Monday, January 20, 2014

Obama: Pot no more dangerous than alcohol, ponders legalization 

By Ben Wolfgang / The Washington Times

President Obama believes the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado ultimately may open a Pandora’s Box and could lead to calls for cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs to be sold freely and openly.

** FILE ** In this Dec. 20, 2013, file photo, President Barack Obama laughs as he is asked a question during an end-of-the year news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)But more broadly, the president downplayed the dangers of pot, comparing it to cigarettes and arguing it is no more dangerous than booze.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Mr. Obama said in a lengthy interview with The New Yorker. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.

Mr. Obama also took aim at the uneven arrest statistics regarding marijuana, saying poor and minority kids face much stiffer penalties for smoking pot than middle-class children.

The president said it’s important for the legalization of pot in Colorado and Washington “to go forward, because it’s important for a society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

Still, Mr. Obama said turning weed into a legal product raises serious questions that the U.S. must confront.

“I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues,” Mr. Obama said. “If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka.’ Are we open to that? If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth.’ Are we OK with that?”

The full interview is available here.

Published on January 20th, 2014 | by Editorial Staff

US Troops May Be Headed To Iraq And Jordan


The Pentagon is considering sending U.S. troops back to Iraq or a neighboring country on a mission to train Iraqi troops after the recent fall of two major cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, earlier this month to al Qaeda linked militants. The Pentagon has previously opposed to such considerations, but reports that came out Friday suggest that U.S. officials are not opposed to the idea of sending troops back into the region.
The Army Times writes, “It is unclear whether troops would be sent directly into Iraq or possibly conduct training in a nearby country such as Jordan. “We are in continuing discussions about how we can improve the Iraqi military,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday. The idea of sending U.S. military trainers back to Iraq for the first time since 2011 is one the Pentagon has emphatically rejected in recent years, but on Friday, Warren offered a carefully worded statement that did not rule out the possibility.”
But Sunday, the Army Times reported that Information Minister Mohammad Momani told the Associated Press, “that Jordan has received a U.S. request to host the training and that details are being discussed.”
“We look positively at the training because it is consistent with our foreign policy goal of fighting terrorism and because we have one of the best security and military training facilities in the region,” said Momani, who is also the government spokesman.”
Iraqi government officials are extremely concerned over the worsening crisis in Anbar province and are open to the idea of having U.S. troops on their soil to help contain the issue. The Pentagon and Iraq government may be working a significant arms deal in addition to troops on the ground.
The Army Times continues, “Another defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Pentagon also may be considering a larger shipment of arms that would require notification of Congress. “We are processing a wide range of requests [from the Iraqis’] for continued support,” the defense official said.”
As the Iraq situation continues to worsen, it comes amid significant criticism of President Obama’s quick withdrawal from Iraq and his current handling of the war in Afghanistan. Many U.S. officials have expressed concerns over the rapid departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan having a mirroring effect to what we are seeing in Iraq today.
“The U.S does not have a current Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq because the Iraqis in 2011 refused to provide legal immunity for U.S. troops to operate inside the country. Iraq’s failure to agree to legal immunity was a key factor in the decision to withdraw all American forces two years ago.” 
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