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Netherlands - USA: How does D.C. compare with Amsterdam when it comes to the use of marijuana

Recently initiative 71 became law,in Washington, D.C.,  legalizing marijuan under certain circumstances.

Commemorating this fact Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the District will not become “like Amsterdam,” as though being “like Amsterdam” would be a bad thing. City Hall even refers to Amsterdam in their official Q&A.

To give the people of Washington, D.C. and hopefully also their mayor an educated view of how D.C. compares to Amsterdam, the Netherlands Embassy in Washington offered this Q&A about Dutch marijuana laws and policies and an infographic.
See how Washington, D.C. and Amsterdam compare to one another in  this infographic.

1. What are the differences between Washington, D.C., and Dutch law on the possession of marijuana?
In Washington, D.C., under initiative 71 it is legal for any person over 21 to:
  • Possess marijuana weighing 2 oz. or less;
  • Grow no more than 6 cannabis plants (<3 being mature) per person or no more than 12 plants (<6 mature) per house or rental unit.
In the Netherlands, it is illegal to possess (and grow, prepare, process, sell, deliver, distribute and transport) marijuana. However, the Dutch police and public prosecutors have designated the following cases (for persons 18 years or older) as a low-enforcement priority:
  • Possession up to 5 grams (0.176 oz.) of marijuana;
  • Growing of a maximum of 5 cannabis plants for personal consumption in a single household.

2. Are there any differences between how each handles the selling of marijuana?

Because of Congressional interference, D.C. can’t enact any regulatory framework for the sale or taxation of marijuana. So the sale of marijuana is illegal. However, it is permitted to give (without remuneration) less than 1 oz. to another person over 21.

In the Netherlands, the prohibition on the sale of marijuana will not be enforced by the police only if it is sold in a licensed coffee shop to persons 18 or older and the following criteria are met:
  • No more than 5 grams of marijuana can be bought per person per day;
  • The total supply of a coffee shop can be no more than 500 grams (17.6 oz.) at any given time;
  • No alcohol can be served in coffee shops;
  • Minors are not allowed inside coffee shops;
  • It is forbidden to advertise marijuana or other drugs;
  • No nuisance is tolerated in/around coffee shops. 
The sale of marijuana in any other circumstance will be prosecuted.

3. Can anyone traveling to the Netherlands consume marijuana in a coffee shop? 

No, since 2013 the sale of marijuana in coffee shops is only permitted to residents of the Netherlands aged 18 years or older. The primary reason behind this new law was the nuisance of drug tourism in the provinces bordering Germany and Belgium. However, local governments have the authority to designate a level of priority to the enforcement of this law. As a consequence, in the provinces bordering Germany and Belgium there is a higher enforcement priority than in a few cities, like Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

4. But in Amsterdam, it’s legal to possess, grow and sell marijuana, isn’t it?

No, as explained in Question 1, Dutch law applies everywhere in the Netherlands, and Amsterdam is no exception.

5. So the Dutch consume larger quantities of marijuana than Americans, right?

Not quite, the lifetime rate of marijuana consumption for ages 15-64 in the Netherlands is 25.7% compared to 41.5% in the US.

Lets hope Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser puts this information in his pipe and smokes it.

Click here to learn more about the Dutch government's laws and policies regarding drug use


US Presidential Elections: Clinton vs. Walker: It’s Very Close

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has surged to the front of the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls in recent weeks, and he now gives likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a run for her money.

Forty-six percent (46%) of Likely U.S. Voters say they would vote for Clinton in a matchup with Walker if the 2016 presidential contest were held today. But a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that nearly as many (41%) would choose Walker instead. Eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate, while six percent (6%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Seventy-eight percent (78%) say they are following recent news reports about the 2016 presidential race at least somewhat closely, with 35% who are following Very Closely. Among voters who are following the closest, Walker leads Clinton 51% to 43%.

This is the first time Rasmussen Reports has matched Walker against Clinton in a hypothetical presidential faceoff. Two other top GOP contenders, showcased most recently at the just concluded Conservative Political Action Conference, earn numbers against the former secretary of State and first lady similar to what we’ve seen in previous surveys.

Among all likely voters, Clinton gets 45% support to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s 36%. Twelve percent (12%) like another candidate given this matchup. Seven percent (7%) are undecided. A year ago at this time, Clinton posted a 47% to 33% lead over Bush.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson trails Clinton 47% to 36%, little changed from June of last year. Eight percent (8%) favor some other candidate in a Clinton-Carson race, and 10% are undecided.

Read more:: Clinton vs. Walker: It’s Very Close - Rasmussen Reports™

Israel-USA: Pro- and anti-Netanyahu protesters cry out from Capitol Hill

Just before Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the US Congress, several dozen protesters took to Capitol Hill expressing views both for and against the Israeli prime minister.

“Netanyahu is here to send a message to prevent a nuclear holocaust, a nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East,” said one pro-Netanyahu protester.

Brian Becker from the Answer Coalition pointed out that Israel has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

“Iran is within the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. They have the right to develop nuclear power for civilian use as does every other country on the planet. The IAEA inspects Iran more than any other country in the world. Israel, on the other hand, refuses to sign the treaty with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), because Israel, in fact, has nuclear weapons,” said Becker.

Despite Israel’s nuclear programme being an open secret, the official Israeli position is that it does not confirm or deny its existence.

Read more: Pro- and anti-Netanyahu protesters cry out from Capitol Hill | euronews, world news

USA: NSA building damaged by multiple gunshots

Multiple gunshots reportedly struck a National Security Agency office building in Fort Meade, Maryland, according to law enforcement. The FBI is investigating and officials are also considering whether the same gunman is behind several recent attacks.

No injuries have been reported at the scene, though the NSA told NBC Washington that one of its buildings was damaged by "what appear to be" several gunshots. Law enforcement officials are investigating the situation, but US Park Police say they don’t know who may have fired the shots.
According to the Washington Post, US Park Police spokesperson Alicia Woods said the NSA “found evidence of multiple shots hitting a wall of a building.”
Police are also looking into reports of several gunshots being fired along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Route 32, which is located near the NSA. No injuries have been reported from that incident, and officials are trying to determine if the two events are related.

While investigators have not identified a suspect, they are looking into whether the gunman responsible for Tuesday's incident near NSA headquarters is also responsible for three other shootings that have occurred in Maryland over the course of the past week, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Read more: NSA building damaged by multiple gunshots - reports — RT USA


Europe - EU seeks unity after Greece's Tsipras blasts Spain, Portugal for 'bailout blackmail'

The EU said Monday it is trying to mediate in a simmering row between Greece and its eurozone partners Spain and Portugal after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused them of undermining debt talks with Brussels.

Madrid and Lisbon lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission over the comments by Tsipras, who likened pressure from Spain and Portugal during negotiations over a four-month bailout extension to blackmail.

Germany has also denounced the comments by Tsipras, whose anti-austerity Syria party stormed to victory in elections in January on the back of promises to end austerity and renegotiate its bailout.

"We are speaking to all actors involved in order to ensure there is unity among all EU states and especially all EU states of the eurozone," Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a daily briefing.

Read more: Europe - EU seeks unity after Greece's Tsipras blasts Spain, Portugal for 'bailout blackmail' - France 24

Energy: EU seeks to create single European energy market

EU officials on Wednesday unveiled a new plan to create a single European market for energy supplies, purchases and consumption.

The European Commission argues merging the 28 EU energy markets will lower costs and diversify supplies.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic called it “undoubtedly the most ambitious energy project” in the EU’s history.

He said the plans could save businesses and consumers up to 40 billion euros a year.
Today, the bloc buys nearly one-third of its natural gas from Russia’s energy giant Gazprom.
The EU executive says that weaning Europe off Russian gas is essential to guarantee the continent’s energy security for the coming years.

Whilst the 28 member countries are keen to secure their energy supplies, they also have commitments to cut emissions linked to global warming.

Environmental campaigners say a goal to have a 27 percent clean energy market share by 2030 doesn’t go far enough.

Read more: EU seeks to create single European energy market | euronews, Europe

Ireland: EU warns Ireland on debt, jobs and banking sector - by Suzanne Lynch

The European Commission has warned that Ireland must take “decisive policy action” to address macroeconomic imbalances in the economy.

The in-depth review, to be published on Thursday, finds that despite a marked improvement in Ireland’s economic outlook, a number of risks remain.

These include the high level of private and public debt, high structural unemployment and residual concerns about the banking sector.

Read more: EU warns Ireland on debt, jobs and banking sector

Euro Zone: Despite Greece, euro zone is turning the corner - by Paul Taylor

The latest episode of Greece's debt crisis has revived doubts about the long-term survival of the euro, nowhere more so than in London, Europe's main financial center and a hotbed of Euroskepticism.

The heightened risk of a Greek default and/or exit comes just as there are signs that the euro zone is turning the corner after seven years of financial and economic crisis and that its perilous internal imbalances may be starting to diminish.

To skeptics, the election of a radical leftist-led government in Athens committed to tearing up Greece's bailout looks like the start of an unraveling of the 19-nation currency area, with southern countries rebelling against austerity while EU paymaster Germany rebels against further aid
A last-ditch deal to extend Greece's bailout for four months after much kicking and screaming between Athens and Berlin did little to ease fears that the euro zone's weakest link may end up defaulting on its official European creditors.

U.S. economist Milton Friedman's aphorism - "What is unsustainable will not be sustained" - is cited frequently by those who believe market forces will eventually overwhelm the political will that holds the euro together.

Despite Greece, euro zone is turning the corner | Reuters

Russia: Thousands March in Honor of Slain Opposition Activist Nemtsov (Video)

A sea of mourning Muscovites marched silently through downtown Moscow on Sunday in honor of Boris Nemtsov, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most virulent critics, who was gunned down steps from the Kremlin on Friday night.

Black ribbons were pinned to the tricolor Russian flags many among the thousands of mourners waved as they filed onto Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, where Nemtsov took his final steps. The crowd brandished an array of photographs of the handsome politician, who had been a household name in Russia since the 1990s. “Heroes do not die,” read their signs.

Read more: Thousands March in Honor of Slain Opposition Activist Nemtsov (Video) | News | The Moscow Times


Turkey - Jailed PKK leader urges Kurdish separatists to lay down arms against Turkey

The jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) on Saturday urged the separatists to take a "historic" decision to lay down arms, a key step in efforts to end Turkey's long-running Kurdish insurgency.

Reading a statement live on television, Sirri Sureyya Onder, a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), relayed a message from Abdullah Ocalan calling on the Kurdish rebels to hold a congress on disarmament in the spring.

"We are in the process of ending the 30-year of conflict in the form of a perpetual peace, and our primary goal is to reach a democratic solution," Onder quoted Ocalan as saying in a joint press conference with Deputy Prime Minister Yalcin Akdogan.

"I'm calling on the PKK to hold an extraordinary congress in the spring months to take the strategic and historic decision on disarmament," Ocalan's message said.

Read more Turkey Europe - Jailed PKK leader urges Kurdish separatists to lay down arms against Turkey - France 24

U.S. Struggles to Build a Strong Infrastructure - ranks 12th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-15 - by Albert R. Hunt

If Washington were a rational place, a major measure to rebuild roads, bridges, ports and airports would be a slam dunk.

Few doubt the need. The United States has underinvested in infrastructure: It was ranked 12th in The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-15. Road repair needs are pervasive, a quarter of bridges require upgrades and the fast-rail system falls further behind other countries every year.

There is a broad consensus that infrastructure investment is a significant job-creator. It is embraced by the Chamber of Commerce, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and many governors and mayors of both parties.

Republican congressional leaders want selective big accomplishments to prove they can govern. President Obama wants a few more successes in his final years. Infrastructure is one of the very few areas where they are on roughly the same page.

Moreover, the Highway Trust Fund, which finances federal transportation projects, expires in May.
Yet there is little reason to be sanguine. There likely will be a short-term fix for the highway fund. But the necessary longer-term systemic investments will be kicked down the road, a casualty of partisan gridlock.

Read more: U.S. Struggles to Build a Strong Infrastructure -

Venezuela President Maduro imposes mandatory visas for US citizens

President Nicolas Maduro announced on Saturday that his government was implementing a new visa system for all US citizens.

"In order to protect our country… I have decided to implement a system of compulsory visas for all Americans entering Venezuela," Maduro said, adding that there would be a review and reduction of US diplomatic staff in Caracas.

Maduro did not specify when the changes for tourist visas would take place, but said his country would charge the same amount as the US charges for Venezuelan citizens.

Speaking at the Miraflores presidential palace in the capital, Caracas, Maduro said that there were only 17 diplomats from his country in the US, while the Americans had about 100 working in Venezuela.

The leader addressed US President Barack Obama directly, saying he had "arrogantly" refused talks to resolve issues.

"I am very sorry, Mr. President, that you have gone down this dead end," Maduro said.
READ MORE: Venezuela President Maduro imposes mandatory visas for US citizens | News | DW.DE | 01.03.2015