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April 04, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-04-04

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4 - Friday, April 4, 2008

E 1i~hdiigan 4at4y
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@umich.edu

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
NOTABLE OQUOTABLE
There are a lot of dead carcasses on the road,
and the vultures are out sniffing."
- Andy Kessler, a former hedge fund manager, on how some investors are seizing the opportunity to buy
cheap stock in the wake of the recent market slump, as reported yesterday by The New York Times,

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ANDREW GROSSMAN
EDITOR IN CHIEF

GARY GRACA
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

GABE NELSON
MANAGING EDITOR

HARUN BULJINA

E-MAIL BULJINA AT BULJINAH@UMICH.EDU

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, acts as the readers'representative andtakes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions and comments. He canbe reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
F O HE DAILY
Growing a pot movement
Tomorrow's Hash Bash needs a student revival
ven though it is now dominated by aging hippies and
stunted by underwhelming turnout, Hash Bash is one of
Ann Arbor's most recognizable traditions with one of its
most important messages. Instead of a half-baked celebration of
marijuana culture, the event is supposed to be a protest against
America's unnecessary and counterproductive marijuana laws. In
this 37th year, students and activists should seize this opportunity
to return Hash Bash to its roots - potentially with help of one of
the event's key figures.

AN. Tl H EIAG
OBV OUSLY IH
ETT LOCITIo
fOU GONNA HiT R-AD'l>NXI 0 N
T~s aoW AMsNH
ARAl H
America's top (role) model

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The story of Hash Bash began in 1969
with the absurd. Arrested for possession of
two joints, Hill Street resident John Sinclair
was sentenced to prison for nine and a half
to 10 years in prison under Michigan's dra-
conian drug laws. Two years later, students
and Ann Arborites rallied together for a
"Free John Now Rally" at Crisler Arena.
The event showcased the who's-who of
left-leaning artists, including legends John
Lennon and Stevie Wonder. Three days
after the rally, the Michigan Supreme Court
released Sinclair, striking down Michigan's
marijuana laws as unconstitutional.
When the state legislature replaced the
laws with more lenient (but still unnec-
essary) drug laws, activists responded in
protest - a tradition that continues on the
first Saturday of every April. Unfortunate-
ly, apathy - and bad weather - have extin-
guished much of Hash Bash's atmosphere
on its last few anniversaries. Few students
attend the event, and instead locals who
remember the glory days when 15,000 peo-
ple packed Crisler Arena to free, Sinclair
fill the Diag.
But it shouldn't be that way. Grassroots
efforts like Hash Bash are a major reason
for Ann Arbor's lenient marijuana laws,
and should be a continued priority. Here,
marijuana possession is considered a mis-
demeanor, with a $25 penalty for a first
offense, $50 for a second and a $100 for all

subsequent offenses. Further, because of a
2004 ballot initiative, medical marijuana
is legal in the city, at least according to the
city code. Both of these are positive reforms
that shouldn't be kept inside the bubble of
Ann Arbor.
Nationwide, our strict marijuana laws
continue to make little sense - with crimi-
nalization causing much more harm than
legalization ever would. In 2005 alone, it
was estimated that more than 600,000
arrests were made in connection with the
marijuana market. Billions of dollars go to
arresting, processing and prosecuting any-
one with marijuana, from casual smokers
to dealers. These people crowd America's
already-jammed jails and prisons, contrib-
uting to America's status as the world lead-
er in incarceration rates. And all of this for
a drug that is no more damaging than ciga-
rettes or alcohol and certainly not a threat
to public safety or health.
At tomorrow's Hash Bash, the event's
37th anniversary, Sinclair may return to
Ann Arbor from his home in Amsterdam to
revitalize the event. But the movement to
change America's illogical drug laws will
need more than an aging hippie to spear-
head the effort. Students should turn out
tomorrow at "high noon" for Hash Bash -
not as an excuse to wear that T-shirt with a
pot leaf on it and get high, but because the
Diag can be a place to make a difference.

ew York Times style connois-
seurs have described Vogue
Magazine as "the world's
most influential
fashion magazine."
Hundreds of hope-
ful models starve L
(no pun intended) to
someday grace the
front cover of the
magazine and aspir-
ing fashion design-
ers envision their
collections featured SHAKIRA
within its renowned SMILER
pages. Nothing less
than the best in
couture gowns and fine jewelry ever
makes the cut in Vogue.
So, whose brilliant idea was it to
stick Lebron James on the cover? Or
more importantly, why was James
chosen to be the first African American
man in 116 years to be featured on the
cover of the prominent magazine?
Granted, he's a star athlete with
killer abs, a massive Nike contract and
a shitload of money. But he's definitely
no Andr6 Leon Tally, or Ms. Jay Alex-
ander for that matter.
The recent March 2008 cover issue
of Vogue has received intense scrutiny
from critics calling it racist and stereo-
typical. The cover features James in
basketball shorts and a tanktop loosely
gripping Brazilian supermodel Giselle
Bundchen with an animalistic grimace
and ashy kneecaps. The photo is said
to perpetuate the historic stereotype of
the violent and predatory black man.
Ironically, the ever-so-humble
"King James" does look a bit like King
Kong in this picture, but the issue is
not that James is replicating a pose
that's made him millions of dollars on
the court. Nor is it that he's all hugged
up with a skinny, blond-haired, blue-
eyed, ditzy-looking white chick. The
problem is that once again, out of all
the college-educated, philanthropic,
debonair, brothers in America, an ath-

lete was chosen to be the historic face black youth who had limited opportu-
of black men everywhere. nities and resources because both ath-
Why is it that whenever magazine letes used their power to speak out for
editors decide they want to shake an otherwise voiceless community.
things up a bit and put a minority on However, this new breed of black
the cover, they immediately turn to the male superstar athletes and entertain-
NBA or NFL? Athletes have become ers couldn't care less about social jus-
the new faces of Black America. What tice. Give them a million-dollar shoe
else can explain why Michael Jordan deal and a lifetime supply of Powerade
has been featured on more magazine and they'll spend their free time host-
covers than Michael Eric Dyson? ing illegal puppy-boxing matches.
It doesn't just stop with athletes. Sure, most of them have made an effort
Ask any random 15-year-old black kid to give back by creating their own
who Kanye West is and he'd be able to "foundations" - I even got a scholar-
write a 10-page essay in 60 minutes. ship from a well-known basketball
Ask him who Cornel West is and he player myself. But rebuilding a play-
probably wouldn't be able to write one ground doesn't mean anything when
sentence. Rappers and entertainers in the kids using the playgrounds see
general are another common minor-
ity face on American magazines. Jay-
Z has had more than his fair share of
front covers, including Life Magazine, W hy do we turn to
and is internationally recognized as an
American legend. The same is true for Sports for minority
many other rappers and actors.
Unfortunately, many of these enter- role models?
tainers and athletes abuse their fame,
falling into the trap of displaying out-
landish and ignorant public behavior.
Black male celebrities are not saints their hero on television get arrested
and aren't expected to be, but most for drug charges. Their young minds
don't seem to recognize, or care, that immediately conclude that if the nice,
they have the opportunity to change rich superstar in the fly car who fixed
the world's perception of black men the basketball court uses drugs, using
through their actions, and thus end up drugs mustbe cool.
making careless, stupid decisions that Magazine editors have a job to do,
make headlines. and this means soliciting the celebrity
Are the implications of American who can rack in the most dough from
magazines true? Are the only people a broad array of communities. There's
capable of crossing racial barriers ath- limited room for black faces on maga-
letes and entertainers? zine covers in general, so whoever
Don't get me wrong, black athletes is the most popular at the time will
and entertainers have opened up a lot always be the token of the year.
of doors for African Americans, espe- Of course, my top celebrity pick
cially since so many of them have used would've been Barack Obama, but I
,their popularity to protest racial injus- guess America is just more concerned
tice. Jackie Robinson and Muhammad with free throws and freestyles than
Ali are two great examples. Both have universal health care.
been featured on the cover of popu-
lar magazines, including Time and Shakira Smiler can be reached
Esquire. These men gave hope to the at stsmiler@umich.edu.

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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Emad Ansari, Harun Buljina, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Satyajeet Deshmukh,
Milly Dick, Mike Eber, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan,
Kate Peabody, Robert Soave, lmran'Syed, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Kate Truesdell,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.
JEFF MAY hlf-ae dr poie
Our half-baked drug policies

Bordering on absurdity

Regardless of whether Hash Bash is held
this year on the Diag, every U.S. citizen
should critically evaluate the continuation of
America's failed drug policy, exemplified by
the War on Drugs. Michigan and our coun-
try as a whole are facing economic and fiscal
problems with no clear solutions in sight. But
we continue to spend billions of tax dollars
on policies that are proven failures. The War
on Drugs is nothing but a financial black-
hole. In fact, America's War on Drugs under
the reign of George W. Bush has actually led
to a two-fold increase in cocaine production
worldwide.
The benefits of fully decriminalizing
marijuana far outweigh the supposed conse-
quencesofitsexistence -thisviewpointdoes
not call for the decriminalization of more
severe drugs like cocaine, crack-cocaine,
heroin, and methamphetamines. Accord-
ing to a 2000 estimate, prior to a spending
increase by the current administration, the
federal government alone spent roughly $19
billion annually on the War on Drugs. This
number increases drastically when you fac-
tor in spending on drug enforcementby state
and local governments.
But consider the many ways that our
money could be better spent. For example,
a city/state restoration fund could be estab-
lished to finance renovations in struggling
areas across the country (think Detroit or
New Orleans). The money could also be re-
routed to assist overburdened government
programs like Medicaid, Medicare and
Social Security. It could be spent on public
education, humanitarian work in developing
countries, alternative energy sources, college
financial aid and renovation of America's
crumbling infrastructure. And don't forget
our never-ending adventure in Iraq.
The damage caused to this country by
the War on Drugs is not limited to its pock-
etbooks - it affects the lives of hundreds
of thousands of U.S. citizens every year.
According to The New York Times, about
800,000 people are arrested every year for
marijuana possession, with an outrageous
majority receiving criminal charges for pos-
sessing tiny amounts of marijuana. Having
such charges on peoples' records can pre-
vent them from receiving higher-paying jobs

- hurting employment rates and consumer
spending - and can even cause some people
to lose their right to vote in certain states.
The right to vote is the essence of our gov-
ernment and should not be revoked under
any circumstances, otherwise how will
those who are wronged by the system have
the opportunity to change it?
Given Michigan's dismal economy and
budget problems, I'm surprised at the aston-
ishinglack of practicality displayed by Michi-
gan's legislators. It is going to take innovative
solutions to bring Michigan back to national
prominence, so here is one to consider: Full
legalization of hemp and marijuana. The
United States is the only industrialized coun-
try in the world to make hemp production
illegal. Growing hemp would provide Michi-
gan farmers with a versatile product that
could be used in a wide variety of products.
I'm not implying that legalizing hemp
would be the cure-all for Michigan's prob-
lems. It would have only a tiny impact on
Michigan's overall economic situation. How-
ever, to be blunt, any step forward would be a
good step right now. Legalization is beneficial
in two ways. First, it saves the state money
by reducing the costs of law enforcement.
Second, it brings in revenue from the sale of
growing licenses to individuals and from a
tax on the marijuana sales by companies.
Enough is enough. Both the Michigan and
the United States are going to have to wake
up to the economic and fiscal realities they
are facing. We have too many problems that
need to be addressed to be wasting billions
of dollars annually on policies that give no
return on investment except to certain weap-
ons contractors. And please, don't cling to the
"moral" argument that marijuana is illegal
because it is bad for you. There are roughly
16,000 alcohol-related deaths and even more
tobacco-related deaths -yet, these substanc-
es are legal, even when there has never been a
single recorded death due to marijuana.
America became great because of its inno-
vation, I hope it does not continue its fall
from grace because it desperately clings to
outdated and irrational polices beautifully
clad in the cloth of "moral superiority."
Jeff May is an LSA sophomore.

here's nothing borderline about
the farcical and foolhardy
nature of government fences.
As a graduating
senior faced with an
employment market
in dire straits, I was
relieved to receive a
call from my mother
one day inform-
ing me that she had
found the perfect
job for me - as a
member of the U.S. KATE
Border Patrol. It's TRUESDELL
true that commer-
cials featuring ATVs
and horseback riding across our sandy
southern regions appeal to my sense of
adventure, but I'm not sure it would be
a good career fit ideologically. If asked
in an interview "What would you do if
you saw someone tryingto sneak across
the border?" I would probably answer,
"Um ... give them a ride?"
While immigration policy may be a
source of heated debate, for most of us,
the commercialsathat evoke daydreams
of action-hero adventure are probably
the only time we think about this issue,
or border security specifically. So you
may have missed the fracas surround-
ing the land that separates us from our
neighbors to the south. And this week,
things got crazier.
The linchpin project in heightened
border control planning has been the-
notorious (and ridiculous) giant fence.
The project is headed by the Depart-
ment of Homeland Security and
includes the construction of 670 miles
of fence across the approximately 1,969
miles of border shared by the United
States and Mexico. Though it has been
in the works for years, it was shot back
into the limelight this week because it
received congressional waivers allow-
ing it to bypass more than 30 laws and
regulations - many relating to the
environment - according to The Asso-

ciated Press.
Environmentalists are upset by the
possible effect these waivers could
have on ecosystems, so much so that
heavyweights like the Sierra Club
have even asked the Supreme Court to
declare the waivers unconstitutional
according to CNN.
And dissent doesn't stop there.Even
from within the federal government,
organizations are voicing concern. In
correspondence obtained by the AP
regarding one contested project the
waivers could help, the U.S. Fish and
WildlifeServices acknowledgethatfol-
lowing through with the project would
contribute to habitat fragmentation.
How, then, has the administration
justified its actions? Homeland Secu-
rity Secretary, Michael Chertoff, suc-
cinctly summed up the department's
brilliant justification for the passage
of these waivers this week, stating,
"Criminal activity at the border does
not stop for endless debate or protract-
ed litigation."
Yes, why let pesky things like facts
get in the way? Or due process and the
proper application of the legal system,
for that matter? Don't let details like
further fragmenting habitat at the
expense of endangered species stop
you from building your fort - oh, I
mean fortress of security.
Biological corridors are important
for preserving genetic variation, some-
thing important in the management of
animals like the ocelot and jaguarondi,
two endangered species expected to be
harmed by the border barriers. Physi-
cal barriers prevent these animals
from crossing borders to reproduce,
hurting the populations overall. In the
end, border "protection" does basically
nothing to stop aliens from getting in.
Meanwhile, it keeps animals out, doing
little to protect their future.
Blatant absence of environmen-
tal consideration is a problem that
has plagued this administration. Our

furry friends have had it tough. Polar
bears are still waiting to be added to
the endangered species list, and wol-
verines - near and dear to our hearts
- lost their case earlier this month.
The government's treatment of big oil
is a rant for another day, but it's worth
a passing mention in the discussion of
federal irresponsibility.
The point is clear: Whether these
decisions stem from a misunderstand-
ing of environmental issues or simply
a lack of concern, when it comes to
dealing with the environment the fed-
eral government is the last entity that
should have total control. The removal
Fences keep
animals out, but
no one else
of waivers does just that. It takes away
what little oversight existed in the
first place.
This decision also sets a disturb-
ing precedent for the future. Ignoring
legislation and compromising habitats
simply in the name of headlong action
creates a slippery slope. The case, along
with the handling of Gitmo, wiretap-
ping and countless other examples, is
indicative of the growing ability of the
federal government to make up rules to
suit its fancy.
When the fence was simply a stupid,
ineffectual solution to an obviously
misunderstood problem, it was, if not
tolerable, easier to ignore. In the con-
text of larger issues, battles must be tri-
aged. But this new development moves
the project from inane to inexcusable.
Kate Truesdell can be reached
at ketrue@umich.edu.

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