NBA responds to ex-commissioner David Stern’s comments about marijuana

NBA responds to ex-commissioner David Stern’s comments about marijuana (Source

Former NBA commissioner David Stern, who ran the league from 1984-2014, made headlines Wednesday for his stance on marijuana and how he believes it “probably should be removed” from the league’s banned substances list.

“I think all of the (sports) leagues are now appropriately focused on player training, structuring of the right parts of their body, player rehabilitation in the case of injury, player nutrition … (marijuana) should be a part of that conversation,” Stern told former NBA player Al Harrington in a documentary published by UNINTERRUPTED. The documentary, titled The Concept of Cannabis, follows Harrington’s journey from NBA star to marijuana entrepreneur. When Harrington raised the question regarding recreational marijuana use among players in states where it has been legalized, Stern said, “We’ve got to change the collective bargaining agreement and let you do what’s legal in your state.” “I think it’s up to the sports leagues to anticipate where this is going and maybe lead the way,” he continued. Stern added that, during his reign as commissioner, it was “generally known” that a lot of players smoked marijuana until the league tightened the rules.

“Some of our players came to us and said, ‘some of these guys are high coming into the games.’ We began tightening it up, and at that time, people accepted the generally held wisdom that marijuana was a gateway drug.”

Now, Stern says, there’s “a completely different perception.”


Is War with Russia Coming? U.S. Marines are Getting Ready

IS WAR WITH RUSSIA COMING? U.S. MARINES ARE GETTING READY FOR A CONFLICT IN EASTERN EUROPE(Source Newsweek) The U.S. Marine Corps is seriously considering the prospect of a conflict with Russia in Eastern Europe and dedicating more resources to its Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters, Military Times reported Tuesday.

A Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) is the largest type of Marine combat force and can include up to 25,000 Marines. In recent years, the conflicts the U.S. has been involved in have seen the U.S. Marine Corps focus its warfighting capabilities on smaller units, like the Marine Expeditionary Unit or Marine Expeditionary Brigade. As tensions have risen with Russia, however, the Marines have seen the need to focus on prepping a much larger force.

“The MEF command element will have to be ready to support a warfighting effort in Europe,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Hedelund, commanding general of North Carolina-based II Marine Expeditionary Force. The U.S. Marines have ramped up their presence in Europe in the past few years, especially after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea. In March, hundreds of U.S. Marines conducted drills with Romanian troops on the Black Sea coast.

This summer, the U.S. announced that some 330 Marines stationed in Norway will stay there until the end of 2018, twice as long as they were originally supposed to be there. The Marines, who were sent to Norway in January, represent the first foreign force to be stationed in the Scandinavian country (also a NATO member) since the end of World War II.

“We consider that this step contradicts Norwegian policy of not deploying foreign military bases in the country in times of peace,” the Russian embassy wrote in a statement at the time. Washington’s relationship with Russia has been deteriorating over the past several years as the Kremlin has taken aggressive actions in Ukraine and allied itself with foes of the U.S. in the Syria conflict. These tensions were compounded by Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Some have contended the current state of affairs represents a new Cold War.

Alarm in Russia as U.S. becomes the unpredictable superpower

Alarm in Russia as US becomes the unpredictable superpower (Source Miami Herald)

Russia may have got what it wished for with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, but almost a year later Moscow’s foreign policy community shows more signs of alarm than triumph.

Alongside statements of neutrality toward the U.S. vote from officials and others at a Kremlin-sponsored gathering of foreign and domestic Russia-watchers this week, there’s deep concern that the role of unpredictable, militarily adventurous superpower – played by Russia since 2014 – may be passing to the U.S.

Hartford could default on its Debt as soon as next month


The City of Hartford is likely to default on its debt as early as November without additional concessions from the State of Connecticut, bondholders and labor unions, Moody’s Investors Service says in a new report. How and when the concessions are realized will factor into bondholder recovery as well as the city’s financial recovery. “Our analysis projects operating deficits of $60 million to $80 million per year through 2036, the final maturity of its general obligation debt,” says Nicholas Lehman, a Moody’s AVP. “Fixed costs — including pension contributions, benefits and insurance, and debt service — are driving large projected operating deficits of approximately 11% of revenues. “

Hartford will look to bondholders to restructure roughly $604 million in general obligation and lease debt. Options for restructuring include refinancing debt by issuing new refunding bonds with a maximum maturity of 30 years, instead of the previous cap of 20 years. As well, the new bonds would be secured by a statutory lien on property taxes.

In the event of a default, bondholder recovery is extremely sensitive to the amount of concessions received from stakeholders, and how those concessions are allocated. Bondholder recovery analysis supports the Caa3 rating based on Moody’s expectation the state and labor unions will provide significant concessions.

Hartford has lobbied Connecticut for additional short- and long-term aid, which would be an additional revenue source to help resolve the fiscal imbalance. However, the availability of this support is highly unknown in the midst of a state budget impasse, as one of the key contentious elements within the budget is additional aid for Hartford.


Why you might need a passport card to travel domestically in 2018

Why you might need a passport card to travel domestically in 2018(Source Yahoo) Everyone knows that you need a boarding pass and driver’s license to pass airport security. It’s always been this way, but next year, some travelers may also need a passport card. Starting on Jan. 22, 2018, travelers from a handful of states may have to show an alternate ID to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at the airport. This is because the REAL ID Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005, will go into effect. Essentially, this act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses (and ID cards), and prohibits the TSA from accepting cards that don’t meet the standards. Several states have requested extensions to become compliant, many of which expired on Oct. 10. New extensions may be granted, but for now, the grace period for states ends on Jan. 22.

Currently, only 26 states are fully compliant, so residents of those areas can continue to use their state-issued driver’s license when passing through airport security. The remaining states, including New York, California, Illinois and Louisiana, are currently under review. This means that they may be granted an extension and given more time to become compliant. Or it could mean that residents of these states will have to use an alternative form of ID when flying in 2018.

North Korea Tells U.S. to Expect ‘Unimaginable’ Strike

North Korea Tells U.S. to Expect ‘Unimaginable’ Strike(Source Newsweek) North Korea has again threatened a nuclear strike against the U.S. in reaction to ongoing joint military drills involving American and South Korean militaries on the peninsula. An article carried by the state-controlled news agency KCNA warned the U.S. would face an “unimaginable” strike in retaliation for carrying out naval drills involving the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and for “creating tension on the eve of war” by conducting civilian evacuation drills in South Korea this weekend. “The U.S. is running amok by introducing under our nose the targets we have set as primary ones. The U.S. should expect that it would face unimaginable strike at an unimaginable time,” KCNA stated Thursday, as reported by the South Korean news agency Yonhap. The wording of the threat mimics previous statements from U.S. military officials such as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joe Dunford who said it was “not unimaginable” to have military options on the Korean peninsula. As recently as this week Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said at a forum in Singapore that his job was to “imagine the unimaginable.”

Making History: China and Russia are Transforming

Making History: China and Russia Are Transforming “Enemies” into “Friends” (source

Russia, China and Iran have in recent years drawn enormous benefit from the declining military and economic power of the United States, further propelled by a general mistrust of Washington’s diplomatic and political abilities, both with Obama and now with Trump. The two previous articles showed that Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, even as they addressed different situations, shared similar interests and came to coordinate their military, economic and diplomatic strategy.

The success of the Euro-Asian triptych is based on the essential principle of transforming enemies into neutral players, neutral players into allies, and further improving relations with allied nations. In order for this project to be realized, economic, military and diplomatic efforts are variously employed, depending on the country and the general regional context. The flexibility shown by Moscow and Beijing in negotiations has delivered historic deals, not only in the energy sector but also in the military sphere and also in education and poverty reduction, as seen in Africa. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria are three countries that, when analysed individually, reveal this precise strategy of Russia, China and Iran. Particular attention is focused on the Middle East for several reasons. It is the region where America’s declining military power, unable to achieve its geopolitical objectives in Syria, meets with the progressive loss of Washington’s economic influence, highlighted by the increasingly precarious position of the petrodollar that is about to be challenged by petroyuan deals between Saudi Arabia and China. Saudi Arabia finds itself with very low monetary reserves as a result of the lowered price of oil and involvement in several wars. To add to this is a military defeat in Syria and an even bigger debacle in Yemen. To cap it all off, the United States, its most valuable ally, is increasingly disinterested in the fate of the Saudi monarchy and the kingdom, thanks to increasing energy independence as a result of fracking. Adding to this, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has split as a result of the economic warfare against Qatar, representing another example of Washington not supporting Riyadh to the full extent the monarchy in Saudi Arabia would have been expecting. The reasoning for Riyadh is as simple as it gets. If Washington is not able to support Saudi Arabia militarily, but Riyadh has to bear the burden economically, then the Kingdom is in enormous trouble and needs alternatives like Russia and China. It is unthinkable for Saudi Arabia to continue supporting petrodollar hegemony while Iran becomes a regional leader in the Middle East. The best way is by negotiating with the main players, and Russia looks like the perfect mediator, as recently announced. China is just waiting for all these disputes to settle down to bring to bear its economic power to definitively relegate to the past the last forty years of chaos in the region stemming from Saudi-Iranian rivalry. The path traced by Moscow, Beijing and Tehran is expected to stabilize the Middle East, thanks to the resolution of the Syrian conflict. Some key elements of this global change we are witnessing are: Chinese economic pressure on the Saudis to accept payment for oil in yuan; the eradication of terrorism in Iraq and neighbouring countries, thereby circumventing sanctions imposed on Iran by the US and its allies; and transforming Turkey into a regional energy-distribution centre. The RPC intervenes economically in a number of regions, particularly in the Middle East, to support Russian military power through money, diplomacy, economic investment (OBOR) and by providing liquidity to allies, as seen with Moscow when it was hit with Western sanctions. For Beijing, the decline in terrorism is a key factor in fostering China’s development of the Silk Road 2.0 infrastructure, allowing Beijing to enter into areas destroyed in the Middle East to offer easy reconstruction plans. At the moment, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Pakistan seem to hold great importance for China’s future strategies. Russia and China lead organizations such as the BRICS, the UEE, the SCO, and the AIIB. The grand strategy is to support the creation of an alternative to the US dollar-based neoliberal world order and to contain the effects of declining US empire. Nations will increasingly have to choose between two systems: whether the multipolar world order, based on friendship and win-win cooperation, or the unipolar one, based on the America’s declining military and economic power.




US-North Korean War Could Trigger a Russian-American Nuclear Exchange

US-North Korean War Could Trigger a Russian-American Nuclear Exchange (Source Russia Insider)

In the event that North Korea tests another Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) or potentially launches an attack on the United States, the Pentagon could try to intercept those missiles with the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. However, as many analysts have pointed out, the interceptors that miss their target could reenter the Earth’s atmosphere inside Russian airspace. Such an eventuality could prove to be a serious problem unless steps are taken to address the issue now. “You should also be aware of the concern that those interceptors fired from Alaska that miss or don’t engage an incoming North Korean ICBM(s) will continue on and reenter the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association told The National Interest. “This carries a nontrivial risk of unintended escalation.” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told The National Interest that the United States should open a dialogue with Russia on the issue immediately. “Good god, yes,” Lewis said emphatically. Olya Oliker, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies agreed.

“We have time now to consult with Moscow, talk about plans, discuss how notification would work,” Oliker told The National Interest.

“This isn’t the rocket science part of all this.”

Indeed, in a recent op-ed, Lewis argues that an American interceptor launch could accidentally trigger a nuclear exchange if the Russians mistook such a weapon for an incoming ICBM.

“We can’t assume that Russia would realize the launch from Alaska was a missile defense interceptor rather than an ICBM. From Russia, the trajectories might appear quite similar, especially if the radar operator was under a great deal of stress or pressure,” Lewis wrote for The Daily Beast. “It doesn’t matter how Russia’s early warning system ought to work on paper, the reality of the Russian system in practice has been a lot less impressive.”

Joshua H. Pollack, editor of the The Nonproliferation Review and a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said that the danger is real.

“Whether they actually would enter Russian airspace is probably less important than whether they break the line of sight of Russia’s early-warning radars,” Pollack said. “They do appear to plan in terms of launch-on-warning. That’s why I call this scenario ‘Russian Roulette.’”


Europe, China, Japan and The New World Order

Europe, China, Japan and The New World Order (Source

The alliance between the United States and Western Europe was the stabilizing bond of the post-World War II world order. The breakup of this alliance has been the subject of many articles. It is perhaps this development that most concerns world leaders. This is not just a passing phase due to the presidency of Donald Trump. Tensions within the nato alliance have been increasing for years. Even during the Cold War, France tried to steer between the two superpowers, and Germany tried to keep its options open. In spite of these tensions, the alliance held together for seven decades. Now, however, relations have plunged to an all-time low. China sees these transatlantic ties weakening, and it senses an opportunity. If President Trump makes an unpopular trip to Europe, Chinese leaders follow with a visit of their own. If America makes a move that Europeans don’t like, China does the opposite. President Trump denounces free trade? Chinese President Xi Jinping comes to Davos to personally denounce protectionism. Mr. Trump pulls out of the Paris climate-change accords? The EU and China publish a document calling the accords a “historic achievement” and sign their first-ever bilateral agreement on climate change.The European Union is already China’s largest trading partner. Many European leaders, including German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, have already aggressively called for the EU to turn to China in order to counter President Trump. A Pew survey published in July found that majorities in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain all believe that China is the world’s leading economic power. The two also already have a massive trade relationship. China is the EU’s biggest source of imports and number two destination for exports. Trade between the two averages over €1 billion a day. No wonder Andrei Lungu, president of the Romanian Institute for the Study of the Asia-Pacific, concluded that “the stars are perfectly aligned for the EU-China partnership to reach its full potential and become the world’s G-2”. As an economic giant without a geopolitical or military footprint in the Asia-Pacific, the EU is in a perfect position to engage with China,” he noted. “If the world’s foremost power has decided to go on vacation, somebody needs to take over its responsibilities,” he wrote. “The EU and China, the other two world economic powers, are the only ones that can.”

CONFIRMED: Vegas shooting suspect prescribed dangerous drugs

CONFIRMED: Vegas shooting suspect prescribed dangerous drugs – just like many previous mass shooters (Source

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has obtained information that Stephen Paddock, the suspect in the largest mass shooting in modern US history was prescribed a powerful psychotropic drug called diazepam in June of this year, just under four months prior to the shooting.

This fits a decades long trend among mass shooters and others who engage in cruel and unusual criminal acts being on powerful, yet legal psychotropic drugs. The Duran accurately predicted two crucial realities in respect of the suspect’s profile, first of all that there was a connection to Philippines  where an almost identical shooting took place 4 months prior to the Vegas massacre and secondly, that suspect Stephen Paddock was likely taking powerful psychotropic drugs. Both of these claims have now been confirmed.

“Records from the Nevada Prescription Monitoring Program show Paddock was prescribed 50 10-milligram diazepam tablets by Henderson physician Dr. Steven Winkler on June 21. Paddock purchased the drug — its brand name is Valium — without insurance at a Walgreens store in Reno on the same day it was prescribed. He was supposed to take one pill a day.

Diazepam is a sedative-hypnotic drug in the class of drugs known as benzodizepines, which studies have shown can trigger aggressive behaviour. Chronic use or abuse of sedatives such as diazepam can also trigger psychotic experiences, according to”. According to the Nevada state monitoring report, the suspect Stephen Paddock was first prescribed the drugs in 2016.

This validates an earlier report in The Duran which questioned whether the suspect the Las Vegas mass shooting was taking powerful psychotropic drugs as were most previous mass shooters.

The United States has the highest rate per capita use of anti-depressant drugs and boasts the highest consumption of opiates in the world. However, according to the World Health Organisation, the United States is not the country with the highest rates of clinical depression, in spite of US doctors tending to over-diagnose mental disorders in comparison with the global average. Moreover, there is a clear linkage between criminals who engage in mass shooting attacks and their use of psychotropic anti-depressant drugs.