It's a travel day for me, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.
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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper released a proposal this week on how he intends to spend the taxes collected from marijuana sales.
Marijuana sales have greatly exceeded expectations. For the fiscal year beginning in July, marijuana sales are expected to reach $1 billion, with $600,000 coming from the sale of recreational pot.
In the proposal, Hickenlooper's budget office says it expects the recreational and medical marijuana industries will pump nearly $134 million in tax and fee revenue into state coffers in the fiscal year beginning in July. Extrapolating from those figures, the proposal estimates sales in all marijuana stores to approach $1 billion for that fiscal year. Recreational pot shop sales are estimated to account for more than $600 million of that — a more than 50 percent increase over a previous projection.
The first $40 million go to school construction, as required by law. Above that, But Hickenlooper's office expects to have "$28 million this fiscal year and $101 million next fiscal year left over to spend on other things."[More...]
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Texas death row prison guards at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, TX are calling for an end to solitary confinement and more humane conditions for death row inmates:
Staff leaders say years of solitary confinement and sensory deprivation literally drive inmates mad and make them more likely to wound the guards, riot or attempt escape.
The guards want inmates to be able to share two to a cell and use an iPad or similar computer tablet to watch television on a secure internal network as incentives for good behaviour.
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Ex-Congressman Mel Reynolds, age 62, has been arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of possessing p*rn and an immigration offense. According to the state newspaper, he had taken several women to his hotel room where he took photos and videos. He also has $24,500 in unpaid hotel bills.
Reynolds had gained prominence in Zimbabwe for being involved in attracting investment for the $145 million construction of a Hilton Hotel and office complex in Harare, reported The Herald. Construction is expected to begin in April and be finished in last 2016, said the newspaper.
He faces up to two years in jail on p*rn charge. In 1995, he went to prison in the U.S. after being convicted of having sex with a 16 year old campaign worker. While imprisoned, he was convicted of bank fraud. President Clinton commuted his bank fraud sentence and he was released in 2001.
The Zimbabwe news article is here. [More...]
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Does anyone think the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner is good for cable customers?
"Sometimes, to keep prices low, it's not just the actual competition that is important but also potential competition," said Sanjai Bhagat, a provost professor of finance at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "I don't know of any industry whereby having fewer players, the customers have been made better off."
The New York Times examines "cord cutters" and predicts cable companies will raise rates on internet usage, making eliminating cable less of a bargain for them.[More...]
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Update: Mistrial declared on count 1 (murder.) Jury convicts on 3 counts attempted murder and missile firing charge. (no link because I can't find one yet without automatic video playing.)
Jurors in the trial of Florida trial of Michael Dunn have reached a verdict on four of five counts. They are deadlocked on Count 1, premeditated murder, and the lesser offenses of Second Degree Murder, and Manslaughter by Act. Around 5pm today, the Judge read them an Allen charge, instructing them to keep trying. If they can't reach a verdict on Count 1, the judge will declare a mistrial as to that count only, which would allow prosecutors to retry him.
The case is in the national news because of comparisons to the George Zimmerman case. I don't see the connection. Zimmerman was reacting to being punched in the nose, and thought Martin might have been reaching for his (Zimmerman's) gun. Dunn wasn't physically attacked, he thought someone in the car had a gun. (There were four young men in the car.) Dunn didn't have his gun on his person, he had to get it from the glove compartment. Dunn shot at the vehicle several times, including as it was driving away from the scene. [More...]
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From our heart to yours, Happy Valentine's Day.
This is an open thread, all topics welcome.
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FinCEN (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) and Department of Justice today issued new guidelines and a memo for banks doing business with marijuana businesses. The FINCEN press release is here.
The guidance provides that financial institutions can provide services to marijuana-related businesses in a manner consistent with their obligations to know their customers and to report possible criminal activity.
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Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been convicted on 20 of 21 counts of bribery, money laundering, fraud and filing false tax returns.
A juror said afterward they thought the defense should have put on more evidence to refute the charges.
A recap of events is here.
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The judge in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has set his trial to begin November 3, 2014. The defense had asked it begin in September, 2015.
The defense says the FBI has yet to turn over 2,000 pieces of physical evidence still being analyzed.
The defense has until June to decide on whether to seek a change of venue.
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The House of Representatives has voted 221 to 201 to pass a Clean Debt Ceiling bill. The bill extends federal borrowing authority for one year with no strings attached and avoids a Government shutdown at the end of February.
Without an increase in the statutory debt limit, the U.S. government would soon default on some of its obligations and have to shut down some programs, a historic move that would likely cause market turmoil.
The Republicans are in disarray.
The episode showed that Boehner still has difficulty exerting control over his fractious caucus, in which conservatives backed by the Tea Party movement hold considerable sway.
WAPO has more on Boehner's bad day.
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Washington Governor Jay Inslee today suspended the use of the death penalty in the state for the duration of his term.
"There have been too many doubts raised about capital punishment, there are too many flaws in this system today," Inslee said at a news conference. "There is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system."
The decision is part of a growing trend.
Last year, Maryland abolished the death penalty, the 18th state to do so and the sixth in the last six years.
More from Inslee: [More...]
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Shaun White finished 4th in the half-pipe at the Socchi Olympics. Iouri Podladtchikov of Switzerland, known as I-Pod, took the Gold.
It appears solitary confinement was the motive for parolee Evan Ebel's killing of a pizza driver and Colorado Corrections chief Tom Clements. In court documents released in the case of Stevie Vigil, the woman who has pleaded guilty to providing Ebel with the gun he used in his killing spree, a partial transcript of a recording Ebel had the pizza driver make before killing him, the pizza driver said:
"For twenty years we've been subject to your faddism not witness ours, you didn't give two (expletive) about us or our families and you ensured that we were locked behind a door, to disrespect us at every opportunity, so why should we care about you and yours...
...In short, you treated us inhumanely, and so we simply seek to do the same, we take (comfort) in the knowledge that we leave your wives without husbands, and your children fatherless. You wanted to play the mad scientist, well they will be your Frankenstein."
A movie script about Barry Seal, the infamous pilot and DEA informant linked to the Medellin cartel, the CIA, the contras, Oliver North, and the Bush, Reagan and Clinton Administrations, who was killed in the 1980's, has been sold to Universal for $1 million. The movie, Mena, about Seal's activities in Mena, Arkansas, will be directed by Ron Howard.
This is an open thread, all topics welcome.
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While announcing the formation of First Look in October, Omidyar said he is contributing $250 million to pursue independent journalism, and tapped Greenwald to lead editorial operations.
One of today's two articles is about the NSA's role in the targeted assassination program.
The list of authors and staff is impressive -- it includes Marcy Wheeler (Empty Wheel) as Senior Policy Analyst, and Peter Maass, and Dan Froomkin as senior writers. Reporters include Ryan Gallagher, Ryan Devereaux, and Murtaza Hussain.
I hope they are a great success. We need more independent journalism ventures like this.
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There are articles on every major media site this morning about the Obama Administration wrestling with a decision whether to target an American for killing who is working for al Qaeda in another country and planning a terror attack against the U.S.
While the country and person aren't named, it sounds like the Administration's chief purpose in releasing this information is to let the target know what's in store for him and observe his response, rather than transparency on policy decisions at home.
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