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Oregon may soon decriminalize the low-level possession of all drugs, massively reducing arrests

Under the proposed measure, low-level possession of illegal substances would be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a violation.

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With opinions changing across the country over the need for urgent criminal justice reform, there’s no time like the present to enact a much-needed overhaul of laws that criminalize poverty and social ills such as drug use. And this November, voters in Oregon will have an opportunity to decriminalize the low-level possession of all drugs.

Under the proposed Measure 110, or the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, the low-level possession of illegal substances would be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a violation, punishable by either a $100 fine or a health assessment.

Drug trafficking would remain a felony offense, while substantial possession of drugs would be reduced to a felony. Rehabilitation services would be expanded under the measure, and 24-hour Addiction Recovery Centers would also be opened.

By effectively decriminalizing the small-scale possession of drugs, the proposed measure would effectively halt one of the most pernicious means by which the “War on Drugs” has adversely impacted communities of color and poor communities that have suffered disproportionate over-policing and mass incarceration.

According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, the reclassifications proposed by the measure would see roughly 1,800 fewer Oregon residents facing conviction for felony possession of a controlled substance annually – leading to a mammoth 95-percent drop from current conviction rates.

The report from the commission also found that Measure 110 would be of particular benefit for communities of color, with racial disparities in arrests and convictions falling “substantially.” However, the benefits would also cut across the board – with Black people seeing a fall in arrests by 93.7 percent and an 82.9-percent fall for Asians, 86.5 for Hispanics, 94.2 for Native Americans, and 91.1 for whites.

The report also notes that “inequities [may] exist in police stops, jail bookings, bail, pretrial detention, or other areas” but there is not “sufficient or appropriate data to examine those stages.”

The state would fund Measure 110’s addiction programs, which are expected to cost $57 million yearly, entirely through excess taxes collected on cannabis sales. Current tax revenue from cannabis sales are expected to yield $182.4 million from 2021 to 2023. And as tax revenues increase and decriminalization incurs further savings for the state, petitioners for the Yes for 110 Campaign predict that even more funds can be reallocated to help treat and rehabilitate drug addicts.

Supporters of the measure have been enthusiastically organizing online, and have found that many Oregonians are on the same page with them over the need to end the failed “War on Drugs” and pursue an alternative course to tackle widespread drug addiction.

“There’s no playbook for how to campaign in a pandemic,” said Anthony Johnson, one of the chief petitioners for the campaign. However, he’s confident that the measure has “a really good chance of winning” come November.

“Our communications with voters all across the state shows that voters understand that the status quo is not working,” Johnson added. “We’re clearly not going to arrest our way out of addiction.”

A large number of prominent groups and individuals have backed the measure. This includes trade unions, faith groups and churches, groups representing Asian, Black, Indigenous and Latino communities, human rights organizations, several county district attorneys, and even drug policy reform advocates from the ranks of police.

Oregon is no stranger to blazing new trails in drug policy and criminal justice reforms. In 2014, the state legalized cannabis through a 2014 ballot measure, while a 2017 law drastically reduced the penalty for possessing small quantities of cocaine, LSD, and other substances. This November, Oregonians will also have the opportunity to end the prohibition of psilocybin or “magic” mushrooms and establish a new statewide framework for licensed psilocybin therapy treatment centers.

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Corruption

Chris Cuomo “indefinitely” gone from CNN after his deep role in brother’s sex scandal is revealed

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CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was suspended indefinitely by CNN on Tuesday after it was revealed by the New York Attorney General’s Office that the star anchor, the most popular on the news network, was deeply involved in assisting his scandal-embroiled brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations that ultimately led to him resigning.

While Chris Cuomo had apologized in the past for advising his brother’s senior aides – effectively shattering the wall typically standing between policymakers and journalists – the thousands of pages released by Attorney General Letitia James show that the anchor played a deeply intimate role in damage control efforts stemming from the accusations.

The network and its top leadership, including president Jeff Zucker, had backed their star anchor to the hilt in recent months despite accumulating info showing Cuomo’s breach of basic journalistic standards. The anchor also had apologized for advising the governor while simultaneously downplaying or omitting the extent of his direct involvement in the scandal.

Late Tuesday, the network released a statement acknowledging that “the documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.”

“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” the statement explained. “However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

Text messages show that Chris Cuomo clamored to play an increasingly direct role in the scandal, ranging from offers to draft statements for his brother to demands that he play a commanding role in strategic matters. Cuomo also looked into potential angles for news reports and researched the women who accused his brother of sexual misconduct.

“Please let me help with the prep,” Cuomo wrote at to his brother’s top aides as evidence damning the governor mounted.

The move to indefinitely suspend the argumentative and charismatic anchor came as a shock to some anchors, who were aware that he was dear to CNN management. CNN president Zucker also declined to discipline him as reports poured in about his misconduct, reports New York Times.

Chris Cuomo had long admitted that for him, the matter was about “family first, job second.”

“I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family,” he said on May 20. He also played down his fervent role in the scandal, claiming that he had been haplessly “looped into calls” with the governor’s inner circle, which he claims was a “mistake” that spilled over onto his work life and placed his CNN colleagues in a “bad spot.”

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Corruption

Jeffrey Epstein’s pilot testifies: Clinton, Trump, Prince Andrew among “Lolita Express” passengers

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Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime pilot took the stand on Tuesday, the second day of Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial, and detailed the names of famous passengers who rode in the private jet of the disgraced financier who has been accused of a range of crimes, including sex trafficking minors.

Testifying at the trial of Maxwell, who was Epstein’s girlfriend and alleged co-conspirator, pilot Larry Visoski explained how he met a number of notable and powerful people. The names included Prince Andrew, Donald Trump (before he was president), former President Bill Clinton, Chris Tucker, Kevin Spacey, George Mitchell, violinist Itzhak Perlman, and astronaut John Glenn.

The pilot explained that he met the celebrities over the course of decades while flying Epstein’s Boeing 727 Gulfstream jet — often referred to in media as the “Lolita Express” — as well as helicopters.

“I certainly remember President Trump, but not many people associated with him,” the pilot said during cross-examination by Maxwell’s defense team, adding that the future head of state flew on the plane before he became president in 2016.

Clinton was mentioned as Visoski testified about a meeting with a female singer in the cockpit of the jet before flying off from an airport in Palm Beach, Florida. Visoski claims that he remembered the singer, identified as Jane Doe in the courtroom, by her “piercing blue eyes” and that she didn’t appear to be young at the time.

“You’ll forgive the question, Mr. Visoski, but I think you’ll remember that at the time you saw her, you also remembered she had large breasts. Isn’t that right?” asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen Comey.

“Uh. She was a mature woman,” Visoski answered in response.

According to prosecutors, Jane was 14 years old when she was essentially “recruited” by Maxwell in 1994, not long before Visoski met her in the cockpit.

“I can’t visualize her sitting in the passenger compartment like I would, say, President Clinton. It was so long ago,” the pilot said.

“Jane Doe” also testified on Tuesday and explained how she was eating ice cream at a youth summer camp when Maxwell and Epstein approached her in a friendly manner.

Before long, however, Maxwell allegedly began training her on how to “massage” Epstein.

Eventually, she explained, she took part in orgies involving both Maxwell and Esptein at the late financier’s massive homes in Palm Beach, New York City, and New Mexico.

Prosecutors have depicted Maxwell as the mastermind of a sadistic sex trafficking gang that preyed on young women and underage girls. The U.S. government has alleged that over the span of at least 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” the girls and young women.

The British media heiress has pleaded not guilty to the six felony counts.

Epstein, 66, died of apparent suicide during his incarceration at a federal prison in Manhattan while facing a likely prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.

According to Visoski, from 1991 until 2019, he regularly flew Epstein to his private island in the Caribbean, Little St. James – an island popularly referred to as “Pedophile Island.”

“Every week to every 10 days if we weren’t elsewhere in the world, but, you know, it was a regular destination,” Visoski said.

Visoski also noted that he remembered Maxwell, a one-time girlfriend of Epstein, as an employee of the late sex criminal – albeit one whose specific role was unclear.

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Ghislaine Maxwell trial begins as Epstein’s shadow looms large

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On Monday, opening arguments began in the widely anticipated federal trial of accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, the notorious British socialite who allegedly helped disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein commit a dizzying array of abusive and exploitative acts toward multiple women and girls, including one as young as 14.

Epstein, 66, died of apparent suicide during his incarceration at a federal prison in New York City while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.

The Maxwell trial could be a last-ditch opportunity for the government to secure a conviction for the crimes of Epstein, in effect making this the trial that he prevented from ever occurring.

“The shadow of Epstein is going to loom large here,” former federal judge Moira Penza told the New York Times. “The case is obviously going to be about Maxwell, but he’s going to be right at the center of it as well.”

Early Monday, jury selection drew to a close.

The trial won’t be broadcast on television or online, while attendees will be prevented from broadcasting or photographing the trial, reports NPR.

Maxwell, 59, faces charges of grooming multiple minors to engage in illegal sex acts with Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, and sex-trafficking a minor. The indictment accuses the British media heiress of conspiracy, including recruiting one of her partner’s victims to help recruit other girls to be paid to undergo abuse at the hands of Epstein.

On Monday, prosecutors depicted Maxwell, who circulated in wealthy and powerful circles in the U.K. and U.S., as the mastermind of a sadistic sex trafficking gang that preyed on teenage girls. U.S. Attorneys have alleged that over the span of at least 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, she “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse” the girls and young women.

Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges, while her multiple attempts to be released from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, have all been shot down.

Prosecutor Laura Pomerantz said Monday that Maxwell was a key component in Epstein’s “pyramid scheme of abuse” and criminal sex acts carried out under the color of respectability, reports BBC.

Pomerantz noted that one accuser befriended by the pair was promised bright opportunities in the future.

Prosecutors will call on witnesses including four alleged victims and experts on sexual abuse and those who can inform the jury about the credibility of the couple’s victims, including those who may not have been aware that they suffered abuse at the time.

Experts say that the prosecution will have their work cut out for them and must refrain from making the trial center too much on Epstein’s crimes rather than those of his alleged co-conspirator Maxwell.

Maxwell’s defense will also have to convince the 12-person jury that she was an unwitting player in Epstein’s game, likely by delving into the details of the deceased criminal’s dealings at the top levels of philanthropy, academia, politics, and high finance.

On Monday, the defense protested Maxwell being held liable for Epstein’s crimes and depicted her situation as being one where “memory, manipulation and money” play crucial roles.

However, federal attorneys have pushed back at the idea that she was a victim of Epstein, as opposed to a willing accomplice.

“The government’s yearslong investigation has not developed any evidence that the defendant was victimized in any way by Jeffrey Epstein,” read court papers that were recently filed by the government.

Prosecutors are expected to draw on Maxwell’s so-called “black book,” which meticulously recorded the friends and contacts of Epstein. The FBI gained possession of the book in 2019 when Epstein’s former butler tried to sell it. The government is confident that the book contains “compelling evidence of her guilt,” according to court filings.

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