US banks can accept legal marijuana money – if you believe?

The Obama administration has sought to lessen the fear of prosecution for banks doing business with licensed marijuana companies, further encouraging US states such as Colorado and Washington that are experimenting with legalising the drug.

The Justice and Treasury departments outlined the policy in writing to federal prosecutors and financial institutions nationwide…

The guidance stopped short of promising immunity for banks, but made clear that criminal prosecution for money laundering and other crimes was unlikely if they met a series of conditions…

Currently, processing money from marijuana sales puts federally insured banks at risk of drug racketeering charges, and they therefore refuse to open accounts for marijuana-related businesses, the AP news agency reported.

The guidance was intended to increase the availability of banking services, such as savings and checking accounts, to marijuana shops that typically deal in cash. Forced to deal in cash because of federal policy…

US Attorney General Eric Holder said last month that the administration was planning ways to accommodate marijuana businesses so they would not always be dealing in cash.

“There’s a public safety component to this. Huge amounts of cash, substantial amounts of cash just kind of lying around with no place for it to be appropriately deposited, is something that would worry me just from a law enforcement perspective,” Holder said on January 23…

The American Bankers Association expressed scepticism that the guidance would make much difference…Marijuana sales still violate federal law, so banks are still at risk, said Rob Rowe, a lawyer with the trade group.

“Compliance by a bank will still require extensive resources to monitor any of these businesses, and it’s unlikely the benefits would exceed the costs,”…

I asked my favorite banker about this – and received the same answer given by Rowe. As long as the Feds base their practices on existing law, there’s no one willing to be the test case after being arrested for violating federal banking regulations. Even if the DOJ says go ahead – we won’t bust you.

Why should a bank trust pronouncements from a political body unwilling or unable to change their own regulations?

10-year-old crashes his parents’ car – claims he’s a dwarf – WTF?

snowy road Norway

A ten-year-old Norwegian boy told police he was a dwarf who had forgotten his driving licence – after he drove his parents’ car into a snowy ditch.

The child, who lives in a town about 110 kilometres from Oslo, commandeered the vehicle sometime in the early hours of Wednesday morning and headed for his grandparents’ house about 60 kilometres away, local police said.

He also loaded his 18-month-old sister into the car.

But just 10 kilometres into the journey, the child veered off the road and into the ditch. The vehicle was spotted by a snowplough driver, who alerted the police.

“The parents woke up and discovered that the children were missing and that someone had taken off with their car. They were pretty upset, as you can imagine,” said Baard Christiansen, a spokesman for the Vest Oppland police district.

The boy told the snowplough driver that he was a dwarf and that he had forgotten his driver’s license at home.”

Police said no charges would be filed and the case was closed.

“We have talked to them, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to pay very close attention both to their children and to their car keys in the future,” Christiansen said.

The children weren’t hurt, neither was the car. Coppers probably won’t stop laughing for a week.

NC grand jury launches criminal probe of coal ash spill

Click to enlarge — Coal ash swirling in the Dan RiverAP Photo/Gerry Broome

The pressure on Duke Energy over its coal ash practices has intensified as federal authorities revealed a criminal investigation of a “suspected felony” surrounding a Feb. 2 ash spill on North Carolina’s Dan River.

Duke and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources confirmed Thursday that they were subpoenaed to produce records before a federal grand jury that will meet in Raleigh next month.

The DENR subpoena demanded documents, including correspondence with Duke, since January 2010. It seeks records linked to the broken stormwater pipe that funneled up to 39,000 tons of ash – Duke’s updated estimate – and on other discharges and seepage from the site.

A criminal prosecution under the Clean Water Act could expose its target, including individuals, to fines triple the size of civil penalties, environmental law experts say, and potentially send somebody to prison.

Winning a conviction, they say, would hinge on whether the government could show prior knowledge of laws being broken or negligence…

Lawsuits DENR filed last year against Duke, under pressure from environmental groups, say the company broke the law with illegal discharges from its ash ponds at all 14 coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

That’s proof that both the state and Duke knew of violations at the Dan River plant, said Frank Holleman, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. The center represents advocacy groups, including the Charlotte-based Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, that have challenged Duke over ash in court…

Duke stores 106 million tons of ash at its North Carolina plants, including 84 million tons in ponds. The company actively used 13 active ash ponds in the state as of November, and had 18 more that were semi-active or retired…

Duke’s critics have blamed both Duke and DENR under Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Duke executive, for not aggressively addressing ash problems.

The election reform group Democracy North Carolina reported Thursday that, as Duke faced state lawsuits over ash last year, the company contributed more than $400,000 to state and national political committees for Republican lawmakers, including McCrory.

Yes, election reform means follow the money and shut off the spigot. Corporations intent on maximizing profits don’t really care which of the two parties they’re buying off.

It’s useful to have close allies like the Republican Party in power. They probably won’t have to pay as much for the pimping that takes place. But, a significant chunk of our career politicians can’t be trusted to carry a glass of water to a puppy dying of thirst – without charging a little extra for their effort, setting a little aside for lobbying about drinking water when they leave office.

Anyone surprised where creationism squats in public schools?

Click to enlarge

The many green dots in Louisiana and Tennesee are mostly just regular high schools (there are more), and many don’t teach creationism, so this is a bit of an exaggeration. In Texas, however, the red dots are Responsive Ed schools that can and do teach creationism. The orange dots in other places are largely Christian schools that are publicly funded and do teach creationism.

The public funding for religious schools rolls all the way back to all-white schools set-up after passage of the Civil Rights Act. Confederate states don’t mind refuting the Constitution when it combines separation of church and state with racism. Creationism is just a bonus.