Sessions Warns Of An America With ‘Marijuana Sold At Every Corner Grocery Store’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doubling down on his crusade against marijuana legalization.

Sessions, a longtime opponent of marijuana use, warned Tuesday easing access to the drug could lead to local supermarkets selling cannabis.

States can pass whatever laws they choose, Sessions told a crowd of attorneys general at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting. But Im not sure were going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.

Sessions then appeared to criticize a column The Washington Post published Tuesday by Sam Kamin, professor of marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver. In the op-ed, Kamin argues that the opioid crisis is a reason to expand access to marijuana rather than to contract it. A 2016 study fromColumbia Universitys Mailman School of Public Healthfound adverse consequences of opioid use decreased over time in states where marijuana is legalized as individuals substituted marijuana for opioids to treat pain.

But Sessions scoffed at Kamins reasoning.

Give me a break, Sessions said. This is the kind of argument that has been out there. [Its] almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even benefits. I doubt thats true. Maybe science will prove me wrong. … My best view is that we dont need to be legalizing marijuana.

Tom Angell, chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority, called Sessions opiate commentsridiculous.

Several studies have already shown that states with legal marijuana access see reduced opioid problems, Angell said in a statement Tuesday. If the attorney general really cares about public health and safety, hell stop relying on alternative facts … This administration should respect science and, at the very least, needs to uphold the presidents repeated campaign pledges to respect state cannabis laws.

Nationwide support for marijuana legalization is at a record high.A survey from Quinnipiac University released last week found 71 percent of American voters want the federal government to respect state marijuana laws.

Still, the White House appears to be preparing for a crackdown on recreational cannabis. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said last week that states with legalized marijuana legislation will see greater enforcement of federal laws surrounding the plant a move that could shatter President Donald Trumps 2016 campaign promise to honor state marijuana laws.

On Monday, Sessions decried marijuana legalization to reporters at the Justice Department, claiming real violence can be attributed to the current levels of THC in marijuana.

I dont think America is going to be a better place when people of all ages, and particularly young people, are smoking pot, Sessions said. I believe its an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and were seeing real violence around that.

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Sangeeta Bhatia: the biotech entrepreneur advocating for gender equity in Stem

Those of us women who are out there and who are breaking ground really need to be visible and talk about it, because its a way to pay forward everything weve been given, says the engineer, physician, professor, entrepreneur and MIT director

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Republicans brace for Trump’s prime-time message on Obamacare

Washington (CNN)For Republicans eager to dismantle Obamacare, President Donald Trump’s prime-time address to Congress Tuesday night is shaping up as a high-stakes proposition.

More than five weeks after Inauguration Day, Trump is set to deliver a speech that lays out his vision for the country and highlights his most urgent policy priorities. Trump has said that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act is at the top of his agenda — but so far, his public remarks about overhauling the health care system have proved to be a mixed bag for fellow Republicans.


On Monday, on the eve of his joint address to Congress, Trump was characteristically blunt. “Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said about health care reform during a meeting with governors. “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
The comments acknowledged the myriad of problems GOP leaders have confronted in their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“It’s complicated. In fact, it’s almost impossible, but we’ll figure it out,” said GOP Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell want to see Trump offer more specifics on health care — and publicly back the House GOP plan, sources tell CNN.

Explore Trump’s progress on key campaign promises

During a meeting at the White House on Monday, Ryan was given the impression that the administration is embracing much of the House GOP plan on Obamacare and that the President will make that clear in his speech.
This should help reassure House Republican leaders and their aides, some of whom had been growing increasingly concerned by the President’s unwillingness to embrace — or, many believe, fully understand — the congressional approach to health care.
If Trump doesn’t better articulate his support for their plan, “it is in trouble,” a GOP Hill aide said earlier in the week.
“This is a critical moment for him to get behind this,” another senior Republican congressional aide said.
Top Republicans have been slowed down by numerous intra-party disagreements, including over how much of the health care law to repeal and how fast.
Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus Chairman, told CNN Monday that he would not support a draft of the House GOP leadership’s repeal bill that was leaked last week. Rep. Mark Walker, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, announced his opposition hours later. A widespread defection within the conservative wing of the party could tank the party’s efforts to repeal Obamacare altogether.
Republicans are hoping that Trump will seize Tuesday night’s closely watched speech to send a unifying message on Obamacare.


“I would expect that this will be a speech that doesn’t have a lot of specifics, but continues to emphasize the President’s agenda,” said Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.
Trump told governors Monday that his speech is going to focus heavily on security and less on the specifics of health care.
“The President said today that his speech is going to be focused on defense, so I obviously take him at his word,” Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said. “What he did tell us today is Secretary Price is going to be coming up with some type of plan in the next few weeks.”

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Van Jones on Trump: ‘He became President of the United States in that moment, period’

(CNN)Shortly after President Donald Trump addressed a Joint Session of Congress for the first time since taking the oath of office, CNN’s Van Jones called one particularly moving moment from the speech the real estate mogul’s most presidential to date.

Less than an hour after Trump honored the widow of a slain NAVY Seal, the Democratic commentator suggested that the commander in chief had officially begun to look the part.
“He became President of the United States in that moment, period,” said Jones, after the evening’s most emotional point was replayed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in American politics,” Jones added.
The exchange the group was referring to centered around Trump recognizing Carryn Owens, whose husband Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens was killed in Yemen.
Noting that he still often disagrees with the President, Jones admitted that Trump’s powerful moment shows he may be settling into the role.
“If he finds a way to do that over and over again, he’s going to be there for eight years,” Jones said.
Moments after Jones’ remarks, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke to Cooper, and had this to say: “I find myself in agreement with Van Jones, for the first time in my political life.”

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Recipe found in medieval mystics writings was probably for ‘dragges’

Margery Kempe was known for religious fervour, and a list in the manuscript of her pioneering autobiography has been analysed as a prescribed cure for her fits

It is a case that has intrigued historians, psychiatrists and theologians for the last 80 years, but an academic has found what may be the oldest known attempt to diagnose Margery Kempes erratic religious behaviour. A recipe for medicinal sweets, written 600 years ago in the back of the medieval mystics memoir, has been deciphered by Dr Laura Kalas Williams and the Exeter University-based researcher is convinced that it reveals an attempt to prescribe a cure for Kempes notorious fits of devotion.

Though the recipe, written in the final portfolio of the 1438 manuscript, has long been known to scholars, it had hitherto proved impossible to read. Dr Andrea Clarke, the British Librarys lead curator of medieval and early modern manuscripts, suggested multispectral-imaging technology be used to reveal its secrets. Kalas Williams and two colleagues, Professor Eddie Jones and Professor Daniel Wakelin, were then able to decipher the ingredients and discovered it was a cure for flux, defined in the Medieval English Dictionary as a pathological flowing of blood, excretions or discharges from any part of the body, or dysentery.

The recipe translates as containing: Sugar with aniseed, fennel seed, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger [to make the] confection and to [then] beat them together in a mortar and heat them in the manner of food and drinks and dry first and last eat. Photograph: Board of the British Library, Dr Andrea Clarke and Christina Duffy

Kalas Williams said she was convinced the recipe was a response to the mystics various bouts of illness as well as her copious crying. I dont think [the recipe] has been written there randomly, the academic said. The book tells us that at one point, she suffered a terrible episode of flux (probably dysentery) and was given extreme unction, thinking she was going to die, so the presence of this recipe at the end seems more than a coincidence.

A middle-class mother of 14, Kempe lived in Norfolk from about 1373 to 1440. After the birth of her children, she took a vow of chastity, and for the rest of her life undertook pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela, Italy and Germany.

Described by Kalas Williams as the Marmite of medieval mystics, she was infamous for loud cries and boisterous weeping in church and dramatic displays of religious devotion, which included mystical visions that placed her at the heart of the action during the nativity and crucifixion. They also made her as many enemies during her lifetime as they did followers; she was arrested for heresy and narrowly missed being burned at the stake.

Kalas Williams admitted her thesis was controversial. Scholars have speculated about the significance of the recipe since the manuscript was rediscovered in 1934. Though medieval books often feature arbitrary jottings because parchment was expensive, no other random notes appear in the manuscript, which was dictated by the mystic between 1436 and 1440, initially to her son. There are many other annotations in the book, but all of these directly engage with the words on the page, in dialogue with the content, the academic said. This makes it improbable that the recipe is a random, thoughtless, annotation.

The original manuscript of The Book of Margery Kempe. It is thought to have been finished and bound between 1442 and 1450. Photograph: Board of the British Library, Dr Andrea Clarke and Christina Duffy

Initially, the recipe was thought to be for a drink to cure the flux, but the thermal imaging revealed it to be dragges herbal sweets used to refresh the palate and cure a variety of ills. The ingredients sugar, aniseed, fennel seed, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger were luxuries at the time.

The manuscript, which is the only surviving copy of the memoir, thought to be the oldest autobiography by a woman in the English language, has proved controversial since it was rediscovered in the 1930s. Many attempts have been made to explain Kempes profuse weeping, collapsing and roaring while under the influence of her visions. As well as epilepsy, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, it has been posited that the mystic suffered postpartum depression, as her first extreme religious experiences and demonic torment followed her first difficult pregnancy.

Kalas Williams dismissed attempts at diagnosis as anachronistic and preferred to use Kempes memoir to understand the medieval view of womens bodies and health. For me, Kempe is a tenacious figure, determined to be heard in a culture where womens voices were not supposed to be heard, and brave enough to express her emotions publicly and viscerally, added the scholar, who is writing up her findings for academic publication later this year.

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Doctors could prescribe houses to the homeless under radical Hawaii bill

Newly introduced bill would classify homelessness as a medical condition, as research suggests healthcare spending falls when people have been housed

One day last month, Stephen Williams asked a passerby for help and then collapsed on the sidewalk. When the ambulance arrived in downtown Honolulu, his temperature was well over 104F.

A life-threatening staph infection had entered his bloodstream. Williams, who lives on the dusty streets of Chinatown, spent seven days hooked to an IV, treatment that can cost $40,000, according to the hospital that admitted him. But Williams didnt pay: the bill was covered by government dollars in the form of Medicaid. Over the past four years, he has been to the hospital for infections 21 times, he said, a consequence of psoriasis flare-ups in a humid climate and unsanitary conditions.

Outside in America

Cases such as these have prompted a groundbreaking new proposal in Hawaii. Instead of prescribing medication to homeless patients like Williams, what if doctors could prescribe something else that might ameliorate their health problems more effectively? The prescription would be housing.

With this aim in mind, a state senator, Josh Green, has introduced a bill to classify homelessness as a medical condition. Green, who is also a physician, said the idea originated in his own work in the emergency room, where he saw many homeless patients arrive for treatment of basic conditions at great expense, but no real long-term benefit. Im really just applying a band-aid, he said of his medical work. But these problems require intensive long-term support.

A small number of homeless people require a disproportionate amount of medical treatment. According to Green, a recent internal study by a major Hawaiian insurer found that over half of the states $2bn Medicaid allotment was consumed by a tiny fraction of users, many of whomare dealing with homelessness, mental illness and substance addiction.

Yet research suggests that healthcare spending for those who have been homeless for long periods and struggle with mental illness and addictions falls by 43% after they have been housedand provided with supportive services. Green said many of the individuals he hopes to house cost the healthcare system an average of $120,000 annually, yet the annual cost to house an individual is $18,000. He thinks that the total savings to the state could be hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

As envisioned by Green, doctors could prescribe housing on a case-by-case basis. In order to qualify, the patient must have been homeless for at least six months and suffer from mental illness or a substance addiction.

Were already spending the money on homeless people, were just paying for it in the most inefficient, expensive way possible, he argued. We have a lot of capacity, but lack the political will.

The bill is winding its way through the state legislature, and faces a key vote this week. It has already found supporters. I think this bill is a great idea, said Daniel Cheng, an emergency room physician at the Queens Medical Center in Honolulu. Last year, treatment for homeless people at the hospital cost $90m. When emergency medical services are being heavily overused by a population thats being poorly served, it costs everybody, Cheng added.

Cheng said he most commonly sees homeless patients for the treatment of psychiatric issues, infections, problems related to substance abuse and general medical concerns such as a stomach ache or chest pain. Often, patients return re-infected just a week after he treats their wound, he said. Instead of paying for an antibiotic, lets take that $5,000 visit and pay for housing. Wed be way more ahead.

In Chengs eyes, hospitals are already expected to pick up the tab for societal ills. Weve clearly seen the medicalization of social problems like alcoholism and homelessness, he said. People who are intoxicated no longer go to a rehabilitation facility, they come to the hospital. Its become a medical treatment.

But not everyone agrees that homes should be part of the pharmacopeia. In testimony last month, the Hawaii department of human resources development, which oversees various social services, suggested housing is beyond the healthcare systems remit and expertise.

And there are concerns that such an approach might spread the states resources too thinly. There is a population of homeless [for whom] it is clearly a medical condition the substance abusers and the mentally ill, Bob McDermott, a Republican lawmaker, was reported as saying last month. But other than that, it seems to be a stretch.

Honolulus largest homeless services provider agrees. You dont want to broaden it so much that everyone is eligible, warned Kimo Carvalho, a spokesman for the Institute for Human Services. He said he is in favor of the bill but that without strict parameters, healthier homeless individuals could take advantage and drain the system.

Another concern: walkouts. If you give mentally ill people housing, nine out of 10 will just walk away and go back outside, Carvalho said. He added that he thought the best use of Medicaid was targeted housing for people with specialized needs, such as mental health group homes, or addiction recovery housing, because many of the neediest clients targeted by Greens bill might refuse accommodation.

One such woman was perched outside a drugstore in downtown Honolulu recently, fumbling with the strands of her turquoise muumuu. A homeless-services coordinator, Justin Phillips, who works in the surrounding area, said the woman is frequently transported to the hospital for psychiatric treatment after good Samaritans find her wandering in the middle of busy streets, unable to communicate.

Despite high costs to the medical system, she has declined shelter for years, Phillips said. She assaulted the last caseworker who offered her assistance, and was recently released from the overcrowded state mental hospital.

Until she gets medication, shes not stable enough to live in housing, and even then shes going to require a higher level of care, said Phillips.

Whatever the case, the bill seems like a no-brainer to some of those dealing with poor health in hard circumstances.

Williams, the man who suffered from the staph infection, rested his swollen legs on a brick wall on the outskirts of Chinatown.

Its very clear to me, he said. If I could get a place to stay, I wouldnt have to go to the hospital so often.

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Sex symbols: what does a blue hankie in your left back pocket mean?

Hal Fischer took the language of the instruction manual and applied it to the jocks and leathermen of gay San Francisco in the 70s. He explains the code

In one of the first photographs Hal Fischer composed for Gay Semiotics, we see two sets of male buttocks, each clad in high-cut, form-fitting Levis. One sports a blue bandana in the left back pocket, which, according to the overlaid text, indicates that the wearer will assume the active or traditional male role during sexual contact. The other has a red bandana in the right back pocket, indicating that the wearer takes the passive role in anal/hand insertion. But, the text cautions dryly, red handkerchiefs are also employed in the treatment of nasal discharge and in some cases may have no significance in regard to sexual contact.

Made in 1977, when Fischer was in his 20s, the Gay Semiotics series is a wonderfully poker-faced portrait of queer male culture in San Franciscos Castro and Haight-Ashbury neighbourhoods at their carefree apogee. As well as deciphering the codes of hankies, key chains and earrings, Gay Semiotics guides us through archetypes, street fashions and various BDSM practices. Forty years on, the images can now be seen at Project Native Informant in London, along with other Fischer works from the 1970s.

The work was very subversive, and I still get a kick out of that, says Fischer, in London for the shows opening. I wanted people to see the photographs first, then get up close. I wanted there to be a certain innocence when they started reading, then of course theres a little shock, and some punchlines, then people start laughing.

The meaning of earrings, from Hal Fischers Gay Semiotics. Photograph: Hal Fischer

For Fischer, the humour, the labels, the instructive text and the use of greyscale all served to undermine the romanticism that still surrounded photography in the US at the time. Its a visual language borrowed from banal instruction manuals. Even the images dealing with domination are composed with a lightness of touch and salting of humour that is decidedly unmenacing. I dont think someone who was really into the S&M culture would be drawn to these, because theyre really too playful, says Fischer, pointing out that in his experience, giggling is something of a mood-breaker in such situations.

It was reading Lvi-Strauss the anthropologist, rather than the manufacturer of denims that inspired Fischer to codify the dress and behaviour of San Franciscos gay community. Anthropologically, this was going on all around me: it was amazing and nobody was dealing with it like that, so I just went for it.

Unlike the distant anthropologist, Fischer was quite literally embedded in the culture he portrayed. Fischer encountered one of his subjects hanging around outside his local cafe, and another at Guss Pub. The chap who posed for the Basic Gay picture worked in the photo store down the street. Its where youd go on Wednesday and put in your marijuana brownie order, because then Brownie Mary if she wasnt in jail would drop off the brownies on Friday.

An explanation of Dominance. Photograph: Hal Fischer

All the men from the Jock in his snug satin shorts to the leatherman with a cockring on his epaulette are sporting their regular clothes. Fischer was inspired by the German photographer August Sanders People of the 20th Century in portraying his subjects on their own terms. The thing that appealed to me about Sanders work was the idea of letting the person present themselves to you. I did not tell these people what to do, what to wear or anything.

The figures selected for inclusion are, by and large, those who Fischer was interested in looking at himself: It is, on a certain level, a lexicon of my own desires, though maybe a little broader than that. I didnt put in anybody in drag and there were people in drag around. I was part of the clone group.

The codes and dressing-up fulfilled an important function at a time when the ability to read a situation accurately was imperative: The reality of some of this is, back in the day, if you hit on a straight man, it could have had not-good consequences.

Shortly after completing the works on show here which also include the 1979 project A Salesman, in which a naked man with a moustache appeared on a billboard in San Franciscos Castro district Fischer decided to cease working as an artist. Today his photographic output is largely restricted to iPhone snaps of his dog, Jasper albeit in appropriately extravagant costume. When I had my first solo show in 1977, the critic part of me kind of took over. I thought to myself, Youve hit the perfect moment, everything has come together. Culturally, youre doing this at exactly the right time. Art-wise, youre involved in something that has methodology and is conceptual. Most people dont even get this once. And Id got it.

Gay Semiotics is at Project Native Informant, London, until 1 April. The book has been republished by the LA gallery Cherry and Martin.

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