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Marijuana’s hazy contribution to highway deaths

A prosecutor blamed the Beer crash on “speed and weed,” but a jury that heard expert testimony on marijuana’s effects at his trial deadlocked on a homicide charge and other felonies related to whether the teenager was impaired by marijuana.

Studies of marijuana’s effects show that the drug can slow decision-making, decrease peripheral vision and impede multitasking, all of which are important driving skills.

[...] combining marijuana with alcohol appears to eliminate the pot smoker’s exaggerated caution and to increase driving impairment beyond the effects of either substance alone.

Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu, a Yale University Medical School expert on drug abuse who testified at Beer’s trial, said studies of marijuana and crash risk are “highly inconclusive.”

“Being a teenager, a male teenager, and being involved in reckless behavior could explain both at the same time — not necessarily marijuana causing getting into accidents, but a general reckless behavior leading to both conditions at the same time,” Sofuoglu told jurors.

Columbia University researchers compared drivers who tested positive for marijuana in the roadside survey with state drug and alcohol tests of drivers killed in crashes.

When adjusted for alcohol and driver demographics, the study found that otherwise sober drivers who tested positive for marijuana were slightly less likely to have been involved in a crash than drivers who tested negative for all drugs.

“If states legalize marijuana, they must set clear limits for impairment behind the wheel and require mandatory drug testing following a crash,” said Deborah Hersman, former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

$2.4B Revel casino to shut down early Tuesday

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Little more than two years after opening with high hopes of turning around Atlantic City’s struggling casino market, Revel will close its doors Tuesday morning.

The consolidation is a reaction to the saturated northeastern U.S. casino market, which continues to add new gambling halls to markets without enough demand to support them all.

9-foot Joe Frazier statue rising in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Busloads of tourists line up every day in Philadelphia to take photos with a statue of Rocky Balboa, the fictional heavyweight fighter made famous by Sylvester Stallone.

The effort to memorialize Frazier, first announced two years ago, was almost knocked out by fundraising problems and the sudden death of the original sculptor.

Frazier won the 1964 Olympic gold medal in Tokyo and later finished with a professional record of 32-4-1, with 27 knockouts.

[...] a public fundraising campaign for his memorial generated few contributions, so four major donors ponied up most of the $160,000 needed for the statue and its maintenance fund.

The statue will then go through a molding process before being cast in bronze and installed at Xfinity Live, an entertainment complex by the city’s three sports stadiums.

The sculpture’s location will be off the beaten path for visitors — about five miles south of the Rocky statue, which stands by the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps that Stallone famously ran up.

Buyer’s remorse on Common Core for policymakers?

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Millions of students will sit down at computers this year to take new tests rooted in the Common Core standards for math and reading, but policymakers in many states are having buyer’s remorse.

The fight to repeal the standards has heated up in Ohio, with state Rep. Andy Thompson, a Republican, saying it’s kind of “creepy the way this whole thing landed in Ohio with all the things prepackaged.”

Jindal has sued the Obama administration, accusing Washington of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

The standards emphasize critical thinking and spell out what reading and math skills students should grasp at each grade level, while leaving how those skills are mastered up to districts and states.

The hope was that higher standards shared across state lines would allow for shared resources, comparable student performance measures and smoother school-to-school transitions for children who move, such as military kids.

Among potential GOP presidential candidates in 2016, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush supports the standards; Jindal, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul do not.

[...] they now complain about botched efforts to put them in place and say it’s unfair to use Common Core-based assessments in new teacher evaluation systems rolling out in much of the United States.

To ease the testing concerns, Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently said he would allow states to delay using students’ test scores in teacher evaluation systems.

“What really has happened is that this has become a politicized issue and it’s become an ideological symbol, interestingly, on both sides,” said Patrick McGuinn, a political science professor at Drew University.

Far from the political discourse, American classrooms continue to be transformed by the use of the standards, with new curricula developed and teachers trained.

Supporters like former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican who helped lead the governors’ group that identified the goals set by Common Core, say politics and mistruths have hijacked a needed and effective education overhaul.

The standards were a response from governors in a defensive mode to keep the federal government out of education, Perdue said, and he supported the changes out of concern for U.S. students’ global competitiveness.

A state district judge has since said the governor’s actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students and he lifted Jindal’s suspension of the contracts.

Carrie Moenster, a parent and teacher, said she’s seen her fourth-grade students in tears because they couldn’t understand math standards that she called “abstract and developmentally inappropriate.”

Detroit’s historic bankruptcy trial to begin

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers for Detroit will attempt to convince a federal judge at the city’s bankruptcy trial that its plans to wipe out billions of dollars in debt should be approved.

After some delays, the start of the trial Tuesday in U.S. District Court comes just over 13 months after Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.

Retired police officers and firefighters would lose only a portion of their annual cost-of-living raise.

Louisiana following judge’s order on abortion law

(AP) — The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge’s order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The law requires physicians at all five abortion clinics in Louisiana to obtain privileges to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where the doctor works.

State Department of Health and Hospitals spokeswoman Olivia Watkins told The Associated Press on Monday that the agency won’t take action against any provider who shows he or she has applied for such privileges.

“The department’s policy is in accordance with governing precedent from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and is in line with what the state offered the plaintiffs previously,” Watkins said in an email.