This Just In
(1)Mexico Drug Bosses May Have Set Truce
(2)Legal System Struggles With How To React When Police Officers Lie
(3)Holocaust Survivors' Party Teams Up With Pro-Marijuana
(4)Mexican Journalist Released From U.S. Custody

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 THIS JUST IN  ( Top )


Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jan 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: Tracy Wilkinson, Reporting from Mexico City

Mexico Under Siege

According to News Reports, Trafficking Chiefs in the State of Sinaloa Agreed Last Month to Curb Their Bloody Rivalry. Killings There Have Declined Sharply.

Have some of Mexico's most notorious drug bosses declared a truce?

After a record year of bloodshed, killings have dropped by two-thirds from the December level in the state of Sinaloa, the historic center of Mexican drug trafficking, according to tallies kept by local and national news media.

Those reports have fueled speculation that leaders of the two biggest Sinaloan drug gangs, which have been locked in a fight for territorial control, reached an agreement in December to hold fire, after finding that the battle was sapping time, energy and money better spent on the drug business.

A truce would be welcome in Sinaloa, where ambushes, shootouts and kidnappings have occurred day and night. More than 120 people were killed in the state in December, according to Mexican news media; January looks set to end with about 40 deaths.




Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jan 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Amir Efrati

It's one of the most common accusations by defendants and defense attorneys -- that police officers don't tell the truth on the witness stand. Of course, defendants themselves can be the ones lying, but the problem of police perjury -- and what can be done about it -- is being debated anew. Fueling the discussion are recent court cases in New York City and Boston that indicated officers may have lied and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this month that could have broader implications for cases in which improperly obtained evidence is in dispute.

Questionable testimony by police comes up most often in firearm-or drug-possession cases in which officers often testify that a defendant had a bulge in his pocket -- which they thought might be a gun -- or dropped drugs in plain sight as they approached him, giving the officers the right to seize the contraband. Defense lawyers say in many of these cases, officers are "testilying" and that the guns or drugs were actually discovered when their clients were unjustly frisked by officers. They also say testilying frequently occurs in more serious cases.

In Boston, a federal judge last week ruled that a police officer there falsely testified at a pretrial hearing in a gun-possession case about the circumstances of the defendant's arrest. The judge, Mark Wolf, is considering sanctions against the prosecutor for not immediately disclosing that the officer's testimony contradicted what he told prosecutors beforehand.

A federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., last fall ruled that a U.S. marshal and a New York City police officer lied when they testified that a defendant dropped two bags of drugs in front of them and then invited the officers to his apartment, where he revealed a large cache of cocaine. Though few officers will confess to lying -- after all, it's a crime -- work by researchers and a 1990s commission appointed to examine police corruption shows there's a tacit agreement among many officers that lying about how evidence is seized keeps criminals off the street.

To stem the problem, some criminal-justice researchers and academic experts have called for doing polygraphs on officers who take the stand or requiring officers to tape their searches.

A Supreme Court ruling this month, however, suggests that a simpler, though controversial, solution may be to weaken a longstanding part of U.S. law, known as the exclusionary rule. The 5-4 ruling in Herring v. U.S. that evidence obtained from certain unlawful arrests may nevertheless be used against a criminal defendant could indicate the U.S. is inching closer to a system in which officers might not be tempted to lie to prevent evidence from being thrown out.




Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jan 2009
Source: Jerusalem Post (Israel)
Copyright: 2009 The Jerusalem Post
Authors: Max Socol and Shelly Paz

The Green Leaf Graduates, which split from the political party Aleh Yarok, best known for its advocacy of the legalization of cannabis, is making waves with its most recent announcement: a plan to incorporate the Holocaust Survivors Party.

The Holocaust survivors are focused on the controversial issue of their state pension disbursement, which has been weakened by rising demands among the country's retired workers.

The party accuses the government of misappropriating funds, donated by Germany, that were supposed to be given to Holocaust survivors. The survivors' party alleges that instead, those monies have been paid in part to thousands of other Israelis who have no connection to the Holocaust, to ease the government's pension burden.

Yaakov Kfir, the party's leader, said he joined forces with the Green Leaf Graduates to attract more attention to the survivors' cause.

"The fact that I am interviewed by so many media outlets indicates that the decision to hook up with the Aleh Yarok graduates was smarter than if I had chosen to go with a larger, more solid party," Kfir said on Wednesday.




Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jan 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles Times
Author: James Rainey and Ari B. Bloomekatz

Emilio Gutierrez Soto Had Been Held in a Texas Facility for Seven Months. He Fled Mexico Because He Said He Feared for His Life After Writing Critically of the Military.

U.S. immigration authorities surprised press-freedom activists Thursday when they released a journalist -- fleeing alleged Mexican government persecution -- who had been held in a Texas detention center for seven months.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto walked out of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in El Paso late in the afternoon and expressed relief that he would soon be reunited with his 15-year-old son.

"I still don't believe it. I need to wake up," Gutierrez, 46, said in a telephone interview.

The case had outraged Reporters Without Borders and other media advocacy groups. They said the journalist -- seeking asylum after purported death threats -- endured the extended detention without a hearing or adequate explanation from the U.S. government.

Gutierrez and his son, Oscar, crossed the border in June and turned themselves over to immigration authorities, saying they feared for their lives if they remained in Mexico.

The reporter said he had been threatened after writing several articles critical of the tactics of the Mexican military, which has been attempting to crack down on drug traffickers.





Sometimes a news story causes readers to ask, what's wrong with this picture? Stories from the past week make me wonder, is anything right with this picture? The United Nation's anti-drug chief appeared to suggest that illegal drug profits may be helping some banks to remain solvent. In New Jersey, changes are proposed regarding how state anti-drug funds are being accounted for at the local level, which marks a departure from the old system: Little or no accounting at all. Top military authorities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are hinting anonymously that the U.S. military may be assigned a bigger, on the ground role in the Mexican drug war.

And, in news that makes a little more sense, years worth of research later, the crack baby scare still proves to be primarily hype.


Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jan 2009
Source: International Herald-Tribune (International)
Copyright: International Herald Tribune 2009

VIENNA: The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."




Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Record, The (Hackensack, NJ)
Copyright: 2009 North Jersey Media Group Inc.
Author: Elise Young

A council that funds New Jersey's local anti-drug programs will be altered to ensure its $10 million a year is spent with oversight, lawmakers said Monday.

"We must have systems in place to safeguard the public's money," Assemblywoman Sheila Y. Oliver, D-Essex, said during a hearing before the Assembly Human Services Committee. "We must build in administrative capabilities and sets of guidelines."

The committee is examining whether to put the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse within the Department of Human Services. It took no vote on the matter Monday.

Last month, an audit by the state Controller's Office found a series of lapses within the council, which distributes about $10 million a year in drug fines to 403 local groups known as Municipal Alliances. The alliances, run largely by volunteers, educate communities about illicit substances.

For 19 years -- since the council began in 1989 -- it had operated without a financial review, the comptroller found. Some of the paid staff had few or no job responsibilities, and several employees took more than the 15 sick days allowed each year, the audit found.

In three years of financial records, auditors found questionable expenses, including a lack of purchase orders and invoices. Comptroller Matthew Boxer concluded that it was unacceptable for the council to handle $30 million during that time "without attempting to find out what the public is getting."




Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jan 2009
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2009 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News

Longtime Concerns Over Joint Effort May Fade

MEXICO CITY - Alarmed by spiraling drug violence along their shared border, U.S. and Mexican officials say they foresee an enhanced U.S. role in the battle against powerful cartels, including joint operations that could involve private American contractors or U.S. military and intelligence personnel.

The U.S. and Mexican officials say their cooperation could go beyond the current practice of "sharing intelligence." They say that historical concerns about Mexican sovereignty may be overcome by the challenge in restoring stability to key regions, particularly along the border.

Several officials, interviewed separately and on the condition of anonymity, stressed that specifics about an enhanced U.S. role remain unclear and that the timing is also unclear and will largely depend on the widening violence.

But "everything is on the table," one Mexican official said, including "joint operations."

"I agree with that statement," said a senior U.S. counternarcotics official agrees. "I think the cooperation is unprecedented, and it's yielding unprecedented results."




Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2009 The New York Times Company
Author: Susan Okie

BALTIMORE -- One sister is 14; the other is 9. They are a vibrant pair: the older girl is high-spirited but responsible, a solid student and a devoted helper at home; her sister loves to read and watch cooking shows, and she recently scored well above average on citywide standardized tests.

There would be nothing remarkable about these two happy, normal girls if it were not for their mother's history. Yvette H., now 38, admits that she used cocaine ( along with heroin and alcohol ) while she was pregnant with each girl. "A drug addict," she now says ruefully, "isn't really concerned about the baby she's carrying."

When the use of crack cocaine became a nationwide epidemic in the 1980s and '90s, there were widespread fears that prenatal exposure to the drug would produce a generation of severely damaged children. Newspapers carried headlines like "Cocaine: A Vicious Assault on a Child," "Crack's Toll Among Babies: A Joyless View" and "Studies: Future Bleak for Crack Babies."

But now researchers are systematically following children who were exposed to cocaine before birth, and their findings suggest that the encouraging stories of Ms. H.'s daughters are anything but unusual. So far, these scientists say, the long-term effects of such exposure on children's brain development and behavior appear relatively small.

"Are there differences? Yes," said Barry M. Lester, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University who directs the Maternal Lifestyle Study, a large federally financed study of children exposed to cocaine in the womb. "Are they reliable and persistent? Yes. Are they big? No."

Cocaine is undoubtedly bad for the fetus. But experts say its effects are less severe than those of alcohol and are comparable to those of tobacco -- two legal substances that are used much more often by pregnant women, despite health warnings.

Surveys by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2006 and 2007 found that 5.2 percent of pregnant women reported using any illicit drug, compared with 11.6 percent for alcohol and 16.4 percent for tobacco.




Some profound irony in the world of police and prisons this week. In a San Francisco neighborhood where illegal drugs are notoriously available, police are creating "drug-free zones," which sound more like Constitution-free zones. In Georgia, cannabis laws don't have to mean what they say, according the state supreme court.

From the UK, a shaggy dog story could be the foundation for a campaign against cocaine prohibition. The short motto might be, "Save police dogs from cocaine-related nose cancer: Legalize." Also this week, in North Carolina, police need to schedule arrests with the county jail to make sure it's not too full; and one police department in Maryland has vastly improved its technological ability to fight the drug war.


Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: C.W. Nevius

Tenderloin Station police Capt. Gary Jimenez was on his way back from a community meeting Monday when he walked up on a drug deal. So he pulled out his badge and arrested the seller. He'd like to say it was solid police work, but it was more like shooting fish in a barrel.

In the Tenderloin, making a drug bust is so easy a police captain in full uniform can bag one on a stroll back to the office.

People say drug dealing in the Tenderloin is a problem, but that's not really true. It went way beyond "problem" years ago. Today, drugs define the neighborhood. And, as Jimenez says, with drugs comes violence. It is that simple.

This week the city will begin a new Tenderloin program to establish "drug-free zones" - temporary areas where police have broad powers to break up groups suspected of peddling drugs.

The idea - pushed by the Streets and Neighborhood Workgroup, which included business leaders, homeless advocates, police officials and city leaders - is modeled after a similar effort in Washington, D.C. It is likely to be controversial




Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jan 2009
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Author: Bill Rankin

Lawmakers may have botched the wording of a law criminalizing marijuana possession, but that does not make it unconstitutional, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The law was challenged by a Gwinnett County juvenile who was found delinquent for possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana.

The law violates constitutional due process, the youth's appeal asserted, because it creates a mandatory presumption of guilt.

The law reads, "Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, any person who is charged with possession of marijuana, which possession is of one ounce or less, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."

Justice George Carley, writing for a unanimous court, said the juvenile's challenge ignored the clear legislative intent of the law - that possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana is to be indicted and punished as a misdemeanor, not a felony. Legislators never meant to make a person accused of the crime automatically guilty, he wrote.




Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Sun, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 News Group Newspapers Ltd
Author: John Coles

A police sniffer dog who helped to nail a host of cocaine smugglers has died from nose cancer -- amid fears it was caused by his work.

Max the springer spaniel spent seven years sniffing out drugs for the Avon and Somerset force.

He had to retire when hit with crippling arthritis in his hips, after which he was fitted with chariot-style wheels on his hind quarters.

Max, aged nine, was diagnosed with nose cancer two months ago -- and had to be put down earlier this week.

Insp Anne Higgins, 44, looked after Max with partner and fellow inspector Mike Ashwin. She said: "It's ironic the wonderful organ that made him successful in his work has been his demise.




Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Goldsboro News-Argus (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Goldsboro News-Argus
Author: Nick Hiltunen

The Sheriff's Office arrested 15 alleged drug offenders Monday morning - -- people who would have probably been picked up earlier if not for an overcrowded jail.

But authorities said court officials worked hard to keep the jail population at an even keel, although the figure is still far above the jail's listed occupancy. The jail population at the start of Monday was 262, or about 62 people over the official occupancy limit.

And that was before the Sheriff's Office began its roundup of accused drug offenders -- a list of 43 people.

At a morning meeting, Sheriff Carey Winders expressed doubt that the jail would be able to hold everyone should drug agents come back with everyone on that list. Winders said the roundup has even been put off a few times because authorities were worried about the jail population.

"We have postponed it several times," the sheriff said. "That's bad to say when you've got warrants hanging out there, because you didn't have room in the jail. "( But if ) you throw in another 40, that's going to be over 300," Winders said. Court officials saw the problem, too, however, and moved quickly to process the offenders, Sheriff's Office officials said.




Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jan 2009
Source: Frederick News Post (MD)
Copyright: 2009 Randall Family, LLC.
Author: Kate Leckie

Joining the Frederick Police Department's fight against illegal drugs is just a few keystrokes away.

The drug enforcement unit has established an e-mail address for taking residents' tips on drug activity -- even photos or videos, said Sgt. Dwight Sommers, the unit's supervisor.

Police aren't looking to identify tipsters, Sommers said. They don't plan to drag them into court.

"Not to worry. That's not how this works," he said. "We simply want to elicit information from the community that will give us a start - a location, a tag number. We'll take it from there."

The new e-mail address is a product of changing technology, he said.




Cannabis law reformers are still anxiously waiting for President Obama to find a moment to turn his attention to his campaign promise to halt DEA raids on medicinal cannabis dispensaries.

Alarmed by the correlation between cannabis and psychosis, the British government has re-reclassified cannabis back from C to B, but as a former Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard points out, this symbolic gesture will have little if any effect on law enforcement or cannabis consumers.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Connecticut are seriously considering softening penalties for cannabis possession in a desperate effort to save the state some money.

Police in California are squandering funds the state can't afford raiding shops that sell pipes that, according to one officer, are undoubtedly used for cannabis, but as Bruce Mirken of MPP observed, "There's not the slightest evidence that paraphernalia laws have any impact on marijuana use. Even if these people have technically broken the law, this is law-enforcement activity that accomplishes precisely nothing."


Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jan 2009
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Debra J. Saunders

During the campaign, President Obama said he would stop federal raids of medical marijuana clubs in states (like California) that had passed medical-marijuana laws. Yet federal agents raided medical-marijuana dispensaries, including the Patient-to-Patient Collective in South Lake Tahoe, two days after his inauguration. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that agents seized between 5 and 10 pounds of marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project, which wants to legalize marijuana, accused the Drug Enforcement Administration of "defying" Obama's position on medical marijuana and "called on the president to immediately replace Bush administration holdovers at DEA.

"During the presidential campaign," the press release continued, "Obama repeatedly promised not to waste federal resources interfering in states with laws protecting medical-marijuana patients from arrest, and he told Southern Oregon's Mail Tribune editorial board on March 28, 2008, 'I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.' "

So will Obama keep his word by directing federal drug agents to concentrate on going after drug kingpins instead of sick people?




Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Times, The (UK)
Copyright: 2009 Times Newspapers Ltd
Author: Andy Hayman

Upgrading Cannabis And Downgrading Ecstasy Will Make No Difference To Policing Their Misuse

Cannabis was reclassified yesterday from C to B. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is preparing to give its recommendation to the Home Secretary soon that Ecstasy be downgraded from A to B.

I'm never sure which is more arbitrary - the fashion for uppers or downers that changes wildly with each generation of drug-users, or the fashion in policy-making circles for downgrading one year and upgrading the next. We need to scrap the whole classification process - - it is outdated, not understood by the public and utterly irrelevant to life on the streets.

I used to serve on the council in my capacity as the leading police officer on drugs policy. By the end of my stint I felt that its detachment from grassroots reality had eroded its credibility. Its purpose seemed to be to generate endless rounds of meetings and glossy reports to send to ministers.

Up to 70 members - made up of representatives from all sorts of government and voluntary bodies - attended the unwieldy full meetings, which were supported by a plethora of smaller working groups and sub- committees. I was always struck by how the experience of those living in the thick of the drugs problem got lost among the grey suits having highbrow technical and medical discussions. Although street-workers are represented, the actual men and women who work closely with dependent users do not attend.

The council would be horrified to learn that its recommendations on drugs classification are not taken seriously. But that is the case. The public either don't understand the process or are not interested in it. For the police, the advisory council is a sideshow; officers prefer to apply their professional discretion on whether to caution or arrest suspects.

Put bluntly, how a drug is classified doesn't help police officers in their day-to-day duties. The first thought of an officer confronted by a user of an illegal drug is to weigh up whether the possession warrants anything more than a caution. To make an arrest and charge doesn't guarantee a prosecution so it may be simpler to deal with it on the street. That decision is made regardless of the classification of the drug involved.


Andy Hayman was Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations at Scotland Yard



Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2009 New Haven Register
Author: Mary E. O'Leary

By Mary E. O'Leary, Register Topics Editor Taking a cue from Massachusetts, top state legislators are pushing a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana as a way to save law enforcement and court costs.

The proposal by state Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, and state Sen. Toni N. Harp, D-New Haven, chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, would change the penalty for possession of an ounce or less of pot to an infraction, rather than an unclassified misdemeanor.

In a referendum in November, Massachusetts voted 65 percent to 35 percent in favor of levying a $100 fine, rather than a bringing a criminal charge, for possession of an ounce or less, something that is analogous to a motor vehicle ticket.

Harp said her committee is looking at the costs of certain laws in tough budget years. The state is facing a $900 million deficit this year, and close to $8 billion in the next two years.

"This involves a relatively minor risk to society, but at a high cost" to the criminal justice system, said Harp.

A study conducted by Harvard University found Massachusetts spent $30 million annually on police arresting people with these small amounts of marijuana, a figure that didn't include court and penal system costs.




Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: San Diego City Beat (CA)
Copyright: 2009 San Diego City Beat
Author: David Silva

Have you ever looked at California's bong law? Have you ever really looked at it?

Selling glass pipes and water bongs is perfectly legal in the state, so long as their intended use is for smoking tobacco and not pot. That difference in intent may seem like a fine line, but it can mean the difference between making a buck and being totally screwed. Just ask the owners of the seven East County smoke shops whose businesses were raided last week by police and sheriff's deputies.

Acting at the behest of San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, authorities on Jan. 21 served search warrants at shops in El Cajon, La Mesa and Santee. They seized an estimated 15,000 glass pipes, bongs and other items as part of an investigation into whether the owners violated the state's drug-paraphernalia laws.

None of the owners could be reached for comment by deadline, but an employee at one of the shops raided in El Cajon says authorities have it all wrong.

The DA's office "sent us a letter saying water pipes were illegal and that we needed to take them down, but they're not illegal," she says, declining to give her name. "We called the DA's office about that, but they never called us back. Then police came in and said, 'You didn't take the water pipes down, so we're seizing them.' We lost about $50,000 in merchandise."

Asked to comment on the employee's claim that the seized items were legal under state law, El Cajon Police Lt. Steve Shakowski cited California Health and Safety Code 11364.7, which states that selling paraphernalia for the purpose of ingesting illegal drugs is a misdemeanor. As to how authorities knew the items were going to be used to ingest illegal drugs and not tobacco, Shakowski was blunt:

"I've been a cop for 25 years and worked narcotics for 11 of those years," he says. "During that time, I have not encountered anyone who smoked tobacco out of a water bong. I'm not saying there aren't people who do-I've just never encountered them. We're making a distinction between hookah pipes and water bongs. Hookahs are from an older tradition-they look different and typically were used for smoking tobacco. The water pipes we seized-and we didn't seize any hookah pipes-are generally not used for legitimate purposes."




A controversy erupted from the Afghan front this week when allegedly classified NATO documents leaked to the German magazine Der Spiegel detailed orders from Supreme Allied Commander U.S. General John Craddock to "to kill opium dealers, without proof of connection to the insurgency". Top European NATO commanders are balking, "consider[ing] the order to be illegitimate and believe it violates both ISAF rules of engagement and international law." Craddock's order, according to Der Spiegel, dictates it is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective". Not satisfied such military justice will make an impartial and competent executioner of drug traffickers and destroyer of narcotics facilities? Don't fret, Craddock's forces won't begin the anti-drug slaughter if "more than 10 civilians" will be slain at a time, according to orders issued in December. NATO spokesmen denied reports of illegal orders, while vowing to punish those leaking the classified NATO documents.

Bolivia this week did something no nation has done before, expelling all 36 U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents from the country as part of an ongoing diplomatic tit-for-tat. The DEA agents were ordered to leave the land-locked South American nation after the Bush administration decertified Bolivia last fall, branding the nation as "ineffective" at prohibiting coca and cocaine. Hard-line prohibitionists in Washington insist Bolivians shouldn't grow so much coca, which Bolivians for millennia have used for chewing, tea, and medicines.

Philippine President Gloria Arroyo Macapagal's decree that all university students and faculty shall be randomly tested for illegal drugs proved to be an excellent media diversion from the "Alabang boys" bribery scandal. Philippine Human Rights groups vowed this week to "monitor the implementation of the random drug testing... If there is a clear violation of human rights, we will definitely go with the legal option," said Commission on Human Rights chairperson Leila de Lima.

Nigeria's Drug Enforcement Agency had a few "bad eggs" - one hundred of them, according to the "This Day" newspaper last week. The Director General of NDLEA, Mr Lanre Ipinmisho, revealed the startling news of prohibition police corruption in the town of Abuja. "In any establishment, you always have some bad eggs," explained Ipinmisho.

In the U.K., Euro-MP Chris Davies blasted the government's tortured decision to upgrade cannabis back to a more serious "Class B" (with punishment up to five years of jail for simply using cannabis). "Lives were ruined for no good purpose," said Davies of cannabis arrests. "Drugs policy in Britain is a farce. It puts huge sums of money into the hands of real villains, while branding decent people as criminals."


Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jan 2009
Source: Der Spiegel (Germany)
Copyright: 2009 Der Spiegel
Author: Susanne Koelbl


The approach to combatting the drug mafia in Afghanistan has spurred an open rift inside NATO. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, top NATO commander John Craddock wants the alliance to kill opium dealers, without proof of connection to the insurgency. NATO commanders, however, do not want to follow the order.

A dispute has emerged among NATO High Command in Afghanistan regarding the conditions under which alliance troops can use deadly violence against those identified as insurgents. In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO's top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan."

According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops. It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," Craddock writes.


The directive was sent on Jan. 5 to Egon Ramms, the German leader at NATO Command in Brunssum, Netherlands, which is currently in charge of the NATO ISAF mission, as well as David McKiernan, the commander of the ISAF peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. Neither want to follow it. Both consider the order to be illegitimate and believe it violates both ISAF rules of engagement and international law, the "Law of Armed Conflict."

A classified letter issued by McKiernan's Kabul office in response claims that Craddock is trying to create a "new category" in the rules of engagement for dealing with opposing forces that would "seriously undermine the commitment ISAF has made to the Afghan people and the international community ... to restrain our use of force and avoid civilian casualties to the greatest degree predictable."


German NATO General Ramms made it perfectly clear in his answer to General Craddock that he was not prepared to deviate from the current rules of engagement for attacks, which reportedly deeply angered Craddock. The US general, who is considered a loyal Bush man and fears that he could be replaced by the new US president, has already made his intention known internally that he would like to relieve any commander who doesn't want to follow his instructions to go after the drug mafia of his duties. Back in December, Central Command in Florida, which is responsible for the US Armed Forces deployment in Afghanistan, yet again watered-down provisions in the rules of engagement for the Afghanistan deployment pertaining to the protection of civilians. According to the new rules, U.S. forces can now bomb drug labs if they have previous analysis that the operation would not kill "more than 10 civilians."



Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jan 2009
Source: Houston Chronicle (TX)
Copyright: 2009 Houston Chronicle Publishing Company
Division, Hearst

LA PAZ, Bolivia -- The last U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents left Bolivia on Thursday, ordered out by President Evo Morales even as Bolivian police reported that coca cultivation and cocaine processing are on the rise.

Morales demanded the DEA's exit in November as part of a dispute between U.S. and Bolivian officials that included his expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and the Bush administration's decertification of Bolivia as ineffective in the drug war.

The departure over recent weeks of three dozen agents ends the DEA's presence in Bolivia after more than three decades. Senior law enforcement officials said it was the first time a DEA operation had been ordered out of a country en masse.


Bolivian law allows the cultivation of 40,000 acres of coca to supply traditional demand in this country where the chewing of coca leaves is an indigenous tradition. Coca tea is a common beverage used to mitigate the effects of high altitude.

But counternarcotics agencies have complained that twice the amount of coca needed for traditional consumption is being grown, and that the excess is used to produce cocaine.



Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jan 2009
Source: Manila Times (Philippines)
Copyright: 2009, The Manila Times
Author: James Konstantin Galvez, Ira Karen Apanay

DepEd Set To Launch Random Drug Testing In 15 Secondary Schools

The Department of Education (DepEd) has identified at least 15 secondary schools that will undergo random drug testing on February 2, the agency's Assistant Secretary for Special Projects Thelma Santos said on Tuesday.

Santos declined to reveal the names of the schools, but said all are in Metro Manila and 15 students would be randomly selected for drug testing.

She also announced that the media would be invited to cover the launch of the drug test program on February 2.

She added that random drug testing among non-teaching personnel would follow immediate after the operation in schools.

Relatedly, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), still chafing that government ignored its proposal to postpone the random drug testing to students, vows it will strictly monitor the conduct of such activity in schools.

"We will in the meantime intensify our monitoring of the implementation of the random drug testing," CHR chairperson Leila de Lima vowed on Tuesday.

De Lima said that the commission will issue on February 2 an advisory to remind the implementers about the rights of the youth at the same time that it would also issue guidelines to school administrations.

"If there is a clear violation of human rights, we will definitely go with the legal option," said de Lima, explaining that the Supreme Court ruling in November 2008 that upheld the constitutionality of the random drug testing for the period 2003 and 2005 did not mention the issue on human rights.


President Gloria Arroyo recently ordered the revival of random drug testing to students in the wake of issue of "Alabang boys," a group of youth earlier arrested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in a buy-bust operation.



Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jan 2009
Source: This Day (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2009 This Day.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has sacked 100 members of staff involved in aiding and abetting drug deals.

Director General of NDLEA, Mr Lanre Ipinmisho, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja at the weekend.

Ipinmisho said the staff were found aiding drug barons and drug traffickers in their illicit trade.

He said the officers were found guilty by the disciplinary committee set up by the agency for various offences.

"In any establishment, you always have some bad eggs. So we fished them out and they were asked to face disciplinary action", he said.

Ipinmisho said the NDLEA was dealing with people who could do anything under the influence of drugs, adding that corrupt staff would not be tolerated in the agency.




Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Oldham Evening Chronicle (UK)
Copyright: Oldham Evening Chronicle 2009
Author: Alex Wood

Oldham Euro-MP Chris Davies has branded the Government's decision to upgrade cannabis from Class C to Class B status as ludicrous.

The Liberal Democrat said the change took no account of evidence, ignored expert advice, and risked ruining the lives of thousands of young people.

From yesterday, possession of cannabis carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, although police will be able to issue spot fines to first-time offenders.

Mr Davies said the new policy was hopelessly confused and would prove ineffective. He called for a reappraisal of Government strategy, with drugs use being treated as a matter not for the courts but for public health.

He said: "Five years ago, the Government followed the advice of its advisers that cannabis presented too few dangers to warrant its status and downgraded it from Class B.


He said: "Ten years ago, more than 40,000 people were arrested each year for cannabis possession, and a significant number were imprisoned.

"Lives were ruined for no good purpose. Drugs policy in Britain is a farce. It puts huge sums of money into the hands of real villains, while branding decent people as criminals."


 HOT OFF THE 'NET  ( Top )


Sane U.N. Drug Policy Or The Same Old Failed War-On-Drugs Routine?

By Allan Clear, AlterNet. Posted January 27, 2009.

America's current foreign policy has very little impact on reducing supply, consumption or cultivation. Obama has a big chance to turn it around.


The international community is evaluating the implementation of the political declaration and action plans of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs in 1998. A year long `period of global reflection' will lead up to a Ministerial Segment at the CND in March 2009. This site will guide you through the process and provide critical background.


Century of Lies - 01/27/09 - Kathleen Staudt

Kathleen Staudt, professor at UT El Paso regarding the cartels battles in Mexico.

Cultural Baggage Radio Show - 01/28/09 - Cassandra Herrman

Cassandra Herrman, producer of new PBS documentary "Tulia Texas" & Tulia defense attorney Jeff Blackburn.


By Maia Szalavitz


So Why Are Obama's Drug Cops Already Making Pot Raids?

By Paul Armentano, AlterNet. Posted January 28, 2009.

Pot-reform activists have swarmed Obama's, and huge majorities voted for pot reform in election '08, but no change yet from Obama.


The California Student Survey (CSS) is a mandated statewide project conducted since 1985. Every two years, the CSS presents a snapshot of students' risky and health-related behaviors, including drug, alcohol and tobacco use; resilience and perception of school violence.


The week before last witnessed the first decent media drug panic we've had in a while, although unusually this one was not about cannabis, ecstasy, or cocaine.


Stand with Obama to End Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Facilities  ( Top )

Urge Obama to fulfill his campaign promise to stop the raids on medical marijuana providers and patients in states where the use of medical marijuana is protected.


Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jan 2009  ( Top )

Author: Richard T. Kuncewitch


The recent guest opinion article "Medical Marijuana: Opening Pandora's box?" ( Jan. 20) by Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini stated that if we were to allow the compassionate use of medicinal marijuana, we would be opening a Pandora's box and set forth its monsters upon society. What about the monsters that are already amongst us: the drug gangs that already make many of our urban streets unsafe?

Worldwide, we have narco-terrorist gangs rampaging out of control. We need look no further than at the atrocities committed daily in Mexico to see the measure of misery caused by failed law-enforcement efforts. Admittedly the U.S. DEA ( Drug Enforcement Agency ) can interdict a fraction of the drugs smuggled into the U.S. This kind of failure rate would not be tolerated anywhere else but in the government community. Obviously, law enforcement and the risk of incarceration are no deterrent at all. Even the risk of death or maiming does not seem to stem the flow of young men and women willing to risk all for the billions to be made in the illicit drug industry.

The only solution would be to take the tools that empower the gangs out of their hands. No money, and they will not be able to finance their terror armies. Put ting aside the moral argument about drugs, this is the only sensible solution. After all, alcohol and tobacco are drugs, too, and they are cash cows for our government.

The politicians who profit mightily and the law-enforcement communities would howl at the loss. After all, corrections and its related periphery are big business for those holding the strings of control. The world community as a whole would prefer to see vanquished the monsters already amongst. So, why worry about a potential Pandora's box if we allow those who are suffering to smoke pot when the beasts are not contained within the box but already set free and feeding on us?

Legalize marijuana. Control it and regulate it. Reap the profits both financially and socially worldwide.

Richard T. Kuncewitch, Trenton



By Reed Eurchuk

It's the government-sponsored Drug War that brings most of the ills that harm reduction can barely contain

Vancouverites wanted something done about drug addiction. A potent mixture of fear and compassion had the citizens determined to find a solution to the menace that was afflicting larger and larger portions of the society, including youth from well-to-do homes. A large NGO established a committee to study the problem, and the doctor in charge made a number of recommendations. Dr Lawrence Ranta recommended a pilot medical treatment centre for addicts and a citywide educational campaign regarding the dangers of drug addiction. More controversially, the doctor recommended that the federal government establish narcotic clinics where registered narcotic users could receive required drugs.

When did this happen? Was it in 2002, with Larry Campbell in the Mayor's chair? Or was it in the 1990s, after compassionate-conservative Mayor Philip Owens converted to the cause of harm reduction? Neither. Dr Ranta wrote his recommendations 56 years ago, in 1952, for the Vancouver Community Chest, the predecessor of the United Way.

Harm reduction, an approach which tries to mitigate the worst effects of drug addiction, is more than half a century old in Vancouver. It includes a large number of strategies: medical outreach by "street nurses," provision of clean needles, a single site where drug users can inject heroin, education on drug use, treatment centres for users, methadone substitution treatment, "drug courts" for long term addicts, and personal counseling for drug users. Undoubtedly, each of these programs does lessen the medical, criminal and emotional problems associated with addictions. But here we are, closing in on six decades after Dr Ranta made his then-radical recommendations, and little has changed in Vancouver. Meanwhile, Vancouver addicts continue to suffer disease, incarceration, poverty, shortened lives, personal isolation and social stigma.

Why? Put simply, harm reduction deals with the symptoms of the problem, not the problem itself. The spread of HIV and Hepatitis C is a problem. Gang warfare is a problem. The endless petty crime sprees of drug addicts are a problem. The mass incarceration and criminalization of a large portion of our population is a problem. The power of the police to stop and search thousands of people annually in Vancouver is an affront to personal liberty.

But these problems are created by a much bigger problem: the Drug War. The government-sponsored war prohibiting the use of a few drugs designated as illicit propels each of the ills listed above. The Drug War itself is the root problem.

The endless chatter about harm reduction may serve to hide the reality on the ground. A search of the Vancouver Public Library's "Canada Newstand" ( ProQuest ) search engine, which includes most of Canada's large dailies and many of the nation's community papers, yields 1,298 hits for "Vancouver" and "Harm Reduction," 1,236 hits for "Vancouver" and "Insite," and 564 hits for "Vancouver" and "Four Pillars," but only 297 hits for "Vancouver" and "Drug War." Alas, the latter overwhelmingly concerns reports of drug gang warfare, not articles reporting on the endless government-sponsored Drug War, which is much more damaging.

The harm reduction discussion is so loud that many Vancouverites believe that we've moved beyond the Drug War to a more enlightened drug policy. Many believe harm reduction comes first in Vancouver and supersedes policing and the criminalization of drug users. Nothing could be further from the truth. Vancouver is the home of the Drug War. Go to the City web site and read the Vancouver Police Department's Annual Reports. In 2002, the VPD arrested 2,926 people on drug charges, in 2005, they arrested 4,503, and in 2007, the number jumped to 5,034 arrests. This is a rise of 58% over the five year period from 2002 to 2007. And many of the other crimes that VPD deals with-break and entry, car theft, beatings, murders-are also indirectly caused by the Drug War.

In addition, many of the harm reduction "solutions" are themselves suspect. I gagged listening to the CBC singing laurels to a local physician who prescribes methadone to addicts. Methadone is a terrible drug to detoxify from, far worse than heroin. The only positive thing you can say about methadone is that having a prescription can remove an addict from the frontlines of the Drug War ( though many methadone users also use illicit drugs ). Meanwhile the CBC is making this extremely well-paid doctor sound like Mother Theresa.

The "drug courts" are also much celebrated. The drug courts are an invasion of privacy and place addicts under constant and intrusive surveillance by teams of legal, medical and social work professionals. The addicts have little recourse for any grievances they may have with the process. These courts are a totalitarian solution, a solution that is worse than the problem.

No reasonable person could argue against such harm reduction initiatives as Insite, the distribution of services and medical supplies like clean needles to addicts, but the attention focused on harm reduction misleads people into thinking the government-sponsored Drug War is winding down. The poverty, loss of civil liberties, mass incarceration, spread of disease, homelessness and personal and social isolation of addicts will only stop when the Drug War stops.

This piece first appeared in The Republic from British Columbia, Canada. For more details see


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