Brian

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By Brian Murphy and Thomas Gibbons-Neff,
Russia acknowledged Wednesday that it has military advisers in Syria and left open options to expand its weapons training and assistance amid increasing friction with the West over Moscow’s backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Although Russia has provided military support to Assad for years — and the presence of advisers does not signal a policy shift — the extent of Moscow’s aid has taken on added resonance as unprecedented numbers of Syrian refugees and others from the region stream into Europe.
This week, the United States urged Greece and Bulgaria to reject overflight requests for Russian aircraft, fearing that Moscow seeks to increase its arms shipments to Assad’s forces. Iran, however, has agreed to open its airspace to Russian planes carrying “humanitarian cargo” bound for Syria, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry called Washington’s intervention “international boorishness” in a statement Wednesday, saying Moscow only seeks to help the Syrian government fight Islamist militants.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John F. Kerry telephoned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the second time in five days, telling his counterpart that a Russian buildup in Syria could escalate the conflict there.
[Syria major rift between Moscow and Washington]
“Russia has never made a secret of its military-technological cooperation with Syria. Russian military specialists help Syrians master Russian hardware,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists in Moscow on Wednesday.
She added that Russia also would consider “extra measures to intensify counterterrorism efforts in Syria” if needed but did not describe any possible plans.
Zakharova also gave no details on the number of Russian military personnel in Syria, but she noted that Moscow is “providing assistance to Syrians in training them to operate Russian military” equipment.
Two U.S. officials quoted by Reuters said that tank-landing ships, additional aircraft and a contingent of naval infantry had recently been deployed to the country.
The officials seem to confirm recent reports on social media that a brigade based in Sevastopol, Crimea, was on its way to Syria.
The Syrian port of Tartus has offered Russian warships a strategic base in the Mediterranean, but it remains unclear how many Russian military personnel are at the site. There also have been reports of Russian forces …Read More

(Brian Snyder/Reuters)CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton ridiculed Donald Trump’s plan to deport all undocumented immigrants and then allow provisional returns as unrealistic “political rhetoric” as she sought votes Sunday amid falling poll numbers here.
Trump, who is seeking the GOP nomination, said he would force undocumented immigrants to return to their home countries and apply for reentry. He has not said exactly how he would make that happen.
“Eleven or 12 million people? Really?” Clinton said at an organizing rally on the outskirts of Cedar Rapids.
“I’m going to be pressing very hard to get specifics, because there are no specifics,” she said.
The reference to what Clinton called Trump’s “political rhetoric” drew applause. It is part of tougher tactics Clinton has recently adopted against the Republican front-runner, whom she had previously dismissed as a sideshow.
Clinton made no mention of her softening support in Iowa during events here and in Newton on Sunday. She told the crowd in Cedar Rapids that she hoped to earn their votes, but most appeared to be supporters already.
An NBC News-Marist poll released hours before Clinton spoke in Iowa showed that she remains ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) but that her lead has shrunk from 24 percentage points in July to 11 points (38 percent to 27 percent.) Vice President Biden, who is considering entering the race, had 20 percent of support in the survey. 
The same poll showed that Sanders has pulled ahead of Clinton by nine points in New Hampshire, where Clinton campaigned Saturday.
The Clinton team has tried to shrug off the tightening race as par for the course for Democratic primaries, but has had to try to reassure worried supporters. Neither Clinton supporters nor the campaign anticipated the strength of the Sanders challenge or that Biden might reverse what had seemed like a settled decision not to run.
“It is going to be a fight,” Clinton said here. “Make no mistake about it. It is going to be a hard election.”

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Brian Kelly Brian Kelly 6 hours ago
“Low-THC strain only” seems to be a new trend in prohibitionist propaganda rhetoric.Read carefully:Charlotte’s story and the concern for other young patients have led some lawmakers to consider passing legislation that only allows patients to access marijuana oils that are high in CBD and that have little or no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). While it is heartening to see lawmakers’ concern for the plight of patients with catastrophic seizure disorders, these proposals unfortunately exclude the vast majority of those who can benefit from medical marijuana, some of whom also face life-threatening ailments.Relative RarityWhile CBD appears to be particularly effective at treating seizures, the number of individuals treating seizure disorders through medical marijuana programs is relatively low. For example, only 2% of the registered patients in both Rhode Island and Colorado report seizures as their qualifying conditions. While it is imperative that these individuals be allowed to legally access medical marijuana – and the strain they need – it is just as important to remember that there are tens of thousands of other men and women and a small number of children who suffer from a variety of debilitating conditions whose symptoms are alleviated by medical marijuana. The vast majority of those patients have symptoms that benefit from strains of marijuana that include more than trace amounts of THC.THC: Why It MattersTetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is just one of the roughly 85 cannabinoids found naturally in marijuana. Clinical trials and the experiences of hundreds of thousands of patients have shown that THC, and strains of marijuana that include THC, provide important medical benefits for individuals suffering from pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and wasting disease. THC is also the cannabinoid most responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive effects. While THC does cause marijuana’s “high,” patients use marijuana for relief, not for euphoria. Patients who inhale marijuana can titrate their dosage precisely to use only as much as they need, reducing or eliminating the euphoria. Some use marijuana only before bed.The federal government has officially recognized THC’s medical properties since 1985, when the FDA approved a prescription drug that is made of synthetic THC — Marinol — for nausea. Yet, Marinol is not adequate for many patients who can benefit from marijuana. For nauseated patients, a pill can be impossible to keep down. Meanwhile, many patients benefit from the …Read More