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Google robots may pose challenge to Amazon drones Google has revealed it has taken over seven robotics companies in the past half a year and has begun hiring staff to develop its own product.
A spokesman confirmed the effort was being headed up by Andy Rubin, who was previously in charge of the Android operating system.
The spokesman was unwilling to discuss what kind of robot was being developed.
But the New York Times reports that at this stage Google does not plan to sell the resulting product to consumers.
Schaft Google has hired a team of Japanese engineers who make humanoid robots
Instead, the newspaper suggests, Google's robots could be paired with its self-driving car research to help automate the delivery of goods to people's doors.
It notes the company has recently begun a same-day grocery delivery service in San Francisco and San Jose, called Google Shopping Express. (BBC)
The internet mystery that has the world baffled For the past two years, a mysterious online organisation has been setting the world's finest code-breakers a series of seemingly unsolveable problems. But to what end? Welcome to the world of Cicada 3301 - One evening in January last year, Joel Eriksson, a 34-year-old computer analyst from Uppsala in Sweden, was trawling the web, looking for distraction, when he came across a message on an internet forum. The message was in stark white type, against a black background.
“Hello,” it said. “We are looking for highly intelligent individuals. To find them, we have devised a test. There is a message hidden in this image. Find it, and it will lead you on the road to finding us. We look forward to meeting the few that will make it all the way through. Good luck.”
The message was signed: "3301”.
A self-confessed IT security "freak” and a skilled cryptographer, Eriksson’s interest was immediately piqued. This was – he knew – an example of digital steganography: the concealment of secret information within a digital file. Most often seen in conjunction with image files, a recipient who can work out the code – for example, to alter the colour of every 100th pixel – can retrieve an entirely different image from the randomised background "noise”. (London Telegraph)
Officials warn of dangers associated with earwax marijuana -- One former user: 'The dabs can take you' Dubbed pot’s most powerful high, earwax marijuana – also known as “dabs,” “honey oil,” or “butter” – has become a growing problem in the Sacramento region, according to drug addiction specialists.
Earwax was a name given for its yellowish color and texture.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the drug in marijuana that induces a high. While pot contains roughly 20 percent THC, earwax – which is butane hash oil – can contain up to 80 percent of it, making it a lot more potent.
Hundreds of YouTube videos show people smoking the substance.
“It literally took me down. I didn’t fall, but I got to the ground pretty darn quickly,” said one 23-year-old former smoker. “Within a couple of minutes, the high started and you start to feel like you’re going out of your body.” (NBC)
West Coast Evacuation Due To Fukishima Radiation Possible Nuclear Engineer Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, confirmed that ocean currents are carrying the radioactive water to the West Coast.
"There are several hundred tons of radioactive water that are pouring into the ocean at the site every day," Makhijani said.
According to a study published in the Journal Deep Sea Research 1, it will begin arriving this March. But Makhijani says there's no need to panic. The radiation will be diluted, and levels found on the West Coast are very low and not considered dangerous so far. But the question is, will we really know? (ABC)
For First Time, Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana -- Support surged 10 percentage points in past year, to 58% For marijuana advocates, the last 12 months have been a period of unprecedented success as Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana. And now for the first time, a clear majority of Americans (58%) say the drug should be legalized. This is in sharp contrast to the time Gallup first asked the question in 1969, when only 12% favored legalization.
Americans' Views on Legalizing Marijuana
Public support for legalization more than doubled in the 1970s, growing to 28%. It then plateaued during the 1980s and 1990s before inching steadily higher since 2000, reaching 50% in 2011.
A sizable percentage of Americans (38%) this year admitted to having tried the drug, which may be a contributing factor to greater acceptance.
Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans' tolerance for marijuana legalization. Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating. Last week, California's second-highest elected official, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that pot should be legal in the Golden State, and advocates of legalization are poised to introduce a statewide referendum in 2014 to legalize the drug.
The Obama administration has also been flexible on the matter. Despite maintaining the government's firm opposition to legalizing marijuana under federal law, in late August Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced the Justice Department would not challenge the legality of Colorado's and Washington's successful referendums, provided that those states maintain strict rules regarding the drug's sale and distribution.
The movement to legalize marijuana mirrors the relatively recent success of the movement to legalize gay marriage, which voters have also approved now in 14 states. Public support for gay marriage, which Americans also overwhelmingly opposed in the past, has increased dramatically, reaching majority support in the last two years. (Gallup)
Teen LSD Party In Mill Valley Turns Into Marin County Blood Ritual An all-night, LSD-fueled party in Mill Valley, California went wildly out of control early Sunday morning, requiring law enforcement officers from no less than five nearby towns to bring everyone back down to earth.
Things started to turn south around 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning, when paramedics received a call that a boy had started suffering from seizures after taking acid. EMTs from the Southern Marin Fire District arrived at the scene to find a 16-year-old boy covered in blood and using "superhuman strength" to block their entrance. The boy became increasingly violent until the paramedics called for backup, bringing in everyone from the Marin County Sheriff's Department to Mill Valley and Tiburon police. A second call for help brought in additional officers from around the area. (SFist)
Industrial hemp is legal in California After being stuck in legislative limbo for 14 years, industrial hemp is now a sanctioned agricultural crop in the state of California.
The California Industrial Hemp Farming Act (SB 566) was signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown, after years of deliberation dating back to 1999, a process that included multiple gubernatorial vetoes. The freshly signed law will allow approved California residents to grow hemp for industrial purposes by reclassifying the once-felonious plant as a "fiber or oilseed crop."
SB 566, a bill championed since 2005 by Sen. Mark Leno (D), defines industrial hemp as the "nonpsychoactive types of the plant Cannabis saliva L. and the seed produced therefrom, having no more than 3/10 of 1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) contained in the dried flowering tops."
In simpler terms: It doesn't protect marijuana, but rather marijuana's less mind-bending cousin, which is far more useful as a raw industrial material.
"We are very pleased to have the signature," Sen. Leno told the Guardian. "It's been a 10-year effort to get here. It's a job still, but [the passing of SB 566] will help sustain family farms in California for the future and likely create more job opportunities. Hemp is a $500 million a year industry in California, and it's growing at 10 percent annually." (San Francisco Bay Guardian)
Marijuana investors commit more than $1 million after Denver meeting A medical marijuana grower works at his site at a rented Denver metro area warehouse in this November, 2010 file photo. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)
Denver council passes historic retail marijuana rules and regulations
Federal government seeks banking solution for marijuana businesses
Colorado first state in country to finalize rules for recreational pot
Denver police defend decision to stand down during marijuana giveaway
Feds seek to legalize marijuana industry banking
Long line, but no hassles for free pot giveaway at Civic Center
Former Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer now in the pot regulation game
A Denver meeting of a marijuana industry investment group resulted in more than $1 million in new money being pumped into cannabis businesses, the group announced Wednesday.
Troy Dayton, the CEO of The ArcView Group, said members of the group's investor network are still sealing deals after Tuesday's meeting at the Denver Athletic Club, but he said the total invested is expected to be "well over $1 million." In addition, the investment group's members also raised $22,000 for flood relief, which Dayton said will be donated to the Lyons Community Foundation through a special fund-raising effort set up by the marijuana industry. (Denver Post)
Confirmed: Navy Yard Shooter Was On Anti-Depressant Trazodone -- Drug linked to previous mass shooting despite Washington Post declaring it "safe" It has been confirmed that Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis was on the anti-depressant drug Trazodone, providing yet another example of a connection between psychiatric drugs and mass shootings.
In verifying that Alexis was prescribed Trazodone by the Veterans Affairs Office, the Washington Post published a brief article downplaying the danger of the drug, quoting Miami physician Gabriela Cora who stated (almost too eagerly), “Honestly, it’s a very safe drug to use.”
However, the drug has been linked to a number of murders, including one mass shooting.
Trazodone is sold under the brand names Desyrel, Oleptro, Beneficat, Deprax, Desirel, Molipaxin, Thombran, Trazorel, Trialodine, Trittico, and Mesyrel. Although not strictly a member of the SSRI class of antidepressants, it shares many of the same properties and also serves to increases the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Despite the Washington Post’s attempts to portray the drug as being safe, it is linked with a whole host of side-effects including suicidal tendencies, panic attacks, depersonalization and anger. Symptoms of Trazodone withdrawal include aggression and violent behavior. (Prison Planet)
THE FUTURE OF EMPLOYMENT: HOW SUSCEPTIBLE ARE JOBS TO COMPUTERISATION? Abstract: We examine how susceptible jobs are to computerisation. To as-sess this, we begin by implementing a novel methodology to estimate the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations, using a
Gaussian process classifier. Based on these estimates, we examine expected impacts of future computerisation on US labour market outcomes, with the primary objective of analysing the number of jobs at risk and the relationship between an occupation’s probability of computerisation, wages and educational attainment. According to our estimates, about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk. We further provide evidence that wages and educational attainment exhibit a strong negative relation-
ship with an occupation’s probability of computerisation. Keywords:Occupational Choice, Technological Change, Wage Inequality, Employment, Skill Demand (Oxford University)
U.S. Attorneys Say Marijuana Memo Won't Affect Their Anti-Pot Work In my Forbes column last week, I cited reasons to doubt the Justice Department's newfound respect for state marijuana laws—in particular, its fork-tongued record on medical marijuana. Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority notes several recent comments from U.S. attorneys that reinforce the case for skepticism. The gist of their reaction to Deputy Attorney General James Cole's August 29 memo, which was widely interpreted as a green light for legalization in Colorado and Washington, is that they plan to proceed pretty much as before. Here is what a spokeswoman for Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, had to say (emphasis added here and later):
The office is evaluating the new guidelines and for the most part it appears that the cases that have been brought in this district are already in compliance with the guidelines. Therefore, we do not expect a significant change.
That is pretty telling, since Haag's crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries has been one of the most aggressive in the country, featuring the closure of city-supported outlets in San Francisco and a forfeiture action aimed at shutting down Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the state's largest dispensary. In a February 2011 letter to Oakland's city attorney, Haag declared, "We will enforce the [Controlled Substances Act] vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law." (Reason)
Taken -- Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? On a bright Thursday afternoon in 2007, Jennifer Boatright, a waitress at a Houston bar-and-grill, drove with her two young sons and her boyfriend, Ron Henderson, on U.S. 59 toward Linden, Henderson’s home town, near the Texas-Louisiana border. They made the trip every April, at the first signs of spring, to walk the local wildflower trails and spend time with Henderson’s father. This year, they’d decided to buy a used car in Linden, which had plenty for sale, and so they bundled their cash savings in their car’s center console. Just after dusk, they passed a sign that read “Welcome to Tenaha: A little town with BIG Potential!”
They pulled into a mini-mart for snacks. When they returned to the highway ten minutes later, Boatright, a honey-blond “Texas redneck from Lubbock,” by her own reckoning, and Henderson, who is Latino, noticed something strange. The same police car that their eleven-year-old had admired in the mini-mart parking lot was trailing them. Near the city limits, a tall, bull-shouldered officer named Barry Washington pulled them over.
He asked if Henderson knew that he’d been driving in the left lane for more than half a mile without passing.
No, Henderson replied. He said he’d moved into the left lane so that the police car could make its way onto the highway.
Were there any drugs in the car? When Henderson and Boatright said no, the officer asked if he and his partner could search the car.
The officers found the couple’s cash and a marbled-glass pipe that Boatright said was a gift for her sister-in-law, and escorted them across town to the police station. In a corner there, two tables were heaped with jewelry, DVD players, cell phones, and the like. According to the police report, Boatright and Henderson fit the profile of drug couriers: they were driving from Houston, “a known point for distribution of illegal narcotics,” to Linden, “a known place to receive illegal narcotics.” The report describes their children as possible decoys, meant to distract police as the couple breezed down the road, smoking marijuana. (None was found in the car, although Washington claimed to have smelled it.)
The county’s district attorney, a fifty-seven-year-old woman with feathered Charlie’s Angels hair named Lynda K. Russell, arrived an hour later. Russell, who moonlighted locally as a country singer, told Henderson and Boatright that they had two options. They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services. (The New Yorker)
A Shuffle of Aluminum, but to Banks, Pure Gold Hundreds of millions of times a day, thirsty Americans open a can of soda, beer or juice. And every time they do it, they pay a fraction of a penny more because of a shrewd maneuver by Goldman Sachs and other financial players that ultimately costs consumers billions of dollars.
The story of how this works begins in 27 industrial warehouses in the Detroit area where a Goldman subsidiary stores customers’ aluminum. Each day, a fleet of trucks shuffles 1,500-pound bars of the metal among the warehouses. Two or three times a day, sometimes more, the drivers make the same circuits. They load in one warehouse. They unload in another. And then they do it again.
This industrial dance has been choreographed by Goldman to exploit pricing regulations set up by an overseas commodities exchange, an investigation by The New York Times has found. The back-and-forth lengthens the storage time. And that adds many millions a year to the coffers of Goldman, which owns the warehouses and charges rent to store the metal. It also increases prices paid by manufacturers and consumers across the country.
Tyler Clay, a forklift driver who worked at the Goldman warehouses until early this year, called the process “a merry-go-round of metal.”
Only a tenth of a cent or so of an aluminum can’s purchase price can be traced back to the strategy. But multiply that amount by the 90 billion aluminum cans consumed in the United States each year — and add the tons of aluminum used in things like cars, electronics and house siding — and the efforts by Goldman and other financial players has cost American consumers more than $5 billion over the last three years, say former industry executives, analysts and consultants.
The inflated aluminum pricing is just one way that Wall Street is flexing its financial muscle and capitalizing on loosened federal regulations to sway a variety of commodities markets, according to financial records, regulatory documents and interviews with people involved in the activities. (New York Times)
The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements Nutrition experts contend that all we need is what's typically found in a routine diet. Industry representatives, backed by a fascinating history, argue that foods don't contain enough, and we need supplements. Fortunately, many excellent studies have now resolved the issue. - On October 10, 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn't. Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer. "It's been a tough week for vitamins," said Carrie Gann of ABC News.
These findings weren't new. Seven previous studies had already shown that vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease and shortened lives. Still, in 2012, more than half of all Americans took some form of vitamin supplements. What few people realize, however, is that their fascination with vitamins can be traced back to one man. A man who was so spectacularly right that he won two Nobel Prizes and so spectacularly wrong that he was arguably the world's greatest quack.
In 1931, Linus Pauling published a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society titled "The Nature of the Chemical Bond." Before publication, chemists knew of two types of chemical bonds: ionic, where one atom gives up an electron to another; and covalent, where atoms share electrons. Pauling argued that it wasn't that simple -- electron sharing was somewhere between ionic and covalent. Pauling's idea revolutionized the field, marrying quantum physics with chemistry. His concept was so revolutionary in fact that when the journal editor received the manuscript, he couldn't find anyone qualified to review it. When Albert Einstein was asked what he thought of Pauling's work, he shrugged his shoulders. "It was too complicated for me," he said.
For this single paper, Pauling received the Langmuir Prize as the most outstanding young chemist in the United States, became the youngest person elected to the National Academy of Sciences, was made a full professor at Caltech, and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was 30 years old. (The Atlantic)
Snowden's surveillance leaks open way for challenges to programs' constitutionality The recent disclosure of U.S. surveillance methods is providing opponents of classified programs with new openings to challenge their constitutionality, according to civil libertarians and some legal experts.
At least five cases have been filed in federal courts since the government’s widespread collection of telephone and Internet records was revealed last month. The lawsuits primarily target a program that scoops up the telephone records of millions of Americans from U.S. telecommunications companies.
Such cases face formidable obstacles. The government tends to fiercely resist them on national security grounds, and the surveillance is so secret that it’s hard to prove who was targeted. Nearly all of the roughly 70 suits filed after the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping was disclosed in 2005 have been dismissed.
But the legal landscape may be shifting, lawyers say, because the revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor and the principal source of the leaks, forced the government to acknowledge the programs and discuss them. That, they say, could help plaintiffs overcome government arguments that they lack the legal standing to sue or that cases should be thrown out because the programs are state secrets. A federal judge in California last week rejected the government’s argument that an earlier lawsuit over NSA surveillance should be dismissed on secrecy grounds. (Washington Post)
Peaceful Protester Tasered Outside DOJ While Demanding Wall Street Prosecutions (VIDEO) Carmen Pittman had no intention of becoming an activist, but her bank, the Department of Justice and Occupy Atlanta turned her into one. Shortly before her grandmother died in 2011, the family realized that JPMorgan Chase was preparing to foreclose. HuffPost interviewed her late that year for a story on Occupy Atlanta and found a bewildered and desperate 21-year-old, talking about her childhood home in the past tense.
"My every Christmas, my every Thanksgiving, my every birthday, my every dinner was in this house," Pittman said then of a home that had been in her family since 1953. "This was the base home. We could not stay away from this home. This home is my every memory."
A year later, she won the house back from Chase. During the course of her fight, she was arrested for sitting on the floor of a local Chase branch and refusing to leave until the bank turned over the deed.
On Tuesday, she was camped out in front of the Department of Justice in Washington, having been fully transformed into an activist by her experience, asking why more Pittmans have been arrested related to the foreclosure fraud crisis than top Wall Street executives. She was answered with a stun gun.
The video above shows three large men surrounding Pittman as she tries to cover her face. Abruptly, an officer tasers her, and she crumples to the ground before being hauled off and arrested. (Huffington Post)
This Marijuana Security Firm Struck Gold After Solving One Of The Toughest Problems In Legalization Canna Security America, led by Dan Williams, might be the furthest thing you think of when you hear the term "marijuana business."
For years, Williams and his partners worked for Envision, a firm that created the security systems at places as mundane as Chipotle Mexican Grill.
But after striking off on their own, Williams and his partners have become the go-to firm for the installation of security systems in marijuana dispensaries across Colorado.
The firm is so good that state legislators writing up regulations for the marijuana business asked Williams and his associates to weigh in on what a pot shop really needs to remain secure.
Security is one of the most crucial pieces of the marijuana industry puzzle. Legalization can only work if the business becomes legitimized and the product is removed from the black market trade.
So without top-tier security systems at every stage of the process, the entire legalization process could break down. (Business Insider)
Boston Marathon bombings fuel conspiracy theories, speculation of false flag operations Within minutes of the fatal bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon, self-described "truthers" erupted worldwide across the Internet with conspiracy theories about the crime.
Their efforts to find sinister machinations in the tragedy seem, well, conspiratorial.
Maybe it was that guy supposedly spotted on the roof overlooking the marathoners' route, or disgruntled taxpayers, or the writers of the animated TV series "The Family Guy," or, of course, the federal government running another "false flag" operation to seize people's civil rights.
PHOTOS: 15 Boston Marathon bombing conspiracy theories (http://bit.ly/12nn6C8)
Front and center is conspiracy entrepreneur Alex Jones. An Austin, Texas-based writer, radio talk-show host and owner of the conspiracy site Infowars.com, he says the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre was a government plot. Within hours of the Boston explosions, Jones used a "falseflag" hashtag on Twitter to say: "Our hearts go out to those that are hurt or killed at the Boston marathon -- but this thing stinks to high heaven."
Another conspiracy writer attended Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's Tuesday morning press briefing in Boston to ask: "Is this another false-flag attack staged to take our civil liberties?" He was dismissed with a perfunctory "no."
A false flag, which was first a trick by 18th-century naval captains who'd hoist flags of other nations when approaching an enemy vessel, now is used to describe an attempt to hide the identity of the person or group responsible for an operation. (NBC)
Defense Department Saves National Guard WMD Unit That Helped in Boston The U.S. Defense Department was poised as recently as last month to dismantle a National Guard crisis team that assisted in the emergency response to the bombings at Monday's Boston Marathon.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on March 29 informed lawmakers in writing of plans to dismantle the New York-based 24th National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, as well as a similar WMD unit housed in Florida, House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.) said on Tuesday. The units were to cease operations by late June, Hagel said in a letter that did not offer a reason for the decision.
Members of the New York team "responded to the Boston Marathon bombings," where twin blasts killed three people and wounded close to 200 near the end of the course, Young said.
The Pentagon move, now reversed, would have been at least the second attempt to eliminate the two teams as a cost-saving method. New York and Florida both have two of the full-time units that would provide assistance to civil authorities following a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear incident. California also has two, while other U.S. states and territories are alloted one team. (Global Security Newswire)
Industry: Drones Could Have Helped Boston Marathon Bombing Responders ~ Monday's bombing has left at least three people dead Unmanned aircraft, or drones, could have been a boon to law enforcement and first responders in the aftermath of Monday's Boston Marathon bombing that has left at least three dead, according to the president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
"UAS could be an important tool in the tool kit for first responders in the event of an emergency," says Michael Toscano, president of the industry's largest organization. "Whether it is in response to a natural disaster or a tragedy like we saw in Boston, UAS can be quickly deployed to provide first responders with critical situational awareness in areas too dangerous or difficult for manned aircraft to reach."
Monday's bombing killed three people and injured dozens more. On the police scanner in the aftermath of the attack, first responders discussed grounding a helicopter because it needed to refuel. Multiple drones would theoretically solve that problem. (US News & World Report)
"Innocent" Saudi has ties to several Al-Qaeda Terrorists A couple of weeks ago we warned America about the very serious problem of Saudi infiltration; many of these Saudi nationals are criminals and terrorists.
After the bombings, a Saudi by the name of Abdul Rahman Ali Al-Harbi was hospitalized and became a ‘suspect’, then a ‘person of interest’. His apartment was searched by federal and local authorities. No confirmation has been given so far to his involvement. The Media were quick to claim his innocence, of course.
This brings us to the Boston marathon bombings. Foreign Policy is reporting that he’s ‘no longer a person of interest’, which means he’s “innocent”, right?
Perhaps a quick look at the Arabic sources should raise the eyebrows of every American relative to the extent of the problem at hand. Many from Al-Harbi’s clan are steeped in terrorism and are members of Al-Qaeda. Out of a list of 85 terrorists listed by the Saudi government shows several of Al-Harbi clan to have been active fighters in Al-Qaeda:
#15 Badr Saud Uwaid Al-Awufi Al-Harbi
#73 Muhammad Atiq Uwaid Al-Awufi Al-Harbi
#26 Khalid Salim Uwaid Al-Lahibi Al-Harbi
#29 Raed Abdullah Salem Al-Thahiri Al-Harbi
#43 Abdullah Abdul Rahman Muhammad Al-Harbi (leader)
#60 Fayez Ghuneim Humeid Al-Hijri Al-Harbi (Walid Shoebat)
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom calls for legalizing pot Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called for the legalization of marijuana on Saturday.
“It’s time to decriminalize, tax and regulate marijuana,” he told delegates at the California Democratic Party convention. “It’s time we own up to the fact that our drug laws have done far more harm than good. The war on drugs is an abject failure.”
Newsom, who is known to have an eye on higher office, poked fun at the fact that he is the state’s acting governor because Gov. Jerry Brown is in China on a trade mission. (Los Angeles Times)
Feds' Marijuana Fishing Expedition Called Off in Mendocino County Well, here's some superficially good news.
The feds' precedent-setting fishing expedition into Mendocino County's legal medical marijuana growers' program has been significantly narrowed in scope. No personal identifying information from the County's famed 9.31 program will be released to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and her office. It sounds like some good news for Emerald Triangle growers who had come out of the cold to be a part of the Sheriff's Office program - which permitted medical marijuana gardens of up to 99 plants with registration, inspection and fees.
A Northern California marijuana garden
Back in October Haag's office sent out a chilling subpoena to the County demanding pretty much everything on 9.31: names and locations of pot gardeners, county bank records, "any and all" legal correspondence, etc. The grand jury subpoena stepped all over medical record privacy laws, and the attorney client privilege, lawyers in the case noted.
Instead of rolling over on its growers, the County stood tall in December, retaining a San Francisco lawyer to fight the subpoena. The county's counsel made a motion to quash the subpoena, but a hearing on that motion never occurred as both parties talked it out in private.
Tuesday, Mendocino Supervisor John McCowen wrote to a group of affected parties that the county had reached an agreement with the rogue U.S. Attorney.
"An agreement has been reached which voids the need for further court action," he wrote. "No personal identifying information will be reported to the U.S. Attorney." (East Bay Express)
California NDAA Nullification Bill Passes Assembly Committee Unanimously Today, the California Public Safety Committee voted unanimously in favor of Assembly Bill 351 (AB351), the California Liberty Preservation Act.
Introduced by Republican Assemblymember Tim Donnelly, AB351 is a strong stand against “indefinite detention” as supposedly authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. It declares such federal power to be unconstitutional and also requires the entire state to refuse to enforce or assist its implementation. A broad coalition officially supported the legislation and moved the normally partisan, and strongly democratic committee to support the republican-introduced legislation. AB351 was supported by the ACLU, Tenth Amendment Center, San Francisco 99% coalition, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Libertarian Party of California – and many others.
AB351 establishes the proper constitutional role by first citing the 10th Amendment as limiting the power of the federal government as to that which has been delegated to it and nothing more.
The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution authorizes the United States federal government to exercise only those powers specifically delegated to it in the United States Constitution.
It then declares the indefinite detention powers under NDAA to be unconstitutional:
Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) codifies indefinite military detention without charge or trial of civilians captured far from any battlefield, violating the United States Constitution and corroding our nation’s commitment to the rule of law (Tenth Amendment Center)
As marijuana goes legit, investors rush in Pot entrepreneurs have high expectations for a future market in legalized marijuana. - Medicinal marijuana markets:
For the first time, a majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana. Commercial marijuana sales are estimated at $1.5 billion today which could quadruple by 2018. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow its medical use. - Brendan Kennedy and Michael Blue are nice boys. Really. They're bankers. Yale MBA classmates. Wearers of ties.
And, if luck and changing laws cooperate, they'll be drug barons of a certain kind.
Kennedy, 40, and Blue, 34, are in the vanguard springing up to seize the market for legal marijuana, which is accelerating with last fall's legalization of most personal pot consumption in Colorado and Washington state. They're running a Seattle private-equity fund, Privateer Holdings, designed to buy up the smaller marijuana-related businesses to create one bigfat one.
After Washington and Colorado, the pot business is, if not mainstream, at least ready to push toward it. Advocates hope to legalize personal use in another 14 states by 2017, mostly among the 16 states besides Washington and Colorado where medical pot is legal (it's also legal in Washington, D.C.). Industry estimates say today's $1.5 billion legal market could quadruple by 2018.
The public is trending toward legalization. In a Pew Research Center poll released Thursday, a majority of Americans (52%) favored legalization, the first time that threshold has been reached since polling on the issue began in 1969. (USA Today)
NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.
Scientists at the University of California, Irvine; NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., found during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.
The findings, to be published Friday, Feb. 15, in the journal Water Resources Research, are the result of one of the first comprehensive hydrological assessments of the entire Tigris-Euphrates-Western Iran region. Because obtaining ground-based data in the area is difficult, satellite data, such as those from NASA's twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, are essential. GRACE is providing a global picture of water storage trends and is invaluable when hydrologic observations are not routinely collected or shared beyond political boundaries.
"GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. "The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws." (National Aeronautics And Space Administration)
Christopher Dorner Manhunt: Police Search For Ex-Los Angeles Officer In Alleged Murder, Cop Killing A fired police officer who threatened to bring "warfare" to the Los Angeles Police Department went on a shooting rampage that left a policeman and two others dead and set off an extraordinary manhunt that had three states and Mexico on alert for much of Thursday.
The search for Christopher Dorner led hair-trigger officers to mistakenly shoot at innocent citizens and forced police to guard their own.
But the focus of police efforts shifted Thursday afternoon to the snowy mountains around Big Bear Lake, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, where police found Dorner's burned-out pickup truck and tracks leading away from the vehicle.
San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said 125 officers were going door to door and attempting to track the suspect, and that a SWAT team was providing added security to those in the community. Schools were put on lockdown while investigators examined the vehicle and spread out across the area. (Huffington Post)
The War on Drugs Is a "Miserable Failure" A large crowd packed the pews of the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. After a deacon introduced such VIP guests as Representatives Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and John Lewis (D-Georgia), the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and actor Danny Glover, Pastor Wallace Charles Smith set the stage for the afternoon's program.
"One of the biggest problems facing this nation and much of the world is the drug epidemic," said Smith. "It doesn't seem like this nation has made it a real priority. As long as there is the demand there will be someone who will supply it."
Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight, Freakonomics) told the crowd that he considers the War on Drugs a "primary human rights issue." On hand to screen an abridged version of his 2012 film The House I Live In (which took the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance), Jarecki said the day’s program was "bookended by two momentous occasions, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday and Barack Obama's inauguration, which includes a swearing in on Dr. King’s bible."
Jarecki added, "I consider [the War on Drugs] the unfinished work of the Civil Rights Movement."
"Amens" rang out from the crowd.
"The Drug War and its extraordinary injustice to people of color must end," said Jarecki. "I don’t just want it on the radar, I want it flashing defcon red. The War on Drugs as we know it has failed so miserably that who can defend it?" (National Geographic)
Sonoma County leads in 'spare the air' complaints Sonoma County apparently is the biggest wood-burning air polluter in the Bay Area during no-burn days, and this year the regional air quality police is cracking down more than ever.
Last year, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District received 409 wood-burning complaints from Sonoma County neighborhoods. Inspection patrols, many stemming from such complaints, resulted in 110 wood-burning violations, the most of any county in the nine-county district, officials said.
Patrick Oster of Buck Pools and Spas in Santa Rosa is reflected in the glass front of a gas fireplace, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)
Across the Bay Area district, there were 3,777 complaints and 346 violations, with most violators receiving a warning letter. But this winter, the district is no longer issuing warnings. Instead, first-time violators will be given the option of paying a $100 fine or taking a smoke awareness course online or by mail. (Watch Sonoma County)
Feds won't stop targeting medpot outlets Though San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has ordered city officials to stop targeting medical marijuana outlets for prosecution and code compliance, don’t expect federal authorities to take the same position.
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Tuesday that while she is open to meeting with the new mayor on the subject, selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
“I take my guidance from the attorney general of the U.S., and he from the president,” Duffy said during an interview with the U-T San Diego editorial board. “And thus far, that direction is, we are going to enforce the Controlled Substances Act.”
That law classifies marijuana as an illegal drug.
Duffy’s comments came five days after Filner ordered city code enforcement officers to halt actions against medical marijuana dispensaries and for police to stop referring such cases to city prosecutors. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
California school practiced new lockdown drill minutes before shooting Minutes before a gunman walked into a California high school, students and teachers had been practicing what to do if the school came under an attack.
"Just 10 minutes before it happened, our teachers were giving us protocol because of what happened in Connecticut," Oscar Nuno, a student at Taft High School said.
A 16-year-old student armed with a shotgun walked into his first period science class Thursday and opened fire, wounding a classmate he claimed had bulled him. Video surveillance shows the suspect entering the building through a side door.
He fired two more rounds at students, reportedly missing a second target, as they fled the class, and then faced a well-liked teacher Ryan Heber, MyFoxLA.com reported.
"I don't want to shoot you," he told Heber as the teacher tried to convince the student to put down the gun.
Police credit Heber with causing enough of a distraction to allow a majority of the students to escape the classroom through a back door unharmed. (Fox)
Filner halts medpot crackdown -- Federal crackdown not affected by mayor's action Mayor Bob Filner ordered a halt Thursday to the prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, using his power as strong mayor to direct police and code compliance officers to stop targeting the pot shops.
The decision came two days after Filner spoke before the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group for medical marijuana. Filner criticized law enforcement’s crackdown on dispensaries and identified City Attorney Jan Goldsmith as an official that “has not been, what shall I say, very helpful.” He promised the group he would talk to the police chief, noting he could hire or fire him, and intimidate Goldsmith into backing off.
Goldsmith responded Wednesday with a letter to Filner that “you could have achieved your goal in less than 30 seconds.” The mayor has sole authority over civil actions against dispensaries because they involved code-enforcement violations, which are under his purview, the city attorney explained. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Judge in San Francisco lets biggest medical pot shop stay open A federal magistrate judge on Monday ruled that a medical-marijuana dispensary that bills itself as the world's largest can continue to operate, at least for now, in Oakland and San Jose despite a bid by federal prosecutors to shut it down.
The ruling marks the latest move in a tug-of-war between local and federal authorities over medical marijuana dispensaries and over Harborside Health Center, which was featured on the Discovery Channel reality TV show "Weed Wars." (Reuters)
3-D Printing: Technology May Bring New Industrial Revolution 3-D printing technology, used industrially for the last few decades, is poised to break into the mass market. Its endless and swiftly developing possibilities -- from entrepreneurial manufacturing to the potential sculpting of human organs -- could become the next industrial revolution. - When the TV series Star Trek first brought the starship Enterprise into German living rooms, the concept of a replicator was pure science fiction, a fantastical utopian vision we might experience one day centuries in the future. Replicators, something of a mixture between computer and miniature factory, were capable of creating food and replacement parts from next to nothing. They were highly practical devices, since Captain Kirk couldn't exactly take along a lot of supplies for his journeys through outer space. That futuristic vision, though, has receded far into the past -- overtaken by the present. (Der Spiegel)
US Mass Shootings, 1982-2012: Data From Mother Jones' Investigation -- The full data set from our five-month investigation into mass shootings. Since we began our investigation into mass shootings following the attack in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012, we've heard from numerous academic researchers, legislative aides, and others wanting access to our full data set. Here it is below, including links to sources where available. You can also download this data in CSV, XLS, or TXT formats, or click here for the Google spreadsheet view. (Unfortunately, the embedded version below does not support expanding the cells to see the full text in some places, but you can access it these other ways.)
For more context, analysis, and links to the series of stories from our five-month investigation, see "The NRA Myth of Arming the Good Guys" and our guide to mass shootings in America. (Mother Jones)
John Noveske's Last Facebook Post Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold's medical records have never been made available to the public.
Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather's girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.
Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.
Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.
Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.
A boy in Pocatello, ID (Zoloft) in 1998 had a Zoloft-induced seizure that caused an armed stand off at his school.
Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..
A young man in Huntsville, Alabama (Ritalin) went psychotic chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.
Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.
TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.
Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.
James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.
Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania
Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California
Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.
Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.
Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.
Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.
Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.
Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.
Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.
Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.
Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter, age 12, was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara's parents said ".... the damn doctor wouldn't take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil...")
Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,
(Gareth's father could not accept his son's death and killed himself.)
Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family's detached garage.
Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.
Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.
Woody ____, age 37, committed suicide while in his 5th week of taking Zoloft. Shortly before his death his physician suggested doubling the dose of the drug. He had seen his physician only for insomnia. He had never been depressed, nor did he have any history of any mental illness symptoms.
A boy from Houston, age 10, shot and killed his father after his Prozac dosage was increased.
Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and "other drugs for the conditions."
Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.
Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.
Jon Romano, age 16, on medication for depression, fired a shotgun at a teacher in his
New York high school.
Missing from list... 3 of 4 known to have taken these same meds....
What drugs was Jared Lee Loughner on, age 21...... killed 6 people and injuring 14 others in Tuscon, Az
What drugs was James Eagan Holmes on, age 24..... killed 12 people and injuring 59 others in Aurora Colorado
What drugs was Jacob Tyler Roberts on, age 22, killed 2 injured 1, Clackamas Or
What drugs was Adam Peter Lanza on, age 20, Killed 26 and wounded 2 in Newtown Ct
Roberts is the only one that I haven't heard about being on drugs of some kind. (Facebook)
FBI Documents Reveal Secret Nationwide Occupy Monitoring (See the released documents here) FBI documents just obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) pursuant to the PCJF’s Freedom of Information Act demands reveal that from its inception, the FBI treated the Occupy movement as a potential criminal and terrorist threat even though the agency acknowledges in documents that organizers explicitly called for peaceful protest and did “not condone the use of violence” at occupy protests.
The PCJF has obtained heavily redacted documents showing that FBI offices and agents around the country were in high gear conducting surveillance against the movement even as early as August 2011, a month prior to the establishment of the OWS encampment in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy actions around the country.
“This production, which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protestors organizing with the Occupy movement,” stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF). “These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.” (Partnership for Civil Justice Fund)
Ford's Gift to Engineers: MakerBot 3D Printers Ford Motor (F) has caught the DIY revolution and now puts 3D printers at workstations for its engineers. Furthermore, the car company plans to put the smaller MakerBot replicators at every engineer’s desk in the coming months. Ford pitches this as its commitment to engineering, but I see it as the future of distribution if the desktop replicator technology follows the path taken before it by the minicomputer and then the PC.
Here’s the Ford video showing an employee talking about using 3D printers for prototype designs of a gearshift.
A Ford spokesman told me that while it’s tough to give an exact count of the number of employees who have the 3D printers, the company has multiple locations at the company’s Dearborn (Mich.) headquarters where hundreds of engineers have access. And at the carmaker’s Silicon Valley Lab in Palo Alto, Calif., all employees have Makerbots. The most popular areas they are in use today at Ford are in the Vehicle Design and Infotronics group. (Business Week)
Marijuana, Not Yet Legal for Californians, Might as Well Be -- Stigma Fading Marijuana Common in California Let Colorado and Washington be the marijuana trailblazers. Let them struggle with the messy details of what it means to actually legalize the drug. Marijuana is, as a practical matter, already legal in much of California.
No matter that its recreational use remains technically against the law. Marijuana has, in many parts of this state, become the equivalent of a beer in a paper bag on the streets of Greenwich Village. It is losing whatever stigma it ever had and still has in many parts of the country, including New York City, where the kind of open marijuana use that is common here would attract the attention of any passing law officer.
“It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users,” said Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor. “These are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.” (New York Times)
Medical pot dispensary shuttered by feds reopens in Berkeley One of the East Bay's largest medical marijuana dispensaries reopened here Wednesday down the street from its former location that was closed in May under pressure from the federal government.
Berkeley Patients Group, which at one time boasted 10,000 members but now declines to give numbers, reopened at 2366 San Pablo Avenue. It's former location at 2747 San Pablo Avenue was closed after the federal government threatened to seize the property from the owner if it did not close because it was too close to two nearby schools.
Since May, the dispensary has run a delivery service but has not had a storefront. One of three dispensaries licensed by Berkeley to do business in commercial zones, the group this year is celebrating 12 years. (Oakland Tribune)
27 Science Fictions That Became Science Facts In 2012 We may never have our flying cars, but the future is here. From creating fully functioning artificial leaves to hacking the human brain, science made a lot of breakthroughs this year. - 1. Quadriplegic Uses Her Mind to Control Her Robotic Arm
Quadriplegic Uses Her Mind to Control Her Robotic Arm
At the University of Pittsburgh, the neurobiology department worked with 52-year-old Jan Scheuermann over the course of 13 weeks to create a robotic arm controlled only by the power of Scheuermann's mind.
The team implanted her with two 96-channel intracortical microelectrodes. Placed in the motor cortex, which controls all limb movement, the integration process was faster than anyone expected. On the second day, Jan could use her new arm with a 3-D workspace. By the end of the 13 weeks, she was capable of performing complex tasks with seven-dimensional movement, just like a biological arm.
To date, there have been no negative side effects. (Buzz Feed)
Bill Would Study Impact of Violent Video Games on Children -- Rockefeller introduces proposal as a response to Sandy Hook tragedy The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary has triggered calls for more than just gun regulation, putting violent video games and programming again in the spotlight. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) introduced a bill today that calls for the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and violent video programming on children.
As chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, Rockefeller has some pull in getting his bill before it. This bill could see immediate action because he is "hot lining" it, meaning that if no one objects it goes up for a vote on the floor. (Ad Week)
Obama: I've got 'bigger fish to fry' than pot smokers In an interview with ABC News, President Obama told Barbara Walters that recreational pot smoking in states that have legalized the drug is not a major concern for his administration.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said of marijuana smokers in Colorado and Washington, the two states where recreational use is now legal.
“It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” he said.
Going after individual users has never been part of federal policy. But under Obama, the Drug Enforcement Administration has aggressively gone after medical marijuana dispensaries in California, where they are legal. In September, federal officials raided several Los Angeles shops and sent warnings to many more. (Washington Post)
Obama's Pot Problem: Now that states have started legalizing recreational marijuana, will the president continue the government’s war on weed? When voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in November, they thought they were declaring a cease-fire in the War on Drugs. Thanks to ballot initiatives that passed by wide margins on Election Day, adults 21 or older in both states can now legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana. The new laws also compel Colorado and Washington to license private businesses to cultivate and sell pot, and to levy taxes on the proceeds. Together, the two states expect to reap some $600 million annually in marijuana revenues for schools, roads and other projects. The only losers, in fact, will be the Mexican drug lords, who currently supply as much as two-thirds of America's pot.
Drug reformers can scarcely believe their landslide victories at the polls. "People expected this day would come, but most didn't expect it to come this soon," says Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief who campaigned for legalization. "This is the beginning of the end of prohibition."
But the war over pot may be far from over. Legalization has set Colorado and Washington on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has shown no sign of backing down on its full-scale assault on pot growers and distributors. Although the president pledged to go easy on medical marijuana – now legal in 18 states – he has actually launched more raids on state-sanctioned pot dispensaries than George W. Bush, and has threatened to prosecute state officials who oversee medical marijuana as if they were drug lords. And while the administration has yet to issue a definitive response to the two new laws, the Justice Department was quick to signal that it has no plans to heed the will of voters. "Enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act," the department announced in November, "remains unchanged." (Rolling Stone)
High-Speed Passenger Rail, Preliminary Assessment of California's Cost Estimates and Other Challenges, GAO-13-163T Based on an initial evaluation of the California High Speed Rail Authority's (Authority) cost estimates, GAO found that they exhibit certain strengths and weaknesses when compared to best practices in GAO's Cost Guide. Adherence with the Cost Guide reduces the risk of cost overruns and missed deadlines. GAO's preliminary evaluation indicates that the cost estimates are comprehensive in that they include major components of construction and operating costs. However, they are not based on a complete set of assumptions, such as how the Authority expects to adapt existing high-speed rail technology to the project in California. The cost estimates are accurate in that they are based on the most recent project scope, include an inflation adjustment, and contain few mathematical errors. And while the cost estimates' methodologies are generally documented, in some cases GAO was unable to trace the final cost estimate back to its source documentation and could not verify how certain cost components, such as stations and trains, were calculated. - "...insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions of improved performance under SPP (Screening Partnership Program) when compared to federal screening services." (Government Accountability Office)
Grandfather grieves teenage grandson killed by U.S. drone Two years ago, Nasser al-Awlaki wrote a letter to President Obama. His request was simple: Please do not kill my son.
He never got a response. Last September, his son, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born al Qaeda leader, was killed by a U.S. drone in a remote area of Northern Yemen. Two weeks later, his 16-year-old grandson, Anwar’s son, was also killed, in a separate U.S. strike hundreds of miles away.
“Anwar, it was expected, because he was … targeted,” Nasser al-Awlaki told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “But how in the world they will go and kill Abdulrahman, a small boy, a U.S. citizen, from Denver, Colorado?”
Nasser’s son, Anwar, was born in New Mexico in 1971 while he was studying for his master’s degree. The family moved back to Yemen, but Anwar returned to the U.S. for college, and became an imam in California. (American Civil Liberties Union)
Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US Today EFF posted several thousand pages of new drone license records and a new map that tracks the location of drone flights across the United States.
These records, received as a result of EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come from state and local law enforcement agencies, universities and—for the first time—three branches of the U.S. military: the Air Force, Marine Corps, and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Military Drone Flights in the United States
A160 Hummingbird DroneWhile the U.S. military doesn’t need an FAA license to fly drones over its own military bases (these are considered “restricted airspace”), it does need a license to fly in the national airspace (which is almost everywhere else in the US). And, as we’ve learned from these records, the Air Force and Marine Corps regularly fly both large and small drones in the national airspace all around the country. This is problematic, given a recent New York Times report that the Air Force’s drone operators sometimes practice surveillance missions by tracking civilian cars along the highway adjacent to the base. (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
The 10 Things That Led to Legalized Marijuana in Colorado (by Rob Kampia) In the wake of our victory in Colorado -- where 54.8 percent of the voters passed Amendment 64, a constitutional amendment to regulate marijuana like alcohol -- good people are understandably clamoring to pass similar measures in their states.
Here is a listing of the ingredients of the recipe that led to the historic victory in Colorado on November 6.
1. Presidential Election: Given that no one had ever previously legalized marijuana in the history of the world, we assumed that the election in Colorado would be close -- win or lose. So we intentionally chose to place our initiative on the ballot during a presidential election, which always attracts a larger proportion of young voters, who are more supportive.
2. Inclusive Drafting Process: The team that drafted the initiative went out of its way to solicit feedback from key lawyers, medical-marijuana industry players, other organizational leaders, and unaffiliated activists. As a result, there was almost no infighting, which allowed us to build a strong coalition of support across the state.
3. Years of Groundwork: Officially, the Colorado campaign was two years long; unofficially, it was eight years long. In 2004, MPP's grants program helped launch two non-profit advocacy organizations in Colorado, SAFER and Sensible Colorado. The executive directors of these two organizations eventually became the co-proponents of Amendment 64. SAFER focused on educating the public about the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol; it did so through citywide, marijuana-related ballot initiatives in Denver in 2005 and 2007, which each garnered support from a majority of Denver voters. In 2006, SAFER coordinated a statewide ballot initiative to legalize marijuana and generated substantial debate in Colorado (while garnering 41 percent of the vote). Meanwhile, Sensible Colorado helped expand access to medical marijuana for patients. Most significantly, in 2008, Sensible Colorado spearheaded a court challenge to expand the state's medical marijuana "caregiver" provision to allow for retail sales. All of this took planning and money. (The Huffington Post)
Sacramento City Council outlaws outdoor cultivation of medicinal pot in Sacramento neighborhoods Following a statewide trend, the Sacramento City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday night outlawing the outdoor cultivation of medicinal marijuana in residential neighborhoods.
After nearly an hour of testimony, the council followed through on a vote last month signaling its intent to join Elk Grove and other cities around California that are placing tighter restrictions on marijuana cultivation. The council voted 6-2 to enact the ban.
Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, the chief proponent of the ban, said outdoor cultivation had led to crime and fear in her northern Sacramento district.
"I think that people have a right to a quality of life," she said.
Councilman Kevin McCarty added, "The current situation is not working in our neighborhoods."
But Councilmen Steve Cohn and Jay Schenirer – who voted against the ordinance – urged the council to delay adopting the law until it was more thoroughly vetted. (Sacramento Bee)
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