DEA declares war on kratom

Posted on September 9th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

kratomLast month, when the DEA dashed activist hopes for a rescheduling of cannabis, it also issued another lesser-noted decision—to put the psychoactive herb kratom in the same Schedule I classification as pot, that for the most dangerous drugs with no medical use. Advocates have launched a White House petition against the kratom ban, and have already won the required 100,000 signatures to trigger an administration reponse. The DEA decision takes effect on Sept. 30, while the White House has 60 days to respond to the petition, under its own policy.

North Dakota to get armed police drones

Posted on September 9th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Shadow WatchNational Public Radio's The Two-Way blog reports that North Dakota police forces are about to get the nation's first weaponized drones, following passage of a bill allowing them earlier this year. Ironically, this is coming about in spite of the legislation's main sponsor, Republican state Rep. Rick Becker. While the law limits the type of weapons permitted to those in the "less than lethal" category—tear-gas, rubber bullets, beanbags, pepper spray and Tasers—the original bill would have entirely barred weapons from police drones. According to The Daily Beast, Becker told a hearing in March: "In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period."

Brooklyn community garden closed for illegal flowers

Posted on September 7th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

New York CityThe irrational and oppressive nature of cannabis prohibition is vividly illustrated by an Aug. 24 New York Times story about Green Gem community garden, on city-owned land in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood, which was ordered closed in May after inspectors from the Parks Department discovered a few marijuana seedlings growing in coffee cups. Lead gardener James McCrae said the illicit plants were the work of a rogue gardener who was no longer involved. The Green Gem was just now allowed to re-open under an agreement worked out with the parks department's Green Thumb program. But the community was deprived of the garden throughout the summer, and a harvest was lost.

Philippines: anti-narco dictatorship consolidating?

Posted on September 5th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

South East AsiaRodrigo Duterte, the ultra-hardline president of the Philippines, ominously declared a "state of lawlessness" after a Sept. 2 bomb blast at a night market in the southern city of Davao, where he had long served as mayor. The special powers he is seizing are ill-defined, but he said he would "invite uniformed personnel to run the country." In justifying the power-grab, he stated: “There is a crisis in this country involving drugs, extrajudicial killings, and there seems to be an environment of lawlessness, lawless violence." There's an especially perverse irony to the invocation of extrajudicial killings, as his own government is accued of exactly that.

Baltimore imbroglio over secret aerial surveillance

Posted on September 5th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Shadow WatchOfficials and civil rights advocates in Baltimore are expressing outrage over revelations that a private company has been conducting secret aerial surveillance on behalf of the city's police department—collecting and storing footage from neighborhoods, with no public oversight. Ohio-based Persistent Surveillance Systems has for months been testing sophisticated new cameras afixed to a small Cessna flying over the city, according to an Aug. 23 report in Bloomberg Businessweek, which was given exclusive access to the testing program. Police the following day confirmed the program to the Baltimore Sun, admitting to having collected some 300 hours of surveillance this year.

Iran: outrage over mass execution of drug convicts

Posted on September 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Middle EastInternational outrage over the mounting wave of executions in Iran reached another milestone Aug, 27, when 12 drug convicts were hanged at Karaj Central Prison outside Tehran. Days earlier, when the 12 were transferred to solitary confinement at the Karaj facility in preperation for the executions, the United Nations issued an urgent plea. UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, called on the Islamic Republic to stay the executions immediately. After they were carried out, Shaheed's response was harsh.

Deadly underside of Rio Olympics

Posted on September 1st, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilWith the Rio de Janeiro Olympics over, the world media are moving on—but the city's poor favela dwellers are left to contend with a wave of murderous police terror. This was launched a year ago as part of an effort to pacify and sanitize the sprawling megalopolis for the Games. Amnesty International reports that over 100 people have been killed by police in Rio de Janeiro state so far this year—the big majority young Black men. A total of 307 were killed by police in the state in 2015. At least eight people in Rio were actually killed by police during the Games—to little media coverage. The clean-up operation was, of course, disguised as a crackdown on drugs and crime. The inevitable rationale was provided by the narco economy in the favelas—informal urban settlements virtually abandoned by the government for anything other than militarized law enforcement.

Justice Department to end use of private prisons

Posted on August 19th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

prisonThe US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced plans Aug. 18 to phase out its use of private prisons. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued the decision in a memo instructing officials to either decline to renew contracts for private prison operators or to "substantially reduce" the contracts' scope. The goal, Yates stated, is "reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons. They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department's Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security."

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