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December 5, 2004

United States anti-drug efforts in Latin America criticized by WOLA report

United States anti-drug efforts in Latin America criticized by WOLA report

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Sunday, December 5, 2004

Washington, DC – The “War on Drugs” waged by the United States has been criticized in a report released by the Washington D.C.-left wing based human rights group Washington Office on Latin America. The report, “Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy” (Summary, PDF), investigated “the impact of drug control policies on human rights and democracy” [1] and declared that present policies in the War on Drugs have failed to achieve any meaningful success.

The United States government’s primary aim in the War on Drugs is to reduce the volume of illegal narcotics imported into the United States. By reducing imports, prices of the drugs will rise and, so the government reasons, drug use will decline. The government’s efforts are primarily directed towards eradication of crops used to produce finished drugs, and towards strengthening the governments of regions in which drugs are produced by offering military and financial aid, the most notable of which is Colombia.

The 400-page WOLA report documents evidence that U.S. efforts to combat illegal drugs in the Americas have served to weaken democratic instutions in Latin America, and have placed the burden of the drug war upon the poorest of their citizens. Co-editor of the report, Coletta A. Youngers maintains that the U.S. policy of crop eradication generates “social unrest, instability and violence” as poor farmers are having their source of income destroyed. Youngers further states that U.S. policies “have contributed to confusing military and law-enforcement functions, militarizing local police forces, and bringing the military into a domestic law enforcement role. They have thus strengthened military forces at the expense of civilian authorities – in a region with a tragic history of military rule” [2].

As a measure of their success in the War on Drugs, the Office of National Drug Control Policy points to statistics from 2001, which are the most recent published on the ONDCP website, that show a decline in the worldwide level of coca cultivation [3]. The ONDCP also claims success in interdiction efforts and highlights statistics on drug arrests within the United States as measurable achievements in the War on Drugs [4].

However, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s latest statistics (from 2003) show street prices of drugs to be near an all-time low [5]. The same DEA report also concedes that most drugs “are readily available”.

While a senior ONDCP official has stated that the WOLA report “is filled with errors, irrelevancies, and misinterpretations” [6], WOLA has called for a renewed debate on drug war policies, supported by their findings and the latest government statistics that show illegal narcotics to be cheaper and more plentiful than ever before.

WOLA was founded in 1974 by Joseph Eldridge, Joyce Hill of the National Council of Churches and Thomas Quigley of the U.S. Catholic Conference. Quigley led the Religious Task Force on El Salvador, part of a coalition called Committee In Solidarity With the People of El Salvador (CIPES). Papers captured in El Salvador belonging to FMLN guerrilla leader, Farid Handal, “documented CIPES’ connections with member groups of the Latin network and the international communist movement( Richard P. McBrien, Catholicism, Harper/Collins, NY, new edition 1994, p. 682).



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Thai government drops origami cranes as message of peace

Filed under: Archived,Asia,Thailand,Thaksin Shinawatra — admin @ 5:00 am

Thai government drops origami cranes as message of peace

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Sunday, December 5, 2004

BANGKOK – Millions of origami cranes have been dropped on Thailand’s three southern provinces following violence between the government and ethnic minority Muslim populations. The move has been called a “goodwill gesture” towards Muslims.

Up to 120 million such paper sculptures were dropped on Thailand’s three southern-most provinces, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala. Tensions in this area have increased recently, peaking with the recent death of 85 demonstrators arrested during a protest. The government blamed their deaths on physical weakness due to fasting in the month of Ramadan as the cause, as most if not all the deaths occurred during transport of up to 500 arrested protestors. Critics of the Thai government have called for the resignation of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, blaming the “over-eagerness” of Thai security forces as the cause of the deaths.

The dispersal was timed to coincide with the birthday of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and has generated much interest from the rest of the country’s predominantly Buddhist population. The cranes were built by citizens throughout Thailand and had peace messages written on them. The southern, Muslim provinces are often considered neglected by a north that is larger and of the majority ethnic group. Some have welcomed the goodwill gesture, but critics in both the north and south have said that the resources would have been better spent solving the problems in the south. Some Islamic leaders in the south have also expressed concerns that the gesture may not be properly understood by Muslims, as the crane carries no cultural significance with them.

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Police deactivate explosive device in Andalucía, Spain

Filed under: Archived,Europe,Politics and conflicts,Spain — admin @ 5:00 am

Police deactivate explosive device in Andalucía, Spain

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Sunday, December 5, 2004

ALMERIA, Spain. – A small explosive device was deactivated today by the Spanish police in Almería, Andalucía.

The bomb was hidden inside a small bag, accompanied by a note signed by ETA, and was set to explode at 13:30 on Monday, December 6, a national holiday to celebrate the Spanish Constitution. The explosive device was found by police while patrolling the Plaza de España (Spain Square), according to a memo by the Ministry of Interior, and was deactivated by a bomb squad without having to explode it.

The Civil Guard calculated that the device carried less than 200 grams of explosive, about the same amount as the bombs placed in 5 gas stations in Madrid on Friday, according to “El Mundo”. The Spanish Minister of Interior, José Antonio Alonso, appealed for the population to remain calm and trust the authorities.

Related news

ETA bombs five gas stations in Madrid” — Wikinews, December 4, 2004

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Napster founder Shawn Fanning introduces new file-sharing project

Napster founder Shawn Fanning introduces new file-sharing project

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Sunday, December 5, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO – Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster and a founder of Snocap, Inc., on Friday revealed his plans for a legal peer-to-peer file-sharing platform. Snocap has signed an agreement with Universal Music Group to make the company’s entire catalogue available through the new service. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Snocap’s press release, the platform will include a copyright management interface, which will allow content owners to control the distribution of their intellectual property among users. The service’s main competitor would be Apple’s iTunes Music Store, which is currently the most widely used legal source of downloadable music.

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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