On global drug prohibition and drug law reform

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“ Global drug prohibition was expected to reduce the international drug market and make it less dangerous. But this is the opposite of what happened. Instead, production and consumption of drugs such as heroin and cocaine increased and their price fell by 80% over a quarter of a century. More than 100 new psychoactive drugs are identified within the EU every year, some of them much more dangerous than older drugs. Drug prohibition was also supposed to protect the health and wellbeing of communities. But drug-related deaths, disease, violence and corruption have in many places increased rather than decreased. In Australia, where I spent three decades providing alcohol and drug treatment and advocating public health and human rights , while based in a Sydney teaching hospital, the rate of heroin overdose deaths – allowing for the growth in the population over time – increased 55-fold between 1964 and 1997 (…)  In the past few years, former world leaders – and even some in office – have started calling for drug law reform. The essential elements are clear. First, redefine drugs as primarily a health and social issue. Second, improve treatment. Third, start reducing and, where possible, eliminating sanctions for drug use and drug possession. Fourth, regulate as much of the drug market as possible, starting with recreational cannabis. And fifth, shrink extreme poverty, which exacerbates drug problems ”

Alex Wodak, ‘We have waged war on drugs for a century. So who won?’, The Guardian

On Yemen’s war catastrophe

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“ …the United States and the United Kingdom are supposedly ensuring that the air forces select their targets in compliance with international humanitarian law. Evidence clearly challenges the effectiveness of this arrangement, given the destruction of hundreds of medical facilities — including four operated by the highly respected Doctors Without Borders — schools, markets, mosques, weddings, and funerals (…) While the factions’ leaders are raking in profits from smuggling, the arms trade, “taxation,” and other means, the vast majority of the population now have no source of income and are facing desperate odds: of the seventeen million hungry people, seven million are close to starvation (…) For most people, the dreams of 2011 have been reduced to a single hope: the war will end, and they can return to a normal life of struggling against poverty and deprivation. A few still imagine a more equitable future. The factions leading the war are fighting for their own personal objectives. None of them care for the population’s welfare, introducing real democracy, or transitioning to a more equitable economy ”

Helen Lackner, ‘Yemen’s Disaster’, Jacobin Magazine

On the rampant child poverty under Theresa May

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“ But the biggest single group in poverty – one third of May’s new poor – are our youngest and most vulnerable, those who don’t have a vote but certainly need a voice. Child poverty peaked at 4.3 million in the Thatcher-Major years and, mainly because of child tax credits, fell significantly under Labour. But it is rising again, from 4 million a year ago to 4.2 million this year, and, as calculated by IFS/Rowntree, will afflict 5.1 million by 2022. Think about that: one in every three boys and girls condemned to a childhood of poverty, every one of those children denied the necessities of life, the fundamental means of fulfilling their potential. That fact alone blows apart any Conservative claim to be the party of the many ”

Gordon Brown, ‘Theresa May is creating an epidemic of poverty. Don’t give her a free hand’, The Guardian

 

On Venezuela’s chaotic situation

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The country is being pauperized. It has the highest inflation in Latin America, increasing unemployment and more than 40 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty.” With economic immiseration comes political violence: Over the course of one year, “security forces killed 126 people, 46 in extra-judicial executions, and 28 when they were in police or military custody. Authoritarianism and repression are growing. Of 13,941 arbitrary detentions, 94 percent occurred during anti-crime operations mainly in poor neighborhoods.… Violent death has become a feature of Venezuelan life ”

Greg Grandin, ‘What is to be done in Venezuela?’, The Nation

On why young democracies are often unstable and prone to authoritarianism

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“ the problem of consolidating a young democracy is particularly acute in deeply divided societies where structural conditions such as poverty, the high concentration of natural resources or ethnic fragmentation may give politicians a reason to centralize economic and political power, instead to distribute it ”

Ethan B. Kapstein & Nathan Converse, The Fate of Young Democracies (Study)

On what many view as the cause of poverty

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” Why do poor people make so many bad decisions? It’s a harsh question, but look at the data: poor people borrow more, save less, smoke more, exercise less, drink more and eat less healthily. Why? Margaret Thatcher once called poverty a personality defect. Though not many would go quite so far, the view that there’s something wrong with poor people is not exceptional ”

Rutger Bregman, ‘Utopian thinking: the easy way to eradicate poverty’, The Guardian