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Pat Robertson: Pot Should be Legal Like Alcohol

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© The Associated Press/Clem Britt
Rev. Pat Robertson
US: Richmond, Virginia - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol because the government's war on drugs has failed.

The outspoken evangelical Christian and host of The 700 Club on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network he founded said the war on drugs is costing taxpayers billions of dollars. He said people should not be sent to prison for marijuana possession.

The 81-year-old first became a self-proclaimed "hero of the hippie culture" in 2010 when he called for ending mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions.

"I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance," Robertson said on his show March 1. "The whole thing is crazy. We've said, 'Well, we're conservatives, we're tough on crime.' That's baloney."

Phoenix

Wealthy Paris Square Evacuated after Huge Fire Breaks Out Underneath City's Ritz Hotel

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© Agence France-Presse
Plumes of smoke shoot into the air following the blaze in an underground car park in Paris's wealthy Place Vendome
France - The wealthiest square in Paris was evacuated today after a huge fire broke out underneath the French capital's Ritz Hotel.

Dozens of people were treated for smoke inhalation and at least 15 luxury cars were destroyed in the blaze in an underground car park in Place Vendome.

France's Ministry of Justice was among buildings evacuated, along with numerous jewellery and designer fashion shops.

Light Saber

ALBA bank to free Latin America from Western predatory capitalism

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© GRAPHOS Producciones
Banking Boosters: ALBA leaders Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chávez and Rafael Correa want to start banking together at the Bank of ALBA
The "socialist bank" will give loans with no conditions, Ortega says

Bad credit? No credit? No problem!

President Daniel Ortega is putting on his banker's visor and taking time off from denouncing the evils of savage capitalism to try to raise startup capital for the newly announced Bank of ALBA, or BALBA.

The president-turned banking booster told Nicaraguans last night that he'd feel a lot better if Nicaragua took some of its $1.7 billion in international reserves out of established banks around the world and put it the trusted care of BALBA, which is almost one week old.

The birth of BALBA was celebrated during last weekend's summit of ALBA nations in Venezuela. The idea is that each member country - Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - support the bank to the tune of what each economy can afford.

In Nicaragua's case, the country is expected to cough up 1% of its international reserves, whose purse strings are controlled exclusively by the autonomous Central Bank. Ortega is also asking the Sandinista-controlled National Assembly to pony up $4 million for the ALBA bank.

Comment: Watch out! This is what Libya was organising for Africa when NATO bombed it back to the stone age:




Arrow Down

Over Half of Greek Youth Unemployed

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© Reuters/Panagiotis Tzamaros
Lambrousi Harikleia, an employee of the Workers Housing Organisation threatens to jump from the office where she worked because her wage has been cut and she and her husband were threatened with layoffs, in Athens February 15, 2012.
Athens - Greek unemployment hit another record high in December and for the first time the number of young people without a job outnumbered those in work.

Statistics service ELSTAT said on Thursday that the overall jobless rate rose to 21 percent from 20.9 percent in November, twice the euro zone rate.

The average unemployment rate for 2011 jumped to 17.3 percent from 12.5 percent in the previous year, according to the figures, which are not adjusted for seasonal factors.

Youth were particularly hit. For the first time on record, more people between 15-24 years were without a job than with one. Unemployment in that age group rose to 51.1 percent, twice as high as three years ago.

Budget cuts imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund as a condition for saving the debt-laden country from a chaotic default have caused a wave of corporate closures and bankruptcies.

Greece's economy is estimated to have shrunk by a about a fifth since 2008, when it plunged into its deepest and longest post-war recession. About 600,000 jobs, more than one in ten, have been destroyed in the process.

Nuke

US Deaths from Fukushima Radiation Study

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal International Journal of Health Services alleges that 14,000 people have already died in the United States due to Fukushima.


Nuke

Chernobyl: A Million Casualties

A million people have died so far as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident, explains Janette Sherman, M.D., toxicologist and contributing editor of the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment. Published by the New York Academy of Sciences, the book, authored by Dr. Alexey Yablokov, Dr. Vassily Nesterenko and Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, examined medical records now available--which expose as a lie the claim of the International Atomic Energy Commission that perhaps 4,000 people may die as a result of Chernobyl.


Handcuffs

Australian man pleads guilty to collar bomb extortion bid

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© Sam Upshaw Jr/AP
Paul Peters, left, used to work for a firm with links to Madeleine Pulver's family, yet it is still unclear why he targeted her.
Paul Peters admits he detained 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver, locking her in a fake collar bomb at her home in Sydney last year

An Australian investment banker has pleaded guilty to chaining a fake bomb to a young woman's neck in a bizarre extortion attempt last year.

Paul Douglas Peters' lawyer Kathy Crittenden pleaded guilty on his behalf in a Sydney courtroom to a charge of aggravated break and enter and committing a serious indictable offence by knowingly detaining 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver.

Pulver was alone studying in her family's Sydney mansion 3 August when the 50-year-old Peters, wearing a ski mask and wielding a baseball bat, tethered a bomb-like device around her neck. It took bomb squad police 10 hours to remove it, but it contained no explosives and Pulver was not injured.

Pistol

Ohio high school shooting exposes America's dark fascination

ohio shooting
Chardon High School in Ohio this week became the latest school to suffer a multiple fatal shooting and the predictable media storm has ensued. Why does this type of violence fascinate us so?

On Monday this week, 17-year-old TJ Lane apparently walked into the cafeteria of Chardon High School, Ohio, just before 7:30. It was before first period, when students were eating breakfast. Allegedly producing a .22 calibre handgun, Lane shot 10 rounds of ammunition. Three students were killed and three more injured. Lane then fled the building, chased by a teacher, before being apprehended outside the school.

Lane told police he had targeted students at random, but witnesses said he had appeared to focus his ammunition on a group of students sitting at one particular table. There are now rumours that one of the students who died, Russell King, had recently begun dating Lane's ex-girlfriend, but this has yet to be confirmed. A student at the table who escaped serious injury told CBS that Lane "was silent the whole time. That's what made it so random."

In the aftermath of the shooting, the usual handwringing has begun in the US media about what prompts this type of violence. Students who knew Lane have said he was a quiet loner one of many of the characteristics we have come to associate with perpetrators of school shootings. In reality, though, it appears that there is no standard profile of someone more likely to shoot up a school. The specter of bullying is often raised as providing potential motives for this type of incident, but Lane did not even attend Chardon High School. He was a student at the nearby Lake Academy, a school for "at-risk" youths, though there was contact between the two schools because many Lake students caught a bus departing from Chardon High School.

Newspaper

British Court Throws Out Conviction of Autism/Vaccine Doctor

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© The New York Times
Andrew Wakefield with his wife, Carmel, in London, after a disciplinary-panel hearing of the General Medical Council in January 2010.
Andrew Wakefield's Co-Author Completely Exonerated

In a stunning reversal, world renowned pediatric gastroenterologist Prof. John Walker-Smith won his appeal today against the United Kingdom's General Medical Council regulatory board that had ruled against both him and Andrew Wakefield for their roles in the 1998 Lancet MMR paper, which raised questions about a link to autism. The complete victory means that Walker-Smith has been returned to the status of a fully licensed physician in the UK, although he had already retired in 2001 - six years before the GMC trial even began.

Justice John Mitting ruled on the appeal by Walker-Smith, saying that the GMC "panel's determination cannot stand. I therefore quash it." He said that its conclusions were based on "inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion." The verdict restores Walker-Smith's name to the medical register and his reputation to the medical community. This conclusion is not surprising, as the GMC trial had no actual complainants, no harm came to the children who were studied, and parents supported Walker-Smith and Wakefield through the trial, reporting that their children had medically benefited from the treatment they received at the Royal Free Hospital.

Comment: For a more in depth look at the obvious character assassination of British doctors researching the connections between vaccinations and autism in the 1998 Lancet MMR paper read the following articles:

Dr. Andrew Wakefield on The Poisoning of Young Minds
Pharma Propaganda Alert: 'Fraud' Study Linked Autism to Vaccine
Smoke and Mirrors: Dr Richard Horton and the Wakefield Affair
Big Pharma Smear: Dr. Wakefield Accused of Further Vaccine Fraud
Doctor who exposed MMR-autism link defends himself at General Medical Council


Stop

Facebook reports unexplained European outage

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© AP / Paul Sakuma
Workers are shown inside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011.
Facebook says that technical problems have made the site unavailable to some of its European users.

A statement released by the social networking site's London-based public relations agency says that the issue "has been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook."