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US DEA Used Criminals To Spy On, Destabilize Venezuela, Mexico, Bolivia

Numerous reports in major media outlets have documented how the US government has used the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in order to spy on and try to destabilize left-wing governments in Latin America. DEA meddling schemes have targeted Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales, and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In these scandals, the DEA has collaborated with known criminals, including drug traffickers and money launderers, to launch sting operations against leftist politicians. The Associated Press revealed this February that the DEA “sent undercover operatives into Venezuela to surreptitiously record and build drug-trafficking cases against the country’s leadership”.

Punitive Enforcement Does Not Save Lives, Or Reduce Drug Supply

When it comes to drugs—that is to say, when it comes to drugs whose use by some people in some contexts is officially deemed illicit—to suggest any other approach than criminalization is to be told you aren’t “taking the issue seriously.” That any response not involving jail, prison, loss of livelihood, family separation, is widely deemed, essentially, a non-response is indication of an impoverished state of conversation. But is that changing? Some pushback to the White House policy addressing fentanyl suggests that there is space for a new way to talk about drugs, and harm, and ways forward. Maritza Perez Medina is the director of the Office of Federal Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.

US Meddling In Colombia’s Election, Warns Francia Márquez

The vice presidential candidate for the leading ticket in Colombia’s May elections has accused the US government of meddling in her country’s internal politics to hurt the left wing. Francia Márquez is an activist from the grassroots social movements of the Afro-Colombian community. She is the vice presidential candidate for the left-wing Pacto Histórico (“Historic Pact”) coalition, whose presidential candidate Gustavo Petro is leading by double digits in major polls in the weeks before the May 29 vote. Márquez criticized the US ambassador to Colombia for publicly claiming that Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba are trying to sabotage her country’s election. “Although [the US ambassador] did not mention the Pacto Histórico, although he did not mention Gustavo Petro, it is obvious that he was referring to our candidacy and our political campaign,” Márquez said.

Big Pharma Losing Money As Patients Switch From Opioids To Cannabis

The news that cannabis is effective in treating most types of pain is shaking business and political institutions. Politicians and investors must come to grips with Big Pharma losing money due to the rise of cannabis. The findings could have huge consequences for medical practice and public policy. For example, cannabis could reduce the number of accidental overdoses and providing avenues for critically ill patients to re-enter the workforce.

‘Shock And Awe’ Has Failed In Philippines Drug War, Enforcement Chief Says

MANILA (Reuters) - Colonel Romeo Caramat oversaw the bloodiest day in the blood-soaked war on drugs in the Philippines – 32 people killed in 24 hours in the province north of Manila where he was police chief in 2017. Now the head of drug enforcement for the Philippine National Police, Caramat said that ultra-violent approach to curbing illicit drugs had not been effective. "Shock and awe definitely did not work," he told Reuters in an interview, speaking out for the first time on the issue. "Drug supply is still rampant."

The Honduras Narco-State Began With US Coup

Donald Trump said last year that migrant caravans, mainly of Hondurans, were coming to the US from ‘shithole countries’. But now he says that the president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, is doing a ‘fantastic job’. Trump and JOH recently reached an agreement declaring Honduras to be a ‘safe place’ for asylum seekers trying to reach the US. JOH also promised to help the US tackle transnational criminal organisations. He’s well placed to do this. Last November, his brother Tony was arrested in Miami and accused of drug trafficking and possessing illegal weapons.

The End Of A Cocaine-Fueled Presidency? Juan Orlando Hernandez Faces Regime Change In Honduras

TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS — Flanked by ministers and military and police leadership, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez — embattled after being slapped with new drug trafficking allegations in the U.S. — held a press conference on the night of Saturday, August 3rd to declare his innocence. The accusations against him include funneling cocaine profits into his re-election campaign and shielding his brother and other drug kingpins from prosecution.

Teens Less Likely To Use Cannabis When It’s Legal, US Study Finds

Teenagers are less likely to use cannabis in places where the drug has been legalised, a new study suggests. Researchers at Montana State University looked at health surveys of US high school pupils between 1993 and 2017. While overall use among US youth went up, the likelihood of teen use declined by nearly 10% in states where recreational use was legalised. Some 33 states have legalised medical cannabis, while 10 states have also legalised recreational use. Cannabis use remains illegal in all states for people under the age of 18.

Secret CIA Document Shows Plan To Test Drugs On Prisoners

Thanks to an ACLU victory in federal court, we know much more about how CIA doctors violated the medical oath to “do no harm.” One of the most important lessons of the CIA’s torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners. Now we’ve won the release of a 90-page account of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services role in the CIA torture program — a secret history written by the top CIA medical official, whose identity remains classified.

The Pentagon Hits Home, Climate Changing Dinner & How To Address Addiction

The Pentagon broadens its horizons to domestic surveillance and “insurrection” - the all seeing eye is focused on the home front. Next, if we wanna survive humanity's demise that our choices designed, we have to start making different choices – at the dinner table. Finally, Dr. Sheila Vakharia joins us to talk harm reduction, addiction and drug policy.

Before Big Pharma Kills Us, Maybe Public Pharma Can Save Us

Drug-resistant “superbugs” are predicted to kill more people per year than cancer by 2050. Already, more than two million Americans annually are infected with bacteria that have evolved to resist antibiotics with at least 23,000 dying as a result. Given the nature of infectious disease, antibiotic resistance is increasingly seen as a threat to national security, with potential consequences for trade, global development, and even counterterrorism. Despite the many incentives being thrown their way, however, major pharmaceutical companies are pulling out of antibiotic research and development at alarming rates, citing a lack of market incentives. In an industry that has a bad case of market-incentive syndrome, it is time to consider the establishment of public pharmaceutical companies as an antidote. 

City To Study Use Of Fentanyl-Detecting Test Strips By Distributing Them In Exchange Vans

In its ongoing fight against a fentanyl-fueled surge in drug overdoses, the Baltimore City Health Department plans to study the efficacy of test strips that detect the potent synthetic substance in street-purchased drugs by handing kits out at mobile syringe and needle exchanges. The study will evaluate the outcomes of BTNX Rapid Response Urine Test strips “as a harm reduction strategy to reduce the negative consequences associated with drug use,” according to city spending board documents from this week. Health care providers, researchers, advocates and users are increasingly looking to BTNX strips–traditionally a tool for employers to detect drug use among recruits and workers– to test for the presence of fentanyl in street-bought drugs. Instead of dipping the strip into someone’s urine, one can dissolve some of the illicit drugs into water and use the test to determine whether or not it contains fentanyl.

Will Mexico’s New Leader Reshape Its Drug Policies?

Mexico’s next president will take office at the end of 2018, and among the many big puzzles he must solve is how to deal with the nation’s dangerous and powerful illegal drug trade. He has been careful not to say much about what policies he will pursue, but there have been strong hints.  Back in 2006, more than half a million people took to the already-crowded streets of Mexico City to protest the defeat of presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, often referred to by his initials, AMLO. According to widely reported accounts, the protesters hailed from throughout the country, and they demanded a recount, as López Obrador reportedly lost to right-wing candidate Felipe Calderón by just 0.57%. 

Gun Violence Debate Needs To Include Police Militarization And Drug Prohibition Violence

On March 14th thousands of students walked out of school to protest gun violence, demanding legislators enact more stringent gun control in the U.S.  Later that night, black Brazilian city council member and vocal critic of Brazil’s militarized law enforcement, Marielle Franco, was assassinated. Four days later, 22 year old father of two, Stephon Clark, was shot in his back eight times by the Sacramento Police. While news outlets and social media made note of these murders, the national conversation instead largely focused on the March for Our Lives protest that took place the following weekend. As the media continued to cover the responses to the March for Our Lives, news broke that the two officers responsible for the murder of Alton Sterling would not be facing charges for their use of lethal force that left yet another black father dead.

If You Want To Kill Drug Dealers, Start With Big Pharma

At a recent rally in New Hampshire, Donald Trump called for the death penalty for drug traffickers as part of a plan to combat the opioid epidemic in the United States. At a Pennsylvania rally a few weeks earlier, he called for the same. Now his administration is taking steps toward making this proposal a reality. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo on March 21 asking prosecutors to pursue capital punishment for drug traffickers — a power he has thanks to legislation passed under President Bill Clinton. Time and again, these punitive policies have proven ineffective at curbing drug deaths. That’s partly because amping up the risk factor for traffickers makes the trade all that more lucrative, encouraging more trafficking, not less. But it’s also because these policies don’t address the true criminals of the opioid crisis: Big Pharma.
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