Monday, November 30, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Summit Legal Advice: Legal rights in Denmark





Introduction

The following is a brief walkthrough of your basic legal rights in Denmark. Also included are a few pieces of advice, which can come in handy if you are confronted by the Danish police and judicial system.

On your person

Being in posession of ammunition shelters (even empty ones), gas sprays, slingshots, clubs or drugs (including hashish) are considered a crime in Denmark. The only kind of knife it is legal to bear in Denmark is a folding knife with a blade no longer than 7 cm, which cannot be opened with one hand and cannot be locked in open position. Police have also arrested people for carrying a screwdriver. Violation of the weapon law results in very large fines or worse.

The mask prohibition

It is illegal to use any form of mask at demonstrations in Denmark. Furthermore, the law has been formulated in such a way that you can get arrested for “attempting to break the prohibition”. This means that you can get arrested for carrying a scarf in your pocket.
You don’t have to actually attend a demonstration to get arrested, it is enough that the police “estimate” that you’re on your way to one. Normally the cops only enforce the prohibition at demonstrations though.

When stopped by the cops

You are only obliged to tell the police your full name, nationality, address and date of birth. Nothing more! If in doubt of your identity the cops have the right to take you in for further questioning.

Body search

The cops are only allowed to perform a body search on you if they have a validated suspicion (and they usually do) that you possess something illegal (drugs, weapons).
The head of the Copenhagen police department have recently made zones in the inner city and in Christiania where the police are allowed to search everybody without giving a reason for it. These zones can be made from one day to the next, and it is therefore impossible to say exactly were they are.
You have the “right” to be body searched by a police officer of your own gender, when the police present determents that it’s possible…

The arrest

If you get arrested then you still only have to give the cops your name, address, nationality and date of birth, that’s it. You have the right to know the reason for your arrest, so demand that they tell you. You will most likely be taken to a police station and locked in a detention cell. You have the right to a phone call, but the cops will usually deny you this or offer to make the call for you. You also have the right to medical attention if you are hurt or need medicine. The cops will want to interview you, but do NOT tell them anything, remember that they’re only trying to gather evidence against you and maybe your friends. You have the right to remain silent, use it.
You are not obliged to acknowledge the charges against you, and you don’t have to sign anything.
After 24 hours (72 hours for foreigners), you must be put in front of a judge or set free. The Judge can decide to sentence you to stay in custody for min. 1 and max. 4 weeks, uphold the arrest for 72 hours or let you free.
If you’re under 18 the police are obliged to take contact to your parents and have a person from the social authorities present at the interview. This person is NOT your friend, he or she will most likely tell you to answer the cops’ questions. Don’t do it. If you’re under 15 the cops can detain you, “if no other way is possible” in a detention cell, normally not for more than 6 hours, but under “special circumstances” they can keep you for 24 hours.
It cannot be said too many times; never talk to cops, never make a statement, you can only make things worse for yourself and your friends.

Preventive arrest

The cops can make preventive arrests if they estimate that you are a potential troublemaker. This means that they can arrest you BEFORE you have done anything illegal. They can keep you for up to 6 hours, longer if they consider it necessary.

Unlawful arrest

If they police arrest you and for one reason or another drop the charges against you or you are found not guilty in court, you have the right to get compensation for unlawful arrest. Always demand to get this compensation, the amount varies depending on how long you were detained but it’s always worth making an effort to get the police to pay up.

Lawyers

It’s always a good idea to have the names of one or more good lawyers in your possession. Ask around for names when you’re in a new place.
You have the right to have a lawyer present at the police interview, but as long as you don’t say anything, you won’t need one. If you have the impression that the police will put you in front of a judge, then insist on having the name of the lawyer you wish to defend you, written in the police report. If the police “are not able to contact” the lawyer you wish to defend you, you will be assigned a lawyer by the state for the preliminary hearing. If this is the case, you can always change your lawyer in time for the next hearing. To be able to pick your own lawyer makes a big difference, maybe not so much in the preliminary hearing; because the police prosecutors usually get what they want (latest statistics say 9 out of 10 times). But it is very important to have a decent lawyer, especially at the following court dates.

Expenses

If you lose a case, you’ll have to pay all expenses, including your own lawyers fee. If you win, the state pays all expenses.

Preliminary Hearing

The preliminary hearing will be held in the police-district where you were arrested. You will be put before a judge, and you still have the right to remain silent. It is almost always the best idea to use this right, because you have all the odds against you at the preliminary hearing (no witnesses to verify your story, no documentation etc). The police prosecutor on the other hand, will have police reports and possibly other hard evidence against you.
If your lawyer advises you to break the silence, consider the situation carefully. Anything you say will be used against you at later court hearings. If you have the least bit of mistrust towards the lawyer you have been appointed, don’t say anything. In virtually all preliminary hearings the police prosecutor gets their will, no matter if you talk or not. If you’re sentenced to stay in jail the judge will ask you if you wish to appeal the decision to a higher court.
It’s always best to say no to that question, but tell the judge to make a note that you want the right to appeal to the higher court at any time before your next hearing. After having talked to your lawyer and the two of you together have considered your chances of getting a positive response from the appeal you can decide if you wish to do so. The reason for considering the appeal carefully is that unless you have VERY good reasons the higher court will nearly always agree with the judge you stood before at the preliminary hearing and at the next hearing this judge will use the decision of the higher court to keep you in prison.

Custody

If you are sentenced to remain in custody, you will be imprisoned for at least 1 and maximum 4 weeks before you again will be put in front of a judge. You run the risk of getting letter and visit control, which means visits from the outside will be under surveillance and that the cops will read all your mail (in and out going) to see if they can find something that can incriminate you even further. This also means that it will take some time, 5 days or more, for letters to get through to you.
Even if you don’t have letter control, always assume that the cops are reading your mail. You usually have the right to make a single phone call a week. This phone call is sometimes monitored by the prison guards, who’ll call the police if they think you’re saying things that can be of interest in your case.
The judge can, under certain circumstances, decide to put you in total isolation, which means you don’t even have contact with other prisoners. This is the hardest form of imprisonment.
Prison
If you are sentenced to remain in custody it is extremely important that you don’t loose hope. Remember there are friends on the outside, waiting for you and working for your release. The system uses isolation, boredom and uncertainty to break you. So stay cool and focused, even though it’s not an easy task. Try to do as much as you can to kill the time in a meaningful way.
Ask to be taken to the library, write letters, ask to be allowed to go to the workout room, sign up for school, sign up for gym class. Ask the guards and the other prisoners what your possibilities are. Even things that on the outside would be a terrible waste of life, like going to the prison church or talking to a priest, can be a halfway meaningful thing when you are locked up.
Especially since the teachers and priests are not guards. If you don’t have visit and letter control, ask the guards to give you visiting applications and then send them to your friends as fast as possible, so they can apply for a visit. The process is also long and bureaucratic, but a visit from the outside is something that is worth fighting for. If you have visit and letter control you have to apply to the police for visits to be allowed.
Try to get a daily routine on the inside, the prison system is a machine and it wants you to be institutionalized as fast as possible. Don’t fall into what seems to be the “easy” path through the prison system. People who conform to the prison way of life are the ones that have the hardest time to function in real life when they get out. Make your own routines; stay up all night sometimes, communicate with the prisoners in the nearby cells, find the loopholes in the prison rules and use them, insist (in a friendly way if necessary) that the guards speak to you and treat you with respect (not that it always has any effect, but at least you’ve tried).
Talk to other prisoners, most are not as unfriendly as they might seem, after all, you have a common adversary in the guards and the police. What you must never do is to take loans from other prisoners and especially those who push drugs. Debth in the prison system quickly gets doubled and doubled again, until you’re up to your neck in shit.

House raid

If you’re charged with a crime, imprisoned or just under suspicion in a case, which the cops estimate has involved some sort of planning; it’s likely that your home address will be raided.
As roommate or resident of an address which is the same as a suspect/prisoner, it is important to be aware of the risk of the cops showing up with a search warrant. If they are not let in, they can legally break down your door.
You should always demand to see the search warrant BEFORE you let cops inside your home. You have to be aware though, that they under certain circumstances can perform a house raid without a warrant and then go to a judge within the next 24 hours and obtain a warrant “with retroactive effect”. If this happens you should meet up in court with a lawyer and protest to the raid.
You have the right to be present while the cops perform the search. You also have the right to an impartial witness (this could be a neighbor). It is important that you use this right, as it can help to minimize the amount of vandalism the cops will inevitably exercise on your home.

Deportation

The Danish authorities are very keen on shipping non-Danish citizens out of the country, even for minor offences. They have been known on several occasions to arrest people, give them a warning for some ridicules misdemeanor and then deport them. They can do this because of Denmark’s extremely harsh and rightwing immigration laws.
If you get deported you will usually not be allowed to enter the country again for a period of 1-5 years. The cops have recently started to demand that people arrested for minor offences (like shoplifting or traffic violations) pay their fines before they can get released.

Keep your eyes open

At big demonstrations and actions it is a good idea to keep an eye on your friends and have them to keep an eye on you. Then you will be able to help each other if potentially dangerous situations arise. It’s also easier to find out later who is arrested, and who are maybe just lost in the crowd.

Mobile phones

Be aware that if you’re arrested with your phone on you, the police will have easy access to all your contacts, phone calls and sms activity you’ve had prior to your arrest. Understand that your whereabouts on any given time can be determined by which phone mast you’re using when you´re operating your phone.
This is pretty accurate (depending how many masts are in the area); from a few hundred meters to a dozen or less. The information is stored by the phone companies for (at least) a year, so the police can map where you’ve been a year back if they need to. Another thing to be aware of is that the police prosecutor sometimes use as an excuse for imprisonment that the police “need time” to investigate your phone activities.

Computers

Some of your internet activities in DK are stored for one year. This means that homepages and servers you visit to some extent can be mapped. Also recipients of emails you send and receive can be tracked, at least to the server they’ve sent to and from. If your home is raided you can be sure that your computer will be confiscated. Remember that even deleted files and programs can be recovered from a hard disk by people who know what they are doing.

Last Words

All of the above is not written to scare you, on the contrary: knowing what you’re up against can only make you stronger and better capable to deal with cops and judicial system. Yes, you have some rights. They are supposed to be respected by the police, courts and prison system, more than often they are not.
Police use excessive violence, charge you with crimes you haven’t committed and lie in court. Judges will convict you, not by the evidence against you, but by prior felonies, the way you look and who your friends are. Sometimes prison officials will try to make a near hopeless situation even more desperate. Don’t give in to their terror.
Remember that they’re breaking their own rules to make their shitty system work. It’s their justice, not ours.
...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The life and death of Ivan Khutorskoy, Russian Antifascist murdered in November 2009












Void Network: Day after day the conditions of life and death in Russian society becomes worst. It is obvious for all internationalists and social aware people that the Russian State is the worst neo-fascist / neo-capitalist State of the planet for this moment. The totalitarian neo-fascist capitalist regime of president Vladimir Putin and his buiseness friend's protecting neo-nazi gangs, feeding Russian fascism as their last weapon to supress the social revolt. The number of organized attacks and assasinations of social activists, journalists, radical writers, young punk-freaks, guys, gypsis and poor homeless people is vast, the biggest of all Europe. The regime use fascistic "patriotism" to hypnotize the Russian people offering to them a pseudo-identity of proud and honour during their life-time that includes nothing that offers real pride, happiness or freedom for them... This is the story of Ivan Khutorskoy, an antifascist commrade that offered his life in the fight against European Nazism and for Happiness and Freedom of all of Us on this Planet.

Yesterday evening, Monday the 16th of November, 26 year old anti-fascist Ivan “Vanya Kostolom” Khutorskoy was shot to death at the entrance to his home at Khabarovsk street in the east side of Moscow; according to some information with two shots to his head.

Vanya was a great figure in the Russian anti-fascist movement, and I am sure many people will write down their memories of him in thedays, months and years to come. But as of today most of his friends are too angry and too shocked, at the loss of this friend and comrade.

My first memories of Vanya are from around 2004, I was running anarchist distro at a concert in R-Club. By that time I wasn't going to gigs too often, so most of the faces were unknown to me. It was before the period when after the murder of Sasha Ryukhin when Moscow hardcore went completely underground. Thus the concert was openly announced, and you could not be sure who was around. So I was a bit wary of the skinhead crowd, especially this one big guy. But there was no reason to worry, Vanya being there was actually the best guarantee that any trouble would be handled.

I do not know where Vanya got his nickname “Kostolom”, “Bonecrusher”. Maybe it was some kind of joke, as it is hard to imagine a more friendly and humorous guy than Vanya.

Last time I saw Vanya was at the “No surrender” mixed martial arts tournament, organised on the 10th of October this year in Moscow. The tournament was organised in memory of another murdered anti-fascist, Fyodor Filatov. Vanya was the referee, as seen in the photo above. Vanya was well-trained in Sambo, a martial arts developed in Soviet Union which is still popular in the region. He he had some success in tournaments and he achieved the degree of Candidate for Master of Sports of Russia. He also competed in arm-wrestling. This was one of the reasons that made him especially feared and hated among Nazis, since they attempt to picture their enemies as weak alcoholics and junkies. Few Nazis could match up to Vanya in a fair fight, this is why they attacked him with razorblades, screwdrivers and knives, and when even that did not work out, with a gun.

Before that my last meeting with him was outside the Ska-P concert last May. None of my friends had enough money to pay 30 euros for a concert of Spanish ska-punkers, but we decided to give out free anti-fascist papers outside. After all, on the concert poster the group was in anti-fascist t-shirts – not a big thing in Spain, but something for which a musician may have to pay with his life in Moscow. Thus handing stuff outside was not any worse than leafletting random people at the street. Vanya and a number of other people were asked to cover us.

The reaction of semi-yuppie clubbers and punks to our papers was mixed – obviously many were there just to party. Then a phonecall – another group of comrades was in a trouble few kilometers south, followed by a larger mob of Nazis. Our cover had to move to clear things out. I had no plans for a fight that evening, but I had little choice – having distributed anti-fascist papers to hundreds of people, going wandering around afterwards alone could easily end up with 5 inches of steel between my ribs. So I had to stick with the crew.

We met with the other mob and regrouped. Vanya warned about not attacking as soon as Nazis were in sight due to the fact that they would figure out that they were outnumbered and just run away and never get caught. But people could not hold themselves back. 100+ meters was way too much distance to close the gap, Nazis ran to alleys and jumped over some fences, no one was caught. I was in bad shape so I could not run as fast as the rest, Vanya simply didn't run because he knew it was pointless. So we were left behind the mob with some girls who avoided being in the frontline, and together we took a look around if any Nazis had hidden in an alley to our side.

Later that evening, another regroup – some asses kicked, some more missed opportunities. But it would be pointless to tell all these stories – while I was an unusual guest, for Vanya beating up Nazis was as routine as waking up in the morning. To tell one of these stories would be to tell nothing, as there are hundreds of them.

Vanya was a common face in the punk scene since the beginning of the century. Anti-antifa websites have large galleries of him, the oldest photos with a mohawk hairstyle. He was not in the first Moscow Antifa generation which got together around spring of 2002, but when he joined up in 2003-2004 he stayed for good.

Sometimes, after such tragedies, there is a kind of sad body-snatching match going on where everyone wants to claim a dead hero – that was the case for example with Stanislav Markelov, who, while still alive was a prankster who told to anarchists that he was a social-democrat, and to trotskists and stalinists that he was an anarchist, just to frustrate everyone.

With Vanya, any such post-mortem claims would be a misrepresentation any way you look at it, as every clique and crew in the scene considered him one of their own, and he was respected and loved by absolutely everyone. Vanya considered himself a RASH skinhead, which did not hold back the apolitical and patriotic Moscow Trojan Skinheads from considering him as one of them. Anarchists of course considered Vanya one of the anarchists, and it is true that Vanya had an anti-authoritarian and social position and was always ready to provide security for anarchists events. But he did not live for activism – he lived for the streets and for punk rock.

He was as sharp as a razorblade, and he finished his juridical studies at the Russian State Social University with a “red diploma”, that is a diploma “with excellence” given to students in the region of the former Soviet Union who have almost exclusively the best possible grades. As there are few people with juridical studies in the scene, I had some hopes that Vanya would join the ranks of the activist lawyers when he would retire from street fighting one day – even before he was murdered, Stas Markelov was overhelmed with legal cases from our movement and had trouble in dealing with them alone. Vanya and Stas knew each other well, and Vanya also provided security to some press-conferences held by Stas. Most recently Vanya worked as a lawyer in “Deti ulitsy”-center (“Children of the street”), which works with street children and other children with difficulties.

Of course people now ask why he went to his flat that evening, although his address was posted all around in the Nazi websites. Vanya often stayed in other places. Maybe he had some important business with his family, maybe he just spit in the face of death, having survived so many attempts on is life.

Vanya was jumped the first time in 2005 and his head was cut with a razorblade. This incident was recorded with a CCTV camera and used in a TV documentary of NTV channel, which is available online here:

http://rutube.ru/tracks/663741.html?v=242f56ae5e0dca6e5c9d77cc8558fb5d . Next time, in the autumn of the same year, they attempted kill him – his neck was punctured 6 times with a sharpened screwdriver, which is a popular weapon among Russian Nazis as it punctures deeper than a knife. Any of these strikes could have been lethal, but miraculously none of them hit arteries and he survived. This incident was also recorded to a CCTV camera, but cops had little interest in investigatingand they didn't even check the recording! It took more than half a year for Vanya to fully recover from this attack.

In January of this year, Vanya was stabbed in his stomach during a street fight, this wound was almost lethal as well but he survived. And now, when everything else failed, Nazis decided to use guns – they finally succeeded. .

written by S2W

Vanya's father died a few years ago, he is by his mother and his sister. Donations to support friends and family with funeral costs are welcome, you may use Yandex-money account 41001411894609, or in case you do not know what that is, you may donate through ABC-Moscow: http://www.avtonom.org/donate. But in this case write to ABC-Moscow about your plans (abc-msk AT riseup DOT net, and also indicate in transfer that it is “for Kostolom friends and family”.

article originaly appeared in:

http://avtonom.org/index.php?nid=2857

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No Borders Groups Call to Action for Copenhagen Climate Change










This is a call out to action to international no borders groups during the
COP 15 in Copenhagen!
Starting December 7, 2009
Climate change is now the ULTIMATE Shock
and Awe. It encompasses all of
life now, and is the new spectacle.
The climate change spectacle is the
complete reconstruction and
revitalization of capitalism and all of its
domination, hierarchies, exploitation,
racism, sexism, patriarchy,
heteronormativity, commodifications,
privatizations, oppressions,
repressions, murders, lies, and greed.
Climate change will be used to
terrorize us in every way we have been
terrorized before, but encompassing
all the single factors into one.
In the name of security,
Everything that living things
depend is on its way to being
commodified and privatized,
to push us even further and possibly
completely into pure Milton Friedman
´Chicago School´
of fundamental capitalist corporatism.
We cant not just think of this as
a climate issue,
it is much much more.
Water, air, food, and genetic life
is being privatized before our eyes.
And these human rights are and will be used
under the climate change banner to put up
borders and go to war.
Complex surveilance systems are being
put in place to keep the people from
below away from its privatized riches.
Indigenous, small farmers and people
from below are being pushed off their lands
by corporations, and massive natural
disasters that are making people escape
to safer regions.
Also, their is the prospect of
military intervention in the future
to deal with the effects
of violent
storms, drought,
mass migration and pandemics.
Military experts are saying that
climate-induced crises could topple
governments, feed terrorist movements
or destabilize entire regions.
Sections of the political and military
establishment are planning
for the consequences
of climate change and are

developing military strategies
to deal with it.

The debate over climate change
and global warming management
at the UN is a struggle
among the national ruling establishments
for their own interests
on the international diplomatic stage.
While there is concern
that climate change can have unforeseen
political and economic consequences,
these competing capitalist states
have no means of seriously addressing
the issue, other than making
preparations for cracking down on

social unrest.
So, in closing.
If we don´t start attacking climate change
from its roots, and seeing that
the system we are in cannot and never
intended to solve climate change,
then we will be doomed to even more
repressive and oppressive regimes,
and even a rollback on the rights that were
worked so hard for by our comrades in the past
and it is already happening!
They have divided and conquered us
for a long time!
But now we have a chance to come together
and fight this under the same banner
to stop the
revitalisation of capitalism
and the borders in which it creates.
See You On The Barricades!
climate_no-borders09@lists.riseup.net

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Say No to War On Drugs! Global Legalization of All Drugs / 3 articles from mainstream press














Void Mirror accomodates 3 articles from the mainstream press proving that the time for the Global Legalization of All Drugs has come.
Of course many of the opinions expressed here are not included in the ideas of Void Network but we think it can be usefull for the reader to observe the way that the mainstream starts slowly slowly to come closer to ideas that are common sense and well spreaded in the undergound of the planet for 30 years now.
The criminalization of the using of drugs produced for almost a century social exclusions that lead millions of people in self-destructive ways of life, a life of illegality. In the same moment all healthy powers of society to deal with the problem through the social force, the helpfull information and the health treatment processes are eliminated from the police brutality, the prison system and the lawer's economical interests and huge income from drug issues...As the underground poet Cool Cat says:"The war on drugs, just like the witch hunts, prohibition, and the holocaust creates one hell of a lot of job opportunities for conmen and thugs...". The time has come for the end of criminalization of the using of all drugs... The society can take care of this problem much better than the State, and of course much better than the police.

Legalize drugs to stop violence
by Jeffrey Miron, lecturer of economics in Harvard University
original source:
Story Highlights :
Thousands have been killed in Mexico's ongoing drug war
He says U.S. drug policy leads to corruption of politicians and law enforcement
"Legalizing drugs is the best way to reduce drug violence."
He says drugs should be controlled through regulation and taxation

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Over the past two years, drug violence in Mexico has become a fixture of the daily news. Some of this violence pits drug cartels against one another; some involves confrontations between law enforcement and traffickers.
Recent estimates suggest thousands have lost their lives in this "war on drugs."
The U.S. and Mexican responses to this violence have been predictable: more troops and police, greater border controls and expanded enforcement of every kind. Escalation is the wrong response, however; drug prohibition is the cause of the violence.
Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead.
Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after.
Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it's permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question.
The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize
drugs. Fortuitously, legalization is the right policy for a slew of other reasons.
Prohibition of drugs corrupts politicians and law enforcement by putting police, prosecutors, judges and politicians in the position to threaten the profits of an illicit trade. This is why bribery, threats and kidnapping are common for prohibited industries but rare otherwise.
Mexico's recent history illustrates this dramatically.
Prohibition erodes protections against unreasonable search and seizure because neither party to a drug transaction has an incentive to report the activity to the police. Thus,
enforcement requires intrusive tactics such as warrantless searches or undercover buys. The victimless nature of this so-called crime also encourages police to engage in racial profiling.
Prohibition has disastrous implications for national security. By eradicating coca plants in Colombia or poppy fields in Afghanistan, prohibition breeds resentment of the United States. By enriching those who produce and supply drugs, prohibition supports terrorists who sell protection services to drug traffickers.
Prohibition harms the public health. Patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other conditions cannot use marijuana under the laws of most states or the federal government despite abundant evidence of its efficacy. Terminally ill patients cannot always get adequate pain medication because doctors may fear prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Drug users face restrictions on clean syringes that cause them to share contaminated needles, thereby spreading HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.
Prohibitions breed disrespect for the law because despite draconian penalties and extensive enforcement, huge numbers of people still violate prohibition. This means those who break the law, and those who do not, learn that obeying laws is for suckers.
Prohibition is a drain on the public purse. Federal, state and local governments spend roughly $44 billion per year to enforce drug prohibition. These same governments forego roughly $33 billion per year in tax revenue they could collect from legalized drugs, assuming these were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco. Under prohibition, these revenues accrue to traffickers as increased profits.
The right policy, therefore, is to legalize drugs while using regulation and taxation to dampen irresponsible behavior related to drug use, such as driving under the influence. This makes more sense than prohibition because it avoids creation of a black market. This approach also allows those who believe they benefit from drug use to do so, as long as they do not harm others.
Legalization is desirable for all drugs, not just marijuana. The health risks of marijuana are lower than those of many other drugs, but that is not the crucial issue. Much of the traffic from Mexico or Colombia is for cocaine, heroin and other drugs, while marijuana production is increasingly domestic. Legalizing only marijuana would therefore fail to achieve many benefits of broader legalization.
It is impossible to reconcile respect for individual liberty with drug prohibition. The U.S. has been at the forefront of this puritanical policy for almost a century, with disastrous consequences at home and abroad.
The U.S. repealed Prohibition of alcohol at the height of the Great Depression, in part because of increasing violence and in part because of diminishing tax revenues. Similar concerns apply today, and Attorney General Eric Holder's recent announcement that the Drug Enforcement Administration will not raid medical marijuana distributors in California suggests an openness in the Obama administration to rethinking current practice.
Perhaps history will repeat itself, and the U.S. will abandon one of its most disastrous policy experiments

Better world: Legalise drugs
from Blueprint for a Btter World issue of New Scientist magazine
original source:

Far from protecting us and our children, the war on drugs is making the world a much more dangerous place.
SO FAR this year, about 4000 people have died in Mexico's drugs war - a horrifying toll. If only a good fairy could wave a magic wand and make all illegal drugs disappear, the world would be a better place.
Dream on. Recreational drug use is as old as humanity, and has not been stopped by the most draconian laws. Given that drugs are here to stay, how do we limit the harm they do? The evidence suggests most of the problems stem not from drugs themselves, but from the fact that they are illegal. The obvious answer, then, is to make them legal.
The argument most often deployed in support of the status quo is that keeping drugs illegal curbs drug use among the law-abiding majority, thereby reducing harm overall. But a closer look reveals that this really doesn't stand up. In the UK, as in many countries, the real clampdown on drugs started in the late 1960s, yet government statistics show that the number of heroin or cocaine addicts seen by the health service has grown ever since - from around 1000 people per year then, to 100,000 today. It is a pattern that has been repeated the world over.
A second approach to the question is to look at whether fewer people use drugs in countries with stricter drug laws. In 2008, the World Health Organization looked at 17 countries and found no such correlation. The US, despite its punitive drug policies, has one of the highest levels of drug use in the world (
PLoS Medicine, vol 5, p e141).
A third strand of evidence comes from what happens when a country softens its drug laws, as Portugal did in 2001. While dealing remains illegal in Portugal, personal use of all drugs has been decriminalised. The result? Drug use has stayed roughly constant, but ill health and deaths from drug taking have fallen. "Judged by virtually every metric, the Portuguese decriminalisation framework has been a resounding success," states a
recent report by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington DC.
By any measure, making drugs illegal fails to achieve one of its primary objectives. But it is the unintended consequences of prohibition that make the most compelling case against it. Prohibition fuels crime in many ways: without state aid, addicts may be forced to fund their habit through robbery, for instance, while youngsters can be drawn into the drugs trade as a way to earn money and status. In countries such as Colombia and Mexico, the profits from illegal drugs have spawned armed criminal organisations whose resources rival those of the state. Murder, kidnapping and corruption are rife.
Making drugs illegal also makes them more dangerous. The lack of access to clean needles for drug users who inject is a major factor in the spread of lethal viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C.
So what's the alternative? There are several models for the legal provision of recreational drugs. They include prescription by doctors, consumption at licensed premises or even sale on a similar basis to alcohol and tobacco, with health warnings and age limits. If this prospect appals you, consider the fact that in the US today, many teenagers
say they find it easier to buy cannabis than beer.
Taking any drug - including alcohol and nicotine - does have health risks, but a legal market would at least ensure that the substances people ingest or inject are available unadulterated and at known dosages. Much of the
estimated $300 billion earned from illegal drugs worldwide, which now funds crime, corruption and environmental destruction, could support legitimate jobs. And instead of spending tens of billions enforcing prohibition, governments would gain income from taxes that could be spent on medical treatment for the small proportion of users who become addicted or whose health is otherwise harmed.
Unfortunately, the idea that banning drugs is the best way to protect vulnerable people - especially children - has acquired a strong emotional grip, one that politicians are happy to exploit. For many decades, laws and public policy have flown in the face of
the evidence. Far from protecting us, this approach has made the world a much more dangerous place than it need be.

The war on drugs is immoral idiocy. We need the courage of Argentina
by Simon Jenkins
original source:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/03/drugs-prohibition-latin-america

While Latin American countries decriminalise narcotics, Britain persists in prohibition that causes vast human suffering

I guess it had to happen this way. The greatest social menace of the new century is not terrorism but drugs, and it is the poor who will have to lead the revolution. The global trade in illicit narcotics ranks with that in oil and arms. Its prohibition wrecks the lives of wealthy and wretched, east and west alike. It fills jails, corrupts politicians and plagues nations. It finances wars from Afghanistan to Colombia. It is utterly mad.
There is no sign of reform emanating from the self-satisfied liberal democracies of west Europe or north America. Reform is not mentioned by Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy or Angela Merkel. Their countries can sustain prohibition, just, by extravagant penal repression and by sweeping the consequences underground. Politicians will smirk and say, as they did in their youth, that they can "handle" drugs.
No such luxury is available to the political economies of Latin America. They have been wrecked by Washington's demand that they stop exporting drugs to fuel America's unregulated cocaine market. It is like trying to stop traffic jams by imposing an oil ban in the Gulf.
Push has finally come to shove. Last week the
Argentine supreme court declared in a landmark ruling that it was "unconstitutional" to prosecute citizens for having drugs for their personal use. It asserted in ringing terms that "adults should be free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state". This classic statement of civil liberty comes not from some liberal British home secretary or Tory ideologue. They would not dare. The doctrine is adumbrated by a regime only 25 years from dictatorship.
Nor is that all. The
Mexican government has been brought to its knees by a drug-trafficking industry employing some 500,000 workers and policed by 5,600 killings a year, all to supply America's gargantuan appetite and Mexico's lesser one. Three years ago, Mexico concluded that prison for drug possession merely criminalised a large slice of its population. Drug users should be regarded as "patients, not criminals".
Next to the plate step
Brazil and Ecuador. Both are quietly proposing to follow suit, fearful only of offending America's drug enforcement bureaucracy, now a dominant presence in every South American capital. Ecuador has pardoned 1,500 "mules" – women used by the gangs to transport cocaine over international borders. Britain, still in the dark ages, locks these pathetic women up in Holloway for years on end.
Brazil's former president,
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, co-authored the recent Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy. He declares the emperor naked. "The tide is turning," he says. "The war-on-drugs strategy has failed." A Brazilian judge, Maria Lucia Karam, of the lobby group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, tells the Guardian: "The only way to reduce violence in Mexico, Brazil or anywhere else is to legalise the production, supply and consumption of all drugs."
America spends a reported $70bn a year on suppressing drug imports, and untold billions on prosecuting its own citizens for drugs offences. Yet the huge profits available to Latin American traffickers have financed a quarter-century of civil war in Colombia and devastating social disruption in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. Similar profits are aiding the war in Afghanistan and killing British soldiers.
The underlying concept of the war on drugs, initiated by
Richard Nixon in the 1970s, is that demand can be curbed by eliminating supply. It has been enunciated by every US president and every British prime minister. Tony Blair thought that by occupying Afghanistan he could rid the streets of Britain of heroin. He told Clare Short to do it. Gordon Brown believes it to this day.
This concept marries intellectual idiocy – that supply leads demand – with practical impossibility. But it is golden politics. For 30 years it has allowed western politicians to shift blame for not regulating drug abuse at home on to the shoulders of poor countries abroad. It is gloriously, crashingly immoral.
The Latin American breakthrough is directed at domestic drug users, but this is only half the battle. There is no rational justification for making consumption legal but not the supply of what is consumed. We do not cure nicotine addiction by banning the Zimbabwean tobacco crop.
The absurdity of this position was illustrated by this week's "good news" that the 2009 Afghan poppy harvest had fallen back to its 2005 level. This was taken as a sign both that poppy eradication was "working" and that depriving Afghan peasants of their most lucrative cash crop somehow wins their hearts and minds and impoverishes the Taliban.
The Afghan poppy crop is largely a function of the price of poppies compared with that of wheat. The only time policy has disrupted this potent market was in 2001, when the old Taliban responded to American pressure by ruthlessly suppressing supply. Since the Nato occupation it has boomed, inevitably polluting Kabul politics and plunging western diplomats and commentators into hypocrisy over Hamid Karzai's corrupt regime. What did they think would happen?
The crop has shrunk because the wheat price has risen and the recession has dampened European demand. It will rise again. The policy of Nato and the UN's economically illiterate drug tsar,
Antonio Maria Costa, of treating Afghan opium as the cause of heroin addiction, not a response to it, means trying to break supply routes and stamp out criminal gangs. It has failed, merely increasing heroin's risk premium. As long as there is demand, there will be supply. Water does not flow uphill, however much global bureaucrats pay each other to pretend otherwise.
The trade in drugs is a direct result of their unregulated availability on the streets of Europe and America. Making supply illegal is worse than pointless. It oils a black market, drives trade underground, cross-subsidises other crime and leaves consumers at the mercy of poisons. It is the politics of stupid. The
incarceration (pdf) of thousands of poor people (11,000 in England and Wales alone) also deprives economies of a large labour pool.
As the Brazilian judge pointed out, the tide of violence associated with any illegal trade will not abate by only licensing consumption. The mountain that must be climbed is licensing, regulating and taxing supply, thus ending a prohibition now outstripping in absurdity and damage America's alcohol prohibition between the wars.
From the the deaths of British troops in Helmand to the narco-terrorism of Mexico and the mules cramming London's jails, the war on drugs can be seen only as a total failure, a vast self-imposed cost on western society. It is the greatest sweeping-under-the-carpet of our age.
The desperate politicians of Latin America have at last found the courage to grasp the nettle. Will Britain? According to the UN, it has the highest number of problem drug users in Europe. I imagine Gordon Brown and David Cameron agree with the Argentine supreme court, but they are too frightened to say so, let alone promise reform. In all they do they are guided by fear.
I sometimes realise that, if Britain still had the death penalty, no current political leader would have the guts to abolish it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eros Effect: People Power and The People's Uprisisngs / an introductive video and an essay by George Katsiaficas




Eros Effect:
People Power and People's Uprisings

an introductive video by George Katsiaficas*

From 1968 to the East Asian Uprisings of the 1980s and 1990s (Gwangju, South Korea in particular) a new type of popular uprising has appeared. Often dubbed "people power" these protests reveal how thousands of ordinary people, acting together in the streets, exhibit an intelligence far greater than elites which today rule over nation-states and international economic institutions. While our elites make wars and preside over a world system in which millions starve to death, ordinary citizens seek to create a world of peace and security. A global uprising against war and neoliberalism could help create a world based on human Love for each other--Eros.

video


you can see the video full screen here:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=240945485861016019&hl=en#

for further reading on Eros Effect and People's Power please navigate in the important essay "The Eros Effect" by George Katsiaficas : http://www.eroseffect.com/articles/eroseffectpaper.PDF

Navigate also to the site of George Katsiaficas:
http://www.eroseffect.com/

* George Katsiaficas, a student of Herbert Marcuse, and long-time activist, he is the author of The Imagination of the New Left: A Global Analysis of 1968. His book, The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life. Among his edited volumes are Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party (with Kathleen Cleaver) and Vietnam Documents: American and Vietnamese Views of the War. George Katsiaficas is currently living in Gwangju, South Korea. A visiting professor of sociology at Chonnam National University, he is finishing research on East Asian uprisings in the 1980s and 1990s.