Daily Archives: February 9, 2017

‘Conspiracy’ in peace talks collapse seen – Inquirer.net

Posted: February 9, 2017 at 6:49 am

Youth protesters from the National Union of Students of the Philippines, League of Filipino Students and the Anakbayan will again stage protests, this time against the sudden cancellation of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, at a time when socio-economic reforms are being discussed. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO BY REM ZAMORA

MANILA Militant youth leaders have urged President Rodrigo Duterte to resume negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, questioning the timing of the peace process failure now that the socioeconomic roots of armed conflict are being tackled.

When Duterte scrapped the peace talks out of frustration with the communists demands, negotiators were discussing the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, a vital document aimed at resolving economic grievances and societal inequalities in the country.

To express their dismay with the cancellation of the peace talks, from Anakbayan, the League of Filipino Students, the National Union of Students of the Philippines, and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines have announced that student groups will launch protest actions and walkouts on Feb. 10 and 23.

Anakbayan National Secretary-General Einstein Recedes said in a briefing that Duterte seemed to have succumbed to his emotions, all the while being egged on by the United States, the military, and the elite oligarchy.

All-out war will not address landlessness, unemployment, and contractualization, Recedes said, adding that human rights violations will only increase without resolving the roots of conflict.

Whose interest are you pursuing? The interest of the public or the interest of the few in the ruling class? he asked.

Recedes appealed to Duterte not to listen to the saboteurs, saying the President had been too irritable and sensitive.

There is no fundamental change yet. You cant just make the NPA (New Peoples Army) surrender, he said.

LFS national spokesperson JP Rosos said his group is condemning the decision and pronouncements of the Duterte regime.

Elaborating on the purported US connection, Rosos noted that Dutertes move to scrap the peace talks came the day after the State Department said it still considered the Communist Party of the Philippines and armed wing New Peoples Army to be a foreign terrorist organization.

Rosos called this an attempt to prevent the resolution of the ongoing revolution by America and the ruling class in order to continue plundering the riches of the Philippines and profit off the Filipino people.

At the same time, the youth leaders also denounced the plan to make the Reserved Officers Training Corps course mandatory for senior high school pupils.

They want our country to be a garrison state and we are heading towards that, Recedes said, adding that students and parents should be worried about the Armed Forces of the Philippines vast record of human rights violations.

He said that the program would be aimed at indoctrination and the promotion of fascism, and not discipline and nationalism as claimed by proponents. He added that students would be subject to violence and brainwashing.

NUSP national spokesperson Mark Lim said requiring ROTC, currently an optional course for college students, would instill blind obedience and militaristic thinking in students.

He also pointed to several incidents of violence against ROTC cadets, such as the 2001 murder of Mark Chua, a cadet from the University of Santo Tomas who exposed irregularities in the program. Chuas death prompted the removal of the ROTC programs mandatory status. SFM

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Bill passage would rename Columbus Day, honor Native Americans in Nevada – Las Vegas Review-Journal

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CARSON CITY The Senate Committee on Government Affairs approved a bill Wednesday authorizing the governor to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous People Day, replacing the traditional Columbus Day.

Senate Bill 105, sponsored by State Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, follows other state and local governments around the country to shun the Columbus Day recognition to instead honor Native Americans.

Segerblom said the bill recognizes the millions of Native Americans who died in conflicts when European settlers moved into the country and claimed land as their own, and shows an appreciation for their contributions to society.

Columbus Day was declared a federal holiday in the 1930s in honor of the Italian explorer who for a long time was credited with discovering the Americas. But historians have debunked that as myth, saying he sailed around the Caribbean but never came to North America.

Nevada last celebrated Columbus Day in 1992. The state instead honors its admission as a state on Nevada Day, traditionally Oct. 31 but celebrated on the last Friday in October for a three-day weekend.

Critics also object to Columbus being portrayed as a hero, arguing he engaged in brutal acts against native peoples.

There are many Italian-Americans we can celebrate, Sondra Cosgrove, a history professor at College of Southern Nevada, told the Senate Committee on Government Affairs. But today its time to go down a new path that recognizes are native communities.

Arlan Melendez, chairman of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, spoke in favor of the bill.

Far too long Native Americans have not been depicted fairly in history, he said. Weve endured oppression, discrimination, poverty broken treaties.

He said 27 tribes in Nevada have been here since time immemorial.

The committee voted 4-1 to approve the bill, with state Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, being the lone no vote. Hardy asked for more information about other local governments that have adopted Indigenous People Day and suggested he may vote for it when it comes to a full vote in the Senate.

That vote is expected next Tuesday, when the Legislature recognizes Nevada Tribes Legislative Day.

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Bill passage would rename Columbus Day, honor Native Americans in Nevada – Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Joe’s View: Privacy, where next? – Digital Health

Posted: at 6:48 am

A fact-finding trip to Seoul has left Joe McDonald contemplating the quality of freedom and privacy back in the UK, and the difference between placing your trust in the citizen or the state.

Samsung DVD/VHS player: on the horns of a dilemma?

At 35,000 Feet above Moscow a little turbulence rattled the ice in my gin and tonic as I reflected on my visit to South Korea and in particular the museum in Samsungs Global Headquarters in Seoul. South Korea is a remarkable country full of remarkable, resourceful and charming people.

The country has gone from the third world to first world economic powerhouse in just 40 years, The Miracle on the Han River they call it. Meanwhile just 35 miles to the North, the people of North Korea remain oppressed, frequently hungry and devoid of basic human rights.

Freedom to choose

My mind went back to the pictured exhibit in the Samsung museum, a combined VHS and DVD player which clearly captures a tipping point in the history of video technology and also how nimble Samsung are in their product development. Not sure which way the video market is going to go? Doesnt matter, well design another one in 3 months when we have a better idea.

The freedom versus state oppression and central planning. No contest.

I was a little disappointed to find no wifi on board the flight so I couldnt work during the 12-hour return trip. Never mind, plenty of inflight entertainment was available. By the time we were over Moscow Id already watched Bridget Jones Baby (not bad) and a re-make of The Magnificent Seven (why would you do that?). I didnt really fancy Snowden but, hey-ho, still many hours to go.

Snowden above Moscow

Snowden is a biographical film of the events surrounding Edward Snowden, a young CIA agent who became disillusioned with the work of the NSA and eventually blew the whistle on Americas widespread intrusive surveillance operations which allowed government access to citizen communications on a massive scale. Snowden fled from Hawaii with material stolen from the CIA and went to Hong Kong where he shared all of the embarrassing truths with the Guardian Newspaper and then the world.

The resulting revelations sparked massive global outcry at industrial spying on their own citizens by the US and UK and renewed demands for citizens right to privacy and not be spied on by their governments.

Those in the know, started to put Elastoplast over the webcam on their laptops, as Mark Zuckerberg famously did. Oliver Stones direction of the film leaves the viewer in no doubt that Snowden should be regarded as a hero but the fact that Barak Obamas government issued a warrant for his arrest as a traitor would suggest it is not quite as black and white as Stone would have it.

Care.data partly sunk by suspicion of surveillance state

Here in the UK the backlash of mistrust caused by our governments complete disregard for our digital privacy rights, together with playing fast and loose with consent, helped scupper the Care.Data database, and has seen NHS Digital have three re-brandings in as many years.

And it turns out that the concerns of privacy campaigners about use health data by government agencies for purposes that have nothing to do with health were spot on.

NHS Digital gave Home Office details of 10,000 patients a year

NHS Digitals former chairman is having his own Snowden moment. The story quotes former NHS Digital Chairman, Kingsley Manning, stating that he felt pressured into releasing patient data to the home office at a scale of 10,000 patients per year, largely used to track immigrants.

He is also quoted as saying that new arrangements announced last month maximise Home Office powers to the absolute Limit.

Time to choose on privacy and consent

It strikes me that we have spent 10 years arguing the toss about privacy and consent models, maybe we are at the tipping point now where we have to choose which way to jump. VHS or DVD? North or South Korea?

Will the citizen become more and more relaxed about sharing their health data over the coming years, after all theyre letting it all hang out on Facebook and Twitter, right? We can just pass legislation that lets us use patients anonymised patient data however we want? If the Home Office want access to NHS data thats OK, right? The innocent have nothing to fear, nothing to hide, right? Democracies always elect reasonable people, right?

Privacy of health data not an optional extra

It seems unlikely to me. A generation of digital natives is growing up who understand privacy, theyve seen Snowden, he is a heroic figure for them. They have seen Zuckerbergs Elastoplasted webcam and they look up to him. They are going to get more passionate about privacy, not less.

Theyve had their identity stolen, a card cloned, been fraped, trolled and they can explain two factor authentication to their parents? NHS Digital cannot afford to slip up with another approach to patient data from the Donald Trump school of seduction and truth.

We are, I think, at a tipping point alright and the next chief executive of NHS Digital will have to play a key role in deciding which way to go.

Can NHS Digital become the guarantor of patient privacy?

Is NHS Digital to be the champion and guarantor of information and data as the essential lifeblood of patient-centred, personalised health and care?

Will the next leader of NHS Digital ensure the organisations driving purpose is about empowering the individual to control their data and who gets to see and use it?

Or will NHS Digital be more statist, primarily inward looking, serving the health system and other arms of government. The agency clearly has a vital role to play in terms of providing data required for research, planning and operation of the health and care system, but how should it weigh these responsibilities against the rights of the citizen?

Its a tricky balance, but might we get a leader who can deliver both for the nation and the individual citizen? Only if they understand that the secret of consent is to get consent. Freedom versus state oppression. No contest. Right?

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Increasing opposition in Philippines to war on drugs: UN official – Reuters

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BANGKOK A United Nations human rights investigator says there are signs of mounting opposition within the Philippines to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, with police operations on hold and the Church getting critical of the campaign.

Agnes Callamard, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, however said the thousands of killings in the campaign had given rise to a sense of impunity, which could lead to increased lawlessness and violence.

More than 7,600 people, mostly drug users and small-time dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30, about a third of them in police operations. Callamard said she knew of only four court cases seeking justice for the victims.

“The difference between the number of reported killings and the number of court cases is unbelievable,” she told Reuters in Bangkok. “It’s very unusual for that degree of impunity to remain restricted to one kind of crime or one type of community.”

Spokesmen for Duterte could not immediately be reached for comment.

The war on drugs has been a signature policy of Duterte, who remains popular in opinion polls.

But Callamard, a human rights expert from France who took up the U.N. post in August, said opposition to the drug war was increasing and had reached a “tipping point.”

“There is an increasing awareness on the part of the Filipino people that the war on drugs could hurt them,” she said. “The surveys that are being done indicate support for the president…but critique the war on drugs.”

One of the Philippines’ top polling agencies, Social Weather Stations, said after a survey of 1,500 people in early December that most were satisfied with Duterte’s rule. But 78 percent said they were worried that they or someone they knew would be a victim of an extra-judicial killing.

In a series of reports last year, Reuters showed that the police had a 97-percent kill rate in their drug operations, the strongest proof yet that police were summarily shooting drug suspects.

Both the government and police have strenuously denied that extra-judicial killings have taken place.

The Church in the Philippines, Asia’s largest Catholic nation, had been a muted critic of the campaign but slammed it earlier this month for creating a “reign of terror” among the poor.

The bloodshed had also generated growing unease and criticism from Philippine civil society groups and media, Callamard said.

Her remarks come as Duterte and his police chief Ronald Dela Rosa face intense criticism for the October kidnap and killing of a South Korean businessmen by anti-narcotics officers inside national police headquarters.

He was arrested for drug offences that his wife said was an official cover for kidnap for ransom.

The case, which came to light in January, prompted dela Rosa to announce the suspension of anti-drug operations to purge the police force of what he termed “rogue cops.” Duterte has however vowed to maintain his anti-drugs campaign until his term ends in 2022.

Callamard said real opposition to the drugs war would come from within the Philippines rather than international bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In October, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda warned the Hague-based tribunal could prosecute if the killings were “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population.”

Duterte has threatened to withdraw from the ICC, calling it “useless,” and said in a November speech: “You scare me that you will jail me? International Criminal Court? Bullshit.”

(Reporting by Andrew R.C. Marshall, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will propose new cabinet level U.S.-Japan talks on trade, security and macroeconomic issues, including currencies, when he meets U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, a Japanese government official involved in planning the summit said.

SEOUL Lawyers for South Korean President Park Geun-hye have rejected a plan by a special prosecutor investigating a graft scandal to question her, citing a media leak, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.

STOCKHOLM Eight countries have joined an initiative to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls caused by President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S.-funded groups around the world providing information on abortion, Sweden’s deputy prime minister said.

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Trump Watch: Emboldened cops and border patrol agents, a more ‘ruthless’ war on drugs, and threats against the … – Washington Post

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Trump Watch: Emboldened cops and border patrol agents, a more ‘ruthless’ war on drugs, and threats against the … – Washington Post

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How Much is the War on Drugs Costing Us? – Los Cerritos News

Posted: at 6:47 am

The war on drugs has been going on for decades now and it costs the average person a fortune. While you may not be directly contributing to this crusade, your taxes and other bills do. Just how much is this costing you?

In total, our drugs control programme costs $100 billion per year to upkeep and enforce. Thats a massive chunk of the overall federal budget on something that experts say may not even be effective. The sheer size of the budget being spent on this programme is shocking and some believe it could be better spent elsewhere.

The result of the war on drugs isnt a higher price for drugs or scarcer supply, its legacy is the mass incarceration of a number of offenders. While what these offenders have done is illegal, we simply dont have the right amount of leniency and rehabilitation in place. Weve all heard of the straight A students in crime summaries, arrested and charged for a relatively small amount of a lower class drug, which can ruin their lives. Should these people be placed in a prison?

The costs dont stop with the incarceration either, the loss of productivity and workers also affects our national earnings. If someone is imprisoned for a period of a few years then they simply cost the country money, instead of generating it.

Thats why alternate solutions are cropping up for those that dont want to fund this war on drugs. Addiction rehab centers such as http://www.luxurybeachrehab.com, are opening their doors to those that suffer with drug problems. They want to rehabilitate instead of just imprisoning, which has been shown to be much more effective.

The high rate of drugs within our prison system is also alarming, as prisoners may not be protected from these influences while incarcerated. Instead, they may be used as leverage between prisoners and could lead to higher mortality, as they are being taken in an unsupervised environment. Experts that help with the detoxification process have spoken against just how dangerous this can be.

Our drug users are being forced underground by that $100 billion budget but theyre not actually being deterred from taking drugs. Their health is put at risk because of the staunch zero tolerance policies. In other developed nations, health providers give out fresh needles and a place to dispose of used ones, which dramatically reduces the transmission of HIV.

We should be working with these experts to pioneer our own campaign in the war on drugs that is actually effective. There are more than enough examples all over the world of the way that healthcare providers can better work with those in the throes of addiction. They mustnt be punished and incarcerated unless they are actively supplying other users or posing a risk to the public.

These latest figures show a really damming picture of the war on drugs, as they make it clear it is a cash eating machine without a lot of results. Simply throwing money at the problem doesnt seem to be enough and law makers need to start thinking outside the box, only then will they be able to mount a decent attack on illegal drugs. With other nations leading the way in this regard this outdated system is sadly falling behind at a huge cost to our taxpayers and vulnerable people.

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Trump’s ‘Great Wall’ and the ‘Drug War’ – Consortium News

Posted: at 6:47 am

Exclusive: The argument for President Trumps Great Wall across the U.S. southern border would be severely undercut if America expanded legalization of personal drug use, reports Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

Attention deficit disorder isnt usually a welcome presidential attribute, but Mexicans can be thankful that Donald Trump has temporarily shifted his focus away from their country to start fights instead with Iran, the European Union, China, California and the U.S. news media.

The last time Trump addressed Mexico, right after the election, the peso fell 17 percent. Within days of his inauguration, Trump demanded that Mexico pay for a border wall, prompting cancellation of his planned summit meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

As former Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan lamented, it took only one week of bilateral engagement between the new U.S. administration and Mexico to throw the relationship into a tailspin. That relationship would be better if Trump had stuck to the view he expressed in November 2015: I dont care about Mexico, honestly. I really dont care about Mexico.

Someday soon, however, Trump will rediscover his interest in Mexico, and relations will likely suffer again. But Mexico need not take his abuse lying down. As the buyer of more than a quarter trillion dollars in U.S. exports the second-largest market in the world for U.S. goods Mexico has some leverage if Trump tries to play rough with tariffs and trade.

And if Trump persists in sending a bill to Mexico City for his wall, Pena should seriously consider sending a bill in return to Washington to pay for the U.S. drug war.

High Cost to Mexico

For years now, Mexico has paid an extraordinarily high price in lives and social disruption for Washingtons insistence that North Americas drug problem be tackled south of the border, where the drugs are grown and transported, rather than primarily in clinics and halfway houses at home to treat the medical and psychological issues of users.

Successive administrations, starting with President Nixon, have demanded ever-tougher border controls, aerial-spraying programs, and DEA-backed anti-cartel operations in Mexico. All those efforts and sacrifices have been for naught. U.S. residents currently export up to $29 billion in cash to Mexican traffickers each year to buy marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and heroin.

Forcing that trade underground has taken a terrible toll on Mexico in terms of violence, corruption and social upheaval. Since 2006, when President Felipe Caldern ordered his military to join the war on drug traffickers, Mexico has lost about 200,000 lives and 30,000 more have disappeared, dwarfing the civilian death toll in Afghanistan and Iraq over that period.

The majority of those killed and disappeared were victims of criminal organizations, but human rights organizations also report soaring rates of human rights violations, including torture and killing, committed by security forces.

The 2016 Global Peace Index, prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace, estimates the total cost of violence in Mexico at $273 billion, or 14 percent of GDP, with no end in sight. Direct fiscal costs of fighting the war on crime were about $32 billion in 2015 alone. Yet the United States has contributed only about $2.5 billion since fiscal 2008 to Mexicos drug war, under the so-called Merida Initiative.

Mexicos pain shows no signs of easing. The New York Times reported in December that Mexico suffered more than 17,000 homicides in the first 10 months of last year, the highest total since 2012.

The relapse in security has unnerved Mexico and led many to wonder whether the country is on the brink of a bloody, all-out war between criminal groups, it said.

Time for an Alternative

In his last phone call with Mexican President Pena, Trump reportedly complained, You have some pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with. We are willing to help with that big-league, but they have to be knocked out and you have not done a good job knocking them out.

According to one disputed account, Trump threatened to send U.S. troops south of the border if Mexico doesnt do more to stop the drug problem.

Pena can continue to do Washingtons bidding, ensuring his political demise, or he can challenge Trump by asking why Mexico should fight North Americas drug war on its own soil and at its own expense. If he goes the latter route, hell have plenty of good company.

Former heads of state from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, along with other distinguished members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, have called for normalization of drugs eliminating black markets and incentives for violence by legalizing individual possession and cultivation of drugs while instituting public health regulations. They note that such programs have succeeded admirably in Portugal and the Netherlands at reducing both the criminal and public health costs of drug abuse.

The harms created through implementing punitive drug laws cannot be overstated when it comes to both their severity and scope, the former heads of state assert in their 2016 report, Advancing Drug Policy Reform.

Thus, we need new approaches that uphold the principles of human dignity, the right to privacy and the rule of law, and recognize that people will always use drugs. In order to uphold these principles all penalties both criminal and civil must be abolished for the possession of drugs for personal use.

Change in Attitudes

Support for decriminalization is growing in Mexico, where the Supreme Court in 2015 approved growing and smoking marijuana for personal use. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox now advocates legalizing all drugs over a transition period of up to a decade.

Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister, recently opined,Mexico should take advantage of Californias decision to legalize recreational marijuana. Regardless of Mr. Trumps victory, the approval of the proposition in the United States most populous state makes Mexicos war on drugs ridiculous. What is the purpose of sending Mexican soldiers to burn fields, search trucks and look for narco-tunnels if, once our marijuana makes it into California, it can be sold at the local 7-Eleven?

Critics rightly point out that what works in the Netherlands wont necessarily solve Mexicos problems. Its powerful drug gangs have diversified into a host of other violent criminal enterprises. They control territory, intimidate or corrupt law enforcement, and kill with impunity.

Legalizing drug sales wont end their criminal ways, but it could erode their profits and let police focus on universally despised crimes with direct victims murder, kidnapping, extortion and the like.

As Mexican journalist Jos Luis Pardo Veiras remarked last year, Decriminalizing drug use will not fix a deeply rooted problem in this country, but it will allow Mexicans to differentiate between drugs and the war on drugs, between drug users and drug traffickers. This is the first step in acknowledging that a different approach is possible.

As for Trump, let him build his wall and see if that keeps out all the drugs. If not, maybe by then Mexico will be able to offer some useful advice on how to fight the drug problem not with guns, but with more enlightened policies.

Jonathan Marshall is author of many recent articles on arms issues, including How World War III Could Start,NATOs ProvocativeAnti-Russian Moves,Escalations in a New Cold War,Ticking Closer to Midnight, andTurkeys Nukes: A Sum of All Fears.

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Proposal to lower legal gambling age gets cold reception from gaming industry – News3LV

Posted: at 6:47 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV)

Ever since Las Vegas legalized gambling in ’31, you’ve had to be 21 to place a bet.

86 years later, the assemblyman in the cowboy hat says, I think if you’re old enough to go to Afghanistan, or Yemen, or Iraq and fight – if you’re old enough to drink in some states – if you’re old enough to vote – then you ought to be old enough to gamble, if that’s what you want to do, says Jim Wheeler, a Republican who represents Minden, NV.

Wheeler’s bill was one of a flurry introduced on Monday, the first day of the session.

Nationwide, while a few states allow 18-year-olds to gamble in a casino.

Most set the legal age at 21.

Wheeler admits his bill could cause complications. If gambling becomes legal at 18, our legal drinking age is still 21.

So it’s going to make it a little tougher on the cocktail servers, for instance, to check ID’s. But the fact is they’re supposed to be checking anyway, Wheeler says.

The Assemblyman says hes open to feedback.

News 3 received some on Wednesday from Nevada’s gaming industry.

“We are not aware of any compelling benefits from doing this, yet there are uncertain risks. Absent a clear policy rationale, we are opposed,” says Virginia Valentine, President of the Nevada Resort Association.

Wheeler says he introduced the bill to start the discussion. Well, the fact is in this business you actually have to put a bill out before you get comments on it, he told me.

He also says if the proposal has negative consequences, he wants to hear about those, too, especially from those who treat problem gambling.

“I definitely think this could lead to more problems as far as problem gambling, Nick Tangeman, Clinical Director at Center Youth Services, told me. Tangeman works with young people fighting issues with addiction. Those are very formative years for a teenager. Developmentally, the teenage brain is primed for addition, he says.

I just have a little concern we’d be making available to a risk-taking group of people a new risk activity, that most of them would handle but some would not do well with, says Dr. Robert Hunter, the founder of Las Vegas Problem Gambling Center.

For his part, Wheeler is going into this eyes open.

This bill very well may not go anywhere, he says.

The idea was floated in 2008 as a way to attract new gamblers to help Nevada ride out what was a growing recession.

It went nowhere.

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YouTubers fined for running illegal FIFA 17 gambling site – Ars Technica

Posted: at 6:47 am

Two men who admitted to running an unlicensed betting website have been fined after pleading guilty to gambling offences.

During a hearing at Birmingham magistrates court, Craig Douglas, 33, of Ilford, Essexa YouTube gamer who’s alias is “NepentheZ”and Dylan Rigby, 34, of Colchester, Essexwho founded FUT Galaxyadmitted to operating an unauthorised site that allowed video gamers to place bets using virtual currency.

TheFutGalaxy.com site, which is not affiliated with EA Sports or the FIFA series, allowed users to buy virtual currency, called FUT coins, for use in the FIFA series of video games, specifically in the FIFA Ultimate Team mode, said the Gambling Commissionwhich brought the prosecution.

Customers could then use those FUT coins to gamble by placing bets on matches that took place in the game. The winnings could then be converted into FIFA coins, another virtual currency used in the FIFA series, which in turn could be sold for real money on an unauthorised secondary market in which Rigby also had an interest. This also violated EA’s Terms of Service agreement.

“FutGalaxy.com offered gambling products including sports betting, a jackpot lottery style game, and a higher or lower style game,” the UK’s gambling watchdog said. “The full extent of the gambling operation facilitated and advertised by the defendants was revealed after the commission executed search warrants at the defendants’ homes and seized a number of electronic devices and company documents.”

Rigby has been ordered to pay 174,000 in fines and costs, while Douglas has been saddled with a 91,000 fine, after both men pleaded guilty to offences under the UK’s Gambling Act.

“This was one of the most serious cases that has been investigated and prosecuted by the commission,” the watchdog’s chief Sarah Harrison said.

“Its gravity is reflected in the significant financial penalties imposed by the judge. The defendants knew that the site was used by children and that their conduct was illegal but they turned a blind eye in order to achieve substantial profits. The effect on children of online gambling was rightly described by the court as ‘horrific’ and ‘serious.'”

The commission has been eyeballing the rise of online video game gambling.

In a series of tweets following the fine, Douglas said: “I owe a huge apology to my family and close friends for putting them through this process, and appreciate all those that stood by me… I also owe a huge apology and debt of gratitude to my loyal supporters. Even if this is the end of our journey together, I’m grateful.”

This post originated on Ars Technica UK

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MLB commissioner admits the league is rethinking its stance on gambling – FOXSports.com

Posted: at 6:47 am

Major League Baseball has always taken a hard stance against gambling of any kind. But MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated that the league might be open to softening its stance on the issue.

There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting, Manfred told Yahoo! Finance on Wednesday. We are reexamining our stance on gambling. Its a conversation thats ongoing with the owners.

For a league that seems desperate to attract younger fans to the game, finding a way to allow legalized betting on baseball sounds like a no-brainer.

When fans bet on games, Manfred continued, it can be a form of fan engagement, it can fuel the popularity of a sport. We all understand that.

Fans are betting on sports regardless of whether its legal or not, which is why Manfred is open to a discussion about revising MLBs policies on gambling.

Sports betting happens, Manfred said. Whether its legalized here or not, its happening out there. So I think the question for sports is really, Are we better off in a world where we have a nice, strong, uniform, federal regulation of gambling that protects the integrity of sports, provides sports with the tools to ensure that there is integrity in the competition Or are we better off closing our eyes to that and letting it go on as illegal gambling? And thats a debatable point.

Times have certainly changed since Major League Baseball first adopted an official set of rules about gambling in the sport back in 1927. Legalized gambling in many forms has become commonplace in todays society.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been a vocal proponent of legalizing regulated sports betting and recently said he believes gambling is good for business. Manfred seems to agree with his peer in basketball, saying that Silver has framed it the best.

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MLB commissioner admits the league is rethinking its stance on gambling – FOXSports.com

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