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New Zealand divided over historic marijuana vote

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marijuana historic vote divides New Zealand

New Zealand divided over historic marijuana vote. A referendum next month on legalizing recreational cannabis has divided opinion in New Zealand with administering party politicians staying away from the contentious issue ahead of an overall election they are probably going to win.

Whenever passed, New Zealand would be only the third country in the world after Uruguay and Canada to legalize the adult use and offer of cannabis, and the first in the Asia Pacific. The referendum will be held along with the Oct. 17 general election in which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is seeking a second term.

Ardern is a strong favorite to win the election but opinion is forcefully divided on the referendum – 49.5% of respondents in a nationwide Horizon Research study earlier this month said they were agreeable to legalizing cannabis while 49.5% were against, and 1% gave no response.

“This is the one opportunity we get. A no vote will entrench the current system and scare politicians away,” said Ross Bell, Executive Director at the New Zealand Drug Foundation, a charitable trust that works to prevent alcohol and drug harm.

Ardern has repeatedly refused to be drawn on whether she would support the change, claiming she would not like to influence the decision.

Under the proposed bill, licensed cannabis retailers could sell up to 14 grams of cannabis per person each day, to customers over the age of 20. It allows people to consume cannabis on private property or licensed premises and grow two plants.

A yes vote would open up another market in New Zealand for the $100 billion global marijuana industry, that is valued annually at NZ$1.5 billion ($981.75 million) in the country.

As seen in Canada, Uruguay and almost twelve U.S. states that legalized cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use, pharmaceutical and other companies are expected to move into the market with new weed-infused products.

A report commissioned by the government said more than 400 retail stores could pop up to supply the estimated 49.7 tons of cannabis products consumed in New Zealand each year.

Supporters of the yes vote say regulating cannabis will put an end to the black market, and bring down drug convictions, which are disproportionately higher among the marginalized and the indigenous Maori community.

Staying clear

Campaigners against legalizing marijuana, which include some faith based institutions, refute these claims.

“The black market will remain, and another legal market of 400 stores appearing around the country, and then a ton of people growing cannabis plants in their backyard. It’s hard to believe in that situation that cannabis use will be reduced,” said Aaron Ironside, spokesman for the Say Nope to Dope campaign.

Analysts say with all recent polls pointing to a comfortable election victory for Ardern because of her accomplishment in handling the coronavirus, she would not want to get into other topics.

“She just would not want to talk about some other issue other than coronavirus,” said Geoffrey Miller, political analyst at the Democracy Project. “It’s just not to Labor’s greatest advantage to talk about cannabis…there is no upside,” he said.

Ardern’s Labor Party is governing in a coalition with the Greens and New Zealand First. The Greens made the cannabis referendum a condition of their support for Ardern back in 2017.

The 40-year-old leader has anyway kept the topic of cannabis at a manageable distance as she campaigns across the country.

The fundamental opposition National Party has said it will vote against legalizing cannabis, and challenged Ardern to reveal her stand. NZ Drug Foundation’s Bell said there’s been a failure of political leadership on the subject.

“While ultimately the referendum is a vote for New Zealand’s public, a lot of voters would want senior minister or even the prime minister herself to talk about why they wrote the bill in the manner they did,” he said.

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17 killed because of lightning strike on Padma waterway bank in Bangladesh

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Something like 17 individuals, including five members of a similar family, were killed in a lightning strike on the bank of Padma waterway in Bangladesh’s Chapainawabganj area when they planned to go to a wedding on Wednesday.

Shakib Al Rabbi, the officeholder Shibganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), affirmed the incident which additionally left 15 individuals injured. He said the dead bodies were recovered and brought to Sadar Upazila Health Complex in Chapainawabganj’s Shibganj. The injured had been admitted there too.

The incident occurred at around 12 pm at Tellikhari Ferry Ghat on the bank of Padma waterway when hefty lightning struck in the midst of a spell of a storm.

As per Farid Hossain, the Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Shibganj Police Station, 40 wedding visitors from the man of the hour’s side had taken asylum under a tin shed on the stream bank during their boat excursion to the bride’s place to stay away from the downpour when the thunder had hit.

Afterward, the dead bodies were recovered from Alinagar Ghat and shipped off the emergency clinic. Among the deceased, 12 were men and five were women. The rest of the wedding visitors were rescued to a more secure area.

Meherul Islam, Chapainawabganj Fire Service and Civil Defense Station Officer, said, “So far we have recovered 17 bodies. 14 individuals were rescued alive and admitted to Sadar Upazila Health Complex.”

He added, “40 groomsmen were going to the wedding ceremony. Among them, 17 individuals died on the spot in the lightning strike. Relatives have ensured us that others are healthy.”

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Realities are vastly different: New York Governor Cuomo defiant get-togethers says he physically bothered 11 women

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An investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo physically pestered almost twelve women all through state government and worked to retaliate against one of his informers, New York’s principal legal officer has reported, rushing calls for the Democrat’s resignation or impeachment.

President Joe Biden was among the individuals who said Cuomo ought to resign, a high-profile condemnation from an onetime close partner.

“I figure he ought to resign,” he told reporters Tuesday.

Lead representative Andrew Cuomo remained defiant, saying in a taped response to the discoveries that “the realities are very different than what has been depicted” and that he “never touched anybody improperly or made unseemly lewd gestures.”

The almost five-month investigation, driven by two outside lawyers, concluded that 11 women who said that Cuomo had touched them improperly, remarked on their appearance or made interesting remarks about their sexual experiences were coming clean.

Those informers included an aide who said Cuomo grabbed her breast at the lead representative’s mansion and a state trooper on his security detail, who said he ran his hand or fingers across her stomach and her back.

Anne Clark, who drove the probe with former US Attorney Joon Kim, said the charges were corroborated to differing degrees, including by different observers and contemporaneous instant messages.

“These meetings and bits of evidence revealed a deeply upsetting yet clear picture: Governor Cuomo physically hassled current and former state representatives disregarding federal and state laws,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Many of the women said they feared retaliation on the off chance that they reported the lead representative’s conduct, agents said. On something like one event, the probe discovered, Cuomo’s staff made a move “intended to discredit and criticize” an informer – Lindsey Boylan, the main former worker to freely blame him for bad behavior – including leaking confidential personnel documents and drafting a letter attacking her credibility.

The investigation’s discoveries, detailed in a 165-page public report, turn up the pressure on the 63-year-old lead representative, who simply a year prior was widely hailed for his steady leadership during the haziest days of the COVID-19 crisis, in any event, composing a book about it.

From that point forward, he’s seen his standing disintegrate with a drumbeat of provocation charges, inquiries in a separate, continuous investigation into whether state resources went into composing the book, and the revelation that his administration covered the genuine number of nursing home deaths during the outbreak.

The revelations, a large portion of which were at first made public the previous winter, prompted a tune of calls then for Cuomo’s resignation from many top elected Democrats in New York. US Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said after the report’s release Tuesday that it reinforces a call for his resignation they previously made last March.

“No elected official is exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else. Individuals of New York deserve better leadership in the lead representative’s office. We keep on accepting that the Governor ought to resign,” they said in a joint statement.

While James concluded the investigation without referring the case to prosecutors for possible criminal allegations, nearby specialists could utilize its evidence and discoveries to mount their own cases. Albany District Attorney David Soares said he will request material from James’ office and invited victims to contact his office with information.

The investigation’s discoveries are additionally expected to assume a significant part in a continuous state Assembly investigation into whether there are grounds to arraign Cuomo, who has been fund-raising for a possible fourth term in office. The Assembly hired its own lawful group to research myriad charges regarding badgering, his book, nursing homes and extraordinary admittance to COVID-19 testing.

A few Cuomo informers demanded swifter activity, calling on the lead representative to leave office immediately. Some Democratic and Republican state lawmakers went along with them, alongside one-time Cuomo partners including region chiefs and leaders of left-inclining political groups.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who might succeed Cuomo is he is removed or resigns, called the conduct detailed in the report “repulsive and unlawful conduct” and said, “Nobody is exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else.”

In his taped response, Cuomo apologized to two informers: Charlotte Bennett, who said the lead representative inquired as to whether she was available to sex with an older man after she confided in him that she had been a victim of rape, and a woman he kissed at a wedding – an incident reported in a first page story in The New York Times. Cuomo said he was recruiting a specialist to reform lewd behavior preparing for state workers, including the lead representative.

In any case, he denied different charges as manufactured and lashed out at the analytical process, saying it was overflowing with “legislative issues and predisposition.” He clarified that he’s been physically accepting individuals his entire life, that his mom and father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, had done likewise and that the gesture was intended to “pass on warmth.”

Cuomo’s lawyer gave a composed rebuttal to the investigation’s discoveries, contending as a rule that genuine claims, similar to the alleged grabbing, didn’t occur, or that his activities were misjudged.

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Saudi Arabia fasten up executions in first 50% of 2021: Amnesty

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Absolution says Saudi Arabia fasten up executions in first 50% of 2021. Saudi Arabia has sloped up executions in the principal half of 2021 after a drop during its G20 presidency in 2020, as indicated by United Kingdom-based rights group Amnesty International.

The rights group said on Tuesday that the kingdom executed somewhere around 40 individuals among January and July 2021 – more than during the entire of last year.

Albeit Saudi Arabia executed a record 185 individuals in 2019, the state-supported Human Rights Commission said in January that the kingdom had reduced the quantity of executions by 85% in 2020 compared with the previous year, putting the number for 2020 at 27.

Reprieve said executions had resumed immediately after Saudi Arabia handed over the presidency of the Group of 20 rich countries to Italy, with nine individuals executed in December 2020 alone.

“The short respite in repression corresponding with Saudi Arabia’s facilitating of the G20 culmination last November demonstrates that any illusion of reform was just a PR drive,” said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

‘Terribly out of line trials’

As indicated by the rights group, executions occurred following convictions in “horribly out of line trials, marred by claims of torture during pre-trial detention leading to forced ‘admissions’ which the arraignment systematically neglected to explore.”

This included the June 2021 execution of a man for offenses rights groups said he allegedly carried out while under the age of 18, albeit Saudi Arabia has said it has annulled death sentences for many childhood wrongdoings.

The government’s media office didn’t immediately respond to a request for input on Amnesty’s report.

In the report, Amnesty likewise said there had been an increased crackdown on human rights activists and dissidents. It referred to the cases of 13 activists who were arraigned, condemned or had their sentences confirmed get-togethers Amnesty said were terribly out of line trials before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC).

In the main portion of the year, many individuals were additionally condemned to many years in prison for sarcastic web posts and human rights activism.

After prison, many of them expected travel bans, in addition to other things. Such a ban was likewise forced on the famous women’s privileges dissident Loujain al-Hathloul. She had been given a suspended sentence of three years for her advocacy to end the ban on women driving.

No less than 39 people are in the slammer for activism, human rights work or expression of difference in Saudi Arabia, as per Amnesty.

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