The marijuana debate, a judge's plea and readers' thoughts
May 17th, 2012
12:39 PM ET

The marijuana debate, a judge's plea and readers' thoughts

Ahead of a New York state bill that would recognize marijuana for medical purposes, a state supreme judge with cancer writes in its favor in a recent New York Times op-ed.

Gustin L. Reichbach, a justice of the New York State Supreme Court, has spent the last three and a half years battling pancreatic cancer and says inhaled marijuana is his only relief.

In his op-ed advocating legitimate clinical use of marijuana, he writes:

This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.

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Topics: Debate • Drugs • Reader Comments
December 27th, 2011
11:17 AM ET

Debate: Should Yemen's president be allowed into the U.S.?

The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has decided "in principle" to allow Yemen's embattled president Ali Abdullah Saleh to enter the United States for medical treatment.

Do you think Saleh should be allowed into the U.S.  Let us know through the (unscientific) poll below:

For more information on Yemen and the debate that raged in the White House, read on: FULL POST

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Topics: Debate • Yemen
Singer: Should we ban cigarettes?
(Getty Images)
November 14th, 2011
08:25 PM ET

Singer: Should we ban cigarettes?

Editor's Note: Peter Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His books include Animal LiberationPractical EthicsThe Ethics of What We Eat, and The Life You Can Save. For more from Singer, visit Project Syndicate's website, or check it out on Facebook and Twitter.

By Peter Singer

U.S. President Barack Obama’s doctor confirmed last month that the president no longer smokes. At the urging of his wife, Michelle Obama, the president first resolved to stop smoking in 2006, and has used nicotine replacement therapy to help him. If it took Obama, a man strong-willed enough to aspire to and achieve the U.S. presidency, five years to kick the habit, it is not surprising that hundreds of millions of smokers find themselves unable to quit.

Although smoking has fallen sharply in the U.S., from about 40% of the population in 1970 to only 20% today, the proportion of smokers stopped dropping around 2004. There are still 46 million American adult smokers, and smoking kills about 443,000 Americans each year. Worldwide, the number of cigarettes sold – six trillion a year, enough to reach the sun and back – is at an all-time high. Six million people die each year from smoking – more than from AIDS, malaria, and traffic accidents combined. Of the 1.3 billion Chinese, more than one in ten will die from smoking. FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • Debate • Global • Health • Ideas
November 9th, 2011
06:20 AM ET

Debate: How to shut down Iran's nuclear program?

CNN reports:

The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a critical report Tuesday saying that it has "serious concerns" about Iran's nuclear program and has obtained "credible" information that the Islamic republic may be developing nuclear weapons.

The IAEA report, the most detailed to date on the Iranian program's military scope, found no evidence that Iran has made a strategic decision to actually build a bomb. But its nuclear program is more ambitious and structured, and more progress has been made than previously known.

What do you think the international community should do? The following is not a scientific poll:

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Topics: Debate • Iran • Nuclear
October 26th, 2011
02:00 AM ET

Debate: What's the best system for electing U.S. presidents?

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Topics: Debate • Elections
October 25th, 2011
02:00 AM ET

Debate: Would a flat tax be better for the U.S.?

Topics: Debate • Poll
October 11th, 2011
09:05 PM ET

Debate: Should Israel release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit?

Israel and Hamas leaders said Tuesday they have brokered a deal to swap roughly 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas more than five years ago. FULL POST

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Topics: Debate • Israel • Palestinian Authority
October 8th, 2011
10:00 AM ET

Debate: Should cigarette breaks be deducted from working hours?

Editor's Note: The following article comes from Worldcrunch, an innovative, new global news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. This article was originally published in Le Figaro.

By Fabrice Amedeo, Worldcrunch

Should cigarette breaks be deducted from working hours? The debate rages on in France, where a few companies have begun requiring  employees to take their ID cards off when heading outside for a puff, and put them on again when returning to their desks.

The issue has come up in other parts of Europe as well. This past summer the registry office in Florence, Italy began docking smokers for their frequent breaks. And as of this week, civil servants in Walloonia, the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium, are also being obliged to deduct their cigarette breaks.

“The rule is that whenever you go out or in the building, you have to clock out and clock in,” Hugo Poliart, a spokesman for the Walloon regional administration, announced on Monday. FULL POST

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Topics: Debate • Health
Debate: Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?
October 3rd, 2011
05:25 PM ET

Debate: Should there be a tax on foods high in saturated fats?

By Jack Cafferty, CNN

Hold that cheeseburger. Across the pond in Europe, Denmark is becoming the first country in the world to impose a so-called fat tax on foods high in saturated fats. That includes everything from cheeseburgers and pizza to butter, milk, cheese and oils. Many Danes stocked up on these yummy groceries before the tax went into effect his weekend. How much the "fat tax" is depends on how much saturated fat is in any given food, but it comes out to about $3 for every 2 pounds of saturated fat. Officials say the goal is to increase the average life expectancy in Denmark, since saturated fats can cause heart disease and cancer. FULL POST

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Topics: Debate • Global • Health
September 28th, 2011
01:44 PM ET

Debate: Can democracy solve your problems?

There's an interesting article over in The New York Times about how young people around the world are scorning the democratic system:

Here's an excerpt from the NYT article:

Hundreds of thousands of disillusioned Indians cheer a rural activist on a hunger strikeIsrael reels before the largest street demonstrations in its history. Enraged young people in Spain and Greece take over public squares across their countries. FULL POST

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Topics: Debate
September 23rd, 2011
04:33 PM ET

Debate: Is it time to veto the U.N. veto?

By Ishaan Tharoor, TIME

The fitful Palestinian approach to the U.N. Security Council will be, as all have known for a long time, stillborn. The near certainty of a U.S. veto in defense of Israeli interests has made the Palestinian gambit for statehood recognition more about ritual symbolism than any real process. This when, according to a BBC poll, the majority of global public opinion is firmly behind recognizing a separate, sovereign Palestinian state. The U.S. veto, wielded in opposition to a generally-held international consensus, is then perhaps the most unilateral gesture one can make at the world's most multilateral institution.

Why in the 21st century should anybody still have the right to do this? FULL POST

September 20th, 2011
09:25 AM ET

Debate: Should gay marriage be legal?

Gallup polled the nation in May 2011. Take a look at the results:

FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • Debate • Law • Sex
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