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article imageIn 2012, new U.S. laws on guns, Starbucks, immigrants, fake pot

By Yukio Strachan     Jan 4, 2012 in Politics
If your New Year's celebrations didn't include making resolutions that's okay because several different American states have already done it for you.
Across the U.S., 40,000 new laws took effect in 2012. Today, we'll take a closer look at three laws drawing the most controversy.
Not The Wild West
Good new for those California residents who wanted to enjoy their Starbucks latte, but couldn't, because the group sitting next to them had glocks on their hips. Effective as of Jan. 1, it's now illegal to carry a gun openly in a public place. If caught, they could face up to a year in prison or a $1,000 fine, according to California New Laws Report.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) said he introduced the bill AB144, in response to law enforcement officials who often had to respond to frantic calls from citizens disturbed by the display of gun-toting activists openly packing heat on their hips at coffee shops and shopping malls.
“There's a proper place for firearms, and having a proliferation of them strapped to hips is something that belongs in a Western movie, not Main Street, California,” he said in a press release.
But gun owners refuse to go gentle into that good night. Gun rights advocates are preparing for their next goal: exposing another loophole.
Monachus Lex blogger John Pierce, a site that focuses on “politics, public policy and pistols,” wrote this loophole last June. He warned that if AB144 ever became law it would “force those citizens who wish to exercise their rights to do so by openly carrying long guns,” since rifles and long guns aren't part of the ban.
He added: “Portantino and those who support AB 144 should expect to see shotguns and rifles carried on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and in Starbucks from San Francisco to San Diego.”
On January 2, one day after AB144 took effect, San Francisco Examiner reported, "a man showed up at a Daly City mall Monday with an unloaded shotgun strapped to his back – and he wasn’t arrested, police said."
To be continued ...
California Dream or Nightmare
There are an estimated 10 million to 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States — those like Irvis Orozco,24, brought this country as an infant for a better life, and who in many cases see themselves as American. For Orozco, It's the only place he's ever known. “It's home,” he said.
As a result of people like Orozco, Gov. Brown signed the California Dream Act, which became law Jan 1. The law allows students who are undocumented immigrants to receive private financial aid at California's public universities.
But critics are challenging AB131, the second part of the law. It allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state-funded scholarships and financial aid at state colleges, the Associated Press reported.
That part takes effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Not if Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly has anything to do with it. Assemblyman Donnelly is leading the effort to rescind AB131. To do this, he must collect 505,000 signatures by Jan. 6 for the repeal to make it to the November ballot.
Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, who won yesterday's the Iowa caucus, may play a key factor in gaining signatures considering his recent comments on the DREAM Act. When asked if he would refuse to sign the DREAM Act as president, the former Governor didn't hesitate. “The answer is yes,” he said.
Mr. Donnelly said the Dream Act is nothing but a “new entitlement program” adding, that tax payers just "can’t afford any more of Jerry Brown’s bad dreams.”
But for Mr. Orozco, 24, what Donnelly calls "bad dreams" is for him a dream come true.
He's a senior studying international relations at the University of California. But he was not eligible for state aid. To pay for school he had to join his parents in the tomato field picking tomatoes.
“A lot of us have grown up here," he said. “We just want to contribute to the country by getting our education.”
New War on Drugs: Fake Pot
“Spice,” “K2” and “Serenity Now” are products sold as potpourri or incense in some tobacco shops and gas stations. But the colorful packaging only cloaks the real danger hiding inside. The pouches contain exotic herbs spiked with chemicals thought to simulate the effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
But it's not marijuana.
Researchers say the effects to the body are more similar to cocaine rather than marijuana. According to Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s office people who use the synthetic products can suffer seizures, hallucinations, tremors, paranoia, convulsions, high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate, reports CBS.
Synthetic form of marijuana known by the names  K2  Spice  Blaze and Vanilla Sky. Screenshot
Synthetic form of marijuana known by the names, K2, Spice, Blaze and Vanilla Sky. Screenshot
On Jan. 1. Illinois joined more than 40 states to ban what's called synthetic marijuana from all Illinois stores.
The new law was prompted in part by the tragic death of Max Dobner, of Illinois, who died June 14, 2011 after smoking what he thought was a safe alternative to pot, said his mother, Karen Dobner.
On June 14, Max, 19, went to the mall with a friend and stopped in the Cigar Box, a tobacco store, and bought a mixture of herbs called IAroma, potpourri. they had a conversation that it must be safe because it's legal," Karen Dobner said. "His conclusion was wrong."
Max smoked the "potpourri" on the way home. After being dropped off, he felt like he having a panic attack. So he called his brother Justin.
“I smoked that legal stuff," Max told him. "My heart is pounding."
Justin told him to take a shower and lie down.
Instead, Max headed for the car.
Leaving the doors to his home wide open, he hopped in the 1999 Chrysler Cirrus and took off, driving at speeds approaching 100 mph in a 40mph zone.
Max Dobner died instantly after he crashed a car into house going 100mph after ingesting what s call...
Max Dobner died instantly after he crashed a car into house going 100mph after ingesting what's called synthetic marijuana.
Soon he blew through a stop sign, hit a garden wall, sending the vehicle airborne about "15 feet in the air over an 80-foot stretch" before shearing a limb off a tree as it flew, North Aurora Fire District Capt. Todd Zies told the Daily Herald.
The car, then smashed into a house with such force that the car engine dislodged from the car "coming to rest several rooms beyond the car body."
Here's the chilling part: just an hour earlier, in the same room the car entered, a baby had been napping.
“We did max a disservice. He was such a good guy," Max's mom told CBS. "He did so many good things and, yet, we did not protect him and I feel that it is our obligation to protect our kids.”
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