Category Archives: War On Drugs

New BBC chief sued over claims HSBC laundered terrorists and drug cartels’ money

Alasdair Glennie reports for The Daily Mail:

‘The BBC’s chairman-elect is being sued over her involvement in the HSBC money-laundering scandal, it was revealed yesterday. Rona Fairhead, who is set to become the first woman to lead the corporation, had her appointment approved by MPs yesterday.

But hours after the Commons hearing it emerged the 53-year-old is facing a class action lawsuit by HSBC shareholders over allegations the bank allowed terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to launder money.

Mrs Fairhead chaired the bank’s ‘risk committee’ in 2012, when it was fined £1.2billion by US authorities to settle allegations that it allowed drug traffickers to launder millions of pounds. The bank was also accused of breaching sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Libya, Burma and Zimbabwe.’

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Immigrant America: Murder and Migration in Honduras

‘Last summer, Americans were stunned by images of children and families from Central America turning themselves in at the US-Mexico border. More migrants are now coming from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula and surrounding areas than anywhere else in Central America. The society there has yet to recover from a 2009 coup that crippled the economy and unleashed extreme levels of violence and inequality… VICE News traveled to San Pedro Sula — the most violent and second largest city in Honduras — to find out why so many families and young people are risking it all to migrate illegally to the US.’ (VICE News)

Report: Torture in Mexico rose 600 percent during past decade

Kate Kilpatrick reports for Al Jazeera:

‘According to the report, use of torture by Mexican police and military is widespread, with a 600 percent rise in the number of reported cases over the past decade. Yet despite the huge increase in incidents, there is little being done to combat it or, in fact, discourage it.

“Torture is so widespread in Mexico and sort of expected as an investigative technique,” said Maureen Meyer, the Washington Office of Latin America associate for Mexico and Central America.

Meyer authored a 2010 report on human rights violations committed by the military in Mexico, with a focus on Ciudad Juárez, where cartel violence combined with federal militarization made it the deadliest city in the world from 2008 to 2010. “It’s not sanctioned. It’s not necessarily a state policy to torture but in fact it’s very much permissive and the torturers are never investigated,” she said.’

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Mexico Turns to Army, Drones for Security

From The Associated Press:

‘The Mexican government say it is increasingly using the army and drones in security patrols, reducing the role of Marine forces. In an annual report on the state of the nation submitted to Congress Monday, President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration said army patrols had increased 52.2 percent in the nine months ending in July compared with the same period the year before.

The number of marine patrols decreased 28.3 percent in the same period. The marines have made some of the biggest arrests of major drug lords. The government also gave a detailed accounting of its use of drones, saying it had flown 149 drone missions with over 581 hours of flying time. The report said homicides, especially those relating to organized crime, had dropped over the last year.’

SOURCE

How companies are profiting from police crackdowns

Alex Kane writes for AlterNet:

Ferguson is big business: How companies are profiting from police crackdowns‘The tear-gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs fired in Ferguson, Missouri have fed outrage over police militarization in the U.S. In response to the shocking images, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said, “We need to de-militarize this situation.” Journalists reporting live on the demonstrations sparked by the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown expressed befuddlement as to why the police needed high-caliber weapons better suited for war zones than protests in an American city.

But one group of people is decidedly happy about the militarized response in Ferguson: those who work in the weapons industry. The array of police forces–the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the St. Louis county and city police and local Ferguson officers–that descended on the largely black Missouri city have used the products these corporations are selling in abundance. Tear gas, rubber bullets, smoke bombs, stun grenades, armored personnel carriers, sound cannons and high-caliber rifles have all been deployed to quell the unrest, though they have contributed to anger over police tactics.

The police response is the perfect showcase for the companies that manufacture military equipment for law enforcement use. They can point to the police tactics to sell their products to other law enforcement agencies preparing for demonstrations. And in Missouri, the police’s massive use of armaments like tear gas mean that their stock is becoming depleted and they will need to re-up their purchases. These companies will profit from the tension in Ferguson, and could fuel even greater militarization of the police, a trend that began with the war on drugs and has accelerated in recent years with the advent of the war on terror.’

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Congress Members Who Approve Militarization of U.S. Police Receive 73% More Money from Defense Industry

From Washington’s Blog:

‘Americans of all stripes oppose the militarization of U.S. police forces.

For example:

  • A new Pew research poll shows that a plurality of people think that the police have gone too far in Ferguson, Missouri

So why does Congress continue to approve militarization? For the same reason that Congress members vote for NSA spying on Americans and go easy on Wall Street criminals: money.’

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Is Police Militarization A Distraction From Understanding Ferguson?

Warrior cops on steroids: How post-9/11 hysteria created a policing monster

Heather Parton writes for Salon:

Warrior cops on steroids: How post-9/11 hysteria created a policing monster‘Sometime after 9/11 strange stories began to emerge about small town police agencies all over the nation receiving grants from the newly formed Department of Homeland Security to buy all kinds of high-tech equipment to fight “terrorism.”

…As Radley Balko thoroughly documented in his book “Warrior Cop” the military industrial complex has created a new industry: the police industrial complex. And it’s been quietly militarizing our police agencies for quite a long time. Indeed, he traces this trend back to the early 1980s under the freedom- and liberty-loving Ronald Reagan. The Gipper deemed the drug war to be a real war and easily passed the Military Cooperation With Civilian Law Enforcement Act, “which allowed and encouraged the military to give local, state, and federal police access to military bases, research, and equipment.” The police got training from the armed forces to use their new war-making equipment and the military became involved with intelligence and operations in the drug war. Every president since then, including the current one, has reauthorized the program, putting more and more money on the table. Balko wrote, “Then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney declared in 1989, ‘The detection and countering of the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs is a high priority national security mission of the Department of Defense.’”

So this really isn’t a new thing. But it’s been on steroids since 9/11 with the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security. Needless to say, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Since 9/11 the United States has been spending vast sums of money through DHS to outfit the state and local authorities with surveillance and military gear ostensibly to fight the terrorist threat at home.’

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Keeping count of Mexico’s missing

Emily Pickrell reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

‘One of the startling unknowns in the story of Mexico’s recent wave of violence is just how many people can be counted among its disappeared.

An estimated 14,000 to 45,000 people disappeared in Mexico between 2006 and 2012. That’s a big discrepancy, and depends on whether you’re looking at recently revised government statistics or numbers compiled by human rights groups.

But Mexico’s disappearances – a country that isn’t officially at war or suffering a dictatorship – rival the numbers of missing from notable conflicts around the region. Roughly 30,000 people disappeared under Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and ’80s, and the more recent estimates of 30,000 disappeared in Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.’

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It’s Not About Fighting Terror, It’s About Having Power

Lucy Steigerwald writes for Antiwar:

‘As we’ve been told since 9/11, the government needs certain special powers in order to keep us safe from terrorism. The PATRIOT Act, FISA Courts, telecom immunity, the NSA looking at your naked pictures – all of this is made or enhanced in the name of fighting the type of monsters who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. Certainly the Fourth Amendment can be weakened in the name of that most noble of goals.

And man, has it! But as I have previously mentioned in this space, the convenient thing for the security state fanatics is that so much of the anti-terrorism work has been done for them already in the name of another cause all together. Frequently, that would be the war on drugs.’

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Latin America’s military is making a comeback

Simeon Tegel reports for The Global Post:

‘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.’

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Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega sues Activision over ‘Call of Duty’ game

Paresh Dave reports for the L.A. Times:

Manuel Antonio Noriega‘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.’

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How the War on Drugs and the War on Terror Merged Into One Disastrous War on All Americans

Alex Kane writes for Alternet:

‘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.’

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Border Children: The Obama-Backed Coup that the Media Doesn’t Talk About

Ted Rall writes for Common Dreams:

‘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.”‘

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Honduras president blames U.S. drug policy for migrant surge

From Reuters:

‘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.”‘

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Security, Refugees, and Profit at the U.S. Border: Interview with Todd Miller

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)

66% of Americans Now Live in a Constitution-Free Zone

Todd Miller, author of Border Patrol Nation reports for TomDispatch:

‘[...] 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.’

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Tennessee Arrests Its First Woman Under its New Pregnancy Criminalization Law

April M. Short reports for Alternet:

‘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.”’

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Graham Hancock on TED Censorship, Lost Civilizations & the War on Consciousness

Abby Martin interviews author and philosopher, Graham Hancock, about the mysteries of ancient civilization, hidden societies from the past, censorship by TED Talks and the difficulty in getting these ideas accepted by mainstream archaeologists and historians.’ (Breaking the Set)

Nixon’s Failed Drug War and Immigration from Central America: Interview with Dana Frank

‘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)

11 Shocking Facts About America’s Militarized Police Forces

Alex Kane writes for Alternet:

‘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.’

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Minority Report meets the Wire: How New Jersey police use military technology to fight crime

‘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)

New ACLU report takes a snapshot of police militarization in the United States

Radley Balko, author of Rise of the Warrior Cop, reports for The Washington Post:

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.’

READ MORE @ THE WASHINGTON POST…

Cocaine use in Britain so high it has contaminated drinking water, report shows

Adam Withnall reports for The Independent:

‘Cocaine use in the UK is now so common that traces of the drug have contaminated the drinking water supply, a report has shown. In a study to assess the dangers from pharmaceutical compounds appearing in the water we drink, scientists discovered traces of cocaine after it had gone through intensive purification treatments. Experts from the Drinking Water Inspectorate found supplies contained benzoylecgonine, the metabolised form of the drug that appears once it has passed through the body. It is the same compound that is looked for in urine-based drug tests for cocaine.’

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Obama jokes about pot legalization leading to paranoid people thinking the government is listening in on their phone calls

New Mayor Rob Ford crack smoking video is only a few days old

Tennessee Enacts Law To Incarcerate Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs

Laura Bassett writes for the Huffington Post:

‘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.’

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“I cannot see any separations”: An Indian man on an LSD trip in the middle of the Thar desert

Talib Kweli Breaks the Set on the Obama Presidency, the Prison Industrial Complex & Real Hip Hop

Abby Martin features an exclusive interview with hip hop artist Talib Kweli, discussing the role of government, Obama’s presidency, the prison industrial complex, and establishment hip hop.’ (Breaking the Set)

Graham Hancock: 3 Important Questions to Ask Yourself