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Voters in Several States Set to Roll Back Marijuana Prohibition This Year



Polling suggests approval of state ballot measures in upcoming elections this year that would cause the number of states with legal medical marijuana to grow by three and with legal recreational marijuana to grow by one. Absent earlier legislative action in other states, recreational marijuana legalization approval in Michigan would make it the tenth state with such legalization, and medical marijuana legalization in Oklahoma and Utah, as well as Missouri where petition signatures for ballot measures have not yet been counted and verified, would bring the total number of states with legal medical marijuana up to 33. Tom Angell discusses in a Thursday Forbes article the polling indicating substantial majority support in these states for the respective forms of legalization the ballot measures include.
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War Codes in Trump's Iran Proclamation

Today President Trump announced that he was canceling US participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal. The president's assertions were ludicrous and factually incorrect, but the neocons who were no doubt behind the speech have never been all that wedded to the truth. It became obvious fairly on that Trump's rationale was not to be taken seriously, when he cited last week's comical stage performance by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "Iran Lied" about its nuclear program. 

Netanyahu's fairy tale required us to believe that the Iranians were storing their most sensitive national security documents and compact discs in an unguarded hut, which the crack Israeli team of intelligence operatives were able to discover and remove by the truckload right under the noses of what they claim is among the most totalitarian "regimes" on earth.
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Huge Increase in NSA’s Phone Calls and Text Messages Collection after 'Major Reform' of Mass Surveillance Program


On Friday, the National Security Agency (NSA), which has played a primary role in the United States government’s mass surveillance program exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, disclosed it had collected 534 million phone calls and text messages of Americans in 2017 — more than three times the amount it collected the year before. But, what about the USA FREEDOM Act that the US Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law in 2015? There was much fanfare when the USA FREEDOM Act was enacted and during its consideration in Congress that the legislation’s “reform” would impose major new restraints on the mass surveillance program in order to defend liberty and privacy.
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Pentagon Seeks Arms for 65,000 US-Backed Troops in Syria



While US “relief funds” are frozen in Syria, the Pentagon continues to seek massive amounts of funding for its military operations in the country. This includes a request for $300 million in weapons to give to “partner forces” in Syria.

This amounts to enough arms for 65,000 fighters. This is expected to center on the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is to say, almost entirely the Kurdish YPG. The US has been arming the YPG for years now as part of its Syria operations.

This is being sought in spite of repeated US assurances to Turkey that their arming of the YPG was temporary. With ISIS virtually wiped out in Syria, the YPG no longer has offensive goals fitting into US plans for Syria, and rather is focused chiefly on fighting a Turkish invasion of northern Syria.
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US Watchdog: Afghan Military Shrinking Sharply

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a Pentagon watchdog, is warning that the Afghan military is in sharp decline over the last 12 months, as rising casualties and desertion rates far outstrip its ability to recruit.

Over 12 months, the Afghan security forces have 10 percent less personnel, down to around 300,000. While reports of growing casualties, struggling recruitment, and desertion have been common, this is the first actually data offered on the size of the problem.
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US Sanctions Hit International Chess Organization FIDE

The bank account of FIDE, a premier chess organization that governs some major international chess competitions, maintains rules adhered to at many other tournaments, calculates players’ ratings, and awards titles such as Grandmaster, was shut down this week. Peter Doggers reports at chess.com that FIDE officials say UBS Bank was terminating FIDE’s account because FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is included “on the sanctions list of the US Department of the Treasury” though “Ilyumzhinov himself has stated that the sanctions were not mentioned by UBS.” Doggers notes that FIDE, also known as the World Chess Federation, has been unable to establish an account with another bank since UBS, a Switzerland bank, announced in February that the FIDE account would be terminated.
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The Clever Moon Jae-in: Trump Should Win the Nobel Prize

Wow, South Korean President Moon Jae-in really wants peace and harmony on the Korean peninsula. This is one great man.

From the day he was elected, the goal of Moon has been to ratchet down tensions between his country and North Korea--and he has done just that. But there remains an orange strand of hair in the ointment belonging  to the unpredictable United States president Donald Trump.
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David Stockman Enters Hostile Territory to Support Nonintervention and Oppose Increased Military Spending

Investing and current affairs writer David Stockman found himself in hostile territory this week in an interview at the Fox Business show Mornings with Maria. In the often-tense interview, Stockman seems to shock and rile some of the show’s hosts with his assessments that the United States military should not have been given a big monetary infusion in the recent spending deal worked out by President Donald Trump and Congress and that the US should stop its excessive military intervention overseas.
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