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.
Jeff Bezos Thanks Amazon Workers And Customers For Paying For His Flight To Space
The billionaire space race chalked up one more ignoble milestone on July 20 when the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, boarded a reusable rocket his company Blue Origin built and funded, flew to the edge of space for a moment of weightlessness, and came back down to earth.
You can watch the flight and learn more about the journey here.
The Amazon founder has faced withering criticism for accumulating his massive fortune on the backs of an exploited workforce that is subject to harsh working conditions and low pay in warehouses or Fulfillment Centers where staffers must urinate in water bottles in order to meet their quotas.
In his press conference following the launch, Bezos thanked that same workforce for helping him to shoot himself into space in a move that many critics have described as a simple “joyride.”
“I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for this,” he told the crowd, which responded with laughter. “Seriously, for every Amazon customer out there and every employee thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It’s very appreciated.”
Critics on Twitter responded with derision, noting that Bezos was able to enjoy the trip at the expense of his hard-working employees.
“Thing is, employers are supposed to pay their employees, not the other way around, but that’s basically how Amazon works,” one user tweeted.
While another tweeter asked: “Maybe they’re searching space for signs of a livable wage or a way to pay their fair share of taxes?”
On Tuesday, Bezos blasted off in the sub-orbital New Shepard rocket from Texas. The date for the launch was chosen to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Members of the crew, which included his brother mark and 82-year-old female astronaut Wally Funk, brought a number of historic items on the flight, including a piece of canvas from the conceptual plane originally flown by the Wright brothers, the goggles Amelia Earhart used to fly across the Atlantic, and a brass medal made from the first hot air balloon which flew in 1783.
Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces
Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.
And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.
The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.
The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.
At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.
When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.
Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.
The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.
The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.
“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.
“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.
“His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.
Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.
Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber
An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.
In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.
“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”
As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.
Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.
“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.
Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.
So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.
“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”
As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.
Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.
“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”