GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 20, 2012

Three states to vote on legalizing pot


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — DENVER (AP) — A catchy pro-marijuana jingle for Colorado voters considering legalizing the drug goes like this: “Jobs for our people. Money for schools. Who could ask for more?”

It’s a bit more complicated than that in the three states — Colorado, Oregon and Washington — that could become the first to legalize marijuana this fall.

The debate over how much tax money recreational marijuana laws could produce is playing an outsize role in the campaigns for and against legalization — and both sides concede they’re not really sure what would happen.

At one extreme, pro-pot campaigners say it could prove a windfall for cash-strapped states with new taxes on pot and reduced criminal justice costs.

Watchdog faults

Justice Department

over Fast and Furious

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department’s internal watchdog yesterday faulted the agency for misguided strategies, errors in judgment and management failures during a bungled gun-trafficking probe in Arizona that disregarded public safety and resulted in hundreds of weapons turning up at crime scenes in the U.S. and Mexico.

A former head of the department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and a deputy assistant attorney general in Justice’s criminal division in Washington left the department upon the report’s release — the first by retirement, the second by resignation.

In the 471-page report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz referred more than a dozen people for possible department disciplinary action for their roles in Operation Fast and Furious and a separate, earlier probe known as Wide Receiver, undertaken during the George W. Bush administration. A former acting deputy attorney general and the head of the criminal division were criticized for actions and omissions related to operations subsequent to and preceding Fast and Furious.

New estimate: Nearly

two million more will pay health-coverage tax

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 6 million Americans — significantly more than first estimated— will face a tax penalty under President Barack Obama’s health overhaul for not getting insurance, congressional analysts said Wednesday. Most would be in the middle class.

The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises.

The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are 50 percent higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed. The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected in 2016, when the penalty is fully in effect.

That’s still only a sliver of the population, given that more than 150 million people currently are covered by employer plans. Nonetheless, in his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.

France ramps up embassy security after Muhammad caricatures published

PARIS (AP) — France stepped up security yesterday at its embassies across the Muslim world after a French satirical weekly revived a formula that it has already used to capture attention: Publishing crude, lewd caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Yesterday’s issue of the provocative satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were firebombed last year, raised concerns that France could face violent protests like the ones targeting the United States over an amateur video produced in California that have left at least 30 people dead.

The drawings, some of which depicted Muhammad naked and in demeaning or pornographic poses, were met with a swift rebuke by the French government, which warned the magazine could be inflaming tensions, even as it reiterated France’s free speech protections.

Suspect in online death threats faces weapons charge

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rants, racist remarks and menacing words permeate the Internet these days, so why did police decide to arrest a Yale dropout for investigation of making online death threats against children and initially hold him on a bail amount usually reserved for suspected killers?

Authorities said they considered several factors in the case against 21-year-old Eric Yee, who was arrested this week after commenting about a story on ESPN’s website about the cost of new Nike sneakers named after LeBron James.

Authorities claimed Yee said he wouldn’t mind killing children, and that there were unregistered weapons in the Valencia, Calif., house he shares with his parents that overlooks two schools.

After Chicago teachers strike,both sides find victories

CHICAGO (AP) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel secured an extension of Chicago’s school day and empowered principals to hire the teachers they want. Teachers were able to soften a new evaluation process and win some job protections.

As students returned to the classroom yesterday after a seven-day teachers strike, both sides found reasons to celebrate victory. But neither the school-reform movement nor organized labor achieved the decisive breakthrough it had sought. And whether the implications extend beyond Chicago may depend on the next case having a similar cast of characters and political pressures.

Unions hoped the walkout would prove they were still relevant, and some reform groups were disappointed with the city’s concessions.

Martian rover photographs eclipsed sun

WASHINGTON (AP) — On Mars, a partial eclipse of the sun isn’t quite as rare as on Earth. So NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is snapping hundreds of pictures of the spectacle for the folks back home to ooh and aah over.

Two moons zip around the red planet and they’re closer and faster than our lumbering moon, so eclipses are more common. Scientists say there’s even somewhat of an eclipse season on Mars, and it’s that time of year when those Martian moons take turns taking bites of the sun.

Curiosity turned its cameras skyward to watch the action in three different eclipses, starting last week and continuing Wednesday, when a moon partially slipped between Mars and the sun.

The rover has been beaming back a stream of photos of the Martian landscape since landing near the equator last month.

Texas A&M University scientist Mark Lemmon said the eclipse pictures will help scientists track the fate of the larger Martian moon, Phobos, which is slowing down in its orbit around Mars. In 10 to 15 million years, Phobos will get so close to Mars it will break up and crash into the planet.