Napalm Death frontman to Indonesia: don't execute grandma!

Posted on February 7th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

South East AsiaIndonesia, facing global criticism over a spate of executions of foreigners on drug charges, is now under pressure from the grindcore lobby. The Independent reported Feb. 3 that Napalm Death frontman Barney Greenway is personally petitioning President Joko Widodo for clemency—taking advantage of the fact that His Excellency Widodo is an avid fan. (The Independent amusingly shows him wearing a Napalm Death T-shit.) Last month, Greenway appealed in the case of two Australian members of the "Bali Nine," Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, facing execution on a heroin trafficking charge. Chan and Sukumaran are apparently also metal fans, and Greenway is reaching out to Widodo in a spirit of headbanger solidarity. Now, the English rocker has released an open letter to Widodo urging clemency for Lindsay Sandiford, a 57-year-old British grandmother who faces the firing squad in Bali on a coke-smuggling charge. Adopting considerably more dulcet tones than he uses onstage, Greeway writes:

California's Pinoleville Pomo tribe launches major grow op

Posted on February 5th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

CaliforniaThe Pinoleville Pomo Nation of Northern California's Mendocino County is set to be the first Native American tribe to grow cannabis, pursuant to the new Justice Department policy taking a hands-off approach to cultivation on Indian reservations. The 250-member tribe signed a contract last month with Kansas-based FoxBarry Farms and Colorado-based United Cannabis to develop a large-scale grow operation on its 99-acre rancheria just north of Ukiah. "We anticipate construction to begin in early February, and operations to commence by the end of the month," Barry Brautman, president of FoxBarry Development Company, told Indian Country Today Media Network. "Our first phase will include 90,000 feet of greenhouse space, and another 20,000 feet of indoor space." FoxBarry will also oversee distribution for California's medical market. Cannabis grown on the rancheria will be distributed only to card-holding medical users and dispensaries. “Our business model involves doing everything legally and by the book,” Brautman emphaszied to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

Peru declares no-fly zone over coca valley

Posted on February 5th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

PeruAuthorities in Peru Feb. 4 announced the declaration of a no-fly zone over the conflicted coca-producing region known as the VRAEM, for the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers, in the country's southeast jungles. The head of Peru's anti-drug agency DEVIDA, Alberto Otarola (a former defense minister), spoke in blunt terms at a Lima press conference: "Any flight that is not reported to the aviation authority will be considered hostile and illegal. Peru must exercise the full sovereignty and jurisdiction of its airspace."

Lebanon legalization push

Posted on February 3rd, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

Middle EastWalid Jumblatt is a name that was frequently in the news when Lebanon's civil war was raging back in the 1980s. The longtime leader of the Druze ethnicity is still around, now an MP with the Progressive Socialist Party—and has emerged as Lebanon's foremost voice for cannabis legalization. Noting the resilient hashish economy in the Bekaa Valley, Jumblatt has actually been pushing cannabis as a cornerstone of security and economic development in Lebanon, which shows growing signs of being drawn into the Syrian war. In comments Jan. 14 to daily As-Safir, Jumblatt said: "I hold onto my opinion on the necessity of legalizing the cultivation of hashish... It's time to allow hash to be grown and to overturn arrest warrants against people sought for doing so." 

Hashish helicopter crashes in Spain

Posted on January 30th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

SpainA helicopter loaded with Moroccan hashish crashed in southern Spain after hitting a power pylon, killing its two pilots, authorities said Jan. 28. The chopper went down in the wee hours near the mountain town of Cortes de la Frontera in Málaga province, apparently while takng evasive maneuvers as a Spanish Guardia Civil helicopter gave chase. The smugglers' chopper was painted black to avoid being detected at night, and carrying between 800 and 900 kilos of hash. One of the dead pilots has been identified as an Albanian army major, Sokol Feka. Media reports in Albania say he was an instructor at the Balkan country's Farkës air base.

Another sentencing in Sinaloa-Chicago connection

Posted on January 28th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

Identical twin brothers Pedro and Margarito Flores on Jan. 27 were the latest to be sentenced in a series of high-profile federal cases targeting the Sinaloa Cartel's operations in Chicago. Accused of running a continent-spanning trafficking ring, they each received 14 years in prison after US District Judge Ruben Castillo agreed to sharply reduce their term in recognition of their work as government informants. Castillo called the Flores twins, natives of Chicago's West Side, the "most significant drug dealers" he'd dealt with in two decades on the bench, stating that they had "devastated the walls" of US national security by bringing at least 70 tons of cocaine and heroin into the country from 2005 to 2008. Prosecutors also charged the twins smuggled $1.8 billion back to Mexico—wrapped in plastic and duct tape. But it was federal prosecutors who pleaded for leniency, hailing the twins for gathering evidence against the Sinaloa Cartel's long-fugitive kingpin "El Chapo" Guzmán, who was finally busted in Mexico last year. 

International drug trade funds Boko Haram insurgency

Posted on January 27th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

AfricaThe brutal Boko Haram rebels are gaining ground at a frightening pace in northwest Nigeria, even mounting a bloody attack this week on the region's major city, Maiduguri. Reports are mounting that the exremist movement is funding its insurgency by exploiting Nigeria's strategic place as a crossroads of the global narco-traffick. BBC News on Jan. 25 asked "How have Nigeria's militants become so strong?" It cited the findings of the International Crisis Group that Boko Haram "has forged ties with arms smugglers in the lawless parts of the vast Sahel region." Plenty of its arms (including tanks and armored vehicles) have been plundered from the Nigerian army itself. But plenty more are thought to have come from Libya, where arms depots were looted when Moammar Qaddafi's regime was overthrown in 2011. Trafficking networks have been moving that plundered war material across the Sahel and Sahara, integrating the traffick into routes already established for moving drugs and other contraband between West Africa, Europe and Asia.

Harsh abuses seen in Burma opium war

Posted on January 23rd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

South East AsiaDespite a democratic opening and hopes for peace with the ethnic insurgencies in the northern hinterlands, horrific accounts of rights abuses continue to emerge from the multi-sided war over Burma's opium production. According to reports from village leaders, Burmese army troops on Jan. 19 tortured, raped and killed two young volunteer teachers. The women were both Kachin and Christians, so may have been targeted for ethnicity or religion. The attacks came when the village of Shabuk-Kaunghka, in Shan state's Mungbaw township, was occupied by a Light Infantry battalion that entered the area following clashes with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). New fighting erupted after three police officers and a local highway administrator were detained by the KIA while carrying out a road inspection in the area. They were released after mediation, but clashes continue. 

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