Monday, August 24, 2015

Bombshell: New Evidence Reveals Prosecutor Corruption in Trial Against Imprisoned Former Congressman Rick Renzi

Prosecutors in the U.S. Department of Justice are finally being called out for singling out Republican politicians and others they dislike. One of the victims of gross over prosecution was former Congressman Rick Renzi. As a Republican representing a swing district in Arizona, he was a juicy target to take down. A scandal was concocted to tarnish him and hence Republicans, paving the way for a Democrat to replace him, which happened. The DOJ prosecuted Renzi over a “land swap,” language that sounds vaguely unethical but there was nothing remotely unethical or illegal about the particular deal even had he gone through with it, and he would not have received any financial profit, as I explained in my previous article. The exchange of land merely benefited the government and the neighboring Fort Huachuca military base.

Renzi began serving a three-year prison sentence in February, but new evidence has recently emerged that will likely exonerate him. His attorneys were just informed that two FBI agents advised the prosecution’s key witness Philip Aries “on numerous occasions” that he would receive a monetary award for testifying at trial against Renzi. Since the trial, Aries has twice asked the government about collecting his reward. Aries was in financial trouble in 2007 and filed bankruptcy in 2010 — clearly someone with a strong financial incentive to testify against Renzi. Aries has even admitted that he “always tried to be helpful” to the government.

The government never bothered to disclose any of this to Renzi until April of this year, well after the trial had ended and Renzi had tried to appeal. In fact, the prosecution solicited testimony during trial from Aries indicating  the opposite, that he had no financial stake in the trial. Not disclosing evidence favorable to the defendant constitutes a Brady violation, a requirement made into law in the 1963 case Brady v. Maryland. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Planned Parenthood protesters face off against defenders this weekend in Phoenix

The Phoenix New Times reports,

As part of a national day of action against Planned Parenthood this Saturday, hundreds of people will protest outside of six clinics in Arizona, including four in the greater-Phoenix area. Their plan is to draw attention to what organizers call “the heartless and even illegal activities of Planned Parenthood.”
But they will not be the only ones out there, as hundreds more are expected to stage a counter-protest at Planned Parenthood of Arizona’s headquarters in Phoenix to show their support for the organization.
According to organizers from both sides, the protests in Tempe, Chandler, and Glendale are expected to draw sizable crowds, but the biggest demonstration will be in Phoenix, and they encourage their followers to gather there.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Legalize marijuana? No, there's too much guesswork

By Seth Leibsohn

Radical public policy reform should not be based on a guess. But lately, the marijuana lobby has been telling Arizonans they should legalize marijuana “just like alcohol,” trying to persuade Arizonans to radically reverse decades of policy in everything from health care to criminal justice to education policy.
And it’s all based on guesswork.
Their pitch: legalization will save money and improve education. But Arizonans should not pass a law to find out what’s in it.
Supposedly, the initiative allows for limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. But what the initiative actually permits is possession of one ounce of marijuana and an additional 12 marijuana plants per household.
One ounce translates to about 60 marijuana joints. One plant can produce a rough average of five ounces of marijuana, or 300 joints. One home could easily produce 3,600 joints under the proposed law.
As we know from other legal and dangerous drugs, most children acquire them from their own homes or those of friends. These amounts of marijuana (especially given its new powerful potency) are a youth health policy nightmare and a drug dealer’s dream.
Supposedly, Arizona stands to gain revenue by taxing the sale of marijuana. How much? The legalization lobby will not say, but estimates from others range in the neighborhood of $35 million to $48 million. Even at the highest estimate, this is half of 1 percent of Arizona’s state budget.
Supposedly, the revenue, after costs of enforcement and administration, will be spent on education. How much? We are never told, but in the best case scenarios maybe $20 million. This is the equivalent of $20 a year for every public school student in Arizona.
Arizona just increased K-12 spending by about $102 million. That was decried as a “pittance” by education professionals. What’s one-fifth of a pittance? No teacher or parent would take these deals knowing the price would be more marijuana in their schools.
What money will be going out for the impact on education, criminal justice and public health? We are never told. But we are told to use alcohol as the model. The costs associated with alcohol abuse are nearly impossible to quantify, although estimates range from hundreds of millions to over a billion dollars in Arizona.
As for education, we know the costs associated with drop-outs, suspensions, and expulsions are exceedingly high, more than $400,000 per high school student in Arizona, and that marijuana use increases the risk of dropping out and lowers educational outcomes for youth.
This doesn’t even begin to count the costs to families, friendships and work environments destroyed by addiction. It doesn’t account for accidents, or the increasing research that shows today’s high-potency marijuana links to altered brain development, cognition impairment and psychosis, especially in teens and adolescents.
We are told legalization is for adults, not children; but just ask how that has worked out with tobacco and alcohol — the legalizers’ odd model.
Upending decades of substance abuse prevention work in our health care, criminal justice and education systems should, at a very minimum, have serious estimates of income as well as expenses; we should have impact and feasibility studies estimating costs of treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, accidents, enforcement, criminal violations and true education deficits. But there are none.
When both the social and economic costs look to far outrun any potential gains, guesswork should not dictate severe public policy change. Responsible public policy demands more than a guess. So, too, do Arizonans.
Seth Leibsohn, a radio talk show host, is chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. This article appeared in The Arizona Republic.