Portugal's move to decriminalize illicit substances—Europe's most liberal drug legislation—turns 10 years old this month amid new scrutiny and plaudits. Portugal's decriminalization regime has caught the eye of regulators in Europe and beyond since it was implemented in 2001. Proponents credit the program for stanching one of Europe's worst drug epidemics. Approaching a decade in force, it is providing a real-world model of one way to address an issue that is a social and economic drag on countries world-wide.
Interview with Richard Falk, UN Rapporteur on Palestine, and Cindy Piester of Pulse TV in Montecito, CA on July 9, 2010. Discuss the attack of Israel on the humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza at the end of May and future prospects for the Middle East, the U.S., Israel and Palestine.
Wachovia made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers – including cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine. The admission came in an agreement that Wachovia struck with federal prosecutors, and it sheds light on the largely undocumented role of U.S. banks in contributing to the violent drug trade that has convulsed Mexico. (See also: Wachovia's Drug Habit)
Recently, the UNODC has begun to take notice of the impact of its counternarcotics work on human rights. Antonio Maria Costa, the current executive director, has set out a series of recommendations for internal reform intended to improve the agency's human rights performance. This leadership on human rights is very welcome, and much needed, but it may already be under threat. Costa leaves his post at the end of July. Unfortunately, the current frontrunner for the role of UN drug tsar is the candidate being pushed by the Russian government.
UN expert and TNI contributor Richard Falk talks live on GritTV about the illegal raid in which nine humanitarian aid workers were murdered by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in international waters after boarding their ship in the dead of night.
German cannabis plantations are now edging imports from Morocco and Afghanistan out of the market. The trend began after the Dutch government began driving growers out of the country. But police in Germany are also cracking down, using helicopters and infrared cameras to ferret out illegal hemp cultivators. Hobby gardeners who grow a few plants in their basements or garden plots for their own use are not the main part of the problem. Authorities such as Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) see far more cause for concern in large-scale operations.
The policy of a saturation police presence in the favelas or shantytowns that are home to around 20 percent of the population of Rio de Jnaeiro is merely a means of criminalising poverty, because it does nothing to address the underlying question of social exclusion, which drives the violence, human rights groups complain. A year and a half ago, State Governor Sergio Cabral began to send Pacification Police Units (UPPs), made up of members of the military police, into the slums to wrest control from drug gangs. The UPPs "are just one more way to exercise control over the poor," said Patricia Oliveira, a member of the Community Network Against Violence.
Susan spoke at length on France Culture talking about the converging economic, social and environmental crises of globalization, and what alternatives exist to the current state of affairs. Susan's new book Their Crisis, Our Solutions has just been published in French (Leurs Crises, Nos Solutions) and Spanish (Sui Crisis, Nuestra Soluciones), and is due out in English in September.
Despite repeated democratic rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission pushed ahead with it via the EU Constitution via a private, technocratic and non-democratic process. Susan discussed the treaty and its implications in a workshop at the EA4 summit in Madrid, 15 May 2010.
"The banks are ours!" Public money was used to bail out the banks, and now they are lending back to the public at interest, while governments ignore the social and environmental crises that confront society. It is time to demand real solutions that will work not only for the sake of the economy but for the lives and conditions of people on whom it depends.
Susan George appeared on the major French radio network France Inter to debate the financial crisis and regulation. Her most recent book "Their Crises, Our Solutions" has been published in French ("Leurs Crises, Nos Solutions"); the English version is due to be published in September.
'Save the country, legalise drugs.' Under this striking banner, two former Dutch government ministers (for foreign affairs and health) are launching their revolutionary plan. They estimate that more than half of all the costs of crime are related to drugs. They argue that by regulating their production and sale and imposing strict government supervision, drug crime will disappear. And they say that would lead to unprecedented savings for the police and judiciary.
The ban on recreational drugs promotes crime and is bad for public health. Austerity measures to cut public spending are a hot topic for debate everywhere in Europe. In the Netherlands, where a new parliament will be elected next month, several proposals to reduce spending by 30 billion euros are on the table. All of these proposals hit where it hurts, but one option could actually be a welcome relief: drug regulation. (See also: Former ministers: legalise all drugs!)
A new marijuana policy could make it legal for individuals to posses up to 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of the drug in the German capital. The regulation would make Berlin among the most cannabis-friendly in Europe. German federal law prohibits the possession of marijuana beyond a "small amount" but leaves it up to the states to determine exactly what that amount should be. Most states, including Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, define a "small amount" as 6 grams.
Brazil will soon have a special police task force targeting crack-cocaine. Meanwhile, the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais proposes its own drug fighting alternatives to address crack on the domestic front. Crack is a risk factor in urban violence, contributing to homicides and robberies in Brazilian cities. However, it is not the chemistry involved in crack, but the crack market that is increasing the crime and violence. How can rising crack use effectively be addressed, other than through mere suppression?
A Dutch city has banned foreigners from its cannabis selling coffee shops. A European court will now decide whether this is legal. The continuing struggle of Dutch border towns against drug tourism could soon take a new turn, as the European Court of Justice (ECJ) prepares to hand down a ruling regarding one of the most severe measures employed in this battle so far. The ECJ heard arguments in Josemans v. Maastricht. (See also: Court backs Dutch ruling on coffee shops)