Arrest after pipe bomb mail campaign in US

A man has been arrested in Florida and is reported as beinng a suspect in this week’s pipe bomb campaign where twelve ‘bomb-like’ packages were mailed to various politicians and media organisations.

It sounds like it may not have been particularly sophisticated  bomb operation.

Miami Herald:  South Florida man arrested in connection with suspected explosive packages

A Florida man has been arrested in connection to the string of suspected explosive packages sent to prominent Democrats this week, law enforcement sources tell the Miami Herald and other outlets.

Law enforcement sources tell the Miami Herald a trail of DNA evidence on either the packages or the devices quickly led investigators to a suspect identified as Cesar Sayoc, a 56-year-old man from Aventura. He is being questioned by FBI agents with the Joint Terrorism Task Force since his arrest this morning at about 10 a.m.

Federal investigators quickly centered the investigation on the dozen crudely fashioned “pipe bombs” sent to top Trump critics, including Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker, on a mail sorting facility in Opa-locka. The devices have been recovered in New York, Washington D.C., California and South Florida, all with the return address of Debbie Wassermann-Schultz’s office. Several words, including her name, were misspelled on the packages.

Images posted on social media show federal agents examining a white van with windows covered in pro-Donald Trump and right wing stickers. Closeup photos of the van, posted by a Twitter user who said he saw the car at a stoplight in April, show rifle scope images over the faces of Hilary Clinton, left wing filmmaker Michael Moore and President Barack Obama. Another said “CNN Sucks,” along with an image of Trump standing on a tank in front of fireworks and an American flag.

This is likely to raise the rhetoric as the US heads into their mid-term elections.

Trump tried to use the bomb campaign to get out the republican vote.

There have been accusations flying in all directions.

It’s a very divided and toxic political situation in the US. Perhaps the President will show leadership and calm things down, but that seems unlikely this side of the election.

Trump is talking about it right now.

Trump:

These terrorising events are despicable and have no place in our country.

We must never allow political violence to take root in America. We cannot let it happen, and I’m committed to doing everything in my power as president to stop it, and to stop it now, to stop it now.

But the bottom line is that Americans must unify, and we must show the world that we are united together in peace and love and harmony as fellow American citizens. There is no country like our country, and every day we are showing the world just how truly great we are.

What Trump needs to do now is show that, over time, he can put his words into practice. He has been much the opposite of a unifying president so far. He won the election by attacking and dividing, and that’s how he has been running the current campaign.

Can he change?

Shooting at Florida video game tournament in Florida

There has been another mass shooting in the US, this time at a national video game tournament that was being live streamed. Two people have been murdered, and the gunman also killed himself.

Reuters: Multiple fatalities in shooting at video game tournament in Florida: sheriff

There was a mass shooting at a video game tournament that was being streamed online from a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday, and the local sheriff’s office said there were multiple fatalities.

“Stay far away from the area. The area is not safe,” the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter. “We can’t stress enough to stay away. Many blocks away.”

Local media, citing police sources, said four people were killed and about 10 wounded.

The sheriff’s office said one suspect was dead at the scene and that it was unknown whether there was a second suspect. “Searches are being conducted,” the sheriff’s office said.

The shooting took place at a restaurant at Jacksonville Landing, a waterfront dining, entertainment and shopping site in downtown Jacksonville, according to local media.

The business was livestreaming a tournament for a Madden football video game when several shots rang out, according to video of the stream shared on social media.

This will no doubt reignite debate over gun laws in the US, in a now familiar pattern of outrage, subsidence, another shooting, outrage and so  on with nothing much changing.

This particular attack is also likely to prompt further debate on the possible effects of gaming – which often involves shooting – on people’s attitudes to shooting people for fun, despite this tournament being focussed on football.

The Gun Violence Archive current statistics for 2018:

  • Number of deaths: 9,501
  • Mass shootings: 234

Incidents in 2018

More on US school shootings

Following yesterday’s post: Florida school shooting

(PartisanZ):

Open letter from shooting victim’s aunt: ‘We don’t want your prayers” – NZHerald …

Powerful stuff … “My friends and fellow citizens, your guns are not protecting you. Your guns are killing our kids … Why is your hunting hobby more important than my niece’s life? Don’t you see that your “second amendment” rights have been twisted and distorted beyond any rational interpretation? Why should my niece have been sacrificed at the altar of your “freedoms?”

Why don’t you trust our police to protect us from crime? Don’t you realise that mental illness has been and always will be a part of the human condition and that weapons of war should not be available to those among us who dream of mayhem and death? Don’t you see the blood on all of our hands?” – Abbie Youkilis MD

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11996270

Gezza: (Relevant to a comment I posted yesterday about screwed up competitive US mass shooters who want to beat someone else’s record.)

16 February 2018 – Washington State
https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/101526089/wouldbe-gunmans-plan-to-carry-out-a-school-shooting-foiled-by-his-grandmother

“A US student has been arrested after his grandmother reported his plans to attack a high school to police. The decision about where to shoot and kill was based on the flip of a coin.

During a search at the house, authorities said that investigators seized a rifle that had been hidden in a guitar case, as well as military-style inert grenades. “This was a student that nobody would have suspected,” Mukilteo School District spokesperson Andrew Muntz told Fox affiliate KCPQ following the news.

O’Connor is being held on charges of attempted murder in the first degree, robbery and assault on an officer, according to online booking records.

Police said in a statement on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) that dispatchers received a call early Tuesday morning (Wednesday NZT) from a grandmother who said she believed her teenage grandson had plans to launch an attack on his school. She told police she had read about the plans in his journal.

In his writings, according to the probable cause documents, O’Connor said he was preparing for a school shooting, boasting, “My aim has gotten much more accurate.”
“I’ve been thinking a lot,” he added, according to the court records. “I need to make this shooting/bombing at Kamiak infamous. I need to get the biggest fatality number I possibly can. I need to make this count.

“I’ve been reviewing many mass shootings/bombings [and attempted bombings] I’m learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes, so I don’t make the same ones.”

The journal then mentions the coin flip between Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, Washington, and nearby ACES Alternative High School, according to the court records.

Officers met with O’Connor’s grandmother and were “alarmed at the statements and detailed plans to shoot students and use homemade explosive devices,” according to the statement from police.

Officers alerted administrators at ACES Alternative High School on Tuesday and had O’Connor pulled from class, according to the court records. The records state that officers found marijuana and a knife in his possession and took him into custody.

The incident unfolded just miles from Marysville, Washington where another teenager opened fire in 2014 at Marysville Pilchuck High School. Jaylen Fryberg lured students around a lunch table and then gunned them down, killing four before killing himself, police said.”

The politician problem (not just Trump) in Don’t look to Trump for leadership after the Florida school shooting

This is no time to talk politics, we’re told by gun-loving conservatives.

This is a time for prayers, we’re told by Donald Trump.

“There really are no words,” we’re told by the local sheriff.

So it’s OK, everyone. We can get back to the latest blather about tax cuts for corporations or billions for a border wall. Those are the things that politics, and presidents, and words, can handle.

But if we can’t talk about saving the lives of our children, if our politics can’t keep our schools safe, if we can’t talk about the mass murder of innocence, then what on earth are we talking about? What’s the point of any politician if they can’t do this one simple thing: protect our youngest citizens?

If this was the eighth terrorist attack of 2018, don’t you think every member of Congress – not just Democrats – would bleat on about taking urgent action?

If Isis-inspired gunmen had just mown down 17 high school students in their classrooms, how long would it take before our president spoke in front of the nation’s TV cameras?

If an ISIS inspired gunman (it’s almost always men) had just mown down one child at school it would have got more urgent attention. But red-white-blue on red-white-blue is far more politically awkward when one of the biggest, most generous (financially) lobby groups is the National Riflemens’ Association.

Instead, we’ll have to settle for a tweet. Because when we need leadership the most, there’s no point in raising your hopes with the man who watches Fox News all day inside the White House.

It’s so heartwarming to hear this from the man who promised to end “this American carnage” in his inaugural address. Of course, at the time he was talking about gang murders, just as he did in his State of the Union address last month.

He must have forgotten to mention school shootings with assault weapons, like the AR-15 used at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. It was the same assault weapon used at the Sutherland Springs church in Texas in November. It was the same assault weapon used in the Las Vegas massacre the month before that.

It’s as if no politician could talk about protecting airplane cockpits after 9/11 because all we could was pray and send our condolences.

There have been many attempts to tackle assault weapons like the AR-15. When Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, tried to do that in 2013, one month after the Sandy Hook school massacre, there were 60 no votes that killed the effort, including those of 15 Democrats.

Among those no votes was one Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, who told Fox News on Wednesday that now wasn’t the time to talk about gun control. “I think you can always have that debate,” he said. “But if you’re gonna have that debate about this particular incident you should know the facts of that incident before you run out and prescribe some law that you claim could have prevented it.”

Senator Rubio: save yourself the trouble. You don’t need to know the facts because the last time you heard the facts, you voted against regulating the very gun that massacred all those schoolchildren at Sandy Hook. It’s so funny how you need to be 100% sure about the impact of gun control laws when you are prepared to throw any amount of legislation and spending at the far less deadly terrorist threat to the United States.

Enough is enough is enough. If you care about our children, do something to protect them. If you want a politician who talks about our greatest threats, vote for someone who isn’t terrified of the National Rifle Association.

And if you want to make America great again, make our schools safe again.

A focus on mental health may be appropriate, if it includes the mental state of those politicians who refuse to consider that the US gun laws are hopeless and contribute significantly to one of the most dangerous problems in the US.

 

Florida school shooting

Another horrific mass shooting in the US, this time at a school in Florida.

Reuters: FBI was warned about alleged Florida gunman, could not locate

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was warned last year about an ominous online comment by the 19-year-old man accused of killing 17 people in his former high school but was unable to locate him, an agent said on Thursday.

Authorities said the ex-student, identified as Nikolas Cruz, walked into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, near Miami, on Wednesday and opened fire with an AR-15-style assault rifle in the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in U.S. history.

Cruz may have left warning signs on social media. A person with his name wrote a comment last year under a YouTube video that read “I‘m going to be a professional school shooter.” The man who posted the video, Ben Bennight, a Mississippi bail bondsman, was alarmed and contacted the FBI, according to a video he posted online late Wednesday.

Wednesday’s shooting was the 18th in a U.S. school this year, according to gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. It stirred the long-simmering U.S. debate on the right to bear arms, which are protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

President Donald Trump addressed the shooting in a White House speech that emphasized school safety and mental health while avoiding any mention of gun policy.

“It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said at the White House. “We must actually make that difference.”

The big question is, given the number of guns and the lax gun laws in the US – how? There is no obvious answer that the NRA lobby and politicians they fund are likely to accept.

Irma reaches Florida

The eye of Hurricane Irma has passed the Florida Keys and has reached the west coast of mainland Florida. It has dropped to a category 3 hurricane, meaning sustained winds of 120 mph or more – that’s 193 kph or more.

It’s likely to be a while before the extent of damage becomes known. One death has so far been reported.

There are photos online of people standing on drained shores:

But warnings are being given to stay away from the sea as just as storm surges taketh away, they also giveth.

The storm is about 35 miles south of Naples. It has drained massive amounts of water from Tampa Bay ahead of storm surges, cut off the Florida Keys, and put swaths of downtown Miami underwater. Tornadoes have cut across much of central and east Florida, including one formed in the last hour near Fort Lauderdale airport.

The National Hurricane Center’s 2pm advisory warns people not to underestimate the storm, which will “remain a powerful hurricane while it moves near or along the west coast of Florida”.

The NHC’s Atlantic Office has just issued an all-caps warning for everyone on the state’s western coast: “MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!”

  • More than a 1.3 million people have lost power, and more than 70,000 are in shelters. About 6.5 million people were ordered to evacuate coastal areas all around the state, roughly a third of the state’s entire population.
  • At least 25 confirmed dead around the Caribbean, including 11 on French St Martin, the US and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dutch St Maarten, Barbuda, and Anguilla.
  • Hurricane Jose, also a category four storm, has shifted northward, creating hope in the eastern Caribbean that survivors might be spared a second hurricane in five days.

Guardian: Havana flooded and 5,000 tourists evacuated from coast as Irma hits Cuba

Hurricane Irma ripped roofs off houses and flooded hundreds of kilometres of coastline as it raked Cuba’s northern coast after devastating islands the length of the Caribbean.

There were no immediate reports of deaths in Cuba – a country that prides itself on its disaster preparedness – but authorities were trying to restore power, clear roads and warning that people should stay off the streets of Havana because flooding could continue into Monday.

Video images from northern and eastern Cuba showed uprooted utility poles and signs, many downed trees and extensive damage to roofs. Witnesses said a provincial museum near the eye of the storm was in ruins. And authorities in the city of Santa Clara said 39 buildings collapsed.

Current path prediction:

Irma track 9.10 jr

8 pm Sunday US eastern time is midday today here in New Zealand.

Irma hits Cuba, Florida waits

The latest on hurricanes Irma and Jose and the now storm Katia from the Guardian:

  • Hurricane Irma slowed to a category three storm as it crashed across Cuba’s northern coast, lashing towns with 125mph winds and flooding them with intense surges. As of midday local time, the storm was about 170 miles away from Florida, and expected to regain category four intensity.
  • More than seven million people were ordered to flee from their homes in several states, including nearly a third of Florida’s population. More than 50,000 people are in about 300 shelters around the state, counties enacted curfews, and power providers already began to struggle with demand.
  • Florida prepared for what its governor called “the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen”. Irma is forecast to make landfall on the Florida Keys early Sunday morning and then to pummel south-west Florida on a 30-hour journey northward.
  • In Florida’s south-west, officials expect storm surges as high as 15ft. “Fifteen feet is devastating and will cover your house,” governor Rick Scott said. “Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down. The storm surge will rush in and it could kill you.” Large swaths of Florida were given tornado warnings, and the National Weather Service’s Key West station delivered a dire warning: “THIS IS AS REAL AS IT GETS. NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE.”
  • Twenty-five people have been confirmed killed around the Caribbean, including 11 people on French St Martin and St Barts, four in the US Virgin Islands, three on Puerto Rico, two on Dutch St Maarten, one person in Anguilla and a two year old in Barbuda.
  • Category-four hurricane Jose threatened landfall in the eastern Caribbean, complicating relief efforts for islands that have only just emerged from Irma’s winds. On Barbuda, where the prime minister estimated 90% of buildings were destroyed, a mandatory evacuation moved people to the larger sister island of Antigua.
  • Another storm, Katia, was downgraded to a tropical depression as it pushed onto land from Mexico’s Gulf coast. Two people were killed in a mudslide in Veracruz, according to the AP.

The situation keeps changing in Florida as Irma looks like now going up over the keys and then up the west coast, depending on when an dhow much it veers north.

Irma will regain strength as it moves away from Cuba, with winds predicted of more than 110mph by the time it reaches the Florida Keys early Sunday.

The latest projections from the National Hurricane Center show the storm moving at about 9mph, with winds of 125mph, still over Cuba’s northern shore. The hurricane has not yet turned north back over warmer waters.

Irma’s current projected course shows the eye making landfall three times on Florida: first over the Lower Keys, where meteorologists expect devastating storm surges; then over Cape Coral or Fort Myers, in south-west Florida; and finally it is expected to come within range of Tampa Bay, the state’s third most populous city.

This will play out slowly of the next three days, it has been a slow motion wrecking storm.

Irma strengthening, approaching Florida

Hurricane Irma has wreaked havoc as it has moved past mostly small Caribbean islands. It is currently moving alongside Cuba.

The Guardian: Hurricane Irma: Florida braces for epic storm as death toll hits 23 – latest updates

It is now forecast to strengthen again to category 5 as it gets to Florida, where large scale evacuations are taking place.

That looks bad for parts of Cuba over the next day (dates/times are US who are 16 hours behind us).

The forecast track has moved further to the west of Florida.

 

The cost of US hurricanes

The cost of US hurricanes can be huge. NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information) estimates the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey at about $180 billion. Some comparisons:

  • Harvey (2017) $180B
  • Katrina (2005) 160B
  • Sandy (2012) $70B
  • Andrew (1992) $48B
  • Ike (2008) $35B

Of course inflation, increased population and increased industrialisation need to be taken into account. And this is just the US costs, hurricanes ending up hitting the US coast have often already wreaked havoc in the Carribean.

And the cost of Harvey is yet to be determined accurately. Five days ago an estimate was $108 billion – see Harvey is likely to be the second-most costly natural disaster in U.S. history.

And there’s more bad news – Hurricane Irma is growing in strength and heading for Florida, passing by a number of Caribbean islands on the way.

Independent:  Hurricane Irma has become so strong it’s showing up as an earthquake on seismometers

Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands have declared a state of emergency

irma-5-sept.jpg

Washington Post: Catastrophic Hurricane Irma — now a Cat 5 — is on a collision course with Florida

Hurricane Irma is an “extremely dangerous” Category 5, barreling toward the northern Lesser Antilles and Southern Florida. It’s already the strongest hurricane ever recorded outside the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s likely to make landfall somewhere in Florida over the weekend.

If it does, the impact could be catastrophic.

The storm is life-threatening for the United States, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the southeastern Bahamas. Hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. A hurricane watch is in effect for Hispaniola and southeastern Bahamas.

With maximum winds of 185 mph, Irma is tied for the second strongest storm ever observed in the Atlantic. And in its Tuesday morning discussion, the National Hurricane Center said the storm is in an environment “ideal for some additional intensification.”

And inevitably these hurricanes raise a bigger storm, climate change debate.

As Irma looms, Harvey makes climate change clearly visible.

Hurricane Harvey is the biggest rain event in the nation’s history and could turn out to be one of the most destructive storms ever. Thousands of people are out of their homes, the death toll has been climbing, and people are still being rescued. The magnitude of Harvey shows the impact of climate change.

The Gulf of Mexico has increased in temperature because the planet is getting warmer, which made the storm catastrophic. Harvey is the symbol of what climate change impacts look like.

Harvey brewed in the Gulf of Mexico, but Irma is coming in off the Atlantic Ocean.

From WaPo six months ago: Gulf of Mexico waters are freakishly warm, which could mean explosive springtime storms

Water temperatures at the surface of the Gulf of Mexico and near South Florida are on fire. They spurred a historically warm winter from Houston to Miami and could fuel intense thunderstorms in the spring from the South to the Plains.

In the Gulf, the average sea surface temperature never fell below 73 degrees over the winter for the first time on record, reported Eric Berger of Ars Technica.

Galveston, Tex., has tied or broken an astonishing 33 record highs since Nov. 1, while neighboring Houston had its warmest winter on record.

The abnormally warm temperatures curled around the Gulf, helping Baton Rouge and New Orleans reach their warmest Februaries on record.

Meanwhile, a ribbon of toasty sea surface temperatures streamed north through the Straits of Florida supporting record-setting warmth over parts of the Florida peninsula.

The warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular, could mean that thunderstorms that erupt over the southern and central United States are more severe this spring. Berger explained in his Ars Technica piece: “While the relationship is far from absolute, scientists have found that when the Gulf of Mexico tends to be warmer than normal, there is more energy for severe storms and tornadoes to form than when the Gulf is cooler.”

The implications of the warm water for hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, are less clear.

The implications seem to be more clear now.

US marijuana ballots

A number of states in the US voted on marijuana issues. From the Fivethirtyeight election blog.

(This is a work in progress, I’ll update it as more results become available.)

Over the last 20 years, 25 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized or decriminalized medical marijuana, 15 have legalized the use of cannabis oil and four (plus D.C.) have approved recreational marijuana entirely.

And today, nine more states are voting on marijuana measures — five (Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada) to legalize recreational marijuana, and four (Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota) to legalize medical marijuana.

Amidst all the legal changes, the country has become a whole lot more comfortable with the idea of legal pot: a Gallup poll shows support climbing from 25 percent in the mid-90s to 58 percent in 2015. Support has increased in all age brackets, and young adults now overwhelmingly support legalization (71 percent of them). “It’s our generation’s Vietnam,” said Brian Vicente, an activist and partner at the marijuana law firm Vicente Sederberg, of the current push to legalize the drug.

Medical

Florida

If the ballot measure in Florida passes, it will legalize medical marijuana for specific debilitating diseases. Florida is particularly interesting because low-THC marijuana is legal in the state when consumed by a method other than smoking. The ballot measure would make it more widely available to patients.

The marijuana ballot measure in Florida passed by a landslide, legalizing medical pot for specific debilitating diseases. 76.9% in favor, and 29.1% opposed.

When Florida voters legalized medical marijuana tonight, it became the 26th state (plus D.C.) to legalize or decriminalize the drug. That means over half of all states in the U.S. have made medical marijuana legal. Now activists are looking toward California, where polls have not yet closed, to sway societal attitudes. The state could be massively important for the movement to legalize marijuana.

North Dakota

A yes vote on the ballot measure in North Dakota is a vote to legalize medical marijuana to treat specific debilitating medical conditions. A similar measure failed to reach the North Dakota ballot in 2012 after thousands of fraudulent signatures were found.

North Dakota’s ballot measure regarding marijuana has passed, legalizing medical marijuana for specific debilitating medical conditions. The Associated Press called the measure with 69 percent of precincts reporting, saying 64% voted in favor and 36% were opposed.

Arkansas

If the ballot measure in Arkansas passes, medical marijuana use for patients with qualifying conditions will become legal. A medical marijuana initiative was defeated in Arkansas in 2012. The marijuana would be taxed, with half the revenue going to vocational training and the other half divided among the general fund and other state programs.

The marijuana ballot measure in Arkansas passed, legalizing medical marijuana for specific debilitating medical conditions. 53% percent in favour,  47% opposed.

Montana

If the ballot measure in Montana passes, it will repeal the three-patient limit for medical marijuana providers, giving qualifying patients easier access to the drug. Voters have had a wild ride with marijuana legalization in Montana.

Medical marijuana was legalized in 2004, and the rules were amended in 2011 to stop advertisements for it and limit the scope of the business for providers and prescribers. Advocates tried unsuccessfully to repeal it in 2012. Then, after the 2011 bill was tied up in courts for five years, it went into effect in August.

Recreational

California

If the ballot measure in California passes, adults age 21 and older will be able to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated marijuana, as well as grow up to six plants and consume marijuana it privately. Medical marijuana is already legal in California.

If the measure passes, it will create two new taxes: one at $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves, with exceptions for certain medical marijuana sales; the second would be a 15 percent tax on the retail price of marijuana. Revenue from these taxes would be spent on drug research, treatment and enforcement; health and safety grants addressing marijuana; youth programs; and preventing environmental damage resulting from illegal marijuana production.

The marijuana ballot measure in California passed, legalizing recreational pot for adults ages 21 and older. 55% in favor, 45% opposed.

Marijuana is now legal on the Pacific coast from Mexico to Canada.

Massachusetts

If the ballot measure in Massachusetts passes, adults age 21 and older will be able to possess up to 10 ounces of marijuana, grow up to six plants for personal use and consume marijuana privately. Its use would be regulated similar to how the state handles alcoholic beverages. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state.

If the measure passes, the state will create the Cannabis Control Commission to oversee marijuana legalization. A 3.75 percent tax would be placed on marijuana sales. Revenue would be placed in a Marijuana Regulation Fund to pay for administrative costs. Cities and towns would be allowed to add a local tax of up to 2 percent.

The marijuana ballot measure in Massachusetts passed, legalizing recreational pot for adults age 21 and older. 54% in favor, 46% opposed.

Maine

If the ballot measure in Maine passes, adults age 21 and older will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and consume it privately. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state.

A 10 percent tax would be placed on marijuana sales.

Colorado

While the state of Colorado has already legalized recreational marijuana and statewide ballots there don’t feature any questions about marijuana legalization, the ballot in the county of Pueblo sure does. Voters are weighing two marijuana issues there today. If issue 300 passes, voters will ban recreational marijuana sales in the city of Pueblo. If issue 200 passes, all marijuana facilities across the county will be shut down by Oct. 31, 2017.

Nevada

If the ballot measure in Nevada passes, adults age 21 and older will be able to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and consume it privately. Adults who do not live within 25 miles of a marijuana retail store would be allowed to grow up to six plants.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in the state.

A 15 percent tax on the drug would be spent first on enforcing the measure; remaining funds would go to K-12 education. As in many other states voting this into law, current medical marijuana facilities in Nevada would be encouraged to transition into recreational marijuana facilities.

The marijuana ballot measure in Nevada passed, legalizing recreational pot for adults ages 21 and older. 54% in favor, 46% opposed.

US primaries

Results will emerge through the afternoon and evening from the important primaries in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri today.

If Marco Rubio fails in his home state of Florida that is surely the end of his bid.

BBC: US election 2016: Ohio and Florida hold key primaries

Polls have opened in Ohio and Florida – both deemed key states – as well as in North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is hoping to fend off her resurgent challenger, Bernie Sanders.

Meanwhile Donald Trump will aim to edge out his rivals in the Republican race.

The New York real estate mogul is the favourite to win his party’s nomination but has run into fierce opposition from within the Republican establishment, as well as facing condemnation from the Democrats.

Today probably won’t cement Trump into the Republican candidacy, but it will be another big step on a rocky path.

It should be a good indicator where the Democrat battle is headed.