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Governor Nelson Rockefeller surprised his own staff with his dramatic shift on drug policy.
Governor Nelson Rockefeller surprised his own staff with his dramatic shift on drug policy.

How the Rockefeller drug laws changed America

Forty years ago this month, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller launched his campaign for what came to be known as the Rockefeller drug laws.

Rockefeller demanded tough prison sentences, even for low-level drug dealers and addicts. It was an idea that quickly spread, influencing state and Federal law across the US.

In the decades since, the nation's prison population has grown seven-fold -- with more than two million men and women now behind bars.

Over the next year, North Country Public Radio will be looking at ways the Rockefeller laws changed America -- from their impact on race relations to the growth of a booming prison industry here in the North Country.

We're calling it the Prison Time Radio Project. We start our series by going back to the beginning, when Americans were demanding solutions to a heroin epidemic that was scarring urban neighborhoods.  Go to full article
US Army photo of women training for combat. Photo: <a href=""></a>

Soldiers welcome news on women in combat, with some reservations

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that a ban on women serving in combat roles in the military will be lifted over the coming years.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called it a proud day for our country. She issued a statement, noting that she fought for a Defense Department feasibility report on lifting the ban.

She writes, "This decision finally opens the door for more qualified women to excel in our military and advance their careers, and obtain all of the benefits they have earned."

And, officially recognizing women in combat "will strengthen our country both morally and militarily."

Around heavily-deployed Fort Drum, soldiers generally welcomed the news - with some caveats.  Go to full article
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Karen DeWitt

Does the minimum wage hike stand a chance this time?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed raising the minimum wage as part of his budget plan, even though the increase would not cost New York state any money.

It's a strategy that could make it easier for the proposal to become law.  Go to full article
Bumblebee pollinating blueberries. Photo: <a href="">Athena Rayne Anderson</a>, CC <a href="">some rights reserved</a>

Natural Selections: Native pollinators

With the collapse of the population of the European honeybee, introduced to North America in colonial times, many growers are looking for aids in pollinating their crops. But...  Go to full article