Qatari diplomat busted for hashish smuggling

Posted on August 19th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

Middle EastIn a short and little-noted story Aug. 19, the Cairo Post reported that Qatari diplomat Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Hajri was arrested for hashish possession at the airport upon flying into Egypt. Qatar's Ministry of Froeign Affairs issued a formal apology. There's quite an irony here. Qatar is by far the most conservative of the Persian Gulf states. The report notes that relations between Qatar and Egypt have been "frigid" since the ouster of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. When the new regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took over, Egypt returned $2 billion that Qatar had given in aid. Since then, Cario has suspected Qatar of backing the Islamist opposition. And while Qatar has joined the US-led coalition agianst ISIS, it has also been accused of supporting the more "moderate" (sic) jihadists in Syria, like the Nusra Front (which the US is also bombing). And of course Qatar's jihadist friends in Syria are avidly burning the country's cannabis fields.

Israel's 'king' of medical marijuana profiled

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastIsraeli newspaper Haaretz on Aug. 15 featured an interview with the "King of Israel's Medical Marijuana Industry," Aharon Lutzky—who rose to this position by chance. The fateful moment came when his son was injured in an industrial accident in the cotton gin at Kibbutz  Gvat, the agricultural collective in Israel's north where he was then living with his family. As part of his rehabilitation process, Lutzky's son began volunteering for the company Tikun Olam—Israel's largest producer of medical marijuana. Tikun Olam eventually asked the elder Lutzky to help by giving them business advice. Lutzky so impressed the owners that they offered him the position of CEO, which he still holds today. The profile provides a fascinating look at the evolution of Israel's ground-breaking medical marijuana program.

Brazil: police implicated in Sao Paulo massacre

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

BrazilGunmen killed at least 18 people in outlying districts of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, in a series of overnight attacks Aug. 14. Witnesses and video footage in several locations indicated that masked gunmen pulled up in a car before opening fire. In many cases they checked the victims' names before shooting, or asked if they had criminal records. At least six other people were injured in the attacks, in the districts of Osasco and Barueri. Authorities are said to be investigating whether the attacks were a coordinated campaign of revenge by off-duty officers following the deaths of two colleagues in the targeted districts the previous week.  Police in Brazil are responsible for more than 2,000 deaths per year, and rights groups say off-duty officers rarely face prosecution when they in engage in vigilante justice. (Reuters, BBC News, Aug. 15)

Congo basin tribe uses medical cannabis: study

Posted on August 14th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

AfricaThe Slog blog makes note of a new report from anthropologists at Washington State University which appeared in the American Journal of Human Biology, entitled: "High prevalence of cannabis use among Aka foragers of the Congo Basin and its possible relationship to helminthiasis." The research found that roughly 95% of Aka men smoke tobacco (compared to 17% in Black Africa and 31% globally) and 68% smoke cannabis—both of which are correlated with lower rates of helminths, or parasitic worms. The Aka didn't tell researchers they smoke to prevent helminths, but to "increase their courage on a hunt, dance better, increase their vital force, or to increase their work capacity when working for Europeans or village people." They say cannabis is especially helpful when hunting elephants, and that women prefer husbands who smoke—which could account for the especially high rates of male smoking. But the researchers surmised that plant toxins in cannabis and tobacco alike serve to protect the Aka from parasites, and they are unconsciously self-medicating with the herb.

Mexico: activist slain in missing students case

Posted on August 10th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMiguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, a leading activist in Mexico's violence-torn state of Guerrero and a vocal advocate for the families of the the 43 students who went missing there in September 2014, was himself found dead on Aug. 10. His  body was discovered riddled with bullets and slumped over the wheel of the taxi he owned in the pueblo of Xaltianguis, just outside Acapulco. He had led search parties after the disappearance of the students, who are now believed to have been turned over to a murderous narco-gang after being detained by police. Only one body of this missing students has yet been found. As it became increasingly clear the students had been killed, he helped organize a group called The Other Disappeared—mostly women, who meet every Sunday to search the hills for the remains of their loved ones. Since the group began work, it has unearthed 129 bodies, which were handed over to the authorities for identification. As he began to organize around the issue, Jiménez Blanco said some 300 families came forward saying they also had missing relatives. He said in a BBC interview earlier this year: "We have been saying from the start that this area is a cemetery."

Colombia: FARC-paramilitary collaboration in narco trade?

Posted on August 10th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

ColombiaColombia's FARC guerillas may be working under the table with their supposed bitter enemies in the ultra-right paramilitary groups. E-mails released by authorities on Aug. 5 reportededly reveal that the FARC and Los Urabeños paramilitary have been collaborating to traffic drugs and weapons. In one of the undated e-mails, a FARC fighter known as "Ruben Manteco" wrote to "Pastor Alape"—one of the FARC's top commanders and a representative in Havana for peace talks with the Colombian government. The message refers to a gift offered the FARC by "Otoniel," the notorious Urabeño warlord. According to the e-mail exchange, Otoniel sent $170,000 as a good-will gesture to prove his reliability as a business partner. Alape instructed Manteco to accept the gift, adding that he should pursue negotiations on arms deals once confidence in the partnership was established. Another e-mail exchange discusses plans for FARC-Urabeño collaboration in drug trafficking. In that exchange, "Roman Ruiz," a FARC commander who was killed in a Colombian army offensive earlier this year, suggests to Alape that the guerrillas raise the price on cocaine exports. Other e-mails indicate the FARC has been providing security to the Urabeños during their drug operations while also helping to broker deals.

Federal court finds drug dog unreliable —but upholds conviction

Posted on August 10th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

In an utterly maddening decision, on July 28 the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago found that a police dog in a drug bust was unreliable in detecting drugs—yet let the conviction in the case stand anyway! Lex, the drug-sniffing pooch of the police force in Bloomington, Ill.,  must have been at the "bottom of his class" at dog-training school, the court stated. The defense presented evidence that Lex signals for drugs 93% of the time, often inaccurately. The court admitted Lex only had a "59.5% field-accuracy rate," which is "not much better than a coin flip." It also agreed that giving the critter treats for each alert—false or not—was a "terrible way to promote" accuracy. But the conviction of Larry Bentley Jr was upheld, on the grounds that contradictory answers to officers' questions and other evidence separately justified the search of his car in a traffic stop, which turned up cocaine.

Amnesty: 'Trigger happy' police kill hundreds in Rio

Posted on August 6th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

BrazilAmnesty International in a report issued Aug. 3 charges that Brazil's military police have been responsible for more than 1,500 deaths in Rio de Janeiro in the last five years, accusinf them of a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy. Amnesty released the findings ahead of the one-year countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The report, "You killed my son: Killings by military police in Rio de Janeiro," reveals that nearly 16% of the total homicides registered in the city in the last five years took place at the hands of on-duty police—1,519 in total. Just in the favela of Acari, in the city's north, Amnesty found evidence of "extrajudicial executions" in at least nine out of 10 killings committed by the military police in 2014. 

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