Open Thread

bullet image New voice in drug-war debate: businessmen who are feeling the pinch

But it’s the private sector’s understanding of the hemispheric supply chain and demand, he says, that posits business leaders to lend their voice to the debate, says Zamora.

“[I]t is hard to talk about certain issues related to drug-trafficking [for politicians]. But for the business class, we have visions that are more pragmatic,” Zamora says. This might include focusing on freeing up resources through the decriminalization of drugs, and diverting profits away from traffickers. That could allow the taxation of businesses involved in the drug trade, followed by the investment of that money into military and police in order to crack down on criminals.

Carolina Castellanos, director of Guatemalan- American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM Guatemala) says leaders of the private sector in Guatemala have been communicating by email this week to discuss the merits of President Pérez’s proposal as well.

bullet image Obama’s War on Pot by Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone.

Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration’s high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush.

bullet image Drug war in Afghanistan a lost cause in Adelaide Now.

Despite the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars in a conflict that has so far cost the lives of almost 3000 Coalition troops, including 32 Australians, production of the drug by Afghan farmers rose between 2001 and 2011 from just 185 tonnes to 5800 tonnes.

It increased by 61 per cent last year alone. The United Nations yesterday warned that the situation was out of control.

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72 Responses to Open Thread

  1. David says:

    Today, on Democracy Now! I saw a great interview with Mike Brickner from the ACLU in Ohio and Florida State Senator Mike Fasano. They discussed the potential negative effects that could accompany the privatization of prisons. Check it out here:

  2. Hey can somebody please help me plug my website on the Rolling Stone article’s comments section? (It requires FB log-in, which is blocked in my country of residence.)

    If you can be so kind, just copy and paste the following:
    “If you live in Connecticut and want to end marijuana prohibition in our state, please take a minute to visit

    Please pass this on to anyone you know in Connecticut!”

  3. Dante says:

    “This might include focusing on freeing up resources through the decriminalization of drugs, and diverting profits away from traffickers. That could allow the taxation of businesses involved in the drug trade, followed by the investment of that money into military and police in order to crack down on criminals.”

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m totally against giving ANY MORE money to law enforcement to “crack down” on anything. They have misused their bottomless barrel of money so often they cannot be trusted with more. If anything, we need to take money away from them until they start to behave themselves.

  4. kaptinemo says:

    Dante, I heartily agree. Sadly, though, the Devil always has his due.

    IMHO, the sad fact of the near future will be that the ONLY way cannabis will be allowed to be re-legalized will be under the same dynamic that caused alcohol to be re-legalized: severe budget deficits in turn caused by massive economic dislocations leading to a scramble for revenue.

    Either that, or it won’t matter, because we suffer some kind of total socio-political collapse in which the last vestiges of our crypto-fascist government dies off, and people are once more left on their own and dependent upon their neighbors and their communities for survival. At which point, the issue becomes moot…in the worst possible way.

    I may constantly harp about that possibility, but it’s because in my travels on this planet I’ve been to places that had that happen, and it’s worse than any dystopian science-fiction movie could ever be. I DON’T WANT TO SEE THAT HAPPEN TO THE COUNTRY I LOVE.

    I may look at this Gub’mint with severely jaundiced eyes, I may rail at the shamelessly-displayed ignorance and (inexcusable!) stupidity our (supposed) leaders (most of whom couldn’t lead people with Crohn’s Disease to the sh!thouse) as well as far too many of our own citizens whose lack of curiosity may doom them and us, but this country can still turn around from its’ race to The Abyss. And ending drug prohibition would go a long ways towards reversing that. And that usually means (ugh!) taxes.

    • darkcycle says:

      Alas, Nemo, if we go down, so does Western Civiization as we know it. See “The Recurring Dark Ages” Sing C. Chew.

      • kaptinemo says:

        Dark, the very idea terrifies me…and I don’t scare easily. People really, truly have no comprehension what ‘infrastructure’ means…until there isn’t any.

        • darkcycle says:

          Try Nicaragua, circa May, 1977.

        • claygooding says:

          72 hours until mayhem is what the experts allow us if the infrastructure fails and trucks no longer deliver foods to the grocery stores.

          If the electrical grids fail,,all refrigerated/frozen foods gone,water unable to be pumped into towers,,it will be survival of the fittest.

    • leonard junior says:

      A little anarchy puts hair on your chest. Still tough to work, and people aren’t ready to be self-sufficient.

      • darkcycle says:

        Not Anarchy, Len, anarchy is a form of governance. Feudal system of warlords and petty fiefdoms, more likely. However, Greece in the early bronze age is an exception to what seems to be a hard and fast rule of history.

        • Windy says:

          Anarchy simply means leaderless, without a leader there can be no governance. Individualism, voluntarism, freedom to be and do.

          “Probably all laws are useless; for good men do not want laws at all, and bad men are made no better by them.” — Demonax – (Roman philosopher, circa 150 A.D.)

  5. claygooding says:

    USA: Plane carrying marijuana is forced to land after violating Obama airspace

    LOS ANGELES _ A small private plane carrying a load of marijuana strayed into President Barack Obama’s no-fly zone over Los Angeles Thursday and was forced to land at Long Beach Airport after being intercepted by U.S. Air Force jet fighters, authorities said.

    After the Cessna touched down, federal agents and Long Beach police detained the pilot for questioning and found what law enforcement officials described as a large amount of marijuana on board the aircraft. News reports indicated the load weighed at least 7 pounds.

    The weed,,no search warrant,the plane,,gone,,the pilot????

    And this man refuses to talk to us about marijuana. roflmao

    • Windy says:

      “the load weighed at least 7 pounds.” As trafficking busts go, that is a truly piddling amount, equivalent to less than a gram street bust. I’m surprised they didn’t inflate the amount to 700 lbs.

  6. Brandon E. says:

    It seems like the ATF has upset our neighbor to the south:

  7. claygooding says:

    Took them long enough to spit the US tit out of their mouth and complain!

  8. claygooding says:

    Thanks to Malcolm for this jewel!!

    An open letter to Gil Kerlikowske

    Occasionally some unfortunate people end up with a job that makes other people dislike or even hate them; it’s no fun and it’s actually not that easy to continue doing something that you know is doing great harm, a full seven days of the week. It must be extremely depressing for you. No doubt it’s also very dangerous to your health and must even lead to you feeling extremely insecure – especially when thinking of all those angry citizens who have generally become cheesed off with the serious disruption you’ve caused to their once productive and peaceful lives.

    So what should you do?
    Simply, and humbly, hang your head in abject shame. Come clean; admit you have unwittingly become part & parcel of one of the most insidious and counter-productive government policies in the history of mankind. Then start praying that you get to keep those pathetic, shrunken testicles.

    I want Nuremburg trials,,I want closure.

  9. down the memory hole says:

    Just saw a page showing billboards on the Mexican side of the border saying ‘No More Weapons’ went back to the page and the article is gone.

  10. Duncan20903 says:


    Wow, here’s an interesting factoid for Trivial Pursuit, The Medicinal Cannabis Edition. The only reason that Colorado got to vote on Amendment 20 in 2000 was because Secretary of State Victoria Buckley died of heart failure in 1999. While packing up her office Donetta Davidson, found 66 pages of signatures in her office that were never included in the original count.
    Marijuana advocates are no stranger to invalid signatures’ on petitions

  11. thelbert huffman says:

    here is another good reason for a war crimes tribunal: i’m thinking we need judges from canada or another american nation. the judiciary in this country is too corrupt.

  12. allan says:

    for tomorrow’s TV viewing, from Tom at LEAP:

    If you haven’t seen the new-ish MSNBC weekend show “Up with Chris Hayes” yet, I highly recommend it, especially because LEAP speaker Peter Moskos will be making an appearance on tomorrow’s edition. Two weeks ago, Hayes devoted half an hour to discussing the problem of overincarceration and had Michelle Alexander on as a guest. The drug war was mentioned several times.

    Tune in tomorrow if you can. Below is an update from Peter’s blog with the time he will likely be on the air.


    February 17, 2012

    Me on “Up with Chris Hayes”

    Tune in tomorrow (Saturday) around 8:40AM (Eastern Time) to MSNBC.

    • claygooding says:

      Caught most of it and it was amazing,not even one pot joke or anyone mentioning messages or straw men,,,simply amazing.

    • ThanksAllan says:

      I’m 5 mins in. It’s actually moving me to tears.

      • allan says:

        you are most absolutely welcome. LEAP just rocks, no doubt. It pitheth me off (I had a DI in basic that said that a lot. He was young, black, big, intimidating and he wore braces… it’s just too funny… now) that I dunna have cable and HS wwweb service when stuff likes this roll by.

        Thanks for the quick reviews. I’ll keep sharing it elsewwweb.

        I don’t know the LEAP speakers. I’ve had plenty of conversations w/ them, met a couple, and know quite a bit about some of them. Guys like Peter Moskos are the reason I go into a place like Jack Marshall’s blog and introduce myself by saying he can’t win the debate. I mean you witnessed how he “wins” a debate – he just denies the facts. He would be way over his head in dealing w/ folks like Moskos’. And w/ LEAP, it’s Moskos times 50 (and I always include Howard in my mind in this group). Any one of them would humble the man. He would not be able to fling his ad hominem dingleberries as easily as he does w/ us (even tho’ LEAP’s arguments are no different than ours).

        I’m just gonna havta go watch this somewhere I guess…

        And here’s an article on the Chafee governors’ request to reclassify from Wed, only 1 comment:

        Feds consider Chafee marijuana request

        • Francis says:

          Speaking of our friend, Jack Marshall, I just wrapped up a little mini-debate with him about cannabis legalization over on a separate thread about domestic violence.

          I really feel like I was this close to bringing him around to our side when the clock ran out. And when I say the clock ran out, I mean that he declared that “the drug debate is closed.” I think you guys will get a kick out of it. Let me know who you think won on points.

        • allan says:

          you have to ask?

          Such rude characterizations of those involved in drug policy reform really makes me pretty disgusted w/ Mr Marshall. As I’ve said, Jack would be shredded by any of the LEAPsters (including Howard, as always). I’m Scandinavian, I know about having a hard head. Jack is just obstinate and I find his calling us “zealots” laughable in light of his immovable support of Prohibition.

          And once again I must point out that his teenage son agrees w/ us… maybe the kid will be able to help his dad see the light.

          And it’s Saturday – in 1/2 an hour it’s 3 hours of the best of the ’60s and ‘early ’70s music, commercial-free on my all time ever favorite radio station. KRVM, available for listening anywhere in the world, online

        • WhyIRemindThemEveryDay says:

          Francis, great job!

          Allan, I’ve joined you over at KRVM – what goes up …. wowowowowowo …faster than ….

        • darkcycle says:

          Francis…you had him, but just like my Dad, he cut you off by ending the debate. That’s the best you’re gonna get, but it’s at least a tacit admission of defeat.

        • JudyGarlandAndTheNippleTwisters says:

          And for those who missed it the first time:

          to jackmarshallize

          (verb) to write, pontificate or act in such a manner that resembles unconscionable, sadomoralistic douchebaggerry of the very highest order.

          Jack Marshall is a self-proclaimed champion of ethics, but he is actually just a lawyer who is invariably very rude, dismissive and intimidating.

          In attempting to defend the indefensible (most often his beloved policy of drug prohibition) he does so mainly from the power of his own extreme prejudicial convictions – by blatantly ignoring fact and historical precedent he has achieved the highest form of cognitive dissonance and suffocating bigotry.

          Mr Marshall’s convictions are most definitely not based upon the ethics he purports to champion, but are the ‘ethics’ of utter malice towards all who dare to disagree with his particular form of stifling, authoritarian hypocrisy.

          TAGS: unconscionable, unethical, prohibitionist, hypocrite, right-wing, bully,

  13. claygooding says:

    DEA: Marijuana grow houses on the rise in Texas
    Growing marijuana in plain sight

    “”San Antonio Police officers were called to a house in the 1300 Block of Autumn Moon on January 2, after CPS Energy investigators found out someone in the home had illegally tapped into a nearby power supply and was drawing a large amount of electricity.

    When police entered the home, they found dozens of marijuana plants in various stages of growth growing under some lights. Some of the plants were as tall as eight-feet high. The officers had stumbled onto a marijuana grow house, which is essentially an indoor pot farm. “We’ve seen an upsurge in presence of these grow houses,” said Mauricio Fernandez, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio District office.”” ‘snipped’

    Article turns into a DEA training/ propaganda article training citizens on spotting commercial grow houses and no suggestions on what to do if they beat your door down if they get the wrong address.

    With our economy and real estate market going stagnant what better way to get marijuana across the border than to grow it here? With the billions America sends to the cartels they can and are buying properties all over the US,,just sitting waiting on the grow crews to occupy them.

  14. davidst says:

    I think it’s clear by now that Obama is a staunch advocate of financial elites and special interests. A good drug policy would help average folks, local economies and Latin American countries. The status quo empowers well connected industries and the state security apparatus. Only a real game changer like Ron Paul will help us with drug policy.

  15. claygooding says:

    New voice in drug-war debate: businessmen who are feeling the pinch

    “”Legalizing drugs in an effort to combat organized crime, narcotrafficking and gang violence in Latin America has gained traction in recent months. Presidents from Guatemala and Colombia have raised the possibility of legalization in their countries and the region, with politicians from Costa Rica, Mexico and El Salvador joining the debate. “snip”

    The issues of drug trafficking and citizen security are no longer just state problems, says César Zamora, Nicaraguan businessman and vice president of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America (AACCLA). They’re also problems for Latin American businesses and economies.”” “snipped”

    When the drug warriors started discussing how much money was involved in the black market a seed was planted,,greed will overcome greed.

  16. Duncan20903 says:

    Marijuana leads to corruption of bar patrons:

    Baltimore Liquor Board Post-Mortem: Dubai, Milan, a Tiki Barge, and Juelz SantanaFebruary 17, 2012
    By Erik Maza
    The Baltimore Sun

    Of the seven charges against Dubai nightclub at the Baltimore Liquor Board Thursday, one in particular piqued commissioner Elizabeth Smith.

    Dubai, the nightclub on Redwood and Calvert streets that used to be called Velvet Rope, had been accused by Baltimore police officer Stephen Wilson of tolerating [marijuana].

    On September 2 of last year, Wilson was called to the club for crowd control after rappers Jim Jones and Juelz Santana had performed.

    Wilson “walked into a visible cloud of smoke that had a strong odor of marijuana,” he told the board.

  17. claygooding says:

    “”one in particular piqued commissioner Elizabeth Smith.

    Dubai, the nightclub on Redwood and Calvert streets that used to be called Velvet Rope, had been accused by Baltimore police officer Stephen Wilson of tolerating [marijuana].””

    That a liquor board member didn’t realize people were smoking reefer in Baltimore clubs tells us the she needs to get out more,,how does someone live that well insulated from the world? Jeez,,they smoke in clubs in Muskogee now.

    • allan says:

      indeed… a club/bar/tavern that has good live music isn’t a good club (for me) unless come set break there’s at least a small crowd and a cloud of stanky smoke somewhere outside. Funny isn’t it that we drink our own beers but always share our pot…

      • darkcycle says:

        Allan, I used to be a bouncer back in my undergraduate days at a Reggae club in Seattle’s U-district. First, let me tell you what a laid back gig it is being a BOUNCER in a Reggae bar. Second, the clouds were thicker INSIDE!

        • allan says:

          yah mon…

          after over a decade of doing RockMed here in OR I state as fact that I have never had a client w/ cannabis issues. Alcohol? X@!&*!… Damitol!® I’ve pretty much given up working shows, just about everything we get involved in is booze related.

          Trippers are fun. Drunks are hell. It’s fairly formulaic to take someone that made a psychedelic left instead of a right and needs a call home and be able to bring them home all the while making it a pleasant rest of the journey. With booze, there’s vomit and passing out and total lack of coordination and bad attitudes and… well you know.

          That comparison alone makes my case. That’s real world, blue collar, hands on, working with the people edjumication on drug realities. Do I think everybody should smoke pot? Hell no, I hate seeing good herb wasted on dolts, but everyone should be free to make that decision. And it is a logical decision to move towards the far FAR safer alternative that ganja offers us.

          And the old (3,000 yrs?) boy in China w/ his 2 1/2 pounds of good bud righteously challenges the alcohol as tradition paradigm.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          2700 or so years ago, it was a full grown man, the blond hair and blue eyes also made some people wonder a bit.

  18. addycat says:

    I know this may seem a bit off topic, although it’s really not, but WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN VIRGINIA RIGHT NOW??? The gubner signed a bill mandating rape – that’s right, RAPE, by VA’s own definition – of any woman who wants an abortion. She will be subjected to an invasive, medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasound without her consent. Meanwhile, the debate in this country is currently back in the 1950s on the issue of contraception. A lot of people are cynically saying that this is good for the Dems, but as we can see with the drug issue the Dems are more than happy to legislate complete control over our bodies. Who knows, maybe they will “compromise” on the issue with the Christian Taliban.
    I’m not gonna lie – I’m pretty scared right now. Considering that we cannot trust democracy to work in this country, there is no reason that these nut jobs won’t totally take over this country – if not in November, then in a couple of years. And then they will say that God determines our unalienable rights, and that any freedom to control our bodies was never part of the deal…

  19. darkcycle says:

    It’s the Christian Taliban, Addy. These people may pay lip service to American Democracy and freedom, but in reality, that is the LAST thing they want. They want control over you, me, every thing we do and every thought we’re allowed to have. And especially, they want control of OUR CHILDREN. The religious right is moving into the schools and every other public sphere right now in order to do just that. Remember, they care not at all for you, only for control of that hypothetical fetus that may, or may not reside in your womb.

    • Windy says:

      And they only care about that fetus while it is still in the womb, once the fetus becomes an infant by virtue of being born, they move on to the next expectant mother and leave the new mother and child to fend for themselves regardless if the mother has the resources to keep her child fed, clothed, and sheltered, or not.

  20. Skippy says:

    Sick: Young, Undercover Cops Flirted With Students to Trick Them Into Selling Pot

    Working at the Drug Policy Alliance for the last twelve years I have read and heard countless stories of people having their lives ruined because of our country’s cruel war on drugs. Last weekend, the nationally syndicated show This American Life highlighted a story that is so insane, you don’t know whether to laugh or puke.

    Last year in three high schools in Florida, several undercover police officers posed as students. The undercover cops went to classes, became Facebook friends and flirted with the other students. One 18-year-old honor student named Justin fell in love with an attractive 25-year-old undercover cop after spending weeks sharing stories about their lives, texting and flirting with each other.

    One day she asked Justin if he smoked pot. Even though he didn’t smoke marijuana, the love-struck teen promised to help find some for her. Every couple of days she would text him asking if he had the marijuana. Finally, Justin was able to get it to her. She tried to give him $25 for the marijuana and he said he didn’t want the money — he got it for her as a present.

    A short while later, the police did a big sweep and arrest 31 students — including Justin. Almost all were charged with selling a small amount of marijuana to the undercover cops. Now Justin has a felony hanging over his head.

    This story is not unique to Florida and it reminds me of an 18-year-old Mitchell Lawrence, a young man from Great Barrington, Mass., who served two years in jail for selling a joint to an undercover cop. The officer befriended Lawrence and his friends and would hang out with them. One day the cop asked if Lawrence had any weed. Lawrence gave the cop a joint. The cop handed him $20. Lawrence hesitated, but the cop insisted on giving him the money. “Selling” the joint, because they were hanging out less than a 1000 feet from a school, and thus was considered a “drug free school zone,” carried a mandatory minimum two-year sentence.

    The drug war is sick. How much money was wasted by our law enforcement to get these few bags of marijuana “off the streets”? How do these cops look themselves in the mirror? Seducing 18-year-olds to fall in love or pretending to be friends and then tricking them into procuring small amounts of marijuana so they can charge them with felonies is beyond slimy and diametrically opposed to the officers’ charge to “serve and protect.”

    We often hear that we need to fight the drug war to protect the kids. As these despicable examples show, more often the drug war is ruining young people’s lives and doing more harm than good.

    By Tony Newman | Sourced from AlterNet

  21. the memory hole says:

    Found the article about ‘no more weapons’ billboard. Mexican president Calderon is behind it and they are made out of crushed weapons:

  22. Lukas says:

    I’m surprised to find that this was on a teen website.

  23. I always get an F on my drug tests says:

    The local Sack ‘n’ Save had a help wanted sign up. Applied and find out there is drug testing. They had an interesting way of drug testing. The kit resembled a match stick enclosed in a glass pill bottle that you put between cheek and gum and leave there while being watched. Also there were a battery of psychology questions from Unicru which had a number rating after each question. Do you like to work alone would be a question or if you see other employees stealing do you report it. All of this just to work a 7$ an hour job stocking groceries. I smoked a Blueberry Kush joint with my brother the other day so I wouldn’t pass the test anyway. I should go ahead with it just to cost them some money on the failed drug test.

    • claygooding says:

      Urine testing for low paying jobs keeps the low income people in line while most high paying jobs never require drug testing.

  24. Peter says:

    the volokh conspiracy site has a link to the rs article on obamas record on mmj with an open comments page

  25. FillTheAirWithNeedles says:

    If you want a picture of the very near future, imagine a rather large bag of weed slapping a prohibitionist across the head — forever!

  26. Peter says:

    I finally got round to reading Malcolm’s epic battle on the site. Never been to that site before but what a bunch of nincompoops…. well done malcolm for taking on and sustaining such a battle with raw, frightening ignorance

    • claygooding says:

      You would think the EPA would shut down a site with that much ignorance,,it has to be toxic,what are they waiting for?

    • ZooShockedTillEternity says:

      Thanks! It was extremely brave of you to even go there.
      I certainly don’t ever want to go back. That whole fucking place should be filled in with radioactive cement.

  27. ezrydn says:

    Some may not have read what I wrote last year but it stands repeating. Last Oct., Howard, Misty and I were at my VN Company Reunion in CA. At breakfast, in the restaurant, I watched Howard take on 4 conversations at the same time in different languages (English, Spanish, French and German). He never mussed a beat and had all the enjoined agreeing with him after just a couple of minutes.

    It’s amazing to watch him “kick in.”

  28. Duncan20903 says:


    From the “foaming at the mouth hysterical rhetoric” category:

    Synthetic marijuana ban in Corbin
    Fri 5:48 PM, Feb 17, 2012

    On Thursday, Whitley County banned synthetic marijuana.

    Corbin has followed suit and just adding to the growing list of places in our region trying to rid their communities of cannabanoids.

    Corbin city officials said synthetic marijuana was becoming an increasingly growing problem in the community.

    “It’s a first cousin of meth it’s a killer and we want to look forward to keeping our kids brain cells intact and as well as their lives,” Joe White said.

    OK, so who’s going to volunteer to break the news to them about the existence of the endo-cannabinoid system?

    • lostInNantucket says:

      And maybe somebody would like to show them what else the ‘law of unintended consequences’ has in store for them:

    • claygooding says:

      I am investigating the cause of prohibitionism,,,what is the gateway to this foul social dysfunction?

      Please feel free to add to the suspect list:

      Dropped on their head as a child,,spent too much time in the closet finding themselves,,,had to tie a pork chop around their neck to get the dog to play with them,,,,has zero friends,only people that avoid them,,,,,are making money from spouting their words even they don’t believe(my top choice)

      If we can find the gateway to this affliction perhaps we can end it in our lifetimes.

      PS: any chance of getting federal funding for this?

      • TheWildMouse says:

        Maybe they were traumatized by constantly hearing their mama say
        “Damn, I should’ve just given head.”

  29. Rabo Karabekian says:

    Russia Thwarts U.S. Central Asian Counterdrug Program
    February 19, 2012

    Source: Eurasianet

    Russia has reportedly convinced its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization not to participate in a new U.S. counterdrug program in Central Asia, apparently concerned that it would give the U.S. too much leverage over the regional governments. The program, called the Central Asia Counternarcotics Initiative, would promote regional cooperation in countering drug trafficking by setting up task forces in all five Central Asian countries and hooking them up with similar task forces in Afghanistan and Russia.

    But Russia has apparently taken a dim view of the proposal, reports the Russian newspaper Kommersant:

    Moscow is convinced that the main objective of this initiative is strengthening the military and political presence in a region that Moscow regards as its area of ​​special interests. As a result, Russia has managed to persuade the CSTO members to not participate in it.

    The key problem, according to Kommersant’s sources:

    As planned by the United States, the task forces must have very wide powers, and most importantly, full access to secret operational information supplied to law enforcement agencies and intelligence services of the Central Asian countries. Moscow feared that this would give the U.S. an opportunity to gather sensitive information and then use these data to blackmail the governments in the region.

    RFE/RL spoke with American diplomats involved in the effort, who confirmed that it was blocked:

    A U.S. official familiar with the matter confirmed that Washington’s delegation was unable to reach a final agreement at the meeting but said the plan has not been rejected.

    Still, the official described the outcome as “a big surprise.”

    Susan Pittman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, told RFE/RL that bilateral consultations with the Central Asian states would continue.

    “We continue to discuss with Central Asian officials the establishment of vetted units and other types of counternarcotics assistance that the U.S. is prepared to provide,” she said.

    Take a step back here. Recall that Russia has for years been angry that the U.S. isn’t doing more to combat drugs in Afghanistan, but the U.S. doesn’t want to get more heavily involved there because it would alienate the populations whose hearts and minds the U.S. and NATO troops are trying to win. And now Russia is blocking a U.S. effort to counter drug trafficking in Central Asia. So, the U.S. wants to fight trafficking in Central Asia but not Afghanistan, and Russia wants to fight it in Afghanistan but not in Central Asia. Both countries are relegating the fight against opium trafficking to a secondary priority: for the U.S., outweighed by the desire to win in Afghanistan; for Russia, by the desire to keep the U.S. out of Central Asia. Is it any wonder, then, that the drug trade continues to flourish?

  30. allan says:

    A Robert Sharpe letter in the Billings Gazette needs some help in comments:

    Legalizing pot makes more sense than drug war

    • acd6a7-bb87-591 says:

      This may help:

      We have to stop this evil weed from attacking our kids and giving them strange ideas!

      We just need to throw a few more trillion dollars at this. Give the police total power and proper weapons – like Death-Rays that work on large crowds. Take away forever what’s left of everybody’s stupid rights and liberties. Indulge ourselves in even more wishful thinking or bizarre pseudo-science, then, before more hippies or the pathetically ill & dying get a chance to corrupt and endanger our truly pure and caring society with their evil plants, send all our children to Newt’s Moon Colony of re-education to be taught about marital fidelity.

      • Hubert says:

        Sarcasm will be a concept over their heads and all that rights and checks and balances crap was conceived by evil old racist white guys anyway.

        • acd6a7-bb87-591 says:

          I fully agree with the first part of your post, but the prohibitionists are not the intended audience. I’m having a laugh at their expense and hopefully inviting closer scrutiny of their arguments by people who are yet undecided.

          What was your contribution?

  31. Enjoy the DOOM says:

    The following is a sample of ask an average guy or gal on the street random questions and their answers:

    Name a country starting with a U? One country would be enough, but most couldn’t come up with an answer. One respondent said “Europe”! Another was “Utopia”

    What is the Coalition of the Willing? No one knew

    What’s the religion in Israel? Answers ranged from “Israelis” to Muslim

    What religion are Buddhist monks? Not a clue

    Who won the Vietnam War? One guess was the US (we’ll give her an “A” for trying)

    Who is Fidel Castro? No idea

    How many sides does a triangle have? Answers…none, four, “I don’t know”

    What is the currency used in the UK? “The Queen’s money”

    In terms of the war on terror, who do you think should be the country to invade next? Italy, Saudi Arabia

    Where is Sri Lanka? Even with a global map most couldn’t find it

    Where is Iran? Couldn’t find it

    Where is North Korea? A map showing Australia with the name “Korea” got everyone to point to that as Korea

    Where is France? Change Australia to France, and that was the location picked

    Kofi Anan is a drink. True or false? Said to be a coffee drink

    Who is Tony Blair? Linda Blair’s brother

    Which countries are in the Axis of Evil? New York, California, Florida

    Who was the first man on the moon? One person got this right

    What is a mosque? An animal?

    How many kidneys does a person have? How about one

    What is “collateral damage”? No idea

    How many World Wars have there been? I must have missed one because one of the guesses was “three”.

    Which state does KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) come from? No idea

    Star Wars is based on a true story. Yes or No? Guess… “Based on a true story”

    What are Hiroshima and Nagasaki famous for? Sumo wrestling

    How many Eiffel towers are there in Paris? How about TEN

    What is the Al-Qaeda? No idea

    Where was the Berlin wall? No idea

    The language spoken in Latin America is Latin. True or false? Explain. “Obviously it is Latin”…for sure, for sure!

    What state is due north of South Carolina? No idea

    Who is the Vice President of the US? Bin Ladin

    What countries border the United States? Did you know the answer was South America? Someone shouted out Canada, but she was put down with the response, “Canada is a state you idiot”.

    How many states are there? Most said 52…Obama said 57…so go figure! I guess this is trickle down education at work!

    Source: stumbleupon

    • Windy says:

      Sad, just damn sad. This is why we need to end public schooling and all private schools based on the same system and go back to unschooling. Separating children into groups based on age, while keeping them penned up for 6 hours with little to no physical activity, listening to a droning teacher trying to drum into them the specific answers to tests is destroying their natural curiosity, their desire to learn, and any critical thinking skills they may have developed before their first day of school. This is why we have such a stupidly docile society (which is exactly what the power elite want, but which is extremely detrimental to the continuing existence of the human race and any sense of freedom).

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