NYC: cannabis busts rising again —despite new policy

Posted on June 4th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

New York CityBig Apple tokers exhaled a sigh of relief in November 2014, when Mayor Bill de Blasio instated a new policy barring arrest for possession of under 25 grams of cannabis. New York City had long been the pot bust capital of the USA, and after the new policy the smell of fragrant smoke was present on the city streets on a level not seen since before the get-tough Giuliani era. But a year and a half later—guess what? A new report just released by the Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP) indicates that cannabis arrests rose more than a third in the first three months of this year. The NYPD popped 4,225 people for pot possession between January and March, according to state data crunched by the advocacy group. That's a serious jump from the 2,960 arrested during the same period last year. When you add in arrests for small sales, the figures are respectively 5,311 and 3,973. What gives?

Canada's Countdown to Cannabis Legalization


After nine years of Conservative rule, Canada's Liberal Party had a momentous election night on Oct. 19, gaining a majority of seats in Parliament and a new prime minister in Justin Trudeau. The handsome and charismatic son of Canada's most formative prime minister, Trudeau had worked as a school teacher in Vancouver before becoming a parliamentarian representing Quebec. He promised a new beginning in Canadian politics—and a break with the increasingly right-wing policies of his predecessor, Stephen Harper. It remains to be seen if he will able to follow through on his ambitious promises—including to legalize cannabis.

Burmese opium farmers protest eradication

Posted on May 20th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

South East AsiaThe White House has announced a partial lifting of sanctions on Burma in recognition of progress in its democratic transition. Restrictions are to be dropped on state-owned banks and businesses, although some 100 companies and individuals linked to the armed forces will remain iced. This relaxation comes at the request of longtime democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, who although barred from holding the presidency is effectively the country’s leader following November's elections. But human rights concerns remain—especially around the fate of the Rohingya Muslims, persecuted and made stateless by the military junta that has now (mostly) surrendered power. And the multiple ethnic insurgencies in Burma's opium-producing northern mountains, while receiving less world media attention lately, continue to vex the country.

Obama signs draconian new drug law

Posted on May 20th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Shadow WatchTo little fanfare, President Barack Obama on May 16 signed into law the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act—further extending the global reach of US narcotics enforcement. The law criminalizes manufacture of drugs anywhere in the world if the producers "intend, know, or have probable cause to believe" the substances will be illegally imported into the United States. The language has been attacked as overbroad, potentially applying to any link of the production chain—down to lowly peasant growers of cannabis, coca leaf or opium.

Honduras: son of ex-prez guilty on coke charge

Posted on May 16th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Central AmericaThe 2009 coup d'etat in Honduras has recently been in the news due to revelations that it was lubricated by then-Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Now comes the embarassing news that the son of Honduras' ex-president Porfirio Lobo has pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges in a federal court in Manhattan, and faces a mandatory 10-year prison term. Fabio Lobo, 44, admitted to scheming to import a “multi-ton load” of cocaine into the US. Federal prosecutors said the younger Lobo was snared by DEA informants who went undercover as traffickers and started collecting evidence against him in 2013. They popped him in Haiti a year ago, and put him on a plane to New York. Said US Attorney Preet Bharara: "Whether you are a street-level dealer, a member of a cartel, or the son of a former foreign president, drug dealing is drug dealing. It is a serious federal crime for which you will be prosecuted."

Anti-gang 'mega-raids' in crisis-hit Venezuela

Posted on May 16th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

VenezuelaAs Venezuela lurches deeper into political crisis, President Nicolas Maduro has announced a new phase in the government's controversial "Operation Liberate the People" security program, pledging to cleanse the country of gang-related crime. Thousands of elite military troops have been deployed across Caracas, with five new “permanent” bases and over 130 checkpoints established in the city. Perhaps not coincidentally, this comes as Maduro has declared a "state of emergency" throughout the country in response to a supposed US-backed conspiracy against him by the political opposition, earning rebukes from Amnesty International, which called the declaration "alarming."

Mexican judge approves Chapo extradition

Posted on May 11th, 2016 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ChapoA federal judge in Mexico ruled May 9 that drug lord Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán may be extradited to the US—where he faces numerous federal charges of drug trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering and murder in Chicago, Miami and New York. Mexico's Exterior Secretariat has 30 days to decide whethe to approve the extradition, but Guzmán's lawyers say there are multiple appeals pending against extradition, and that to extradite him before these are exhausted would be a violation of his human rights. Mexico's Third District for Penal Processes, which approved the extradition, says that all legal requirements have been met. The identity of the judge in the case remains secret under special rules in place for prosecution of cartel bosses. (JuristBBC News)

Anti-drug death-squad boss elected president of Philippines?

Posted on May 10th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East AsiaPresidential election results in the Philippines came in May 10, and the bombastic anti-crime hardliner Rodrigo Duterte appears to be the winner. The victory isn't official yet, but ruling-party candidate Mar Roxas has already conceded defeat. Duterte is the mayor of Davao City in the conflicted southern island of Mindanao—which has been hit by a wave of death-squad terror in recent years. The paramilitaries are ostensibly a response to crime and narco networks on the island, but ecology activists and peasant leaders have also been targeted. Duterte has been named as a mastermind of the paramilitaries, and certainly makes no bones about his intolerant position on drug use. "All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you," he Duterte told a huge cheering crowd in his final campaign rally in Manila. "I have no patience, I have no middle ground, either you kill me or I will kill you idiots."

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