Bill Weinberg's blog

Philippines: more Duterte death-squad links revealed

Posted on September 22nd, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

South East AsiaPresident Rodrigo Duterte's ultra-hardline anti-drug policies took center-stage in the Philippines last week as the country's Senate held televised hearings on the matter. By now, the National Police force has acknowledged that its troops have killed 1,506 suspected drug dealers or users since Duterte took office in June. (Amnesty International, adding those killed by unaccountable "vigilantes," puts the figure at 3,000.) Duterte openly boasts that the killings will continue. The hearings heard impassioned testimony both for and against this lawless crackdown.

Cops to get 'potalyzers' for roadside marijuana tests

Posted on September 12th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

Shadow WatchResearchers at Stanford University have developed a "potalyzer"—a device that can detect human THC levels, so cops can determine if a motorist is too impaired to drive. The hand-held device uses sophisticated bio-sensors to detect THC molecules in saliva. Police officers will supposedly be able collect a spit sample with a cotton swab and read the results on a smartphone or laptop in just three minutes.

DEA declares war on kratom

Posted on September 9th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

kratomLast month, when the DEA dashed activist hopes for a rescheduling of cannabis, it also issued another lesser-noted decision—to put the psychoactive herb kratom in the same Schedule I classification as pot, that for the most dangerous drugs with no medical use. Advocates have launched a White House petition against the kratom ban, and have already won the required 100,000 signatures to trigger an administration reponse. The DEA decision takes effect on Sept. 30, while the White House has 60 days to respond to the petition, under its own policy.

North Dakota to get armed police drones

Posted on September 9th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

Shadow WatchNational Public Radio's The Two-Way blog reports that North Dakota police forces are about to get the nation's first weaponized drones, following passage of a bill allowing them earlier this year. Ironically, this is coming about in spite of the legislation's main sponsor, Republican state Rep. Rick Becker. While the law limits the type of weapons permitted to those in the "less than lethal" category—tear-gas, rubber bullets, beanbags, pepper spray and Tasers—the original bill would have entirely barred weapons from police drones. According to The Daily Beast, Becker told a hearing in March: "In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period."

Brooklyn community garden closed for illegal flowers

Posted on September 7th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

New York CityThe irrational and oppressive nature of cannabis prohibition is vividly illustrated by an Aug. 24 New York Times story about Green Gem community garden, on city-owned land in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood, which was ordered closed in May after inspectors from the Parks Department discovered a few marijuana seedlings growing in coffee cups. Lead gardener James McCrae said the illicit plants were the work of a rogue gardener who was no longer involved. The Green Gem was just now allowed to re-open under an agreement worked out with the parks department's Green Thumb program. But the community was deprived of the garden throughout the summer, and a harvest was lost.

Philippines: anti-narco dictatorship consolidating?

Posted on September 5th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , .

South East AsiaRodrigo Duterte, the ultra-hardline president of the Philippines, ominously declared a "state of lawlessness" after a Sept. 2 bomb blast at a night market in the southern city of Davao, where he had long served as mayor. The special powers he is seizing are ill-defined, but he said he would "invite uniformed personnel to run the country." In justifying the power-grab, he stated: “There is a crisis in this country involving drugs, extrajudicial killings, and there seems to be an environment of lawlessness, lawless violence." There's an especially perverse irony to the invocation of extrajudicial killings, as his own government is accued of exactly that.

Justice Department to end use of private prisons

Posted on August 19th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

prisonThe US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced plans Aug. 18 to phase out its use of private prisons. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates issued the decision in a memo instructing officials to either decline to renew contracts for private prison operators or to "substantially reduce" the contracts' scope. The goal, Yates stated, is "reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons. They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department's Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security."

'Voluntary' drug testing comes to New Jersey school district

Posted on August 19th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

Shadow WatchFrom New Jersey comes the unwelcome news that the Lacey Township Board of Education has voted to approve a program of "voluntary" random drug-testing for middle school students. "I'm a supporter for any intervention to give another reason for kids to say 'no' and that can start at any age, especially with our young teens," district superintendent Craig Wigley told NJ Advance Media after the Aug. 15 vote. Seventh and eighth graders who participate in athletic programs or extracurricular programs will be given the "option" to participate in the testing program, with parental consent. For a first violation, a student would be barred from sports or extracurricular activities for 10 days. With a second violation, it goes up to 45-days, with mandatory attendance of eight counseling sessions. A third strike, of course, means you're out—barred from sports and extracurricular programs permanently. The district already has a similar program in place for high school students.

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