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Study Finds People Who Can Legally Treat Themselves With Cannabis Use Less Allopathic Prescription Drugs

By: Kat Mccue of Salud Móvil

A new study finds that patients who can legally treat themselves with medical cannabis stop using prescription opioids or use fewer opiates to care for chronic pain symptoms.

Patients enrolled in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program also suffered less pain, and they enjoyed a higher quality of life, better social experiences, higher levels of activity, and concentration.

The investigation published in the journal PLOS One analyzed health records from 66 habitual opioid users who were diagnosed with severe chronic pain to determine if and how legalized medical marijuana programs affected patients’ opioid use. Thirty-seven of the patients were enrolled in a legal medical cannabis program in New Mexico between 2010 and 2015 while the remaining 29 patients were not registered

New Mexico’s medical marijuana program allows its patients with severe chronic pain to self-manage their marijuana use, including how and how often the patients take cannabis, and what strength and strain of cannabis are used, giving patients much latitude over managing their condition.

For the study, researchers had access to 21 months of prescription data, including three months of data before patient enrollment in the medical cannabis program. Compared to those patients not enrolled in the program, cannabis users were 17 times more likely to cease their prescription opioid use and over five times more likely to reduce their daily dosage of opioids.

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The Battle For Net Neutrality Is In Full Effect

By: Jake Johnson of Common Dreams

“The FCC under Pai is handing over the internet to a few humongous gatekeepers who see the rest of us as products to be delivered to advertisers, not as citizens needing communications that serve democracy’s needs.”

Open internet advocates warned that “we’re running out of time” to save the web from corporate control and called on Americans to make their representatives’ phones “ring off the hook” Tuesday after FCC chairman Ajit Pai unveiled (pdf) his long-awaited plan to scrap net neutrality that critics slammed as “naked corporatism” designed to give a major gift to the telecom industry at the expense of the public.

“The reckless wrecking ball strikes again,” former FCC commissioner and current special adviser at Common Cause Michael Copps said in a statement. “FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s scorched-earth plan for net neutrality displays callous disregard for both process and substance. The chairman’s plan to do away with net neutrality will be a disaster for consumers and yet another handout for big business.”

Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, said Pai’s plan “makes no sense” for a variety of key reasons.

“It ignores the will of people from across the political spectrum who overwhelmingly support these protections. It ignores the law and the courts, which have repeatedly upheld the 2015 Title II rules. And it ignores the vibrancy of the internet marketplace following adoption of that 2015 order, with incontrovertible economic data showing that both investment in networks and online innovation are flourishing under the very same rules Pai wants to destroy,” Wood said.

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Germany Tops U.S.A As Best International Country

By: Ronan J O’ Shea of The Independent

Germany has been named the country with the best “brand image” according to a new study of 50 countries.

It has leapfrogged the USA, which previously held the title.

The Nation Brands Index, conducted in association with independent policy advisor Simon Anholt, conducts what it says is the world’s most comprehensive global nation branding survey, combining six dimensions: governance, exports, people, culture & heritage, tourism, investment and immigration.

It considers factors such as how people perceive a country’s quality of life, business environment, tolerance and the public image of a country’s products and services The survey measured “the power and quality of each country’s ‘brand image”, according to

Speaking to The Independent, Anholt said: “There are over 50 statements about each of the 50 countries in the index, reflecting views on their landscape, people, tourist appeal, economy, government, educational system, products, culture, and much else besides. Each year since 2005, we’ve sent this questionnaire to around 20,000 people in 20 countries, chosen using UN statistics to select a typical sample of the general population. It’s used by more than 40 governments who want to keep track of their country’s international standing.”

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Denver Declares It Illegal To Declaw Cats

By: Chris Morris of Fortune

Denver has taken a stand in the oft-controversial debate over declawing cats, with the City Council unanimously passing a ban on the practice Monday night. Critics have labeled the procedure, which is common in most states, as inhumane.

The city is the first municipality in the country outside of California to ban declawings. (Since 2003, eight cities in that state have prohibited the act.) Public opinion was strongly behind the bill, though some pet owners objected, saying any pain experienced by cats who underwent the procedure was temporary.

The bill applies only to elective declawing. Any medically required procedure is still permitted. The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association opposed the bill, somewhat surprisingly, saying it was an issue that should be left up to cat owners and their pets’ doctors.

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15 States Join Global Alliance To Phase Out Coal

By: Nina Chestney and Stine Jacobsen of Reuters

At least 15 countries have joined an international alliance to phase out coal from power generation before 2030, delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bonn said on Thursday.

Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands have joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, delegates said.

The alliance aims to have 50 members by the next U.N. climate summit in 2018 to be held in Poland’s Katowice, one of Europe’s most polluted cities.

But some of the world’s biggest coal users, such as China, the United States, Germany and Russia, have not signed up.

Powering Past Coal comes just days after U.S. administration officials, along with energy company representatives, led a side event at the talks to promote “fossil fuels and nuclear power in climate mitigation.”

The event triggered a peaceful protest by anti-coal demonstrators and jarred with many ministers who are working on a rule book for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to move the world economy off fossil fuels.

The alliance was kicked off by Britain, Canada and the Marshall Islands, who urged other nations to join them in a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

A source close to the matter said signatories to the alliance so far had been at least a dozen, in addition to some U.S. states, Canadian provinces and businesses.

“It is a rebuke to (President) Donald Trump from the UK and Canada, two of America’s closest allies, that his obsession for dirty energy will not spread,” said Mohamed Adow, international climate lead at Christian Aid.

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Worth County High School Awarded $3M After Police Abuse Their Civil Rights

By: Chelsea Bailey of NBC

A group of Georgia high school students have reached a $3 million settlement against the Worth County Sheriff’s Office after a judge ruled that law enforcement violated their civil rights by conducting a massive drug search without probable cause.

A judge ordered former Worth County Sheriff Jeff Hobby and his deputies to pay the staggering settlement to the students.

In April, Hobbs and his deputies spent hours at Worth County High School searching more than 800 students for drugs — and their search turned up empty.

Attorneys from the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Atlanta-based civil rights firm Horsley Begnaud filed a class-action lawsuit against the sheriff’s department on behalf of the students.

According to the suit, deputies “touched and manipulated students’ breasts and genitals” and “inserted fingers inside girls’ bras.” The suit also alleged that the searches revealed the students’ body parts.

Mark Begnaud, who represented the students in the lawsuit, said Hobbs executed the search based on scant evidence and in clear violation of the students’ constitutional rights.

law enforcement beyond just south Georgia — or beyond Georgia — that this abuse of power is just not tolerated,” Begnaud said. “Students don’t shed their constitutional rights when they enter a school.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order Monday suspending Hobby and appointing a retired deputy sheriff, Bobby Sapp, to serve as interim head of the department.

According to NBC-affiliate WALB, the settlement will now go to U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams for approval.

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Research Shows Correlation Between Cannabis Use And Creativity

By: Eric W. Dolan of Psypost

A new study suggests that differences in personality traits account for the link between marijuana use and enhanced creativity.

“I became interested in this topic upon the realization that a number of my favorite musicians and artists were well known for their cannabis use, and that this cannabis use was commonly thought to have been a cause of the creative success of many artists,” explained study author Emily LaFrance, a graduate student at Washington State University.

“I began to wonder about this commonly held idea – are cannabis users really more creative than non-users? And if so, is this because cannabis use makes them more creative, or is something else causing differences in creativity between users and non-users?”

For their study, which was published in Consciousness and Cognition, the researchers had 412 cannabis users and 309 non-users complete a series of psychological tests.

They found that cannabis users tended to be more extraverted and also tended to be more open to new experiences.

Cannabis users self-reported higher levels of artistic creativity than non-users, but they did not report a higher number of creative works or achievements.

Cannabis users also performed better than non-users on a test of convergent thinking — meaning the creative process of narrowing down potential solutions to find one correct answer.

But the statistical relationship between cannabis use and creativity disappeared when the researchers accounted for the effect of openness to experience. The results suggest that cannabis users’ higher levels of openness to experience are responsible for their enhanced creativity.

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Countries Are Using Digital Disinformation To Manipulate Public Opinion

By: Alex Hern of The Guardian

The governments of 30 countries around the globe are using armies of so called opinion shapers to meddle in elections, advance anti-democratic agendas and repress their citizens, a new report shows.

Unlike widely reported Russian attempts to influence foreign elections, most of the offending countries use the internet to manipulate opinion domestically, says US NGO Freedom House.

“Manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 17 other countries over the past year, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate,” the US government-funded charity said. “Although some governments sought to support their interests and expand their influence abroad, as with Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe, in most cases they used these methods inside their own borders to maintain their hold on power.”

Even in those countries that didn’t have elections in the last year, social media manipulation was still frequent. Of the 65 countries surveyed, 30, including Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey, were found to be using “armies of opinion shapers” to “spread government views, drive particular agendas, and counter government critics on social media”, according to Freedom House’s new Freedom on the Net report. In each of the 30 countries it found “strong indications that individuals are paid to distort the digital information landscape in the government’s favour, without acknowledging sponsorship”.

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Enterprise To Donate 30 Million To Protecting Rivers and Watersheds

By: Lisa Brown St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The foundation arm of Enterprise Rent-A-Car is donating $30 million to The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to preserve and protect rivers and watersheds in the U.S. and


The Clayton-based rental car giant’s Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundatiwatershedson said the gift over five years is expected to benefit 150 million people.

The four areas of focus for the donation include supporting efforts to reduce the amount of excess nutrient runoff that enters the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The donation will also help fund the restoration of and improve water quality on the Colorado River and in wetlands and major rivers in Canada and Europe.

Based in Arlington, Va., the nonprofit The Nature Conservancy operates in 34 countries and all 50 U.S. states. The Nature Conservancy will spend $60 million on river conservation globally for the next five years, said Shelly Lakly, the Nature Conservancy’s managing director of Saving Rivers Strategy.

“This donation will make a significant impact on us and our mission,” Lakly said. “We’re at a critical point in the development of the world with population increases and the need for people to work together. It’s truly a tipping point.”

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Research Claims Earthquakes Due to Water and Oil Water Pumping

By: Jim Scott of Colorado University

A rash of earthquakes in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico recorded between 2008 and 2010 was likely due to fluids pumped deep underground during oil and gas wastewater disposal, says a new CU Boulder study.

The study, which took place in the 2,200-square-mile Raton Basin along the central-Colorado northern New Mexico border, found more than 1,800 earthquakes up to magnitude 4.3 during that period, linking most to wastewater injection well activity. Such wells are used to pump water back in the ground after it has been extracted during the collection of methane gas from

subterranean coal beds.

One key piece of the new study was the use of hydrogeological modeling of pore pressure in what is called the “basement rock” of the Raton Basin—rock several miles deep that underlies the oldest stratified layers. Pore pressure is the fluid pressure within rock fractures and rock pores.

While two previous studies have linked earthquakes in the Raton Basin to wastewater injection wells, this is the first to show that elevated pore pressures deep underground are well above earthquake-triggering thresholds, said CU Boulder doctoral student Jenny Nakai, lead study author. The northern edges of the Raton Basin border Trinidad, Colorado, and Raton, New Mexico.

“We have shown for the first time a plausible causative mechanism for these earthquakes,” said Nakai of the Department of Geological Sciences. “The spatial patterns of seismicity we observed are reflected in the distribution of wastewater injection and our modeled pore pressure change.”

A paper on the study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. Co-authors on the study include CU Boulder professors Anne Sheehan and Shemin Ge of geological sciences, former CU Boulder doctoral student Matthew Weingarten, now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, and Professor Susan Bilek of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.

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