CBD is a non-psychoactive compound in marijuana that shows promise in epilepsy and pain therapy, so the DEA wants to class it with heroin

The World Health Organization's new report on cannabidiol (CBD) found that the compound (which does not produce any kind of high -- and may actually counteract the psychoactive properties of THC) is not addictive, has no potential for abuse, and shows promise in a number of medical trials. Read the rest

Tobacco giant Philip Morris is quietly funding an "anti-smoking" foundation offering $1 billion in "grants" to public health leaders

Derek Yach, president of The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, sent a letter to 344 public health researchers and groups inviting them to bid for grants from a $1b fund set up by tobacco giant -- the list was a roster of Yach's former colleagues from his stint at the World Health Organization. Read the rest

The US has quit UNESCO, the UN agency that protects world heritage sites and teaches poor children to read

UNESCO is about as good as it gets in the world of UN Specialized Agencies, responsible for designating and protecting world heritage sites, running literacy for the poorest people on Earth, supporting potable water programs, protecting fragile and endangered ecosystems, running disaster preparedness plans for all to use, protecting indigenous knowledge, protecting the free press, and digitizing the world's libraries. Read the rest

Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, dies suddenly, age 64

The Russian Foreign Ministry reports today that Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, died suddenly today in New York. He died on Monday age 64, just one day before his 65th birthday.

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In 2000, the NSA hacked the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

A reader writes, "According to last week's Shadow Brokers leak, the NSA compromised a DNS server of the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in September 2000, two years after the Iraq Liberation Act and Operation Desert Fox, but before the Bush election." Read the rest

Vivendi lobbyist appointed to run copyright for UN agency

Francis Gurry, the fair-use hating, web-hating, North Korea embargo-breaking, witch-hunting, blackmailing head of the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has a new pick to run copyright at the UN agency: Sylvie Forbin, a lobbyist for for French entertainment giant Vivendi. Read the rest

The Vulnerable 20 Group: coalition of 20 countries threatened by climate change

Reps from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam just gathered in Peru to announce the formation of the "Vulnerable 20" group, a coalition of 20 nations threatened by climate change. Read the rest

Lithium batteries should be banned as cargo on passenger planes, says UN aviation watchdog

Planes that carry passengers should be prohibited from carrying large quantities of lithium batteries in cargo, a United Nations aviation watchdog says.

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Julian Assange had promised to turn himself if the UN ruled his detention lawful

When a UN panel from the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention upheld Julian Assange's claim that he was being unlawfully detained in London's Ecuadorean embassy, they also stopped Assange from turning himself in to the London police. Read the rest

Profile of James Love, "Big Pharma's worst nightmare"

Jamie Love is one of the founders of Knowledge Ecology International (formerly the Consumer Project on Technology), a super-effective activist NGO that helped to establish low-cost, global access to HIV/AIDS drugs. Read the rest

UN rapporteur sticks up for crypto and anonymity

Within days of David Cameron's Queen's Speech promise to ban the use of effective crypto in the UK, David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur for Freedom of Expression effectively called this a plan to make UK into a rogue state. Read the rest

UN wants to give broadcasters rights over public-domain and CC-licensed shows

Under the revived WIPO Broadcast Treaty, broadcasters would have the right to stop you from using public domain and CC-licensed video footage as you choose, effectively giving them a new copyright over material simply by sending it out over the air. Read the rest

World Intellectual Property Organization in shambolic chaos

Yesterday's WIPO General Assembly was the "worst ever," with rich and poor countries deadlocked over balanced copyright, fair use, and half a dozen other issues. Read the rest

Great video explainer: Vint Cerf on ICANN and NTIA

The "father of the Internet" explains why the Congressional posturing and global freakout about the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration stepping back from management of the Internet domain name system is misplaced. Read the rest

WIPO sends criminal prosecution threats over publication of internal docs about its Director General's corruption

You may recall that the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been haunted by scandal: first there was the matter of illegally funding computer purchases for North Korea and Iran, then a whistleblower came forward to claim that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally harvested DNA samples from staffers to find out who had sent anonymous letters alleging his sexual misconduct.

But it gets worse. Read the rest

NSA spies on human rights groups, including those in the USA

During video testimony to the Council of Europe, whistleblower Edward Snowden reiterated that the NSA targets human rights groups, including those in the USA, for surveillance. It uses its Xkeyscore technology to "fingerprint" communications from these groups and targets them for deep surveillance. Groups that have been targeted in this way include UNICEF and many others. Read the rest

Complaint: WIPO director illegally collected staff DNA in order to out whistleblower

In this International Labour Office complaint, Miranda Brown, a former employee of the World Intellectual Property Agency, alleges that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally collected DNA samples from WIPO staffers in order to out a whistleblower. The complaint stems from Gurry's campaign to secure the Director General's job, during which an anonymous staffer posted letters alleging that Gurry engaged in sexual harassment and financial improprieties. Brown, who was forced to resign, says that Gurry secretly directed UN security officers to covertly collect lipstick, dental floss, and other personal items from WIPO staffers in order to attain DNA samples that could be used to identify the letters' author. Gurry is also implicated in a multi-million dollar construction scandal over the building of the new WIPO HQ, which took place when he was legal counsel to the agency.

The entire affair is incredibly sordid, with multiple cover-ups. The complaint paints a picture of a reign of absolute terror, with staffers fearful of reprisals from Gurry over any questioning or reporting of a pattern of bullying, impropriety, harassment and defamation. Having served as a delegate to WIPO, I find it all rather easy to believe. I have never encountered a body more openly corrupt in my life.

INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL [PDF] Read the rest

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