Tag Archives: war on drugs

Queen Elizabeth accused of profiting from drug trafficking


UK queen accused of drug trafficking


A part of the fortune of the Queen of England comes from drug trafficking.


Jacques Cheminade, candidate for the 2012 French presidential election

Britain’s financial regulator has fined the British queen’s bank for money laundering failures as a French presidential candidate has said part of the queen’s fortune “comes from drug trafficking.”

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined the British queen’s bank, Coutts Bank, 8.75 million pounds for failing to carry out correct checks on “politically exposed persons” and prevent money laundering.

“The failings at Coutts were serious, systemic and were allowed to persist for almost three years. They resulted in an unacceptable risk of Coutts handling the proceeds of crime,” the FSA said in a statement posted on its official website.

The news comes less than a week after a fringe candidate for April’s French presidential election said the British queen owed her fortune to drugs money laundered by “Jewish bankers in The City.”

On 21 March, Jacques Cheminade, an independent presidential candidate running in the French election, said, “a part of the fortune of the Queen of England comes from drug trafficking.”

“No, not any property, there are several other sources. But it is a series of trafficking in which, yes, there is trafficking drugs,” Cheminade said on television LCP French National Assembly.

Known as the British queen’s banker, Coutts was criticised for “significant, widespread and unacceptable” failures, as described by Tracey McDermott, acting director of enforcement and financial crime.

“The size of the financial penalty demonstrates how seriously we view its failures,” McDermott said.

SOURCE

10 Ways the War on Drugs is an Incredible Success

10 Ways the War on Drugs is a Wild Success

Eric Blair

For all the evidence of how the War on Drugs has failed society, there’s equally as much evidence of how it is a great success to those who continue to support it. The drug war has many advantages if you wish to control society and expand your empire. It also enriches several industries that would otherwise have a very difficult time staying solvent without it.

Here are ten ways the War on Drugs is a wild success:

Military-Industrial Profits:
As the Vietnam War came to an end, it struck fear into the military-industrial machine that enjoyed great profits from that conflict. In a world where contrived enemies were needed to keep a constant funding of weapons, Richard Nixon declared drugs “Public Enemy Number 1”. Thus, domestic armies were erected to combat the illegal drug trade, delivering consistent cash flow to weapons manufacturers. These companies make money, not just from the needs of the DEA, border patrol, and local police forces, but also from drug traffickers. Win-win and profits all around.

Huge Boon to Private Prisons:
The private prison industry thrives off long sentences for drug offenders. At least 25% of their profits come from these nonviolent criminals. A great number more are held on “drug related” charges that may have resulted in drug violence. However, the current trend shows that three-quarters of new inmates admitted to state prisons are nonviolent offenders. Private prisons clearly depend on arresting pot smokers and addicts of more severe drugs.


Prevents Higher Unemployment Rates:
Imagine if the millions of American currently jailed on drug charges were released into a job market already suffering from real unemployment numbers over 20%. Additionally, if it wasn’t for drugs being illegal, countless people like DEA agents, court staff, prison guards, parole officers, drug dealers, etc would otherwise be unemployed. Thank goodness for the war on drugs, or the U.S. economy would look even worse.

Suppresses Minority Populations:
It’s often said that the drug war is a war on minorities: “According to the ACLU, African Americans make up an estimated 15% of drug users, but they account for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: The U.S. has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70%) of them are black or Latino.” So it is a huge success for those who wish to suppress minority populations.

Drives Up Prices:
Making any substance illegal will result in much higher prices than a free market would dictate. Especially when there’s a high demand for that substance. In the case of the cannabis plant, which grows like a weed and requires very little value added, the dried flower would virtually be free if it wasn’t for the harsh restrictions and dangers involved in producing and distributing it. These high prices are terrific for drug dealers and even medical marijuana growers opposed legalization in California because it threatened their profits.

Drug Violence Justifies Tough Gun Laws: The violence generated from the prohibition of drugs is reminiscent of the extreme mob violence during the prohibition of alcohol. Prohibition of anything will always create black markets which require firearms to protect banned products. Recently, the U.S. government itself was caught red-handed supplying guns to Mexican drug cartels in their “Fast and Furious” scandal. It’s now proven that the ATF plotted to use Fast and Furious to push for new gun control regulations. Indeed, most street violence is due to turf wars over the drug trade, and tougher gun laws are proposed as the war escalates. It’s wonderful for those who blame violence on guns and wish to restrict them from law-abiding citizens.

Protects Big Pharma Monopolies: No one is happier about the war on drugs than Big Pharma. Their control over the FDA and monopoly of “controlled substances” would be threatened if all drugs were legalized. They want you addicted to their FDA-approved versions of heroin and cocaine, not something you can get on the black market. In turn, they also benefit greatly when the prices of street drugs increase, as they can then inflate the cost of their products. They love the drug war so much they’ve lobbied to extend it to vitamins and supplements.

Allows Proxy Armies: If you want to create an empire by force, but it’s politically disadvantageous to base your army in certain countries, then the global war on drugs is your ticket to supplying troops or creating proxy armies. One of the most recent examples is Costa Rica, a peaceful country in Central America without an army, where the U.S. bribed the government to allow the Navy and Marines to be stationed off the Caribbean coast to fight the war on drugs. In other nations where even this won’t be allowed, the CIA funds and arms one of the drug cartels who then act as their hired enforcers, or they’re used as an excuse for governments to accept U.S. help to combat the enemy they created. In either case, the U.S. sells more arms and trains soldiers to be used upon command.

Keeps Big Banks Flush with Cash:
It has long been known that big banks happily launder money for the big drug cartels. According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), “Up to 1.5 trillion dollars in drug money are laundered through legal enterprises, accounting for 5% of global GDP.” Take just this year and one bank, Wachovia; who had to pay a slap-on-the-wrist fine for laundering more than $420 billion for Mexican drug cartels. Imagine where the big banks would be without this money, given that they also needed a bailout of over $23 trillion for lack of sufficient deposits to pay for their gambling habits.

Funds CIA Black Ops: Do you ever wonder where the U.S. government gets all that money for their secret “Black Ops” like underground bases, secret wars, corporate takeovers and seed money, etc? It’s been proven over and over that the CIA (and Pentagon) controls a large majority of the illicit drug trade either directly or indirectly through proxies mentioned above. They’ve been caught in the act of shipping in massive amounts of cocaine, while the CIA now openly admits to protecting and facilitating the opium trade in Afghanistan. If it wasn’t for this tremendous profit, the CIA would not be able to build their secret shadow government.

So, as you can see, there are great benefits to the War on Drugs depending what side of the coin you’re on. If you’re a poor pot smoker, well, you’re out of luck. But if you’re the biggest heroin and cocaine dealer in the world and desire a monopoly . . . well, you’ve got the world right where you want it.

SOURCE

Incentivizing Selective Enforcement

Incentivizing Selective Enforcement

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– As Jessica Shaver and I chat at a coffee shop in Chicago’s north-side Andersonville neighborhood, a police car pulls into the parking lot across the street. Then another. Two cops get out, lean up against their cars, and appear to gaze across traffic into the store. At times, they seem to be looking directly at us. Shaver, who works as an eyebrow waxer at a nearby spa, appears nervous.

“See what I mean? They follow me,”
says Shaver, 30. During several phone conversations Shaver told me that she thinks a small group of Chicago police officers are trying to intimidate her. These particular cops likely aren’t following her; the barista tells me Chicago cops regularly stop in that particular parking lot to chat. But if Shaver is a bit paranoid, it’s hard to blame her.

A year and a half ago she was beaten by a neighborhood thug outside of a city bar. It took months of do-it-yourself sleuthing, a meeting with a city alderman and a public shaming in a community newspaper before the Chicago Police Department would pay any attention to her. About a year later, Shaver got more attention from cops than she ever could have wanted: A team of Chicago cops took down her door with a battering ram and raided her apartment, searching for drugs.

Shaver has no evidence that the two incidents are related, and they likely aren’t in any direct way. But they provide a striking example of how the drug war perverts the priorities of America’s police departments. Federal anti-drug grants, asset forfeiture policies and a generation of battlefield rhetoric from politicians have made pursuing low-level drug dealers and drug users a top priority for police departments across the country. There’s only so much time in the day, and the focus on drugs often comes at the expense of investigating violent crimes with victims like Jessica Shaver. In the span of about a year, she experienced both problems firsthand.

THE BATTERY

On the night of May 13, 2010, Shaver was smoking a cigarette with her friend Damon outside the Flat Iron bar in Wicker Park. She said she saw a woman walking away from the bar alone when two men began shouting profanities at her. The men then began walking toward the woman. “I made eye contact with her, and she looked like she was in trouble,” Shaver said.

Shaver shouted at the men to leave the woman alone, at which point she says the the two men turned their attention to her, approached her, and began shouting at her. Damon told the men to leave Shaver alone. They jumped Damon and began to beat him. Shaver said she then tried to pry the men off her friend, and managed to free him long enough for him to get away and call 911. Shaver said she was punched repeatedly, including in the face. She fell, stood up, and was hit in the face again. The men then robbed her and left. When she woke up the next morning with bruises, she went to the hospital. Doctors found a concussion and several contusions.

Two weeks later, Shaver still hadn’t heard from the detective assigned to her case. When she finally went to the police station in person to get an update on the investigation, she was told there was no record of the incident. She filed another report, but was told it was unlikely police would be able to track down the witnesses again, and that even if they were, the witnesses’ memories were likely to have faded. Shaver says she decided to investigate on her own. She went back to the Flat Iron and questioned customers and employees herself. A bartender gave her the men’s nicknames: “Cory” and “Sonny,” the guy who hit her. Shaver learned that Sonny was also a reputed cocaine dealer. She heard he had a violent streak, and had been banned from a number of neighborhood bars.

“I was scared,
” Shaver said. “I’d heard bad things about this guy, and he knew who I was.”

Shaver is thoroughly tattooed, which makes her easy to recognize. So she dyed her hair, covered her tattoos with clothing, and kept investigating. She worked her way through social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace until she was able to put actual names to her attackers’ faces and nicknames. And yet she still couldn’t get anyone at Chicago PD to help her. “I gave them the guy’s name and everything,” she said. “There were even hip hop videos online with him in them. I told them, ‘That’s the guy!’ They still wouldn’t listen to me.”

In August 2010, three months after the attack, Shaver contacted a reporter for Time Out Chicago, who began asking around about her case. Shaver also met with Chicago Alderman Joe Marino. Shortly before the Time Out article went to press, a detective finally called Shaver down to the police station to identify her attacker. But even with her identification, the police didn’t arrest “Sonny.” He wasn’t charged with the assault until the following month, when he was arrested on an unrelated domestic violence charge.

Shortly after she finally identified her attacker at the police station, Shaver said the detective in charge of her case told her, “Now I don’t want to hear any more bitching from you.”

MISPLACED PRIORITIES

Arresting people for assaults, beatings and robberies doesn’t bring money back to police departments, but drug cases do in a couple of ways. First, police departments across the country compete for a pool of federal anti-drug grants. The more arrests and drug seizures a department can claim, the stronger its application for those grants.

“The availability of huge federal anti-drug grants incentivizes departments to pay for SWAT team armor and weapons, and leads our police officers to abandon real crime victims in our communities in favor of ratcheting up their drug arrest stats,” said former Los Angeles Deputy Chief of Police Stephen Downing. Downing is now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an advocacy group of cops and prosecutors who are calling for an end to the drug war.

“When our cops are focused on executing large-scale, constitutionally questionable raids at the slightest hint that a small-time pot dealer is at work, real police work preventing and investigating crimes like robberies and rapes falls by the wayside,” Downing said.

And this problem is on the rise all over the country. Last year, police in New York City arrested around 50,000 people for marijuana possession. Pot has been decriminalized in New York since 1977, but displaying the drug in public is still a crime. So police officers stop people who look “suspicious,” frisk them, ask them to empty their pockets, then arrest them if they pull out a joint or a small amount of marijuana. They’re tricked into breaking the law. According to a report from Queens College sociologist Harry Levine, there were 33,775 such arrests from 1981 to 1995. Between 1996 and 2010 there were 536,322.

Several NYPD officers have alleged that in some precincts, police officers are asked to meet quotas for drug arrests. Former NYPD narcotics detective Stephen Anderson recently testified in court that it’s common for cops in the department to plant drugs on innocent people to meet those quotas — a practice for which Anderson himself was then on trial.

At the same time, there’s increasing evidence that the NYPD is paying less attention to violent crime. In an explosive Village Voice series last year, current and former NYPD officers told the publication that supervising officers encouraged them to either downgrade or not even bother to file reports for assault, robbery and even sexual assault. The theory is that the department faces political pressure to produce statistics showing that violent crime continues to drop. Since then, other New Yorkers have told the Voice that they have been rebuffed by NYPD when trying to report a crime.

The most perverse policy may be asset forfeiture. Under civil asset forfeiture, police can seize property from people merely suspected of drug crimes. So long as police can show even the slightest link of drug activity to a car, some cash, or even a home, they can seize it. In the majority of cases, most or all of the seized cash goes back to the police department. In some cases, the department has taken possession of cars as well, but generally non-cash property is auctioned off, with the proceeds then going back to the department. An innocent person who has property seized must go to court and prove his property was earned legitimately, even if he was never charged with a crime. The process of going to court can often be more expensive than the value of the property itself.

Asset forfeiture not only encourages police agencies to use resources and manpower on drug crimes at the expense of violent crimes, it also provides an incentive for police agencies to actually wait until drugs are on the streets before making a bust. In a 1994 study reported in Justice Quarterly, criminologists J. Mitchell Miller and Lance H. Selva watched several police agencies delay busts of suspected drug dealers in order to maximize the cash the department could seize. A stash of illegal drugs isn’t of much value to a police department. Letting the dealers sell the drugs first is more lucrative.

Earlier this year, Nashville’s News 5 ran a report on how police in Tennessee are pulling over suspected drug dealers and seizing their cash along I-40, often without bothering to make an arrest. The station combed through police reports showing that officers spent 10 times as long policing the side of the interstate where a drug runner would be leaving after he sold his supply — and thus would be flush with sizable amounts of cash — than on the side where he was likely to be flush with drugs. The police were letting the drugs be sold in order to get their hands on the cash.

Back in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) recently signed a new law that will require convicted drug dealers to reimburse the police agencies that arrested and prosecuted them. The law will provide even more incentive for departments to devote time and resources to drug crimes — and that shift comes at the expense of solving more serious crimes.

The bill does not require reimbursement from convicted rapists or murderers.

Which means battery victims like Shaver can expect even less cooperation from police as more officers are moved to investigations that pay for themselves — and then some.

THE RAID

Shaver’s next encounter with Chicago police came in April of this year. She and her then-boyfriend were living on the first floor of a three-story graystone in the Edgewood neighborhood. “Nate,” a friend of Shaver’s boyfriend whom Shaver describes as a “stoner hippie,” was between residences, and asked if he could sleep on their couch while he waited for his new apartment to become available. They agreed.

“He never had keys,
” Shaver said. “He’d text us when he was coming home to sleep, and one of us would let him in. He had been here about a week before the raid.”

The raid came on the night of April 14, 2010, part of a series of drug raids across Chicago that night by the city’s Mobile Strike Force and Targeted Response Unit, essentially a SWAT team.

Shaver, her then-boyfriend and a roommate were in the apartment with her four dogs when the door flew open with the crash of a battering ram. “I thought we were being robbed,” Shaver recalled. “It wasn’t clear to us that they were cops at all. I had a flashback to my attack. I was just terrified. I peed myself. I had peed myself, and I was shaking, trying to gather my dogs while they were pointing these guns at me — these huge guns that could blow me apart. My Vizsla mix ran off, and I was afraid they were going to shoot it. I asked if I could get it, and they said ‘We don’t give a fuck about your dog.’

According to the search warrant, the police were searching for Nate. Shaver said they looked through Nate’s belongings gathered on the couch and found about $900 and a sandwich bag filed with marijuana. They didn’t leave a receipt for what they took.

“They were going through his mail,” she said. “They tried to say he was my brother. They kept looking for some way to say he had always lived here. He had mail here, but it was mail he brought from his old place. It all had his old address on it.”

Shaver’s boyfriend and roommate were handcuffed. Shaver started to panic. She told the police about her prior assault, and asked if she could take some anti-anxiety medication and change her clothes. They refused.

“There were 20 to 25 cops in my apartment now. Some of them were in street clothes. Some of them were in SWAT clothes with face masks. They told me I wasn’t allowed to move. I wasn’t even certain they were police until about two hours later, when a uniformed cop showed up with the warrant,”
she recalled.

Shaver says she heard laughter from her bathroom and bedroom. “They went to my bathroom and started going through all of my medication, laughing about how messed up I was,” she said. “I also have a ‘lady drawer,‘ where I keep sex toys and some sex-related gag gifts friends have given me.” Shaver said that when the cops finally left, they had left her place a shambles. When she looked in her bedroom, the police had emptied the drawer and laid all of her sex toys out on her bed.

The raid ruined the door to Shaver’s apartment and she has since been evicted. She filed a complaint with Chicago PD, but never heard back. When she attempted to get a copy of the affidavit for the search warrant to see what probable cause they had for such a violent raid, she was told that since she was not the target of the raid, she is not allowed to see the affidavit. As for “Nate,” authorities have yet to issue a warrant for his arrest. Chicago PD and the officer who left Shaver his number after the raid did not return The Huffington Post’s requests for comment.

FIGHTING CONSENSUAL CRIMES IN A VIOLENT CITY


“This case is a perfect example of how the war on drugs distracts police from doing the job we hired them for,”
Downing said.

Chicago is one of the most violent cities in the country, and is home to America’s most violent neighborhood. The city is usually left out of annual “Most Dangerous Cities” lists because of disputes between the state of Illinois and the FBI on how crimes are reported, but Chicago has roughly triple the murder rate of New York City, and double that of Los Angeles. Crime has gone down in Chicago over the last 20 years as it has in the rest of the country, but at a slower rate than in cities of similar size.

Perhaps more tellingly, the city’s clearance rate — the percentage of homicides solved by police — was 70 percent in 1991. It dropped to under 40 percent in 2008 and 2009. According to a report (PDF) from the criminal justice reform advocacy group The Sentencing Project, drug offenses made up 4.8 percent of Chicago PD arrests in 1980. In 2003, they made up 28.2 percent. The overall number of drug arrests increased 264 percent over that period. An analysis by the Marijuana Policy Almanac found that from 2002 to 2007 alone, overall pot arrests in Cook County jumped from 25,776 to 32,996.

The drug war’s financial incentives appear to be having an effect. A drug offender is much more likely to be arrested in Chicago than he was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. But kill someone in Chicago, and you’re only about half as likely to be caught as you were in the early 1990s.

Last July, more than a year after her attack, Shaver’s assailant “Sonny” was finally convicted. He was sentenced to six months of probation. Reflecting back on the last tumultuous two years, Shaver says, “It just doesn’t make sense. Repeat violent offenders get to walk while casual pot smokers get terrorized by SWAT teams. I’m pretty disappointed in the justice system.”

SOURCE

High IQ linked to drug use

High IQ linked to drug use

The “Just Say No” generation was often told by parents and teachers that intelligent people didn’t use drugs. Turns out, the adults may have been wrong.

A new British study finds children with high IQs are more likely to use drugs as adults than people who score low on IQ tests as children. The data come from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which has been following thousands of people over decades. The kids’ IQs were tested at the ages of 5, 10 and 16. The study also asked about drug use and looked at education and other socioeconomic factors. Then when participants turned 30, they were asked whether they had used drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin in the past year.

Researchers discovered men with high childhood IQs were up to two times more likely to use illegal drugs than their lower-scoring counterparts. Girls with high IQs were up to three times more likely to use drugs as adults. A high IQ is defined as a score between 107 and 158. An average IQ is 100. The study appears in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The lead researcher says he isn’t surprised by the findings. “Previous research found for the most part people with high IQs lead a healthy life, but that they are more likely to drink to excess as adults,” says James White a psychologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.

It’s not clear why people with high childhood IQs are more likely to use illegal drugs. “We suspect they may be more open to new experiences and are more sensation seeking,” says White. In the paper, White and his co-author also mention other studies that find high IQ kids may use drugs because they are bored or to cope with being different.

That seems to ring true for one of my childhood classmates. Tracey Helton Mitchell was one of the smartest kids in my middle school. But, by the time she was in her early 20’s, Tracey was a heroin addict. I found out while flipping channels one sleepless night and stumbled upon the documentary “Black Tar Heroin.

“I was confident in my abilities but there was a dissonance,”
says Tracey, with whom I recently reconnected. “No matter what I did, what I said, where I went, I was never comfortable with the shell I carried called myself.”

PECAN: People choose false realities for their own reasons. Good or Bad, is the government the best authority to determine how you live? Is imprisonment and a lack of future just?

For far too long we have witnessed the destructive force of the American WAR ON DRUGS. A War that has destroyed countless lives while ensuring violence and crime continue.

According to the Drug Factbook preconceived notions of drugs are rarely correct. The Drug War is and will always be a failure. The real “Drug Dealers” are the reprobates who run our nation. Pharmaceutical companies monopolize the market and ensure competition remains illegal. The system is supported by the “Rule of Law” and a Police Force who will do anything to propagate the War including planting of evidence .

Drug abusers are in need of counseling not jail. We need to listen not imprison.

SOURCE

Not ONLY in America

Young black men make up four in 10 of youth jail population

Report shows proportion of black and minority ethnic young men in young offender institutions in England and Wales has risen

Alan Travis,

Young black men now account for nearly 40% of the population of youth jails in England and Wales, according to a report by the chief inspector of prisons.

The report, published jointly with the youth justice board, shows that the proportion of black and other minority ethnic young men in young offender institutions (YOIs) has risen from 23% in 2006 and 33% in 2009/10 to 39% last year.

The changing demographic profile of the population inside youth jails in England and Wales also shows an increasing proportion of young Muslims, up from 13% last year to 16% this year. Foreign national young men account for a record 6% of the population.

The chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, says young people aged 15 to 18 are being held in deteroriating conditions in the YOI network, with fewer feeling safe while they are locked up.

The inspection showed that fewer young inmates felt they could tell someone they were being victimised or believed a member of staff would take them seriously. Only half said they had done something while they were inside that would make them less likely to reoffend in the future.

The report also reveals that more that one-third of the young men had been physically restrained as part of the disciplinary process at their YOI. The highest restraint rate – 66% – was at the Keppel unit at Wetherby, which deals with male teenagers who have not responded to a “normal” YOI regime. The lowest – 8% – was at the Carlford unit near Woodbridge, Suffolk, which holds 30 teenage boys serving long sentences.

The over-representation of young black men in youth jails comes despite a sharp fall in the number of children and young people in custody that has already led to the closure of five YOIs, including a specialist unit for young women.

The total population of the youth justice “secure estate”, which includes eight male YOIs and three specialist units for girls and young women, continued to fall from 1,977 in March 2010 to 1,822 this March, before this summer’s riots.

Hardwick says, however, that the number of black and minority ethnic children in custody has not fallen at the same rate as the number of white children being locked up.

Between 2007 and 2011 there was a 37% reduction in white children in custody, compared with a 16% reduction in black and ethnic minority children,” says the report.

The report does not discuss the reasons why young black people make up an ever greater proportion of the shrinking youth jail population. But Hardwick does note that an increasing number – 53% now, compared with 39% last year – of young men are being sent to prison for the first time.

Hardwick said: “This report has highlighted some deterioration in children and young people’s experience of custody. Despite the falling numbers, this population has well-defined vulnerability and increasing numbers within minority groups. The need, therefore, to provide these people with support during their time in custody and in preparation for their release is as great as ever.”

Frances Done, the chair of the youth justice board, which commissions places in youth prisons, said it would be working with all secure establishments to make sure that young people’s time in custody has positive results.

The inspection was based on the experience of 1,115 young men and 47 young women in YOIs and specialist units.

SOURCE

Wrong Door Raid and Flash-Bang Grenade Heart Attack

Wrong Door Raid and Flash-Bang Grenade Heart Attack Provoke Lawsuits

Lucy Steigerwald |

A few victims of the drug war\' “standard procedure” are fighting back in court. First, a Colorado Springs woman who suffered a heart attack during a raid has brought a lawsuit:

Rose Ann Santistevan, 71, is suing for medical expenses and noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering.

An emphysema sufferer, Santistevan was alone in bed receiving oxygen on Oct. 6, 2009, when a multijurisdictional SWAT task force with a search warrant surrounded her home in the 200 block of South Prospect Street. They threw in a flash-bang grenade before rushing in with guns drawn, authorities have confirmed.

Stricken by a heart attack, Santistevan was admitted in critical condition at Memorial Hospital Central, where she remained for several days. A search of her home yielded no arrests and turned up no drugs, the family said.

And a New Jersey family who received the nightmarish black-clad gunmen treatment from SWAT is suing the police department for unlawful entry and false arrest. They specifically target one Police Detective William Palomino in the civil suit:

About 40 narcotics and emergency response team officers executed search warrants at numerous locations during a major drug raid following four months of undercover surveillance. The Colons’ apartment was not among the approved targets in the “no-knock” search warrants obtained by authorities, who mistook a door leading to the family’s apartment for what they thought was a door to the building’s basement.

Palomino admits what happened to the Colons was a mistake, but his attorney says he wasn’t there after he pointed out the door to the rest of the team. So it was his kind of his fault, but it wasn’t. After all, he did not personally do the following:

[Now 18-year-old] Miguel Colon testified that he, his little brother and a friend were in one room of the apartment, and that his mother was in the kitchen, talking on the phone, when “more than five” men dressed all in black and not bearing any police identification burst in.

“I asked: “Who are you?’ The response I got was: ‘Shut up and get on the floor,”
Colon testified.

They then ordered everyone to the floor at gunpoint and ransacked the apartment, overturning beds and going through the laundry as his brother cried and his mother started having a “panic attack,” Colon said.

“She couldn’t breathe,
” he testified. “I told them, ‘My mom needs to breathe. She needs medication.’ They told me to shut up.”

When she started choking, he said, he defied them and got up to get the medicine anyway, but they pushed him back down. Eventually, they went with his mother to get the medicine but had their guns drawn the whole time, he said. The family was held for about two hours before being freed.

Months of surveillance, and they can’t tell which door is which. Warrant or no, they couldn’t bother to check whether a disabled grandmother was lying in bed before they tossed a potentially lethal device in her general direction. But don’t worry, we’re gonna win this drug warsoon.

SOURCE

The Marijuana Tax Act Changed Everything

74 Years Ago This Month, The Marijuana Tax Act Changed Everything

By Jasen T. Davisharry

According to a report by Jon Gettman, who has a Ph.D. in public policy and regional economic development from George Mason University, the war on cannabis costs U.S. taxpayers $42 billion per year.

Gettman is also the leader of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, and is the former head of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

He based his calculations on U.S. government statistics and official federal reports, concluding that the business of cannabis in the country is worth $113 billion dollars. If taxed, the potential revenue stream from taxing this local economy would be significant.

What this means is that every year, instead of using those billions to help the American people, the government spends billions monitoring, arresting and jailing its citizens . . . all because of The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

How did we get here? When America was first founded, hemp was cultivated by everyone—included George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Hemp was grown for rope and paper. Yes, the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp, and hemp’s relative, cannabis, was prescribed as a cure for a variety of medical ailments.

George Washington hempHemp grows at a faster rate than timber. Hemp paper is naturally non-polluting and acid free, since converting trees into paper requires a highly toxic procedure known as the wood pulp sulfide process.

One man, William Randolph Hearst, made quite a profit from his pulp timber and paper mills. Hemp paper was superior, but the process to produce it was labor-intensive. Hearst and the Dupont company, which held the patent on the wood pulp sulfide process, made a lot of money turning trees into paper.

When an invention called the decorticator began to catch on in America in 1935, Hearst and Dupont stood to lose a fortune. If hemp could be mass-produced because of the decorticator, which eliminated the need for hours of labor, timber paper would go the way of the dinosaurs.

At the time Dupont’s main source of finance was Mellon Bank. Andrew Mellon was chairman of Mellon Bank and the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. Pulling strings, he appointed Harry Anslinger as commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

With Anslinger in place, Mellon had nothing to fear. Anslinger was married to his niece. Mellon began to appear before congress in dramatic hearing, citing dubious sources and appealing to prejudice, claiming that smoking cannabis caused everything from dementia to violence to rape.

This was fueled, naturally, by the propaganda campaign waged by Hearst. Even though government and medical studies at the time had long-reported the health benefits of cannabis consumption, Hearst used his publishing empire to generate reports fueled by racial prejudice and dumb hysteria to sway public opinion, and Congress effectively made hemp illegal on Aug. 2, 1937.

Today the same companies that stand to lose from the legalization of hemp and cannabis employ the same strategies to maintain their profit margins. Public opinion is changing, and the discussion to legalize the plant is a lot more mainstream than it once was.

With enough work, proponents for cannabis legalization could possibly overturn decades of ill-conceived legislation to finally make hemp legal again. Perhaps the curse of 1937 might be lifted, and a once-great source of revenue could once again benefit our country.

Voice of Reason

When Harry J. Anslinger was waging his war against cannabis, a cooler head prevailed in the form of New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who was an opponent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. In response to reports of the “dangers” of marijuana, La Guardia in 1939 commissioned the New York Academy of Medicine to study the effects of smoking cannabis. In the end, the study (released in 1944) disproved all of the claims by Anslinger and all other pot propagandists.

Article from Culture Magazine

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Cannabis ‘could stop dementia in its tracks’

Cannabis ‘could stop dementia in its tracks’

By Fiona Macrae

Cannabis may help keep Alzheimer’s disease at bay.

In experiments, a marijuana-based medicine triggered the formation of new brain cells and cut inflammation linked to dementia.

The researchers say that using the information to create a pill suitable for people could help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

A medicine based on cannabis (right) could help to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s

The incurable disease affects 400,000 Britons, with around 500 new cases diagnosed every day as people live longer.

For some sufferers, drugs can delay the progress of devastating symptoms such as memory loss and the erosion of ability to do everyday things such as washing.

However, there they do not work for everyone and, with the number of patients forecast to double in a generation, there is a desperate need for new treatments.

The US researchers studied the properties of a man-made drug based on THC, the chemical behind the ‘high’ of cannabis.

When elderly rats were given the drug for three weeks, it improved their memory, making it easier for them to find their way round a water maze, the Society for Neuroscience’s annual conference heard yesterday (WEDS).

Researcher Dr Yannick Marchalant said; ‘Old rats are not very good at that task. When we gave them the drug, it made them a little better at that task.’

Other experiments showed that the drug acts on parts of the brain involved in memory, appetite, pain and mood.

The Ohio State University experiments also showed that the drug cut inflammation in the brain and may trigger the production of new neurons or brain cells.

Researcher Professor Gary Wenk said: ‘When we’re young, we produce neurons and our memory works fine.

When we age, the process slows down, so we have a decrease in new cell formation through normal ageing.

‘You need these cells to come back and help form new memories and we found that this THC-like agent can influence the creation of these cells.’

Although the drug used was not suitable for use in people, the results could aid the creation of new medicines for Alzheimer’s.

It is likely such a drug would be taken to prevent the disease, rather than treat it.

Asked if those with a family history of Alzheimer’s should smoke cannabis to prevent them developing the disease, Dr Wenk said: ‘We’re not saying that but it might actually work.

‘What we are saying its that it appears that a safe, legal substance that mimics the important properties of marijuana can work on the brain to prevent memory impairments in ageing. So that’s really hopeful.’

Dr Marchalant added: ‘We hope a compound can be found that can target both inflammation and neurogenesis, which would be the most efficient way to produce the best effects.’

The medicinal properties of cannabis have already been harnessed to treat multiple sclerosis.

Sativex, a cannabis-based drug, has been shown to ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, including pain, spasms, shaking, depression and anxiety.

The Alzheimer’s Society cautioned against using cannabis itself to stave off dementia.

Professor Clive Ballard, the charity’s director of research, said: ‘There are encouraging findings from studies with animals suggesting that some cannabis derivatives may help protect nerve cells in the brain.

‘We therefore look forward to robust clinical trials into potential benefits of non-psychoactive components of cannabis.

‘It is important for people to note that these treatments are not same as recreational cannabis use which can be potentially harmful.’

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Decriminalize Freedom

Ten Years After Decriminalization, Drug Abuse Down by Half in Portugal

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
E.D. Kain

Drug warriors often contend that drug use would skyrocket if we were to legalize or decriminalize drugs in the United States. Fortunately, we have a real-world example of the actual effects of ending the violent, expensive WAR ON DRUGS and replacing it with a system of treatment for problem users and addicts.

Ten years ago, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. One decade after this unprecedented experiment, drug abuse is down by half:

Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal’s decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.

There is no doubt that the phenomenon of addiction is in decline in Portugal,” said Joao Goulao, President of the Institute of Drugs and Drugs Addiction, a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the law.

The number of addicts considered “problematic” — those who repeatedly use “hard” drugs and intravenous users — had fallen by half since the early 1990s, when the figure was estimated at around 100,000 people, Goulao said.

Other factors had also played their part however, Goulao, a medical doctor added.

This development can not only be attributed to decriminalisation but to a confluence of treatment and risk reduction policies.”

Many of these innovative treatment procedures would not have emerged if addicts had continued to be arrested and locked up rather than treated by medical experts and psychologists. Currently 40,000 people in Portugal are being treated for drug abuse. This is a far cheaper, far more humane way to tackle the problem. Rather than locking up 100,000 criminals, the Portuguese are working to cure 40,000 patients and fine-tuning a whole new canon of drug treatment knowledge at the same time.

None of this is possible when waging a war.


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How Mexican killers got US guns from ‘Fast and Furious’ operation

By Patrik Jonsso

Atlanta

On May 29, Mexican federal police in four helicopters attacked a drug cartel in a mountain redoubt. They were rebuffed by heavy fire, including from a massive .50 caliber rifle.

A bullet hole left in one helicopter’s plate glass window is one exhibit in an exhaustive House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report released Tuesday showing the breadth of a high-stakes, unprecedented, and, ultimately, ill-advised US scheme called “Operation Fast and Furious.”

The .50 caliber bullet hole, the report says, likely came from a gun trafficked via Fast and Furious, an operation to allow nearly 2,000 arms to leave US gunshops via certain traffickers who the US government had identified and thought it could track. The idea was to trace these “straw buyers” to key cartel figures in an attempt to score major gun busts to prove the US was serious about stopping arms trafficking across the border.

Instead, the report alleges that the operation – which one US official has called “a perfect storm of idiocy” – likely allowed hundreds of powerful guns to cross into Mexico, possibly changing the outcome of cartel battles with Mexican police, leading to the deaths of many Mexicans and one federal agent, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and damaging diplomatic relations between the US and Mexico.

The Fast and Furious scandal is still playing out, with hearings in the House Oversight Committee Tuesday. Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California says he is intent on finding out how high in the Obama administration knowledge of the operation went.

The report, “Fueling Cartel Violence,” backs reports that leaders in the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) were aware of the operation. But it also names several key Department of Justice officials, such as Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, as “clearly” being aware of the operation – a charge that the Obama administration denies.

According to whistleblowers and key witnesses, however, the real lesson behind Fast and Furious, a two-year operation that ended in January 2011, is how “groupthink” clouded decision-making at the highest levels of government, causing an agency to go against its basic instincts – which is to not allow arms to be trafficked illegally – and consequently contribute, not detract, from border violence.

These guns weren’t going for a positive cause, they were going for a negative cause,” ATF attaché Carlos Canino told the congressional oversight committee. “The ATF armed the [Sinaloa] cartel. It’s disgusting.”

Despite repeated pushback from some agents and the attaché office in Mexico City, ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson assessed it as “a good operation,” the report says. According to witnesses, Assistant Attorney General Breuer appeared to cite Fast and Furious in meetings with Mexican officials, saying the US had a major gun-interdiction effort underway out of Phoenix, the report adds.

Where the guns went

The plan was to trace the guns through straw buyers to major cartels, to then build cases and make arrests. But early on, it became evident that tracking the guns had become a problem and that hundreds had made their way across the border and disappeared into cartel gun caches. According to the report, Fast and Furious guns made their way to three prominent Mexican cartels: Sinaloa, El Teo and La Familia.

Those within ATF who raised concerns about the fundamental flaw in the strategy were rebuffed or simply kept in the dark, Daniel Kumor, the ATF’s international affairs chief, told congressional investigators.

At least one witness cited in the report contended knowledge of the tactics in Fast and Furious was widespread in ATF and Justice: “It was common knowledge that they were going down there to be crime guns.”

The report names main Justice Department trial attorney Joe Cooley as saying the movement of vast numbers of guns to Mexico was “an acceptable practice.” Mr. Cooley was Breuer’s main contact with Fast and Furious, according to the report.

The Justice Department has maintained that it never knowingly allowed guns to “walk” to Mexico.

In the report, at least one higher-up fought back against accusations that field officers and ATF attachés in Mexico were raising concerns about the program. Asked if his reports raised concerns about the operation, Bill McMahon, deputy field operations director for ATF, told Congress: “Not that I can remember.

So far, nobody at the Justice Department has publicly acknowledged a role in the case, and President Obama has said neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder knew anything about it until the story broke after the murder of Brian Terry in a Sonora, Ariz., gun battle in December 2010. President Obama has ordered the Justice Department inspector general to investigate.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department fought back against the report’s characterizations of Breuer’s involvement.

“The Committee’s report promotes unsubstantiated theories by selectively releasing excerpts of transcripts while ignoring testimony and other information,” writes spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler in an e-mail. “For whatever reason, the leadership of the Committee chose not to release witness testimony that makes clear that operational details relating to this investigation were unknown to senior Department of Justice officials.”

In previous testimony, Acting Director Melson, said the strategy was not “intended to allow the guns to go to suspected straw purchasers without any good faith belief that you could recover those weapons.

But he also suggested that the field agents had wide latitude. The agents, not the supervisors, “do the tactical stuff,” Melson said. ATF Acting Deputy Director William Hoover added in his testimony that there was no reason for Justice officials to be aware of the tactics, “because I certainly didn’t brief them on the techniques being employed in Fast and Furious.”

International fallout

The fallout from the operation has taken its toll on lives and diplomatic relations, say congressional investigators.

In October, 2010, cartel members kidnapped Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez, the brother of Chihuahua Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez. A few days later, police found Mr. Rodriguez’s body in a shallow grave. Shortly thereafter, police engaged cartel members in a gun fight, from which several guns were recovered. Two were traced to Operation Fast and Furious.

When Mr. Canino confronted other ATF officials about the need to inform the Mexican government about the link, he says he got “zero instructions,” and that “every time I mentioned it, guys started looking at their cellphones, silence in the room.

Eight months after the murder, Canino finally told Mexican Attorney General Maricela Morales about the link. “Hijole” (oh my), she said.

Today, most people understand the fallacy of the WAR ON DRUGS. THe drug trade, particularly Cocaine, is a billion dollar industry. With money comes corruption. The government is intimately involved in the drug trade. Profiting on all sides. While Governor, Bill Clinton is alleged to have operated a drug ring out of Mena, Arkansas. War on drugs? We supply the drugs. We even guard the Opium supply in Afghanistan. Learn the truth. – PECAN

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If at first you don’t succeed……throw another billion at it.

Name one government program that for 40 years has failed to achieve any of its goals, yet receives bigger and bigger budgets every year. If you said “the War on Drugs,” you’ve been paying attention.

The Obama Administration is unable to show that the billions of dollar spent in the WAR ON DRUGS have significantly affected the flow of illicit substances into the United States, according to two government reports and outside experts.

The reports specifically criticize the government’s growing use of U.S. contractors, which were paid more than $3 billion to train local prosecutors and police, help eradicate coca fields, and operate surveillance equipment in the battle against the expanding drug trade in Latin America over the past five years, reports Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times.

“We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who chairs the Senate subcommittee that wrote one of the reports, which was released on Wednesday.

Professor Bruce Bagley, University of Miami: “I think we have wasted our money hugely”

?”I think we have wasted our money hugely,” said Bruce Bagley, an expert in U.S. anti-narcotics efforts. “The effort has had corrosive effects on every country it has touched,” said Bagley, who chairs international studies at the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Florida.

Predictably, Obama Administration officials deny reports that U.S. efforts have failed to reduce drug production and smuggling in Latin America.

White House officials claim the expanding U.S. anti-drug effort occupies a “growing portion” of time for President Obama’s national security team, even though it doesn’t get many Congressional hearings or headlines.

The majority of wasted American counter-narcotics dollars are awarded to five big corporations: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT and ARINC, according to the report for the contracting oversight committee, part of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Counter-narcotics contract spending increased by 32 percent over the five-year period from $482 million in 2005 to $635 million in 2009. Falls Church, Va., based DynCorp got the biggest piece of the wasted pie, a whopping $1.1 billion.

Sen. Claire McCaskill: “We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return”

?These contractors have plenty of ways to waste your tax money. They train local police and investigators in anti-drug methods, provide logistical support to intelligence collection centers, and fly airplanes and helicopters that spray herbicides to supposedly eradicate coca crops grown to produce cocaine.

The Department of Defense has wasted $6.1 billion of tax money since 2005 to help spot planes and boats headed north to the U.S. with drug payloads, as well as on surveillance and other intelligence operations.

Some of the expenses are “difficult to characterize,” according to Senate staff members, which is government-speak for “OK, you caught us wasting money again.” The Army wasted $75,000 for paintball supplies for “training exercises” in 2007, for example, and $5,000 for what the military listed as “rubber ducks.

The “ducks” are rubber replicas of M-16 rifles that are used in training exercises, a Pentagon spokesman claimed.

Even the Defense Department described its own system for tracking these contracts as “error prone,” according to the Senate report, which also says the department doesn’t have reliable data about “how successful” its efforts have been. Go figure.

In a separate report last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, there is the conclusion that the State Department “does not have a centralized inventory of counter-narcotics contracts” and said the department does not evaluate the overall success of its counter-narcotics program.

“It’s become increasingly clear that our efforts to rein in the narcotics trade in Latin America, especially as it relates to the government’s use of contractors, have largely failed,” Sen. McCaskill said.

The latest criticism of the United States’ War On Drugs comes just a week after a high-profile group of world leaders called the global Drug War a costly failure.

The group, which included former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, recommended that regional governments try legalizing and regulating drugs to help stop the flood of cash going to drug cartels and other organized crime groups.

US protects the Drug Trade

James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, demonstrated his willingness to lie his ass off by claiming the Defense Department’s efforts against drugs “have been among the most successful and cost-effective programs” in decades.

“By any reasonable assessment, the U.S. has received ample strategic national security benefits in return for its investments in this area,
” said Gregory, who seems to inhabit a particularly improbable alternate reality.

Back in the real world, the only effects most objective observers can see run along these lines: Backed by the United States, Mexico’s stepped-up Drug War has had the unintended effect of pushing drug cartels deeper into Central America, causing violence to soar in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Another effect has been the vast expansion of Orwellain surveillance technology, supposedly to combat drugs, but ever-so-useful to the authoritarian regimes in Central America (and in the United States) in suppressing dissent.

The U.S. is currently focusing on improving its efforts to intercept cellphone and Internet traffic (of “drug cartels,” yeah right) in the region, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

During a visit to El Salvador in February, William Brownfield, the head of the State Department’s anti-drug programs, opened a wiretapping center in San Salvador, as well as an office to share fingerprints and other data with U.S. law enforcement.

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