Support the troops bullshit:
Is this true?
Support the troops bullshit:
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It seems that women have outpaced men in the Canadian coke smuggling game in recent years.
As reported by Global News, cocaine smuggling into the Great White North has been rising steadily for at least the last four years and women now move more of the drug across Canada’s border than men.
Global’s numbers—which they got from intelligence reports circulated by Canadian Border agents—saw that there were more pounds of coke seized at airports from 2012 to 2015 from women than there were from men. While there were less actual seizures from women (223) than men (281) they were bringing in more bang for their buck—812 kg from woman opposed to the 681 kg from men. According to Global, airports are now the main route for the smuggling and the primary transit hubs involved in these seizures were Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and St. Lucia.
The monetary amount of all cocaine seized by border officials in 2016 beat 2015 by $30.5 million—$94.5 mil to $64 mil. Global reports of one document stated that “comparing year to date in 2016 and 2015, both the number of seizure (+79 percent) and overall volume (+201 percent) of cocaine have increased.” Drug seizures in general are also up, from a little more than 1,000 in 2015 to 1,160 in 2016.
It’s important to note that the women involved in this type of activity are most often vulnerable and come from areas of extreme poverty. A UN report from 2014, states that research indicates that women’s “women’s involvement in drug use and the drug trade reflects the decreased economic opportunities and lower political status that women face in everyday life.” The report also states that women’s involvement in the drug trade was on the rise worldwide and that “while there are exceptions, women are delegated low-ranking, low-paying, high-risk positions.”
One aviation expert that was contacted by Global said that the seized amount was just the “tip of the iceberg” compared to what actually made it into the country.
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Yikes! Mothers don’t let your children play football!
The evidence indicating that American football does lasting harm to players is mounting.
July 25, 2017
It’s the most damning evidence against the American football establishment to date.
A new study has found that 110 of 111 deceased former National Football League (NFL) players had evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), or permanent brain damage as a result of repeated blunt force injuries to the head. Such injuries can result in behavioral changes or cognitive decline, like memory loss or dementia.
The study, by a team of researchers led by Boston University and the Veteran’s Association in Boston, was published July 25 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers were looking at the association of CTE in football players in general, and were funded in part by both the Concussion Legacy Foundation and the NFL itself. More broadly, they found that 177 of 202 deceased players who played at any level (including college and semi-professional) for an average 15 years (ranging from roughly 10 to 20 years) also had evidence of CTE.
Researchers conducted the study in two parts. First, a team of neuroscientists interviewed family members about the football players’ health and behavior. They asked for evidence of any kind of substance abuse, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, sleep disorders, and even chronic headaches. Next, a separate team blinded to the interview results performed examinations on the late players’ brains and looked for evidence researchers previously decided were indicative of CTE—things like the lesions or patterns of tangled or darkened fibers in the brain.
A new study using university students reveals those with high psychopathic traits showed a significantly reduces response time when being prompted to lie following training than those low levels of the traits. Researchers say their findings provide evidence that those with higher psychopathic traits may be better at learning to lie.
Summary: A new study using university students reveals those with high psychopathic traits showed a significantly reduces response time when being prompted to lie following training than those low levels of the traits. Researchers say their findings provide evidence that those with higher psychopathic traits may be better at learning to lie.
Source: Biomed Central.
Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie than individuals who show few psychopathic traits, according to a study published in the open access journal Translational Psychiatry. The findings indicate that people with high psychopathic traits may not have a ‘natural’ capacity to lie better, but rather are better at learning how to lie, according to the researchers.
Dr. Tatia Lee and Dr. Robin Shao of the State Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at The University of Hong Kong found that after practicing a task that involved giving a series of truthful or untruthful responses about whether or not they recognized people in a collection of photographs, individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits were able to lie much more quickly than before practice. By contrast, individuals with low levels of psychopathic traits showed no improvement in their lying speed.
Dr Tatia Lee, the corresponding authors said: “The stark contrast between individuals with high and low levels of psychopathic traits in lying performance following two training sessions is remarkable, given that there were no significant differences in lying performance between the two groups prior to training.”
Dr Shao added: “High psychopathy is characterized by untruthfulness and manipulativeness but the evidence so far was not clear on whether high-psychopathic individuals in the general population tend to lie more or better than others. Our findings provide evidence that people with high psychopathic traits might just be better at learning how to lie.”
To find out if individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits were better at learning how to lie than others, the researchers recruited 52 students from The University of Hong Kong – 23 who showed low levels of psychopathic traits and 29 who showed high levels of psychopathic traits based on a questionnaire that can be used to assess psychopathy in a non-clinical setting.
Students in both groups were shown a series of photographs of familiar and unfamiliar faces. They received a cue to give either an honest or a dishonest response when asked whether they knew the person in the photograph or not. The researchers measured the students’ reaction times for each response and observed their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging methodology (fMRI). Participants then completed a two-session training exercise before repeating the task.
The researchers found that following the training exercise, individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits had significantly shorter response times when being prompted to lie than during the initial task. Individuals with low levels of psychopathic traits showed no changes in response time. The difference may be due to how the brains of individuals with high and low levels of psychopathic traits process lies.
Dr Lee said: “During lying, the ‘true’ information needs to be suppressed and reversed. Thus, lying requires a series of processes in the brain including attention, working memory, inhibitory control and conflict resolution which we found to be reduced in individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits. By contrast, in individuals with low levels of psychopathic traits this lie-related brain activity increased. The additional ‘effort’ it took their brains to process untruthful responses may be one of the reasons why they didn’t improve their lying speed.”
The researchers caution that as all participants in this study were university students, further research is needed to be able to generalize the findings to individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits in other populations.
Source: Matthew Lam – Biomed Central
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Are individuals with higher psychopathic traits better learners at lying? Behavioural and neural evidence” by R Shao and T M C Lee in Translational Psychiatry. Published online July 25 2017 doi:10.1038/tp.2017.147
We’ve surely all had one of those days where life seems to get the best of us. We become overwhelmed by all we have not accomplished. We compare ourselves to others. Our negative self talk ultimately results in a feeling of worthlessness. It can be enough to throw you back into bed, the covers above your head. You think maybe sleeping it off will be better. And while waking up to a new day is a great way to get over your bout of insecurity, some people find themselves experiencing this negativity day in and day out. Others may not even know it’s happening to them, and are suffering from other health issues as a result.
If you’re a bad sleeper — which tens of millions of people are — you might want to consider your sense of purpose in life.
The findings of the new study, out of Northwestern University, which looked to finding new options for treating such issues as sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome, provide scientists new data on how our state of mind may affect how well we sleep. It’s the first to examine such a connection over a longer period.
The study, which took place over a year, involved asking 823 adults between the ages of 60 and 100, 32 questions about their sleep habits and outlook on life. The sleep quality measured in the study spanned trouble falling asleep, staying asleep through the night, and feeling sleepy during the day.
The study also had the participants answer a series of statements, which included “I feel good when I think of what I’ve done in the past and what I hope to do in the future” and “some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them,” as a means for pointing out someone’s outlook on life.
Of the participants who said their lives had the most meaning, 63 percent were revealed to be less likely to experience sleep apnea, and 52 percent were less likely to have restless legs syndrome. They also had moderately better sleep quality overall.
Written by American Herald Tribune
July 25, 2017
(AHT) — Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has been highlighting his government’s independence from international money lending organizations and their detrimental impact the nation, the Telesur TV reported.
“A day like today in 1944 ended Bretton Woods Economic Conference (USA), in which the IMF and WB were established,” Morales tweeted. “These organizations dictated the economic fate of Bolivia and the world. Today we can say that we have total independence of them.”
Bolivia is now in the process of becoming a member of the Southern Common Market, Mercosur and Morales attended the group’s summit in Argentina last week.
Bolivia’s popular uprising known as the The Cochabamba Water War in 2000 against United States-based Bechtel Corporation over water privatization and the associated World Bank policies shed light on some of the debt issues facing the region.
Most of the protests focused on opposing privatization policies and austerity measures, including cuts to public services, privatization decrees, wage reductions, as well the weakening of labor rights.
Since 2006, a year after Morales came to power, social spending on health, education, and poverty programs has increased by over 45 percent.
The Morales administration made enormous transformations in the Andean nation. The figures speak for themselves: the nationalization of hydrocarbons, poverty reduction from 60% to less than 40%, a decrease in the rate of illiteracy from 13% to 3%, the tripling the GDP with an average growth of 5% annually, the quadrupling of the minimum wage, the increasing of state coverage on all fronts, and the development of infrastructure in communications, transportation, energy and industry. And above all, stability, an unusual word in the troubled political history Bolivia, of which today, with the economic slowdown experienced by many countries in the region, is a real privilege.
It’s not Russia that is forcing itself into the Middle East, but the countries that have grown weary and are tired of serving vested, genocidal interests, at the cost of their losing sovereignty, resources and security. The Iraqi government is sending its Vice President Nouri al-Maliki to purposely make such a request.
Published time: 24 Jul, 2017 21:00
Russian military and political presence in Iraq would bring balance to the whole Middle Eastern and North African region, Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi vice-president, said during his visit to Moscow.
“It’s well known that Russia has historically strong relations with Iraq, therefore we would like Russia to have a substantial presence in our country, both politically and militarily,” al-Maliki said during his meeting with the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Valentina Matviyenko.
“This way, a balance would be established that would benefit the region, its peoples and its countries,” he added.
The vice president said that Baghdad wants to boost relations with Moscow as it believes “in Russia’s role in solving most of the key international issues as well as improving stability and balance in our region and worldwide.”
Matviyenko, in turn, praised the commitment of the current Iraqi authorities to widening their cooperation with Moscow.
“Russia is also determined to expand its interaction with Iraq both politically and economically as well as in the military-technical sphere, and, of course, on the parliamentary level,” she said.
In his talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, earlier Monday, al-Maliki stressed that a Russian presence in Iraq would bring the balance which couldn’t be “undermined in a political sense in favor of any external party.”
“Today we need Russia’s greater involvement in Iraqi affairs, especially in the energy field. Now when we are done with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Iraq needs investments in energy and trade,” he said.
Earlier in July, the Iraqi authorities announced that the last IS stronghold in the country, Mosul, had been fully liberated from the terrorists, following an eight-months-long campaign backed by the US-led coalition.
Al-Maliki told Lavrov that Moscow and Baghdad “should enhance… cooperation in countering terrorism in the region.”
“We believe that both our countries are targets for terrorists and those who stand behind them,” al-Maliki said.
The global terror enterprise is, of course, run by the Deep State CIA / Khazarian Mafia that is losing power and influence by the minute.
One by one, they are disappearing “naturally” from this reality.
Differences in modern saliva genes suggest a “ghost” species of ancient humans interbred with others—and that it may not have been unusual.
Researchers studying saliva have found suggestions that a “ghost” species of archaic humans contributed genetic material to ancestors of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa today.
The research adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting sexual rendezvous between different archaic human species may not have been unusual.
“It seems that interbreeding between different early hominin species is not the exception—it’s the norm…”
Past studies have concluded that the forebears of modern humans in Asia and Europe interbred with other early hominin species, including Neanderthals and Denisovans. The new research is among more recent genetic analyses indicating that ancient Africans also had trysts with other early hominins.
“It seems that interbreeding between different early hominin species is not the exception—it’s the norm,” says Omer Gokcumen, an assistant professor of biological sciences in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.
“Our research traced the evolution of an important mucin protein called MUC7 that is found in saliva,” Gokcumen says. “When we looked at the history of the gene that codes for the protein, we see the signature of archaic admixture in modern day Sub-Saharan African populations.”
Scientists made the discovery while researching the purpose and origins of the MUC7 protein, which helps give spit its slimy consistency and binds to microbes—potentially helping to rid the body of disease-causing bacteria.
As part of this investigation, the team examined the MUC7 gene in more than 2,500 modern human genomes. The analysis yielded a surprise: a group of genomes from Sub-Saharan Africa had a version of the gene that was wildly different from versions found in other modern humans.
The Sub-Saharan variant was so distinctive that Neanderthal and Denisovan MUC7 genes matched more closely with those of other modern humans than the Sub-Saharan outlier did.
“Based on our analysis, the most plausible explanation for this extreme variation is archaic introgression—the introduction of genetic material from a ‘ghost’ species of ancient hominins,” Gokcumen says.
“This unknown human relative could be a species that has been discovered, such as a subspecies of Homo erectus, or an undiscovered hominin. We call it a ‘ghost’ species because we don’t have the fossils,” explains Gokcumen.
Given the rate that genes mutate during the course of evolution, the team calculated that the ancestors of people who carry the Sub-Saharan MUC7 variant interbred with another ancient human species as recently as 150,000 years ago, after the two species’ evolutionary path diverged from each other some 1.5 to 2 million years ago.
The scientists are interested in MUC7 because a previous study showed that the protein likely evolved to serve an important purpose in humans.
In some people, the gene that codes for MUC7 holds six copies of genetic instructions that direct the body to build parts of the corresponding protein. In other people, the gene harbors only five sets of these instructions (known as tandem repeats).
Prior studies by other researchers found that the five-copy version of the gene protected against asthma, but Gokcumen and colleagues did not see this association when they ran a more detailed analysis.
The new study did conclude, however, that MUC7 appears to influence the makeup of the oral microbiome, the collection of bacteria within the mouth. The evidence for this came from an analysis of biological samples from 130 people, which found that different versions of the MUC7 gene were strongly associated with different oral microbiome compositions.
“From what we know of MUC7, it makes sense that people with different versions of the MUC7 gene could have different oral microbiomes,” says Stefan Ruhl, co-lead of the study and a professor of oral biology in University of Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine.
“The MUC7 protein is thought to enhance the ability of saliva to bind to microbes, an important task that may help prevent disease by clearing unwanted bacteria or other pathogens from the mouth,” Ruhl says.
The research appears in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Additional researchers who contributed to the work are from Penn State; the Foundation for Research and Technology—Hellas in Greece; and the University of Minnesota.
The University at Buffalo Research Foundation, InnovCrete, and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research funded the work.
Source: University at Buffalo
Record shows that victims of police shootings during traffic stops are more likely to be black or Hispanic, lawmaker says.
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
Jul 24, 2017
The provisions tell motorists what to do if they’re pulled over by a police officer. They also provide specific warnings about what not to do, like reaching around in the vehicle or getting out.
The goal is pretty simple, said state Rep. Reginald Bolding, a Laveen Democrat who helped write the section.
It’s designed to keep drivers from getting shot by police.
Bolding, who is black, said the record shows that victims of police shootings during traffic stops are more likely to be black or Hispanic.
“When you look at what’s taken place across the country, you have seen a majority of individuals who are people of color that have had higher incidence of interactions with law-enforcement officers, particularly in shootings,” he said. “Hopefully we can get to a place where that’s not the reality.”
It was one such shooting of a black man — the 2016 killing of Philando Castile by a Minnesota police officer — that prompted Bolding to seek a rewrite of Arizona’s driving manual.
Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled Castile over because a brake light was out. Castile told the officer he had a firearm on him, to which the officer said, “Don’t reach for it then.” Castile said he wasn’t pulling it out, but the officer fired seven rapid shots into the vehicle, striking Castile five times.
The incident was captured on the dash camera of the patrol car. Prosecutors charged the officer with one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety. Yanez, who testified he feared for his life, was acquitted earlier this month.
In the wake of that incident, Bolding said he reached out to eight different police departments, asking them what motorists should do to avoid becoming victims.
“I got eight different recommendations,” he said.
by: Lance D Johnson
July 24, 2017
(Natural News) We are living under a pharmaceutical dictatorship that spends billions of dollars to systematically bribe medical professionals and influence lawmakers. This industry uses the media and associated press not only to advertise its products but also to influence news stories that scare people into vaccinating for alleged protection against benign illnesses.
For example, all media coverage of “measles outbreaks” is really a scripted re-run pharmaceutical advertisement used to scare parents so they will submit their children and comply with the vaccine industry’s current orders. No real information is shared about measles, why so-called vaccine protection wears off, why deadly measles cases were going down before a vaccine was introduced, or why no one has died from the complication of this illness in the past decade. These scare stories never reveal why it’s a good thing to be naturally exposed to the measles virus, so an individual can gain real, lifelong immunity that also prepares the immune system for more important stressors later in life.
These news stories are used to get in the minds of all people, to make everyone doubt themselves before they refuse the 50+ doses of vaccine that are now pushed on children by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which owns vaccine patents and is part of the industry. These scripted FAKE NEWS stories always target those who choose not to vaccinate to make them feel responsible for the advertised disease and to get other people to blame them too. It’s psychological warfare.
In fear of losing their license, reputation, and medical authority, most medical doctors and pediatricians push the vaccines that they are told to push by the CDC. They have virtually no knowledge of how the natural immune system works, so they blindly cite the science that they are fed by the industry and/or bribed to prescribe. It’s hard to find a doctor that hasn’t been bribed by pharmaceutical interests. Instead of learning about the many facets of the natural immune system and how it is activated, we’re taught to believe that we are deficient in vaccine science, that they are a safe replacement for our bodies and work 100% of the time. Even though infectious disease, communicable disease, superbug infections, neurological disorders and non-communicable disease including cancer are all at an all time high in our world, vaccines are credited for solving our public health problems and making our immune system strong! On top of all this, we’ve been weakened to the point of accepting vaccine damage as a normal way of life and forced to pretend this perpetual chemical and heavy metal augmentation of our bodies is going to sustain us.
From state to state, laws are written to push a number of vaccinations onto infants and children, forcing parents to beg for exemptions if they disagree with the vaccine dictates. Disease scares are played and replayed through the scripted media to motivate legislatures to pass new mandatory vaccine laws that take away any conscientious, philosophical, or religious exemptions to vaccinations. California did just that by passing SB277, America’s most severe mandatory vaccination law that strips parents of their rights and denies children a public education if they are free from one, some, or all of the pharmaceutical industry’s dictated vaccines.
Furthermore, the public outcry against coercive and forced pharmaceuticals is stifled by the FAKE NEWS media that is dead set on carrying out the wishes of the pharmaceutical vaccine tyrants. Watch below, as citizens of Italy protest against mandatory vaccine laws that are taking over their country. You won’t find this on CNN, on NPR, NBC or any other fake news outlets.
Children aren’t allowed to attend preschool, receive a public education or go to some colleges unless parents follow along with the vaccine mandates that pharmaceutical companies have coerced into law. Ironically, these school institutions are still riddled with infectious and communicable disease like never seen before. Sickness in all its forms is still widespread, even though vaccine “science” is the glorious savior and only “real prevention” method for children’s well-being.
You won’t find the scripted news media telling the truth about measles, how it is a benign illness that children can overcome and gain natural, lifelong immunity to. No, you will find a scare story about how deadly measles is, even though no one in the U.S. has died from its complications in the last decade. You will find the scripted news media shaming people who are independent of vaccines. The typical FAKE NEWS article will use the terms “anti-vaxxers” “anti-science” or “conspiracy theorist” to describe people who understand the truth.
More people need to use discernment, to wisely judge when the media is being used to turn people against one another and push needless vaccines. People should instead unite against these fear campaigns and denounce the scare tactics used to force mandatory vaccine laws into existence. “The problem is not vaccines per say, but that Glaxo [Glaxo Smith Kline] is inside our ministry [government.]” says one bold protester speaking to a crowd of protesters in Italy.
With two million vaccines delivered daily to over 160 countries, these pharmaceutical companies are only interested in protecting their profits, power, and pride, as public health continues to suffer. Using the media to their advantage, this powerful industry continues to hoax the general population into believing they need vaccines for supposed protection against benign illnesses.
The most important issue now is uniting people to stand against mandatory and discriminatory vaccination laws that coerce parents into compliance so they can send their children to school. The ingredients in the vaccines deteriorate the cellular environment inside every recipient, weakening their body’s overall immunity and neurological function. Choosing to reject this risky, one-sided method of “immunization” should remain a fundamental liberty of every family and individual. (Related: For more news on vaccine freedom, vaccine damage, and immune system science, visit Vaccines.News.)
Some big corporations don’t want a free market. They want a protected market with barriers. Lawmakers seem hungry to regulate the Internet. It’s dangerous!
By Vin Armani
In this video, Vin Armani explains why you’ve been tricked into supporting net neutrality. Some big corporations don’t want a free market. They want a protected market with barriers. Lawmakers seem hungry to regulate the Internet. It’s a dangerous combination that infects most industries. Don’t let it happen to the Internet.
Vin Armani is the host of The Vin Armani Show on Activist Post, agorist entrepreneur and co-founder of Counter Markets. Follow Vin on Twitter and subscribe on YouTube. Get the weekly podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. Vin is available for interviews at email – Vin (at) VinArmani.com.
“Nathan Gill: It is time for the EU to decide whether or not they want to defend Europeans and European business interests and stand up against what the Americans are trying to do.”
An EU delegation is holding crunch talks on Monday with US lawmakers. It comes as a leaked memo suggests Brussels is preparing retaliation if Washington pushes ahead with new anti-Russian sanctions that could hurt European businesses.
RT: Do you expect the European Commission delegation to change US lawmakers’ mind ahead of the voting on new sanctions?
Nathan Gill: No, not really. What we are seeing here is some very jingoistic Russia-phobia legislation that is coming out primarily pushed by some very angry Democrats and CNN who are trying through the fog of smoke and mirrors distract people from the real reasons why they voted for Trump in the election for the presidency. What we’ve got to remember is it hasn’t affected American business or industry. The sanctions, the recrimination that Russia has put against American and EU countries – exports, imports, etc. – the Austrian Institute [of Economic Research] estimate that has already cost the EU over €100 billion and up to 2.5 million jobs…
…But it is not really costing the Americans. They are going to try and punish Russia because we are seeing this witch hunt against Trump and against Trump’s family for the so-called links during the election which is all smoke and mirrors. The reality is, the only people that are going to be hurt are the people from Europe. We are looking at the energy cost rise by at least €3 billion. This is big money we are talking about.
RT: If fresh sanctions are approved, what kind of measures can Brussels apply to retaliate and defend its business deals with Russia?
Nathan Gill: It is time for the EU to decide whether or not they want to defend Europeans and European business interests and stand up against what the Americans are trying to do. If they truly want to stand up and defend Europe over internationalism, then they will do that, and they will say “no, we are not playing the games of Washington any longer.”
Martin McCauley, author, and Russia analyst, told RT: “There is a majority in the House of Representatives for increased sanctions, it is expected to go through tomorrow. Then it will go to the Senate. And there is majority already in the Senate for increased sanctions. It looks like a done deal from an American point of view. All the European Commission officials could say is “this is going to damage us.” Because one of the things the Americans would target will be the construction of the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. They may put pressure on German companies to slow that down; they don’t really favor that going ahead… The House of Representatives and the Senate want to tie President Donald Trump down, put him in a box so he can’t really relax any sanctions on his own.”
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
July 25, 2017
Michael Lynk is the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.
Gaza and Tel Aviv lie only 75 kilometres apart from each other. They share the same sandy topography and the same intensely hot Levantine summers. But the similarities largely end there. Any recent satellite image taken at night over the eastern Mediterranean would show an incandescent blaze for Tel Aviv, and only wan pinpricks of light further down the shore in Gaza.
Gaza is in the third month of an externally enforced reduction of its already meagre electrical power supply. The enclave of two million people would ordinarily require about 450 megawatts (MW) of electricity daily for around-the-clock power. However, over much of the past decade, as part of the tight Israeli blockade of Gaza, its power supplies have fluctuated around 200MW, resulting in persistent blackouts. But over the past several months, according to the Israeli human rights organisation Gisha, Gaza’s supply each day has varied from 140MW to an all-time low of 70MW, lengthening the blackouts and the human suffering.
The immediate cause of the power crisis lies with the dispute between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas over fuel taxation. This prompted the PA to request the Israel reduce the 120MW it sold daily down to around 70MW, and Israel has complied.
A second source of electricity is Gaza’s sole power plant, which can only produce 50-55MW daily (on those occasions when it has been able to import fuel from Egypt). The power plant was badly damaged by Israeli bombings in 2006 and again in 2014, and Israel has restricted the entry of replacement parts into Gaza. If the plant was fully operational, it could produce around 140MW.
The third supply source for power to Gaza comes from Egypt, which provides around 28MW daily, although there are ongoing disruptions to its availability. And the fourth source is individual solar panels and generators, which are available only to the well-off.
The social consequences of this extraordinary power crisis are severe. Households without access to generators or solar panels – which is most of Gaza – have between 4-6 hours of electricity at the best of times, followed by 12-16 hours of blackouts. Hospitals rely on over-extended generators, and have to ration power. Workplaces are shuttering. More than 100 million litres of untreated sewage spills daily into the Mediterranean, fouling the beaches and the fishing grounds. Food must be bought daily and consumed quickly. Internet service – for almost all Gazans, their only link to the outside world – is spotty. And there is little available power for air conditioning and fans to combat the sweltering summer heat.
The United Nations Country Team in the occupied Palestinian territory recently released an incisive report on Gaza (PDF), focusing on the humanitarian impact of Israel’s 10-year blockade and the internal political divisions among the Palestinians. Its findings are bleak: Gaza’s impoverishment is entirely the product of human decisions, and not the fate of nature.
The year 2007 was ground zero for Gaza. In July of that year, Israel imposed its comprehensive blockade on the Strip, and declared it to be an “enemy entity”. Life before 2007 in Gaza was already very difficult, but now it has become harsh and unremitting. Gaza, which was once said to be the future “Singapore of the Middle East”, has become a metaphor for immiseration.
According to the UN report, between 2006 and 2016, Gaza’s real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita declined by 5.3 percent, while it grew in the occupied West Bank by 48.5 percent. Poverty has increased from 30 percent of the population in 2004 to around 40 percent today. Gaza suffers from one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, at 41 percent by the end of 2016. Over 60 percent of Gazans between 20-24 years old are without work, and the unemployment rate for women between 2006 and 2016 increased sharply from 35 percent to 64 percent. More than 60 percent of the population in 2017 was partly or wholly dependent on humanitarian assistance. According to other reports, gender-based violence, divorce rates, suicide and drug use are all on the rise.
|The UN report reminds the world that Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza, as it controls its land, sea and air borders, even if it no longer has “boots on the ground”.|
Gaza’s traditional economic sectors are withering. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing have all declined in economic size, and the principal source of growth, tragically, has come from the reconstruction of the neighbourhoods destroyed during the three conflicts with Israel over the past nine years.
Israel controls what leaves and enters Gaza, with the average number of truckloads of goods exiting Gaza in the first five months of 2017 less than a third of what it was during the first half of 2007. “Gaza’s economic trajectory over the past decade”, the UN report stated, “is a strong indicator of the ongoing de-development in the Strip.”
The situation of drinking water in Gaza is at a desperate level. The unsustainable over-extraction of Gaza’s coastal aquifer has caused the intrusion of seawater, with 96 percent of the groundwater now unsuitable for human consumption.
Half of the population has access to water for only eight hours every four days, and another 30 percent receives water for eight hours every three days. Trucked water is 15-20 times more expensive than network water, and it is unreliable in terms of quality. As with other scarce goods, it is the poor and vulnerable who are affected the most. A new water agreement between Israel and the PA, announced recently, may bring some future relief, but Gaza’s best bet is water self-reliance through desalination plants and secure electricity sources.
The UN report reminds the world that Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza, as it controls its land, sea and air borders, even if it no longer has “boots on the ground”. As such, it retains legal obligations to the population to ensure its health, dignity and well-being. In particular, the report emphasises that “the numerous restrictions imposed by Israel on both movements of people and goods into and out of Gaza impede the enjoyment of a range of human rights such as the right to freedom of movement and … the right to health, education, work, adequate standards of living and family life”. The other parties that share responsibility for Gaza – Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Egypt – also have a legal duty to observe human rights and humanitarian standards, which has not always been kept in recent years.
In 2012, the UN issued a report entitled “Gaza in 2020: A Liveable Place?” (PDF). If that report was gloomy, the new UN report is desolate. It concludes that Gaza, in the interceding five years, has endured a “downward spiral of de-development, while the people of Gaza are caught in a cycle of humanitarian need and perpetual aid dependency”.
With less than three years before 2020, the report warns that, unless the present path is radically altered, Gaza will become “more isolated and more desperate” with the chances of more devastating conflicts and an even more flattened economy on the horizon. Should this happen, the hope for political reconciliation among the Palestinians and an enduring peace between Israel and Palestine will become that much more elusive. Will those nighttime satellite images of Gaza soon be able to detect any lights at all?
Michael Lynk is the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967. He was appointed in 2016. He also teaches at the Faculty of Law, Western University, in London, Ontario, Canada.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
“Students ﬁghting for free education should understand that stopping just one weapons system, the expensive and unnecessary Lockheed Martin F-35 ﬁghter jets, would fund the education of all college students for the next two decades. Nurses ﬁghting for universal health care should understand that if we cut the bloated military budget, we’d have plenty of money for a national healthcare system like the Europeans have.”
With permission from
July 25, 2017The $600 billion annual cost of the US military budget eats up 54% of all federal discretionary funds. It’s no wonder we don’t have money to address the crisis of global warming, build effective public transportation systems, institute a Medicare-for-All health system, or provide the free college education that all our youth deserve.
You would think it would be easy to form a united front with activists from different movements who want to redirect our tax dollars. Students ﬁghting for free education should understand that stopping just one weapons system, the expensive and unnecessary Lockheed Martin F-35 ﬁghter jets, would fund the education of all college students for the next two decades. Nurses ﬁghting for universal health care should understand that if we cut the bloated military budget, we’d have plenty of money for a national healthcare system like the Europeans have. Environmentalists paddling their kayaks to block oil-digging ships should understand that if we dramatically cut our military spending, we’d have hundreds of billions of dollars to propel us into the era of green, sustainable energy. Unions should recognize that the military is one of the worst creators of jobs in relation to money spent.
It was easier to connect with other movements when the peace movement was strong while trying to stop George W. Bush’s Iraq war. Students came to anti-war rallies calling for “Books not Bombs,” nurses called for “Healthcare not Warfare,” union leaders formed U.S. Labor Against the War. Globally, we universalized our protests, organizing a global day of action on February 15, 2003, a day that made the Guinness World Records as the largest demonstration in world history. So strong was our movement that The New York Times called global public opinion the “second superpower.”
When Barack Obama was elected, the ﬁrst casualty of his Presidency was the anti-war movement. People dropped out of the movement for a variety of reasons, but mainly because many people thought that Obama would end US military adventurism.
Drones were designed as a way to kill enemies with great precision without putting American troops at risk. But they kill many innocent people—and they stir up anti-American sentiment that fuels an endless cycle of violence.
Drones allowed the US military and CIA to intervene militarily with ease, even in places where we were not at war. These institutions operated secretly, without Congressional approval, and they lied to the public about the accuracy and effectiveness of drone strikes. We were appalled when a 2012 poll revealed that a whopping 83% of Americans supported the killing of “terrorist suspects” with drones. How could so many Americans think we had the right to murder people thousands of miles away who were never charged, tried, or convicted of anything? Our ﬁrst reaction was, “How are we going to change public opinion so that we can change policy?” We never thought we could build a mass movement against drone warfare as we had built a movement against the Iraq war, but we did think that a small group of committed activists could help move public opinion and then inﬂuence government policy.
CODEPINK, along with groups like Veterans for Peace and Voices for Creative Nonviolence, set about educating the public on the horrors of drone warfare. We organized two Global Drone Summits in Washington DC; we wrote books, articles, and op eds; we traveled around the country giving talks at universities, churches, and community centers. We protested at dozens of private and government entities connected with killer drones: the White House, the CIA, the Pentagon, Congress, factories and homes of drone manufacturers. We engaged the public by getting tens of thousands of people to sign petitions, and call the President and their Congressional representatives. We encouraged drone pilots to quit and become whistleblowers, and ampliﬁed the voices of those who did.
Civil disobedience was a key component of our campaign. We disrupted Congressional testimonies by drone czar John Brennan and Secretary of State John Kerry. We organized die-ins at the CIA. The most creative resistance happened at US military bases where drones were piloted. Hundreds of people were arrested at the bases. Some went to jail for just a day and others for as long as 6 months.
One way this campaign universalized resistance was by connecting with the families of drone victims. We took delegations to Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In Yemen, among the family members we met was Mohammad Al-Qawli, whose innocent brother had been killed by a drone while driving his taxi, leaving behind a young wife and three children. Visibly angry, Al-Qawli told us the Americans refused even to explain why his brother was killed. “In our culture when someone commits a crime or a terrible mistake, they have to acknowledge what they did, apologize, and compensate the family,” he said. “Could it be that my tribal culture is more evolved when it comes to justice than the USA?”
In Pakistan, we learned that drones had attacked weddings, funerals, markets, and schools, terrorizing entire communities. “To Americans, we are disposable people; our lives are worth nothing,” an irate young man told us.
We were so moved by hearing directly from these families that we brought some of them to the United States to hold press conferences and speak before Congress. In 2013, the Rehman family—a father with his two children—traveled from the Pakistani tribal territory to the U.S. Capitol to tell the heart wrenching story of the death of their 67-year-old grandmother. Listening to 9-year-old Nabila relate how her grandmother was blown to bits while picking okra softened the hearts of even the most hardened DC politicos. From the Congressmen to the translator to the media, tears ﬂowed, and dozens of sympathetic stories appeared in the media.
With the globalization of the sale of drones, we also connected with groups in Europe, holding an international gathering that led to the formation of a European network to stop proliferation in their countries.
Our education campaigns, actions, and protests, while never constituting a mass movement and not successful in ending drone warfare, have had a major impact on both public opinion and policy. Public opinion in favor of drone warfare shifted from 83% in 2012 to 60% by 2014. President Obama was pressured to acknowledge and discuss the US drone program, promising that his Administration would reduce drone strikes and minimize civilian casualties. In Pakistan, strikes fell dramatically from a high of 128 in 2010 to 13 strikes in 2015.
In June 2016, the Administration released its ﬁrst statistics on civilians killed by drones between 2009 and 2015 in areas “outside of active hostilities”: Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. The ﬁgures of between 64 and 116 casualties were far below calculations of nearly 1,000 made by reputable organizations like the UK’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Yet the fact that the Administration released any ﬁgures at all was the result of public pressure.
We were also successful in pushing for compensation for some of the families of innocent victims, which was especially critical for widows with no means to support their children.
As drones for other purposes proliferated at home, activists universalized resistance by making common cause with groups working on domestic issues. One connection was with people on the Left and Right concerned about privacy issues, as drones in the hands of anyone—from the FBI to neighbors to corporations—could be used to spy on people without their knowledge or consent. Another connection was with groups ﬁghting the militarization of police forces, many of them activists related to the Black Lives Matter movement who worried about the police getting drones equipped with military styled weapons. In dozens of states, they formed coalitions that passed laws restricting the use of drones for surveillance and the weaponization of drones.
One other key connection emerged: people who went to prison for their anti-drone actions got a chance to see, ﬁrsthand, the similarities between the military–industrial complex and the prison–industrial complex, including how both proﬁt from human suffering. On their release, many peace activists linked with groups ﬁghting mass incarceration that supported former prisoners.
The peace movement has had many ebbs and ﬂows since the 9/11 attacks. Resisting the Iraq war was so clear and urgent that it was possible to build universal resistance. Although we didn’t stop the war, we did speed up public opposition, which helped to reduce military involvement and pave the way for the Iran nuclear deal.
At other times, as with Obama’s secret drone killings, wars have been more covert, making it harder to build strong opposition. Yet making connections with other movements have been critical in counteracting the behemoth military–industrial complex. Moving forward, ﬁnding more effective ways of universalizing resistance to militarism across issues and continents, is key to building a more peaceful world.
Excerpted from Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times (Routledge, August 2017, paperback).
With permission from
July 25, 2017
Newsflash! Uruguay has fashioned a marijuana legalization program that is smart and graceful, yet does not turn the little South American nation into a tourist Mecca like Amsterdam. Legalization only applies to citizens. It may be the best decriminalization model yet. In the annals of beleaguered US Attorney General Jeff Sessions — whose obsession with weed I wrote about earlier — this amounts to another warning shot from the real world making it clear re-invigorating federal anti-marijuana law enforcement is not workable — unless the plan is to assume an all-out police state mode. Everybody knows the bloodhounds are baying in the woods and getting closer on the scent of Sessions’ Russia problem. In a front-page interview with The New York Times, President Trump makes it clear he’s fed up with Sessions for recusing himself on the Russia investigation. Jeff Sessions may be approaching pariah status in Washington DC.
Uruguay’s actions are part of a general trend in Latin America that suggests leaders there don’t give the US Drug War much credence any more. One leader after another has expressed frustration with the US military and police obsession with the supply of drugs from the South, while leaders in the US fail to socially address the demand at home that has always driven the so-called “war.” Latin American leaders are effectively reading the US the riot act. Bastante! Enough. That goes for leaders in Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Jamaica and even Canada.
One of the most interesting examples of this shift occurred during the notorious summit meeting in Cartagena in 2012. Conservative Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos publicly requested of President Barack Obama that the US do more about demand and let up on Latin America for being the supplier of that dysfunctional US demand. Get your own house in order and stop scapegoating us.
Americans, however, never got this story. As many will recall, what we did get was a raft of juicy scandal stories about the president’s secret service detail getting laid by high-class Colombian prostitutes. (Prostitution is legal in Colombia and thrives in Cartagena.) Was this absence an insidious conspiracy? Or was it, rather, just the exceptionalist American subconscious at work making it clear the United States never recognizes problems having to do with itself. As any morally righteous gringo understands, the real horror was American special agents protecting the president of the United States having sex with dark and furtive Latin women for cash. Elite American warriors compromised by Mestizo honey pots! Now that’s a story you can run with in Gringolandia. Editors decided Americans didn’t want to hear that the USA had been using its Drug War to demonize Latin America for supplying it what its population demanded — as if that isn’t a perfect definition of free private enterprise.
Santos wrote this in a Guardian op-ed: “We need to introduce a public health framework to the treatment of drug consumption focusing on prevention, attention, rehabilitation and re-socialisation of drug abusers.” He did praise Obama for encouraging his controversial peace initiatives with the FARC — a novel approach that does seem surprisingly good. “Many people warned me that it would be political suicide,” Santos told Obama in opening remarks at the summit. “Making war is so much easier than making peace. And you not only believed it was possible, you encouraged me to go ahead, and gave me your full and enthusiastic support.” Santos also honored Obama for opening relations with Cuba. Many on the right in Latin American and in the US feel Santos must have lost his mind.
With the ascendancy of a ruthless, inexperienced TV-star/real-estate-mogul as US president — a man who got into the White House by slandering Obama as an illegal immigrant from the Dark Continent and calling Latin American immigrants “rapists” — respect has turned to outright disdain. Eduardo Blasina, the director of something called the Montevideo Cannabis Museum, summed it up this way for The New York Times: “Today, what the United States says has never mattered less. We don’t see its president as a reasonable individual whose opinion is worth anything.”
Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay, a small nation on the Atlantic coast south of Brazil and northeast of Argentina. Until recently, the amazingly humble Jose “Pepe” Mujica was president of Uruguay; he started the ball rolling on the legalization of marijuana. Mujica is a former guerrilla imprisoned and tortured during the days of the dirty wars in that region. As many will recall, that was when Henry Kissinger — accessory to the murder of duly-elected President Salvador Allende in Chile — liked to point out something called “the arc of history” didn’t pass through South America, which meant to Mr. Kissinger what went on down there didn’t really matter. It didn’t matter if friendly right-wing regimes murdered and disappeared citizens in the left-leaning opposition. It was a horrific time. Many of the disappeared were killed and their naked bodies flown out over the ocean, slit open so they’d sink when kicked out the door as unidentifiable shark chum. It’s always good to remember this period, lest it return like a Dracula sequel. One good way to remember is to use Netflicks for films like The Official Story, a memorable Argentine film about a conservative, childless high school history teacher whose husband (he’s in the secret police) brings home an adorable baby girl. This woman’s growing curiosity and her efforts to figure out where this child came from makes the film a powerful story.
There’s a very deep-seated mistrust in Latin America for right-wing gringo leaders from the North. Uruguay is small and likely more homogeneous and cosmopolitan than its much larger neighbors. This may explain why its ex-guerrilla leader is so respected, while in the giant to the north — Brazil — ex-guerrilla, former President Dilma Rousseff, who was also imprisoned and tortured, was ignominiously removed from the presidency by the Brazilian right in a highly-polarized political climate. Her predecessor — the popular Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva — was just given a 10-year jail sentence. In both cases, the charge was corruption. With a very violent and exploitative history, Brazil is one of the more corrupt nations on the planet; corruption seems to have been absorbed into its very being. Corruption in Brazil? To paraphrase the narrator’s line in Apocalypse Now: “Charging someone with corruption in Brazil is like giving out speeding tickets at the Indianapolis 500.”
Colombia has a very bloody history as well. But President Santos has broken with his predecessor and the absorption of FARC into the system seems to be working. His views on the Drug War are equally interesting. He opened his Guardian op-ed this way:
“How does one explain to a Colombian peasant in a rural community in the southwest of the country that he will be prosecuted under criminal charges for growing marijuana plants, while a young entrepreneur in Colorado finds his or her legal recreational marijuana business booming?”
A very good question that our own Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other drug warriors should be made to ponder. Too many of them are still obsessed with violence and prison as a problem solvers.
Uruguayan Congressman Sebastian Sabini, a 36-years-old leftist and an occasional pot smoker, is the father of the new marijuana legalization plan in Uruguay. He says it’s a matter of social justice. “The sectors that bear the brunt of drug policies are the poorest,” he told The New York Times. “The ones sent to jail are the poor people.”
That class-based dynamic is certainly at work here in the United States. (Of course, we’re not supposed to mention the idea of class here in North America.) All one has to do is look at the race and economic strata of the majority of people we have prosecute and imprisoned over the years for drug crimes. Then watch unpopular New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pander to The Opiate Crisis and suburban Jersey girls on heroin. Nobody cried such crocodile tears when it was inner city African American kids ruining their troubled lives on crack or heroin. Then, it was an impassioned call for more cops and more prisons. Get tough! No mercy! Arrest ‘em and lock ‘em up. And once they’re locked up in America — where politicians can never be seen saying I’m sorry or I was wrong — prison reform is a Sisyphian project.
I will never forget an encounter I had back in the ‘90s with then-Senator Joe Biden from Delaware. I was working as the house photographer for Widener University, which is just south of the Philly airport and just north of the Delaware line. Biden was then working hard in the Senate to fund more cops and prisons. He came to Widener to speak on the topic, and I was assigned to photograph him. After taking a few shots, I decided to stay to listen to the man and his pitch for the Drug War, something that personally interested me, beyond my job as a flak photographer.
I forget exactly what the beloved working-class senator from the corporate state of Delaware said. But it didn’t sit right with me. I had been spending my vacation time as a photographer in places like El Salvador and Nicaragua, in the middle of the Reagan Wars. I’d also been photographing addicts on the street through a needle exchange program in inner city Philadelphia and had been reading on Harm Reduction research. Later, I become aware, from a book by Ted Gest called Crime & Politics: Big Government’s Erratic Campaign for Law and Order, that when Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980, Democrats were freaked out: they feared they were finished politically. According to Gest, it was Joe Biden who saved the day by saying, “‘Give me the crime issue and you’ll never have trouble with it in an election.’” Crime bills were the way for Democrats to stay in the political game.
“How did so much crime legislation pass during the partisan 1980s?” Gest asks. “A key element was important personal relationships in the Capital, especially between Biden and the new Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.” This is the famous racist Dixiecrat who, following the Nixon Strategy, had changed his party affiliation to Republican, keeping his Senate seniority. It was the beginning of a fruitful political friendship — “fruitful” that is, if you were a politician willing to pander and fuel the Drug War fears of the time. The result was money for more cops and more prisons. It was part and parcel with what Michelle Alexander has dubbed “the new Jim Crow,” where the stigma of being a felon replaced the old stigma of being a nigger. Bill Clinton went on to pursue a similar strategy to stay in the political game.
It was thus that I encountered Senator Biden in a Widener University auditorium shilling for the Drug War. I was in the second row and raised my hand. Biden called on me, stepping toward me as I stood up. We were maybe ten feet apart. My question focused on why he seemed to dismiss addressing the demand problem in the United Stares. I mentioned Harm Reduction. The important word I used was decriminalization. My point was why couldn’t we try something other than using the military and police and prisons to address our very real drug problem?
I might as well have said something about his children. He knew I was there as some kind of working PR person, and he lit into me with vicious glee. He turned to address the audience, avoiding both me and my question.
“This fellow thinks he’s smart. He cleverly uses the term ‘decriminalization’ — when he really means legalization. He wants to make drugs legal, folks.” He went on some more. All the time I wanted to say: “Listen — SIR! — would you answer my question.”
It was personal. But it made the man’s huge investment in the Drug War very clear. He knew very well that decriminalization and all the very reasonable Harm Reduction research was the Achilles heel of the Drug War. If the well-respected Ted Gest is correct, the Drug War virtually made Joe Biden’s political career; working with Strom Thurmond to put away black people made him who he is today. Is this unfair to Joe Biden? No doubt, his bi-partisan cooperation with Thurmond to some degree mitigated the South Carolina senator’s Old South racism. It did nothing, however, to ease up the trend that led to the mass incarceration of African Americans; and some would add it did nothing to mitigate the current dysfunctional national bruise caused by the ideological struggle between the Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter movements.
We all know Joe Biden’s well-nourished public persona as the working man’s politician, the guy all of us want to sit down and have a beer with. The fact is, I would have loved to sit down and have a beer with Joe. I’d ask him to answer the question he parried away in that auditorium. What do we have to do now to undo what you and your bi-partisan allies created back in the ’80s? We all may have the opportunity to ask him these questions, since it feels like he’s running for 2020. But let’s hope the Democrats get their act together and do better than running good ol’ Joe.
Thanks to the moral bankruptcy of our North American leaders on the Drug War and a history of arrogant intervention in Latin America — from Henry Kissinger to Joe Biden — leaders in Latin America are going their own way, working in the interests of their own populations. With the ascendancy of Donald Trump, this moral bankruptcy has reached a new low. The White House has become a major reality show and our attorney general and the rest of the cabinet are fodder for jokes.
In some quarters, there’s hope in dope. The great American Willie Nelson has launched his own marijuana company with the classy brand name Willie’s Reserve. Like Louis Armstrong and other musicians, Nelson is a regular pot smoker. He told Rolling Stone magazine he wished Attorney General Jeff Sessions would just lighten up and smoke a bone. Nelson also said he once worked for Donald Trump at one of his casinos and that the man had paid him well and on time, despite his vast experience with bankruptcy. Then he somehow became president of the United States and was surprised how hard that job was. Nelson toyed with the idea of running for president once. Then he thought about it and changed his mind.
“It’s easy,” the laid back Texas country singer said, “when you can just go bankrupt anytime you want to and say, ‘I’ll check you later.’ But that’s hard to do when you’re president of the United States.”
We wonder why we have an opiate crisis among white suburbanites and why legal marijuana is such a big deal now in America. Why every night on TV we get ads ad-nauseam for this or that legal drug to do this or that with our psyche or body. Americans of all stripes are simply exhausted and frustrated with the political/social/cultural world they’ve allowed to assume such power over them. We’re all taught what individuals we are — yet we’re caught in a maelstrom way beyond our control. So we turn to escape and delusion, helped along by this or that chemical. It’s not that hard to figure out. One simply has to be capable of seeing it. But, then, humans are generally screwed up everywhere. That’s the Human Condition, what Jean Paul Sartre meant when he coined the phrase “Hell is other people.”
Montreal police are handing out more cannabis-related charges, but the rest of Canada has eased its policing of the soon-to-be legal drug.
By Roberto Rocha, Verity Stevenson
Posted: Jul 25, 2017
Marijuana charges are on the rise in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec, while in the rest of Canada cannabis-related charges are declining ahead of Ottawa’s plans to legalize the drug.
The number of cannabis-related charges has ebbed countrywide from last year, continuing a downward trend since a peak in 2011.
For Canadians older than 12, 17,700 were charged with possession last year, according to police-reported statistics released by Statistics Canada. This is down from 21,300 in 2015.
More serious charges of trafficking were also down, while production and importation charges remained flat but relatively low.
This trend was observed across most provinces, and in many of them, the rate of charges is the lowest on record.
But Montreal and other Quebec cities have been bucking the trend. Charges for possession have been slowly going up since 1998, and are virtually unchanged from 2015.
Eric Sutton, a criminal defence lawyer in Montreal, said the disparity surprised him, but he has noticed concerns of the medical community and other lobby groups being aired in Quebec media more than elsewhere in the country.
“In Quebec, there has been a fairly hot debate, and that may have had an effect on policing and the attitude of prosecutors,” Sutton said. “Legalizing something doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s a legal decision, not a moral decision.”
Sutton said prosecutors usually take into account whether someone has a prior criminal record, as well as other factors that could determine whether charges are pursued or not.
He said the push to legalize “reflects an understanding that so many people use marijuana and, like it or not, it’s probably here to stay.”
In 2016, an average of 73 Montrealers per 100,000 people charged for cannabis possession, and 76 in Quebec as a whole, while the Canadian rate was 56 per 100,000 people.
One of the most dramatic decreases was in Alberta.
Because the population in the territories is so low, the rates tend to skew higher. Here they are, in separate charts with a different scale. All have seen lower numbers.
The picture is more varied in metropolitan areas. While most police forces seem to be reducing pot-related enforcement that leads to charges, some forces are more ambitious than others.
Halifax, Winnipeg, Calgary, Windsor, Ont., and Barrie, Ont., have changed the least from 2015 in the number of charges.
In other police districts, the abating of charges may be a question of resources and capacity, according to the president of the Canadian Police Association, Tom Stamatakis .
He said police forces haven’t targeted simple possession “for years now.”
“The focus is on high-level trafficking, organized crime, and other related activities that are more serious and have a bigger impact on the community,” Stamatakis said.
“I would anticipate that police forces are redirecting priorities on the basis that marijuana will become legal in the near future.”
It’s unclear whether Montreal police are doing that or not.
“There’s a much bigger market here, there’s much more activity, more grow-ops, just as a percentage of criminality,” said Montreal Coun. Alex Norris, speculating on what could cause the discrepancy, which he said was interesting.
Norris is part of Montreal’s public safety commission and said he planned to ask police Chief Philippe Pichet or senior staff on the force about it at the commission’s next meeting.
Marc-Boris St-Maurice, a longtime advocate of legalization and the head of the Montreal Compassion Centre, said it’s a disappointing trend.
“It would be nice if there could be a bit more tolerance towards people who are using marijuana, given that legalization is just around the corner,” St-Maurice said.
He said provincial leadership “is a lot more afraid of marijuana in Quebec.… We think we’re all so open, but I guess these numbers here show that it’s not always the case.”
Historically, Quebec police appear to have been more tolerant of cannabis possession than other provinces. In 1998, there was an average of 53 people charged with possession per 100,000 in the province. Canada’s rate at the time was 76.
The rate in Quebec has risen ever since, following the Canadian trend, but still registering lower every year until now.
“Yesterday at Haftkinana village in the Meyaji Baba district, when there was Afghan national army operation ongoing, 40 ISIS militants were killed because of the US operation and 8 people wounded, 8 killed following US operation, including women and children,” Noor Ahmad Habibi, press-secretary of Nangarhar Province, province said.
The Nangarhar governor’s office said that the government troops were attacked by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters, who holed up in residential buildings, and retaliated with an airstrike.
It didn’t specify whether the American or the Afghan forces carried out the bombardment, Afghan Pajhwok news agency reported.
The spokesman from the Nangarhar Regional Hospital, Inamullah Miakhil, confirmed that there was an airstrike on the village and that eight wounded were delivered to the facility.
The footage from the hospital obtained by RT’s Ruptly video agency showed the injured Haftkinana residents recalling the incident.
The survivors said that the bombardment took place during the “ceremony for giving food to village people.”
“The US should answer why they did such a horrible thing,” one of the injured men said, adding that what the Americans did “is not acceptable for us and our people.”
Pajhwok also cited an unnamed security official, who said that the deadly airstrike on Sunday was carried by a drone, which hit a funeral attended by IS fighters, among others.
The US forces in Afghanistan’s spokesman, Bill Salvin, and seek to confirm an American airstrike took place in Nangarhar on Sunday.
However, he denied reports of casualties among the residents, saying that “we have no indications that civilians were in the area before the strike or after the strike.”
Salvin assured that the US military took all claims of civilian deaths “seriously” and promised that the incident will be investigated.
The “grip” of AIPAC is so complete that writers who challenge it are smeared as “anti-Semites” and politicians who buck it “see their careers suddenly stalled,” Andrew Sullivan says in denouncing Schumer for leading the charge on the “creeping authoritarianism” of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act before Congress.
Andrew Sullivan has long been a singular critical voice on the Israel question among U.S. mainstream columnists and he plays that role again at New York Magazine in a column blasting Chuck Schumer for leading the charge on “creeping authoritarianism” with the new “Israel Anti-Boycott Act”. Sullivan ascribes the bill to the “complete… grip of AIPAC” in Washington. Crossing the lobby leaves writers smeared as “anti-Semites” and politicians’ careers “suddenly stalled.” Here’s the whole bit:
One of the features you most associate with creeping authoritarianism is the criminalization of certain political positions. Is anything more anathema to a liberal democracy? If Trump were to suggest it, can you imagine the reaction?
And yet it’s apparently fine with a hefty plurality of the Senate and House. I’m referring to the remarkable bill introduced into the Congress earlier this year — with 237 sponsors and co-sponsors in the House and 43 in the Senate — which the ACLU and the Intercept have just brought to light. It’s a remarkably bipartisan effort, backed by Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz, among many solid Trump-resisting Democrats and hard-line Republicans. And it would actually impose civil and criminal penalties on American citizens for backing or joining any international boycott of Israel because of its settlement activities. There are even penalties for simply inquiring about such a boycott. And they’re not messing around. The minimum civil penalty would be $250,000 and the maximum criminal penalty $1 million and 20 years in prison. Up to 20 years in prison for opposing the policies of a foreign government and doing something about it! And, yes, the Senate Minority Leader is leading the charge.
Look: I’m not in favor of boycotting Israel when we don’t boycott, say, Saudi Arabia. But seriously: making it illegal? Every now and again, you just have to sit back and admire the extraordinary skills of the Greater Israel lobby. You’ve never heard of this bill, and I hadn’t either…