Snowden, Drugs, and Civil War

Dear Brian,
How does Edward Snowden earn a living in 2015?

As far as I know, he made a decent chunk of change (over $1 million) for the movie rights to his story in CitizenFour and Snowden.

Other than that, I have no clue and can’t wait to find out the answer, hopefully from the man himself.

Here’s a link to Wikileaks’ Sony files that reveals Edward Snowdens’s Russian lawyer received $1 million for film rights to Snowden: WikiLeaks – Sony Archives.

Here’s the quote from the page: “The archives also detail SPE’s development of its own films and collecting “intelligence” on rival pictures, for example documents in the archive reveal the budget breakdown for Oliver Stone’s rival picture Snowden, which is currently in production. The budget reveals the rights spend: 700,000 USD to theGuardian’s Luke Harding, 600,000 USD to Oliver Stone for his work on the script and 1,000,000 USD to Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.”

I can’t find anything specifically mentioning his payment for CitizenFour, though Wikipedia lists it as making $3.5 million at the box office, and I have to assume Laura Poitras took care of him: Citizenfour 

Dear Brian,
Is the high feeling of laughing gas and marijuana similar or the same?

I’m thinking about trying marijuana but want to know what it feels like so I’m not exactly surprised or if it is similar to the laughing gas feeling.strange question but hey it don’t hurt to learn.

A whippit gives you a head high/feeling of euphoria for about 5-10 minutes, whereas a heady sativa will give you a somewhat similar feeling (though less debilitating) for a couple hours.

If you were to smoke an indica or indica-dominant hybrid instead, you’d get more of a body high, which is much different than laughing gas.

Dear Brian,
For each gram of cocaine bought, what is the cost breakdown?

i.e. how much goes to the cocoa growers, the purifiers, traffickers, dealers etc.?

The way this question is worded is a bit of a fallacy in how the underground market works. It’s not like the money you pay to your dealer is put in an organizational pot and everyone pulls out a monthly paycheck.

It’s a black market, and the street dealer you’re buying from is an independent contractor purchasing as close to wholesale as they can from someone else who purchased a larger amount from someone else who purchased a larger amount, etc. It’s made even more difficult to trace because it’s a resale market.

A key (or kilogram) of cocaine costs around $30k in the U.S., whereas that same kilo in Columbia would sell for around $2500 (post processing). The price difference is what goes to the transporters.

If sold by the gram, cocaine in the U.S. costs around $150-$200, though most users buy an eightball or teener (1/8th (3.5 grams) or 1/16th (1.75 grams) of an ounce respectively).

Assuming the coke you purchased is uncut (which is highly unlikely) and is sold by the gram to the end-user by the same person who purchased the pound transported from a place like Columbia (also highly unlikely), that person would make $150k-$200k (depending on the neighborhood) minus the initial $30k investment.

By comparison, a pound of quality, trimmed marijuana costs around $2000 in the U.S. (which would make it in the range of ~$4500 per kg, and is so much more expensive mostly because it’s largely grown indoors due to legal concerns, but also because the U.S. has a higher cost of living than Columbia).

At that price point, cannabis growers are able to afford growing another crop with a modest profit. Dispensaries sell grams of cannabis for upwards of $20 per gram, and, even with extraordinary tax rates, the 400% price increase is what pays for all the operational costs of the dispensary. Dispensaries make ~$20,000 per kilogram of pot.

But marijuana buds are basically raw cannabis (the equivalent of raw coca leaves). If you were to process that kilogram of cannabis, you’d yield about 70-80 grams of concentrate (wax, shatter, etc), which retail for $100+ per gram, earning $80,000 per kilogram of pot’s equivalent to cocaine (at 65-85% levels of purity, as opposed to high 90’s for uncut coke).

Dear Brian,
If DC Comic’s Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were part of Marvel’s Civil War, which side would they fight for?

There are some interesting discussions online about this topic. If the DC Universe introduced a superhero registration act like in Marvel’s Civil War, where would the major heroes and villains line up? • /r/DCcomics

On the surface, it would appear that Batman, who wears a mask, would side against registration, whereas Superman, whose identity is already known, would prefer people register their powers.

However, there’s some evidence to prove the contrary. Here are some angles to consider:

1. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson once pointed out (DeGrasse Tyson says Superman vs. Batman may come down to public opinion – CNET), Batman executes the will of the people, whereas Superman is an outsider who does whatever he wants.

2. Bruce Wayne is much closer in character to Tony Stark (troubled  billionaire),  whereas Superman and Captain America have striking similarities(hero poster boy), so they may act like their counterparts. However, we can’t discount that Stark/Wayne could easily have a personality clash, as could Kent/Rogers.

3. The existence of these 3 characters in the Civil War would have a butterfly effect. Rogers and Stark could suddenly find themselves banding together to stop Bruce Wayne and his special form of vigilante justice. Since Wayne has a way of disabling every superhero in the DC universe (just in case), his big brother-esque tactics could offend Stark and some of his supporters (especially someone like Peter Parker, or whoever Spider-Man was during the Civil War). From a superhero’s perspective, what Bruce Wayne does is our worst-case NSA scenario. S.H.I.E.L.D. would love him.

4. From the Dawn of Justice trailer, it very much appears that Bruce Wayne is on the Iron Man/S.H.I.E.L.D. side in taking down Superman because of the destruction his fight caused.


The situation is eerily similar to the New Warriors tragedy that triggered Johnny Blaze’s beating and the registration controversy in the first place.

5. Reed Richards is very familiar with interdimensional travel and is unlikely to take kindly to the sudden appearance of 2.5 unregistered supers from another universe (and would Batman even be considered “super” placed in a world without his billions and batcave?).

6. In Injustice: Gods Among Us (from which some of the Dawn of Justice synopsis appears to be inspired), Superman threatens to unmask Bruce, but Bruce destroys the Justice League communications to stop him. Injustice: Gods Among Us Comic

7. Wonder Woman is an ambassador who doesn’t appear to care much for alter egos. It’s likely she’d side with the registration act.

Brian Penny Beard Mohawk Whistleblower VersabilityBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in High Times, Huffington Post, Lifehack, Hardcore Droid, and Cannabis Now.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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