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- Ignoring Latin America: The War on Drugs by TheMomCat
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This is an Open Thread
Apr 18 2012
Our regular featured content-
These featured articles-
This is an Open Thread
Apr 18 2012
In the failed “War on Drugs”, President Obama appears to be standing alone in his refusal to consider the alternative to the “zero tolerance” policy which has been an abject failure, that has cost thousands of lives, imprisoned millions, mostly minorities for minor offenses, and cost billions of dollars. At the recent Summit of the Americas in Colombia, demands by the leaders of Latin American countries for exploring the option of legalizing drugs and institutional regulations are being dismissed by Pres. Obama.
With demand for drugs increasing and drug-related violence worsening, we ask if it is time to reassess drug policies.
“Drug addiction in the vast majority of countries is a very serious public health problem. Drug trafficking continues to be the principle financier of violence and terrorism. Colombia and many other countries in the region believe it is necessary to begin a discussion, an analysis of this issue, without judgment and without dogmas, and look at the different scenarios and the possible alternatives to confronting this challenge with the greatest effectiveness.”
Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president
With the total failure of the drug war causing many Latin American political leaders to publicly question the wisdom of prohibition, President Obama was forced to repeatedly address the issue this weekend at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. Unfortunately, Obama did his best to quickly dismiss the topic with incoherent excuses. From the LA Times:
Facing calls at a regional summit to consider decriminalization, Obama said he is open to a debate about drug policy, but he believes that legalization could lead to greater problems in countries hardest hit by drug-fueled violence.
“Legalization is not the answer,” Obama told other hemispheric leaders at the two-day Summit of the Americas.
“The capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint could be just as corrupting, if not more corrupting, than the status quo,” he said.
This is simply an absurd defense of prohibition. If drugs were legalized and regulated like any other product, the business running them would be operate like any other legal business such as beer breweries, pharmaceutical makers, car manufacturers, alcohol distillers, dairies, etc. While corporations can and sometimes do have a corrupting influence over a nation’s politics, the idea that the level of corruption and violence from a legal business would ever be on the scale that we see with the cartels in the illicit drug trade doesn’t pass the laugh test.
Watershed summit will admit that prohibition has failed, and call for more nuanced and liberalised tactics
Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country’s military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, Pérez Molina writes: “The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated.”
Pérez Molina concedes that moving beyond prohibition is problematic. “To suggest liberalisation – allowing consumption, production and trafficking of drugs without any restriction whatsoever – would be, in my opinion, profoundly irresponsible. Even more, it is an absurd proposition. If we accept regulations for alcoholic drinks and tobacco consumption and production, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?”
He insists, however, that prohibition has failed and an alternative system must be found. “Our proposal as the Guatemalan government is to abandon any ideological consideration regarding drug policy (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach to drug regulation. Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that drug consumption and production should be legalised, but within certain limits and conditions.” [..]
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil and chairman of the global commission on drug policy, has said it is time for “an open debate on more humane and efficient drug policies”, a view shared by George Shultz, the former US secretary of state, and former president Jimmy Carter.
This is a discussion that is long past due.
Apr 18 2012
Our friend and community member, Robyn’s friend Kate Bornstein was a guest in MSNBC’s the Melissa Harris Perry Show to discuss LGBT and, specifically Transgender issues, with Ms. Perry and a panel comprised of LGBT community activist, organizers and one potential politician. It was a major topic this week since when the Obama administration decide not to issue an executive order that would ban LGBT discrimination by contractors hired by the Federal government.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Wednesday decided not to move forward with an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination among federal contractors that is a top priority for the LGBT community.
“While it is not our usual practice to discuss Executive Orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an Executive Order on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time,” a senior administration official told The Huffington Post. “We support legislation that has been introduced and we will continue to work with congressional sponsors to build support for it.”
The decision is a blow to LGBT activists who had huddled with administration officials at the White House earlier in the day to discuss the status of the executive order. That meeting featured White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett along with officials from the Human Rights Campaign, Center for American Progress, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other groups.
There is currently no federal law that bars public and private employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, although pushing for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) — which the administration supports — remains a top goal of the LGBT community. But with a reluctant Congress, many activists believed that their best hope of securing protections would be through an executive order from the president. Such an executive order has been endorsed by 72 members of Congress.
Joining Melissa Harris Perry are author Kate Bornstein, Mara Keisling, executive director of for the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Mel Wymore, a Democratic candidate for the New York City Councilas they discuss gender identity and discrimination against the LGBT community.
Earlier this year the Obama administration issues a rule for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to end discrimination against LGBT Americans. Kai Wright of [Colorlines.com ] joins the Melissa Harris Perry panelists as they discuss how to access the Obama administrations non-discrimination policies that encompass sexual orientation and gender identity.
Apr 18 2012
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
April 18 is the 108th day of the year (109th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 257 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1775, British troops march out of Boston on a mission to confiscate the American arsenal at Concord and to capture Patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, known to be hiding at Lexington. As the British departed, Boston Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city to warn Adams and Hancock and rouse the Minutemen.
By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.
On the night of April 18-19, 1775, just hours before the battles of Lexington and Concord, Revere performed his “Midnight Ride”. He and William Dawes were instructed by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the movements of the British Army, which was beginning a march from Boston to Lexington, ostensibly to arrest Hancock and Adams and seize the weapons stores in Concord.
The British army (the King’s “regulars”) had been stationed in Boston since the ports were closed in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, and was under constant surveillance by Revere and other patriots as word began to spread that they were planning a move. On the night of April 18, 1775, the army began its move across the Charles River toward Lexington, and the Sons of Liberty immediately went into action. At about 11 pm, Revere was sent by Dr. Warren across the Charles River to Charlestown, on the opposite shore, where he could begin a ride to Lexington, while Dawes was sent the long way around, via the Boston Neck and the land route to Lexington.
In the days before April 18, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the Old North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known. In what is well known today by the phrase “one if by land, two if by sea”, one lantern in the steeple would signal the army’s choice of the land route, while two lanterns would signal the route “by water” across the Charles River. This was done to get the message through to Charlestown in the event that both Revere and Dawes were captured. Newman and Captain John Pulling momentarily held two lanterns in the Old North Church as Revere himself set out on his ride, to indicate that the British soldiers were in fact crossing the Charles River that night. Revere rode a horse lent to him by John Larkin, Deacon of the Old North Church.
There were other riders that night besides Dawes, including a woman, Sybil Ludington. The other men were Israel Bissel and Samuel Prescott. a doctor who happened to be in Lexington “returning from a lady friend’s house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m.”