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Dutch pot advocates aiming to smoke out new voters

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Opponents of a Dutch cannabis law that restricts sales of the drug to foreigners on Saturday launched a campaign aimed at getting citizens to vote for pro-pot parties in elections next month.

Organisers said they would travel the nation in an old American school bus, painted silver to convince people to vote for “cannabis friendly parties” in the upcoming parliamentary polls.

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The campaign would be funded by 140 coffee shops and two wholesale companies selling cannabis paraphernalia, one of the organizers Marc Josemans told AFP from the southern Dutch city of Maastricht where the campaign was launched on Saturday.

“Today we started a ‘cannabus campaign’,” said Josemans, a Maastricht cannabis cafe owner and campaigner against the new law. “It’s aimed at trying to convince people to vote in a positive way on September 12.” The parties say they would abolish the law if they held political power.

The so-called “cannabis card” law came into effect on May 1 and effectively transforms coffee shops into private clubs as it requires around 80 cannabis cafes in the south to sell only to signed-up members who live in the country.

Its coverage widens nationwide to 590 other coffee shops in January 2013, and is aimed at curbing drug tourism-linked disturbances.

Left-wing opposition parties – including the current largest Labour Party (PvdA), the Socialist Party (SP) and the Party for Animals (PvdD) have said they were against the current law.

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“We will do everything to get the ‘cannabis-card’ law off the table,” Socialist Party MP Harry van Bommel said in a video interview published on the Dutch pro-weed news site www.coffeeshopnieuws.nl, adding “this law is part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

The PvdA in a statement on their website suggested that coffee shops simply be replaced by “cannabis shops,” with the sale of marijuana legalised but strictly controlled.

Although cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, the country in 1976 decriminalised possession of less than five grammes of the substance under a so-called tolerance policy.

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[image via Agence France-Presse]


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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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More than 100 Roger Stone accounts, pages removed from Instagram and Facebook

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A network of more than 100 social accounts and pages related to former Trump adviser Roger Stone were removed Wednesday. The under the radar raid reportedly consisted of 54 Facebook accounts, 50 Facebook pages and four accounts on Instagram, a photo-sharing platform owned by Facebook.

Approximately 260,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and 61,500 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts. Several of the pages were also linked to the Proud Boys, a far-right group banned from Facebook in 2018.

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