news you should know about

newsmongering 06/02

with one comment

> An international panel comprising UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Reagan administration Secretary of State George Schultz, former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, and others has found that the multidecade “war on drugs” has pretty much failed, and also ruined a lot of lives/livelihoods.

Seriously. A former Reagan official thinks this was a bad move.

“The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world,” the executive summary of the panel’s report begins. “Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President Nixon launched the US government’s war on drugs, fundamental reforms in national and global drug control policies are urgently needed.”

…The panel’s recommendations will be familiar to drug policy reform advocates in the U.S. They include:

  •  Ending the criminalization of people who use drugs but do not harm others
  • Exploring models of legal regulation of drugs — especially marijuana — “to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens”
  • Increasing health and treatment services to those in need
  • Ending law enforcement emphasis on pursuing the low end of the drug market — people like poor farmers — and instead focusing on violent criminal organizations

All of which sound pretty reasonable to me, but the White House has already shrugged off the findings; apparently legalizing drugs will make communities less safe. I personally think that arresting teenagers for being stupid teenagers, thus making it impossible to find employment twenty years later makes communities less safe, but for reasons unfathomable, the White House hasn’t asked for my opinion (I feel like they’re missing an important voice).

Anyway, if you want to read the full report, you can do so here.

> I’m starting to see the phrase “civil war” tossed around with regards to Yemen; depending on who you talk read, they’re either already in one or just on the verge. A tenuous cease-fire in the capital of Senaa broke down explosively, leaving dozens dead; Foreign Policy reports that Yemen is experiencing violence “on three fronts: the street fighting in the capital, the gunning down of protesters by security forces in the city of Taiz, and the battle between security forces and al Qaeda-linked militants in the coastal city of Zinjibar.” Furthermore, the violence is having a serious impact on Yemen’s already poor economy, as street violence has left shops closed and customers barricaded in their homes. Unspecified “foreign powers” are pressuring president Saleh to step down.

> The Syrian government has offered amnesty to prisoners following the past ten weeks of violence; at least 10,000 people who have been arrested by Syrian security forces would be affected. Syrian opposition leaders have rejected the offer, describing it as an ploy to buy time, and the White House “expressed doubt about the amnesty offer and demanded that Assad prove he is serious about reform.” Russia, a Syrian ally, welcomed the move, describing it as “an invitation for talks” between the Syrian government and opposition leaders. Russia has also warned the US and NATO not to consider supplying military aid to protestors, pointing out the dangers of destabilizing a major player in the Middle East. Russia also initially opposed NATO actions against Libya.

> Saudi Arabia is planning to build 16 nuclear reactors by 2030, with the first two built by 2016. Something’s interesting when a key oil producer starts to shift to alternate energy sources, no?

> A second Freedom Flotilla (aptly named Freedom Flotilla 2) will launch from Istanbul at the end of June in another attempt to break the Gaza blockade. The flotilla will be comprised of fifteen ships, nearly twice as many as the Freedom Flotilla 1, will be lead by the Turkish Mavi Marmara, and will carry 1,500 activists and passengers. The UN has a headache; the first flotilla was intercepted by Israeli security forces, leading to the death’s of nine passengers, including a 19 year-old Turkish-American citizen. A contentious investigation into whether Israeli violated international law in intercepting the flotilla is ongoing.

> Court proceedings have revealed that Egypt planned for an Internet shutdown beginning in 2008.

> France, the largest producer of grain in the EU, is experiencing the worst drought in its history.

> Dozens of protestors have allegedly been arrested in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia. China would like you to know that “everything is normal,” which is usually a pretty good indication that it’s not.

> The African Union reported Tuesday that North and South Sudan have agreed upon a demilitarized zone between the two countries preceding South Sudan’s independence in July. However, the establishment of such a border is reliant on a mutually agreed upon line of demarcation between the two countries.

> Jill Abramson is replacing Bill Keller as executive editor of The New York Times. She is the first woman to hold this position.

> Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has not yet declared if she’ll run for president in 2012. Here’s a list of some pretty good anti-gay quotes from Rep. Bachmann. I think my favorite is the fourth, although the one where she says that living in a committed homosexual relationship is slavery is pretty good (kinky?), too:

You have a teacher talking about his gayness. (The elementary school student) goes home then and says “Mom! What’s gayness? We had a teacher talking about this today.” The mother says “Well, that’s when a man likes other men, and they don’t like girls.” The boy’s eight. He’s thinking, “Hmm. I don’t like girls. I like boys. Maybe I’m gay.” And you think, “Oh, that’s, that’s way out there. The kid isn’t gonna think that.” Are you kidding? That happens all the time. You don’t think that this is intentional, the message that’s being given to these kids? That’s child abuse. — Senator Michele Bachmann, speaking at EdWatch National Education Conference, November 6, 2004.

…yeah, she has kind of a hard time with cause and effect. Also (relatedly), there’s some indication that she thinks we’re living in the End of Times and that the pope is the antichrist. How Minnesota managed to produce – simultaneously – Michelle Bachmann and Al Franken is beyond me. Also, apparently Bachmann is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Have fun with that one!

> Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has launched his 2012 campaign. Romney claims that he’s “never seen an enterprise in more desperate need of a turnaround than the U.S. government” – and he ought to know, having pretty much reversed most of his major positions (had he maintained his 1994 position, I’d be a lot more of a fan) (“You will not see me wavering on that.” Oh really?). Oh, and he’d like you to know that Obama has failed America.

> Speaking of which, WhiteHouse.gov now has a specific LGBT page! Apparently it is aimed at “winning the future,” which sounds like something Charlie Sheen would come up with. Anyway, Autostraddle points out that this is, in the immortal words of Joe Biden, “a big f*cking deal” (he said it, Mom, not me!) and that while Obama may drive you up a wall periodically, he’s done more for the gay community than any other president in history (Clinton was supposed to be the annointed one, but then he went and signed DADT and DOMA. Oops?).

[Obama] worked really hard on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It took a while because he spent a lot of his momentum on the health care bill, but honestly, that’s completely fine with me. There are other things I care about beyond LGBT issues, just like there are other parts of my identity beyond my sexuality. When health care was done, he turned to DADT and he got it repealed. I wish that repeal was taking effect more quickly, but he has the House to deal with.

Then Obama started attacking DOMA. In the past few months, his position went from “my office has to defend it in court because it’s my job” to “we won’t defend it in the Second Circuit” to “we actively support its repeal in Congress.” If Obama can advance that far on DOMA so quickly, who knows what he’ll be fighting for by 2016.

Obama is not perfect. There are important things that he has not done, and marriage equality is not the only LGBT issue that matters. But he has gone a long way toward erasing the damage done by Clinton, and he becomes a stronger LGBT advocate every day. Finally, we have a president who is willing to call himself an ally. He has stopped undercutting that with mutterings about religion or with concessions to the religious right. He is on our side.

So yeah, this is just a silly web page that he launched to cater to LGBT voters. But I say, bring on the flattery. What other president has ever been so willing to vocally support us, to tell the country that LGBT Americans are worth his time?

> Apparently 31% of gay and lesbian voters voted GOP in the 2010 midterms. Um. What?

Okay, so on the one hand, this means that LGBTetc. voters are not being defined by their sexuality but by issues (taxes, healthcare, et al).  On the other hand, this means that they’re apparently willing to sacrifice being able to visit their partners in the hospital (let alone marry them) in order to…I don’t know, have lousy healthcare? Forfeit their rights to unionize? …Yeah, I don’t know. But I expect that that 31% is at least part of the reason behind “Winning the Future.”

> In response to the Old Navy Supports the Gays But Only In June In Certain Stores in Certain Cities fiasco (did I fire off an angry note to Old Navy’s customer service? Yes, I did, and I’m not ashamed), it’s worth keeping in mind that big corporations will pretty much only love you so far as they think they can profit from you (yeah, yeah, I forgot, too).

> Here, have a (satirical) list of twelve reasons why gay marriage should be illegal.

> A twelve year-old kid from Brooklyn is really, really close to being the youngest American Grandmaster ever. It’s a great article. And his coach looks pretty badass.

> The American The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trailer is out! I’m onboard. Also, have a poster.


Written by whackanarwhal

June 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] So right about a week after a panel of the people arguably the most qualified in the world do so declared that the war on drugs …, Russia has launched a “total war” on drugs. This sort of thing is why, as a rule of […]

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