Photo of the Day

Soapy Smith

“I Consider Bunco Steering More Honorable than

The Life led by the Average Politician.”

Soapy Smith – Bunko Man of the Old West

Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith II (1860-1898) – The most famous bunko man in the Old West, Smith was a con artist and gangster who had a major hand in the organised criminal affairs and operations of Denver and Creede, Colorado, as well as Skagway, Alaska.

Soapy was one of the most well-known and amoral criminal masterminds of 19th century America. An accomplished con artist from the age of 19, he eventually rose to command a gang network of criminal activity through a combination of wit, charm, and weapons is so respected that even today people gather for a?wake in his honour?on the anniversary of his death.

Pimps, to card sharks, shell game artists, ?simple picket pockets, and Scoundrels have unfortunately always been more than abundant. But, in history, they could often get away with their lies, cheating, tricks, and cons for much longer than they can today, as they moved from place to place, repeating the same old tricks before another new audience.

Without the media technology of today, these thieves and swindlers simply took the same con game to a new place where they weren’t known and repeated it again and again.

Sometimes, they changed their names, but often weren’t even required to, as back in the days of the Old West, most people didn’t ask questions of a newcomer’s past.

In Denver, he ran several saloons, gambling halls, cigar stores, and auction houses that specialised in cheating their clientele. In Denver, Soapy began to make a name for himself across the country as a bad man. Denver is also where he entered the arena of political fixing, where, for favours, he could sway the outcome of city, county, and state elections.

He used the same methods of operation when he settled in the towns of Creede and Skagway, opening businesses with the primary goal of gently robbing his customers while making a name for himself. He died in spectacular fashion in the shootout on Juneau Wharf in Skagway.

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The government should replace tobacco tax with cannabis tax

The case is building for the legalisation of cannabis.

Of course, once things are legal you can tax them, and as NZ has a dwindling supply of readily addicted tobacco users to pay wads of tax they should look at the potential for revenue from a cannabis tax.

Is marijuana the new sin-tax gusher for the states? It sure looks that way.

In November, voters in five US states will decide on whether to allow recreational use of the drug, while citizens in four other states have the option of legalising medical marijuana.

Unlike the fierce battles of the past over decriminalisation, resistance by governors, law-enforcement groups and state medical associations is down (though not entirely gone). The ability to collect mountains of new taxes could be a reason, judging from the experience of Colorado, where voters approved medical marijuana in 2000 and legalised its recreational use in 2012.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, Colorado collected $157 million in marijuana taxes, licenses and fees, up 53 percent from a year earlier and almost four times what it has collected in alcohol excise taxes this year. Thanks to marijuana smokers, Colorado’s public schools will receive $42 million, and local governments will get $10 million of the amount collected. ? Read more »

Colorado Marijuana reform wins over its most vocal opponent

As our politicians suddenly discover their voices on cannabis reform it might do well to note what Colorado’s governor has to say on?the?issue.

When Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana four years ago, one of the move’s chief critics was Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The moderate Democrat said that if he could “wave a magic wand”?to reverse the decision, he would. Then he called voters “reckless” for approving it in the first place, a remark he later downgraded to “risky.”

?Colorado is known for many great things,? Hickenlooper said. ?Marijuana should not be one of them.?

But the governor?s views have softened. During a recent panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, he said that despite opposing the legalization of pot, his job was to ?deliver on the will of the people of Colorado.?

?If I had that magic wand now, I don?t know if I would wave it,? he said. ?It?s beginning to look like it might work.?

It was the latest in a series of comments Hickenlooper has made signaling what looks like an evolution of his views on marijuana. In April last year, during an interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Hickenlooper said legal weed was ?not as vexing as we thought it was going to be.?

And during an appearance on “60 Minutes,”?he predicted that Colorado might ?actually create a system that could work? in successfully regulating marijuana.

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Why decriminalisation without regulation is stupid

Finally we are getting some sensible discussion around the decriminalisation of cannabis.

It is going to happen, and inside 10 years…maybe sooner, so it is incumbent on people to pull their heads out of the sand and to start looking at a sensible decriminalisation regime.

Radio NZ has put together an analysis and it is?very good.

New Zealand has a number of models to examine if the government seriously considers decriminalising marijuana.

There’s been an explosion in the number of countries and states liberalising its use over the past two decades – some have legalised it entirely, while others have decriminalised it only for medicinal use.

Amsterdam has its infamous coffee shops, which take advantage of a policy of tolerance, Portugal has changed possession to an administrative as opposed to a criminal offence, and in the US four states – Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska – have legalised cannabis, but certain restrictions remain in place.

But what model works best, what impact has decriminalisation had elsewhere, and what would work here?

The question became prominent this week after Associate Health Minister?Peter Dunne said he was not sure New Zealand’s law was efficient, and he was considering a more tolerant approach.

Police Association president Greg O’Connor then came out and described the US state of Colorado as a ‘model’ given it had tackled both use and supply. He distinguished this from the Netherlands which he said had done nothing to regulate drug dealers.

Mr O’Connor wouldn’t say whether or not he supported the adoption of a Colorado-style approach in New Zealand.

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Photo Of The Day

Marvin Heemeyer reinforced a Komatus bulldozer with concrete and steel in order to execute his reign of terror on June 4, 2004.

Marvin Heemeyer reinforced a Komatsu bulldozer with concrete and steel in order to execute his reign of terror on June 4, 2004.


Small town life is often romanticized in movies and books as peaceful and quiet. People who actually live in small towns know that while often the people are friendly and there is indeed a lot of quiet, often bad blood runs deep. Grandby, Colorado was just such a town. It would have been little more than another dot on the vast map of the central US if it wasn?t for one day in June of 2004, when one of her sons went on a bizarre rampage that would leave much of the downtown area in ruins.

Marvin Heemeyer was a professional welder living in the quiet Colorado town of Granby, just trying to make a living for himself running a small muffler repair shop.? Unfortunately, he was also in the business of getting royally bad treatment by some people in town, ranging from the paperboy to the suits in City Hall who wouldn’t compromise with him on some crazy wacky zoning issues he was trying to work out.

Eventually, after years of petitions, appeals and negotiations that proved about as fruitful as smashing his face into a cinderblock, the suits at the Granby Zoning Commission basically told Marv that he could go stuff himself gently with a chainsaw.? They were going to build a concrete plant adjacent to Heemeyer’s muffler shop, cut off his business’ sewer line, slap him with a bunch of increasingly-massive fines, and ultimately run his bottom out-of-town.

But Marvin Heemeyer wasn’t the sort of mewing coward who was going to sit there and let a bunch of stuffed-suits roll him.? He was an arc welder and a mad desire for vengeance at all costs, and he decided he wasn’t going to take it anymore.? Heemeyer paid his $2,500 fine to City Hall, scribbling the word “cowards” in the memo portion of the check.? Then he bought a massive bulldozer, sold his business, and spent the next year and a half turning this gigantic piece of construction equipment into the most insanely vehicle ever constructed by human hands:? The KILLDOZER.

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Taking criminal sentencing seriously, a good judge sentences killer to 3,318 years behind bars

The loopy bastard who shot up a cinema in?the?US has just been sentenced in a proper way reflecting the seriousness of his offending.

The man who unleashed a murderous attack on a packed Colorado movie theater was ordered Wednesday (Thursday NZT) to serve life in prison without parole plus 3,318 years – the maximum allowed by law – before the judge told deputies, “Get the defendant out of my courtroom, please.

“The gallery applauded the remark by Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. as he gaveled the hearing to a close, ending a grueling three-year wait to see the gunman brought to justice. Survivors, relatives and a handful of jurors who were in the courtroom cheered and then hugged prosecutors and law enforcement officers. Some wiped away tears.

Samour ordered 28-year-old James Holmes to serve 12 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, one for each of the people he killed in the July 20, 2012, attack on a crowded movie theater.

He then added another 3,312 years for 70 convictions of attempted murder, and six years for an explosives charge. ?? Read more »

Can we learn from Colorado on teen pregnancy?

Colorado has made astonishing in-roads into dealing with teen pregnancy.

Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest ever real-life experiments with long-acting birth control. If teenagers and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years, state officials asked, would those women choose them?

They did in a big way, and the results were startling. The birthrate for teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for another group particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies: unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.

?Our demographer came into my office with a chart and said, ?Greta, look at this, we?ve never seen this before,? ? said Greta Klingler, the family planning supervisor for the public health department. ?The numbers were plummeting.?

The changes were particularly pronounced in the poorest areas of the state, places like Walsenburg, a small city in Southern Colorado where jobs are scarce and unplanned births come often to the young. Hope Martinez, a 20-year-old nursing home receptionist here, recently had a small rod implanted under the skin of her upper arm to prevent pregnancy for three years. She has big plans ? to marry, to move West, and to become a dental hygienist.

?I don?t want any babies for a while,? she said.

More young women are making that choice. In 2009, half of all first births to women in the poorest areas of the state happened before they turned 21. By 2014, half of first births did not occur until they had turned 24, a difference that advocates say gives young women time to finish their educations and to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market.

?If we want to reduce poverty, one of the simplest, fastest and cheapest things we could do would be to make sure that as few people as possible become parents before they actually want to,? said Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution. She argues in her 2014 book, ?Generation Unbound: Drifting Into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage,? that single parenthood is a principal driver of inequality and long-acting birth control a powerful tool to prevent it.

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Colorado awash with weed cash, state giving it back to taxpayers

Colorado has been so successful in implementing legal weed that it is awash with cash and the state is now giving it back to the taxpayers.

When voters in Colorado passed the amendment to make marijuana legal, one of the factors behind it was definitely financial gain.

With the government able to put a hefty tax on the sale of weed, they wouldn’t have to make as many cuts and could probably save a lot of money, however they didn’t expect to make so much.

It’s been reported by Associated Press that they have made so much cash that they are about to pass the limit of the amount of money they’re allowed to actually make from taxes. It means the taxpayers could be in line to receive a cut of the $50 million profits accumulated by the legitimate sale of marijuana.

The taxes were originally designated to be used on school construction and people selling the weed said they had ‘no problem’ paying taxes if it was going back into the area’s education services.

However, the ‘Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights’ which was passed in 1992, states that Colorado cannot spend revenue if they grow faster than that of population growth and inflation, unless the people approve a change. This means that the citizens could be in line for an extra payday thanks to the pot business.

The local politicians though are hoping for a vote so that they can keep the cash. They’ve already estimated that they will make around $1 billion in a year from sales and have saved between $12 and $40 million in the law enforcement budget while focusing more time on criminal activity unrelated to marijuana.

A TABOR in New Zealand would certainly be welcome.

Meanwhile the Federal government is being obstructive with the new business.? ? Read more »

Cannabis – Helping the kids, A journey for oil

Time has a released a documentary about how cannabis is providing medical treatment for kids where legal medicines have failed dramatically.

Kate Pickert investigates the world of medical marijuana for children.

The story?focuses on the Stanley family, who began selling ?Charlotte?s Web? ? a strain high in CBD but low in THC ? through their Colorado business after the mother of a girl with epilepsy approached them. We have looked before at the remarkable story of Charlotte Figi, this story however delves a little deeper.

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The Governor who opposed legalisation of cannabis and what he thinks now

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The Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, is a Democrat who opposed legalisation of cannabis in the state.

The voters however saw differently and voted for legalisation. Accordingly he then had to implement the wishes of the people.

Here are ten things he has passed comment on about the whole process.

1) As Colorado attempts to build its brand as a healthy state, marijuana “dilutes what you’re trying to do.”

2) “I think decriminalization would’ve been a wiser first step.”

3) One of the best things about marijuana legalization: “I think the black market has been damaged. I think people are willing to pay taxes and to go through pretty rigorous regulation.”

4) “Some of the anxiety has been laid to rest. We don’t see a spike in adult use. We don’t think we see a spike in youth consumption although there are some things that are disconcerting.”

5) One of the governor’s concerns: “This high THC marijuana, what can it do to a brain that is still developing?”

6) One of the governor’s complaints: federal rules that prohibit dispensary owners from putting their money in banks. “If you really want to introduce corruption into legal marijuana,” he said, “make it an all cash business.”

7) On unanticipated problems: There’s been “a dramatic increase in edibles.” And “no one had ever worried about dosage sizes. The original edibles that came out, once you took the packaging off there was nothing to show it was any different than candy.” ? Read more »