US masses stealth jets in South Korea for war games

US F-22 fighter jets roared into the sky over South Korea on Monday to start air combat exercises that North Korea says are pushing the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.A US 7th Air Force official said the top-of-the-line F-22s are being joined by…

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US masses stealth jets in South Korea for war games

US F-22 fighter jets roared into the sky over South Korea on Monday to start air combat exercises that North Korea says are pushing the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.A US 7th Air Force official said the top-of-the-line F-22s are being joined by…

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Pope explains why he didn’t use the word ‘Rohingyas’ in Myanmar

After a week of taking some heat for not calling the Rohingya refugees by name in Myanmar, Pope Francis explained his controversial decision on Saturday, saying that he did not want to risk shutting down dialogue with the country’s leaders.

“Had I said that word, I would have been slamming the door,” the Pope told journalists on the flight back from Bangladesh.

“What I thought about it was already well known,” Francis said, adding that he mentioned their plight on various occasions from the Vatican.

The Pope said in his private meetings he was able to go beyond his public words.

“I didn’t have the pleasure of slamming the door publicly, a denouncement,” the Pope said, “but I had the satisfaction of dialogue.”

The Pope said he had made meeting the Rohingya a condition of going on the trip, but it had not been logistically possible to visit the refugee camps, although he would have liked to.

Meeting the Rohingyas

The Pope said he was initially annoyed that the Rohingyas were not treated properly by some of the event organizers who put them in a single-file line and rushed them through their meeting with the Pope.

“I even yelled a bit,” Francis said. “Respect! Respect!”

Listening to their stories one by one, the Pope said he felt moved to make some spontaneous remarks.

“I don’t know what I said but I know at a certain point I asked for forgiveness,” the Pope said.

“I was crying,” the Pope said. “I tried to hide it; they were crying, too.”

The Pope and the general

Francis characterized his private meeting with Myanmar’s Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing — commander in chief of Myanmar’s armed forces — as a good conversation, noting that it was specifically requested by the senior general.

“I did not negotiate the truth,” the Pope said. “I made sure he understood that old ways are not viable nowadays.

“He received the message,” the Pope said

Nuclear war

The Pope warned that buildup of nuclear weapons risked destroying humanity.

“We are at the limits of what is licit,” the Pope said.

Francis suggested that the growth in number and sophistication of nuclear weapons compared to even 30 years ago had reached the upper limits of acceptable.

“I ask myself,” he said, “Is it licit to maintain nuclear arsenals as they are or today, in order to save creation and humanity is it necessary to go back?”

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CIA director: Trump tweets yielding valuable intelligence

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Saturday that President Donald Trump’s prolific Twitter feed was yielding valuable intelligence.

“I’ve actually seen it help us,” Pompeo told the audience at The Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, when asked whether Trump’s Twitter activity was making his job harder.

“I have seen things the President has put on his Twitter account actually have a real-world impact on our capacity to understand what’s going on in other places of the world,” Pompeo said.

“Our adversaries responded to those tweets in ways that were helpful to us to understand command and control issues, who’s listening to what messages, how those messages are resonating around the world,” he added.

But one of Pompeo’s predecessors, former CIA Director Leon Panetta, offered a contrasting opinion, taking issue with the President’s tweets, particularly ones that some have labeled as anti-Muslim.

“When you tweet something like that out there you don’t know what the consequences are going to be, and the consequences could be lives,” Panetta said while appearing alongside Pompeo.

“You don’t just roll a grenade in the room, have things blow up, then not have a strategy for how the hell you deal with it,” Panetta later added.

Pompeo also revealed that he sent a letter to a senior military official in Iran, warning that Iran risked being held responsible if any of its proxy forces in Iraq attacked US troops.

Pompeo said the letter was sent to Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, who oversees Iranian operations in Syria and Iraq.

US officials see militias in both countries as being controlled and influenced by Iran via Soleimani, and officials have expressed concern that Tehran might use these proxy forces to attack American personnel.

“He refused to open the letter. It didn’t break my heart, to be honest with you,” Pompeo said. “What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold he and Iran accountable for any attacks on American interests in Iraq by forces that are under their control.”

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Canada could make billions from legal pot

Canada faces one last hurdle to becoming the first G7 nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Canada’s Cannabis Act was introduced in the Canadian Senate Tuesday, its last legislative stop. The bill enjoys wide public support and the backing of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“I think it is broadly recognized that criminalizing cannabis has been a failure,” said Senator Tony Dean of Ontario, a sponsor of the bill. He believes it will pass by July 2018, if not before.

Retailers have been preparing to start selling legal marijuana in July, so the timing could be tight. But Canada’s recreational marijuana market is expected to mean big dollars.

According to recent estimates from Marijuana Business Daily, an industry publication, annual sales for Canada’s recreational marijuana market could range between $2.3 billion and $4.5 billion by 2021.

The Canadian market, with full federal support, still won’t top U.S. revenues, where recreational marijuana is being legalized on a state-by-state basis.

Recreational sales for cannabis are expected to total $7.1 billion to $10.3 billion in the U.S. by 2021, according to Marijuana Business Daily.

These figures do not include expected, estimated revenue from medial marijuana sales in either country.

Dean believes the legal recreational sales will be able to begin almost immediately in July, despite the short legislative window.

Unlike legal U.S. states, which on average have taken more than a year to get their retail and tax infrastructure built, Canada will build on government-supported online sales that were implemented to support the country’s medical marijuana industry.

Canadians buy their pot on websites and have it delivered.

Websites like Ganja Express and Buy My Weed Online and Emerald Health Therapeutics currently offer medical marijuana customers an array of cannabis products, from traditional marijuana that’s sold by the gram, to concentrates and edibles.

Canadian cultivators are getting ready to meet the anticipated surge in demand when recreation customers could start ordering.

“We are very well positioned for July,” said Nate Race, a management consultant with Premium Produce, a medical marijuana farm in British Columbia that has expanded its staff from about 70 to 100, so it can grow annual production from 14,000 pounds of marijuana to 134,000 pounds by the end of 2018.

California, where retail sales of recreational marijuana are supposed to begin in January 2018, would eventually account for half of all U.S. sales and would likely match Canadian sales just by itself, according to Chris Walsh, founding editor of Marijuana Business Daily.

This is why Nick Kovacevich, CEO of California-based Kush Bottles, which makes vaporizer equipment, said he has no plans to do business outside the U.S..

“We have a bigger market opportunity here in the U.S.,” he said.

But marijuana’s shaky legal status in the U.S. — the U.S. the federal government prohibits it — means things could change quickly for entrepreneurs working in cannabis.

“In the U.S., the growth of recreational marijuana is artificially hampered by the fact that cannabis is illegal,” said Walsh, noting that it creates issues with banks, which face restrictions against handling marijuana money.

“The growth that we’re seeing in marijuana [in the U.S.] is only a piece of what it could be,” he said. “The backing of the federal government in Canada is opening a lot of doors that are closed right now in the U.S.”

Canada’s move toward legalization has already inspired one U.S. company, the New York-based alcohol beverage producer Constellation Brands, to buy a 10% stake in the Canadian pot company Canopy Growth Corp. for $190 million.

John Kagia, a cannabis industry analyst for New Frontier Data, called the recent move towards Canadian legalization a “wake up call to all investors who were sitting on the sidelines, that this is really going to happen.”

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The guy who took down Trump’s Twitter account says it was ‘a mistake’

Bahtiyar Duysak describes himself as “an ordinary guy.”

The 28-year-old grew up in a small town in Germany and says the United States might be “the best country in the world.” He enjoys cars and values his time at the gym. In his free time, he also volunteers, most recently at a Muslim community center.

But four weeks ago, he did something extraordinary: he became the person responsible for taking President Trump off Twitter for 11 minutes.

The brief silencing of Trump’s account drove the internet into a frenzy. People questioned how Twitter could enable one person to take down such a high-profile account with tens of millions of followers. Some of the president’s critics said whoever did it should be considered a hero.

But Duysak, who was working as a contractor at Twitter at the time, says he never thought his spur-of-the-moment act would actually lead to Trump’s account going offline.

“I did a mistake, I confess,” he told CNNTech. “It’s not like I was looking for something or planning to do it. It was in front of me, and I didn’t do a good job, and I didn’t double-check things.”

Duysak, whose identity was first revealed by TechCrunch, declined to give details of exactly how he took down the account but insisted he didn’t do anything illegal.

Trump’s account came his way because it had been a reported by another user, he said. But it was only after he saw media outlets reporting Twitter’s official statement that an employee had taken the account down on their last day at the company that he realized what had happened.

“The specific mentions of this person on his last day, I immediately knew I was the only guy who left on the last day … I felt a little bit nervous,” he told CNNTech.

Duysak said he worked at Twitter through a contracting company called Pro Unlimited. He denied he was a rogue worker with a political vendetta and said he actually admires Trump’s success.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company can’t comment directly on Duysak.

“We have taken a number of steps to keep an incident like this from happening again,” the spokesperson said. “In order to protect our internal security measures we don’t have further details to share at this time.”

A source familiar with the matter identified Duysak as the person responsible for taking Trump’s account offline.

Pro Unlimited wasn’t immediately available for comment late Wednesday.

Duysak said he’s not concerned about any legal consequences from what happened because he’s “100% sure I didn’t commit any crime.”

He said November 2, the day Trump’s account was taken offline, was just “one of those days.”

“It was a hectic day,” he recalls. “You have a headache, you are tired. We are not machines — this was one of those days.”

He told CNNTech it was a coincidence that the error that led to Trump’s account being taken offline happened on his last day.

“Such a little probability,” he says. “Sometimes these things happen.”

Duysak had built up experience working at top tech firms.

He says he studied business administration in Germany and international finance in the U.K. before he came to the U.S. as a student. He completed his postgraduate studies at California State University, East Bay, and started working as a contractor for tech companies.

Before Twitter, Duysak said he worked for a contractor at YouTube helping make decisions on whether videos were entitled to revenue from ads.

YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Duysak lived in San Francisco for nearly two years. He says he spoke to Pro Unlimited and Twitter about making November 2 his last day even though his contract wasn’t up until early 2018. He says he didn’t want to extend his work visa and wanted to spend time with his family in Germany.

Duysak is back in Germany now. But what happened to Trump’s account raises questions about how much access both employees and contractors have to sensitive accounts and who holds editorial power at increasingly influential companies like Twitter and Facebook.

Their role as editorial gatekeepers and amplifiers is coming under growing scrutiny.

Duysak says he shouldn’t have been in a position where one rash move could lead to such an extreme outcome.

“Even if it was on purpose, it still shouldn’t have taken place … because of internal regulations at the company,” he said. “But all of this, it’s not my responsibility and I don’t want to say something negative about Twitter because it’s a great platform where all people are given the chance to share real time information.”

Despite what he did to the president’s account, Duysak says he admires what Trump has achieved in his career.

“He is a very successful person, and I admire his hard work and how he made it to get the highest position,” Duysak said. “But I think he needs to learn a little as a politician.”

Duysak says he’s taking a brief break from work but plans to get into banking.

“I apologize to everyone who I’ve hurt,” he said. “At the same time, I’m not a rogue person … I’ve worked for so many companies. Everyone will agree I’m reliable and trustworthy. There are little probabilities that occur and you’re in the spotlight.”

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