Saturday, November 17, 2012

Welcome to ‘The Green Rush’ - or How to Invest in Legalized Marijuana

         Good Day World!

Mark Twain is said to have remarked that a gold rush is a good time to be in the pick and shovel business. Investors may be able to apply that same bit of wisdom to the growing number of U.S. states that have legalized pot.

Although federal law prohibits the sale or possession of marijuana, Massachusetts last week joined the ranks of states -- 18 plus Washington, D.C. -- that allow its use for people suffering from chronic illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. In Washington and Colorado, meanwhile, voters passed an initiative to allow pot for recreational use. Those changes have kickstarted a small but fast-growing medical-marijuana industry, estimated to be worth about $1.7 billion as of 2011, according to See Change Strategy, an independent financial-analysis firm that specializes in new markets. In Colorado alone, sales topped $181 million in 2010, and the business employed 4,200 state-licensed workers, says Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association , a nonprofit trade group that campaigns for marijuana's federal legalization.

In addition to profiting itself from growing and selling marijuana, the industry benefits a slew of other businesses, such as insurers, lawyers and agricultural-equipment firms, experts say. "Call it the 'green rush,'" says Derek Peterson, CEO of GrowOp Technology, an online retailer of hydroponics -- products used in the cultivation of indoor plants -- and a subsidiary of OTC stock Terra Tech (TRTC:0.42, 0.01, 2.44%) . "The industry is expanding, and there are all kinds ofinvestment opportunities."

For regular investors looking to get in on the action -- and without having to actually grow or sell drugs -- there are several small-cap stocks that stand to gain from marijuana's growing acceptance. Medbox (MDBX: 20.00, -185.00, -90.24%), an OTC stock with a $45 million market cap, for example, sells its patented dispensing machines to licensed medical-marijuana dispensaries. The machines, which dispense set doses of the drug, after verifying patients' identities via fingerprint, could potentially be used in ordinary drugstores too, says Medbox founder Vincent Mehdizadeh. Based in Hollywood, Calif., the company already has 130 machines in the field, and it expects to install an additional 40 in the next quarter. "The smart money is trying to help with compliance and transparency," Mehdizadeh says.

Of course, investing in drugs the federal government still outlaws poses enormous risks to investors, says Sam Kamin, a law professor and the director of the Constitutional Rights & Remedies Program at the University of Denver. In fact, nearly 500 of the estimated 3,000 dispensaries nationwide have either been closed by the federal government or shut down in the past year, says a spokesman for , an online directory and review site for medical marijuana dispensaries -- and yet another ancillary business that's currently seeking investors.

That said, there are many companies that appear to be betting on a change in federal law. Steep Hill is a quality-control laboratory that tests medical marijuana to see if there's any contamination from mold, bacteria or harmful pesticides. The company, based in Oakland, Calif., is also actively seeking funding of up to $3 million. David Lampach, co-founder and president of Steep Hill, expects a federal law legalizing medical marijuana within the next decade. Cannabis Science(CBIS: 0.09, 0.00, 0.00%) in Colorado Springs, Colo., an OTC stock with a market cap of $41 million, is developing marijuana-based medicines to help cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. "We're at the beginning of the revolution in medicine," says CEO Robert Melamede.

Other companies are creating a range of quirky products that allow people to use marijuana without smoking it. Medical Marijuana MJNA -7.98% , an OTC stock with a $69 million market cap, based in San Diego, Calif., offers more than 50 ways to ingest marijuana , from Dixie Elixir soda to Dixie Chill ice-cream and a range of Dixie Edibles, like chocolate truffles and crispy rice treats.

While experts say competition in the medical-marijuana business is growing fast, they add that there are also still plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs. For example, Troy Dayton, president and CEO of ArcView Group , an angel investor network for the industry, says demand has been growing for handheld tobacco vaporizers like those made by Ploom (which charges $250 for its "premium loose-leaf vaporizer"). "There's a rush now to make the ideal vaporizer," Dayton says. "There's still room for a kingmaker in this space."

In the meantime, at least one drug company is directly selling medical marijuana to patients around the world. GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPRF: 1.06, 0.00, 0.00%),based in London, markets Sativex, billed as the world's first marijuana-based medicine. With a market cap of around $137 million, it's listed on the Alternative Investment Market, a submarket of the London Stock Exchange. Sativex is currently sold as a mouth spray to help alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis in several countries, including the U.K., New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Canada, a spokesman says, and it is currently seeking FDA approval in the U.S. for use as a pain reliever in late-stage cancer patients. (source – Smart Money)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christie smells setup, won't answer Twinkie query

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he wasn't about to take the bait: a question dealing with that quintessential junk food, Twinkies.

So when asked Friday at a news conference about Twinkies-maker Hostess shutting down, the target of many a fat joke begged off.

The governor quipped: "I know it! You people are the worst! This is a setup! I am not answering questions on Twinkies, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's bad that I even said the word 'Twinkie' from behind this microphone."

Christie has tried for years to lose weight and often jokes about his caloric struggles. He once likened his weight loss efforts to "throwing a couple deck chairs off of the Titanic."

But Friday he said he wouldn't provide more fodder to comedians. "You know," he said, "I'm on 'Saturday Night Live' enough." (source)

Wal-Mart takes legal action in labor battle

It's a battle of a big-box retailer and big labor. And as - the busiest shopping day of the year - nears, it's starting to get nasty.

Wal-Mart is taking its first legal step to stop months of protests and rallies outside its stores, targeting the union that it says is behind such actions.

Wal-Mart late on Thursday filed an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW, asking the National Labor Relations Board to halt what the retailer says are unlawful attempts to disrupt its business.

The move comes just a week before what is expected to be the largest organized action against the world's largest retailer, as a small group of Wal-Mart workers prepare to strike on Black Friday.

"We are taking this action now because we cannot allow the UFCW to to intentionally seek to create an environment that could directly and adversely impact our customers and associates," said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar. "If they do, they will be held accountable." 

NBC Latino: Wal-Mart workers plan large protest on Black Friday

The union is undeterred. "Wal-Mart is grasping at straws," said UFCW Communications Director Jill Cashen. "There's nothing in the law that gives an employer the right to silence workers and citizens."

Protests and rallies outside Wal-Mart stores around the country and other actions such as flash mobs have been orchestrated by groups including OUR , a coalition of thousands of Wal-Mart workers which wants to collectively push for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

OUR Walmart and another group, Making Change at Walmart, are affiliated with the UFCW. The union represents more than 1 million workers, including many at retailers that compete with Wal-Mart. According to a filing with the Labor Department, OUR Walmart was a subsidiary of the UFCW as of 2011. It is unclear whether it remains a subsidiary or has legally separated from the union.

Numerous activities over the past year or longer "have caused disruptions to Wal-Mart's business, resulted in misinformation being shared publicly about our company, and created an uncomfortable environment and undue stress on Wal-Mart's customers, including families with children," Wal-Mart outside counsel Steven Wheeless said in a letter sent on Friday to Deborah Gaydos, assistant general counsel of the UFCW.

The National Labor Relations Act prohibits such picketing for more than 30 days without the filing of a representation petition. The NLRA also requires the NLRB to seek a federal court injunction against such activity, the letter states.

he OUR Walmart group of current and former Wal-Mart employees is organizing its most public displays yet against the Wal-Mart chain, with 1,000 protests such as strikes and what it calls "online actions" that began this week and will culminate on Black Friday.

Strikes and protests have been planned across the country. For example, workers walked off the job in Seattle on Thursday and in Dallas on Friday as part of this effort, OUR Walmart said.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart said that anyone who is not an employee is prohibited from coming onto its owned or controlled parking lots or other facilities to solicit, hand out literature or otherwise engage in any demonstration.

Wal-Mart said that it intends for the UFCW to be held accountable for any injury or property damage that may occur as a result of the actions led by the UFCW, OUR Walmart or any of its other affiliates.

"We are prepared to and will take all appropriate legal actions to enforce our property rights, protect our business, and ensure the safety of our customers and associates, on Black Friday and in the future," the letter states.

OUR Walmart has said that it has thousands of members across most U.S. states, but has not given an exact number of members. Wal-Mart store workers pay $5 monthly dues to join OUR Walmart.

Wal-Mart has 1.4 million U.S. workers.

Wal-Mart filed its charge against the UFCW late on Thursday with the NLRB regional office in Little Rock, Arkansas. The case number is 26-CB-093342.

Reuters contributed to this story.

Join Me At Learnist: Learning and sharing have never been more fun


       Good Day World!

Today I’m going to share a new website with you, and I have a hunch you’ll become a fan after a few visits. Bold words indeed! But I stand beside them. Learnist was recently listed among the Top 50 Best Websites for 2012 by Time Magazine.

Farb Nivi, founder and chief product officer of the social learning company Grockit, calls the company’s latest product Learnist, a “multimedia collaborative interactive ebook for the future.” In my humble opinion, Learnist is a cool way to become an expert in a short period of time about nearly everything. So what exactly is Learnist? One user calls it “Wikipedia on steroids meets Facebook.”

The benefits of Learnist; let me count the ways:

1) If you’re a blogger and want to create more traffic (don’t we all?) then Learnist is the place to go. In two months I’ve increased my traffic from 22,000 visitors a month to 31,000 a month! It’s easy to create your own boards (this coming from a low-tech guy like me) and embed them on your blog. If you’ll look to the right of this page you’ll see what I’m talking about. The viewer can click on the top of the box where the topic is, and go to all of my boards on Learnist.

2) If you’re an educator looking for teaching ideas for students of all ages, then Learnist is the place to go. Expert contributors offer numerous ways to help teachers keep their students engaged. Nivi has been a leading advocate of social learning since his days as a teacher for Princeton Review and Kaplan, and the principles of collaborative learning form the underpinning for Grockit’s popular college test prep service as well as for Learnist, which is available both on the web and as an iOS app.

Users who sign in to Learnist (it says “By Invitation Only” but the company says anyone who clicks will receive an invite) can create “learnboards” to curate content on pretty much any topic they choose. (Topics are called “tags” at Learnist.) Users can also embed these boards on to their blogs, websites, or lesson plans.

3) If you just want to have fun and be entertained, Learnist is the place to go. Why? There’s Learning Boards full of places to go, from restaurants to professional sporting events. You can read about cruises, tours, and events happening around the United States and overseas. Check out what the experts think about your favorite spirits (there’s a Bourbon tour in Kentucky for fans) and where the best wines are in the world. Want to learn a new craft? There’s countless crafts available that allow you to become an expert in the one you choose.

Alrighty then! What are you waiting for?  Here’s a link to Learnist

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reality check: There’s some sore losers in the House of Representatives

       Good Day World!
Post election reality check – no senators were inspired by voters’ desire for problem solving and cooperation. Fact; nothing is new under the sun - or in Congress - as the partisan clowns have re-emerged divided and as obstinate as ever.
Did we really think it would be any different? As the country teeters on the brink of a fiscal cliff our elected morons haven’t learned a thing from this past election. It’s hard to believe they even give a damn about most Americans. Ideology has been the refuge of the stupid and elitists since the first forms of government awkwardly emerged among civilizations.
The obstructionists, aka the ideology-driven, are threatening the core of our great democracy today. Right now. What we need now are reality-driven politicians who actual respond to the real needs in America today. Politicians who will prioritize rebuilding our infrastructure and not that of third-world countries who just end up hating us.
It’s not too late. If your Congressman is one of those ideology-driven drones then it’s time to let him/her know that’s not what you want. Start a Twitter or FaceBook campaign sending him/her the message loud and clear. That’ll get their attention. 
Perhaps this is the moment President Obama has been waiting for – he has the opportunity to use his popularity to pass a budget in spite of the fiery rhetoric being exchanged in the House and Senate. This country needs to move on. It remains to be seen if we’ll be able too. – Dave Stancliff
Related: GOP senators say they would try to block Rice nomination

             Reality check: Bipartisan hopes already dampened by angry rhetoric on Hill

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cosplay is about people who like to run around in costumes year around

       Good Day World!

 Men in tights, women with swords, and characters from pop culture walking around may sound like sights you'd only see around Halloween, but for some, designing fantastical outfits isn't just a once-a-year concern.

 Professional cosplayers (or costume players) practice their art all year round, spending huge amounts of time planning and creating imaginative ensembles to wear at various events around the world.

While cosplay has been around for as long as people have been going to conventions and pop culture-themed gatherings, the practice has only recently been gaining recognition in the mainstream. According to a search on, there are at least 10 groups in New York City that practice cosplay, and even a number of YouTube series that now focus on it, including "Just Cos" on The Nerdist channel. The show is hosted by 24-year-old Chloe Dykstra from Los Angeles, and the premiere episode — which aired in May — has so far received over 52,000 views. (Read the rest of the story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The man who tried to buy the presidency is in trouble with the feds

   Good Day World!

Why did he do it? Why gamble over $53 million on a political candidate?

Some people believe the top reason Sheldon Adelson had for backing Romney and opposing President Barack Obama was self defense. His company, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. was being investigated by the feds and he felt Romney would take care of that little probe. You know, make it go away.

Adelson told a conservative columnist that a second Obama term would bring government “vilification of people that were against him.” He was sure he’d be at the top of that list. Maybe he’s right.

In the 2012 campaign, Sheldon Adelson was the Republican Party's biggest contributor - by some estimates the largest political donor ever. He donated millions to Mitt Romney’s campaign - a political gamble that did not pay off.

Adelson's problems with the feds began with the sacking of Steve Jacobs in 2012. He was the head of Sands' Macau operations. Jacobs fired back and filed an unfair termination lawsuit in October that year, alleging that he was asked to do improper things.

That in turn seems to have triggered in early 2011 the SEC and Justice Department investigations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

As Jacobs’ case ground its way through Nevada courts, the allegations have become increasingly lurid - claiming that Adelson personally approved a "prostitution strategy" for his casinos, had triad links, and made questionable payments to Chinese government officials. The latter accusation related to the employment by Sands of a well-connected local official.

Adelson has strongly denied the claims. Sen. John McCain suggested in an interview that Adelson's reliance on profits from foreign (and in particular Chinese) casinos provided a route for foreign money to enter the election campaign. "Obviously, maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American campaign," he told PBS.

Stay tuned. I suspect there’s going to more news on the man who tried to buy the presidency in the coming months.


Money can't buy happiness, or an election

Paul Ryan meets with Vegas casino mogul as hundreds protest

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blast from the Past: America in Crisis: Are we preparing for martial law?

The Most Viewed story on the Times-Standard today is a column I wrote four years ago. Someone did the Scopes thing to check out my claims. They found out they were true. It’s interesting to me that this subject has resurfaced four years later.
Here’s a current story about the subject. Warning, the author of this blog is kinda “out there” and makes accusations that are questionable. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of people who believe that someday Martial Law will be enacted in all 50 states and all of our liberties will be taken away. I have my concerns, but I’m not as alarmed as some people. Now my column:
By Dave Stancliff/As It Stands/For the Times-Standard
Created:   10/05/2008 01:35:40 AM PDT
As we watch corporate America stagger financially, and the polarized politicians try to respond, there is something else going on that we all need to be aware of.
For the second time since Katrina hit in August 2005, an active Army unit --1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division -- has been set up to quell civil unrest and do crowd control within our borders. And this time it's a permanent mission.
The last time I checked, the use of the military in domestic activities was prohibited by law, with the exception of the National Guard units under the authority of the states. So what's going on? A recent report in The Army Times -- “Army Unit to Deploy in October for Domestic Operations” discussed a new military unit that is now stationed in the United States of America.
The report stated that the 1st Brigade Combat Team would be deployed within the country and would work with civil authorities to “put down civil unrest.” On the surface this may seem benign, but this mission marks the first time an active military unit has assigned to NorthCom, the joint command established in 2002 to control federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate with civil authorities.
The unit is under the daily control of U.S. Army North, NorthCom, the Army component of Northern Command, and is now on-call for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks. The Army says this mission is ongoing
and active duty units will be rotated in and out of the country. The commander of this unit, Col. Roger Cloutier, also said that his troops will be trained to use nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.
This is another first; the first time a nonlethal package has been fielded the Army, according to Cloutier. Why does that make me uneasy? The package includes equipment to raise a hasty road block, spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and beanbag bullets.
The Army's new “dwell-time” mission will be part of a force that includes elements from other military branches and dedicated National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support teams. It doesn't stop there. There will be Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
According to an Army Times interview, Col. Louis Vogler, one of the chiefs of NorthCom future operations, said, “Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission.” I guess that's clear enough.
What's troubling, among other things, is the man appointed as commander of NorthCom, Victor E. Renuart. “Why you ask?” According to Wikipedia, Mr. Renuart: “oversaw the planning and execution of all joint and allied combat, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction operations for Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.” This was the person who was in charge of all the completely chaotic, ineffective, and dangerous “operation” in Iraq and he will now be in command of this new unit in our country. How comforting is that?
The manual dealing with Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF) explains who can turn this unit loose. “USARNORTH accomplishes its CBRN CM mission in strict adherence to public law and DOD policies. Deployment of USARNORTH, at the direction of the USARNORTH Commander and on the authority of the Secretary of Defense, occurs only after a Governor requests federal assistance from the President, and after the President issues a Presidential Disaster Declaration.”
In 2007, the Alaska/Northern Edge Training Mission was held as part of the first large-scale training for this internal military readiness force. Very little has been said to the general public about this whole affair. I'd wager most Americans aren't aware of this new strike force within our country. Are we closer to internal collapse than any of us realize? Why does the federal government feel the need for such a unit within our borders?
As It Stands, the idea that active duty soldiers will be used to control unruly civilian crowds is both terrifying and unconstitutional.

If you know of a weirder school mascot than ‘Scrotie’ please share it

 While aimlessly surfing the net I found what has to be the weirdest school mascot in America.

Meet Scrotie (photo), representing the Rhode Island School of Design.

Scrotie looks like a giant penis wearing a shiny red cape with the scrotum hanging beneath. Although still an unofficial mascot he is present at all of the games and is widely accepted by the students, while position of the administration remain unknown. Scrotie was created in 2001 to cheer the Nads.

The slogan of the team is “Go Nads.” Later when the basketball re-christened themselves “The Balls,” the new slogan for Scrotie to use was, “When the heat is on, the Balls stick together.” image credit 

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, November 11, 2012

AS IT STANDS: Oh what a relief it is! The elections are over

 By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
  I don’t know about you, but I’m thrilled that the 18-month election season is over. 
  Political propaganda has dominated the airwaves and internet so thoroughly I was starting to believe there was no other news in this country. When other news events tried to emerge from the deluge of political propaganda, like Hurricane Sandy for example, they were quickly politicized.  
  No politics today. It’s Veteran’s Day and I want to thank all veterans for their service and sacrifices. Today is about honoring those who have gone before us and those who are with us now.
  Watching the political candidate signs come down is pure pleasure. The landscapes that were littered with those obnoxious signs are restored to normalcy now and some sport American flags in their place. Well, most of the signs. There are always a few die-hards who want you to know who they voted for until the next election.
  I can’t help wondering what all those political campaign managers and paid staffers do when the elections are over? Do they go into hibernation until the next general election? Or, do they remained tethered to their masters, ready to spring into action like good dogs when the time comes?

I’m still jumpy when I turn on the TV. Throughout the marathon political campaigns I tried to watch my favorite sporting events only to get sucker punched repeatedly by constant political ads. I was close to giving up baseball, football, and (unheard of for me) basketball games! It was that close.
    My candidate for president wasn’t from one of the two major political parties. I exercised my right to vote and I’m okay with the results. I accept who the people elected and will not whine because Obama is back for four more years.
   All I care about is seeing America come out of these hard times - for everyone’s
sake. While I’m wishing, I’d also like to see Congress stop the stupid polarization politics and start working for the American people - not the political parties.

  Right now, I’m basking in the fresh air, free from political poisoning, and pretending it was all just a bad dream. That all the nasty, racist stories and partisan politics that oozed out on the campaign trails were movie trailers for that bad dream. Gone now. There’s just the bright light of day and people moving on with their lives.
   One of the many troubling things that came out during this extended political circus, is that dirty, lying ads work and no one’s ashamed to admit it. People say they hate those ads publicly, but in private it’s sometimes another story.
  If exposed to the mind-numbing political ads long enough, people become brainwashed, and lose all sense of reality. With millions of dollars in attack ads in all 50 states, the two presidential candidates managed to spend six billion dollars trying to brainwash us by election day. 

  There wasn’t anything pretty about this election. I can imagine what the rest of the world thought when they heard of Super PACS and the massive amounts of money from billionaires (and anonymous donors) that went toward buying the presidency - with no corruption charges filed.
   America has become the Wild, Wild West of democracies. We talk a good game, but when it comes down to our voting process, we’ve descended into dark alleys with agendas that stink like raw sewage.
  Call it freedom at an unexpected price, or Capitalistic Democracy. Perhaps we should call it the last days of democracy as we’ve always known it.
   The elections are behind us now, and we can shake off the stupor produced by the collective madness of campaign saturation. As much as I hate to say it, politics - like flies - are part of our lives. Laws have to be passed, although our Congress is too partisan to pass many, and our newly elected officials must be monitored.
   Still, I’m not ready to let the thrill of the moment pass me by quite yet. I want to savor watching a basketball game without political ads bombarding me. I also want to walk down my street one more time to see if that lone neighbor has pulled up his collection of political signs!
   As It Stands, “A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.” - H.L. Mencken

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...