EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 16, 2014

Marijuana industry celebrates federal guidance on banking


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — SEATTLE (AP) — For marijuana dispensaries around the country, the days of doing business in cash — driving around with bill-stuffed envelopes to pay the rent, or showing up at a state revenue office with $20,000 in paper bags for the tax man — can’t end soon enough.

It’s not clear that the Obama administration’s new guidance on pot-related banking is going to end them.

The Justice and Treasury Departments on Friday issued banks a road map for doing business with marijuana firms. The security-wary pot industry, including recreational shops in Colorado and medical marijuana operators elsewhere, welcomed the long-awaited news, but banking industry groups made clear that the administration’s tone didn’t make them feel much easier about taking pot money.

The banks were hoping the announcement would relieve them of the threat of prosecution should they open accounts for marijuana businesses, Don Childears, president of the Colorado Bankers Association, said in a written statement. It doesn’t.

“After a series of red lights, we expected this guidance to be a yellow one,” Childears said. “At best, this amounts to ‘serve these customers at your own risk’ and it emphasizes all of the risks. This light is red.”

In union vote, United Auto Workers fall 87 votes short of key victory in South

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Just 87 votes at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee separated the United Auto Workers union from what would have been its first successful organization of workers at a foreign automaker in the South.

Instead of celebrating a potential watershed moment for labor politics in the region, UAW supporters were left crestfallen by the 712-626 vote against union representation in the election that ended Friday night.

The result stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches.

The loss is a major setback for the UAW’s effort to make inroads in the growing South, where foreign automakers have 14 assembly plants, eight built in the past decade, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Michigan.

“If this was going to work anywhere, this is where it was going to work,” she said of the Volkswagen vote

Highlighting Calif. drought, Obama says US must figure out how to meet everyone’s water needs

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — Drawing a link between climate change and California’s drought, President Barack Obama says the U.S. has to stop thinking of water as a “zero-sum” game and must do a better job of figuring out how to make sure everyone’s water needs are satisfied.

On a tour of central California on Friday, Obama warned that weather-related disasters will only get worse.

“We can’t think of this simply as a zero-sum game. It can’t just be a matter of there’s going to be less and less water so I’m going to grab more and more of a shrinking share of water,” Obama said after touring part of a farm that is suffering under the state’s worst drought in more than 100 years.

“Instead what we have to do is all come together and figure out how we all are going to make sure that agricultural needs, urban needs, industrial needs, environmental and conservation concerns are all addressed,” he said.

Even if the U.S. takes immediate action to curb pollution, the planet will keep getting warmer for a long time to come because of greenhouse gases that already have built up, he said.

Jury finds Utah man guilty of child abuse homicide in 2011 death of 16-year-old baby sitter

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — It took a Utah jury just two hours to find a man guilty of killing a teenage baby sitter and dumping her body in the woods after prosecutors say he gave her a lethal dose of drugs during a night of sex that also included the man’s wife.

Eric Millerberg, 38, faces up to life in prison after being convicted Friday of child abuse homicide, unlawful sexual contact with a minor, obstruction of justice and desecration of a dead body in the 2011 death of 16-year-old Alexis Rasmussen.

Sentencing was set for March 18.

During a three-day trial, prosecutors brought detectives, medical examiners, prisoners and Millerberg’s wife, Dea Millerberg, to the stand to show that he recklessly injected Rasmussen with lethal doses of heroin and methamphetamine.

Prosecutors told jurors that Eric Millerberg and his wife then dumped Rasmussen’s body in the woods of northern Utah and lied to police as the girl’s mother desperately searched for her for more than a month.

Investigation ordered by NFL says 3 players engaged in a pattern of harassment against Martin

An investigation into the racially charged Miami Dolphins bullying scandal detailed widespread harassment in the team’s locker room that extended beyond the two players at the center of the probe.

The NFL-ordered report stated there was a “pattern of harassment” committed by at least three players and extended to two lineman and an assistant trainer, all targets of vicious taunts and racist insults.

Lawyer Ted Wells released the report Friday, saying guard John Jerry and center Mike Pouncey followed Richie Incognito’s lead in harassing Jonathan Martin, who left the team in October. They threatened to rape his sister, called him a long list of slurs and bullied him for not being “black enough.”

In a statement emailed by a league spokesman, the NFL did not make any mention of possible punishment stemming from the case. The league only confirmed it had received the report and said it appreciated the Dolphins’ cooperation with the investigation. Wells said he does not intend to comment further.

Martin is biracial, Incognito is white, and Jerry and Pouncey are black.