Marijuana legal in Wash. today

SEATTLE - Legal marijuana possession becomes a reality in Washington state Thursday, and some plan to celebrate the new law by breaking it.

Voters in Washington and Colorado last month made those the first states to decriminalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana. Washington's law takes effect Thursday and allows adults to have up to an ounce of pot - but it bans public use, which is punishable by a fine.

Still, some people planned to gather to smoke beneath Seattle's Space Needle. Others planned to party outside Hempfest headquarters in Seattle.

Jenny Durkan, the U.S. Attorney for western Washington, sent out a statement Wednesday saying that regardless of measures in the states, the federal ban remains unchanged. The statement did not come with any legal action by the Justice Department to block the law from taking effect. - AP

Secret Service protection voted

WASHINGTON - The House has voted to give lifelong Secret Service protection to former presidents and their wives, due to increased national security threats posed to post-9/11 leaders. The bill passed Wednesday morning by voice vote.

The measure, which goes to the Senate, would reverse a 1994 law limiting Secret Service protection to 10 years after a president leaves office. Under the previous law, the Department of Homeland Security can extend that protection temporarily any time after the 10-year period expires.

Bill Clinton is the last president under current law who will receive lifelong protection, meaning that George W. Bush and Barack Obama are the first in line for the limited 10-year protection period. But if passed by Congress, the new law will restore uniformity for the protection of all presidents by returning to lifetime protection.

The bill would also authorize Secret Service protection for minor children of former presidents until they turn 16. - Tribune
Washington Bureau

Lieberman exits with a regret

WASHINGON - If he could do it all over again, Joe Lieberman would not have been as tough on Barack Obama.

Lieberman, the former Democrat who was the vice presidential nominee in 2000, bucked the party and supported Republican John McCain for president in 2008. Lieberman, who has represented Connecticut in the Senate for 24 years, the last six as an independent, will retire when his term ends in January.

Lieberman gave a speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention in which he belittled Obama's accomplishments. He said he doesn't regret supporting McCain, but if he could do it again, "I would have left out those few sentences" about Obama.

"It wasn't what I was really about," he said. "It wasn't necessary to what I was doing at the convention."

- Washington Post