Every day, newspapers and the airwaves are filled with stories and images of beheadings and other gruesome killings. Wednesday's front page on Mexico City's La Prensa carried a large banner headline that simply said "Hysteria!" The entire page was devoted to photos of bloody bodies and grim-faced soldiers... the United States helps fuel the violence, not only by providing a ready market for illegal drugs, but also by supplying the vast majority of weapons used by drug gangs...
Such dire problems call for a new way of looking at the situation, some say.
"The unthinkable is happening," Birns said. "People are beginning to discuss decriminalization and legalization. ... There's only one thing that can be done: Take the profit out of it."
Pastor calls the problem in Mexico "even worse than Chicago during the Prohibition era" and said a solution similar to what ended that violence is needed now.
"What worked in the U.S. was not Eliot Ness," he said, referring to the federal agent famous for fighting gangsters in 1920s and '30s. "It was the repeal of Prohibition."
That viewpoint has picked up some high-level support in Latin America.
Last week, the former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil called for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use and a change in strategy on the war on drugs at a meeting in Brazil of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy.
"The problem is that current policies are based on prejudices and fears and not on results," former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said at a news conference, in which the 17-member commission's recommendations were presented.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has taken the war on drugs to the cartels and some say it's not working.
"It's as if the burden of being the main arena of the anti-drug war has overwhelmed Mexican institutions," Birns said. "The occasional anti-drug battle is being won, but the war is being lost. And there's no prospect the war is going to be won."
You might be surprised at how little of Earth's water supply is stored as freshwater on the land surface, as shown in the diagram and table below. Freshwater represents only about three percent of all water on Earth and freshwater lakes and swamps account for a mere 0.29 percent of the Earth's freshwater. Twenty percent of all fresh surface water is in one lake, Lake Baikal in Asia. Another twenty percent (about 5,500 cubic miles (about 23,000 cubic kilometers)) is stored in the Great Lakes. Rivers hold only about 0.006 percent of total freshwater reserves.
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