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Sat, 25 Feb 2017
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New Mexico House overwhelmingly passes bill to decriminalize industrial hemp setting the stage to nullify federal prohibition

The New Mexico House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would decriminalize industrial hemp yesterday. Passage into law would set the stage for the people there to nullify federal prohibition on the plant in practice.

Rep. Rick Little (R-Chaparral) introduced House Bill 166 (HB166) on Jan 18. The legislation would simply remove industrial hemp from the state's list of controlled substances. This would open the door for a full-scale commercial hemp market in the state by treating it like any other crop for farming.

HB166 would not require any license to grow hemp, and it would create no state regulatory structure. In short, the state would treat industrial hemp like other plants, such as tomatoes. By ending state prohibition, residents in New Mexico would have an open door to start industrial hemp farming should they be willing to risk violating ongoing federal prohibition.

Comment: Considering the ongoing disaster at Fukushima with the continual outpouring of radiation into the Pacific Ocean, the commercial production of industrial hemp may prove to be highly useful. It has the ability to decontaminate soils from radiation and toxic metals and is considered one of the best phyto-remediative plants available.


Australia's Catholic church uses secrecy and resistance tactics to prevent sexual abuse victims from seeking compensation

© Pixabay
Australia's Catholic Church paid out $213 million to victims of sexual abuse by priests between 1980 and 2015, it has been revealed - although a lawyer investigating Catholic sexual abuse has told Sputnik the true compensation bill will be considerably higher, given the number of victims who have failed to come forward.

On average, victims who came forward with claims received US$70,000 (91,000 Australian dollars) each. Prosecuting barrister Gail Furness said the extent of the abuse was likely to be "much greater" than the claims made. Campaigners believe the true figure could be as high as 10,000.

"Many survivors face barriers which deter them from reporting abuse to authorities and the institution in which the abuse occurred," Furness said.

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By the numbers: As Trump 'electrified the radical right', anti-Muslim groups skyrocketed

© Horsey/Los Angeles Times
Radical right movements in the US were energized last year unlike any point since the 1960s and made 2016 a "banner year for hate," said the Southern Poverty Law Center, attributing the development to Donald Trump's political ascendancy.

While the overall number of documented hate groups in the US only rose slightly — from 892 in 2015 to 917 last year — Trump's incendiary campaign rhetoric on race, gender, religion, and immigration "electrified the radical right, which saw in him a champion of the idea that America is fundamentally a white man's country," the SPLC said in its annual report, titled The Year in Hate and Extremism and published Wednesday.
© SPLC Center
The 917 hate or extremist groups counted in 2016 by the SPLC falls short of a high of 1,018 in 2011, at the end of President Barack Obama's first term. However, "the numbers undoubtedly understate the real level of organized hatred in America" that received a boost in mainstream politics through Trump's rise to the White House, wrote SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok.

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"Arrest and recovery" program in Texas jails child sex trafficking victims

© Mimi Chakarova
The Free Thought Project has observed a disturbing trend in law enforcement. We've known for years the police have locked up innocent people, who get caught up in a police dragnet. But the latest practice by law enforcement crosses so many ethical boundaries it's unfathomable the good people of Texas are allowing it to take place on their watch. They're now jailing sex trafficking victims because they have no place to put them.

According to the Texas Tribune, many of them are minors — like Lena (17) who never found herself on the wrong side of the law. She was rescued from sex traffickers. But that's when another imprisonment occurred for her. In the fall of 2016, after police helped rescue her from her traffickers, she was booked into the county jail.

"The 17-year-old lived with two dozen women in a single room. She slept on a metal bunk and wore an oversized orange jumpsuit every day. She went to the bathroom with no privacy, using a toilet attached to the wall," the Tribune writes.

Having endured a troubled life, an abusive adoptive mom, several foster homes, only to end up running away from home, Lena found herself as the property of pimps who exploited her need for the love of a father.


Man charged in plotting to bomb Target stores so he could buy cheap stock

© Mike Blake / Reuters
A Florida man has been charged by the Justice Department with a plot to bomb Target stores along the East Coast, and then buy cheap stock after the company stock price plummeted.

Mark Charles Barnett, 48, was charged with making explosive devices, hiring a man to plant them, and attempting to blow up Target stores. The federal complaint alleges the former convicted felon concocted a plan to disguise the bombs as food items and placing them in stores along the East Coast of the US, from New York to Florida.

Barnett has been charged with "possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon," according to the US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida.

Heart - Black

Tragic fate of two young Yazidi brothers forced to be suicide bombers by Daesh

© AFP 2016/ Safin Hamed
Members of Yazidi minority search for clues on February 3, 2015, that might lead them to missing relatives in the remains of people killed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group
The two brothers aged 15 and 16 were taken prisoner during an attack on Sinjar in August 2014 by Daesh terrorists.

In the video footage they first say that they are going to blow themselves up and then one of them commits an attack in the west of Mosul whereas, the other in the district of Tal Afar east of Mosul.

The head of the Department of the Ministry of Yazidis and Iraqi Kurdistan Hayri Bozani told Sputnik Turkey that Daesh terrorists abduct Yazidi children and then convert them into suicide bombers by exposing them to different sorts of training.

"There are more than 1,000 Yazidi children in the hands of the terrorists right now. First of all, the jihadists convert them to Islam. Then the children are taught the basics of Shariah and are prepared to carry out terrorist attacks as suicide bombers," Bozani said.

He further said that it is currently unknown how many Yazidi children have been used as suicide bombers, but it is known that there are more than 100 children undergoing training to commit terrorist acts right now.

Comment: See also: Freed Yazidi woman tells shocking story of sexual slavery under Daesh


Mississippi city must repay $300,000 to the Federal DoJ after investigation concluded the city misspent drug forfeiture money

The city of Bay St. Louis, Miss., provides us with a $300,000 lesson on why the widespread use of asset forfeiture at a local, state, and federal level needs to end.

That is the amount the city must repay the Federal Department of Justice after an investigation concluded the city misspent drug forfeiture money.

According to WLOX, the city council voted unanimously to pay back the money owed, which had been spent on city operating costs. Now, they're trying to find a solution that doesn't injure local citizens' wallets.
"I think the only way we can recoup the money so that the taxpayers are not harmed is to go after the bonds of the individuals that we feel are responsible," said Councilman Joey Boudin. "We put the bonding companies on notice to go after the mayor's bond, the deceased police chief's bond, and the two city clerks."

"We're not saying this money was mismanaged or misspent intentionally, but it was. At the end of the day, it was mismanaged. We broke every rule that the Department of Justice has laid out on this money, so somebody needs to pay," Boudin said. "The taxpayer didn't break the rule."

Comment: See also: Trump says 'no reason' to curb asset seizures by police


Libyan rendition & torture victim pledges to 'fight UK govt until the end' - forgets to mention he's an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist and John McCain's best friend

© Youssef Boudlal / Reuters
Abdul Hakim Belhadj
Libyan torture victim Abdel Hakim Belhaj has vowed to fight his case against the UK government "until the end."

In 2004, Abdul Hakim Belhaj was kidnapped in Hong Kong with British complicity, along with his pregnant wife, and rendered back to his native Libya. He was then held and tortured by the Muammar Gaddafi regime for six years.

Speaking to Middle East Eye, Belhaj says he intends to pursue his quest for justice after the UK's top court ruled unanimously in January that he could bring a case against the UK government and Tony Blair's former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for his role in the abduction.

Comment: For more information. Read:

Libya Tribes leader: Trump's travel restrictions justified, terrorists using fake Libyan passports to enter U.S.


Florida Man Planned To Blow Up Target Stores Along the East Coast To Buy Retailer Stock Cheap

A Florida man tried to redefine "activist investing" after he made at least 10 explosive devices with the intention of blowing up Target stores along the East Coast in an elaborate "scheme" to send Target stock plunging so he could buy it on the cheap, the Department of Justice alleged.

Mark Charles Barnett, 48, of Ocala was charged with "possession of a firearm (destructive device) affecting commerce by a previously convicted felon" after he offered an unidentified person $10,000 to put at least 10 explosives - disguised as food items - on the shelves of Target stores in New York, Florida and Virginia, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Ocala.

According to the DOJ's compaling, Barnett, a registered sex offender on probation for multiple felony kidnapping, sexual battery and grand theft counts, hatched a plan to place explosives disguised as food items in Target stores along the East Coast from Florida to New York, thinking the plot would cause the stock price for the retail giant to plummet, allowing him to buy cheap shares of the company before they rebound.

"Barnett theorized that the company's stock value would plunge after the explosions, allowing him to cheaply acquire shares of Target stock before an eventual rebound in prices" according to the criminal complaint.

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UKIP says Britain should cut its foreign aid budget

© DFID - UK Department for International Development / Facebook
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) is calling for an 80 percent cut to the foreign aid budget so the money can be spent on national infrastructure.

Britain currently spends around £12.5 billion ($15.5 billion) a year supporting developing and war-torn countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, and South Sudan.

But UKIP says the aid is inadequate, does not truly alleviate poverty, leaves those receiving it dependent on support, and perpetuates bad government.