Flawed police drug-test kits, railroading prosecutors and racism: the police-stop-to-prison pipeline

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The $2 roadside drug-test kit is the go-to weapon of the War on Drugs, despite its incredibly high failure rate and the scientific consensus that the tests need to be validated in labs later; once you've had a random crumb of sandwich or aspirin identified as drugs by one of these kits, you're almost certain to plead guilty, thanks to the heavy-handed tacts of prosecutors and the disarray of public defenders, and then you're off for prison time and a lifetime as a felon. Read the rest

Let's check in with Pablo Escobar's herd of feral hippos

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In 2003, Colombians began to report encounters with the wild hippos that escaped from Pablo Escobar's private zoo after he was killed by police and his estate was left to rot. Read the rest

Why The War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure

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The countless billions of dollars poured into the War on Drugs has resulted in mass incarceration, corruption, political destabilization, violence, the rise of drug cartels, and systemic human rights abuses around the world. The one thing the War on Drugs hasn't done is stopped people from using drugs. The animated video series, Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, explains why the problems associated with drug use are caused by the war against them. Read the rest

Californians will get to vote on legal recreational weed

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California, the most populous state in the USA and the sixth-largest economy in the world -- will give its residents the chance to vote on an expansive legal recreational week proposal on the ballot paper this coming November. Read the rest

Wisconsin Congresswoman: mandatory drug tests for anyone claiming $150K in itemized tax-deductions

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After Governor Scott Walker [R-WI] and Congressman Paul Ryan [R-WI] both proposed expanding drug-testing for poor people on benefits, Congresswoman Gwen Moore [D-WI] introduced legislation requiring urine samples from anyone claiming over $150,000 in itemized tax-deductions -- households with gross incomes of about $1M. Read the rest

US trade rep threatens Colombia's peace process over legal plan to offer cheap leukemia meds

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Colombia wants to produce Novartis's leukemia drug imatinib under a compulsory license, something it is allowed to do under its trade agreement with the USA, to bring the price down from $15,161/year (double the annual average income) to prices like those charged in India ($803/year). Read the rest

How a pharma company made billions off mass murder by faking the science on Oxycontin

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When Purdue Pharma's patent on the MS Contin was close to expiry, the Sackler family who owned the company spent millions trying to find a product that could replace the profits they'd lose from generic competition on MS Contin: the result was Oxycontin, a drug that went on to kill Americans at epidemic scale. Read the rest

Sinaloa cartel flies more aircraft than Aeromexico

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Though most of the world's largest narcotics gang's aircraft are a lot smaller than the Mexican flagship carrier's planes, the Sinaloa have flown at least one Boeing 727; the planes fly drugs, gang members and bales of cash. Read the rest

Not using turn signal = multiple probings of anus and vagina by police

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I'll bet when Pennsylvania cops pulled Kimberlee Carbone over for not using her turn signal she didn't think it would result in her being shackled by her wrists and ankles to a hospital bed to get an internal inspection of her vagina and rectum.

Kimberlee Carbone was pulled over by New Castle police in November 2013, ostensibly because "she did not apply her turn signal at least 100 feet before the intersection." She was then subjected to a degrading five-hour ordeal that included a bogus DUI arrest, a search of her person and her car, a strip search at the county jail, and multiple probings of her anus and vagina at a hospital.

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Still determined to discover contraband, Geiser "performed a second internal examination of [Carbone's] vagina and rectum," then instructed two nurses to perform a third. They also swabbed her vagina "for testing." After none of these inspections turned up evidence of a crime, Maiella told Carbone she was free to go. She was discharged from the hospital at 9:15 p.m., having spent an hour and a half there and a total of five hours in police custody.

Read the rest

Churchill got a doctor's note requiring him to drink at least 8 doubles a day "for convalescence"

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What do you do if you're a powerful, belligerent, racist drunk who's used to getting your own way, and you're visiting Prohibition-wracked America? Read the rest

White SC cops pull black passenger out of car, take turns publicly cavity-searching him

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White cops from Aiken, SC improperly stopped a car driven by a black woman (they claimed the stop was motivated by temporary tags, but driving with current temporary tags is not grounds for a stop), then improperly questioned her passenger, who voluntarily gave them his ID, then induced a drug dog to "alert" on the car, then forced both black people to expose themselves in public, culminating with two officers taking turns sticking their fingers up the passenger's rectum, again, in public. Read the rest

Nixon's war on drugs was a war against blacks and the antiwar left

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In Dan Baum's excellent article in Harper's about the devastating consequences of the US government's war on drugs, there's a revealing quote from John Ehrlichman, Nixon's Watergate co-conspirator:

I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. I barely recognized him. He was much heavier than he’d been at the time of the Watergate scandal two decades earlier, and he wore a mountain-man beard that extended to the middle of his chest.

At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

I must have looked shocked.

Read the rest

Nixon started the War on Drugs because he couldn't declare war on black people and hippies

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Nixon aide/Watergate jailbird John Ehrlichman confessed to Dan Baum that Richard Nixon started the War on Drugs because "We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities." Read the rest

Missouri State Highway Patrol shows you how to make meth

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When they aren't patrolling the state highways of Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol is making videos about making meth. In this episode, Sgt. Jim Wing reveals his special recipe for the "Nazi synthesis method." Read the rest

New Jersey state lab technician allegedly faked results in a drug case

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Kamalkant Shah, who worked as a technician for the State Police evidence laboratory, was accused of faking drug test results by "dry labbing" - which means just making stuff up. Shah worked on 7,827 criminal cases and the state is now reviewing each one.

Shah was removed from lab work on Dec. 10 as soon as the problem was discovered, said Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General. Shah, who received a salary of $101,039, was suspended without pay effective Jan 12, he said.

Shah has not been charged with any crime, and is believed to have retired, Aseltine said.

Lab tech allegedly faked result in drug case; 7,827 criminal cases now in question Read the rest

Why the war on drugs is unwinnable

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The DEA, the prison industry, politicians, and drug cartels all know the war on drugs is unwinnable, but they make so much money from the catastrophic effects of drug prohibition that they have little motivation to try harm reduction policies, which are proven to be much more effective than a hard-line approach. I enjoyed this explainer video from Kurzgesagt (German for "In a Nutshell"), which bares the truth about the dumb and destructive war on drugs. Read the rest

Federal judge rules US government can't force Apple to make a security-breaking tool

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We've all heard that there's a federal judge in California who ordered Apple to make a tool to help the FBI decrypt a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters -- but despite the FBI's insistence that this is a special circumstance, San Bernardino is just one of a dozen-odd cases where the FBI is making similar demands on Apple. Read the rest

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