Category Archives: Government

Opiod Users Switch To Cannabis For Pain Treatment 

By: Kat McCue

Patients are ditching opioids and instead using cannabis to treat pain, anxiety, and depression mostly in states where pot is legal, according to a new study.

Published in the Journal of Pain Research, the results show that 46 percent of people who used cannabis at least once within the previous 90 days used it as a substitute for prescription drugs that treat pain, anxiety, and depression. The investigators surveyed nearly 3,000 respondents from all over the United States (as well as participants from Canada and Europe). The findings serve as the latest bit of news demonstrating a growing trend of medical cannabis use for conditions traditionally treated with prescription medications.

Survey participants responded to the following question: “Have you ever used cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (yes/no)?” Upon answering “yes,” respondents listed the medications that they replaced with cannabis in additional space provided. The results? The most commonly replaced drugs were painkillers (narcotics and opioids) at a nearly 36 percent substitution rate, while anxiety medications (anxiolytics and benzodiazepines) and antidepressants each were replaced with cannabis approximately 13 percent of the time.

Although there has yet to be any definitive medical consensus regarding the effectiveness of cannabis to treat pain, anxiety, and depression, it seems to function as an adequate replacement for prescription medications among medical cannabis users with these conditions.
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China Creates Forest City To Fight Polution 

By: Lucy Wang of Inhabitat 

A pollution-fighting green city unlike any before is springing to life in China. Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, the first “Forest City” is now under construction Liuzhou, Guangxi Province. The futuristic city will use renewable energy for self sufficiency and be blanketed in almost 1 million plants and 40,000 trees—a sea of greenery capable of absorbing nearly 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 57 tons of pollutants annually.

Commissioned by Liuzhou Municipality Urban Planning for the north of Liuzhou along the Liujiang river, the 175-hectare Liuzhou Forest City will be the first of its kind that, if successful, may raise the bar for urban design worldwide. This first Chinese Forest City will host 30,000 people in a community where all buildings are entirely covered in nearly a million plants of over 100 species, as well as 40,000 trees, that produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen. The use of greenery-covered facades builds on Stefano Boeri’s previous works, including the Vertical Forest residential building in Milan.

The new green city will be entirely wired and connected to Liuzhou with a fast rail line used by electric cars. Powered by geothermal and solar energy, Liuzhou Forest City will include residential areas, commercial and recreational spaces, two schools, and a hospital. The project is slated for completion in 2020.

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Separate Experts Conclude Ocean Temperatures Continue Rising 

By: John Abraham of The Guardian

As humans put ever more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, the Earth heats up. These are the basics of global warming. But where does the heat go? How much extra heat is there? And how accurate are our measurements? These are questions that climate scientists ask. If we can answer these questions, it will better help us prepare for a future with a very different climate. It will also better help us predict what that future climate will be.
The most important measurement of global warming is in the oceans. In fact, “global warming” is really “ocean warming.” If you are going to measure the changing climate of the oceans, you need to have many sensors spread out across the globe that take measurements from the ocean surface to the very depths of the waters. Importantly, you need to have measurements that span decades so a long-term trend can be established. 
These difficulties are tackled by oceanographers, and a significant advancement was presented in a paper just published in the journal Climate Dynamics. That paper, which I was fortunate to be involved with, looked at three different ocean temperature measurements made by three different groups. We found that regardless of whose data was used or where the data was gathered, the oceans are warming.

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Putin Provides Specific Instructions To Support Trumps Presidency 

Compliments of CBS 

A report Friday morning claims Russian President Vladimir Putin gave direct instructions to help elect Donald Trump president.

According to a Washington Post investigation, former President Obama received a secret CIA report in August.

That report “captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives – defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.”

CBS News confirmed last year that U.S. intelligence officials knew that the Russian government operation to interfere in the U.S. election had been approved by Putin himself, but they were reluctant to reveal how much they knew out of concern that sources and methods could be compromised, CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.

The Post reports that U.S. intelligence agencies had sourcing deep inside the Russian government capturing Putin’s direct instructions in the operation.

The Post also reports that before he left office Mr. Obama set in motion a secret program that authorized the deployment of “implants” in Russian networks – digital bombs that could be triggered in a retaliatory cyberstrike in the event of Moscow aggression – and that it would be up to President Trump to decide to use the capability.

CBS News confirmed that Obama officials felt that their effort to expel Russian diplomats in retaliation was undermined by the incoming administration.

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Google Scrubs Medical Records and Other Personal Information From Its Results 

By: Samuel Gibbs of The Guardian 

Google has started removing private medical records from its search results, after adjusting its policy regarding personal information.

The change was made on Thursday to include the “confidential, personal medical records of private people” in the bracket of information Google may remove unprompted from search results. Other examples of such information include national or government issued identification numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers and images of signatures.

The leaking of private medical records can be extremely damaging to the victims, both financially and emotionally, with future prospects affected and private lives of the vulnerable exposed. Given that Google’s indexing system will capture anything that’s publicly accessible on the internet, leaks such as those created by an Indian pathology lab which uploaded more than 43,000 patient records in December, including names and HIV blood test results, can be particularly damaging.

The last change to the removal policy was made in 2015 with the addition of “nude or sexually explicit images that were uploaded or shared without your consent” to cover so-called revenge porn.

The new addition to Google’s scrubbing policy marks a change from the search company’s traditional hands-off, algorithmic approach which resists attempts at censorship. This has come under scrutiny over the last few years due to the spread of fake news and misinformation. Google recently adjusted its search results to down-rank contested information such as fake news.

For many Google has become the gateway to the internet, meaning that removal from the company’s search results effectively scrubs them from the internet. While the information will still be accessible via other search engines or directly, other associated actions including the European right to be forgotten have seen being removed from Google’s search results as good enough to affect change.

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PA Judge Rules Police Dash Cam Videos Are For Public Access 

By: Peter Hall

In a decision that opens up public access to police videos, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled state police dashboard camera footage of the aftermath of a car crash must be released under the state’s Right-to-Know Law.

Although it recognized there may be situations when police videos cannot be released because they are part of investigations, the Supreme Court found there’s no blanket rule against releasing such recordings.
Bucking state police arguments to keep the videos out of the public realm, a 5-2 majority found decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis on whether exceptions for investigative material apply, and police have the burden to show why a video is exempt from release.

Public record watchdogs called the court’s decision a significant victory for access to police records at a time when there’s a growing demand for information about how police do their jobs.

“Citizens should care because it gives them the ability to access police dash camera video, which will help them understand police interaction in the community and provide accountability,” said Melissa Melewsky, who filed a friend of the court brief in the case on behalf of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.

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Stephen Hawkings: Space Colonization Will Unite and Elevate Humanity 

By: Pallab Gosh 

They should also aim to build a lunar base in 30 years’ time and send people to Mars by 2025.

Prof Hawking said that the goal would re-ignite the space programme, forge new alliances and give humanity a sense of purpose.

He was speaking at the Starmus Festival celebrating science and the arts, which is being held in Trondheim, Norway.

“Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity,” he said.

“I hope it would unite competitive nations in a single goal, to face the common challenge for us all.

“A new and ambitious space programme would excite (young people), and stimulate interest in other areas, such as astrophysics and cosmology”.

He addressed the concerns of those arguing that it would be better to spend our money on solving the problems of this planet along with a pointed criticism of US President Donald Trump.

“I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen,” he said.

Prof Hawking explained that human space travel is essential for the future of humanity precisely because the Earth was under threat from climate change as well as diminishing natural resources.

“We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth,” the Cambridge University theoretical physicist explained.

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Sean Spicer To Be Replaced As Press Secretary 

By: Gabrielle Levy of U.S News 

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will step back from giving reporters the daily press briefing and is searching for his replacement at the podium.

“We have sought input from many people as we look to expand our communications operation. As he did in the beginning, Sean Spicer is managing both the communications and press office,” White House officials said in a statement Monday.

Spicer will continue to fill the duties of the communications director – a post that has been empty since the end of May after the resignation of Mike Dubke.

There has been plenty of speculation about Spicer’s job almost since the first day of the Trump administration, when he came before members of the media to defend the new president’s claims about crowd sizes at his inauguration. The chatter has ramped up in recent weeks, as he gave over many of his briefing duties to his deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

The White House has reportedly not yet settled on a title for Spicer’s new role, which is part of a broader shakeup meant to wipe the slate clean after a series of communications missteps.

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Clear Divisions In Trump Administration As 12B Dollar Qatari Arms Deal Clears Days After POTUS Acuses Region Of Funding Terrorism

By: MARGARET BRENNAN, KYLIE ATWOOD of CBS 

While President Trump berates Qatar for sponsoring terrorism at the highest levels, he is simultaneously authorizing the country to purchase over $21 billion of U.S. weapons. 

One portion of that deal — $12 billion for 36 F-15QA fighter jets — was inked on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., when Qatar’s Defense Minister met with U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis. 

“We are pleased to announce today the signing of the letter of offer and acceptance for the purchase of the F-15QA fighter jets, with an initial cost of $12 billion dollars,” read the Qatari Defense Minister’s statement on Wednesday afternoon. “We believe that this agreement will propel Qatar’s ability to provide for its own security while also reducing the burden placed upon the United States military in conducting operations against violent extremism.”

The Qatari ambassador to the U.S. tweeted a photo of the signing. 

The State Department describes this sale as fermenting U.S. efforts to “strengthen the security and defense architecture of the region.” They point out that it does not directly conflict with the current regional dispute as it will take years to complete and fill the sale in full. 

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Active Shooter Targets Republicans in Virginia  

By: Char Adams of People 

One Congressman has been critically wounded in a mass shooting after a gunman opened fire on a group of GOP lawmakers and aides practicing for a charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia, early Wednesday.

House Whip Steve Scalise from Louisiana was shot in the hip and is in critical condition, MedStar Washington Hospital Center tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

Three other victims were wounded as well, including two Capitol Police agents and one congressional staffer, a federal law enforcement official told PEOPLE. The official added that another staffer may have been injured, but it is unclear how the injury occurred.
Williams confirmed his aide, Zachary Barth’s, injury in a tweet, writing that Barth was shot but is expected to make a full recovery.

“I now can confirm that Zack Barth, who is a legislative correspondent in my office, was shot this morning at baseball practice,” he tweeted.

Barth too confirmed his injury in a Twitter post, writing, “I got shot this morning at the baseball fields but I am in the hospital and okay.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan sent well wishes to the injured, identifying the victims as Scalise, Barth, Matt Mika, Special Agent David Bailey and Special Agent Krystal Griner.

“We are united. We are united in our shock,” he said. “We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”

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