Congressman’s Prescription: A Joint a Day to Keep the PTSD Away by Joseph L. Flatley
It may not be high on the Congressional agenda, but Rep. Earl Blumenauer wants to change the law that prohibits veterans from getting medical marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Joseph L. Flatley looks at one attempt to hack away at the federal government’s Reefer Madness bureaucracy. 


Brian Williams Lies to Cast Himself as an Iraq War Badass
“The Brian Williams Apology Tour has begun—and who knows where it will end?” That’s how Lloyd Grove characterized the plight of NBC News Anchor Brian Williams, who issued three apologies in less than 24 hours after being exposed as a liar by Stars & Stripes. At issue is Williams’ repeated claim that he was in a helicopter forced down by a rocket propelled grenade when he covered the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Williams apologized when confronted by the differing accounts of angry members in the 159th Aviation Regiment. Their Chinook helicopter was “hit by two rockets and small arms fire,” according to Stars and Stripes. Williams “was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation,” and arrived about an hour after the three aircraft made emergency landings. Sadly, Williams told his story—which placed him “heroically” in the line of fire—a number of times, including during a 2013 appearance on Late Night with David Letterman and during Friday’s ‘Nightly News’ segment. The main question now is whether the top-rated network anchor can survive, and what it says about NBC News if, indeed, he does.

Convicted Fraudster Jonathan Hay, Harvard’s Man Who Wrecked Russia, Resurfaces in Ukraine
Yves Smith unpacks the curious case of CASE, a.k.a the Centre for Social and Economic Research. It’s a think tank based in Poland since 1991. It is also a transmission station of sorts … in this case, for spreading harsh economic policies developed in the U.S., Western Europe and Harvard University. It comes from a mostly overlooked part of the Clinton Era, when Russia was given a heavy dose of economic “shock therapy” by American economists hoping to jumpstart capitalism there. Lawyer Jonathan Hay was one of two Harvard men found guilty of bilking the U.S. government while advising Russia at the time. A man Putin identified as a CIA agent, Hay is also a founding member of CASE Ukraine, a spin-off of the Warsaw think tank. It’s also a starting point for those seeking “investment opportunities” in Ukraine.


What Is ISIS Thinking? Deconstructing the Pilot Immolation Video
Ted Rall examines the Islamic State’s latest effort to fan the flames of war and wonders if the Islamic caliphate has “lost its collective mind.” That’s in no small part because it evoked a predictably strong response from leaders, the “Arab Street” and imams around the Middle East. While most people have only seen the few stills or snippets preferred by the mainstream media, Rall pored over the entire 22-minute video in search of clues and answers to the questions raised by the new, shocking tactic. What Rall finds is “not a depiction of wanton violence meant simply to terrorize, but rather an indictment, an attempt to lay out the case to justify the execution.” By using an orange jumpsuit on each of their victims, “they are extolling the virtues of revenge” as a recruiting tool and “finally striking back, an eye for an eye, a jumpsuit for a jumpsuit.”

‘A Line in the Sand’ in Fight to Release Thousands of Photos of Prisoner Abuse
In a related story, “A federal judge is demanding that the government explain, photo-by-photo, why it can’t release hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of pictures showing detainee abuse by U.S. forces at military prison sites in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Since 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union has petitioned for the release of an unknown number of photos said to show sexual assault, soldiers posing with dead bodies, and other offenses at Abu Ghraib. The government has beaten back attempts by Judge Alvin Hellerstein to compel their release. Congress went so far as to amend in the Freedom of Information Act in 2009 to allow then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to certify that publishing the pictures could put American lives at risk and, therefore, keep them secret. The government continues to argue that “enemies” have used images of “past U.S. abuses when it executed hostages on camera, depicting them ‘in an orange jumpsuit – a symbol commonly associated with detainees housed at Guantanamo Bay.’”


Why Cheap Oil Doesn’t Always Fuel Growth
The global economy is going to be fueled by the epic fall in the price of oil. Consumers will spend more. Investment in factories will increase. And a rising tide of crude will lift all boats! Right? Nope. That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, which looked at the real impact of falling oil prices and found that governments often take advantage of the drop to increase fuel taxes. That negates any savings, and this cycle of low prices has only increased already-troubling deflation fears in Europe and Japan. All of which is keeping a lid on investment. Although previous drops in the price of oil have stoked growth, U.S. oil supplies are at 80-year highs and demand is not recovering. Bloomberg has even predicted the end of America’s addiction to black gold. More directly, it may signal the end of sustained growth over 3% in the industrialized world.

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