1991.  

MAP posted-by: Richard Lake