DNA Lounge: Wherein the RAVE Act passes. "Yay."

Without public notice, a hearing, or debate in Congress, both houses passed the "RAVE Act" yesterday. This legislation makes it possible for the federal government to prosecute innocent business owners for the drug offenses of their customers. The new law holds a business owner responsible if anyone uses illegal drugs while on their property, whether they are aware of it or not, and even if the business owner takes action to try and prevent drug use!

This became law using one of the sleaziest tricks in the Congressional arsenal. How do you get an unpopular bill passed? Attach it as an amendment to a popular bill! In this case, the "RAVE Act" was attached to the "AMBER Alert" bill, which is legislation about child abduction that has nothing to do with drug policy.

The Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund has an analysis of the bill:

[...] the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act [amends] the federal "crack house law" to make it easier for federal prosecutors to fine and imprison business owners that fail to stop drug offenses from occurring. Businessmen and women could be prosecuted even if they were not involved in drugs ­ and even if they took steps to stop drug use on their property. The provisions would also undermine public health, endanger youth, and stifle free speech.

Property owners, landlords, hotel managers, promoters and other businessmen and women could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars or face up to twenty years in federal prison if they hold raves or other events on their property and drug offenses occur. [...]

This bill would also make it a federal crime to temporarily use a place for the purpose of using any illegal drug. Thus, anyone who used drugs in their own home or threw an event (such as a party or barbecue) in which one or more of their guests used drugs could potentially face a $500,000 fine and 20 years in federal prison. [...]

The Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act punishes businessmen and women for the crimes of their customers. The government can't even keep drugs out of its schools and prisons, yet it seeks to punish business owners for failing to keep people from carrying drugs onto their premises. If these provisions become law, the federal government will have the ability to scare business owners away from using or renting their property for all-night dance events, as well as any other "politically incorrect" event.

The full text of the RAVE Act is also available.

This is the bill that used to classify bottled water and glowsticks as "drug paraphernalia" -- that is, it said that if a venue were selling bottled water, that was probable cause that drug use was occurring. That particular language was stricken from the bill after massive public ridicule last year, but the "teeth" of the bill remain intact.

(Entertainingly, recent San Francisco law requires free drinking water to be available at nightclubs. So which is it? Is water a health necessity, or is it evidence of a felony?)

Neal Pollack had an amusing idea that highlights the absurdity of this law. He wrote:

Now you must excuse me. I'm going to drive down to Delaware, where I assume Senator Biden still keeps an office. There I will snort a delicious line of cocaine. It's Biden's property. Therefore, my drug use is technically his fault.

Prisoner Number 34093. Senator Joseph Biden. Convicted April 10, 2003, letting some guy snort coke in his office. Sentence, 50 years. Up for parole... in 30.

In related news, the ABC has announced their intention to start hassling 1015 Folsom again. The club is still open, but from what I can tell, this press release says that more legal action is coming soon. I guess the only reason to put out a press release (rather than actually filing suit) is for harassment and fear purposes.

The press release lists a few instances where undercover cops were allegedly able to buy drugs at 1015, and then goes on to say

Bottled water was available to the users of ecstasy who often become dehydrated when taking the drug. Glow sticks, which heightens the hallucinogenic effect of ecstasy, was also sold.

Apparently they haven't gotten the DEA's memo yet about the water/glowsticks thing.

So look, if any of you jackasses were planning on trying to sneak The Drugs into my club, could you please show a little consideration and just fucking not? I couldn't care less what you do with your life, but I have no desire to go to jail because you can't leave your habit at home. Might I recommend something in a vodka instead? That won't get us busted, and (bonus!) causes our employees to get paid.

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Tunalemetry

Computer-Equipped Fish Part of Effort to Aid Tuna

BAHIA DE ACHOTINES, Panama (Reuters) - Scientist Kurt Schaefer slices a small hole in the side of a wriggling yellowfin tuna and inserts a tiny 64 megabyte computer. Quickly he sews the slit back up, allowing just enough space for a thin fiber optic wand to protrude from the fish's side, before transferring the animal to a large seawater tank. [...]

One of the key uses of the computers is their ability to detect changes in the tuna's body temperature. "We know the tuna changes temperature when it is feeding. We want to know if it does so too when spawning. With that information we would be able know about the tuna's behavior in the open sea, estimating its reproduction rate and its position in the ocean," explains Scholey, an Irish-born biologist from Seattle who has studied tuna fish in Japan.

At a cost of $1,500 each, the computers in the tunas can record up to five years of information about a tuna's life. [...]

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Tonight on Fox: "Violet Beauregarde, CDC"

Exhibit A:
Exhibit B:
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SUVs aren't the only ones who get to rock it offroad-style

So I'm bicycling down Mission Street, past a big construction site, and right after that, the lane goes away, cones everywhere, and of course, cars, all trying to change lanes at once and meaning me harm (as is their way.) So I'm rolling along, doing my best to stay alive, when suddenly I notice that the road ahead looks a little... off.

By "ahead" I mean "three feet ahead" and by "off" I mean "liquid."

I cross the boundary, and my wheels are immediately six to eight inches deep in wet cement. "Shiiiit!" I think, as I bounce on through, feeling the pedals getting harder and harder to push. It's a good thing I was already going pretty fast, or I'd still be there. I think the pond was ten or fifteen feet across, so I had a few seconds of panic to allow rzr_grl's offroad adventure to replay in my mind. As I bounced up over the lip on the far side of the pit, I tossed a glance over my shoulder and yelled "sorry!", only to see a couple of construction guys screaming at me and waving their arms. I pedaled faster in case they decided to pursue, wondering if my gears were going to solidify before I could escape.

At least there weren't a couple of guys crossing the street carrying a plate glass window. That would have been even more of a slapstick cliché than this was!

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