July 31, 2020

Tracking the anti-science wave: Commentary on the roots of distrust

Distrust in science is widespread in the United States. Perhaps the solution is to have scientists more openly involved in politics.

April 20, 2020

What has covid done to 4-20 and CBD marketing?

"CBD companies have had to adapt marketing strategies as the COVID-19 pandemic has developed. The pandemic and the associated practice of social distancing have overtaken today, 20th April or 4/20, the biggest promotional day for cannabis, which also affects pure CBD companies..."

November 25, 2019

US hemp crops going to rot and waste for lack of access to processing

(Paywalled) American hemp farmers are facing devastating crop rot due to a lack of processing ability and limited access to financial measures...

May 10, 2019

Former US diplomats help war criminals escape justice

The revolving doors between a government functionary or an elected official and flunky for hire are not just a problem for us in this country, and the impact of this spinning egress is not restrained by borders.

August 25, 2018

The Collapse of the UN?

In the Trump era, the UN finds itself at a crossroads. According to one high ranking functionary, it may face collapse.

April 20, 2019

Trump's Yemen Vengeance

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump used the second veto of his presidency when he discarded a Congressional resolution that would have ended US support for war crimes in Yemen. To call the veto a “painful missed opportunity” as did Ro Khanna, one of the bill’s sponsors in the House, is to undersell it.

November 23, 2018

Sudan's Botched Facelift

One of the most wretchedly underreported “global interest” stories to have arisen over the past few years is the agonized uptrend of Sudan.

May 02, 2019

The fall of Omar al-Bashir and Sudan's Interregnum

Actually written about two weeks before publication. The fall of Omar al-Bashir doesn't guarantee democracy, let alone the launch of a new African or Arab "spring".

April 30, 2019

FDA gives the green light for IQOS roll-out onto the US market

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced it has given approval for Philip Morris International (PMI)’s IQOS in the US, along with its associated consumables. As hammered home by last year’s financial results, PMI has turned to smoke-free products to secure its future. So far, the heated tobacco category has done quite well for PMI, internationally.

May 02, 2019

IQOS reaction: 'Approval works for PMI, but what about the little guy?'

Altria and PMI may be able to profit from the first mover advantage in the US market, but the PMTA process may not hold such promise for medium or small players in the vape industry. As Azim Chowdhury says, the industry may look “completely different” in a couple of years.

April 16, 2019

US attorney general favours bid to let states decide cannabis and CBD policy

Enforcement against the CBD industry below federal level in the US appears to be taking place for a variety of unrelated reasons, including THC levels in products, state-level prohibitions, or action by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Much of that confusion, as well as some skittishness around the industry, is partly due to the lack of federal guidance. And the federal state of affairs is itself somewhat tangled. For the industry to really bloom this will need to be ironed out.

Attorney general Barr appears to be pushing for a policy solution from Congress, which he hopes will provide him with a “federal framework”. While Barr’s support for the Cole Memo was more lukewarm than resounding, his support for a unified federal framework and apparent willingness to support something like the STATES Act has encouraged the industry.

It also shows that the Justice Department has shifted its ground since Sessions was in charge.

June 16, 2018

Nikki Haley's South Sudan Plan

Ambassador Haley’s comments were supposed to press the efforts to defibrillate the peace talks, which had previously and heartbreakingly flat-lined, in Ethiopia. However, this move may have also served a double purpose: building the case for intervention and serving the more local interests of the US ambassador. Regardless of intent, the administration has opened the way for a regime change option in this chaotic stretch of East Africa.

May 18, 2018

Trump Wrecks the South Sudan Peace Deal

Last week, the White House issued a statement on the prolonged civil war in South Sudan, threatening to pull the ripcord on US assistance because of the “non-inclusiveness” of the South Sudanese leadership. The threats must register with some irony to the South Sudanese.

January 11, 2018

The Ghost of General Franco: How the Catalan bid for independence entered purgatory

The corpse of Franco might be said to haunt Spain’s national politics, in much the same way as the impression left by the National Socialist party still hovers over other members of the Eurozone. In Catalonia, which is one of the richest regions of Spain, this has had an almost empirical effect.

October 26, 2017

Europe's Death Dance: What the Catalonian referendum means for European Unity and the US

In a short period, nationalist and separatist movements have received a nervous rush of energy, leaving its proponents relevant in a way that seemed almost impossible or comical a couple years ago. The noisy and unpleasant fringe has forced itself to the forefront. In its response to this crisis, Spain has proven itself not only a threat to regional unity but to pan-Europeanism itself.

April 29, 2019

Altria Q1 results reveal slowdown in vapour, further fall in combustibles

According to executives for Altria, who presented the results on a conference call on Thursday morning, these results are as expected, meaning that the 2019 plan is “on track”, and that Altria remains “best positioned among our peers for long-term growth and leadership across a variety of future scenarios.” Clearly, in the face of declining combustible sales, the bet for Altria is on its long-term investments like Juul, Cronos, and the marketing agreement for IQOS. For its part, BAT seems to recognize this shift as well, and is continuing to make moves into non-combustibles.

February 01, 2019

The future is not in combustibles, as Altria’s sales continue to decline

Altria’s general estimates for combustibles through 2023 indicate a persistent annual volume decline for the combustibles industry in the US of about 4-5%. The future of Altria lies outside combustibles and the company has sunk billions into investments in “other” categories such as vapour and cannabis. It is banking on the returns for these investments sustaining the company’s growth in the near future. Meanwhile, Altria remains poised to take advantage of the IQOS launch in the US, should the product receive federal approval soon.

Some of the disappointing vapour returns are probably linked to Altria killing off its vapour brands MarkTen and Green Smoke in response to the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) comments about youth uptake. In the long run, since those products had failed to capture a large share of the US market, investment into Juul will probably more than makeup for that loss.

January 25, 2018

Vape startups turn to cannabis in the face of Attorney General's opposition

Vape startups appear to have begun refocusing the way they present their products in a bid to capture the cannabis industry. Eschewing the once-prominent “for tobacco only” message, companies developing vaping gear have found it easier to raise capital for cannabis-based ventures than for those based on e-cigarettes or tobacco.

August 17, 2017

Shackles eased, but bricks-and-mortar retail in the US is still risky

 Uncertainty still hounds the US vapour industry, though the FDA’s recent partial deadline extension has energised and encouraged large parts of it. Launching a vape store or expanding on one seems harder now than it was a few years ago. The industry is by no means stagnant, however, and the temporary relaxation of the deeming regulations may give fresh encouragement to those who were previously deterred by the tough requirements on retailers.

November 06, 2017

Ads draw the battle lines for vaping industry

These contrasting campaigns draw up the battle lines for the next generation of advertising around e-cigarettes. The FDA hopes to keep youth from smoking, by expanding the “Real Cost” campaign. Blu hopes to use customers’ stories to show that their products transform lives in offering the “Something Better” campaign. You pay your money and you take your choice.

January 08, 2018

Could homeless smokers be given e-cigs free to help them quit?

clinical trial in Ottawa seeks to find out if nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are more effective than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and counseling in combatting tobacco dependence in the inner city.

July 20, 2017

FDA’s age verification app appears to have little real-world application

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is hoping technology will help to solve the problem of youth access to tobacco and e-cigarettes.

May 23, 2017

How far can - and will- Trump and Gottlieb go in easing regulations for the vaping industry?

For the vaping industry, the election of Donald Trump as president, with a Republican-controlled Congress, raised questions as to whether this would augur a more friendly approach to e-cigarettes in the US.

April 06, 2017

Is Apple going into the vaping business? Don’t you believe it!

Speculation that tech giant Apple is preparing to enter the vaping sector appears to be well wide of the mark.

January 09, 2017

What does slow motion genocide look like?

Sitting in a dirty land cruiser, making conversation with a government-friendly-driver, I nervously watch the mounted machine guns on the trucks ahead of us. (The delegation comes bearing a message of peace, and surrounded by guns.)

March 26, 2015

State Impotence and Gender Equality in South Sudan

The promises of the South Sudanese constitution and the auspices of the UN have not been enough to ensure gender equality in the region. This is the result of three main failures...

June 20, 2013

Orwell's Bastards: '1984' and National Security

When Orwell proclaimed that, as a phrase: “We hold these truths to be self-evident”, was untranslatable into Newspeak, he was wrong. At the least, as a metaphor, the US’ inclination towards a domestic policy of increasing pursuit of the totalitarian- in the sense of the desire to control every aspect of- turns this concept into an exercise in the facile. This isn’t strictly confined to the recent P.R.I.S.M. scandal either. Rather, it is an impulse of American security action and the progression of it. This embedded pulse which threads the majority of this type of American policy is that of social engineering.

December 01, 2015

Billionaire, Bombast, Bigot: Or, A melange of loosely connected thoughts on the Donald, his appeal and the UK’s prospective ban.

Donald J. Trump, reality star turned political ascendant, clearly has a talent for dusting up outrage. Catcalls of “racist” and “xenophobe” and “fascist,” though more true than not, have done little to roll back Trump’s lead in the polls. His rivals need an equally ludacrious strategy. Perhaps run Paris Hilton for president? 

Published in the independent journal the Wolfian in 12/15.

June 26, 2015

Love and Stuffiness: In defense of Obergfell

This year’s June 26th Obergfell v. Hodges decision has introduced several interrelated and previously little acknowledged questions of principle. 

May 01, 2013

Maggie: let's not temper opinions-- A Margaret Thatcher obit

Margaret Thatcher, the now late “Lady,” picked an especially good time to die. The release of Iron Lady such a short time ago, with Meryl Streep humanizing Britain’s sectarian princess, did its part to inspire a more humane appearance than the caricatures being used to portray her now. And it is just far enough from the 2008 financial crash for her acolytes to brush aside the claim that it was her policies that directly led to the crash. Far enough from Britain’s recovery to make revision plausible, in fact easy. Far enough from her career to leave handfuls of young impressionables upon which history may be imprinted.

December 23, 2015

Diverse Iowa Crowd Welcomes Sanders

At a rally Monday evening at the Sioux City Convention Center, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders tore into Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

December 18, 2015

Gunsmith opens doors in Le Mars

In an innocuous-looking building at 100 1/2 Plymouth Street NW rests a cache of guns, each lovingly tended by Andrew Schmitz. 

October 11, 2014


The claim, simply stated, is that W&M is mistreating potentially suicidal students: privileging its own reputation over its students well being.  In this attempt to save face, the student is sacrificed to keep clean the school’s visage.  In effect, if not exactly intention, this amounts to an ethical failure on the part of the College.

March 21, 2014

William & Mary in Blackface

The smashing of James Blair’s miniature not too long ago left this school’s founding racist without a nose.  Although he is often touted out as a man of grace and otherworldly dignity, he was a bigot.

October 25, 2013


It was the Wednesday before last that me and the editor of this paper took a trip down to the Carrot Tree’s Williamsburg locale and were informed that the small eatery had received a call from a news syndicate inquiring as to how the proprietor, Glenn Helseth, was doing in lock up.

November 05, 2013

For Your Information: Notes on the Libertarian candidate in VA.

The following paragraphs enclose a few things that you might want to know so that you can cast Tuesday’s ballot with gusto.

September 17, 2013

If you want to experience the bizarre, you need not do more then walk Jamestown Road.​

August 01, 2012

Is Summer too short for school kids?

How to deal when summer feels just too short.

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