Stuck in red tape in Japan (5×8 – 3/18/11)

A Minnesotan wants to come home, a flood on top of a flood, dangers of the legal drugs,


The U.S. government is moving ahead with plans to help evacuate Americans from Japan, but a Minnesota native has a problem. He’s married to a Japanese woman who doesn’t have a visa. She’s not allowed in.

Since 9/11, non-Americans are required to get their visa outside of the country, which is a lengthy process even if their government is functioning normally. Japan, in particular, is not functioning normally.

“We just want some-thing that was granted to people before 9/11 and that is to bring in my wife from a foreign country and apply for a visa to live and a green card to work in the US for my wife,” Brook Chelmo of Detroit Lakes says. “Right now the US is the best place for us to be in terms of safety for my daughter and also my family as a whole.”

Meanwhile, you don’t often hear an interviewee on stodgy public radio calling out Americans for being selfish and ignorant — at least in such an animated way — in buying up all the surplus iodine pills on the market, to protect them from radiation from Japan. Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told “The World” that because of Americans, there are no supplies on the worldwide market to help the people in Japan. (Listen)

I wonder how many Americans who bought the pills also smoke?


The Minnesota news universe is gearing up to provide coverage of the spring floods. I still don’t know which direction I’m heading for, yet. Too many places are in danger of flooding.

But it might be a good time to revisit the people whose homes have already been destroyed and are facing another wet season. Last September, floodwaters decimated the people of Hammond, Minnesota and environs. Minnesota Prairie Roots writer Audrey Kletscher Helbling has been following a Hammond family that’s tried to put things back together.

A devastating natural disaster like this flood raises many questions and elicits mixed emotions, including anger. Tina has felt her share of anger and I’m allowing her to air her concerns here so that perhaps we can all learn from her experience.

Tina says Hammond, population 230, was neglected and forgotten during the “threat” of the rising river. No one came to help on Thursday night until it was too late, she claims. The evacuation in Hammond occurred many hours after the exodus in nearby Zumbro Falls.

While food and shelter were offered in Hammond, Tina says that did not help her family displaced to a hotel in neighboring Rochester.

“There was no immediate help in the aftermath, and a lot of what was being done didn’t make sense to us. We were left to fend for ourselves for nearly two months,” Tina continues.

The family is back home now, feeling somewhat guilty because they’re one of the few that is.


A young main in Blaine is dead, and others are in the hospital because they bought a synthetic drug online and overdosed on it. I’ll admit my first reaction to the story wasn’t, “if only they’d been able to use drugs legally” as this letter-writer suggested:

These kids got sick because they bought fake ecstasy (sp). But you reporters never ask why ecstast or marijuana is illegal. Why is alcohol legal? Alcohol kills people everyday, teenagers included. You never link fake pot to the fact that pot is illegal and we are drug tested for work. When they say drugs are dangerous you never question how they are dangerous or how dangerous they are. Why aren’t you questioning the drug war orthodoxy. Alcohol and tobacco are the most dangerous and lethal drugs in america. Why do you guys never question drug war orthodoxy, or america’s puritan moralism? Marijuana is the ‘safest therapeutically active substance known to man” (dea judge Young).

You guys never question the drug fighters! the drug moralists! Why do you never second guess the anti-drug experts? All your drug stories are unquestioning of the anti-drug authorities. Crack cocaine and herion injection are products of prohibition. Without the drug war we would have wild poppies, cannabis and coco tea/chew/bubblegum available. You are shabby journalists. I expect you to criticise the moralists and question the orthodoxy.

If I understand the assertion, it is that these kids wouldn’t be dead or hospitalized from their legal synthetic drug if marijuana were legalized. Maybe, but that assumes that these kids ignored the plentiful — and easily obtained — marijuana to get high, just because it’s illegal, and opted instead for 2C-E, merely because it’s legal. Where’s the proof of that?

So, here’s the reaction I did have to the story: What is it about their lives that caused them to find an escape in a legal — if lethal — drug? For the record, I ask myself the same question when I watched people on the streets of St. Paul yesterday.

In other drug news: A fourth-grader hooked his friends up with some cocaine in DC. Is this a big problem? Nobody really knows because there are no official surveys of drug use in kids that young.


There’s no longer a reason to read nursery rhymes to your darlings. You can stay at work.

The theory is the same as the system that allows you to follow your kid’s Little League game without actually having to go to the game. In today’s economy, you can be more productive by showing your kids how much you care, without actually having to spend time with them.



A vote by the U.N. Security Council cleared the way Thursday for the United States and its allies to begin military intervention in Libya. Is supporting the Libyan rebellion in the vital interest of the United States?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Both parties have plans to cut the state’s $5 billion deficit. The Republican leaders talk about theirs.

Second hour: As President Obama prepares to travel to South America, the Secret Service has to plan ahead for several different security scenarios abroad. What does it take to ensure the safety of the most powerful man in America?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Barbara Bodine, former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, takes questions about America’s relationship with the Middle East on the eve of the eight anniversary of the Iraq war.

Second hour: TBD

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Thee latest on the deteriorating nuclear reactors in Japan, and a look at who might be affected by radioactivity coming from the nuclear plant. Plus, how last week’s earthquake changed the earth’s rotation, and made our days a little longer.

Second hour: Camouflaging red blood cells.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Food shelves aren’t just for groceries anymore. When food shelves first popped up in the ’70s and ’80s, most were just cupboards in church basements, or small rooms with canned goods. Over the past decade, some Minnesota food shelves have evolved into something different – social service organizations that give hungry Minnesotans all kinds of help to get through rough times. MPR’s Julie Siple reports that needs have changed and food shelves have had evolve to meet those needs.

  • DNA

    The main cause of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, prescription and non-prescription drugs etc … addiction problems in general is due to the criminalization of hemp/cannabis/marijuana.

    Some quotes to clarify…

    “The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” – Carl Sagan

    The main reason that cannabis is illegal is not because of the fallacious assertion that it is dangerous to body mind and society:

    “The best hemp and the best tobacco grown on the same kind of soil. The former article is of first necessity to the commerce and marine, in other words to the wealth and protection of the country. The latter, never useful and sometimes pernicious, derives its estimation from caprice.”

    -Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President, Jefferson’s journal entry / March 16, 1791

    Some of my finest hours have been spent on the back of my veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as the eye can see. – Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President

    If the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” don’t include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence isn’t worth the hemp it was written on.

    – Terence McKenna

    We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption. – John Adams, 2nd U.S. President

    Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica. – Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President, from a letter written by Lincoln during his presidency to the head of the Hohner Harmonica Company in Germany

    Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded. – Abraham Lincoln

    Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?

    – Henry Ford

    There are just laws and there are unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

    Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could. – William F. Buckley, Jr

    ‎The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents. – William F. Buckley, 1983

    Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marihuana in private for personal use… Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marihuana. – Jimmy Carter, U.S. President: Message to Congress, August 2, 1977.

    “I now have absolute proof that smoking even one marijuana cigarette is equal in brain damage to being on Bikini Island during an H-bomb blast.” -Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

    “If adults want to take such chances (with marijuana) that is their business.” -Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President

    “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it, and I didn’t inhale, and I never tried again.” – Bill Clinton, 42nd U.S. President

    “I think that most small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in some places, and should be. We really need a re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment…Our imprisonment policies are counterproductive.” – Bill Clinton, 42nd U.S. President

    “Now, like, I’m President. It would be pretty hard for some drug guy to come into the White House and start offering it up, you know? … I bet if they did, I hope I would say, ‘Hey, get lost. We don’t want any of that.” – George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. President

    ‎After two years of doctor-and-patient testimony, the D.E.A.s chief administrative law judge, Francis L. Young, ruled that ‘marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substance known to man’. – Nick Jones

    “Herb is the healing of a nation, alcohol is the destruction.” – Bob Marley.

    That is not a drug. It’s a leaf. – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California

    “When I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point.” – Barack Obama, 44th U.S. President

    The war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our nation’s marijuana laws. – Barack Obama, January 21, 2004 debate

    “I think we consume far more dangerous drugs that are legal: cigarette smoking, nicotine and alcohol. I feel they cause much more devastating effects physically. We need to lift the prohibition on marijuana.” former Surgeon General of the United States, Joycelyn Elders voicing her support for legalization of marijuana

    The criminalization of the world’s most useful and versatile plant, Cannabis/Hemp/Marijuana/Ganja, was Unconstitutional … a crime against humanity and nature. ~ DNA

    ‎”The war may not be quite over but any stigma still left lingering around cannabis consumption today is largely restricted to out of date and increasingly unenforced pieces of legislation. So indelibly stamped on our culture has cannabis become that it must now rank as the most popular and controversial plant on the planet.” – Nick Jones

    “Keep the Faith” – John Lodge of the Moody Blues (and countless another-ourselves offering encouragement and solidarity)

    These things and more you shall do. – Jesus

    In you is all of Heaven. Every leaf that falls is given life in you. Each bird that ever sang will sing again in you. And every flower that ever bloomed has saved its perfume and its loveliness for you. – ACIM

    Do not believe what you have heard.

    Do not believe in anything that has been spoken of many times.

    Do not believe because the written statements come from some old sage.

    Do not believe in conjecture.

    Do not believe in authority or teachers or elders.

    But after careful observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason

    and it will benefit one and all, then accept it and live by it.

    ~ Buddha (563-483 B.C.E.)

    May we awaken within this dream and grasp the fact that we are dreaming so that all dreamlike beings may likewise awaken from the nightmare of illusory suffering and confusion.

    ~Tibetan Dream Yoga Prayer

    “After more than 70 years of misinformation about this botanical remedy, I am delighted that we are finally gaining a mature understanding of its immense therapeutic potential.”-Andrew Weil, M.D.

  • DNA

    Please check out:

    The award winning documentary, “The Union: The Business Behind Getting High”

    The Future of Psychedelic and Medical Marijuana Research. – Andrew Weil M.D.

  • DNA

    What I’ve heard from almost every conscientious alcoholic open to a better solution.

  • DNA

    What I’ve heard from almost every conscientious alcoholic open to a better solution.

  • Jim Shapiro

    @DNA – while I largely agree with you regarding cannabis, doncha think quoting Jesus, ACIM, Buddha, and an ancient Tibetan tract all out of context is gilding the lily a little? 🙂

    (Are you hip to Michael Pollan’s “The Botany of Desire” book and PBS special?)

  • Heather

    The Buddha quotation is actually pretty hilarious in this context.

    I heartily endorse “The Botany of Desire”. Great suggestion, Jim.

  • DNA

    Pollan’s work is great. He’s also recently contributed to

    Julie Holland, MD’s The Pot Book