Outside the Outbreak: Another monolith pops up in California, House votes to decriminalize marijuana

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California monolith pops up after finds in Utah, Romania

Days after the arrival and swift disappearance of two shining metal monoliths spotted half a world away from each other, another towering structure has popped up, this time at the pinnacle of a trail in Southern California. Its straight sides and height appear similar to one discovered in the Utah desert and another that was found in Romania. (Terrance Siemon via AP, File)

Days after the discovery and swift disappearance of two shining metal monoliths half the world apart, another towering structure has popped up, this time at the pinnacle of a trail in Southern California.

Its straight sides and height are similar to one discovered in the Utah desert and another found in Romania. Like those structures, the origin of the California edifice is also mysterious.

Another monolith spotted two weeks ago in Utah’s otherworldly red-rock country became a beacon of fascination around the world as it evoked the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” and drew hundreds of people to the remote spot.

House votes to decriminalize marijuana at federal level

This image from House Television shows the final vote, 228-164, in the House on passage of a bill to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level. The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to move forward. (House Television via AP)

The Democratic-controlled House on Friday approved a bill to decriminalize and tax marijuana at the federal level, reversing what supporters call a failed policy of criminalizing pot use and taking steps to address racial disparities in enforcement of federal drug laws.

Opponents, mostly Republicans, called the bill a hollow political gesture and mocked Democrats for bringing it up at a time when thousands of Americans are dying from the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill, which passed 228-164, now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to advance. 

Police guide that calls BLM a terrorist group draws outrage

FILE – In this July 11, 2020 file photo, Alycia Pascual-Pena, left, and Marley Ralph kneel while holding a Black Lives Matter banner during a protest in memory of Breonna Taylor, in Los Angeles. Taylor was killed in her apartment by members of the Louisville, Ky., Metro Police Department on March 13. The International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, a prominent law enforcement training group, is promoting a lengthy research document riddled with falsehoods and conspiracies that urges local police to treat Black Lives Matter activists as terrorists plotting a violent revolution. The document contains misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric that could incite officers against protesters and people of color, critics said. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

A prominent law enforcement training group is promoting a lengthy research document riddled with falsehoods and conspiracies that urges local police to treat Black Lives Matter activists as terrorists plotting a violent revolution.

The document distributed by the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association contains misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric that could incite officers against protesters and people of color, critics said. It alleges Black Lives Matter and Antifa, an umbrella term for leftist militants, are “revolutionary movements whose aims are to overthrow the U.S. government” and claims they are planning “extreme violence.”

Judge throws out Trump rules limiting skilled-worker visas

In this Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington. On Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, a U.S. judge in California struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

A federal judge on Dec. 1 struck down two Trump administration rules designed to drastically curtail the number of visas issued each year to skilled foreign workers.

The changes applying to the H-1B visa program announced in October include imposing salary requirements on companies employing skilled overseas workers and limits on specialty occupations. Department of Homeland Security officials deemed it a priority because of coronavirus-related job losses and estimated as many as one-third of those who have applied for H-1B’s in recent years would be denied under the new rules.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in California said the government didn’t follow transparency procedures and its contention that the changes were an emergency response to pandemic job losses didn’t hold water because the Trump administration has floated the idea for some time but only published the rules in October.

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