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Froma Harrop - Fight heroin with marijuana

A plague of heroin addiction is upon us. Another plague. Heroin was the crisis that prompted Richard Nixon to launch the war on drugs in 1971.

Time marched on. Cocaine and then crack cocaine and then methamphetamine overtook heroin as the drugs of the moment. Now heroin is back — and badder than ever.

The war on drugs also grinds expensively on, an estimated $1 trillion down the hole so far. Amid the triumphant announcements of massive drug seizures and arrests of the kingpins, heroin has never been more abundant or so easy to find, in urban and rural America alike.

Still, marijuana accounts for almost half of drug arrests, and most of those are for possession, not selling. This may sound counterintuitive, but as states ease up on the sale and use of pot, opportunity knocks for dealing with the heroin scourge.

"If I had to write a prescription for the heroin problem," retired Cincinnati police Capt. Howard Rahtz told me, "the first thing I'd do is legalize marijuana."

Rahtz has fought this battle on several front lines. After serving 18 years as a law officer, he ran a methadone clinic to treat addicts. A member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Rahtz won't go so far as the group's official position, which is to legalize all drugs.

"I would not make heroin available as a recreational drug," he said. "But I would make it available on a medical basis."

Rahtz sees treatment as the only promising way to truly confront the heroin epidemic. He recalls his days as a police captain going after the traffickers:

"We started getting record amounts of drugs, money and guns, and I'm writing memos to the chief. But then I'd ask the guys, 'Is anyone walking around Cincinnati unable to find drugs?'"

Because drug cartels garner 60 percent of their revenue from the marijuana trade, legalizing pot would smash up their business model.

"I have zero problem with recreational marijuana," Rahtz said.
He would like Colorado and other states now taxing marijuana to earmark the money for drug treatment and rehabilitation. It's crazy that only 10 percent of heroin addicts get into treatment, according to federal statistics.

Why the heroin epidemic now? Much of the surge in heroin use stems from the recent crackdown on prescribed painkillers. Those addicted to pain medication went looking for an easily available alternative and found heroin.

(One might question the value of making it hard for those hooked on prescription drugs to get them. At least then, a doctor would be on their case.)

Today's astounding heroin death tolls reflect the reality that heroin sold is now 10 times more pure than it was in the '70s. Adding to the tragedy, tolerance levels for heroin drop for those in treatment. The relapse rate in drug programs is high, and those who go back are killed by the strength of the drug on the street.

What should be obvious is the futility of dumping all this money into the war on drugs while putting those wanting treatment on waiting lists. Even if many of those treated end up going back into the dungeon of drug use, their weeks or months off the drug ate into the dealers' profits.

Bringing heroin addicts in for treatment deprives the cartels of their best high-volume customers. Legalizing pot puts them out of their most lucrative business. Using tax revenues from the legal sale of marijuana to pay for treatment completes the virtuous circle.

This virtuous circle can replace the vicious circle of the drug war. As odd as this sounds, we can fight heroin with marijuana.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Sanborn – The April Lakes Region Residential Sales Report

OK. Spring is here and I have to wonder what is going on with the real estate market. There were only 52 single family residential home sales in April at an average of $239,018. We had 62 sales in March and last April there were 77 sales at an average price of $299,681. We are definitely headed in the wrong direction as far as sales volume. There have been 224 sales so far this year compared to 248 for the first four months of 2013. That's not a huge difference as long as the trend doesn't continue. I don't think I will concede to blaming the shortfall on global warming, but I guess the extremely long, difficult winter could have something to do with it.

The good thing is that the average sales price is going up. For the first four months we averaged $297,698 compared to $242,367 in 2013. That most likely means that a greater number of higher priced homes are selling rather than any rise in overall home values.

Another good stat this month was that homes, on average, brought 99 percent of their asking price at the time of sale. But that's just one month. So far this year, sales prices have been averaging of 94 percent of the asking price (compared to 93 percent for the same period last year.) It should be noted that in both 2013 and 2014 the asking price at the time of sale averaged 5 percent lower than the original list price.

In some areas homes sold pretty quickly, too. The average time on market for the four sales in Alton was only 5 days last month! I decided to take a close look at what sold in Alton and see if I could get some insight to help me sell my listings quickly.

The least expensive sale was the home at 516 Alton Mtn Road which sold for the asking price of $65,000. It sold the same day it was put on the market. This property was actually a single wide manufactured home built in 1995 on a two acre lot. It has 1,000 square feet of space, 3 bedrooms, and two baths. The thing that really impressed me and opened my eyes to a new marketing strategy was that there are just two pictures on the MLS; the main picture was of the toilet and the other was of a very narrow hallway. I kid you not! It seems that this marketing approach is intended to make buyers so curious about the property that they are compelled to come see it and immediately purchase it. Yeah, I know, the agent likely had a buyer already in hand when she listed it, but would you use a toilet photo as the main picture regardless? The agent was from Rochester. Maybe they do things differently down there?

The next sale was at 58 Spring Street; this property was listed right at its assessed value of $85,900 and sold for $82,500 in just 1 day. No great surprise here, just a modest 1960's vintage, 1,000 square foot, five room, two bedroom cottage with lots of upside potential.

The third sale was a charming 1801 vintage cape style home on 5.8 acres at 407 Stockbridge Corner Road. This 1,973 square foot, three bedroom, two bath home has lots of character and some recent updates including a new septic system. It was listed for $175,000 and sold at full price after just 11 days on the market. It is assessed at $162,100. This was a pretty nice property for not a lot of money.

The last, and largest sale, was at 122 Smith Point Road in Alton which most people consider to be a suburb of Gilford. This 3,500 square foot, contemporary style, multi-level waterfront home has been very well maintained. It has three bedrooms, three baths, large kitchen, open concept living and dining area, plus a large deck with great views of the lake. It sits on a .47 acre nicely landscaped lot with bluestone patios, gardens, lawn, and 100 feet of water frontage. This property was listed at $979,000 and sold for $950,000 after 9 days on the market. It is assessed at $861,000. Nice house, good price, quick sale.

So last month in Alton we had a mobile home, a small cottage, an antique cape, and a nice waterfront all sell very quickly with two at full price and two very close to the asking price. It seems like the key here is to either price a property correctly or... just put one picture of the bathroom toilet on the MLS. Which way do you want to go?

Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 5/21/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Froma Harrop - Don't privatize the veterans' hosptials

President Obama can do himself a big political favor this month by saying simply this: "I will not privatize the VA hospitals."

That's the bottom line for the current right-wing crusade mixing patriotic posturing with loathing of government in general and Obama specifically. We speak of allegations that a Phoenix hospital (and perhaps others) run by the Department of Veterans Affairs hid deadly delays for treatment by using secret waiting lists.

The theme is government can't do anything right. And if you're Rush Limbaugh, it's also running death panels for veterans. "There's nobody that has any real-world, private-sector experience running anything to do with health care or medical treatment or medical care," El Rushbo declared from happy orbit.

Actual veterans could not disagree more.

"We're against privatizing the VA system," Joe Davis, national spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, told me in no uncertain terms. "To privatize the VA puts us on a waiting list with everyone else out in the United States."

You see, getting medical care can be rougher outside government-run programs than inside them, as contented veterans and Medicare beneficiaries repeatedly tell pollsters.

A 2004 RAND study determined that the VA system delivered higher-quality care than private hospitals on all measures except acute care. (They were even on acute care.) And the American Customer Satisfaction Index, run by the University of Michigan, found 85 percent of patients in VA hospitals satisfied with their care, versus 77 percent in private hospitals.

"The people who receive VA care by and large rave about it," the VFW's Davis said.

But that's no reason not to mess with it, right? In 2010, Ken Buck, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Colorado, said privatization would make the hospitals "better run." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wanted to give veterans vouchers to shop for care in the private sector.

(Both later backed away from their proposals when veterans loudly objected.)
Now, the latest allegations — that the Phoenix VA Health Care System covered up long wait times by manipulating the waiting list — are serious. But they're still allegations. And so are reports that 40 or more veterans died as a result.

"The story has taken on its own truth," Davis said with exasperation in his voice.

Many in the media are taking the death toll number as gospel truth, but at least one probing reporter, Brian Skoloff of The Associated Press, probed into the sources of it. One was Dr. Samuel Foote, who, before retiring from the Phoenix hospital, was repeatedly reprimanded for taking Fridays off. Another employee raising the concerns had been fired last year and has a pending wrongful termination suit against the hospital.

"What we want is the (VA Office of Inspector General) report, and we know it won't come out until August," said Davis. "Do you want it good, or do you want it now?"

The hospital's administrators vehemently deny the allegations. Director Sharon Helman is now under police protection after receiving numerous death threats.

No surprise, given such hysterical and uncorroborated headlines as this one by CNN: "Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list."

Here's a sturdy spark to send the fringe right's manic hatred of government into high boil once again. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, summed up the situation nicely when he said: "What I don't want to see is this issue politicized by these same folks who don't like Social Security, they don't like Medicare, they don't like Medicaid, they don't like the Postal Service."

Too late, Bernie. Too late.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Roy Sanborn - A record-setting Winnispeaukee waterfront sale

There were seven Winnipesaukee waterfront sales in April at an average price of $2.05 million, compared to 10 last April at an average sales price of $805,588. The big news is that a record was set for the highest residential sale ever in New Hampshire and it was right here on Lake Winnipesaukee at 144 Springfield Point in Wolfeboro! Think about that for a moment, the most expensive properties in the state are right here on Winnipesaukee. That's pretty impressive, but so was this property!
This Arts and Crafts style home was built in 2006 and has won numerous architectural awards. The home encompasses 37 rooms equaling 17,300-square-feet of exquisitely done, but not over done, space to create a very livable lake front home.

The home features beautiful wood flooring, fine wood details including rich wood paneling, massive columns, and curved wood moldings on the ceiling that echo the curved tower staircase that leads up two more levels. The center of the home is the two story, open concept great room featuring a thirty foot stone fireplace, cathedral ceilings, beautiful moose motif light fixtures, multiple sitting areas, and a wall of glass facing the lake. The gourmet kitchen features every imaginable high end appliance known to man, a pantry, a dining service room, a breakfast bar as well as an informal dining area with views of the lake.

The sumptuous first floor master has a gas fireplace, hardwood floors, access to the outside deck, a luxurious bath, and a master laundry room. This is one of five luxury suites that make up a total of eight bedrooms, two of which are in a separate guest wing complete with its own kitchen, dining, and living room. There is also an eight bed bunk room up on the third floor with built in bunks, storage closets and drawers. Of course you have an office, four season room, indoor spa room, exercise room, a wine cellar, sauna, indoor and outdoor grilling areas, and not one but three elevators. It even has a dedicated X-box room (?) and a huge movie theater with tiered floors, plush seating that reclines electronically, a massive 110-inch theater screen, and a custom speaker system.

Down on the lower level is the World's Ultimate Mancave with a full bar plus dedicated areas for poker, darts, game tables, and of course a pool table. And if that isn't enough for the man of the house, there is a six bay heated garage and workshop area complete with an automobile lift, custom cabinetry, and heated floors. And, there's plenty of room for watercraft in the 3,800-square-foot three bay boat house. The home sits on a 7.1 acre exquisitely landscaped lot with 841-feet of frontage.

This home was listed at $9,999,998 and sold for $8,975,000 after 342 days on the market. My hat goes off to Jodi Hughes at Prudential Spencer Hughes in Wolfeboro who marketed and sold this tremendous property. The bar has been raised on the big lake!

There were no sales on Winnisquam last month, but Squam posted one at 59 Squam Lake Road in Holderness. This year round, circa 1923 lake cottage is the quintessential lakeside retreat. It has a grand living room with high ceilings, exposed beams, knotty pine walls, and a brick fireplace. Just off the living room is a classic enclosed front porch overlooking the lake. There are four bedrooms and four baths in the main home plus a two bedroom apartment for your chauffeur over the three car garage (we all have a chauffeur, right?) The house sits on a private 2.2 acre lot with 280 ft of frontage. This home was listed at $1.125 million and sold for $945,000 after 45 days on the market. It has an assessed value of $826,630.

Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of 5/13/14. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Pat Buchanan - A left-right convergence?

Last summer, in this capital of gridlock, a miracle occurred. The American people rose as one and told the government of the United States not to drag us into another Middle East war in Syria.

Barack Obama was ready to launch air and missile strikes when a national uproar forced him to go to Congress for authorization. Congress seemed receptive until some Hill offices were swarmed by phone calls and emails coming in at a rate of 100-1 against war.

Middle America stopped the government from taking us into what even the president now concedes is "somebody else's civil war."

This triumphal coming together of left and right was a rarity in national politics. But Ralph Nader, in "Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State," believes that ad hoc alliances of left and right to achieve common goals can, should, and, indeed, shall be our political future.

To call this an optimistic book is serious understatement.

Certainly, left and right have come together before.

In "Those Angry Days," Lynne Olson writes of how future presidents from opposing parties, Gerald Ford and John F. Kennedy, backed the America First Committee to keep us out of war in 1941, and how they were supported by the far-left Nation magazine as well as Colonel Robert McCormick's right-wing Chicago Tribune.

Two decades ago, Ross Perot and this writer joined Ralph and the head of the AFL-CIO to stop NAFTA, a trade deal backed by America's corporate elite and its army of mercenaries on Capitol Hill.

Congress voted with corporate America — against the country. Result: 20 years of the largest trade deficits in U.S. history. Transnational corporations have prospered beyond the dreams of avarice, as Middle America has seen its wages frozen for a generation.

In 2002, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry joined John McCain and George W. Bush in backing war on Iraq. Teddy Kennedy and Bernie Sanders stood with Ron Paul and the populist and libertarian right in opposing the war. The Mises Institute and The American Conservative were as one with The Nation in opposing this unprovoked and unnecessary war.

The left-right coalition failed to stop the war, and we are living with the consequences in the Middle East, and in our veterans hospitals.

As America's most indefatigable political activist since he wrote "Unsafe at Any Speed" in 1965, Ralph is calling for "convergences" of populist and libertarian conservatives and the left — for 25 goals. Among these are many with an appeal to the traditionalist and libertarian right:

— Break up "Too Big to Fail" banks. Further direct democracy through use of the initiative, referendum and recall.

— End unconstitutional wars by enforcing Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress alone the power to declare war.

— Revise trade agreements to protect U.S. sovereignty. End "fast track," those congressional surrenders of constitutional authority to amend trade treaties negotiated by the executive.

From the subtitle, as well as text, of his most recent book, one may instantly identify whom it is Ralph sees as the main enemy. It is megabanks and transnational corporations without consciences whose highest loyalty is the bottom line, the kind of men Jefferson had in mind when he wrote: "Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains."

Where such men see a $17 trillion economy, we see a country.

Undeniably, there has been a growing gap and a deepening alienation between traditional conservatives and those Ralph calls the "corporate conservatives." And it is not only inside the conservative movement and the GOP that the rift is growing, but also Middle America.

For America never voted for NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, mass immigration, amnesty, or more H-1Bs to come take the jobs of our workers. These votes have been forced upon members of Congress by leaders carrying out their assignments from corporate America and its PACs, which reward the compliant with campaign checks.

Both parties now feed at the same K Street and Wall Street troughs. Both have oligarchs contributing tens of millions to parties and politicians who do their bidding.

In 1964, a grassroots conservative movement captured the Republican Party and nominated Barry Goldwater. In 1972, a grassroots movement of leftist Democrats nominated George McGovern.

Neither movement would today survive the carpet-bombing of big money that would be called in if either came close to capturing a national party, let alone winning a national election.

Because they have principles and visions in conflict, left-right alliances inevitably fall out and fall apart. Because they are almost always on opposite sides of disputed barricades, it is difficult for both to set aside old wounds and grievances and come together.

A social, moral, and cultural divide that did not exist half a century ago makes it all the more difficult. But if the issue is keeping America out of unnecessary wars and restoring American sovereignty, surely common ground is not impossible to find.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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