VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press

PHOENIX, LAS VEGAS BAKE IN SCORCHING HEAT

 

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. (AP) -- Scorching heat blistered the Southwest on Saturday, where highs between 115 and 120 degrees were expected for parts of Arizona, Nevada and California through the weekend.

 

Forecasters said temperatures in sunbaked Las Vegas could match the record of 117 degrees Saturday. Phoenix hit 119 degrees by mid-afternoon, breaking the record for June 29 that was set in 1994. And large swaths of California sweltered under extreme heat warnings, which are expected to last into Tuesday night - and maybe even longer.

 

Dan Kail was vacationing in Las Vegas when he heard that the temperature at California's Death Valley could approach 130 degrees this weekend. He didn't hesitate to make a trip to the desert location that is typically the hottest place on the planet.

 

"Coming to Death Valley in the summertime has always been on the top of my bucket list," the 67-year-old Pittsburgh man said. "When I found out it might set a record I rented a car and drove straight over. If it goes above 130 I will have something to brag about."

 

The forecast called for Death Valley to reach 128 degrees Saturday as part of a heat wave that has caused large parts of the western U.S. to suffer. Death Valley's record high of 134 degrees, set a century ago, stands as the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

 

MARIJUANA'S MARCH TOWARD MAINSTREAM CONFOUNDS FEDS

 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It took 50 years for American attitudes about marijuana to zigzag from the paranoia of "Reefer Madness" to the excesses of Woodstock back to the hard line of "Just Say No."

 

The next 25 years took the nation from Bill Clinton, who famously "didn't inhale," to Barack Obama, who most emphatically did.

 

Now, in just a few short years, public opinion has moved so dramatically toward general acceptance that even those who champion legalization are surprised at how quickly attitudes are changing and states are moving to approve the drug - for medical use and just for fun.

 

Growing support for legalization doesn't mean everybody wants to light up: Barely one in 10 Americans used pot in the past year.

 

Those who do want to see marijuana legalized range from libertarians who oppose much government intervention to people who want to see an activist government aggressively regulate marijuana production and sales.

 

For some, money talks: Why let drug cartels rake in untaxed profits when a cut could go into government coffers?

 

There are other threads in the growing acceptance of pot.

 

People think it's not as dangerous as once believed. They worry about high school kids getting an arrest record. They see racial inequity in the way marijuana laws are enforced. They're weary of the "war on drugs."

 

Opponents counter with a 2012 study finding that regular use of marijuana during teen years can lead to a long-term drop in IQ, and another study indicating marijuana use can induce and exacerbate psychotic illness in susceptible people. They question the notion that regulating pot will bring in big money, saying revenue estimates are grossly exaggerated.

 

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IS SEARCH FOR SNOWDEN TURNING INTO SIDESHOW?

 

Edward Snowden's continent-jumping, hide-and-seek game seems like the stuff of a pulp thriller - a desperate man's drama played out before a worldwide audience trying to decide if he's a hero or a villain.

 

But the search for the former National Security Agency contractor who spilled U.S. secrets has become something of a distracting sideshow, some say, overshadowing the important debate over the government's power to seize the phone and Internet records of millions of Americans to help in the fight against terrorism.

 

"You have to be humble on Day 1 to say, `This isn't about me. This is about the information.'... I don't think he really anticipated the importance of making sure the focus initially was off him," says Mike Paul, president of MGP & Associates PR, a crisis management firm in New York. "Not only has he weakened his case, some would go as far as to say he's gone from hero to zero."

 

Snowden, he says, can get back on track by "utilizing whatever information he has like big bombs in a campaign," so the focus returns to the question of spying and not his life on the run.

 

Snowden's disclosures about U.S. surveillance to The Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post have created an uproar in Washington that shows no signs of fading.

 

A petition asking President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden has collected more than 123,000 signatures.

 

But the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., meanwhile, has called Snowden's disclosure of top-secret information "an act of treason." House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is among those who've called Snowden a "traitor."

 

The president has dismissed the 30-year-old Snowden as a "hacker" and he had pledged that the U.S. won't be scrambling military jets to snatch Snowden and return him to the U.S., where he faces espionage charges.

 

Snowden is possibly holed up in the wing of a Russian airport hotel reserved for travelers in transit who don't have visas to enter Russia. He might be waiting to hear whether Ecuador, Iceland or another country might grant him asylum. He fled Hong Kong last weekend after being charged with violating American espionage laws.

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