Category Archives: broken system

5 Startling Numbers Reveal the Militarization of U.S. Drug Policy

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The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war

This average death toll of Americans murdered in drug-related crimes is higher than the annual fatality rate of US soldiers in either the Afghanistan or Iraq war. In fact, according to an analytical study of FBI crime statistics, the Vietnam War is the only conflict in the past half-century that has been deadlier for Americans. Disturbingly, this figure doesn’t even take into account the numerous individuals who have been killed by law enforcement in drug-related raids.

$51 billion – The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs

This huge figure, which is $5 billion more than the average annual expenditure on the Afghanistan War, is primarily allocated to arming and training the increasingly militarised law enforcement.  According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), weaponry held by US counter-narcotic agencies for use against American drug suspects includes flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and submachine guns. There is also an increased prevalence of drug-targeting SWAT teams using armoured personnel carriers – vehicles that were originally created to “transport infantry and provide protection from shrapnel and small arms fire on the battlefield.”

61 percent – The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color

The ACLU investigated the impact rates of SWAT teams in sixteen counties around the US, and in every single one, people of color were disproportionately targeted. In Allentown, PA, Latinos were 29 times more likely than white people to endure a SWAT raid, while Blacks in Burlington, NC, were 47 times more likely than whites to face this violence. This bias treatment is ongoing despite the rates of drug use and selling being comparable across racial lines.

18 months – The age of Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war

On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh’s home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range – critically injuring him. In  a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing “a singed crib” and “a pool of blood”, and later being informed by medics of the “hole in his chest that exposes his ribs.” Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may “make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs.” Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is  relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.

82 percent – The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs

American polling company, Rasmussen,  reported this staggering statistic, which contrasts considerably with the miniscule four percent who believe that the drug war has been successful. Despite the inordinate human and financial cost of the war on drugs, and its lack of success in quelling drug use or trafficking, Republican and Democrat leaders continue to express anti-democratic defiance as they ignore the will of the people and perpetuate the drug war’s inhumanity.

This article first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/5-startling-numbers-reveal-militarization-us-drug-policy

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Ted Cruz says 41 Senate Democrats Co-Sponsor Bill to Repeal 1st Amendment Regulate Free Speech

Ted Cruz Repeal 1st Amendment

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told attendees at a Family Research Council pastors retreat that Senate Democrats want to limit free speech through amending the Constitution.

“When you think it can’t get any worse, it does,” Cruz said at the FRC’s Watchmen on the Wall 2014 event in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. “This year, I’m sorry to tell you, the United States Senate is going to be voting on a constitutional amendment to repeal the First Amendment.”

Calling these “perilous, perilous times,” Cruz said Senate Democrats have said they are ready to vote on the amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 19 – “an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections.”

“Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has announced the Senate Democrats are scheduling a vote on a constitutional amendment to give Congress the authority to regulate political speech, because elected officials have decided they don’t like it when the citizenry has the temerity to criticize what they’ve done,” he said.

“They don’t like it when pastors in their community stand up and speak the truth,” Cruz said to an audience of hundreds of pastors from across the country.

“And I’ll note this amendment, which has 41 Democratic senators as co-sponsors – 41 Democrats have signed on to repealing the First Amendment,” Cruz said. “It explicitly says nothing in this new amendment shall abridge the freedom of the press.

“So the New York Times is protected, but it doesn’t say the same thing about the freedom of speech,” Cruz said. “It doesn’t say the same thing about religious liberty.”

Ted Cruz says Democrats want to limit free speech.

“What it says is that politicians in Washington have unlimited constitutional authority to muzzle each and every one of you if you’re saying things the government finds inconvenient,” Cruz said.

UPDATE… Because of several comments on this story indicating they would like the list of Senate co-sponsors of S.J. Res. 19, we are providing the list below, courtesy of the Library of Congress (alpha order by last name):

  • Tammy Baldwin (WI)
  • Mark Begich (AK)
  • Michael Bennet (CO)
  • Richard Blumenthal (CT)
  • Cory Booker (NJ)
  • Barbara Boxer (CA)
  • Sherrod Brown (OH)
  • Benjamin Cardin (MD)
  • Thomas Carper (DE)
  • Christopher Coons (DE)
  • Richard Durbin (IL)
  • Dianne Feinstein (CA)
  • Al Franken (MN)
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
  • Kay Hagen (NC)
  • Tom Harkin (IA)
  • Martin Heinrich (NM)
  • Mazie Hirono (HI)
  • Tim Johnson (SD)
  • Angus King, Jr. (ME)
  • Amy Klobuchar (MN)
  • Edward Markey (MA)
  • Robert Menendez (NJ)
  • Jeff Merkley (OR)
  • Barbara Mikulski (MD)
  • Christopher Murphy (CT)
  • Patty Murray (WA)
  • Jack Reed (RI)
  • Harry Reid (NV)
  • John D. Rockefeller, IV (WV)
  • Bernard Sanders (VT)
  • Brian Schatz (HI)
  • Chuck Schumer (NY)
  • Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
  • Debbie Stabenow (MI)
  • Jon Tester (MT)
  • Mark Udall (CO)
  • John Walsh (MT)
  • Elizabeth Warren (MA)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
  • Ron Wyden (OR)

Please note that the above article mentioned all co-sponsors as Democrats. Actually, there are 40 Democrats and one admitted socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), a registered Independent who caucuses with the Democrats.

Read more at http://janmorganmedia.com/2014/05/cruz-41-senate-democrats-co-sponsor-bill-repeal-1st-amendment-regulate-free-speech/#GUlI6UzQGkwTWJc8.99

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BARR: The U.N. comes after America’s guns Barack Obama’s OK of a gun-control treaty would destroy the Second Amendment

The true scope of the anti-firearm crusade of the United Nations, which began more than a dozen years ago, finally is coming into clear focus, as the White House readies to sign the Arms Trade Treaty adopted with U.S. support this past April by the U.N. General Assembly. The reach of this long-term, carefully crafted agenda is truly breathtaking, going far beyond the publicly articulated goals of even the most radical of homegrown gun-control groups.

Since the first major U.N. meeting in July 2001, officially launching the so-called “Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects,” this bureaucratic behemoth on the banks of the East River in New York City has been attempting to stretch its tentacles into the domestic regulation of firearms. If the administration of President Obama signs the Arms Trade Treaty, the U.N. will have taken a major step toward its ultimate goal — regardless of whether the treaty is ever submitted to the Senate for ratification.

According to experts familiar with this process, the mere act of signing the treaty — a responsibility that would fall to Secretary of State John Kerry — would “obligate” the U.S. government as a signatory not to act “contrary to” its terms. Those “terms” are, to quote Ross Perot, the “devil in the detail” — found not only within the four corners of the document itself, but in companion, foundational documents on which it is based.

For example, a 2006 U.N. report (authored by an American academic, Barbara Frey) lays out with frightening clarity where advocates of the approach reflected in the Arms Trade Treaty are coming from. According to this Eurocentric worldview, there is no “right” to self-defense, and the national government is obligated to restrict civilian ownership of firearms, including determining which citizens properly “understand” firearms and might, therefore, be permitted to possess them.

Another important but little-known set of documents that reveal the true purposes of the treaty were crafted by the U.N. Coordinating Action on Small Arms. These include the International Small Arms Control Standard, which is developing “modules” on gun control to serve as “model legislation” for countries that sign on to the treaty. The most relevant of these is the one titled, “National controls over the access of civilians to small arms and light weapons.”

One need read no further than the introduction to this missive to understand its goal. The operative focus is strict regulation of civilian possession of firearms by the “central” or national government. This is necessary because “some civilians misuse small arms” by using them illegally or “improperly stor[ing]” them. The document bases this notion of government control of firearms and ammunition on “international law” — an inaccurate interpretation of such body of laws, but one that fits conveniently the U.N.’s agenda.

From this global perspective, the International Small Arms Control Standard module then directs, in excruciating detail, the manner in which national governments should restrict access to firearms and ammunition:

Restricting civilian possession of firearms only to those “at the lowest risk of misusing them.”

Limiting sales and other transfers of firearms only to commercial transactions at licensed “sales premises” (in other words, no transfers at gun shows).

Only persons licensed and periodically relicensed by the national government could possess firearms.

All firearms must be registered with the national government.

All persons wishing to possess a firearm must pass a rigorous exam administered by the national government.

All firearms must be stored in locked containers separate from ammunition, and “bolted to a heavy or immovable object.”

Only a predetermined number of firearms and rounds of ammunition may be possessed by a properly licensed civilian.

Magazine capacity is limited to 10 rounds.

Possession of a firearm may only occur after a seven-day waiting period.

No civilian could own or possess a firearm for self-defense unless he first demonstrates a clear and convincing need.

Individuals licensed to own firearms are subject to periodic and random inspections of their homes or businesses.

In order to be granted a license to possess a firearm, an individual must secure recommendations from “responsible members of society,” attesting to their “suitability to possess a small arm.”

The above list is by no means exhaustive of the restrictions in the U.N. model legislation, which is designed to limit the possession of firearms and ammunition to the smallest possible number of civilians, and it provides clear insight into where this process is going. If Congress fails to take swift action to prohibit the administration from implementing any part of the Arms Trade Treaty or taking any action pursuant to it, we now know exactly where we are headed.

Bob Barr, a former member of Congress, is a board member of the National Rifle Association and a candidate for Georgia’s 11th Congressional District.

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