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UN Global War on Drugs a Failure?

The 10 year-old strategy of the United Nations to eradicate the world’s illegal drug market is “a spectacular failure of policy.”

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

New York, NY, United States (4E) – The 10 year-old strategy of the United Nations to eradicate the world’s illegal drug market is “a spectacular failure of policy.”

This stunning claim was levelled at the UN by the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) in its new report, “Taking stock: A decade of drug policy.” Based in London, IDPC is a network of 174 NGOs that promotes objective and open debate on drug policy at national, regional and international levels. IDPC supports evidence-based policies that are effective at reducing drug-related harm.

IDPC evaluated the UN Office of Drug and Crime’s 10-year plan. It concluded the UN plan “continues to generate a catastrophic impact on health, human rights, security and development, while not even remotely reducing the global supply of illegal drugs.”

The IDPC report said there had been a 145 percent jump in drug-related deaths over the last decade. These deaths reached a peak of around 450,000 deaths per year in 2015.

There was a 130 percent increase in the cultivation of opium poppies; a 34 percent rise in the coca bush production and no sign of a reduction in cannabis growing. The plan has a specific target to eliminate or reduce the “illicit cultivation of opium poppy, coca bush and cannabis plant.”

The report says its data “illustrates the carnage that the war on drugs has wreaked over the past decade”.

It noted the main drug used is cannabis or marijuana. The next most popular are opioids and amphetamines. Consumption of the latter jumped 136 percent over thelast decade.

“This report is another nail in the coffin for the war on drugs,” said Ann Fordham, IDPC executive director.

IDPC is urging the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs to consider a different approach to narcotics strategy for the next 10 years in advance of the March 2019 summit in Vienna, Austria.

The fact that governments and the UN do not see fit to properly evaluate the disastrous impact of the last 10 years of drug policy, is depressingly unsurprising.

“Governments will meet next March at the UN and will likely rubber-stamp more of the same for the next decade in drug policy. This would be a gross dereliction of duty, and a recipe for more blood spilled in the name of drug control,” rues the report.

The report also said punitive drug policies focusing on eradicating the illegal drug market has caused human rights violations along with threats to public health and order.

Mass incarceration, fuelled by the criminalization of those who use drugs, has left one in five prisoners incarcerated for drug offences. Most of those imprisoned were locked-up for possession for personal use.

At least 3,940 people were executed for a drug offence in 2017. The report also noted that over 27,000 people died in extrajudicial killings in drug crackdowns in the Philippines.

The report said drug-related deaths skyrocketed by 145% over the last decade, with more than 71,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017 alone.

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Politics

Students in MAGA Hats Mock Native American After Rally

A diocese in Kentucky apologized Saturday after videos emerged showing students from a Catholic boyshigh school mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a rally in Washington.

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

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Washington, DC, United States (VOA) – A diocese in Kentucky apologized Saturday after videos emerged showing students from a Catholic boyshigh school mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a rally in Washington.

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum.

Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and sweatshirts, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.

‘Appropriate’ punishment

In a joint statement,the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School apologized to Phillips. Officials said they are investigating and will take “appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

“We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips,” the statement read. “This behavior is opposed to the church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.”

According to the Indian Country Todaywebsite, Phillips is an Omaha elder and Vietnam veteran who holds an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans at Arlington National Cemetery.

“When I was there singing, I heard them saying, ‘Build that wall, build that wall,’ ” Phillips said, as he wiped away tears in a video posted on Instagram. “This is indigenous lands. We’re not supposed to have walls here. We never did.”

He told The Washington Post that while he was drumming, he thought about his wife, Shoshana, who died of bone marrow cancer nearly four years ago, and the threats that indigenous communities around the world are facing.

“I felt like the spirit was talking through me,” Phillips told the newspaper.

State Rep. Ruth Buffalo, a North Dakota state lawmaker and member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, said she was saddened to see students showing disrespect to an elder who is also a U.S. military veteran at what was supposed to be a celebration of all cultures.

“The behavior shown in that video is just a snapshot of what indigenous people have faced and are continuing to face,” Buffalo said.

She said she hoped it would lead tosome kind of meetingwith the students to provide education on issues facing Native Americans.

Online fury

The videos prompted a torrent of outrage online. Actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that the footage “brought me to tears,” while actor Chris Evans tweeted that the students’ actions were “appalling” and “shameful.”

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., who is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and had been at the rally earlier in the day, used Twitter to sharply criticize what she called a “heartbreaking” display of “blatant hate, disrespectand intolerance.”

Haaland, who is also Catholic, told The Associated Press she was particularly saddened to see the boys mocking an elder, who is revered in Native American culture. She placed some of the blame on President Donald Trump, who has used Indian names like Pocahontas as an insult.

“It is sad that we have a president who uses Native American women’s names as racial slurs, and that’s an example that these kids are clearly following, considering the fact thatthey had their Make America Great Againhats on,” Haaland said. “He’s really brought out the worst in people.”

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Pentagon IDs 3 Americans Killed in Syria Suicide Bomb Attack

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Washington, DC, United States (NewsBahn) – Pentagon IDs 3 Americans Killed in Syria Suicide Bomb Attack

The Pentagon has identified three of the four Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State group in Syria this week.

They are Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, who was based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, from upstate New York and based at Fort Meade, Maryland; and a civilian, Scott A. Wirtz, from St. Louis.

The Pentagon hasn’t identified the fourth casualty, a civilian contractor. The four were killed in the northern Syrian town of Manbij on Wednesday. The attack also wounded three U.S. troops and was the deadliest assault on U.S. troops in Syria since American forces went into the country in 2015.

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Report: Trump Told Attorney Cohen to Lie to Congress

U.S. President Donald Trump is reported to have directed his attorney to lie to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The late Thursday account on BuzzFeed News said two anonymous federal law enforcement officials were the sources for the report about the president and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

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Washignton, DC, United States (VOA) – U.S. President Donald Trump is reported to have directed his attorney to lie to Congress about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The late Thursday account on BuzzFeed News said two anonymous federal law enforcement officials were the sources for the report about the president and his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

The sources say Cohen told special counsel Robert Mueller that the president told him to lie to Congress about Trump’s dealings with Russia.

BuzzFeed says the anonymous officials are also “involved in an investigation of the matter.”

According to the BuzzFeed account, Trump and two of his children, Ivanka and Donald Jr., “received regular, detailed updates about the real estate development from Cohen, whom they put in charge of the project.”

Russia negotiations

At the same time Cohen was providing the Trumps with news about the negotiations with Russia, Trump was engaged in his successful presidential election and denying that he had any business deals with Russia.

“The allegation that the president of the United States may have suborned perjury before our committee in an effort to curtail the investigation and cover up his business deals with Russia is among the most serious to date” Representative Adam Schiff of California said via Twitter. “We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true.”

Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas posted on Twitter that if the BuzzFeed story is true, then Trump “must resign or be impeached.”

BuzzFeed says it learned about Trump’s effort to have Cohen lie to Congress “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”

Giuliani on collusion

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, has acknowledged that some officials with Trump’s 2016 campaign may have colluded with Russia to help him win, but says that Trump himself did not.

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign, or between people in the campaign,” Giuliani, a former New York mayor, told CNN late Wednesday.

“I said the president of the United States,” he added. “There is not a single bit of evidence the president of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspiring with the Russians to hack” the opposition Democratic National Committee.

On Thursday, Giuliani sought to clarify his remarks, saying, “I represent only President Trump not the Trump campaign. There was no collusion by President Trump in any way, shape or form. Likewise, I have no knowledge of any collusion by any of the thousands of people who worked on the campaign.”

Giuliani’s comments during the CNN interview about Trump campaign involvement with Moscow were sharply at odds with what Trump himself has tweeted at least 13 times, that his successful campaign for the White House did not collude with Russia.

Most recently, last month, Trump said on Twitter:

Russia has rejected the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community that Moscow’s agents meddled in the election to help Trump win, although President Vladimir Putin acknowledged at last July’s Helsinki summit with Trump that he wanted the then-real estate mogul to defeat his Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of prosecutors have been investigating Trump campaign links to Russia for 20 months and also whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

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