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Senator says Trump pledged legal pot business won’t be affected by DOJ stance

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The Cole memo that Sessions rescinded in January had directed Department of Justice prosecutors to deprioritize crackdowns on large-scale marijuana business operators in states where they’ve been sanctioned. Gardner reacted by blocking nominees for DOJ positions, he said.

Gardner said Friday that he’s agreed to step out of the way of the rest of the nominees as part of his negotiation with Trump.

“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” Gardner said. “Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the president that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”

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Sessions has a long history of opposition to the use of marijuana. Despite laws passed in states that legalize recreational use of the drug, it remains illegal under federal law.

Colorado legalized medical marijuana use in 2010, voters approved recreational use of marijuana in 2012 and the first recreational sales began in 2014. The state says it collected more than $247 million in taxes and fees on retail and medical marijuana last year.

Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — have approved laws allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, although recreational sales have not yet begun in all of those states.

 Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in 2017, said the president had agreed to support “a federalism-based legislative solution” to the states’ rights issue of legalized marijuana. Rick Wilking / Reuters file

Vermont’s governor in late January signed a bill into law that would authorize the recreational use of marijuana in the state, but it does not contain a mechanism for the taxation or sale of marijuana, The Associated Press reported. The legislature is expected to develop a system.

The president’s reported move comes as a number of Republicans have opened their hearts to the Schedule I substance.

Former Speaker John A. Boehner said this month that he is joining an advisory board for a cannabis company, Acreage Holdings. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said in a tweet that “my thinking on cannabis has evolved.”

Last month Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, expressed support for legalized hemp, which is a cousin of marijuana and contains a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gets pot users high, but cultivation of which is banned under federal law.

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Biden inauguration: Former FBI boss James Comey warns of serious threat from ‘armed, disturbed people’ | US News

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Former FBI boss James Comey has told Sky News he is worried about the threat of violence from “armed, disturbed people” at Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Mr Comey, who was controversially fired by Donald Trump in 2017, says the threat has “to be taken very, very seriously” following the deadly Capitol riots.

The new US president will be sworn in on Wednesday amid high security after the FBI identified more than 200 people threatening violence in “concerning online chatter”.

Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration
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Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of the inauguration

Fuelled by unsubstantiated claims by Mr Trump, many of his supporters believe there was fraud in November’s election.

“I’m worried because there are armed, disturbed people who are in this state of mind where they believe their country is being taken from them,” said Mr Comey.

“So it’s a threat law enforcement in the States has to take very seriously.

“At the same time, I know that we have the capability, investigative and the tactical capability on scene, to protect these locations and so I am optimistic that the threat will be neutralised, but it has to be taken very, very seriously.”

On Friday a man was arrested in Washington DC when a gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition was found in his vehicle after he allegedly showed police an unauthorised inauguration credential.

Wesley Allen Beeler, from Virginia, has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possessing an unregistered firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, police told NBC News in Washington.

The National Guard has been descending on Washington to guard government buildings ahead of inauguration day, when officials say 21,000 will be on hand.

The storming of the Capitol building – the heart of US democracy – on 6 January caused widespread shock in America and across the world, with Trump supporters running amok and leaving five people dead.

Police were hugely outnumbered and have been criticised over how easy it was for the rioters to seize control.

Mr Comey told Sky News he was “sickened” by the violence and angry at the failure to defend the building, despite the obvious threat.

Several National Guard members are pictured lying on the floor of the U.S. Capitol
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Some 21,000 members of the National Guard will be in Washington for the big day

“I was angered by the apparent failure to defend a hill, it [the Capitol] sits on a hill with 2,000 officers assigned to it on a daily basis, the failure to defend the hill. It just mystifies and angers me,” he said.

“It is going to be important for our country to understand that failure.”

He added: “9/11 we were told was a failure of imagination, we didn’t anticipate the way the terrorists might come at us; this didn’t require imagination.

Donald Trump supporters storm the US Capitol
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Mr Comey says law enforcement should have seen the riot coming

“This was all over the internet and the group literally walked slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol so it was just a failure and we need to know why at all levels so that we don’t let it happen again.”

Mr Comey is a fierce critic of Mr Trump – who he has previously compared to a mafia boss.

He was fired by the president in May 2017 while the FBI was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

James Comey and Donald Trump shake hands
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Donald Trump controversially fired Mr Comey as FBI director in May 2017

White House officials accused him of mishandling the investigation into the email practices of Hillary Clinton, but Mr Trump later confirmed the “Russia thing” was on his mind when he made the decision.

Mr Comey, 60, has just released a new book called Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, and Trust, described as a “clarion call for a return to fairness and equity in the law”.

The disgust among many Americans over the Capitol riots this week led Mr Trump to become the first president to be impeached twice after the House of Representatives charged him with inciting the riot.

No date has been set for the political trial that follows, where senators can also vote by a simple majority to block Mr Trump from ever standing for election again.

You can watch the full interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday from 8.30am.

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‘Very special moment’ as Nepali sherpas are the first to reach top of K2 in winter | World News

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A team of Nepalese sherpas has made history by scaling the world’s second-highest peak during the winter season.

The 10 climbers reached the summit of Pakistan’s K2 on Saturday, more than 20 years after the first winter attempt to reach the 8,611m summit.

The secretary of Pakistan’s Alpine Club, Karrar Haideri, said four international teams had arrived about a month ago to scale the mountain but the Nepalis were the only ones to succeed so far.

He said that the sherpas had been spread across different teams but had formed a new group so they could claim the historic feat for their country.

Previously nobody had managed to get higher than 7,750m in the winter – a record set almost two decades ago – but on Saturday the weather conditions were fair enough for the team to push ahead.

The group comprised Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma G, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa.

Mr Purja said in an Instagram post that the moment the group reached the top of the mountain was “very special”.

“The whole team waited 10m below the summit to form a group then stepped onto the summit together while singing our Nepalese national anthem.

“We are proud to have been a part of history for humankind and to show that collaboration, teamwork and a positive mental attitude can push limits to what we feel might be possible.”

K2 is on the Pakistan-China border and during the winter, winds on K2 can reach more than 125mph and temperatures can drop as low as -60C (-76F).

The mountain was first climbed in 1954 by Italian Achille Compagnoni and he is among only 367 people to have completed the ascent. Some 86 people have died trying.

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Uganda presidential election: Incumbent Yoweri Museveni declared winner | World News

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Yoweri Museveni has been declared the winner of the Uganda presidential election with 58.64% of the total votes, according to the country’s electoral commission.

The incumbent will now serve a sixth term as president of the east African nation following some of the worst pre-election violence since the 76-year-old took office in 1986.

His man opposition, singer Bobi Wine, has alleged vote rigging throughout the process and had strong support in urban centres where frustration with unemployment and corruption remains high. He won 3.48 million votes, or 34.8% of the total, according to the commission.

Bobi Wine's trademark red beret has become a symbol of opposition to longtime President Yoweri Museveni.
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Opposition candidate Bobi Wine was assaulted and arrested several times during the election campaign

Mr Wine and other opposition candidates were often harassed, and more than 50 people were killed when security forces halted riots in November after he was arrested.

Although Mr Museveni holds on to power, at least 15 of his cabinet ministers including the vice president were voted out, with many losing to candidate’s from Mr Wine’s party, according to local media.

Mr Wine, real name Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, claimed victory on Friday and said he had video evidence of vote-rigging and insisting “every legal option is on the table” to challenge the election results.

He was beaten up and arrested several times during the election campaign but was never convicted of any charge. He later wore a flak jacket and said he feared for his life.

On Saturday, Mr Wine said his home in the capital Kampala had been surrounded by soldiers and the military was now allowing him to leave.

The army’s deputy spokesman, Deo Akiiki, told Reuters security officers were assessing threats to Mr Wine if left his home.

Monitoring of the elections has been hit by the arrest of independent observers and the denial of accreditation for members of the UN observer mission.

Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa, tweeted on Saturday that “Uganda’s electoral process has been fundamentally flawed”, adding that the “US response hinges on what the Ugandan government does now”.

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