Five Minutes Five Issues: Watching Assange, Ocasio-Cortez, Expungement, Bernie Sanders, Alaska Marijuana

A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues posted on Friday. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has pretty much been held in isolation in Ecuador’s London embassy since twelve months ago when his visits there were curtailed and his means of communication with the outside world were blocked. Previously, in 2012, Assange had obtained sanctuary at the embassy to avoid prosecution and incarceration by the United States.

Last week, John Pilger wrote in a Consortium News article about Assange’s lack of privacy at the embassy. Pilger describes that “[c]ameras are everywhere” in the room Assange occupies with a guard posted at the door. During his visit with Assange in the room, Pilger writes:

… Julian maneuvers us both into a corner, side by side, flat up against the wall. This is how we catch up: whispering and writing to each other on a notepad, which he shields from the cameras.

Issue two.

US House of Representatives Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was selected by people behind the scenes to run for office “so they could promote their own agenda.” Then, as a representative, Ocasio-Cortez continues to be controlled by such “very dangerous” people.

Those are the contentions of a much-watched video at YouTube. Looking through the comments by people who watched, it seems a fair number of viewers found this information to be particularly novel and disturbing.

Are the commenters this naïve, or are many of them just looking for confirmation for their dislike of Ocasio-Cortez or Democrats? What the video says about her is true for many people in office, both Democrats and Republicans. Especially in a big district such as a US House district that include hundreds of thousands of residents and when a politician was not well known and liked in the district before he ran for office or did not spend a big chunk of his own cash to win his election, it is a good bet that the politician was selected by people behind the scenes and continues to be controlled or at least strongly influenced by such people. That’s politics.

Issue three.

In the October 13 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about state and local governments where marijuana has been legalized putting in place simplified processes for, or making automatic, the expungement or reduction of marijuana convictions that occurred before legalization.

Now there are signs such measures will be included more often in future state marijuana legalization measures. For example, Claude Brodesser-Akner reported last month at that expungement is included in marijuana legalization legislation that is likely to become law in New Jersey. Also, the New Mexico state House of Representatives approved last week a legalization bill that includes a means for expunging convictions for activities the legislation would legalize.

The New Mexico bill would also have marijuana sold in state government stores. In some states liquor is sold that way.

Many Americans support marijuana convictions expungement. A new Quinnipiac University poll indicates public support for “erasing criminal records for marijuana possession or use” is at 63 percent, which is three percent higher than the poll’s measured support for legalization.

Issue four.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has advocated on the presidential campaign trail ending the war on drugs. On Monday, he posted comments at his Facebook page further supporting this action. Sanders wrote in part:

The War on Drugs has failed and we must end it. Not only do we need to legalize marijuana, we must expunge the records of marijuana offenses and eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenses. We need to treat drug addiction and drug abuse with rehabilitation not with long prison sentences.

Issue five.

It looks like Alaska will be the first marijuana legalization state to explicitly permit consumption of marijuana at some places where marijuana is legally sold across the state. Paul Armentano wrote Wednesday at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) website that, under new state regulations, “the initial on site consumption areas may be approved by this summer.”


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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