Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Image: File photo of a soldier at launch pad

Reuters file
A soldier stands guard in front of a rocket sitting on a launch pad at the Sohae Satellite Launch Statio, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities in April.
By Alan Boyle Science editor
NBC News
updated 12 minutes ago

North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Wednesday in defiance of its critics abroad, and sources said the launch may have succeeded where earlier attempts had failed. 

Initial word of the launch came from media outlets in Seoul and Tokyo, and a spokesman at South Korea's Defense Ministry confirmed to NBC News that the launch had taken place.

Later, a Defense Ministry representative told reporters that the launch "looked successful, but whether it has been really successful needs more time to determine."
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Reuters reported that South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak called an emergency security meeting in response to the North Korean launch, which took place at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station on the secretive country's west coast.

Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Osamu Fujimura, said North Korea's Unha rocket flew over Okinawa at 10:01 a.m. local time. He could not confirm whether any debris fell on Japanese territory. "The Japanese government regards this launch as an act compromising the peace and stability of the region, including Japan," Fujimura said.

Fujimura said the launch was "completely unacceptable," but he reassured the public that the Japanese government was doing everything possible to ensure national security. "Please go about your daily lives calmly," he said during a briefing.

Japan's NHK television network reported that the rocket's second stage crashed into the sea off the coast of the Philippines as planned, minutes after passing over Okinawa. The key question was whether the third stage successfully reached outer space.

North Korea says the rocket launch is aimed purely at putting its Kwangmyongsong weather satellite into a pole-to-pole orbit. But critics fear that the mission's true purpose is to test technologies for sending a nuclear warhead to targets as far away as the U.S. West Coast.

This month, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "a North Korean 'satellite' launch would be a highly provocative act that threatens peace and security in the region." Nuland said such a launch would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea is banned from conducting missile and nuclear tests, under the terms of U.N. sanctions imposed after a series of nuclear weapons tests in 2006 and 2009.

Wednesday's launch follows up on an attempt in April that ended in failure just minutes after liftoff.

North Korea's space effort is a point of prestige for the country's 29-year-old leader, Kim Jong Un, who assumed power after his father, Kim Jong Il, died last December. North Korea has claimed that it successfully launched two previous satellites in 1998 and 2009, but outside experts say there's no sign that anything was ever put into orbit.

Suspect 'neutralized' after deadly shooting at Clackamas Town Center

Shooter killed himself.

Suspect 'neutralized' after deadly shooting at Clackamas Town Center

by Staff

Posted on December 11, 2012 at 4:29 PM
Updated today at 5:03 PM

PORTLAND – At least one person was killed in a shooting inside the Clackamas Town Center mall Tuesday and a suspect was "neutralized," deputies said. At least one person was killed.
Clackamas County Sheriff's deputies said it was an "active shooting call" around 3:30 p.m. and urged people to stay away from the area. Lieutenant James Rhodes said the suspect had been "neutralized" at a news conference just before 5 p.m.
The Oregonian was reporting that two people were dead and that around 60 shots were fired. Deputies confirmed there were fatalities, but confirmed no further details.
No information on the suspect's identity was released. Police did not think there were any other suspects.
Deputies were asking for any witnesses to contact police.
At least three people were hit, according to American Medical Response, after ten to 15 shots were fired by a person in a hockey mask. One patient was taken to the hospital, AMR said.
Witnesses said the suspect was wearing what looked like body armor and a white mask. They said he fired a rifle several times until it jammed and he the dropped a magazine onto the floor, then ran into the Macy's store.
The mall exit from Interstate 205 was closed by police.

KGW reporter Abbey Gibb said people were crying and shaking as they come out of the mall.
“It’s surreal, even as a reporter, seeing this,” she said. Gibb said officers with guns drawn were outside the Macy's.
Photo by witness Benjamin Christensen
Dax McMillan, a former police officer, said a friend of his was right next to one of the victims.
“It was just shot after shot after shot. It was terrible. It was like a massacre,” witness Kira Rowland said.
Witness Benjamin Christensen, who works in the mall, said he was also there when the shooting began. He heard one shot, then six or seven more. He then began helping to evacuate others out of the rear exits.
“There were just cops everywhere and sirens and ambulances coming in. I hope everyone is okay,” said a shopper named Isabel, who fled after the shooting. “It’s so close to a holiday. It’s terrible.”
Another witness told KGW she heard several gunshots near Nordstrom, before people ran for cover.
“A deputy is about 50 yards away from me. He has a shotgun out, he’s hiding behind a car,” said John Canzano, a well-known local sports columnist who happened to be at the mall.
Canzano said all the store security cages were immediately closed.
Reporter Pat Dooris described a heavy police and emergency vehicle presence as well as "a lot of chaos." One witness told him security forces helped shoppers get down to the ground and out of site after the shots were fired.
“All of the sudden, I just heard a series of gunshots… boom, boom, boom, boom, boom… whatever the shooter was shooting at, they continued to shoot,” said shopper Bill Hoff.

BREAKING NEWS: Multiple shots fired at Portland, Ore.-area shopping mall

Breaking News: Officials: Shooter 'Neutralized' 

Shots were fired Tuesday afternoon at a mall in Portland, Ore., and there were reports of injuries, according to NBC station KGW.

The Oregonian newspaper said that one of its sports columnists was in the mall and reported that dozens of shots were fired in the food court near the Macy's at the Clackamas Town Center around 3:20 p.m. reported that three people were shot and that the shooter was wearing a hockey mask, but it did not cite a source for the information.
A woman who answered the phone at Chipotle in the mall told NBC News that someone ran in and yelled, “It’s a shooting, it’s a shooting.”She said employees shut the restaurant doors. She said the mall is crawling with police.

Suspect 'neutralized' after deadly shooting at Clackamas Town Center

Witness Amber Tate told KATU that she was standing in the parking lot when she spotted a man wearing a camouflage shirt and what looked like a bulletproof vest.
Tate said he looked like a teenager.

The mall entrances have been blocked off, according to the Oregonian.


Gay student asks Justice Scalia to defend his 'bestiality' comments

Alex Wong / Getty Images file
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, seen in October 2012.
Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET -- Just days after the Supreme Court announced it would take its first serious look at gay marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia was asked to defend his legal writings on homosexuality.
The Supreme Court justice was visiting Princeton University on Monday to discuss his latest book when a college freshman, who identifies as gay, asked Scalia about the comparison he has drawn between laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.
“If we cannot have moral feelings against or objections to homosexuality, can we have it against anything?” Scalia said in response to the question, according to The Daily Princetonian. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective.”
Scalia told Princeton student Duncan Hosie that he is not equating sodomy with bestiality or murder, but drawing parallels between the bans.
Scalia added dryly, “I’m surprised you weren’t persuaded,”  the student newspaper reported.
Hosie's question -- which received a round of applause -- stemmed from a 2003 case, Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a Texas anti-sodomy law. Scalia had dissented in the case; in his dissent, he makes a couple of comparisons to laws against bestiality and declares, "nowhere does the Court’s opinion declare that homosexual sodomy is a 'fundamental right.'"
Scalia, the longest-serving justice on the current court was at Princeton to promote his new book, “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,” and to talk about the interpretation of, the Constitution. It was during a question-and-answer session that Hosie asked him about Lawrence v. Texas.
"It's a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the 'reduction to the absurd,'" Scalia told Hosie, of San Francisco, The Associated Press reported.
Reduction to the absurd, an English translation of the Latin term "reductio ad absurdum," is a form of logic in which one refutes an argument by showing that its inevitable consequences would be absurd.
Hosie later told NBC News he didn't feel persuaded by Scalia's response.
"I was very pleased that Scalia was polite with me. I thought he was respectful with me, so I appreciate that, however, I disagree with the substance of his answer," Hosie said.
"If you’re making an argument to convince people, you don’t want to alienate people, and that’s what Scalia did with his language. He didn’t just alienate liberals by comparing laws against gay sex to laws against murder and bestiality, he has alienated laws conservatives have condemned. It didn’t make sense to me," he added.

The Supreme Court will be reviewing California's ban on same-sex marriage and a federal law that defines marriage as only the legal union of a man and a woman in March, with a decision expected by late June.
Scalia has "not been opaque" about his feelings toward same-sex marriage in the past, and gay rights advocates do not expect him to change his mind when the Supreme Court hears the cases in the spring, said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization.
"It's safe to say he is a vote in the 'no' column," Sainz said. "He is not a justice that has an open mind towards these issues that are coming his way.”
Hosie said he hopes the exchange he had with Scalia, while it may not change the justice's mind, will at least change the fiery words he uses in the future.
"I feel as if he’s crossed a line in comparing some of the things he’s compared gay rights to ... so hopefully this media coverage will encourage Justice Scalia to be more conscientious and careful in the words he uses," he said.
Scalia didn't discuss any issues related to specific cases during the Princeton Q&A, but defended his view that divining the original meaning of the Constitution is the best way to interpret it.
“The Constitution is not an organism; it’s a legal text, for Pete’s sake,” he said, reported The Daily Princetonian. “Unless you give [the laws] the meaning of those who enacted them, you’re destroying democracy.”

Jump to discussion page: 1 2 3 ... 16
Comment author avatarRick-546746Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
Maybe justices should STFU about their personal religious beliefs...Scalia never did have the temperment for the job...what a waste of skin
#1 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:35 AM EST
Comment author avatardenver bill 2Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
I'm throwing the BS flag on your agenda unless you can point to a specific place where religion is mentioned either in the article or in Scalia's written opinion in the case files.
#1.1 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:40 AM EST
Scalia has, in his rulings, made it clear that his conservative Catholicism defines his beliefs. For example, he has made it his life's goal to gather enough justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. He is more beholding to the Pope than to the American people!
#1.2 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:51 AM EST
Oh, snap!!! (Denver bill 2 re: Wants to know)
#1.3 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:54 AM EST
You can't really use the word "sodomy" without implicitly making reference to the Bible.
#1.4 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:54 AM EST
Scalia is old and a product of his generation, and that allows him to ignore changes in public opinion. He will die soon, and then he can be replaced with someone younger, more in touch with modernity. Scalia is one of those that only look backward, gritting his teeth that society is not stuck in the 1950s like him.
#1.5 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:02 PM EST
Comment author avatarimwhitewolfExpand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
"He is not a justice that has an open mind towards these issues that are coming his way.”
An open mind and Antonin Scalia, now that's funny. He is the poster child for the brain dead right. The SC will function much better once the likes of Scalia and Thomas have retired.
#1.6 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:04 PM EST
Comment author avatarTimothy1MilExpand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
Good. That's one sure vote "no".
#1.7 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:04 PM EST
Whether Scalia has used his personal religious beliefs in law arguments, I leave to others.
I do support the notion that he is more of a partisan hack than a competent judge. I submit for your review the case of Gonzalez v. Raich, and then his position on use of the Commerce Clause since, particularly with reference to the ACA.
#1.8 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:09 PM EST
Comment author avatardenver bill 2Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
Wants to know
Scalia has, in his rulings, made it clear that his conservative Catholicism defines his beliefs.
While it is probably true that Scalia's religious beliefs affect his rulings, Rick's comment called on him to STFU about those beliefs. My comment was a call for Rick (or anyone) to show me a specific instance of Scalia making reference to his beliefs in his legal opinions. In other words, how do you STFU about something you've never said?
#1.9 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:10 PM EST
Like what jake2247 said. Is anybody really surprised that Scalia holds these opinions when he grew up during a time when segregation and Jim Crow laws were OK considering it's the same time period in which homosexuality was demonized and many had to be in closet because of persecution?
#1.10 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:13 PM EST
Comment author avatarBruce-308647Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
"It's safe to say he is a vote in the 'no' column," Sainz said. "He is not a justice that has an open mind towards these issues that are coming his way.”
Just because a person disagrees with you doesn't mean he/she doesn't have an open mind. One could just as easily say that YOU do not have an open mind about Justice Scalia even though he hasn't heard the case or ruled on it yet. Two people can hear the same evidence and reach very different conclusions, as is very often the case with Supreme Court justices. Why does it always end up that with a person rules conservatively, they don't have an open mind?! His argument is that you have to draw the line SOMEWHERE, because if you don't, then the line keeps getting pushed further and further (into the absurd). If marriage can be defined as two men or two women, then why not one man and two women? Why not a man and a horse? Why not two men and a car? Once you start moving the goal posts, then how far do you move them?
#1.11 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:15 PM EST
Comment author avatarBluelakeExpand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
Scalia has made no secret about his feelings toward the so called "homosexual agenda". He has prejudged this case and needs to recuse himself. He's an arrogant little son of a bitch and surely won't do that so he needs to be impeached. His conflict of interest and lack of impartiality in the case involving Dick Cheney's secrecy with our national energy policy meetings should have gotten him removed then.
He, and his legal lap dog, Clarence Thomas have badly damaged the Supreme Court and indeed, the entire American judicial system. He needs to be impeached.
#1.12 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:18 PM EST
dhines - "sodomy" - well, not QUITE - while the original reference is to a supposedly supernaturally destroyed city in the middle east, that particular connection is MOOT today. As an "act" (a physical act), "sodomy" is well defined. No biblical connection required.
Bruce - the easiest thing would be to get the gummint of the business (and it IS a BUSINESS) of sanctioning "marriage" and have them issue "certificates of civil unions". you want to get "married" go to a church (temple, whatever). I KNOW (factual "know") that it is possible to get "married" in a Buddhist Wat in Thailand but not register the "marriage"; ergo, you wouldn't be "married" outside Thailand. A few years ago there was an interesting marriage where a guy married TWINS (in the Wat, of course) and was quite happy. no word on how it has worked out, though.
#1.13 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:18 PM EST
You really aren't serious asking where religion is mentioned, right? Seriously? What argument against gay rights, including gay marriage, can anyone make that doesn't involve religion??? If you look at the subject from a purely legal perspective and leave all the religious views out of things, what are you left with? It isn't legal to treat one group of people who aren't harming anyone in a way that is only wrong, bad, or should be prevented in any different way than anyone else. If you aren't judging the behavior logically, but instead are adding religious beliefs into it you get what we have had for years in this country...discrimination. If you look at it legally and rationally there is no bias and you see that you don't have to want to do something or even like it for it to be legal and fair. There are things I don't agree with that are legal, so I just don't do them. Case closed...oh isn't closed.
And that is because this is ALL about religion whether a person states it explicitly or not if we are honest about it. Just because a person doesn't come out and announce that his/her statement is based on religious beliefs it is pretty obvious if it is based on a personal belief that comes from what is taught in various churches. This is a legal case and shouldn't be judged on anyone's religious beliefs. That would be totally wrong to do and anyone who can't judge the legality and not the beliefs should not be judging the case.
#1.14 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:19 PM EST
Comment author avatarJo Ann-666954Expand Comment Comment collapsed by the community
Hosie said later that Scalia's answer didn't persuade him, and that he believes Scalia's writings tend to "dehumanize" gays, according to The AP.
Well Hosie, that's your opinion. Now quit whining. So many people crying about anything in this day and age.
My American born mother was not allowed to play in her high school band because of her Mexican heritage. Her dream was to play in a high school band and march on a football field. She wasn't even allowed in movie theaters.
Did she feel dehumanize? Yes. Did she whine about it? No. Even to this day she still doesn't complain about it or have an ill will towards anyone. What's done is done and I've admired her more because she did not complain because it shows her strength.
#1.15 - Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:22 PM EST

Snyder signs Michigan anti-union 'right to work' measures over protests of thousands

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Michigan has officially become the 24th "right to work" state, outlawing forced union membership in both the public and private sectors. NBC's Ron Mott reports.
Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law two bills Tuesday sharply limiting labor rights, which the House passed over the objections of thousands of people packing the Capitol in protest, some of whom chanted "Shame on you!" from the gallery.

"This isn't about us versus them. This is about Michiganders," Snyder said at news conference in the state capital, Lansing, where he announced that he had signed the legislation.

By a 58-51 vote, the Republican-led House passed a bill that would ban workplace rules that make union membership a condition of employment for government workers. It then approved a second bill, covering private-sector workers, by a vote of 58-52.

When the new rules take effect, probably in late March, Michigan — one of the most union-friendly states in the country —will become the 24th "right to work" state, making payment of union dues voluntary even though the union negotiates on a worker's behalf.

Snyder told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell that he was "pro-collective bargaining," but he said right-to-work laws denied workers freedom of choice.

"I think it's a good thing," he said of the legislation. "I think it's pro-worker."

Michigan labor fight puts 'tough nerd' Snyder under partisan spotlight
Michigan has long been considered the heart of organized labor. But now it may draw new manufacturing plants that had been drawn to "right to work" states in the South. CNBC's Phil LeBeau reports.

As the vote was taking place, as many as 10,000 people descended on the Capitol, State Police estimated, prompting authorities to restrict access to the building because it was at its capacity of 2,000. The overflow filled the lawn and stretched down East Michigan Avenue to the Lansing Center across the river several blocks away.

About 200 onlookers filled the gallery overlooking the House floor Tuesday. As debate resumed on one of the bills, the session was interrupted with protesters yelling, "Shame on you," NBC News' Nadine Comerford reported.
After the votes, protesters then moved to the building housing Snyder's office, chanting, "Governor Snyder, just say no!"

Law enforcement officials said they wouldn't let Michigan become another Wisconsin, where demonstrators occupied the state Capitol around the clock for nearly three weeks last year to protest similar legislation.

Armed with tear gas canisters, pepper spray and batons, State Police officers guarded the Capitol as protesters shouted "No justice, no peace!" and "Shut it down!" NBC station WILX of Lansing reported.

State Police officials confirmed that one of their troopers used pepper spray on one protester. Police spokesmen said the man was sprayed when he grabbed a trooper and tried to pull her into the crowd.

The man wasn't arrested, but two other people were arrested after they tried to force their way into another building on the grounds where Snyder has offices, police said.

A tent set up by supporters of the measures also collapsed amid what authorities described as "pushing and shoving" among protesters. No one was hurt, police said.

Dale G. Young / AP
Governor Rick Snyder presents his views on Michigan's future energy plans and how they merge with environmental and resource management issues at MSU's WK Kellogg Biological Station, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 near Hickory Corners, Mich.

Elsewhere on the lawn, four large inflatable rats were set up to mock Snyder, House Speaker Jase Bolger, Senate Republican leader Randy Richardville, and Dick DeVos, a prominent conservative businessman who union leaders say is behind the bills.

Obama decries right-to-work proposal during trip to Michigan

Schools in at least three districts were closed because so many teachers and other staff were at the rally.

NBC's Ron Mott reports on the latest from the labor protests in Lansing, Mich., and then, Msnbc's Tamron Hall talks with Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.

Valerie Constance, a developmental reading instructor for the Wayne County Community College District and a member of the American Federation of Teachers, sat on the Capitol steps with a sign shaped like a tombstone. It read: "Here lies democracy."

Scott Hagerstrom, director of the Michigan affiliate of the activist group Americans for Prosperity, said the new laws would be "a win-win for Michigan's economy, for individual freedom."

"What a lot of these protesters may not realize is that after this bill passes, they can still belong to a union. It'll just be their choice. They just can't force their co-workers to give their hard-earned money to a private organization," he said.

But Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, called it "a terrible result."

"Workers want a voice and ... they want to be sure when conditions are set that they're part of the process," he said in an interview on msnbc.

Valerie Constance, a developmental reading instructor for the Wayne County Community College District and a member of the American Federation of Teachers, sat on the Capitol steps with a sign shaped like a tombstone. It read: "Here lies democracy."

But Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, hailed the votes, saying the made for "a great day for Michigan's workers and taxpayers,"

"I would like to congratulate Michigan's workers for their newly protected freedom to work without union affiliation as a condition of their employment," Mix said.

Mich. labor fight puts 'tough nerd' Snyder under partisan spotlight

Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder called himself "one tough nerd" in his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, fashioning himself as a pragmatic problem-solver who wouldn't delve into the divisive partisanship that had come to define some of his fellow Republicans.

Related: Michigan House passes right-to-work legislation

But now that Snyder has signed historic legislation making Michigan the nation's 24th right-to-work state, detractors will likely lump the governor with those firebrand Republicans, a distinction that he had long sought to avoid.

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Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich., tells NBC's Andrea Mitchell that the right-to-work legislation will bring more work to his state and may be a "positive" to unions over time. 

“I didn’t do this to get into the politics of it,” Snyder said on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon of the fight. He said the issue reached a “critical mass” after organized labor unsuccessfully pushed a ballot initiative this November that would have established a right to collective bargaining in the Michigan constitution.

Snyder had previously said that pursuing this legislation was not on his agenda. But Republicans in the statehouse, whose majorities in the House and Senate will be narrower next year due to the 2012 elections, revived the long-dormant proposal with Snyder's eventual blessing.

"Once we had the support that we had, the next step was convincing the governor that this was a good thing," said state Republican Rep. Marty Knollenberg, a primary sponsor of the bill in the House. "It certainly started from the legislature, and then it was presented to the governor … I think he was sort of taking a wait-and-see attitude. It wasn’t on his priority list, as he indicated."

But Snyder did ultimately embrace the law, and signed it into law on Tuesday evening. Whether he would be able to preserve his reputation as a non-ideologue is an open question.

The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus talks about the protests in Lansing, Michigan over the right-to-work legislation.

"I think he kind of decided he couldn’t string this out any longer. The idea that he had some sort of moment where he was converted in a blinding flash of light – I don’t think that’s the case," said Bill Ballenger, editor of the "Inside Michigan Politics" newsletter. "Here you’ve got Michigan looking, all of a sudden, far more extreme and aggressive that Scott Walker. Isn’t that ironic?"

Snyder enjoyed a 51 percent approval rating for Snyder in an early December EPIC-MRA poll; 48 percent of Michiganders said they had a negative impression of Snyder's performance as governor. The same poll found that Snyder had an edge over a generic Democratic challenger in 2014.

Recommended: Boehner demands Obama 'get serious' and offer new plan

But the state was much more divided on the question of whether the legislature should pursue right-to-work laws. While the EPIC-MRA poll found that Michiganders were generally supportive of the concept of those laws, they were evenly divided – 47 percent in favor, 46 percent against – on the question of whether Michigan should adopt such a law.

Indeed, Snyder's decision to move forward with this proposal will inevitably invite parallels with GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's work to push legislation that stripped public employees of their collective bargaining rights in early 2011. Like Michigan, Wisconsin is an industrial Midwestern state with a long tradition of unionism. And as with Wisconsin, Democrats and labor activists stormed the state capitol with unmet hopes of halting the changes to labor law.

“I think it’s important to make a distinction with Wisconsin and Ohio,” Snyder said on MSNBC. “That was about collective bargaining. That was about the relationship between employers and unions. This has nothing to do with that. Right-to-work has to do with the relationship between unions and workers.”

The bigger distinction might be the extent to which Michigan's fight was relatively bloodless. The fight in Wisconsin dragged out for days as Democrats in the state Senate went into hiding in Illinois to try to prevent a vote. And labor fought for months to recall Walker, an election which the Wisconsin governor survived this past June.

The right-to-work law moved much more quickly through Michigan's state government, giving opponents of the law barely any time to stop the bill. Even President Barack Obama's criticism of the law during a stop Monday in Detroit did little to halt the legislation's progress.

That sort of criticism could threaten to erode the reputation Snyder had built for himself during two years in office. Snyder, a former CEO of Gateway Computers, emerged from relative obscurity in 2010 to beat two well-known Republican challengers, Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Attorney General Mike Cox, in the primary on the strengths of his plain-spoken, jobs-oriented message.

Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers and Rev. Jesse Jackson share their reactions to the right-to-work legislation and the protests occurring because of it.

Snyder tried to burnish his bipartisan bona fides upon taking office by appointing former State House Speaker Andy Dillon, a Democrat who'd unsuccessfully sought his party's gubernatorial nomination in 2010, as his state treasurer. He had sought to build a new bridge between Detroit and Canada over the opposition of some Republicans, and resisted a GOP initiative to ban domestic partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples before relenting.

Democrats and their allies in organized labor are sure now to redouble their efforts to beat Snyder in 2014, despite a relatively thin bench of challengers. More voters (40 percent) said they would be less likely to give Snyder a second term if he pursued right-to-work than those who said they would be more likely to re-elect the Republican.
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So where will all that 'legal' pot come from? Sale of pot stymied


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Washington State's new law makes it legal for adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, but some speculate the federal government will prosecute those who use marijuana on federal land because federal law prohibits marijuana use. NBC's Kristen Dahlgren reports.
Washington and Colorado say you can legally smoke marijuana for fun now, but here's the catch: You can't legally buy it.
M. Alex Johnson 
Voters in those states passed initiatives last month to legalize recreational use of marijuana. As of last Thursday, it's legal under Washington law for anyone 21 and over to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of "solid marijuana-infused product" (in other words, a pound of pot brownies) or 72 ounces of "marijuana-infused liquid."

In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Amendment 64 to the state Constitution on Monday, legalizing not only recreational use but also home growing, unlike in Washington.

Entrepreneurs are already planning stores to get more buck for the bhang.

PhotoBlog: Pot smokers gather under Seattle's Space Needle to celebrate

"Part of the mission of our company is to transform marijuana from a back-alley drug being sold by criminals into a premium product being enjoyed by responsible adults," said Jamen Shively, chief executive of Diego Pellicer Inc., a new company that hopes to open a chain of stores in Washington and Colorado as soon as the legal issues are cleared up.

The company is named for Shively's great-grandfather, who grew hemp in the Philippines. It eventually became the biggest hemp supplier in the world around the turn of the 20th century. ("It's a family business," said Alan Valdes, a veteran securities trader who recently joined the company as chairman.)

"We're creating the category of premium marijuana," said Shively, who worked as a corporate strategy manager for Microsoft Corp. from 2003 to 2009 before leaving for a specialty food startup. "If you are producing or intending to produce premium-grade product that's in line with our ethos, we're interested in talking to you."

Americans to feds: Keep your hands off our pot

But Diego Pellicer and its customers may be in for a long wait.

The federal government still insists that marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance and that buying and selling it for any purpose remains a federal crime. Federal authorities officially even frown on the pot that patients get at medical marijuana dispensaries, although their policy is to look the other way in those cases.

For recreational users, well, "you're a felon," said Mark A.R. Kleiman, editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. "Period. End of paragraph."
And so is your retailer.

"Regardless of any changes in state law ... growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law," said Jenny Durkan, the U.S. attorney in Seattle. She said the Justice Department is reviewing its options in Washington and Colorado.

Buzzkill: Feds fire warning shot over pot legalization

Shively said that under no circumstances would his company violate federal law.

"Let's suppose tomorrow that Washington state issued licenses and said, 'Go ahead, guys, have at it.' We would say to the state of Washington respectfully, 'Thanks, but no thanks, because we haven't heard from the federal government.'"

Until then, Diego Pellicer is rounding up funding and private shareholders to be ready if and when the Justice Department changes course.

"I think it's going to be hard for the Obama administration to slap this down," Valdes said. "Washington is a liberal Democratic state that helped (President Barack Obama) get elected. The people voted for him — it would be a slap in the face."

Like Amsterdam: Washington bar owner lets patrons get stoned

Dan Satterberg, the prosecuting attorney in King County, Wash., which is home to a thriving marijuana scene in and around Seattle, thinks the Justice Department will try anyway.

The Washington and Colorado laws require state agencies to facilitate something the federal government considers an illegal act — the sale and distribution of marijuana. That raises an important states' rights question that only the courts can sort out, he said.

Satterberg told NBC station KING of Seattle that he expects the states and the Justice Department to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court within the next couple of years to argue the issue.

KING: Clearing up the new marijuana law: What's legal?

Overlooked in the immediate reaction to passage of the initiatives, both pro and con, is an important public health question, said Kleiman, who is a professor of public policy at the University of California-Los Angeles and co-author of "Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know."

It's not the question you might expect — how much does legalization increase marijuana use? — but "how much does legalization increase abuse?" he told NBC News.

Assuming marijuana use follows the pattern of alcohol use, most of the marijuana consumed in the U.S. is used by the 20 percent minority of people who abuse it, he said. Most pot users use it now for light recreational purposes, but if it's legal, how big will that 20 percent grow?

"Nobody knows," he said.

Questions like that are why it might, in fact, be wise for the federal government to step back and let Washington and Colorado serve as laboratories, so policy makers can "find out what happens."

If it does, Shively and Valdes will be ready.

"We are building our entire business on the premise it will be sufficiently legal in the next few months or a year," Shively said — a business that will include merchandising beyond simple sales of premium pot.

"Be looking out for really beautiful vaporizing products," he said. "That will be really hot."