TIME republicans

Real TIME: Scott Walker Tackles the U.S. Economy at CPAC

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker shared his views on the U.S. economy, the minimum wage, and and the dispute over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s impending speech to Congress during his speech at CPAC.

Watch #RealTIME to see what he had to say.

TIME republicans

Real TIME: Chris Christie Jabs At The Media At CPAC

New Jersey Governor and likely presidential hopeful Chris Christie addressed his critics in the media and spoke out on his pro-life stance and passion for his job during his Q&A at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington at the weekend.

Watch #RealTIME to hear what he had to say.

TIME Crime

High School Senior Accused of Encouraging Friend to Kill Himself

Michelle Carter, 18, later raised money for mental illness in her friend's name

A teenage girl is facing manslaughter charges for allegedly encouraging a male friend to commit suicide.

Michelle Carter, 18, of Plainville, Mass. is accused of having sent text messages to Conrad Roy III as he attempted to kill himself by carbon monoxide poisoning last July, encouraging him to remain in the idling truck as it filled with exhaust fumes.

A police report read in part:

“…when he actually started to carry out the act, he got scared again and exited his truck, but instead of telling him to stay out of the truck … Carter told him to ‘get back in.’”

Carter, an honor roll student, went on to raise money for mental illness in Roy’s name and wrote on social media about suicide prevention. She has been indicted as a “youthful offender.”

[The Sun Chronicle]

TIME weather

February Coldest Month in History For Some in U.S.

APTOPIX Winter Weather
Jim Cole—AP Krystal Koban removes snow from around her car during a winter storm, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Henniker, N.H.

February brought historically low temperatures to parts of the U.S.

You weren’t imagining things. It really was the coldest month ever.

At least if you live in a handful of cities in the shivering Northeast. They just weathered the coldest month since reliable records were first kept, which for most places means a century or more of weather data.

Topping the misery index: Bangor, Maine — that’s pronounced “bang-or,” not “banger,” if you can stop your teeth from chattering long enough to say it.

The average temperature there should come in at 6.2 degrees for this month, said Corey Bogel, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. That’s about 15 degrees …

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

Marathon Bombing Trial Will Stay in Boston

FBI Release Images Of Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects
Handout—Getty Images In this image released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on April 19, 2013, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19-years-old, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing is seen.

Trial is set to begin next week

Publicity hasn’t jeopardized Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s right to an impartial jury, a federal appeals panel says, and opening statements can proceed next week as scheduled in the city where the deadly explosions occurred almost two years ago.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said in a 2-1 ruling Friday that a U.S. district judge correctly denied Tsarnaev’s requests on three occasions to move the trial, especially given the “particularly unusual” timing with jury selection already underway.

“The process has been thorough and appropriately calibrated to expose bias, ignorance and prevarication,” the majority said of Judge George O’Toole Jr. almost daily sessions with potential jurors that began nearly two months ago.

Chief Judge Sandra Lynch and Judge Jeffrey Howard said the ongoing jury selection process did not suggest pervasive prejudice and that it was not clear that pretrial publicity required a change of venue. The defense did not demonstrate irreparable harm if the trial remained in Boston, they said.

“Any high-profile case will receive significant media attention,” the majority said. “Knowledge, however, does not equate to disqualifying prejudice. Distinguishing between the two is at the heart of the jury selection process.”

The judges also noted that other high-profile terrorism cases such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the man who became known as the “20th hijacker” from the Sept. 11 attacks, occurred in the district where the crimes occurred.

In his dissent, Judge Juan Torruella agreed with Tsarnaev’s lawyers that intense media coverage of the case and the large number of people personally affected by the deadly attack made it impossible for him to find a fair and impartial jury in Massachusetts.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when twin bombs exploded near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

“If a change of venue is not required in a case like this, I cannot imagine a case where it would be,” Torruella wrote. “If residents of the Eastern Division of the District of Massachusetts did not already resent Tsarnaev and predetermine his guilt, the constant reporting on the Marathon bombing and its aftermath could only further convince the prospective jurors of his guilt.”

A defense attorney did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment on the ruling. In arguments Feb. 19 before the appeals court, federal public defender Judith Mizner said the local jury pool is “connected to the case in many ways” and cannot be counted on to be fair and impartial.

“This attack was viewed as an attack on the marathon itself … and an attack on the city of Boston,” Mizner said.

She also argued that the trial needed to be moved to maintain public confidence in the judicial system.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb told the appeals court that prospective jurors who have strong opinions have “unhesitatingly admitted” them, allowing the judge to rule them out as jurors.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment Friday on the ruling.

A jury of 12 jurors and six alternates is to be seated early next week followed by opening statements Wednesday. If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, the same panel will decide whether Tsarnaev lives or dies. The only possible punishments are life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

TIME Cuba

Cuba Talks Turn Awkward Over Terror Listing

President Obama Holds End-Of-Year News Conference At The White House
Alex Wong—Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 19: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during his speech to members of the media during his last news conference of the year in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House December 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. President Obama faced questions on various topics including the changing of Cuba policy, his executive action on immigration and the Sony hack. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Another round of talks, another round of smiles Friday, as negotiators for Cuba and the United States joined in stepping carefully around the first obvious obstacle to emerge in their joint effort to re-establish diplomatic relations.

The latest meeting was only their second, this time in Washington. Diplomats from both countries crowded around an array of tables at the State Department for what U.S. officials cautioned in advance would be a more “workmanlike” session, less dramatic than the historic inaugural session in Havana in January. That was the first since Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro surprised the world by announcing an intention to reconcile in parallel announcements Dec. 17.

At the time, Obama signaled what sounded very much like an inclination to remove Cuba from the short, brutish roll of nations the State Department lists as official sponsors of terror: The only other countries saddled with the designation are Iran, Syria and Sudan. “At a time when we are focused on threats from Al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction,” Obama said. But actually removing a nation from the list, and freeing it from the attendant sanctions, turns out to be taking longer than expected. “On why it’s taking so long, I’ve got to tell you it’s just these processes tend to be a little bit more complicated than they seem, and that’s all I’m going to say,” a senior State Department official said in a telephone briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

The consequences of the delay may only be atmospheric, but mood has been one of the things the Obama administration has had going for it on this story. The head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, said at the close of Friday’s session that removal from the list was not a strict precondition to resuming ties, but repeated that it is “a very important issue” to Havana, which has harped on it both publicly and privately. And privately,the terror list may indeed have been mentioned as a precondition to re-opening embassies: “It would be very easy to restore diplomatic relations,” the State Department official said in the background briefing with reporters, “if they would not link those two things.”

What’s more, a 45-day interval built into the assessment process means that Cuba will still carry the designation when Castro and Obama meet at the Summit of the Americas, set for the second week of April in Panama City. The confab was envisioned as a celebratory session that marked the end not only of the 50-year cold war between countries, but also of Washington’s estrangement from a Latin American establishment that largely esteems Havana.

The delay clearly pleases Congressional critics of the reconciliation, led by favorites of the Cuban exile community based in Miami. “President Obama and his negotiating team need to stop looking so desperate to secure a deal with the Castro regime to open an embassy in Havana, at any cost, before this April’s Summit of the Americas,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who also noted the arrest of 200 dissidents in Cuba the previous two weeks. Detentions of activists, often held only a short time, remains routine in Havana, the State Department has noted, and U.S. officials take pains to pay respectful visits to some of the island’s most prominent dissidents.

But on the narrow question of re-establishing diplomatic ties, the nominal point of the talks, both sides appear to be on the same page. “On the issue of the themes on the agenda that were of concern to us, I think we did make progress on a number of them,” said Assistant Secretary of State Robert Jacobson after the meeting. “Some of them, quite honestly, are close to resolution.” Vidal said much the same in a separate news conference. And the negotiators, at least, appeared intent on sustaining the gestures of good will that began in December with an exchange of prisoners, and is supposed to proceed to an exchange of ambassadors. Said Jacobson, in answer to question: “I do think we can get this done in time for the Summit of the Americas.”

TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Jeb Bush Courts Conservatives At CPAC

Jeb Bush addressed his mother’s comments, and outlined his views on immigration and Common Core education standards during the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Watch #RealTIME to see what he had to say, and read more here.

TIME Drugs

Colorado Sold Nearly 5 Million Marijuana Edibles in 2014

Smaller-dose pot-infused cookies, called the Rookie Cookie, sit on the packaging table at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder. Colorado on Sept. 26, 2014.
Brennan Linsley—AP Smaller-dose pot-infused cookies, called the Rookie Cookie, sit on the packaging table at The Growing Kitchen, in Boulder. Colorado on Sept. 26, 2014.

The state's marijuana overseers issued their first annual report

Colorado just got its first year-long batch of data on the state’s grand experiment with legal marijuana. In the first annual report on supply and demand, Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division disclosed on Friday that 4.8 million edible marijuana products and nearly 150,000 lbs. of marijuana flowers were sold in 2014.

The numbers will give state officials a baseline for gauging the size of the market, particularly for edibles. In July, the state attempted to estimate how much marijuana would be sold in 2014 and said they really didn’t have a method of estimating edible demand. “The data reported into the system clearly illustrates a strong demand for edibles in general, but especially for retail marijuana edibles,” the authors conclude.

The totals take into account both medical and recreational sales. While more flowering marijuana—the kind one smokes—was sold in the medical market, far more edibles were sold in the recreational market.

Colorado issued licenses to 322 retail stores and 505 medical dispensaries in 2014, according to the report. Just 67 of the state’s 321 jurisdictions, or around 20%, opted to allow medical and retail sales, but those jurisdictions include many of the state’s most populous areas. In February, a poll from Quinnipiac University found that 58% of Colorado residents say they still support the law, while 38% oppose it.

The sales figures for edibles come as Colorado officials struggle with how to regulate the marijuana-laced treats, which can range from pastries to soda pop. Some advocacy groups and state lawmakers want to ban certain types of products—like gummy bears and rainbow belts—that may be especially appealing to children and are indistinguishable from regular candy once removed from the package. Several children showed up in Colorado emergency rooms last year after accidentally ingesting the substance.

But the more value edibles represent, the harder time those advocates are going to have in convincing the industry to shut down or revamp product lines. At one point last year, officials from Colorado’s public health department floated the idea of limiting edibles to tinctures and lozenges, eliminating everything else. But their announcement caused such uproar that officials issued a release clarifying that it was “just” a recommendation and did not represent the view of the governor’s office.

Proponents of the current system argue that cracking down on popular edibles will drive consumers to the underground market—where there is no one regulating THC content or mandating childproof packaging. Eliminating the black market, while bringing in revenue for the state, was one of the selling points when voters decided to legalize marijuana in the first place.

There may also be a legal hurdle. The amendment voters passed in 2012 defined marijuana as: “all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis … and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant.” While industry players say that makes every kind of edible fair game, the Denver Post argued in an editorial that “there is no constitutional provision that says edible marijuana must be available as granola, soda pop, or candy bars that look like what children eat.”

Washington, which followed Colorado as the second state to open a recreational marijuana market, has set much stricter limits on the types of allowed edibles. Regulators setting up recreational markets in Oregon and Alaska say that avoiding the edible problems they’ve seen in Colorado will be a big focus of their work in coming months.

TIME #RealTime

Real TIME: Rand Paul Bashes Hillary Clinton At CPAC

Rand Paul touched on Hillary Clinton, Obamacare, and his proposed reforms for Congress in his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

Watch #RealTIME to hear what he had to say, and read more here.

TIME

California Farmers to Go Another Year Without Federal Water

Irrigation water runs along the dried-up ditch between the rice farms to provide water for the rice fields in Richvale, Calif on May 1, 2014.
Jae C. Hong—AP Irrigation water runs along the dried-up ditch between the rice farms to provide water for the rice fields in Richvale, Calif on May 1, 2014.

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — A federal agency said Friday it will not release any water for Central Valley farms this year, forcing farmers to continue to scramble for other sources or leave fields unplanted.

It will be the second year of no federal water for farmers in the region that grows much of the nation’s produce. Many farmers had been bracing for the news as California’s drought enters its fourth year.

David Murillo, mid-Pacific regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, said federal officials are doing everything possible to increase water deliveries during the dire dry conditions.

“Our economy and our environment depend on it,” he said.

The Central Valley Project conveys water through a system of dams and reservoirs and 500 miles of canals. The agency says it can irrigate up to a third of California’s agricultural land when water is flowing.

Even before supplies were cut off, federal water has become a less dependable source for farmers. Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley only received 10 percent of demand in 2009 and 20 percent in 2013.

Farmers are instead turning to storage supplies and pumping from largely unregulated groundwater wells that are quickly being depleted.

Paul Wegner, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation, said the federal government’s announcement is another sign California needs to speed up construction of water storage projects and reform laws requiring the government to prioritize water to preserve fish species and the environment.

“It’s maddening because California still struggles to manage water wisely and flexibly, especially in dry years,” he said in a news release.

Some communities and endangered wildlife that rely on the federal water source will also suffer cuts.

California has a separate state-operated system of reservoirs and canal which increased distribution this year. The State Water Project announced last month that it could provide local agencies and farmers 15 percent of the water they requested, a slight increase from 5 percent last year.

The water in the snowpack, California’s primary water source, is at a fifth of its normal level, according to state officials.

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