‘It was a momentous day for Latin America: On March 11, 1990, Augusto Pinochet, the region’s last military dictator, finally handed power to an elected civilian president. Since then, democracy has put down roots in the Americas to such an extent that few expect a repeat of the bloody coups that frequently punctuated the region’s history.
But now, across Latin America, the military is flexing its muscles once again and taking on more central roles in society, including in ways that experts warn are posing subtler risks to constitutional rule.
The most obvious way is the armed forces’ increasingly upfront participation in crime fighting, with the public, media and politicians demanding a “mano dura,” or firm hand, against rampant street violence and ruthless drug cartels.’
- CSIS: Latin American Defense Spending Trends
- U.S. Defense Spending vs. Global Defense Spending
- U.S. military expands its drug war in Latin America
- The US war on drugs and its legacy in Latin America
- Latin America promising market for Russian military aviation
- Lavrov: Russia has no plans for military bases in Latin America
- Putin’s quiet Latin America play
‘Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega is suing the Santa Monica video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. for depicting him and using his name without his permission in one of the fastest-selling video games.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Noriega alleges that “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” portrays him as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.” This was done “to heighten realism in its game,” which “translates directly into heightened sales” for Activision, the lawsuit states. Noriega, 80, is seeking lost profits as well as damages. His attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.
A U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 ended Noriega’s military dictatorship and landed him in U.S. prison for about two decades on drug-trafficking charges. For a time, he had been a close ally of the U.S. government. He has lived in Panama since 2011.’
‘It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one in the United States.” With those words, Nixon ushered in the “war on drugs,” the attempt to use law enforcement to jail drug users and halt the flow of illegal substances like marijuana and cocaine.
Thirty years later, another president, George W. Bush, declared war on another word: terrorism. But the war on drugs hadn’t ended yet. Instead of one failed war replacing another soon-to-be-failed war, both drugs and terrorism remain targets for law enforcement and military action that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and have cost billions of dollars.
In fact, the war on terror and the war on drugs have merged to form a hydra-headed monster that rapaciously targets Americans, particularly communities of color. Tactics and legislation used to fight terrorism in the U.S. have been turned on drug users, with disastrous consequences measured in lives, limbs and cash. And money initially used to combat drugs has been spent on the war on terror. From the Patriot Act to the use of informants to surveillance, the wars on drugs and terror have melted into one another.’
‘If you’re reading this, you probably follow the news. So you’ve probably heard of the latest iteration of the “crisis at the border”: tens of thousands of children, many of them unaccompanied by an adult, crossing the desert from Mexico into the United States, where they surrender to the Border Patrol in hope of being allowed to remain here permanently. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention and hearing system has been overwhelmed by the surge of children and, in some cases, their parents. The Obama Administration has asked Congress to approve new funding to speed up processing and deportations of these illegal immigrants.
Even if you’ve followed this story closely, you probably haven’t heard the depressing backstory — the reason so many Central Americans are sending their children on a dangerous thousand-mile journey up the spine of Mexico, where they ride atop freight trains, endure shakedowns by corrupt police and face rapists, bandits and other predators. (For a sense of what it’s like, check out the excellent 2004 film “Maria Full of Grace.”)
NPR and other mainstream news outlets are parroting the White House, which blames unscrupulous “coyotes” (human smugglers) for “lying to parents, telling them that if they put their kids in the hands of traffickers and get to the United States that they will be able to stay.” True: the coyotes are saying that in order to gin up business. Also true: U.S. law has changed, and many of these kids have a strong legal case for asylum. Unfortunately, U.S. officials are ignoring the law.
The sad truth is that this “crisis at the border” is yet another example of “blowback.”‘
- How Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Congressional Republicans, Created Child-Refugee Flood
- Honduras president blames U.S. drug policy for migrant surge
- Security, Refugees, and Profit at the U.S. Border: Interview with Todd Miller
- Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to U.S. Border
- Honduras Since the Coup: Economic and Social Outcomes
- Hillary Clinton’s Two Foreign-Policy Catastrophes
- Cardin Leads Senate Call For Accountability In Honduras For Human Rights Violations
- Honduras Led World in Homicides in 2010
‘Honduran President Juan Hernandez blamed U.S. drug policy for sparking violence in Central American countries and driving a surge of migration to the United States, according to an interview published on Monday.
Hernandez, who took office in January after winning on a pledge to be tough on crime, said only a drop in violence would curb the wave of families and unaccompanied minors fleeing Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras who have overwhelmed temporary detention facilities on the U.S. border.
“Honduras has been living in an emergency for a decade,” Hernandez told Mexican daily newspaper Excelsior. “The root cause is that the United States and Colombia carried out big operations in the fight against drugs. Then Mexico did it.”
Those operations pushed drug traffickers into Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, he suggested, adding: “This is creating a serious problem for us that sparked this migration.”‘
Todd Miller: As record numbers of child migrants from Central America arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border, the crisis should be a treated as a refugee issue, not a security issue (The Real News)
‘[...] Imagine the once thin borderline of the American past as an ever-thickening band, now extending 100 miles inland around the United States—along the 2,000-mile southern border, the 4,000-mile northern border and both coasts—and you will be able to visualize how vast the CBP’s jurisdiction has become. This “border” region now covers places where two-thirds of the US population (197.4 million people) live. The ACLU has come to call it a “constitution-free zone.” The “border” has by now devoured the full states of Maine and Florida and much of Michigan.
In these vast domains, Homeland Security authorities can institute roving patrols with broad, extra-constitutional powers backed by national security, immigration enforcement and drug interdiction mandates. There, the Border Patrol can set up traffic checkpoints and fly surveillance drones overhead with high-powered cameras and radar that can track your movements. Within twenty-five miles of the international boundary, CBP agents can enter a person’s private property without a warrant. In these areas, the Homeland Security state is anything but abstract. On any given day, it can stand between you and the grocery store.’
- ACLU Fact Sheet on U.S. “Constitution Free Zone”
- Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security by Todd Miller
- Corporations Making a Killing As Billions Are Poured Into Border Enforcement: Interview with Todd Miller
- The creeping expansion of the Border Patrol
- Bringing the big guns to U.S. borders
‘Two days after she gave birth to a healthy baby, 26-year-old Mallory Loyola of Tennessee was arrested. She was the first person to be charged under a law that went into place last week, which criminalizes women for narcotic drug use while pregnant. Tennesse’s is the first U.S. law to directly criminalize pregnant women for their actions while pregnant, and has been widely criticized. The frightening implication of the law for women is that once one of your eggs is fertilized—accidentally or not, and whether you’re aware you’re pregnant or not—there goes your right to medical privacy.
“Our state chooses to waste tax dollars locking up women instead of getting them the health care they need,” Rebecca Terrell, chair of Healthy and Free Tennessee, told ThinkProgress via email according to a recent article. “We are already receiving reports of women seeking out non-licensed health providers to avoid having a medical record and risking arrest. This is extremely dangerous.” Healthy and Free Tennessee is a vocal opponent of the law, which states that “a woman may be prosecuted for assault for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.”’
‘Thom Hartmann talks with Dana Frank, History Professor at University of California, Santa Cruz / author of Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America / currently writing a book about the AFL-CIO’s cold war intervention in the Honduran labor movement – about a surge of children coming from Hondorus and El Salvador illegally to the United States.’ (Thom Hartmann)
‘The “war on terror” has come home–and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives. The culprit is the militarization of the police.
The weapons used in the “war on terror” that destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq have made their way to local law enforcement. While police forces across the country began a process of militarization complete with SWAT teams and flash-bang grenades when President Reagan intensified the “war on drugs,” the post-9/11 “war on terror” has added fuel to the fire.
Through laws and regulations like a provision in defense budgets that authorize the Pentagon to transfer surplus military gear to police forces, local law enforcement are using weapons found on the battlefields of South Asia and the Middle East.’
‘Camden, New Jersey has a murder rate 12 times the national average and is both the poorest and the most dangerous city in America. Local police are now using state-of-the-art surveillance equipment to track and monitor criminals so they can anticipate their next move. The military-grade apparatus uses cameras, microphones and listening posts at a cost of $4.5m.’ (The Guardian)
‘The American Civil Liberties Union has released the results of its year-long study of police militarization. The study looked at 800 deployments of SWAT teams among 20 local, state and federal police agencies in 2011-2012. Among the notable findings:
- 62 percent of the SWAT raids surveyed were to conduct searches for drugs.
- Just under 80 percent were to serve a search warrant, meaning eight in 10 SWAT raids were not initiated to apprehend a school shooter, hostage taker, or escaped felon (the common justification for these tactics), but to investigate someone still only suspected of committing a crime.
- In fact, just 7 percent of SWAT raids were “for hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios.”
- In at least 36 percent of the SWAT raids studies, no contraband of any kind was found. The report notes that due to incomplete police reports on these raids this figure could be as high as 65 percent.
- SWAT tactics are disproportionately used on people of color.
- 65 percent of SWAT deployments resulted in some sort of forced entry into a private home, by way of a battering ram, boot, or some sort of explosive device. In over half those raids, the police failed to find any sort of weapon, the presence of which was cited as the reason for the violent tactics.
- Ironically (or perhaps not), searches to serve warrants on people suspected of drug crimes were more likely to result in forced entry than raids conducted for other purposes.
- Though often justified for rare incidents like school shootings or terrorist situations, the armored personnel vehicles police departments are getting from the Pentagon and through grants from the Department of Homeland Security are commonly used on drug raids.
In other words, where violent, volatile SWAT tactics were once used only in limited situations where someone was in the process of or about to commit a violent crime — where the police were using violence only to defuse an already violent situation — SWAT teams today are overwhelmingly used to investigate people who are still only suspected of committing nonviolent consensual crimes. And because these raids often involve forced entry into homes, often at night, they’re actually creating violence and confrontation where there was none before.’
Obama jokes about pot legalization leading to paranoid people thinking the government is listening in on their phone calls
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves office for rehab stint
- Rob Ford’s train wreck year has Canada’s journalists paying for proof
- Brother: Rob Ford will overcome ‘little challenge’
- Rob Ford’s mother: ‘I had no idea it was as serious’
- Rob Ford threatened city guard who reported drunken behaviour
- Rob Ford in alleged clash with Justin Bieber ahead of rehab course
‘Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) signed a bill into law on Tuesday that is the first law in the country to authorize the arrest and incarceration of women who use drugs while pregnant. Reproductive and civil rights advocates had strongly urged Haslam to veto the legislation.
“I understand the concerns about this bill, and I will be monitoring the impact of the law through regular updates with the court system and health professionals,” Haslam said in a statement.
The new law, which goes into effect July 1, allows a woman to be prosecuted for assault if she takes a narcotic drug while pregnant and the baby is born addicted, is harmed or dies because of the drug. The woman can avoid criminal charges if she completes a state treatment program.’
U.S. police raid innocent family because of indoor garden, spied on their purchases and dug through trash
A December 2013 video that has been picking up attention in medical marijuana advocacy circles points out the benefits of the drug’s active ingredient in cancer treatments.
“We observed that the cannabinoids were very effective in reducing tumor growth,” molecular biologist Christina Sanchez said in the video, first uploaded by Cannabis Planet. “Cells can die in different ways, and after cannabinoid treatment, they were dying in the ‘clean’ way. They were committing suicide, which is something you really want.”
Cannabinoids are a group of natural and man-made chemicals, which include the active ingredients in cannabis, that act upon some receptors within the body. Marijuana.com reported that Sanchez’s work at Compultense University in Madrid, Spain parallels British oncologist Wai Liu’s discovery that THC can “target and switch off” pathways that would otherwise allow tumors to develop.
The Sinaloa Cartel, headquartered on Mexico’s northern Pacific Coast, is constantly exploring new ways to launder its gargantuan profits. The State Department reports that Mexican trafficking organizations earn between $19 and $29 billion every year from selling marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines on the streets of American cities.
And Sinaloa is reportedly the richest, most powerful of them all, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The capture last month of the Mexican druglord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman has cast a spotlight on the smuggling empire he built.
One key to the Sinaloa Cartel’s success has been to use the global banking system to launder all this cash.
‘Abby Martin speaks with Alex & Allyson Grey, the most prolific psychedelic artists in the world, discussing the role of transcendentalism, spirituality and entheogenic drugs have played in their art and personal lives, as well as their work on the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.’ (Breaking the Set)
As deaths related to heroin and prescription drug overdose continue to rise, US Attorney General Eric Holder called the spike an “urgent public health crises” on Monday and pledged to expand the Justice Department’s effort to combat the problem. Holder made the remarks in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website, noting that fatalities caused by heroin overdose have risen 45 percent between 2006 and 2010. “Addiction to heroin and other opiates -– including certain prescription pain-killers –- is impacting the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life -– and all too often, with deadly results,” he said.
…As part of the agency’s attempt to prevent such problems, Holder said the Justice Department would urge law enforcement agencies and first responders to improve their access to naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug that counteracts the effects of heroin and other opioids and restores breathing. He added that since 2001, naloxone has saved more than 10,000 lives. The attorney general also stated that efforts to seize heroin and other opioids around the country have been expanded to target all levels of the supply chain – including those who prescribe, fill out, and distribute prescriptions illegally. Holder noted that between 2008 and 2013, there was a 320 percent increase in the amount of heroin confiscated near the border of the US and Mexico.
- Colorado Court Reverses Some Pot Convictions
- AG Holder endorses shorter prison sentences for nonviolent drug crimes
- Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s ‘Weed 2: Cannabis Madness’ (Documentary)
- Parents being arrested for getting medicine (cannabis oil) for their sick children (Video)
- Colorado: We Made Millions Taxing Pot—in a Month
- Big Pharma Weed? GW Pharmaceuticals Makes Marijuana Medicine (Video)
- ‘I’m Going To Prison For Working At A Pot Shop That Was Legal In My State’
- DEA Agent Joins Marijuana Industry: Interview with Patrick Moen (Video)
- Politicians Formerly Against Medical Marijuana Now Singing Praises of Cannabidiol
- 4 of the best movies about America’s ludicrous war on drugs
- Cannabis University Trains Vets to Grow, Sell and Advocate for Pot Medicine
- It’s Getting Harder For the Feds To Lie About Marijuana and Get Away With It
- D.C. Decriminalizes Pot, Maintains Consumption Still A Criminal Offense: Interview with Leigh Maddox (Video)
- Deputy drug czar reluctantly admits marijuana is less deadly than alcohol
- Approximately 19 Million Marijuana Users In The United States (Video)
- The war on dope that’s bankrupting Texas (Documentary)
- Legalising Pot Makes Police Departments Poorer
On December 21, 2013, The Washington Post published a story entitled, “Covert action Colombia,” about the intimate and critical role of the CIA and the NSA in helping to assassinate “at least two dozen” leaders of the Colombian FARC guerillas from “the early 2000s” to and through the present time. The author of the story, Dana Priest, claims that the story is based on “interviews with more than 30 former and current U.S. and Colombian officials.” While The Washington Post story reads like an advertisement for the CIA and NSA, there are some truths buried in the piece which are worthy of consideration. The most illuminating statement is that while the CIA and NSA, allegedly in the interest of fighting drug trafficking and terrorism, have assisted the Colombian government in hunting down and murdering Marxist FARC guerillas with U.S.-made smart bombs, “for the most part, they left the violent paramilitary groups alone.”
This is an important point, for as the piece itself acknowledges, the paramilitaries are indeed “violent,” and, with the help of the U.S.-backed Colombian military, have been engaged in a decades-long campaign of terror against the civilian population. And consequently, the U.S. officially designated the predecessor of the current paramilitaries – that is, the AUC — as a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, it is well-accepted that both the Colombian paramilitaries and their military allies are major drug traffickers in their own right. In short, the U.S. is aligning with known terrorists and drug dealers in Colombia in the name of fighting terrorism and drugs. While this may seem preposterous, there is indeed a logic to it.
Most voters have known nothing but conflict for their entire lives: when the Farc rose up against the state in 1964, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, Nikita Khrushchev was in the Kremlin and the cold war was at its height. Over the following 50 years, Colombia’s low-intensity war has caused more than 250,000 deaths and the displacement of more than 5 million people as rebels from the Farc, ELN and other leftwing groups clashed with government troops and rightwing paramilitaries.
Many of the armed factions finance themselves through kidnappings and drug trafficking. If a deal can be reached, Santos says the biggest peace dividend for the outside world is likely to be a cut in the supply of cocaine. “If we can agree to fight drug trafficking and substitute coca crops for legal crops it will have a big impact on the world because, unfortunately, for 40 years we have been the principal supplier of that drug.”