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Dollar

Legal pot sales begin in Colorado

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© Walter Hickey/Business Insider
A gleaming white Apple store of weed is how Andy Williams sees his new Denver marijuana dispensary.

Two floors of pot-growing rooms will have windows showing the shopping public how the mind-altering plant is grown. Shoppers will be able to peruse drying marijuana buds and see pot trimmers at work separating the valuable flowers from the less-prized stems and leaves.

"It's going to be all white and beautiful," the 45-year-old ex-industrial engineer explains, excitedly gesturing around what just a few weeks ago was an empty warehouse space that will eventually house 40,000 square feet of cannabis strains.

As Colorado prepares to be the first in the nation to allow recreational pot sales, opening Jan. 1, hopeful retailers like Williams are investing their fortunes into the legal recreational pot world - all for a chance to build even bigger ones in a fledgling industry that faces an uncertain future.

Officials in Colorado and Washington, the other state where recreational pot goes on sale in mid-2014, as well as activists, policymakers and governments from around the U.S. and across the world will not be the only ones watching the experiment unfold.

So too will the U.S. Department of Justice, which for now is not fighting to shut down the industries.

Ice Cube

Icebound Antarctic passengers face air rescue if ship cannot reach them soon

© Laurence Topham for the Observer
Passengers aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy, the ship stuck in ice off the coast of Antarctica since Christmas Day, were told on Sunday morning they would have to be evacuated by air if icebreaker ships could not get to them within 48 hours.

The Russian-operated ship has about 50 passengers - including scientists and paying members of the public - and 20 crew on board. It became stuck in the ice near Cape de la Motte in east Antarctica, abouit 1,500 nautical miles from Hobart in Tasmania, after strong blizzards hit the vessel on Christmas Eve. Surrounding pack ice was pushed by strong winds against the Antarctic landmass, pinning the Shokalskiy in place.

On Friday, the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long tried to battle through the thick ice towards the Shokalskiy but had to turn back after 12 hours and within 8.5 nautical miles of the Russian vessel, because the going was too difficult. The Aurora Australis will arrive at the edge of the sea ice, which is about 20 nautical miles from the Russian ship, in the early hours of Monday local time (about 1pm Sunday GMT).

"What we're depending on is the extra grunt of the Aurora Australis," said Greg Mortimer, co-leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE), which has chartered the ship. "It's a more traditional icebreaker hull, which is like a bathtub with a big engine inside it - it can push over the ice and lay down on top and work its way like that."

Arrow Down

Texas judge claims he strangled girlfriend to 'save her life'

© WFAA
A Texas county judge was arrested last week after he was accused of dragging his girlfriend by her hair and strangling her - but he claims he did it to save her life.

KHOU reported that police responded to a disturbance at about 2 a.m. on Saturday morning and a woman who said that she was Dallas County State District Judge Carlos Raul Cortez's girlfriend said that the two had been in a fight over a child's medication.

According to a police report, the responding officer observed red marks on the woman's neck. "[The woman] ... pulled down the portion of her blouse which covered her neck and showed several red marks," the police report noted. "The red marks were clearly visible and appeared to encompass the majority of her neck."

The 26-year-old woman said that she and 44-year-old Cortez had been drinking for several hours before the altercation occurred.

Sherlock

Three theories for crash of Antonov An-12 cargo plane, killing all nine on board

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© Rossiya 1 TV, Vesti program
The plane was 1 km from the runway when it disappeared from radars.
Pilot error, technical malfunction and bad weather are all possible causes checked by investigators.

The Soviet-built turboprop plane was close to the limit of its 20,000 hour design airframe life, according to the Moscow-based Interstate Aviation Committee.

It was 130 hours short of this maximum, it was reported. The aircraft fell on warehouses at a military unit outside Irkutsk, causing a fire but no casualties on the ground, said officials.

The An-12 plane, owned by the Irkut Research and Production Corporation, was carrying aircraft components from Novosibirsk to Irkutsk. It crashed at about 21:45, local time, (16:45 Moscow) on Thursday near Batareinaya station of the East Siberian railway during its landing approach.

The plane was 1 km from the runway when it disappeared from radars. On board were six crew and three others, described in some reports as aircraft technicians.

Arrow Down

Elderly Florida man arrested for breaking wife's hip after she catches him on dating website

Police in Lake Worth, Florida arrested a 76-year-old man after he broke her hip during an altercation over online infidelity.

Edward Aronson was arrested at his wife's side in Bethesda Hospital West early Friday morning. Police had been called to the hospital after a nurse overheard Aronson saying that she had broken her hip after he had pushed her.

"She accused me of cheating and was yelling at me so I pushed her," the nurse claims Aronson told someone on the phone. Sylvia Aronson told the arresting officers that she had walked in on her husband browsing a dating website. The couple argued, and as the fight escalated, she slapped him in the face.

Edward Aronson responded by pushing her over. The force of her fall broke her right hip.

People

Tens of thousands protest in Ukraine's Kiev

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© Sergei Chuzavkov
Pro-European Union activists gather in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. About 20,000 people protested in Ukraine’s capital on Sunday, maintaining more than a month of rallies opposing the government’s decision to shelve a key deal with the European Union.
About 20,000 people protested in Ukraine's capital on Sunday, maintaining more than a month of rallies opposing the government's decision to shelve a key deal with the European Union.

But the turnout on a clear, cold day was markedly lower than at previous rallies, which had attracted hundreds of thousands of people.

As it has before, Sunday's rally opened with speeches by the country's spiritual leaders, including Christian priests, a rabbi and a mufti who called for a national unity and stressed the protesters' right to have the government they want.

Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the opposition national party Svoboda notorious for his racist rhetoric, emphasized that Ukrainians in the west and the east should unite to fight for their rights.

"We are all Ukrainians and want our fair demands to be met," he said in his speech.

Most demonstrators in Kiev come from western and central regions, while many people in the mostly Russian-speaking east and the south back closer ties with Moscow.

Black Cat

Convicted sex offender posing as preacher arrested in Reno, Nevada


James Edward Bryant
Hindsight is 20/20 for Darla Ward, the property manager for Reno Motel in downtown, where fugitive sex offender James Edward Bryant had been renting a room for two months.

"He had a bunch of young boys in his room," recalls Ward. "I never seen him with anyone older than maybe 20."
Neighbors called him 'Preacher Man. '

"Every Sunday, he would come over and ask me to go to church and listen to him preach and he would ask us all to go to church," says Ward.

Ward says Bryant even showed her a preacher's certificate, and she thought he was a godly man who was trying to help wayward young men in the area.

"He would feed them. He would let them stay the night sometimes, which we would have arguments about," says Ward. "But he would take care of them."

Comment: For a more complete understanding of how sexual predators like this operate, listen to the SOTT Talk Radio interview with Dr. Anna Salter, author of Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders, Who They Are, How They Operate, and How We Can Protect Ourselves and Our Children, and Truth, Lies and Sex Offenders.


V

Turkey: Erdogan under new pressure to quit as protesters take to the streets

Riot police use teargas, water cannon and plastic bullets to break up demonstrations as corruption scandal grows
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© Emrah Gurel/AP
Protesters run as riot police use water cannon to quell demonstrations in Istanbul.
In scenes reminiscent of this summer's massive anti-government revolts, hundreds of people took to the streets in cities across Turkey on Friday night calling for the government to resign following a high-profile corruption scandal that involves sons of cabinet ministers, leading businessmen and the head of a state-owned bank.

In Istanbul, riot police broke up demonstrations using teargas, water cannon and plastic bullets. According to Turkish media reports, 70 people have been arrested. Protesters chanted "catch the thief", in reference to a highly political corruption probe that started with orchestrated dawn raids on 17 December and is continuing to send shock waves through Turkey, edging ever closer to the heart of the Turkish government.

Seen by many as the most serious challenge to the 11-year rule of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the corruption investigation has targeted persons known to be close to the government of the Justice and Development party (AKP).

Three ministers were forced to resign when police detained their sons following a long-running investigation into allegations of corruption. Two of the sons are still in custody along with 22 others awaiting trial, facing accusations of corrupt practices, including bribery, tender rigging and illicit money transfers to Iran.

Cult

Rabbi sued after severing newborn baby's penis during circumcision

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© KDKA
A local rabbi is being sued after allegedly botching a bris, the traditional Jewish circumcision ritual, and severing a newborn boy's penis.

The incident detailed in the lawsuit happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill within the last year.

The Jewish circumcision ceremony was performed by Pittsburgh Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg - who is also a mohel.

Comment: We Need To Stop Circumcision
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House

UK mortgage rise will plunge a million homeowners into 'perilous debt'

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© Guardian
More than a million homeowners will be at risk of defaulting on their mortgages and losing their properties in the wake of even a small rise in interest rates, a bombshell analysis reveals. Borrowers who have failed to pay down their mortgages when interest rates have been at record low levels now face being overwhelmed by "perilous levels of debt" when the inevitable hike comes.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, warned of a "financial ticking timebomb": "The rising cost of energy, food and travel has been absorbing any spare income people may have. This means that in some cases there is little or nothing left to cope with larger mortgage repayments."

According to a new report from an influential thinktank, the Resolution Foundation, even in the most optimistic scenario - in which interest rates rise slowly to 3% by 2018 and economic growth is strong and well-distributed between the rich and poor - 1.12 million homeowners will be spending more than half of their take-home pay on mortgage repayments - this is a widely accepted indicator of over-indebtedness.