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Everybody must get stoned: Now New Hampshire State House passes first recreational marijuana bill

Following the national tide of public opinion favoring the legalization of marijuana, the Democrat-controlled New Hampshire house passed a bill - HB 492-FN-LOCAL - on Jan. 16 that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

In passing the bill, the New Hampshire House made history by becoming the first legislative body to pass a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana.

There are currently only two states in the Union - Colorado and Washington - where recreational marijuana is legal, and both states' laws were passed through public referendum, as opposed to legislative action.

The bill aims to construct laws regarding marijuana consumption, possession, and distribution similar to the state's established alcohol laws, effectively treating marijuana as a controlled substance. The current draft of the bill breaks down its intentions into three laws: first, the bill states that only persons 21 and older have the legal right to the new law - persons under 21 are prohibited from engaging with marijuana; second, persons with the intention to wholesale, retail, cultivate or test marijuana must obtain proper licensing; third, that a tax on the sale of marijuana be levied at both wholesale, manufacturing and retail levels.

As Colorado and Washington garner more national attention - serving as a litmus test for future nationwide legalization - the local media spotlight will be on the New Hampshire Ways and Means Committee. The committee is scheduled to meet this Thursday to revise the Bill before it is sent back to the House, where it is likely to pass again, according to Laura McCrystal of the Concord Monitor. McCrystal is basing this prediction on sources in the Merrimack County.


State execution: man shot in the back of the head by FBI during 8-hour interrogation

Abdulbaki Todashev
© AP / Alexander ZemlianichenkoAbdulbaki Todashev says his son, Ibragim Todashev, was “executed” by the FBI. He holds up photos of his son’s bullet-riddled body during a press conference.
An unarmed man was shot to death in his own apartment by the FBI after a grueling 8-hour interrogation. The man was Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen immigrant being investigated because he was an acquaintance of one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. He was ultimately shot 6 times in the chest and once in the back of the head, which his father describes as an "execution" performed to "silence" his son. Months later, the Feds still have not offered any cogent explanations of the the incident or why their agents altered their story multiple times.


U.S. resumes aid to militants in Syria

Syria rebels
© n/a
As negotiations between Syrian officials and the country's foreign-backed opposition hit a deadlock over the issue of transfer of power, the United States has resumed deliveries of aid to the opposition.

The "non-lethal" aid comes more than a month after al-Qaeda-linked insurgents seized warehouses and prompted a sudden cutoff of Western supplies to other militant groups which are publically backed by Western countries.

US officials said Monday that "the communications equipment and other items are being funneled for now only to non-armed opposition groups," according to The Associated Press.


Schindler's List producer states: "I never feared my government until now"

Schindler’s List
© Universal Pictures
Earlier today, I wrote an article about the arrest of BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem on charges of money laundering, and how it demonstrated that the rule of law is completely dead in America. All we have now is selective enforcement of the law, a situation in which a handful of oligarchs can steal with impunity, but politically unpopular or troublesome folks are pursued with tyrannical vigor.

However, Charlie's case is not the only recent example of selective enforcement. Dinesh D'Souza is yet another. Despite what you may think of Mr. D'Souza (I watched his film and personally found it to be a very weak and superficial criticism of Obama), he is clearly being targeted in a political vendetta.

This is obvious in the sense that banker thieves never, ever face prosecution for far greater crimes. Our descent further and further into Banana Republic status is accelerating.

Eye 1

Court doc shows FBI can access all messages sent over 'anonymous' email service

picture shows a computer screen
© tormail.orgThis picture shows a computer screen displaying the home page of tormail.org

The United States government seized the contents of every message stored on the servers of a supposedly secure email provider, new documents reveal, and is using that information in other criminal cases.

Kevin Poulsen, a former hacker-turned-tech reporter, wrote for Wired.com on Monday that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation cloned the data being held by a service called Tormail as the result of a separate probe started last year.

The FBI made waves throughout the internet security community back in August when it was discovered that US prosecutors asked police in Ireland to arrest Eric Eoin Marques, a 28-year-old man who administered a hosting provider that offered customers web space on the so-called dark web - a section of the internet that is only accessible through the Tor anonymizer browser and contains an unknown number of hidden portals, including many with content that's illegal under US law.

When Marques was arrested last year, US authorities gained control of his company, Freedom Hosting, and the data belonging to customers who had created websites on the dark web. One of those clients was Tormail, a hidden service that boasted of allowing "anyone to send and receive email anonymously" and claimed to never "co-operate with anyone attempting to identify or censor" its users. Only now, though, has it been revealed that the FBI cloned the entirety of that company's info after shutting down its service provider, Freedom Hosting, and customers who relied on it for web space.


Ukraine police forced to abandon Kiev conference centre to opposition as Western-funded riots spread across the country

© Getty ImagesAnti-government protesters carry the body of Mikhail Zhiznevsky, 25, a protester killed during clashes with police on Wednesday
Ukraine's two-month old anti-government protests have spread further across the country despite offers of concessions from President Viktor Yanukovych.

Thousands of demonstrators attempted to take over the regional government office in Dnipropetrovsk on Sunday, a major industrial hub in eastern Ukraine home to more than one million people and birthplace of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Thousands more tried to seize the local government headquarters in the south-eastern city of Zaporizhia, local media reported. Further protests took place in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lutsk and Sumy over the weekend, raising fears that the previously peaceful movement is morphing into a national uprising.

In Kiev on Sunday, hundreds of protesters chanted "heroes don't die" as the coffin of one demonstrator shot dead in clashes with police was paraded through the city centre.

The opposition cancelled a mass rally to hold a memorial for 25 year-old Mikhail Zhiznevsky - one of at least three people to have died when protests in the capital turned violent last week.

Black Cat

Florida congressman Trey Radel resigns after pleading guilty to cocaine possession

Embattled Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) resigned from Congress Monday, months after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge.

A first-term congressman, Radel was arrested for cocaine possession in the fall . After reaching a plea agreement, he underwent substance abuse rehabilitation treatment and returned to Congress earlier this month. Despite calls from state party leaders for him to step down, Radel had said he was committed to returning to work.

But on Monday, he swiftly changed course and said he would step down later in the day. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Radel said his personal struggles impeded his ability to serve in Congress. He said last year that struggles with alcoholism led him to make an "extremely irresponsible choice" involving cocaine.

Eye 1

Top-secret document reveals NSA spied on porn habits as part of plan to discredit 'radicalizers'

The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as "exemplars" of how "personal vulnerabilities" can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. "A previous SIGINT" -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent," the document argues.

Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are "viewing sexually explicit material online" and "using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls."

Arrow Down

Dow suffers worst weekly loss since Sept. 2011

© Westhavenmanagement.comNew York Stock Exchange
The Dow industrials took their biggest daily tumble in more than seven months Friday, caught up in a two-day selloff in emerging-market stocks and currencies.

Traders said that despite the scope of the decline, fund managers weren't overly urgent in selling. Rather, they pointed to short-term players selling baskets of stocks, such as index futures or exchange-traded funds, as a way to protect against losses elsewhere in their portfolios. Buyers, meanwhile, pulled to the sidelines, content to wait before putting money to work.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 318.24 points, or 2%, to 15879.11, a five-week low. For the week, the benchmark fell 3.5%.

The S&P 500 index dropped 38.17 points, or 2.1%, to 1790.29. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 90.70 points, or 2.2%, to 4128.17.

"There's a lack of buyers supporting the market and incremental sellers who are de-risking on the back of the macro developments," said Doug Crofton, head of U.S. cash equity trading at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "I don't think the market was positioned for the recent events."

"We're not seeing people throw in the towel," or selling indiscriminately in a rush to get out of the market, he added.

Even with Friday's declines, the S&P 500 is up 20% from a year ago and 3% off its Jan. 15 all-time closing high.

Dollar Gold

China's elite storing riches in Caribbean offshore haven

© USA Today
Relatives of political leaders including China's current president and former premier named in trove of leaked documents from the British Virgin Islands

More than a dozen family members of China's top political and military leaders are making use of offshore companies based in the British Virgin Islands, leaked financial documents reveal.

The brother-in-law of China's current president, Xi Jinping, as well as the son and son-in-law of former premier Wen Jiabao are among the political relations making use of the offshore havens, financial records show.

The documents also disclose the central role of major Western banks and accountancy firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Credit Suisse and UBS in the offshore world, acting as middlemen in the establishing of companies.

The Hong Kong office of Credit Suisse, for example, established the BVI company Trend Gold Consultants for Wen Yunsong, the son of Wen Jiabao, during his father's premiership - while PwC and UBS performed similar services for hundreds of other wealthy Chinese individuals.

The disclosure of China's use of secretive financial structures is the latest revelation from "Offshore Secrets", a two-year reporting effort led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which obtained more than 200 gigabytes of leaked financial data from two companies in the British Virgin Islands, and shared the information with the Guardian and other international news outlets.