Oaksterdam ‘Cannabis’ University raided by DEA

Oaksterdam University, America’s “first cannabis college” was raided by the DEA yesterday, as well as the apartment of its founder Richard Lee. While the government has been fairly quiet about the reasons behind the raids, some a local medical marijuana dispensary operator believes it has been done punitively. From the SF Chronicle:

It was Lee, after all, who in 2010 bankrolled Proposition 19, a statewide measure which would have legalized adult use of marijuana, regardless of medical necessity. Some 46 percent voted for the measure, the highest ever for any general pot legalization proposal in the country.

“They want to make sure he never again has the resources to do that,” said Stephen DeAngelo, Harborside’s co-founder and executive director. “Rich is not a profiteer. He is not a renegade … Richard Lee is the most legitimate and real person in this industry.”

Harborside, which DeAngelo said paid more than $3 million in local, state and federal taxes last year, is in litigation with the IRS about whether it should pay an additional $2.5 million for 2007 and 2008.

“They want to tax us out of existence,” DeAngelo said. Monday’s raids, he said, would not change Harborside’s commitment to providing medical marijuana to its patients.

All of Monday’s raid locations were at or near 17th and Broadway, and hundreds of Oaksterdam supporters swarmed there in protest over the course of the day. The demonstrators openly smoked joints and bongs in defiance, shut down streets, pounded on unmarked police vehicles and heckled agents.

Feds raid Oaksterdam University, founder’s home


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Killer bears, and the humans who track them down

Freelance journalist Jessica Grose has a fascinating “long read” in Slate this week (and I’m not kidding about the long part, 8,000 words!) about Bear True Crimes: wild bears in and around Yellowstone National Park who, for one reason or another, attack humans.

Why does this happen? What’s it like for the humans who survive? Who investigates the attacks, all CSI-style with DNA analysis and whatnot, and figures out what to do with the problem bears? Is it right to kill them?

Grose’s report begins with the story of a mother bear who attacked campers in late 2011. Snip:

The euthanization of the bear known as “the Wapiti sow” was the culmination of a series of horrifying events that had gripped Yellowstone for months, and alarmed rangers, visitors, and the conservation biologists tasked with keeping grizzly bears safe. In separate incidents in July and August, grizzlies had killed hikers in Yellowstone, prompting a months-long investigation replete with crime scene reconstructions and DNA analysis, and a furious race to capture the prime suspect. The execution of the Wapiti sow opens a window on a special criminal justice system designed to protect endangered bears and the humans who share their land. It also demonstrates the difficulty of judging animals for crimes against us. The government bear biologists who enforce grizzly law and order grapple with the impossibility of the task every day. In the most painful cases, the people who protect these sublime, endangered animals must also put them to death.

Read Grose’s “A Death in Yellowstone: On the trail of a killer grizzly bear,” then read her interview with a woman who was attacked by a grizzly and lived to tell the tale. There’s an interview with Grose about the reporting project at The Awl.

When I traveled to this area with Miles O’Brien for a PBS NewsHour piece about wolves last year (watch the video!), we visited the very room where some elements of the Wapiti Sow case would be managed just months later. It’s the Office of Bear Management.

(Photo: “Growling Grizzly Bear with Snow,” by Dennis Donohue, via Shutterstock)


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True Chinese factory horror stories Mike Daisey might have told, had he not been such a lying liar

At the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, India-based journalist Adam Matthews writes about the rising labor movement in China.

Below, a snip from his most recent piece on the phenomenon of “bloody factories” in China, which he argues is a far greater problem than Foxconn.

Matthews interviews a labor advocate and self-taught “barefoot lawyer” for migrant workers who have experiened workplace injuries; the man takes him on “a tour that even Daisey couldn’t have dreamed up.”

We traveled through hardscrabble sections of Dongguan’s Tangxia Town, a factory town near the coast in Guangdong. He introduced me to a worker fired for organizing a union, a man denied overtime payments and a woman whose symptoms mirrored those of the Wintek workers. The notes about her on his printed spreadsheet were: “leg can’t move.”

That woman is Shi Yuping, a mother of two with short black hair, capris and flip-flops. Shi is in her late thirties but looks much older. We sat at a picnic table outside a convenience store as Shi told her story. Her husband Jiang Ancai stood nearby and listened.

Shi worked for a Hong Kong-owned plastics factory. The factory used a chemical as toxic as n-hexane to clean plastic parts. Shi fell ill during a trip home to Henan province to see her mother and her children (many migrant workers send children to stay with grandparents so the parents can both work). She received no compensation and no reimbursement for her 20-day hospital stay. “She called the company to ask for continuation of the leave,” Wang explained. Instead, she was fired. The factory held two months of salary, money that Wang was suing to recover. Shi suffered degenerative nerve damage and can no longer work. When she got up to leave the picnic table her left leg went lame. She had trouble even getting into her flip-flops.

Shi did not work for a supplier of a high-profile brand, like Apple. There was no coverage of her case in the English-language media.

Image, courtesy pulitzercenter.org: Zhang Zhiru (seated), a “barefoot lawyer,” meets with workers. The younger man (l) was suing his former employer for wrongful dismissal. His case didn’t look promising: the factory was illegal. Li Zuping (r) lost part of two fingers while cleaning a factory machine. Image by Jocelyn Baun. China 2011


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Stormtrooper Easter egg


Nicola sez, “I made this for my husband last weekend and he mentioned in passing that he thought I should send it in to you. I created it using a CraftRobo Pro cutter/ plotter, a stencil I made in illustrator and some sticky backed plastic and then painted over it with matt acrylic paint. Tidying up any areas that went wrong with a scalpel (you can etch slightly into the egg if need be). He loves it. I think I’ll have to make him a new one each year until he has an army!”

My husband is a huge Star Wars fan. The last time… | next to nicx (Thanks, Nicola!)


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Game death

Douglas Edric Stanley on death in games: “The ‘game over’ screen provides some sort of closure to the game and proposes — albeit post facto — a redefinition of the initiating act of the game: ‘I want to play’ has now been translated within the gameworld into ‘I want to live’.” [Creative Applications]


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Black Marine veteran, 68, shot dead by police after wearable medical alert gadget went off in error

The Trayvon Martin story remains in national headlines this week, but little media attention has been paid to a similarly troubling case: that of Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old Marine vet killed in his home last November by police officers in White Plains, NY.

The officers were responding to a false alarm accidentally triggered by Chamberlain’s medical alert pendant while he slept. Instead of helping the man, who had a heart condition, they broke down his front door, tasered him, reportedly called him the “n-word” and mocked him, then shot him dead.

Audio throughout the incident was recorded by his medical alert device.


Democracy Now has an extensive segment on the case, including an interview with the deceased man’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. The New York Times ran a story on the case a few weeks ago.

The police department has so far refused to release the name of the officer who killed the elderly man:

“In the other incidents that you have out here of questionable shootings, the officers’ names were given out. So it only makes my family and I wonder why isn’t this officer’s name released?” said Chamberlain Jr. “Had that been myself or any other citizen inside here that shot and killed someone, our whole life history would be on television, on the radio and in the newspaper. I feel that it’s only right, it’s only fair that that officer’s name be released.”

The officer is believed to currently be on duty, still working for the White Plains police. After public outcry, local protests, and an online campaign for case review, the local DA this week promised that a grand jury will hear the case. The family intends to sue.

(via @emeedub)


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Leisure Suit Larry reboot kickstarted

Al Lowe is kickstarting a new Leisure Suit Larry adventure game. Your fond memories of the 80s originals were recently ruined by awful 3D sequels which didn’t involve him—or the original Sierra development team re-assembled for this new project. In an interview by Kill Screen’s Rob Dubbin published today, Lowe talks comedy, misandry, and, of course, game publishing frustrations. [via Waxy]


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Sworcery on Steam

Sword & Sworcery, the beautiful hit adventure game for iPad, is coming to Windows PCs. Previously: the soundtrack; Less Talk, More Rock.


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On the history of books bound in human flesh

From “the chirurgeon’s apprentice,” a fascinating and squick-inducing blog/website devoted to chronicling “the horrors of pre-anaesthetic surgery,” an entry about the history of books bound in tanned human skin. Snip from details about the image shown above:

And then there were books which claimed to be made from the human flesh but were, in fact, not. One example comes from the Wellcome Collection in London [left]. It is a curious little notebook which professes to be ‘made of Tanned skin of the Negro whose Execution caused the War of Independence’. Presumably, this refers to Crispus Attucks, a dockworker of Wampanoag who was the first person killed by the British during the Boston Massacre. Immediately following his death, Attucks was held up as an American martyr. As a consequence of its alleged origins, this notebook has become a symbol of the American Revolution.

More. And if you enjoy tweets about 17th-century surgery, you’ll want to follow Lindsey Fitzharris, the medical historian behind the “Chirurgeon’s Apprentice” website. (via Vaughan Bell)


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Documentary about psychedelic chemists Alex and Ann Shulgin

Dirty Pictures is a documentary about maverick chemist Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin and his wife Ann Shulgin, heroes of psychedelic culture who for more than forty years have independently synthesized and studied hundreds of psychoactive compounds, from MDMA to 2C-B to a variety of tryptamines, in their home laboratory. You can watch the entire documentary above and order a DVD via the film’s site. Dirty Pictures (via Daily Grail)


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