NewsOK: Commission pushes to ease drug terms to free jail space — The Legislature will vote next year on new funding for state prisons.

The Oklahoma Sentencing Commission on Thursday approved a list of reforms it says lawmakers should consider in the coming months to ease prison overcrowding.

Reforms include dropping mandatory life sentences for drug trafficking, rethinking penalties for drug offenses and removing the governor from most parole decisions. . .

That was the good news. I know it will be very hard to get these reforms passed, but boy do we need them. (it is amazing to me that you can LIFE in prison in Oklahoma for growing one marijuana plant — what a waste of tax dollars and of lives)

CNN: Japan rolls back pacifist pillars

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Japan’s conservative government chipped away at two pillars of the country’s postwar pacifism, requiring schools to teach patriotism and upgrading the Defense Agency to a full ministry for the first time since World War II.

The measures, enacted Friday in a vote by Parliament’s upper house, form key elements of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to bolster Japan’s international military role, build up national pride and distance the country from its post-1945 war guilt. . .

The call for more patriotism in the schools coincides with a push by some local governments to crack down on teachers and students who refuse to stand for the national flag or sing an anthem to the emperor at school ceremonies. . .

Good heavens, if you read this story it is definitely a step backwards for Japan. I do hope though that many brave students and teachers continue to defy the orders to participate in patriotic exercises like these, and frankly I wish more folks would do that in the USA. Actions like saying the pledge of allegiance help to soften the populace to accept more and more levels of tyranny and oppression, and serve to reinforce the idea that the nation has the right to prevail over one’s own conscience. This is why I refuse to say the pledge of allegiance, because I don’t owe anyone my ultimate allegiance except God.