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September 2021



Protecting children from drug wars

Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5) recently introduced H.Res.356 – “Expressing condemnation for police brutality wherever in the world it occurs.”

The bill is in the early stages of being sent through committees and summarized, but its intent is unmistakable. H.Res.356 will focus world attention on drug war hotspots where children or adults are targeted, injured, or killed by members of militarized police squads ostensibly assigned to enforce that nation’s drug laws.

Children caught in police drug raids in Bolsonaro’s Brazil or Duterte’s Philippines typically aren’t as lucky as a Congressperson’s kid who gets busted for drugs. If drugs are involved, not much happens to the well-connected son or daughter of the public official compared to the subsequent misfortunes of other kids or adults whose lives are put at risk in botched police raids or arrests. Then there’s the ripple effect that runs through families and communities affected by the raids.

Given the bill’s potential to alter how the world perceives drug wars, H.Res.356 is likely to receive stiff opposition from Congressional members still connected to the lost hopes and dreams of a White supremacist drug-free society. In that case, the resolution’s successful passage may very well depend on individuals and citizen groups voicing their strong support for Rep. Ilhan Omar and the House bill that may yet help shield and save children from all drug wars.

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Colombia’s Proxy Drug War with Venezuela

Drug wars and oil wars will not go away anytime “soon” if the U.S. government has its way in South America:

…The U.S. Air Force on March 30 and 31 [2021] flew four C-17 Globemaster troop and equipment-carrying planes to airports in Colombia…the U.S. Congress will soon authorize the sale to Colombia of fighter aircraft worth $4.5 billion. […]

Colombian President Iván Duque in late February announced the creation of the “Special Command against Narcotrafficking and Transnational Threats.” This will be a 7000-person elite military force with air assault capabilities. Its “certain objective” according to the Communist Party’s website, is war against Venezuela.

During the tenure of left-leaning Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that of his successor, President Nicolas Maduro, Colombian paramilitaries repeatedly crossed the border on destabilization missions. Organizers for a 2000 seaborne anti-Maduro assault called Operation Gedeon were based in Colombia, as were some of the plotters who mounted a drone attack against Maduro in 2018. The U.S. and Colombian governments in February 2019 failed in their attempt to deliver humanitarian aid across the border at Cucuta, Colombia. Their idea had been to divide Venezuela’s military…The outcome of the fighting in Apure is unclear. The Colombian and U.S. governments undoubtedly would utilize any humanitarian crisis as an opening to further destabilize Venezuela’s government.

It’s certain that the U.S. government in the Biden era continues to seek the overthrow of Venezuela’s government. Without question the reactionary Colombian government is at the beck and call of the U.S. government. The U.S. has its eye on Venezuela’s … crude oil, in excess of 550 billion barrels…What is underappreciated is the role of drug-trafficking in serving interventionist purposes. […]

Drug wars conducted by proxy nations are the U.S. military’s answer to manufacturing consent for war. Drug enforcement’s role is to offset the bad optics and crippling economics of direct military interventions. It’s been determined that fielding each DEA or CIA functionary, or each U.S. soldier, costs on average $1 million, up to $1.3 million if a soldier is injured. Colombia’s soldiers are much cheaper.

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Senate Majority Leader

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Is Joe Biden an old dog?

It’s said old dogs can’t learn new tricks, or not as easily. So does the old dog rule apply to President Joe Biden? Will Joe learn any new tricks? On May 6, 2021, the President is expected to renew a Trump drug policy that enhances criminal penalties for illicit possession or sales of fentanyl and its chemical analogs. It includes mandatory minimum sentences reminiscent of the crack era:

…according to Premal Dharia, executive director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration …“We must stop repeating historical choices that we know do not work and start working toward building health and flourishing communities for all,” Dharia said.

Dharia and other advocates said the crackdown on fentanyl-like compounds mirrors the crackdown on crack cocaine in Black communities. Like the fentanyl crackdown, the crackdown on crack was also fueled by sensational media reports and led to massive disparities in sentencing between Black people involved with crack and white people involved with powder cocaine.

“Once again, with fentanyl, people of color are being disproportionately policed and incarcerated just as they were with crack, and with a punitive approach based in fear and misinformation,” Taifa said.

The Biden administration has hinted that it may be open to diverging somewhat from the drug war and embracing harm reduction, […]

The Biden administration has done little or nothing to promote harm reduction or drug law reform since he began office, preferring instead to defend and repeat the drug war’s legacy of error and failure. This is where the old dogs and new tricks theory could prove useful.

Congress should consider creating a new federal research facility. It can be called the Joe Biden National Institute of Old Dogs Research. Drug sniffer dogs nearing retirement would be redeployed into its research programs to determine more efficient and effective ways to teach them new tricks, like detecting tree diseases in avocado orchards, or identifying people infected with COVID-19. Any new and successful training techniques discovered by researchers that help old sniffer dogs learn might then be applied to retraining the President and his group of drug war advisors.

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Afghanistan’s farmers go solar

Afghanistan (AKA Graveyard of Empires) has emerged stronger than ever after 19 years of US intervention in the US led war on terrorism. Still intent on protecting its $1 trillion in untouched metals resources from marauding foreign mining companies, Afghanistan and its farmers have adapted to utilizing 21st century technologies to grow opium poppies:

…heroin supply to Britain has careened in the last decade, namely due to the ‘solar revolution’ in Afghanistan. This has enabled farmers to use electricity generated from solar panels to pump untapped water from 100 meters under the desert. Now, where there was once an arid dust belt, there are fields of thriving poppy, punches of colour lighting up the desert, too much of a lucrative cash crop for Afghan farmers to pass up. […]

Afghanistan was used as a “playground for foreign nations to kill Afghans like a video game” – as one of my young Afghan friends once described to me. It’s highly unlikely British Intelligence Agencies were unaware of the newly blossoming poppy industry, much of which is growing in Helmand, a ‘hotspot’ for drone strikes and aerial surveillance. Today Afghanistan produces 90% of the worlds’ heroin, 3% of the Afghan population are addicts, and production of the crop has more than doubled, from 3,700 tonnes in 2012, to 9,000 tonnes in 2017. […]

The Biden administration characterized the May 1, 2021, Afghanistan pullout date for the removal of 2,500 remaining US troops as “hard to meet,” and said it was not his intention “to stay there a long time.” What the President means by hard-to-meet or a long time is anyone’s guess. In the 1940 Battle of Dunkirk, the British pulled 400,000 of their troops out of Normandy in just ten days.

A clue to Biden’s intentions may lie in his consistency. Even though he began his senate career by opposing the war in Viet Nam, Joe Biden never lost faith in using wars to produce a drug free society, or at least a society free of drug users. He seems to believe drug laws can change people’s understanding of what is right or wrong about drugs. With that kind of attitude, it’s possible a new era of drone wars may bloom in the Afghan desert highlands.

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Where is he getting his data?

“This is a dangerous drug that will impact our kids,” [Nebraska Governor Pete] Ricketts told reporters on Wednesday. “If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids. That’s what the data shows from around the country.”


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Will Joe Biden Depose Rodrigo Duterte?

Since the inception of the Marshall Plan it’s been U.S. policy to discourage or expel troublesome dictators who appear destined to grow in power and external threat capabilities. Political experience recognizes that leaders or governments who treat their own citizens badly tend to show the same ill will toward other sovereign governments and foreign nationals. The situation makes it difficult to ignore despots.

Recently, despot-in-chief and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expanded his operations from extrajudicial executions of illicit drug consumers and traffickers (the poor) to killing labor leaders, or what Duterte calls “communist rebels”:

…“Nothing could be more apt than calling this day a ‘Bloody Sunday,’” Ms. Palabay said in a statement. She said the killings were part of a “murderous campaign of state terror” by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte to stifle legitimate dissent, and she urged the country’s independent Commission on Human Rights to investigate the raids.

Three activists were arrested in the raids, including a paralegal who worked for Karapatan, Ms. Palabay said. […]

It’s not as if the U.S. hasn’t joined other nations or the ICC in the past in toppling leaders unfit for power, or who merely oppose U.S. interests. President Idi Amin of Uganda was removed from power after he admitted to being a cannibal. Manuel Noriega of Panama was deposed after refusing to cancel the Panama Canal Treaty with the U.S. that transferred control of the canal to Panama. To justify his removal, the George H. W. Bush administration indicted Noriega on charges of cocaine trafficking. The alleged cocaine discovered in Noriega’s residence turned out to be flour.

The present irony is that President Joe Biden is one of the architects of the drug war, beginning his career in the Nixon era as a naive 29-year-old U.S. senator representing Delaware. Drug Czar William J. Bennett filled Biden’s head with disinformation about drugs, falsehoods like marijuana gateways, the crack-cocaine sentencing disparity, and instant and absolute addiction to crack. Biden acted upon the lies, later being forced to apologize for the disinformation he was fed.

Duterte uses the methods and ideologies of Nixon, Bennett, and Biden as both an excuse and a tool to commit mass murder. Should Biden act to eliminate Duterte, he may find it within himself—after nearly 50 years of public service—to concede to wiping the slate clean of all drug wars and prohibition related U.S. drug policies that tyrants employ against their citizens or opponents. Who knows? The President might even agree to the full legalization of cannabis.

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John Oliver on police drug raids

Nothing really new to us, but great to see such expanded coverage on a major show. This is from last night’s episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

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Billie Holliday and Harry Anslinger

Watching The United States vs. Billie Holliday on Hulu. Many people are unaware of how much Billie Holliday (and her dangerously true song “Strange Fruit“) drew the ire of the government and racist drug warrior Harry Anslinger in particular during his ramping up for the war on drugs.

This true story is taken in part from the research in Johann Hari’s amazing book “Chasing the Scream: The Opposite of Addiction is Connection,” which I talked about at length here on DrugWarRant, and the script for the film is by Suzan-Lori Parks. Andra Day, in a very powerful performance, plays Billie.

I thought the direction by Lee Daniels was a little uneven, but it was still an amazing (and disturbing) story to watch, and always wonderful to hear Billie’s songs.

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Washington Supreme Court rules felony drug possession law unconstitutional

Wow. This is big news.

Washington State Supreme Court finds state’s felony drug possession law unconstitutional

The Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s felony drug possession law is unconstitutional.

Immediately following the ruling, Seattle Police announced they would no longer be arresting people for simple drug possession, and they won’t confiscate drugs under the statute. Other agencies quickly followed suit. […]

In its ruling released Thursday, the high court said the law serves to “criminalize innocent and passive possession” because it is a “strict liability” law, meaning prosecutors don’t need to prove intent.

The ruling strikes down RCW 69.50.4013 Section 1. Without that section, there is essentially no state law on simple drug possession. […]

“Attaching the harsh penalties of felony conviction, lengthy imprisonment, stigma, and the many collateral consequences that accompany every felony drug conviction to entirely innocent and passive conduct exceeds the legislature’s powers,” the ruling reads.

Now, this doesn’t stop the legislature from drafting a new possession law that meets the court’s standards, but for now, simple possession cannot be prosecuted under the felony law.

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