Twenty-five years ago this month, early on the morning of December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause, sending tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of aircraft into Panama to execute a warrant of arrest against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. Those troops quickly secured all important strategic installations, including the main airport in Panama City, various military bases, and ports. Noriega went into hiding before surrendering on January 3rd and was then officially extradited to the United States to stand trial. Soon after, most of the U.S. invaders withdrew from the country. [more inside]
In case you were starting to miss the daily insanity that is Rob Ford, Toronto's admitted crack-smoking, tax-cutting, drunken stupor of a Mayor, your wait is over. Newly-unredacted wiretaps from the police investigation into attempts to retrieve the infamous video of Rob Ford smocking crack, calling his football team "a bunch of fucking minorities", and Justin Trudeau a "fa**ot", have re-ignited the inquiry into the Mayor's actions. [more inside]
Over the last year and a half, I have been visiting São Paulo and, especially, Rio de Janeiro, observing the process of “pacification,” by which the government attempts to peacefully enter and reestablish state control over the most violent enclaves of the city, those dominated by drug gangs called traficantes, or by syndicates of corrupt police called militias. Until 2008, when the pacification program started, the traficantes controlled roughly half of the favelas, and the militias the other half. Both still hold power in most favelas. The ultimate aim of the state government of Rio’s plan, called the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP), or Police Pacification Unit, is to drive both of these groups out and replace them by the state. (SLNYRB)
"The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal: A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust." [more inside]
In the summer of 2007 on the campaign trail Barack Obama took a clear stance on the controversial subject of medical marijuana. “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources.” As President in 2009 he took action to follow through on this promise by instructing federal prosecutors to “not focus federal resources in [their] States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” The memo cited the “efficient and rational use” of the U.S. Department of Justice’s “limited investigative and prosecutorial resources,” as a motivating factor in the decision." In the winter of 2012 Rolling Stone magazine takes a look back on this subject and the record is surprising. "With more than 100 raids on pot dispensaries during his first three years, Obama is now on pace to exceed Bush's record for medical-marijuana busts. "There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "He's gone from first to worst." [more inside]
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives deliberately allowed assault rifles to be smuggled into Mexico, so they could be tracked. The weapons were then used in a spree of murders, including that of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The operation was called "Fast and Furious". The Mexican government was apparently unaware of the operation, and is investigating. The ATF is going to have a review of whether their strategy supports "the goals of ATF to stem the illegal flow of firearms to Mexico".
Descendents of early French Huguenots, the Ravenel family of South Carolina ranked among the most prominent members of the state's planter class. Arthur Ravenel, Jr. continued the Ravenel tradition of public service, serving in the South Carolina house and senate and then in the U.S. House of Representatives. He once referred to the NAACP as the "that organization known as the National Association for Retarded People" although he later apologized, but only to people with mental and physical challenges. He also once called for the military to shoot down any plane suspected of smuggling drugs. Arthur's son Thomas Ravenel had little contact with his father after his parent's divorce, became a self-made millionaire through real estate development, narrowly missed winning the Senate seat now held by Jim DeMint, was elected South Carolina Treasurer, was the subject of an investigation into his cocaine use (of which he was warned by his father), was indicted on a federal cocaine charge and resigned, and served 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine. On Saturday, Thomas Ravenel took to the pages of the Charleston Post and Courier to call for an end to drug prohibition, hoping the celebrity of being a former rising star in the Republican Party who went to prison will help advance his position.
This November, California citizens will decide whether or not to legalize the possession, buying and selling of, and recreational use of marijuana. Early polls concerning proposition 19, also known as the "Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010", reveal a slight majority for legalization, as well as an interesting case of status quo bias. (Previously) [more inside]
A medical marijuana provider in California is mounting a novel defense after his marijuana farm was raided by Federal agents. [more inside]
You’re going to hire people to guard your sh*t, but you’re not going to give them health care. Vice has a long spoiler- and profanity-laden interview with The Wire creator David Simon, running the gamut from backstage Wire details to the media's obsession with "the Dickensian aspect" to his next series (set in New Orleans) to Joe Lieberman to this fight he almost got in at a concert one time. Via /Film.
Due to “credible death and kidnapping threats”, T-Pain has cancelled a concert in Guyana for Mashramani, the festival that marks the anniversary of Guyana’s independence from Great Britain. Last years, celebration was soured by a killing spree perpetrated by a heavily armed gang led by man known as “Fine Man”. Because the 23 victims were mainly of East Indian descent, the massacre was a powder keg issue for the tiny South American nation. With a population of 44% East Indian and 30% African ancestries, Guyana tends to be socially and politically divided along ethnic identity lines. [more inside]
Thirty-six years after the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse recommended that "simple possession" of pot be decriminalised, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has introduced a bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), to remove federal criminal penalties for possession of up to 100 grams (about three-and-a-half ounces) of marijuana and the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce (28.3 grams). Drug reform advocates
lit up hailed the legislation as "an important step toward bringing federal law into line with scientific fact, practical reality and public opinion." Is America, at long last, having a collective moment of sanity?
The Wire is dissent; it argues that our systems are no longer viable for the greater good of the most, that America is no longer operating as a utilitarian and democratic experiment. An already-quite-good discussion about The Wire, originating in Mark Bowden's Atlantic article ('The Angriest Man in Television') and continuing through Mark Bowden's post on the show's nihilistic bleakness gets even more interesting on Matt Yglesias's blog, where the creator of the show stops by to give his opinion on what it's all supposed to mean.
Richard Paey Speaks - An interview with the paraplegic man sentenced to 25 years in prison for treating his own pain, but now out after a full pardon by the Florida Governor. [more inside]
The poppy is bitterly ironic this Remembrance Day. Borrowed from John McRae's classic In Flanders' Fields, the poppy has shifted from a symbolic meaning to the central subject of an ongoing conflict. As international intervention in Afghanistan continues, opium production has reached record-breaking heights, with this single country now producing 90% of the world's total supply (utterly dwarfing global licit supply). Meanwhile, the world suffers a global opiate shortage(pdf), Canada's heroin maintenance project is threatened by politics, and the National Review of Medicine suggests that prescription opiates are far more dangerous than the "usual suspects".
Robin Prosser was a former concert pianist and systems analyst who suffered from an autoimmune disease similar to lupus for over 20 years. The disease left her in constant pain and made her allergic to most pharmaceutical painkillers. Only medical marijuana brought her relief, but last spring the DEA seized her medicine. Unable to cope with the chronic pain any longer, she committed suicide on October 18th. [Via Andrew Sullivan.]
"An open society must be prepared to listen to those who offer a critique of its conventional wisdom—and our conventional wisdom about drugs and addiction should be no exception."
Spiritual Highs and Legal Blows - the power and peril of religious exemptions from drug prohibition
"The system for classifying illegal drugs in Britain, which determines how users are punished, is unscientific and illogical and should be completely overhauled", according to a new report. See updated chart on the harm potential of various drugs.
So how's the War on Drugs proceeding in Afghanistan? Barry McCaffrey, former drug czar, trumpets, "Opium production has been dramatically slashed by 48% just in the past year.". Oops, actually that's the acreage of opium cultivation; production went down by only 10%, due to increased yields. In any case, that's so last year. Instead of the socially detrimental policy of poppy eradication, wouldn't it be preferable to allow licensing of poppies for legitimate medical needs? The Afghan farmers agree, but some think the idea is flawed.
When was the last time your country's minister of Justice expressed his policies in rap form? Here's the Dutch justice minister's Piet Hein Donner's debut on the mic (mp3). [more inside]
Why is Marijuana Illegal? Many people assume that marijuana was made illegal through some kind of process involving scientific, medical, and government hearings; that it was to protect the citizens from what was determined to be a dangerous drug. The actual story shows a much different picture.
This is the taste of freedom.
This is the taste of freedom.
Jeb Bush linked to Terror Flight School Owner, whose plane was also seized for Heroin Trafficking. How can it be that not only is the Bush family linked to the Bin Laden family, but they just happen to have been travelers on a Lear jet which was seized with a record amount of 30 pounds of heroin. The owner of the Lear jet coincidentally, pictured here with Florida Governor Jeb Bush (which had to be retrieved from Google's diligent cache system since the page has since been removed), also owns the school where the alleged WTC leader Mohammed Atta took flying lessons. Coincidence? Or did Bush Know?
Can the current prohibition really be blamed on one guy? First he tells Congress that "marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind" and then World War 2 comes and farmers are encouraged to grow it. After the War, he turns around and tells Congress that it could be used by the Russians to make our men lazy and pacifistic. If he had kept his original argument, our men would be insane killers against the Russian army. What would the country be like if there never was a HARRY J. ANSLINGER ?
A solution to the world's terrorism problems? Mo Mowlam (formerly responsible for the UK government's drugs policy) suggests that terrorist activity is funded by drug trafficking and the best way to combat this is to legalise all drugs. Everywhere. Go Mo!
Drug War Roundup IV. An athlete who refused a drug test was stripped of her awards. She plays bridge. American Indians who honed their skills tracking drug smugglers recently trained Baltic border guards in the hopes of preventing nuclear weapon proliferation. Another chapter was written in the ongoing "is ecstasy all that dangerous?" debate. Salvatore Gravano is on his way back to prison for running an ecstasy ring. Nevada is edging closer to legalizing up to three ounces of marijuana, to the disdain of Bush's Drug Policy director and Nevada's biggest police group. A Canadian right wing party and cops came out against their government's recent pro-legalization report. I see a pattern, but maybe it's just the pudding.
Bush administration urges schools to treat, not punish, student drug users. Issued Thursday [August 29, 2002] by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the guide says the aim of drug testing "is not to trap and punish students who use drugs. It is, in fact, counterproductive simply to punish them without trying to alter their behavior."
The RAVE Act, which stands for "Reducing America's Vulnerability to Ecstasy" courtesy of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) (via LA Times)
"and i enjoyed it" Finally an honest politician. Is this a new trend in politics?
The War on Drug Wars. "Ashkan Sahihi is a photographer who is infuriated by the hypocrisy of the war on drugs. It is this hypocrisy that inspired Sahihi to take eleven people out of their daily environments, get them high, and photograph them." Does this project warrant attention as a political statement, as an art project, as all of the above, or as none of the above? Please explain your answer. Partial credit will be given.
Big Networks get a slap on the wrist for letting the White House pay for anti-drug scripts.