Bill Weinberg's blog

Trump's troubling 'bromance' with Philippines' drug war strongman

Posted on May 8th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East AsiaThe Philippines' inimitable President Rodrigo Duterte is being his usual charming self. The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, arrived in the country on May 5 to attend a conference on drug policy and human rights at the University of the Philippines. Callamard is of course a harsh critic of Duterte's campaign of police and paramilitary terror against low-level drug dealers and users. Duterte wasted not a moment in voicing defiance, warning drug users: "And here's the shocker: I will kill you. I will really kill you. And that's why the rapporteur of the UN is here, investigating extrajudicial killing."

Florida: is it 'medical marijuana' if you can't smoke it?

Posted on May 3rd, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

FloridaFollowing last-minute changes, the lower house of Florida's legislature on May 2 voted 105-9 to pass HB 1397, ostensibly following through on the voter mandate to establish a medical marijuana program in the Sunshine State. But those last-minute changes included both a limit on the number of license holders—and a ban on actually smoking herbaceous cannabis. House sponsor and Republican leader Ray Rodrigues blamed fears of interference from the Trump administration, telling the Tampa Bay Times: "We have to make it legal and available to Florida residents, but we have to do it in such a way that it complies to the guidance we’ve been given by the federal government."

US Marines back to Afghanistan's opium heartland

Posted on May 1st, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

opiatesUS Marines this week returned to Helmand province, now the epicenter both of Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency and opium production. Ostensibly, the mission is to train Afghan forces struggling to stem the insurgency, but they certainly have the power to fire if fired upon. Many of the 300 Marines coming to Helmand under NATO's Resolute Support training mission are veterans of previous tours in the province—where almost 1,000 coalition troops (mostly US and British) were killed fighting the Taliban before they pulled out in 2014. When they left, as part of that year's supposed "withdrawal" of US troops from Afghanistan, they handed over the sprawling desert base they dubbed Camp Leatherneck to the Afghan army, hoping not to return.

Meth plague hits Bangladesh

Posted on April 28th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

South AsiaThe rural marshlands of Bangladesh have become the latest part of the world to be hit by the unhappy global plague of methamphetamine use. More and more of the country's struggling peasants are taking to "yaba," little pink sugar-coated pills made from caffeine and meth that are flooding in from neighboring Burma. Annual seizures of yaba in Bangladesh increased by a jaw-dropping 80,000% over the past decade, authorities say. A disturbing on-the-scene report from Public Radio International emphasizes that in conservative and Muslim rural Bangladesh, yaba is not being used as a "party drug." The speed pills are most often used to get folks through long days of hard labor.

No, Donald, your wall won't 'stop the drugs'

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

border wallJust three days before the deadline to avert a government shutdown, Donald Trump blinked April 25, backing off from the demand that his planned border wall receive funding (to the whopping tune of $11.4 billion) in the spending measure now before Congress. But just two days earlier, in an interview with the Associated Press, Trump again invoked the need to protect the country from drugs as mandating his wall—and making absurdly hubristic claims about its effectiveness to do so...

Venture capital eyes legal cannabis sector —warily

Posted on April 25th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

leafIt is certainly a sign of the times that a partnership of major California media—led by Bay Area News Group, owner of the San Jose Mercury News—has launched a website entitled The Cannifornian, "Covering the Golden State of Cannabis." That means it's dedicated to reportage on the fast-growing cannabis sector in post-legalization California. An April 25 offering, "Venture capital investors betting big on cannabis," notes that financial consultancy firm New Frontier Data is predicting nationwide legal cannabis sales will balloon to more than $24 billion by 2025.

Philippines: legal challenge to deadly drug war

Posted on April 24th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

South East AsiaPhilippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains intransigent on his ultra-murderous "drug war," which has unleashed police and paramilitary terror on low-level dealers and users across the archipelago. But, hearteningly, courageous dissent and resistance to the blood-drenched crackdown persists. Al Jazeera on April 24 features a profile of the legal team at Manila's Center for International Law, which has been going to bat for the targets of Duterte's terror—despite the threat of reprisals.

Sessions pledges crackdown on Latin gangs

Posted on April 21st, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , .

Shadow WatchAttorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking to the Justice Department's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) on April 18, pledged that the Trump administration will have "zero tolerance for gang violence" from "transnational criminal organizations"—particularly singling out MS-13, the Central American narco-network that has its roots on the streets of Los Angeles.

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