Monday, January 16, 2017
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Ventura council tackles how to spend sales tax vc star jan 13 17
Friday, January 13, 2017
“Simi Valley Police Department Announces Security Camera Registry Program” from Simi Valley Police Department : Nixle
Thursday January 12th, 2017 :: 11:13 a.m. PST
CommunitySimi Valley Police Department Announces Security Camera Registry Program
SAFECAM is the Simi Valley Police Department’s newest crime fighting program and represents another opportunity for the police department to partner with local businesses and community members to help create an even safer place to live, work, and play. Through SAFECAM residents and business owners who operate security cameras have the opportunity to help the Simi Valley Police Department prevent and solve crime.
SAFECAM is a data base of personal security cameras owned and operated by businesses and residents in the City of Simi Valley. Those who have security cameras on their business or residence are encouraged to register their cameras through SAFECAM. In the event a crime, traffic collision or other law enforcement related event occurs near the area where registered security cameras are located, Simi Valley Police Department personnel will be able to quickly contact the owner of the camera to request the footage. By being able to quickly locate and view security footage, Simi Valley Police Department personnel will be better able to identify possible suspects and bring them to justice.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Simi Valley Police Department is dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to partner with local residents and business owners. By completing a registration form and submitting it to the Simi Valley Police Department your camera information will be entered into a database that is maintained by the police department. When a crime, traffic collision or other law enforcement related event occurs, officers will be able to quickly access the SAFECAM database, identify businesses and residences in the area that have security cameras, contact the owners of the camera and request footage which may help to identify suspects and assist with the apprehension and prosecution of those involved.
Information provided to the Simi Valley Police Department regarding camera systems will be for official use only. All personal information will be confidential and not for public dissemination.
HOW YOU CAN BE A PART OF SAFECAM
If your residence or business has a security camera system you can help the Simi Valley Police Department investigate and solve crimes by registering your camera in one of three ways:
• Go to www.simivalley.org/safecam to complete the on-line SAFECAM registration form. Then press the “submit” button at the bottom of the page.
• Print out the SAFECAM registration form from www.simivalley.org/safecam, complete it, and drop it off at the Simi Valley Police Department’s front counter or mail it to the Simi Valley Police Department Communication Center at 3901 Alamo Street, Simi Valley, CA 93063.
• Or, contact the Simi Valley Police Department’s Crime Prevention Representative, Jean-Marie Maroshek at (805) 583-6276 to help complete your registration over the phone.
The Simi Valley Police Department recognizes that they cannot prevent or solve crime by itself. The police department has had a long standing relationship with the community and SAFECAM is another way for the police and community to work together to help keep Simi Valley safe. There are more ways that you can be a part of keeping Simi Valley safe:
• Neighborhood Watch
• Next Door (electronic Neighborhood Watch)
• Business Watch
• Citizens on Patrol (Volunteer Program)
For additional information on all of the Crime Prevention Programs that the Simi Valley Police Department offers, call (805) 583-6276 "
'via Blog this'
I just started the petition "Nick I. Quidwai: changelocal Thousand Oaks district voting NOT @ large for Council, School, Park districts" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
My goal is to reach 100 signatures and I need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, has come under fire for accepting an award from right-wing extremist David Horowitz.
Senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's pick for attorney general, has come under fire for accepting an award from right-wing extremist David Horowitz.
What Sessions said when he accepted it may prove to be even more explosive.
"Ultimately, freedom of speech is about ascertaining the truth," Sessions, an Alabama Republican, told Horowitz's audience on Nov. 14, 2014. "And if you don't believe there's a truth, you don't believe in truth, if you're an utter secularist, then how do we operate this government? How can we form a democracy of the kind I think you and I believe in… I do believe that we are a nation that, without God, there is no truth, and it's all about power, ideology, advancement, agenda, not doing the public service."
The comments have not been previously reported, nor have any of Sessions's colleagues asked about them at his confirmation hearings.
While plenty of elected officials may hold similar beliefs, Sessions is a nominee for attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer in the country. His comments raise questions as to which set of "truths," religious or secular, would motivate his Justice Department's decisions on which laws to prosecute, which liberties to protect, and which interpretations of legal and constitutional texts to adopt.
"It goes against the values our country was founded on to intertwine religion and government in the way that Sessions described," Michael Keegan, president of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, told The Daily Beast. "The equality of every American, regardless of his or her religious beliefs or nonbelief, is one of the core principles of our democracy. If Jeff Sessions can't understand that, he's unfit to serve as attorney general."
Indeed, to describe freedom of speech as being about "ascertaining the truth" flies in the face of 200 years of Supreme Court precedent, which protects artistic expression, commercial speech, and free expression of all types, regardless of whether they are intended to ascertain the truth.
Other comments made to Horowitz's "Freedom Center" raise further questions regarding Sessions's beliefs.
"I've seen some great people receive this [award], David, and it's a special treat and pleasure for me because you know how much I admire you as we battle for, I think, for right and justice and law and American people's legitimate interests and expectations from their government," Sessions said.
At the time, the most recent recipients of the "Daring the Odds" award included the extreme anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller and former Senator Russell Pearce, who was the co-author of Arizona's draconian anti-immigrant law. (This year, it was awarded to alt-right icon Milo Yiannapoulos.)
And at an earlier Freedom Center event, held on Feb. 13, 2013, Sessions praised Horowitz for having made a "profound contributions to the conservative movement," and praised his book A Point in Time as being "a good book, a wise book, well in the tradition of the Western heritage of faith and reason." Sessions stated that after reading Horowitz's book Radicals, "I had an epiphany." Sessions telephoned Horowitz who "gave me some ideas… it'll make a difference in how we approach things."
Most recently, of course, Sessions described Horowitz as "brilliant" at his confirmation hearing.
The close relationship between the two, which Sessions effusively described four years ago but omitted from the questionnaire he provided to the Senate, raises questions about how Sessions regards Horowitz's "profound contributions," which often tilt to the extreme far right.
For example, Horowitz has accused Hillary Clinton and Grover Norquist of being secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2014, shortly before Sessions received his award, Horowitz called Nancy Pelosi a "Jew-hating bitch" on Twitter. In 2016, he called anti-Trump conservative Bill Kristol a "renegade Jew." Other choice quotes include "No people have shown themselves as so morally sick as the Palestinians" and that African-American "demands for special treatment" are "only necessary because some blacks can't seem to locate the ladder of opportunity within reach of others."
Horowitz has also attracted controversy by drawing an annual salary in 2013 of $540,000 and for his subsidizing the work of Geller, Robert Spencer (cited 162 times by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik), and conspiracy theorists.
Horowitz's website, FrontPageMag, regularly incites rage in broad hit pieces, such as one a few weeks ago calling President Obama's Chanukah party an "abomination of a mockery," calling rabbis in attendance "Rabbis" and calling an Orthodox yeshiva "leftist." Headlines on today's front page alone include "Obama says goodbye to a nation he despises"; "You can't fight anti-Semitism without exposing Islamophobia as a lie"; and one describing the joint intelligence report on Russian hacking as a "one-sided report [that] smells like a political hatchet job."
Sessions has attended at least five of Horowitz's Freedom Center conferences, and, so far at least, has doubled down in his support of Horowitz himself.
But it is the 2014 remarks that raise the greatest questions about the prospective attorney general, for they constitute not merely an embrace of Horowitz's extremism but a theocratic vision of American democracy at odds with that of the Founding Fathers—not to mention a misunderstanding of "secularists" who, from Mark Twain to Stephen Hawking, Thomas Jefferson (a deist), to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, have often been very interested in the pursuit of truth.
If Sessions believes that without God, there is no truth, and that secularists cannot "operate" the government, how will he discharge his duties to enforce the rule of (secular) law, investigate the truth or falsity of crucial allegations, and ensure that all people are treated equally?
Sent from my iPhone by Nick Iqbal Quidwai Newbury Park CA
By Jen Hayden
Thursday Jan 12, 2017 · 8:45 AM PST
269 Comments (269 New)
Once again, Rep. Barbara Lee takes the lead
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In 2001, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) was the one and only member of Congress who voted to oppose authorizing the Bush administration to use military force in response to the 9/11 attack. She called the vote and the authorization a “rush to judgement” and warned it could lead to blank checks and endless war.
Lee emerged as a resistance leader to George W. Bush’s agenda and now she’s stepping up to lead the resistance again, saying she will not be a part of normalizing “the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party.”
Her full statement is required reading today:
“Inaugurations are celebratory events, a time to welcome the peaceful transition of power and honor the new administration. On January 20th, I will not be celebrating or honoring an incoming president who rode racism, sexism, xenophobia and bigotry to the White House.
“Donald Trump ran one of the most divisive and prejudiced campaigns in modern history. He began his campaign by insulting Mexican immigrants, pledging to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and then spent a year and a half denigrating communities of color and normalizing bigotry. He called women ‘pigs’, stoked Islamophobia, and attacked a Gold Star family. He mocked a disabled reporter and appealed to people’s worst instincts. I cannot in good conscience attend an inauguration that would celebrate this divisive approach to governance.
“After the election, many hoped the president-elect would turn toward unifying our country. Instead he has shown us that he will utilize the same tools of division he employed on the campaign trail as our nation’s Commander-in-Chief. We need look no further than the team he is assembling to find signals that the era of Trump will be one of chaos and devastation for our communities.
“The president-elect has named Steve Bannon, a white nationalist as his chief strategist. He has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions to the office of Attorney General, despite his long career of opposition to civil and human rights. And in perhaps the most damning sign of the chaos to come, the president-elect has expedited the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act and make America sick again.”
“To make matters worse, after the intelligence community reported Russian interference in our election, Donald Trump frequently and forcefully defended Vladimir Putin. He insulted senior intelligence officials in order to preserve his reputation and disguise the truth. The American people will never forget that when a foreign government violated our democracy, Donald Trump chose the interests of another nation over our own.
“Donald Trump has proven that his administration will normalize the most extreme fringes of the Republican Party. On Inauguration Day, I will not be celebrating. I will be organizing and preparing for resistance.”"
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Here is an unedited transcript of President Obama's prepared remarks during his farewell address in Chicago, as provided by the White House.
It's good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we've received over the past few weeks. But tonight it's my turn to say thanks. Whether we've seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.
I first came to Chicago when I was in my early 20s, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.
After eight years as your president, I still believe that. And it's not just my belief. It's the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.
It's the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It's the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that we, the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.
This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.
For 240 years, our nation's call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It's what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It's what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It's why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.
So that's what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.
Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran's nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
But that's what we did. That's what you did. You were the change. You answered people's hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.
In 10 days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected president to the next. I committed to President-elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it's up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.
We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.
But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.
That's what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.
Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.
There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven't just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.
In other words, it will determine our future.
Our democracy won't work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a 10-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Healthcare costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we've made to our healthcare system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.
That, after all, is why we serve – to make people's lives better, not worse.
But for all the real progress we've made, we know it's not enough. Our economy doesn't work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top 1% has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and healthcare worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won't come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.
And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don't avoid their obligations to the country that's made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can't be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don't create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.
There's a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I've lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.
But we're not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don't look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America's workforce. And our economy doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.
Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That's what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won't be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he's got all the advantages, but who's seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn't suddenly vanish in the '60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they're not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they're not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn't weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation's creed, and it was strengthened.
So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.
None of this is easy. For too many of us, it's become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that's out there.
This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we'll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we'll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.
Isn't that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we're cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It's not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it's self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.
Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we've halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won't have time to debate the existence of climate change; they'll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.
Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.
It's that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.
It's that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.
That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what's true and what's right.
Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We've taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we're leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.
But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That's why, for the past eight years, I've worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That's why we've ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That's why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That's why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women's rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.
So let's be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.
Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.
And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but "from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;" that we should preserve it with "jealous anxiety;" that we should reject "the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties" that make us one.
We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we've been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
Ultimately, that's what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there's an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you're tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you'll win. Sometimes you'll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.
Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I've seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I've mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I've seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I've seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I've seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.
That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn't possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can't believe we pulled this whole thing off.
You're not the only ones. Michelle – for the past 25 years, you've been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn't ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You've made me proud. You've made the country proud.
Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I've done in my life, I'm most proud to be your dad.
To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware's favorite son: You were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.
To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I've drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I've watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we've done is the thought of all the remarkable things you'll achieve from here.
And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because, yes, you changed the world.
That's why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I've seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America's hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You'll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.
My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won't stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you're young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Can.
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Experts have only a hazy idea of marijuana’s myriad health effects, and federal laws are to blame la times
More than 22 million Americans use some form of marijuana each month, and it's now approved for medicinal or recreational use in 28 states plus the District of Columbia. Nationwide, legal sales of the drug reached an estimated $7.1 billion last year.
Yet for all its ubiquity, a comprehensive new report says the precise health effects of marijuana on those who use it remain something of a mystery — and the federal government continues to erect major barriers to research that would provide much-needed answers.
If historical patterns are any guide, ballot initiatives that legalized recreational marijuana in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada last year will lead to an increase in cannabis use and drive down public perceptions of the drug's risks. The result could be a natural experiment on a grand scale, according to the report released Thursday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
"This lack of evidence-based information on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids poses a public health risk," a panel of 16 experts concluded in the first comprehensive look at marijuana research since 1999.
The report, nine months in the making, assessed more than 10,000 studies that examined marijuana's relationship with cancer, psychiatry, accidents and a host of other health issues. The authors included physicians, public health experts, neurobiologists and addiction specialists.
California's Department of Public Health was one of 15 sponsors of the report. Department spokesman Matt Conens said in a statement that it hoped "to gather credible information" to protect patients and the public and guide the state's cannabis-related public health response, and is reviewing its recommendations.
Some things were clear. The report authors concluded with confidence that marijuana and products that mimic its psychoactive effects can provide effective treatment of chronic pain and help some patients with sleep. Cannabis and cannabinoids, they wrote, effectively ease chemotherapy-induced nausea in cancer patients and spasticity in those with multiple sclerosis.
There is "substantial evidence" that women who use marijuana during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to smaller babies who face a range of early disadvantages. The report also detailed strong evidence that long-term pot-smoking is linked to worsened respiratory symptoms and more frequent episodes of chronic bronchitis. And it found solid research findings of an overlap between frequent users of marijuana and those who develop schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders, though it's not clear whether one causes the other.
At the same time, the authors warned that many of the conditions for which patients have turned to medical marijuana have little or no research that demonstrates its effectiveness. Those include the use of cannabis or cannabinoids for treatment of epilepsy, Parkinson's disease symptoms and support of abstinence from addictive substances.
Also thin, according to the new report: research that clarifies the relationship between drugged driving and accidents. The statistical link between marijuana use and an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes is "substantial." But that might be because those most likely to drive under the marijuana's influence — young men and people who also use alcohol and other drugs — are already more likely to get in accidents.
While it's possible to measure the concentration of marijuana's active agent, THC, in the blood of drivers, researchers aren't really sure at what concentration impairment — or, for that matter, beneficial effects — kicks in, the experts wrote.
That's a crucial research gap for state legislators looking to draft laws against driving under the influence. Indeed, the panel members wrote, it's not even clear that measures focusing on marijuana use alone would save lives.
Overall, the report suggests that, like many drugs, marijuana can be powerful medicine at some doses and to some people, and potentially dangerous in other strengths and to other people. The body of available research doesn't provide a clear guide to who will reap those benefits or incur those harms, and how dosage or mode of administration could spell the difference.
"What do we really know for sure? Mainly it's anecdotes or very poor evidence," said Dr. Marie McCormick, a maternal and child health expert at Harvard's School of Public Health who chaired the National Academies panel.
Given the continuing tug-of-war between the states and the federal government over marijuana policy, it's unlikely that new research will provide better answers any time soon. Those who wish to investigate marijuana's effects face high legal and bureaucratic hurdles, the panel noted.
When most federally funded researchers put marijuana's properties to a rigorous test, they have one legal source to turn to: a University of Mississippi facility that has cultivated the plant for the National Institute on Drug Abuse since 1968.
Commercially available marijuana and derivative products have changed dramatically since then, becoming more potent, more concentrated and available in forms that can be consumed and vaped as well as smoked. These changes aren't reflected at the growing facility; in most cases, it offers the plant's leaves and flowers in a narrow range of concentrations. Only in July did NIDA ask researchers how its marijuana products might better serve their research needs, the panel said.
Rules governing marijuana research can also be forbidding, the panel added.
Federally funded marijuana researchers must get an OK from the Drug Enforcement Agency and in some states, a state board of medical examiners. The DEA requires researchers to erect elaborate security measures to limit the number of people who come into contact with marijuana provided for research.
"This process can be a daunting experience for researchers," the panel wrote.
Meanwhile, testing the health effects of marijuana products that are actually marketed to consumers is illegal, according to the report. Even as sales of cannabis concentrate (often called "dabs") doubled in Colorado between 2015 and 2016, federal law prevented biomedical researchers from conducting research on its benefits or harms, blocked chemists from examining its safety, and barred neuroscientists from gauging its effects on the brains even of lab animals.
While marijuana "edibles" are a booming part of the consumer market, federal law also bars scientists from testing these products for contaminants, investigating their effects on patients with certain medical conditions, or administering them to lab animals.
"The federal government continues to enforce restrictive policies and regulations on research into the health effects or harms of cannabis products that are available to consumers in a majority of states," the report said. Those strictures are "leaving patients, health care professionals and policy makers without the evidence they need to make sound decisions regarding the use of cannabis and cannabinoids."
Tarek Tabsh, who operates medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, said he's concerned about the dearth of reliable information about the products his industry sells. In particular, he said, it's important to understand how the industry's customers will be affected by the increasingly concentrated products that are coming on the market.
"I question the value of a lot of current research," said Tabsh, who hailed the report's call for changes.
"The biggest fear I have has nothing to do with policy or commerce," he added. "It has everything to do with science."