National briefs: Feds let states lift bans on pot

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WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department said Thursday that it would not sue to block laws legalizing marijuana in 20 states and the District of Columbia, a move that proponents hailed as an important step toward ending the prohibition of the drug.

In a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide Thursday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole erased some uncertainty about how the government would respond to state laws making it legal to use marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

Citing "limited prosecutorial resources," Mr. Cole explained the change in economic terms. But the memo also made clear that the Justice Department expects states to put in place regulations aimed at preventing marijuana sales to minors, illegal cartel and gang activity, interstate trafficking of marijuana, and violence and accidents involving the drug.

Gay-to-straight therapy

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court sided with California on Thursday and upheld the first law in the nation banning a psychological treatment that seeks to turn gay youth straight.

In a unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the state law barring the so-called gay aversion therapy legal in every respect.

The judges said trying to change a minor's sexual orientation through intense therapy appeared dangerous, and that California lawmakers properly showed that the sexual orientation change efforts were outside the scientific mainstream and have been rejected for good reason.

The California Legislature cited reports, experts and anecdotes involving suicides, substance abuse and other behavior by young recipients of the therapy.

2 Gitmo detainees released

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration announced Thursday that it has released two prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Algeria, the first transfers from the detention center in almost a year.

The two Algerians are also the first inmates to leave Guantanamo since President Barack Obama pledged in May to redouble his efforts to close the U.S. military prison in Cuba. Mr. Obama originally promised to empty Guantanamo upon taking office in 2009, but as of Thursday, 164 prisoners remained.

The Pentagon identified the Algerians as Nabil Said Hadjarab, 34, and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab, 37.

Twitter dodges hacking

SAN FRANCISCO -- Chalk one up for Twitter.

While the New York Times and Google had visitors to their sites redirected this week by hackers, the microblogging service was better able to deflect attacks because of a simple tool called a registry lock. Like alerts sent to credit-card users when something bad happens, the feature notifies website managers of attempts by intruders to tamper with critical information, such as Web-address data.

The cost? As little as $50 a year.

Bay Bridge ramming

WASHINGTON -- The driver for a Canadian trucking company who rammed a car on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge last month, pushing it into the water and forcing its driver to swim for her life, has been charged with negligence, driving too fast for conditions and other traffic infractions that could result in fines of up to $670, Maryland state police said Thursday.

Investigators said Gabor Louasz was traveling at about 50 mph when his tractor-trailer struck the back of a car driven by Morgan Lake, who had slowed to 4 mph in heavy traffic.

Marathon-bombing case

BOSTON -- A third college friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury over claims he conspired to hide evidence linking Mr. Tsarnaev to the April 15 terrorist attack.

Robel Phillipos, 19, was charged in Boston with two counts of lying to investigators about why he visited Mr. Tsarnaev's dormitory room at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth three days after the bombing, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement.

Mr. Phillipos and two friends are accused of removing a laptop and backpack containing bomb-making materials in a bid to protect Mr. Tsarnaev from authorities after Mr. Tsarnaev's image was shown on television as a suspect before he had been identified.

nation


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