------------------------------------------------------------------- Signature Count (Paul Loney, An Attorney And Chief Petitioner For The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Initiative Petition, Says The Campaign Has Officially Collected 35,500 Signatures Of The 73,261 Needed By July) Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 15:59:29 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Belmont Law Center) Subject: Signature count As of 18 May 1998, we have 35,500 signatures counted and stored. Thanks and Praises. Please gather signatures and turn in the filled sheets that you have. The time is now. Paul L
------------------------------------------------------------------- Legal Questions Entangle Measure ('The Oregonian' Notes Legal Challenges Besetting Measure 40, Promoted By The Newspaper As A 'Victims Rights' Initiative Even Though It Was Really Written By Prosecutors To Make It Easier Than Ever For Them To Convict People, No Matter What The Evidence) The Oregonian letters to editor: firstname.lastname@example.org 1320 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97201 Web: http://www.oregonlive.com/ 5-17-98 Legal questions entangle measure * More than a year after voters passed Measure 40 to boost victims' rights, concerns about its constitutionality abound By David R. Anderson of The Oregonian staff Prosecutors and defense attorneys don't agree on much, and Measure 40 is Exhibit A. To hear them argue, the measure is either a necessary balancing of the rights of crime victims with defendants or a frontal attack on the Oregon Constitution. A year and a half after voters made the measure part of the state constitution, the Oregon Supreme Court is saddled with 19 cases that challenge portions of the measure or all of it. Prosecutors are struggling with tough decisions about how those legal challenges might affect current and future criminal cases. The measure granted at least 14 rights to crime victims, from the right to be present at proceedings to the right to have 11-1 jury votes convict murder defendants. Opponents say most of the provisions are not crime victims' rights but tools for prosecutors to get convictions. "It's so broad it turns the whole notion of a fair trial on its ear," said James Gregory, a Portland defense attorney. But proponents say the effect has been moderate, as they predicted. "It's made the system fairer," said Norm Frink, a Multnomah County chief deputy district attorney. "But does it have an impact in the vast majority of cases? No." The adversaries seem to agree on two things. First, prosecutors have used most of the measure's provisions selectively. Prosecutors say they are being judicious. Defense attorneys say prosecutors merely are biding their time and will use the full force of the measure if it is ruled constitutional. And second, both sides are waiting impatiently for the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the measure, which became Article 1, Section 42, of the state constitution after the November 1996 voter approval. "Everybody is literally sitting on the edge of their seats," said Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis. Courthouse halls are full of speculation. The Supreme Court has undergone many changes in recent months, with Susan Graber and Ed Fadeley leaving the court. So, observers thought it significant when the court agreed to hear a new case on March 31 from Marion County that challenges the entire measure, not just one of its provisions. The issue is whether the changes are so sweeping that only the Legislature could initiate them. In the meantime, cases involving Measure 40 are stalled in the appeals process. Two of the more high-profile cases involve defendants accused of belonging to a sex ring at the Blue Ridge Apartments in Astoria and Alissa Fechter, a Clackamas County woman accused of murdering her 4-month-old son. As attorneys wait to hear about the measure, so do the victims. Harrison Bletson of Portland is accused of fatally stabbing his mother, Dannella Bletson. Rosa Washington, Dannella Bletson's daughter, expected her brother to go to trial in April. With his case pending before the Supreme Court, she doesn't know when she'll have to shut down her hair salon and sit through a wrenching trial. "I just can't do anything until this is over," Washington said. "It's like they're punishing me also." In addition to the individual cases on appeal, Senate Bill 936, which implemented the measure, also faces constitutional challenges. Although the philosophical debate rages on, a Supreme Court decision at least would end the contradictory rulings that have come out of the trial courts around the state. Judges in Jackson, Jefferson and Columbia counties have ruled the entire measure unconstitutional. Other courts have ruled portions of the measure unconstitutional. And within Multnomah County Circuit Court, for example, Judge James Ellis has ruled the measure unconstitutional, but Judge David Gernant has ruled the measure constitutional on the same issue. Prosecutors say some cases either will stand or fall with Measure 40 and SB 936. For example, there's the "dog sniff case," as Frink called it. Police at a Texas airport used a drug-sniffing dog to check out a suspicious package headed for Oregon. The dog "alerted," which meant the dog might have smelled illegal drugs in the package. Texas authorities notified the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and sent the unopened package. Authorities here got a search warrant, found nearly 2 kilograms of marijuana and arrested the man for whom the package was intended. The issue is whether a dog sniff constitutes a search, said Nikola Jones, a deputy district attorney. According to the old law, the evidence probably would be excluded. According to Measure 40, it can be used because Oregon's more restrictive search and seizure laws are now trumped by the U.S. Constitution, which provides less privacy protection. The measure states that criminal defendants shall not have more rights than those granted by the U.S. Constitution. Gregory said he is seeing more cases that start with a jaywalking stop and end up in a drug arrest. But Frink disagrees, saying that is the provision of Measure 40 that is being used most cautiously. Marquis claims that the conviction rate will not change much because of the measure. The main purpose, he said, was to help victims feel vindicated by a process that now has the truth as its aim instead of merely presenting a limited number of facts. Proponents also say Measure 40, along with Measure 11's mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes and other recent anti-crime sentiment, is balancing a movement in the 1980s that emphasized the rights of criminal defendants. During that time, the state's judiciary created privacy rights that exceeded the federal constitution. "If they want to see why these things happen, they should look in the mirror," Frink said of defense attorneys. Several sections of the measure address evidence. The measure allows all "relevant" evidence, which is defined as evidence that tends to prove guilt. One effect has been that prosecutors have been able to introduce evidence of past convictions, which was not allowed before Measure 40. Defense attorneys say that past conduct does not prove that a person committed the crime charged. All it does is "throw mud" on defendants in front of a jury, said Cheryl Albrecht, a criminal defense attorney. Pretrial release of suspects in Measure 11 cases is restricted in another section. Most trial judges throughout the state who have ruled on this have declared it unconstitutional because it places the burden on the defendant to prove that he or she will not commit a crime if released before trial. Under SB 936, the burden of proof shifted slightly to prosecutors, but not enough for many judges. The statute also set a minimum bail of $50,000 for such violent crimes. So 10 percent cash must be posted. In Multnomah County, many of those awaiting trial in the past were released to the close street program, an intense supervision by corrections deputies. That has changed, and it's hurt poor defendants. "Basically, if you want to get out, it costs $5,000," said attorney Edward Jones, head of Multnomah Defenders Inc. But that means that dangerous suspects who otherwise would have been released -- like the suspect accused of robbery with three prior robbery convictions or the guy who allegedly tried to use his car to run down two bouncers who threw him out of a tavern -- were rightly kept in jail before their trials, Frink said. Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Noelle said the measure undoubtedly increased the number of people in jail, but the effect has been so small that he doesn't know what the numbers are and did not set up any system to measure the impact. Another section allows a conviction in murder and aggravated murder cases on an 11-1 jury vote. But that apparently has come up in only two cases -- Bletson and Fechter. Prosecutors have not asked to use the provision in other cases. The measure also restricted who could serve on juries. Convicted felons are prohibited, and jurors must be registered voters, not merely selected from Driver and Motor Vehicle Services records. The result is that juries in criminal cases have become more white and more conservative, Albrecht said. Prosecutors say that has not been proved. They think that people who don't take the trouble to participate in political decisions should not be allowed to participate in a decision on whether to imprison someone. The measure also includes a provision that allows prosecutors to demand a jury trial instead of a trial by a judge. Defense attorneys say prosecutors use that when they don't like the judge assigned to a case. Frink said that prosecutors have not used that provision often but that it levels the field with defendants, who also can demand a jury trial. The importance of the measure goes beyond the immediate effects on criminal cases, to the issue of how the state constitution can be changed, said Peter Gartlan, a deputy state public defender. That ruling might have an effect on how future measures are written. The Supreme Court also will decide other fairly technical issues, such as whether the 14 rights granted to crime victims constitute a single subject and whether an unconstitutional portion of the measure would make the entire measure unconstitutional. Meanwhile, everyone waits. "A lot of cases are hanging fire," Marquis said. David R. Anderson covers state courts for The Oregonian's Crime, Justice and Public Safety Team. He can be reached by phone at 294-7663, by mail at 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, Ore. 97201, or by e-mail at DavidAnderson@news.oregonian.com
------------------------------------------------------------------- Medical Marijuana - A Better Approach (Staff Editorial In The Seattle 'Post-Intelligencer' Endorses Washington State Initiative 692 - 'We Urge Registered Voters To Seek Out The Signature Gatherers For I-692, Get The Measure On The Ballot And Strongly Support Its Passage In November') Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 15:21:32 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US WA: Medical Marijuana: A Better Approach Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Ben
Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org MEDICAL MARIJUANA: A BETTER APPROACH After a misguided Washington State Supreme Court refused to shelter dying cancer patient Ralph Seeley from prosecution for marijuana possession, many Washington voters looked for a way to change the law. They did not find it in last November's Initiative 685, which was an equally misguided attempt to decriminalize a whole host of drugs and free convicted criminals from state prisons. What reasoning voters were looking for was offered in the last session of the state legislature in Senate Bill 6271, introduced by Sen. Jeanne Kohl. But even though the bill had the support of the majority of the Health and Long-Term Care Committee, including Republican Chairman, Alex Deccio, the Senate's Republican leadership did not want the bill to come up for a vote. So it died. (Legislators did, though, pass a bill to fund studies on the efficacy of "medical marijuana".) Voters finally can get what they were looking for if Initiative 692 gets enough signatures to appear on the Nov. 3 ballot. The initiative would protect from prosecution patients with terminal or debilitating illnesses who use marijuana for physician-sanctioned medical purposes. Physicians would not be prosecuted for advising a patient about the risks and benefits of medical marijuana nor for providing a patient documentation that the potential benefits of its use outweigh the potential risks. Likewise, these patients' primary care-givers would be safe from prosecution. Neither physician nor care-giver would be allowed to consume the marijuana. No patient would be permitted to have more than a 60 day supply and would have to have written documentation from a physician to possess any of the substance. The initiative explicitly does not legalize the "acquisition, possession, manufacture, sale or use of marijuana for non-medical purposes." The initiative would not decriminalize marijuana. It would merely humanize law enforcement's approach to enforcement, allowing dying, suffering and debilitated patients a chance at surcease from pain, nausea, and wasting without having to become criminals. We urge registered voters to seek out the signature gatherers for I-692, get the measure on the ballot and strongly support its passage in November.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Caretakers Routinely Drug Foster Children (An Otherwise Excellent Article In 'The Los Angeles Times' Doesn't Say How Many Children Are Removed From Their Parents' Homes Because Of Marijuana, Only To Be Subjected To Mandatory Chemical Intervention, But It Does Note A Large Proportion Of The 100,000 Children Under State Protection In California Group And Foster Homes Are Being Drugged With Potent, Dangerous Psychiatric Medications, Often Just To Keep Them Obedient And Docile For Their Overburdened Caretakers - A Review Of Hundreds Of Confidential Court Files And Prescription Records, Together With Observations At Group Homes And Interviews With Judges, Attorneys, Child Welfare Workers And Doctors Revealed That Youngsters Are Being Drugged In Combinations And Dosages That Experts In Psychiatric Medication Say Are Risky And Can Cause Irreversible Harm) Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 12:28:26 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: Caretakers Routinely Drug Foster Children Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: Jim Rosenfield Source: Los Angeles Times (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 213-237-4712 Website: http://www.latimes.com/ Pubdate: Mon, 17 May 1998 Author: Tracy Weber, Times Staff Writer CARETAKERS ROUTINELY DRUG FOSTER CHILDREN Psychiatric medication could do irreparable harm, experts say. Often, consent is lacking. Children under state protection in California group and foster homes are being drugged with potent, dangerous psychiatric medications, at times just to keep them obedient and docile for their overburdened caretakers. A review of hundreds of confidential court files and prescription records, observations at group homes as well as interviews with judges, attorneys, child welfare workers and doctors across the state, revealed that youngsters are being drugged in combinations and dosages that experts in psychiatric medication say are risky--and can cause irreversible harm. In part because of a lack of oversight, officials responsible for the children's welfare say they don't know how many of the state's 100,000 foster children are being given mood-altering medications, many of which have never been tested for use on children. In Los Angeles County--which has nearly half the state's foster children--dependency court judges last year approved requests to medicate about 4,500 kids. That doesn't include those drugged with parental consent or those drugged with no consent at all, which experts believe is a significant problem. In addition, a county grand jury found in 1997 that nearly half the group home children it examined were drugged without court or parental consent. Experts from around the state said widespread drugging, both with and without legal approval, occurs in other California counties as well. "We sometimes don't know who put kids on drugs and why," said Nathan Nishimoto, an Orange County Department of Children and Family Services official who, until recently, was in charge of tracking children in the county's care. There's the 5-year-old boy in a Tustin group home who was not only being given an antipsychotic, but massive doses of Ritalin and clonidine--though researchers from UCI and UCLA have published articles reporting that that combination has caused sudden death and heart problems in some children. There's the 8-year-old foster child in San Francisco County on Cylert for his hyperactivity, despite warnings from the drug's manufacturer that its use can lead to liver failure and death in children. The boy did not receive the requisite blood checks to monitor the drug in his system. At the Orangewood Children's Home in Orange County, kids as young as 3 skip up to the drug cart several times a day, to take the "meds" that control their "depression" and "rage." To say nothing of the scores of California teenagers prescribed pills to battle manias and psychoses with little explanation of why or by whom. Many psychiatrists vigorously defend the use of psychotropic medications on children in foster homes and group homes, arguing that the benefits of using them on these often troubled youths outweigh future risks of harm. "Your hand gets forced when these children are so disruptive," said professor Stephen M. Stahl, who teaches psychopharmacology at UC San Diego. "How sick would they be if you didn't give them drugs?" he asked. Dr. James Hogrebe, who works with grade-school-age children at an Anaheim group home, said, "Most [of these medications] can be used safely, if they're monitored correctly." But the lack of proper monitoring is precisely part of the problem, say numerous officials involved in the child welfare system. Prescription Records Scant or Nonexistent Many child psychiatrists, attorneys and children's advocates say the apparently widespread practice of drugging amounts to a form of medical experimentation on some of the state's most vulnerable kids--those taken from parents who abused them. In many instances, the doctors who prescribe what their colleagues call "chemical straitjackets" aren't psychiatrists and have little training in the highly specialized field of psychiatric medications. According to group home directors and child care workers, some of these doctors and psychiatrists examine a child for minutes before prescribing powerful, behavior-altering medications. And some come after dark, when children are asleep, look at files and write prescriptions. These revelations come at a time when many experts have expressed serious reservations about the rising number of kids in the general population who are being prescribed adult medications. An estimated 800,000 children and adolescents nationwide last year were prescribed antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, according to IMS America, an industry research firm that surveys physicians. Another half a million children, aged 6 to 12, were prescribed Tegretol and Depakote, two adult antimanic, antiseizure drugs, the firm's data shows. And in 1996 some 3.25 million in that age group were prescribed drugs such as Ritalin to control hyperactivity, IMS America says. Controversy or no, such drug use by kids in the general population is at least monitored by parents and physicians. But psychiatrists in several California counties say sometimes the only way they know what drugs a child in a foster home or group home has been taking is if the child can remember such obscure names as Desyrel (an antidepressant), Mellaril (antipsychotic), Tegretol (antimanic) or Catapres (antihyperactivity). One Orange County teenager filled a notebook page with the cornucopia of drugs she'd been given; few of the drugs had been logged in her official files. An 8-year-old state law requires that foster children's medical histories be recorded in "medical passports" and follow them from home to home. But this requirement is routinely ignored as too burdensome, officials say, and children's medical records are often incomplete. For most kids, every time they move, their care passes to different physicians and psychiatrists. "When I get a new kid, I have no idea what [medications] he's been on," said Dr. Kenneth Steinhoff, UC Irvine's chief of child psychiatry, who also sees children in a group home. "I don't know who the [child's previous] doctors are. You get practically nothing. It's a crime." In San Bernardino County, Jeff Broyde, head of the public defender unit representing children, said it's difficult for his office to monitor whether a child is getting proper treatment; each attorney in his office represents some 1,200 children who sometimes are housed hundreds of miles away. "There's no way we can run out there and see . . . if the child is OK," he said. "The important thing [is] seeing the child. If you see a child looking like a zombie, it's wrong, even if it's medically permitted." In numerous interviews across the state, one official after another--from individual foster parents to judges to doctors--described occasions where children seemed to be misdiagnosed, given the wrong medication or given too much medication. * In Los Angeles County, judges who oversee the cases of foster children have become so concerned by the widespread disbursement of drugs that in April they imposed a system designed to ensure that a child had been thoroughly examined and that other options had been tried before psychiatric drugs were prescribed. Each psychiatric diagnosis and prescription must be reviewed by county psychiatrists before court approval. "We all have enormous fears that our decisions, one way or another, are going to cause serious harm to these children," said Terry Friedman, presiding judge of the L.A. County dependency courts. "This, more than any other decision as a judge, causes me enormous anxiety." Drugging Without Consent Widespread One of the new policy's architects doubts it will provide a complete answer to the problem. A report by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury in 1997 suggested that his concerns are valid: An audit of 158 cases found that children in group homes were being drugged without the legally required consent nearly half the time. Dr. Michael Malkin, chief of mental health services for the county's juvenile courts, said there is no real punishment for doctors who don't seek court approval, and reviewing the consent forms that are submitted doesn't answer the basic questions: Does the child truly need the medication, and do a drug's benefits outweigh its sometimes serious side effects? John Tobin, the county's mental health coordinator, said the sheer number of doctors treating children in Los Angeles makes quality control nearly impossible. Last year, more than 400 doctors requested court permission to drug nearly 4,500 children--more than 300 under the age of 6. And these numbers don't include the many children whose parents consented to the medication, precluding the need for court approval. Nor do they account for the number of foster and group home kids, such as those the grand jury found, who had been drugged without anyone's consent. * In San Diego County, Juvenile Court Referee Michael Imhoff says legislative intervention might be the only way to control the use and misuse of psychiatric medications. "I think everyone will agree that the scope of this problem is expanding," Imhoff said. "It's a systemic problem." Imhoff said the court's supervising judge now reviews every request to medicate a child, and San Diego's dependency court judges are "absolutely frightened" that children are being drugged without their knowledge. Sooner or later, he said some calamity will occur "that will be very difficult to explain." Some Homes Seem to Sedate All Toddlers Ana Espana, who supervises the unit in the county public defender's office that represents foster children, said she has personally encountered cases of foster children being drugged improperly. "We had a 5-year-old client who was kept in a psychiatric hospital for over a month, who had multiple changes of medication, and we didn't find out for weeks after," said Espana. "Our feeling was this child was being experimented on. We got him out and into another facility, and they [the doctors at the second hospital] were horrified by what he'd been on." She said she had been to foster homes where all the toddlers appeared to be sedated, and her office would later find out the children were drugged without anyone's permission. * In the Bay Area, several psychiatrists who treat foster children say they regularly see children who have been put on multiple medications by a variety of doctors. Dr. Lynn Ponton, a professor of adolescent psychiatry at UC San Francisco, said a 14-year-old girl who had been living in a group home recently showed up for an appointment on antipsychotics and antidepressants. "She'd been on these medications for a year and nobody knew why she was on them or who put her on them," Ponton said. "They dump [kids] on these meds instead of worrying about continuity of care and therapy." * In Orange County, controversy over the questionable use of psychiatric drugs on foster children has surfaced before. More than three years ago, the county hired a UCLA professor, a Torrance psychiatrist and a pharmacologist from a state hospital to investigate complaints by one of its own managers that children at the county's temporary shelter, Orangewood Children's Home, were being improperly medicated. The report has never been made public, but the county's Juvenile Justice Commission last summer released a brief summary of the major findings, accusing some Orangewood psychiatrists of jeopardizing the health and well-being of children in their care by deviating from "normal, customary practices" in prescribing psychiatric drugs. Daun Martin, a psychologist and former chairwoman of the Juvenile Justice Commission, said she was "shocked" at the practices at the shelter. "It was apparent from the consultants and the records that there were some serious health risks to children," Martin said. Tim Mullins, until recently the county's director of mental health services, said the problems at Orangewood have been corrected. But according to several child psychiatrists, who reviewed approved medication consent forms for children staying at Orangewood, problems persist. The medications requested on some consent forms didn't correspond to the diagnoses, the psychiatrists said, and the amount and combinations of drugs in some cases were "outrageous." In one case, a county psychiatrist put an 11-year-old girl on large amounts of Tegretol, Depakote and Clonidine for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and "aggression/agitation." Dr. Thomas Hicklin, head of the child psychiatry ward at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, said either the diagnosis or the medication had to be wrong. "That's appropriate treatment for mania and bipolar disorder. You wouldn't treat ADHD with those drugs," Hicklin said. In another case, an Orangewood psychiatrist asked to put a 15-year-old boy on massive doses of the antipsychotic Risperdol "indefinitely," and the antidepressant, Trazodone, for behavior outbursts, impulse control and insomnia. "There would be no justification in the literature for such treatment," said Dr. James McGough, an assistant professor of child psychiatry at UCLA, who reviewed the boy's medications. The psychiatrist "is putting this child on medication for a grown man with full-blown schizophrenia. In my mind, it borders on criminal." Dr. George Pascarzi, the county child psychiatrist who reviews all the medications prescribed at Orangewood, says "those two cases would certainly be considered unusual," though he is comfortable with the medication in both situations. He said he would need to know more about the 11-year-old girl's medical background to judge whether the combination and doses of the drugs were correct, whether other medications had been tried first and what levels of the drugs were detected in her blood tests. Pascarzi says that at least while the children are at Orangewood, they are given complete medical evaluations and, if necessary, monitored with EKGs and blood tests to make sure the medications are not harming them. There's no question that the use of adult-strength medications to relieve depression, and to control manias, psychoses and rage, were at one time well-intended and a valid means to help the system's most severely disturbed children. But as the number of kids in the child welfare system has exploded over the last decade, so too has the use of powerful, controlling medications on children, some of whom may not need them, experts say. Joe Huley, in charge of group home inspections for the Orange County Department of Children and Family Services, ordered one Tustin group home for children ages 3 to 12 to fire its psychiatrist in 1996, after discovering that the doctor was prescribing the tranquilizer Thorazine for every child in the home--whether they needed the medication or not. Prescribed for Need or for Convenience? Many parents say they believed their kids didn't require medication but felt pressured to sign consent forms because they hoped to regain custody of their children and didn't want to appear uncooperative. "What can I say about it? If I protest, they'll say I don't care about the kids," said Janet Van Eyk of Orange, whose three grandchildren were taken from her after she was accused of abusing one of them. "I had the girls assessed at school for hyperactivity and they said they didn't need drugs. Now they have them on them." While many kids do need treatment, many others in the state's care are drugged for expressing normal angry reactions to abuse and abandonment--or for just being rambunctious kids, say children's attorneys and some psychiatrists. Psychiatrists, or sometimes simply internists, employed by some group homes respond to the complaints of harried child-care workers by prescribing medications or increasing dosages on the basis of a phone call from an untrained worker, say child advocates and the workers themselves. "Putting kids on medication is easier for the people who care for them," said Dr. Euthymia Hibbs, chief of psychosocial treatment research for children and adolescents at the National Institutes of Health. "It is more convenient for everyone around--but the kids." J. Michael Hughes, an Orange attorney who represents children in protective custody, agreed, "The group home calls up and says, 'Johnny is acting up.' So they give him a drug. It's perennially a problem in these group homes." Dr. David Chadwick, director emeritus for the Center for Child Protection at the Children's Hospital of San Diego, said doctors and court officials there became concerned when it appeared that foster parents were having unruly children put on medication without proper examinations or consent. In two separate instances, Chadwick said, foster children ages 4 and 5 came in for medical exams taking antipsychotics and antihyperactivity drugs. "The foster mothers had relations with certain doctors where they could just call up and get meds," Chadwick said. "There was not what I considered a sufficient evaluation before they prescribed the drugs." Professor Stahl from UC San Diego places part of the blame on a child welfare system that cheats doctors of the resources they need to do their jobs. "The doctors don't have time to make an assessment. The fastest thing is to use chemical straitjackets on the kids--and some of them probably need it. "You're forced to use drugs because [the group homes] are understaffed and they're unnatural environments," Stahl added. "The facilities have to be safe." Usually there are three or more traumatized kids for every group home staffer, though there can be as many as eight. The workers, typically fresh out of college, are paid $7 to $9 an hour and seldom stay longer than a few months. Drugging kids is cost-effective: Most pills cost from 3 to 17 cents. Therapy is an expensive proposition. "A lot of these kids suffer from a deficit in attention, not attention deficit disorder," said James Swanson, a psychologist who heads UCI's Child Development Center. "If we were to get more one-on-one with these kids over a longer period of time," said Javier Chavez, a senior counselor at Orange County's children's shelter, "they wouldn't need all those meds." It is resoundingly unclear how "all those meds" may be altering children's lives. Anecdotally, however, experts say there are numerous disturbing accounts. Under the influence of such drugs, children have suffered from drug-induced psychoses, hallucinations, abnormal heart activity, uncontrollable tremors, liver problems and loss of bowel control, according to health professionals, attorneys and court records. The manufacturers of some drugs, such as the antidepressant desipramine, specifically warned doctors not to give the drug to kids after some children became ill or died as a consequence of taking the drug. "We advise against using [desipramine] in children," said Charles Rouse, U.S. director of communications for Hoechst Marion Rousell, the maker of the antidepressant. Because the drugs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for adults, a doctor can prescribe them to patients of any age, even though they have not been tested on children. "These drugs can result in a toxic reaction, either something that makes the child really sick or . . . makes the kid dead," said Dr. Chadwick from the Center for Child Protection in San Diego. Chadwick was hired as a consultant in a court case involving a Seattle foster child who died in 1996 after being given toxic doses of an antihyperactivity drug. No foster children in California are known to have died from excessive or improper medications. But child advocates say prescription drugs could have played a role in some cases where death was blamed on unexplained heart arrhythmia or other organ failures. One such death occurred in March in San Bernardino, where a 10-year-old boy in a group home was found to have died of a heart attack brought on by unknown factors. A police detective said toxicological tests showed that the medications in his system were within acceptable limits, so the death may never be explained. Beyond the physical side effects, experts worry about how or if these medications affect children's ability to have normal relationships, to learn, and to have and rear children of their own. Children between the ages of 3 and 6 who take antipsychotics such as Mellaril and Haldol have been found to have learning problems. "Your brain is wired to learn things during that period that you can't learn later," Dr. McGough from UCLA said. "There's a real risk. Nobody knows the long-term effect." Some doctors and child advocates worry that the pills set the children, often the progeny of drug abusers, on a lifetime of drug dependency. "This is the wrong message to send to children: 'Take this pill and you'll feel better,' " said Dr. Thomas Laughren, medical reviewer for the FDA's division of neuro-pharmacological drugs. Added McGough: "You're really teaching them that they're dependents and damaged and need drugs to be normal." Some psychiatrists may be unaware of the serious side effects that some of these drugs can have, because they spend so little time with the children--unlike their caretakers. At a Tustin group home, one 3-year-old boy appeared so dazed and incommunicative that a therapist said he would never leave the child welfare system or his medications, that he was retarded and unadoptable. But when Greta Anderson, a Costa Mesa foster parent, took in the 30-pound boy she learned he was being given large doses of clonidine, a drug used to fight both depression and hyperactivity, three times a day. "The amount of medication he was on for a 3-year-old was just incredible," Anderson said. "Once we got him off the drugs, his vocabulary increased tenfold, he was potty-trained and his medical diagnosis went from mental retardation to learning disabled." "I'm not against medications," said Anderson, who is in the process of adopting the boy. "I'm against sedating children." Dr. Malkin also sees the effects of over-drugging. He recounted the case of a 9-year-old girl in Los Angeles County who ended up back at the county children's shelter after attacking her foster sister with a knife. The girl's Ritalin prescription had been upped to dosages far beyond those recommended for her age and weight, Malkin said. "She was psychotic when she got [to the shelter,]" Malkin said. "She just had a toxic amount of Ritalin in her system. When we took her off the medication, she was fine. "The only real solution," Malkin said, "is to have social workers with caseloads of 10 kids. The thing that's missing is to have someone in the parental role. Someone who shares the child's destiny." * DAILY PILL ROUTINE: Steven and Kenny's ritual is repeated across California.
------------------------------------------------------------------- A Foul Third Strike (Staff Editorial In 'Orange County Register' Slams California's 'Three Strikes' Law And Last Week's State Supreme Court Ruling That Strengthened It, Allowing A Man To Be Sentenced To 25 Years To Life For Non-Violently Stealing A Carton Of Cigarettes)Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 12:54:57 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US CA: Editorial: A Foul Third Strike Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: John W.Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 A FOUL THIRD STRIKE Californians should take a hard look at the "three strikes" law signed into law by Gov. Wilson in 1994, especially as interpreted by the state Supreme Court last week. The court strengthened the law when it said that multiple felonies can be punished as separate strikes even if they arise from a single criminal act. In other words, you can get to three strikes very quickly. That's what happened to Russell Benson of Lancaster, the subject of the state Supreme Court case. He was convicted of two felonies in 1979 stemming from a single knife attack. His third strike came in 1994 when he was convicted of stealing a carton of cigarettes from a Target store. Had his first two convictions counted as one strike, Benson would have faced a maximum six-year sentence. But as the court interpreted California's "three strikes" law - passed by both the Legislature and in a referendum approved by voters - Benson had three strikes. And, in California a non-violent felony conviction qualifies the person for a "third" strike. Benson received a sentence of 25 years to life. The Supreme Court vote was the narrowest possible, four to three. "We should not transform one strike into two," objected Justice Ming W. Chin, writing the minority opinion. "The question before us has major practical consequences. Multiple convictions can often arise out of a single act." Chief Justice Ronald M. George led the majority. He wrote in his opinion, "The Legislature and the voters, through the initiative process, clearly intended that each conviction for a serious or violent felony counts as a prior conviction, even where the convictions were based upon conduct against a single victim committed at the same time with a single intent." He pointed out that the "three strikes" law superseded previous laws on the issue, which prohibit multiple punishments for a single act. But no law can supersede constitutional guarantees against excessive punishment. The California Constitution guarantees the right "not to suffer the imposition of cruel or unusual punishment" which "shall be construed by the courts of this state in a manner consistent with the Constitution of the United States." The Benson sentence - 25 years for lifting a carton of cigarettes - illustrates potential disproportionality in punishment and raises larger questions about California's particular version of "three strikes," which is quite different from other states. "I can grant that the chief justice has a point, that the people of California enacted the three strikes law," Professor Gilbert Geis, professor emeritus of criminology at the University or California, Irvine, told us. "But his job is to see that the law squares with the Constitution. That's why we have a judiciary." On the particular decision, Mr. Geis said, "It's disgusting. California is virtually one of the only states that does not insist on three violent crimes. So you end up with what I'd call a travesty of the intent of the law, which was to remove violent offenders from the street. For this man, 15 years had elapsed since his violent crime." What's needed is a review of the law. As we pointed out in 1994, Gov.. Pete Wilson and other three-strikes proponents backed the most draconian of the three-strikes proposals being considered. Unfortunately, both Gov. . Wilson and Attorney General Dan Lungren, who is running for governor, backed last week's ruling. "This ruling puts the teeth back into the three-strikes law and brings us back to the intent of the voters," Mr. Wilson said. Well, it's a good question whether most voters wanted cigarette thieves to get 25-years-to-life. As to Benson, it's possible the trial judge in the case could re-hear the sentencing and eliminate one of the felonies from 15 years ago, returning him to the two-strikes level. That clearly is just. He should be punished for theft, but not by spending a quarter-century behind bars.
------------------------------------------------------------------- 'Fear And Loathing' In Hollywood ('San Francisco Chronicle' Interviews Film Director Terry Gilliam About His New Adaptation Of Hunter S. Thompson's 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas')Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 10:44:14 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: Review: 'Fear and Loathing' in Hollywood Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Frank S. World) Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/ Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 Author: Sam Whiting, Chronicle Staff Writer `FEAR AND LOATHING' IN HOLLYWOOD Director Gilliam knew one thing for sure: He had to keep Hunter Thompson off the set It took an animator's eye to finally bring Hunter S. Thompson's hilarious and hallucinatory road journal ``Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'' to the screen. Because director Terry Gilliam had started out as a cartoonist and drawn the animated sequences in the British TV series ``Monty Python,'' he understood that Ralph Steadman's over-the-top illustrations were as important to the book as Thompson's acid prose and dialogue. `` `Python' wouldn't have been the same without the animation,'' he says, ``and the book would not have been the same without these drawings. They just go together perfectly.'' By avoiding imitation (and animation), Gilliam managed to meld the words and visuals. The result should please both lovers of the 200 page drug adventure and fans of Johnny Depp, who gives a spot-on portrayal of the cynical Raoul Duke, doctor of journalism. There are enough people in both categories to ring the numbers for Universal Studios, which is releasing the picture nationwide Friday. ``Fear and Loathing'' started out as a Sports Illustrated assignment for Thompson to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. Thompson had a reputation to uphold, having published ``Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs,'' so he expense-accounted a red convertible and every illicit drug known to humankind, and a few that weren't, like extract of human adrenal gland. He recruited his attorney, a deranged and lecherous hulk nicknamed Dr. Gonzo, and they took off across the desert on ``a savage journey to the heart of the American Dream.'' What followed were several days of sleepless depravity and insulting behavior, only loosely connected to the motorcycle race. Thompson taped every word and sent it in verbatim. Sports Illustrated declined to print the story or cover the exorbitant hotel bill, which included a trashed suite and room service that averaged $33 an hour for 48 straight hours. But Rolling Stone picked up the story in a two-part series that heralded the arrival of ``gonzo journalism,'' a participatory style one step beyond Tom Wolfe's ``new journalism'' of ``The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.'' The ensuing book, published in 1971, supplanted Jack Kerouac's ``On the Road'' as the underground bible for stoned college kids. The first 10 pages, detailing the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in the grip of an overwhelming drug stupor, have not been touched by any writer since, including Thompson. By the late 1970s the phrase ``fear and loathing'' had entered the lexicon as a description of drug-induced exhaustion and paranoia. T-shirts appeared in the orange and yellow of the paperback cover, featuring the two twisted characters lurching across the desert in the sharklike red convertible. Thompson's alter ego, Raoul Duke, became the prototype for Uncle Duke in ``Doonesbury.'' The first line of the book, ``We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold,'' is also the start of the film as narrated by Depp, perfectly mimicking Thompson's monotonous delivery. From there on the film is absolutely faithful to the book, save for a few ad-libs by Depp, and no director has power over those. ``It was almost as if we were more concerned with it being an accurate translation of the book than making the best possible film,'' Gilliam says. ``That's what made the project interesting.'' It was Depp's picture when Gilliam came aboard a year ago to replace Alex Cox (``Repo Man''). Depp had been recruited by Thompson to play the role. They became a dangerous pair, palling around Thompson's home in Woody Creek, Colo., and appearing together at Depp's Viper Room in Los Angeles. Gilliam had pretty good ``Fear and Loathing'' credentials of his own. An American living in London, he became pals with Steadman, who has ``nudged me over the years to make a film of this,'' Gilliam says. The director had been in the cast of the television series ``Monty Python's Flying Circus'' and advanced to directing in the stoner-friendly Python films. He had the proper surrealistic approach, as demonstrated in his films ``Brazil'' (1985) and ``The Adventures of Baron Munchausen'' (1989). In the late 1980s, he'd seen a script for ``Fear and Loathing'' and liked the concept if not the script. ``I thought, `Wouldn't this be great to do as an introduction to the 1990s,' '' he says, ``a clarion call for a new age.'' But he got caught up directing ``The Fisher King'' (1991) and ``12 Monkeys'' (1997). A year ago he was working on a project called ``The Defective Detective,'' but it ``went belly up'' at about the same time Cox was relieved of directing ``Fear and Loathing.'' He didn't like the script any more than he'd liked earlier versions, so he rewrote it. As part of his research, he started to watch a video of Bill Murray's ``Fear and Loathing'' knockoff, ``Where the Buffalo Roam,'' and lasted about 10 minutes, the same as anyone else. After signing on, Gilliam met Thompson and quickly realized that he'd have to keep him away from the set. Though pretty much burned out as a writer, Thompson still works hard at maintaining his image as a bullying and disruptive force. Being Hunter Thompson is ``a hard job; it's 24 hours a day and you've got to be strong as an ox to do it,'' says Gilliam, who at 58 is two years younger than Thompson. At one infamous lecture at the College of Marin in the early 1980s, Thompson arrived late with a bottle of Wild Turkey, glowered at the crowd and opened the lecture by saying, ``Any questions?'' The crowd was stunned. This was an expensive ticket for the college set. Finally one man screwed up his nerve and asked a detailed question. Thompson's answer was, ``What business is that of yours?'' Things deteriorated from there, and Thompson finally said it was too hot in the gym and walked out. So he is not someone a director wants around the set, particularly when the topic is Thompson himself. Though he was involved with the production at a safe distance by fax and phone, Thompson came to the set only once, for a cameo at a rock concert in San Francisco. The voice-over is one of the best passages in the book, when Thompson flashes back to the magic and freedom of the mid-'60s in San Francisco, the center of the counterculture. Steadman also stayed away from the set, and Gilliam knew better than to try to copy his art with any form of animation. ``Here he is my friend, and his drawings are totally inspirational, and we ignored them,'' Gilliam says. ``You can't transfer those drawings. They exist in that form only.'' The lizards and monsters that the drugs delivered to Duke's mind were effectively re-created with puppets and models. ``I just have a very strong visual sense. I see things in a distorted, grotesque, hyper-real way. I know what the book's about, I know those feelings,'' says Gilliam, who has read it a dozen times. The camera was always shifting and tipping to give that queasy feeling of a loss of equilibrium. But Gilliam says there was no drug use to enhance the imaginations of either cast or crew. He's seen the products of stoned filmmakers, and they are universally unwatchable. `FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS' The movie opens Friday at Bay Area theaters. 1998 San Francisco Chronicle
------------------------------------------------------------------- Praise, Loathing Greets Thompson Adaptation ('Chicago Tribune' Says Terrv Gilliam's 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas' Has Been An Argument-Starter At The 51st Cannes Film Festival) Date: Tue, 19 May 1998 10:17:33 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: FRANCE: Praise, Loathing Greets Thompson Adaptation Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Steve Young Source: Chicago Tribune (IL) Pubdate: 17 May 1998 Author: Michael Wilmington Section: sec. 1 Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.chicago.tribune.com/ Author: Michael Wilmington PRAISE, LOATHING GREETS THOMPSON ADAPTATION CANNES, France - With its extreme portrayals of drugs, sex, paranoia and excess, director Terrv Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" has been an argument-starter at the 51st Cannes Film Festival. An uncompromisingly faithful version of Hunter S. Thompson's legendary semi-factual coverage of an off-road race, "Fear and Loathing" has Johnny Depp in an amazing impersonation of journalistic outlaw Thompson (bald pate and all) and "Usual Suspects" star mumbler Benicio Del Toro as Thompson's attorney sidekick, fitted with a prosthetic stomach. And while the film's supporters praise Gilliam's fidelity to the book and stunning visuals, its detractors seem worried that the movie has pro-drug vibes. At the Cannes news conference, Gilliam, Depp, Del Toro, and producers Laila Nabulsi and Stephen Nemeth seemed unfazed. Asked what kind of audience he expected, Gilliam cited demographic studies that showed the movie tracking well among "smart people, the youth audience and surfers," with detractors topped by "females between the ages of 35 and 40" (but not, mysteriously enough, any other females). Depp, meanwhile, described how he achieved his uncanny, counterfeit screen Thompson: clipped, ironic chatter, paranoid body language. He said he was aided immeasurably by time spent with Thompson at his home near Aspen, Colo. where -- cigarettes and all -- Depp slept next to a gun-powder cache.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Teen's Death One Year Ago Brought End To Marine Border Patrols ('Dallas Morning News' Recounts The Drug-War Homicide Of Esequiel Hernandez, A 10th-Grader From Redford, Texas, A Remote Border Town 200 Miles Southeast Of El Paso, As He Grazed His Goats Near The Rio Grande) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: "MN"
Subject: MN: US: KY Wire: Teen's Death 1 Year Ago Brought End To Marine Border Patrols Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 19:50:50 -0500 Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 Source: Dallas Morning News Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.dallasnews.com TEEN'S DEATH 1 YEAR AGO BROUGHT END TO MARINE BORDER PATROLS Critics applaud decision; others fear retreat from war on drugs 05/17/98 Associated Press EL PASO - As the combat-ready Marines approached, Esequiel Hernandez Jr. lay writhing on the ground, trying to speak. A single round from an M-16 had pierced the 18-year-old's side. Soon, he would become the first American casualty of U.S. soldiers enlisted to fight the war on drugs. He may also have been the last. Mr. Hernandez's death on a rain-swept evening a year ago Wednesday ignited a national controversy over armed patrols on the U.S.-Mexico border, leading the military to suspend such patrols two months later. Not one armed soldier has returned since. "We don't know when and if those missions will be reinstated. To be very honest, we don't believe they will. The entire operation was put under scrutiny. I just don't see us going back into that business," said Lt. Col. Jere Norman, spokesman for Joint Task Force Six, the agency that coordinates anti-drug missions between the military and civilian authorities. The Pentagon created the El Paso-based JTF Six in 1989 after the White House declared drugs a national security threat, opening the door to limited military involvement in interdiction efforts. Critics say the move eroded the 1878 Posse Comitatus act prohibiting the military from performing civilian law enforcement functions. It was "against the democratic values and beliefs of this country since the Declaration of Independence," said Maria Jimenez director of the Immigration Law Enforcement Monitoring Project, a watchdog group. Inviting tragedy Opponents said putting armed military patrols among civilian populations was inviting tragedy. They say Mr. Hernandez's death on May 20, 1997, proved them right. Mr. Hernandez, a 10th-grader from Redford, a remote border town 200 miles southeast of El Paso, had been grazing his goats near the Rio Grande when he crossed paths with a four-man Marine patrol. The team had been placed on the river at the request of the U.S. Border Patrol to conduct surveillance of a suspected drug route. What happened next has been the subject of debate. The Marines said Mr. Hernandez fired at them twice with a .22-caliber rifle, prompting the camouflaged soldiers to trail him for about 20 minutes until he raised his rifle a third time. Team leader Cpl. Clemente Banuelos, fearing a fellow Marine was in danger, responded by firing a single round from his M-16. The bullet struck Mr. Hernandez under the right armpit and ripped across his body. Within the hour, he was dead. Family members deny that Mr. Hernandez would ever have knowingly shot at the Marines and say he only carried the vintage rifle to shoot targets or protect his small goat herd from wild dogs. Local and federal authorities say he wasn't involved in any wrongdoing when he was killed. "It's something that you can't understand, why it happened, why they had to kill him, why it had to be done," said Mr. Hernandez's older brother, Margarito. "We can't accept they had a reason to kill him. It was wrong." Amid his painful recollections, Margarito Hernandez expressed some satisfaction with the discontinuation of the missions that had placed armed soldiers directly on the border. Civil rights advocates are pleased as well, but they're wary because the Pentagon could reverse the decision. Even if it doesn't, JTF Six will still be involved with police, including training them in military tactics. "It's a different threat," said Tim Dunn, author of Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border. "It's a more severe threat if they're out there with guns. But if the other facets of the relationship . . . continue, that's still dangerous." Effect of suspension Supporters of military involvement see a different threat. "We should not unilaterally retreat from the war on drugs because there is a tragedy," said Paul Marcone, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio. "The [suspension's] net effect is that we have more cocaine and heroin coming into the United States." Mr. Traficant has urged the Defense Department to resume the patrols and, for the second time, he plans to introduce legislation this year that would allow increased military participation. Lt. Col. Norman, the JTF Six spokesman, said he's not sure civilian agencies would even want armed soldiers to return. Tomas Zuniga, a Dallas-based spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said: "If it became available to us, we'd have to take a long hard look at it. Shame on me once, but not shame on me twice." Two grand juries, one convened by Presidio County officials and another by the U.S. Justice Department, cleared Cpl. Banuelos in the shooting. The military maintains Cpl. Banuelos and his three fellow Marines followed the established rules of engagement and acted appropriately. The Presidio County panel noted that while Mr. Hernandez may have been firing in the Marines' direction, he likely didn't know they were there. The grand jury left enough unanswered questions that District Attorney Albert Valadez asked a judge for transcripts of the federal testimony and is considering whether to reopen the case. Another investigation is being conducted by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, chairman of the House immigration subcommittee. Meantime, Mr. Hernandez's family is pursuing a claim against the government and for the past several months has been negotiating with the Justice Department for compensation, said family attorney Bill Weinacht. "In order for us to resolve this case, they have to place significant value on Esequiel Jr.'s life," said Mr. Weinacht, declining to comment further. Margarito Hernandez said: "Whatever they do, it's not going to bring my brother back." Wednesday, the anniversary of the shooting death, civil rights advocates will hold services in Austin, Houston and El Paso, where an enormous star that burns year-round on the Franklin Mountains will be dedicated to Mr. Hernandez for a week. The Rev. Melvin LaFollette, a retired Episcopal priest, said a Mass also is scheduled in Redford, primarily for the family, but he expects most of the community to attend. The shooting remains "an open wound," he said. "There has been no resolution, and without resolution, there can be no healing."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Leading Question - Milton Friedman ('San Jose Mercury News' Columnist Interviews The Nobel Prize-Winning Economist About Why Ending Drug Prohibition Won't Increase Harm) Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 12:37:19 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Leading Question: Milton Friedman Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Marcus-Mermelstein Family
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sjmercury.com/ Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 LEADING QUESTION (A weekly feature by Bob Frost) MILTON FRIEDMAN Friedman, 85, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution on the Stanford campus. He won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976. Q: You are an advocate for the legalization of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana. You recommend treating all drugs exactly as alcohol is now treated. Isn't it likely that the number of addicts and users would rise if such a policy were put in place? A: The evidence is mixed on that question; the number might go up, or might not. For example, on the one hand, leglization would make the price of drugs go down sharply, which would of course increase the number of users. On the other hand, there are a number of considerations that could offset the lower price, and lead to a reduction in the use of drugs -- for instance, legalization would remove the "forbidden fruit" aspect of drugs, which serves to make them attractive to young people. In Switzerland, experimental groups of addicts are able to legally buy drugs at low prices, and the result has been a sharp reduction in crime, a sharp increase in the number able to hold jobs and a reduction in addiction levels. Whether the number of addicts and users goes up or goes down or stays the same, one thing is clear: The harm done to our society and the world by that use of drugs would be much less than the harm done under out present system. The world would be, overall, a better place with legalization. The available evidence indicates that our attempt to deprive individuals of the freedom to use drugs such as heroin and cocaine has done far more harm than good. It has filled our jails, corrupted our police, deprived people of their civil liberties and imposed unbelievable horrors on other countries such as Mexico and Colombia. On just this last issue -- the effect of our drug policy on other countries -- I have never found anyone able to give me a plausible answer on what right the U.S. has to destroy a country like Colombia just because we can't enforce our own laws. If we could enforce our laws, there would be no drug cartel there, no black market, no endless string of drug killings and less instability in the government. Because we can't enforce our laws, the country is being destroyed. Q: A strong majority of Americans, according to the polls, support a continued prohibition on drugs. What do you think the chances are that your views will become public policy? A: I don't know, but I will say this: In 1930 it was widely believed to be impossible to get rid of the unworkable prohibition on alcohol. I believe that if the public were fully informed about the issue, there would be overwhelming support for legalization. Q: Are you one of these guys who get high on reefer and listen on the headphones to "Dark Side of the Moon"? A: No. (Laughs.) I have never smoked a marijuana cigarette, nor have I used heroin or cocaine. I have no personal stake in this position.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Don't Ask, Don't Tell ('In These Times' Examines The Testimony March 16 Of The CIA's Own Top Watchdog, Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz, To The House Select Committee On Intelligence, And Concludes The Central Intelligence Agency Has Not Fully Disclosed Its Involvement In The Contra-Cocaine Scandal) Date: Tue, 05 May 1998 19:46:16 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: Mike Gogulski
Subject: MN: US: Don't Ask, Don't Tell Sender: email@example.com Newshawk: firstname.lastname@example.org (Colo. Hemp Init. Project) Source: In These Times Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.inthesetimes.com/ Pubdate: 17 May 1998 Author: Martha Honey DON'T ASK, DON'T TELLIn testimony before the House Select Committee on Intelligence on March 16, the Central Intelligence Agency once again suffered a blow to its reputation. This time the injury was self-inflicted. The CIA's own top watchdog, Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz, admitted that although "dozens of individuals and a number of companies" involved in the agency's covert war against Nicaragua during the '80s were suspected drug traffickers, the CIA had legal authority to ignore their crimes as long as they were helping contra rebels fight the left-wing Sandinista government. Hitz revealed that between 1982 and 1995 the spy agency had an agreement with the Justice Department, allowing it to ignore drug trafficking by its "agents, assets and non-staff employees." The directive, known as a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU), did not exempt the agency's full-time, career employees, who are known as CIA "officials." However, the agency did not have to tell the Justice Department about the criminal activities of "agents" or "assets" -- terms used interchangeably to refer to its paid and unpaid spies. Also exempt were CIA contractors, such as pilots, accountants and military trainers, who supplied the agency with specific goods and services rather than intelligence. "There was no official requirement to report on allegations of drug trafficking with respect to non-employees of the agency," Hitz told the committee. Hitz said this agreement, which he termed "a rather odd history," has since been changed. But it was not until 1995 -- five years after the end of the war in Nicaragua and three years into Clinton's first term -- that the agreement was revised to include agents, assets and contractors as "employees" whose suspected criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, must be reported to the Justice Department. Disclosure of this agreement is another black eye for the CIA at a time when the agency is trying to distance itself from persistent allegations of drug trafficking, including the provocative August 1996 "Dark Alliance" series in the San Jose Mercury News. Veteran journalists, investigators, policy analysts and members of Congress interviewed by In These Times all say they were unaware of the directive. "This previously unknown agreement enabled the CIA to keep known drug smugglers out of jail and on the payroll of the American taxpayer," says Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst with the National Security Archive, who has written extensively on the CIA and the war in Nicaragua. "CIA officials realized collaborating with pro-contra drug smugglers was important to the goal of overthrowing the Sandinistas and it sought protection from the Justice Department." In 1982, when the MOU was implemented, the United States was gearing up for a covert war in Central America aimed at toppling the Sandinistas. Over the next eight years, the CIA hired scores of Latin American, Cuban and American spies, as well as dozens of aviation, fishing and real estate companies, to support the contras. Simultaneously, cocaine began flooding into the United States, fueling the crack epidemic that has devastated Los Angeles, Baltimore and other cities. David MacMichael, who was a senior CIA officer in the early '80s, says that while he was not aware of this MOU, he does recall that "in 1981, [CIA Director William] Casey went to attorney general [William French] Smith looking for a blanket exemption from prosecution for CIA officers for crimes committed in the line of duty." Smith demurred, he says. Since the mid-'80s, a spate of media reports, congressional inquiries, and court cases in the United States and Central America have linked contra officials and collaborators with cocaine traffickers, money launderers and various front companies. Many of those implicated also claimed or were alleged to be working for the CIA. In 1996, the accusations erupted anew with the publication of Gary Webb's Mercury News series, which detailed how a Nicaraguan drug ring used black street gangs to sell crack cocaine in Los Angeles. Over the years, the CIA has repeatedly denied allegations that it dealt with drug dealers. Those denials have been championed by Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus, a specialist in national security affairs and a leading critic of the Mercury News series. Pincus, who has yet to report on Hitz's testimony, says he had not been previously aware the directive. "I am still trying to get a clarification of it," he says, adding that it may not be very significant. "All it admits is that what they were doing was legal. On occasion they were dealing with people who may or may not have been dealing in drugs." In December 1985, reporters Robert Parry and Brian Barger wrote the first story tying the CIA's contra operation to cocaine smuggling. The piece for The Associated Press angered Reagan administration officials, who tried unsuccessfully to block its publication. During the contra war, most of the media either ignored or discredited the drug trafficking reports. Parry maintains that his pursuit of this story helped cost him jobs at AP and Newsweek. "Historically we were correct," Parry says. "We pointed to a serious problem in a timely fashion, and we were all punished and ridiculed. The reporters who put this story down have gone on to fame and fortune." Parry calls Hitz's disclosure "extremely significant." "It amounts to a blank check for dealing with drug traffickers," he says. "The agency is admitting that it engaged in covering up drug crimes by the contras and that this was legal." Major media also ignored the 1989 findings of Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations. The Kerry committee's two-year investigation turned up substantial evidence of cocaine smuggling and money laundering by persons connected to the contras and the CIA. Among the conclusions of its 1,166-page report: *"Drug traffickers used the contra war and their ties to the contras as a cover for their criminal enterprises in Honduras and Costa Rica. Assistance from the drug lords was crucial to the contras, and the traffickers in turn promoted and protected their operations by associating with the contra movement." *"Drug traffickers provided support to the contras and used the supply network of the contras. Contras knowingly received both financial and material assistance from the drug traffickers." *"Drug traffickers contributed cash, weapons, planes, pilots, air supply services and other materials to the contras." *"In each case, one or another U.S. government agency had information regarding these matters either while they were occurring, or immediately thereafter." The report was all but ignored by the three major networks and buried in the back pages of the major newspapers. Combined, the stories in the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times totaled less than 2,000 words. At the March congressional hearing, Hitz explained that the MOU between the agency and the Justice Department was modified slightly in 1986, prohibiting the CIA from paying those suspected of involvement in drug trafficking. The CIA, however, could legally continue to use suspected drug smugglers and not report their activities, as long as they received no money from the agency. But for major drug traffickers, being allowed to operate under the CIA's umbrella was payment enough. The Kerry committee's report, along with most press accounts of the CIA-cocaine connection, alleges that the contras accepted money and supplies from drug smugglers and money launderers -- not the other way around. John Mattes, a young public defender in Miami in the mid-80s, stumbled upon the allegations of drug trafficking by Cuban-Americans working with the contras. Mattes, who represented several cocaine traffickers and soldiers-of-fortune who testified before the Kerry committee, says traffickers were seeking protection, not money, from the CIA. "There was a marriage of convenience between the contras and the coke smugglers," he says. The smugglers had cash, planes and pilots, while the Contras had intelligence, airstrips and, most importantly, unimpeded access to the United States. "And that, to a drug smuggler," he says, "is worth all the tea in China." During the '80s, the CIA conducted several internal inquiries and announced it found no substantial evidence that contra leaders and other persons working for the CIA had connections to cocaine traffickers. Then, the "Dark Alliance" series touched off a volatile, nationwide controversy over the agency's role in introducing crack to Southern California street gangs. To help quell public and congressional anger, both the CIA and Justice Department launched separate internal investigations. Both reports were scheduled to be released last December, but were withheld at the last minute without explanation. Attorney General Janet Reno subsequently announced that she had blocked the release of the Justice Department report (rumored to be the more substantial and significant of the two) for unspecified "law enforcement reasons." Justice Department sources told in These Times that one of the people named in the report is a government witness in an ongoing criminal case, whose identity must be protected. However, Jack Blum, a Washington attorney and investigator for the Kerry committee, doubts that the Justice Department will ever release its report. Blum says law enforcement officials often claim disclosures will jeopardize ongoing cases, and he wonders why the report was not simply edited to protect the informant's identity. In late January, the CIA released a declassified version of volume one of its two-part report. Entitled "The California Story," this 149-page report focuses on the cocaine network described in the "Dark Alliance" series, which detailed the activities of two Nicaraguan drug smugglers, Danilo Blandon and Juan Norwin Meneses. In the early '80s, Meneses and Blandon supplied large quantities of powder cocaine to Ricky Ross, an African-American drug dealer, who then turned it into crack for sale to two Los Angeles gangs. Webb alleges that the Nicaraguans gave some of their drug profits to top contra officials who were working with the CIA. Hitz called the CIA's 18-month investigation "the most comprehensive and exhaustive ever conducted" by the agency. He told the congressional committee: "We found absolutely no evidence to indicate that the CIA as an organization or its employees were involved in any conspiracy to bring drugs into the United States," But, taken in conjunction with what Hitz said about the MOU, "employees" here may pertain only to CIA career officials -- not agents, assets or contractors. Webb, whose reporting touched off the controversy, describes the report as "schizophrenic." "The Executive Summary says there's no CIA involvement," says Webb. "The actual report shows there are CIA fingerprints all over this drug operation." For example, upon the release of volume one, CIA Director George Tenet proclaimed that the Agency "left no stone unturned" in reaching its conclusion that the CIA had "no direct or indirect" ties to Blandon and Meneses. Yet, the report contains a compendium of indirect links between the CIA's contra army and drug traffickers. The most obvious admissions contained in the report include: --An October 22, 1982, cable from the CIA's Directorate of Operations that reports, "There are indications of links between (a U.S. religious organization) and two Nicaraguan counter-revolutionary groups...These links involve an exchange in (the United States) of narcotics for arms." The report goes on to say that there was to be a meeting in Costa Rica of contras, several U.S. citizens and Renato Pena, a convicted drug dealer who was part of Meneses' operation. Astonishingly, a November 3, 1982, cable from CIA headquarters says that the agency decided "not to pursue the matter further" because of "the apparent participation of U.S. persons throughout." --The CIA directly intervened in the 1983 "Frogman Case," in which San Francisco police seized 430 pounds of cocaine and arrested 50 individuals, including a number of Nicaraguans. Because the CIA feared the agency's connections to some of the contras involved had "potential for disaster," an unidentified CIA lawyer convinced the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco and Justice Department officials to cancel plans to take depositions from contra leaders in Costa Rica and to return $36,800 seized in the drug raid to one of the contra factions. "There are sufficient factual details which would cause certain damage to our image and program in Central America," CIA assistant general counsel Lee Strickland wrote in a August 22, 1984, memo quoted in the report. --Blandon and Meneses met on various occasions with the contras' military commander, Enrique Bermudez, who worked for the CIA. At one meeting in Honduras in 1982, Bermudez, arguing that "the ends justify the means," asked the pair for help "in raising funds and obtaining equipment" and arms for the contras. After the meeting, a group of contras escorted Blandon and Meneses to the Tegucigalpa airport, where the pair was arrested by Honduran authorities because they were carrying $100,000 in cash, profits from a Bolivian drug deal. The contras intervened and the money was returned to Blandon and Meneses. The report inexplicably concludes that there is no evidence that Bermudez knew the duo were drug traffickers, even though CIA cables show the agency was aware that Meneses had been a "drug king-pin" since the '70s. At the congressional hearings, lawmakers cited these and other portions of the report, questioning the agency's capacity to investigate itself. Among the most vocal critics were Los Angeles Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Juanita Millender-McDonald, whose districts have been the epicenter of the crack epidemic. Waters charged that the report was "fraught with contradictions and illogical conclusions," saying that the CIA's cleverly worded denials of links to drug traffickers in Southern California "defies the evidence." Volume two of the report, which covers the entire Nicaraguan war, was scheduled to be turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees in late March. But, as of mid-April, CIA officials told In These Times, the report had not been released to Congress. In his congressional testimony, Hitz said that volume two will contain "a detailed treatment of what was known to CIA regarding dozens of people and a number of companies connected in some fashion to the contra program or the contra movement, that were the subject of any sort of drug trafficking allegations." Previewing the report, Hitz admitted: "There are instances where the CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the contra program, who are alleged to have engaged in drug trafficking activity or take action to resolve the allegation." Several congressional sources say that they suspect the report will never be released.While the precise wording of the MOU has not been made public, some say the directive may be considerably broader than implied at the hearing. At one point in his testimony, Hitz said the MOU applied to "intelligence agencies," indicating that it also may include the dozen or so U.S. agencies involved in intelligence work, not just the CIA. Hitz declined requests for an interview. But the CIA may not be able to get away without further disclosures. The National Security Archive and other public interest groups, as well as Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Waters, are mounting a campaign for the declassification and release of the text of the MOU, the Justice Department report, volume two of the CIA report, tens of thousands of pages of documents and hundreds of interviews compiled by the two agencies in the course of their internal investigations. Attorney Blum warns that CIA officials who testified before the Kerry committee may have perjured themselves in denying they knew of any links between the CIA, the contras and cocaine traffickers. And investigative journalists Parry and Webb, among others, say Hitz's admission may be the smoking gun that conclusively proves that the CIA colluded with and then concealed its involvement with cocaine traffickers. Martha Honey is director of the Peace and Security program at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. During the '80s, she covered the war in Nicaragua as a journalist in Costa Rica.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Clinton To Endorse McCain Tobacco Bill (According To Massachusetts' 'Standard-Times,' Newt Gingrich And Other House Republican Leaders Denounced The McCain Bill, Saying It Reflects The Big-Government, Pro-Tax-Spend Policies Of Liberal Democrats, And Legislation Wouldn't Get Through Their Chamber) Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 15:33:19 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (MAPNews) Subject: MN: US: Clinton to endorse McCain tobacco bill Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: John Smith Source: Standard-Times (MA) Contact: YourView@S-T.com Website: http://www.s-t.com/ Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 Author: Dina Temple-Raston, Bloomberg News CLINTON TO ENDORSE MCCAIN TOBACCO BILL BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND --U.S. President Bill Clinton will endorse Sen. John McCain's tobacco bill at a White House ceremony on Wednesday and say he'll sign the bill if comes to his desk largely unchanged, White House press secretary Mike McCurry said. This will be the first time Clinton has endorsed specific tobacco legislation. By doing so, the president will be putting his prestige behind a specific bill in a bid to build momentum for passage of anti-smoking legislation this year. In September, Clinton asked Congress to give him legislation that would raise the price of a pack of cigarettes, allow the government to regulate nicotine, restrict tobacco advertising and marketing to minors, and help tobacco farmers. McCain's bill, which evolved out of a settlement reached last June between tobacco companies and 40 state attorneys general to recover tobacco-related health costs, now meets the president's criteria, McCurry said. Clinton will endorse the McCain bill surrounded by a retinue of children and standing beside Matt Myers, general counsel of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said deputy press secretary Joe Lockhart. "There is still a lot of legislative road to travel," said Lockhart. "But if the bill arrives on his desk the way it looks right now, the president will say he will sign it." Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican leaders of the House of Representatives denounced the McCain bill. They say it reflects the big-government, pro-tax-spend policies of liberal Democrats, and say legislation won't get through their chamber. The Senate bill breakthrough came this week during meetings between Clinton's chief of staff Erskine Bowles and Bruce Reed, his domestic policy adviser, and McCain, the Arizona Republican who has taken the lead on the measure. Just days before the Senate starts debating the measure Monday, they agreed in principle on strengthening a number of provisions in the bill to address some of the president's concerns including the cost of liability, McCurry said. The revised measure would increase caps on liability for cigarette makers to $8 billion a year from $6.5 billion; set tougher provisions for companies if teen smoking rates don't decline by set levels; and fine individual companies if market surveys show teens are disproportionately smoking their brands, McCurry said. The Washington Post reported the agreement earlier yesterday. The tobacco industry opposed McCain's original measure, saying it would drive them out of business. Tobacco companies are certain to fight any efforts to toughen penalties on the industry. McCain's bill would raise the federal cigarette tax by $1.50 a pack, give the federal government authority to regulate nicotine, and restrict the advertising and marketing of tobacco. The measure would also impose an annual liability cap for the industry -- offering less legal protection than the industry won in last year's $368.5 billion national tobacco settlement. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota predicted yesterday that the Senate next week would pass it by an overwhelming majority. Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, majority leader of the Republican-controlled Senate, says he isn't as sure. "I think though, that in the end there is at least a 50-50 chance something will pass the Senate (and) an increase in the price of cigarettes will be part of it," he said in remarks taped for CNBC's "Tim Russert" show. While the House declined to come up with an election-year bill to combat smoking, the Senate accepted a challenge by the White House and various public advocacy groups to move on a measure of its own. In various votes, the Senate has demonstrated a willingness to turn the screws on the tobacco industry, long one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill. On March 31, the Senate, on a vote of 79-19, approved a non-binding resolution putting it on record against giving the industry any immunity from liability. The next day, on a 19-1 vote, the Senate Commerce Committee approved McCain's anti-smoking bill. This week the Senate Finance Committee raised the proposed $1.10-a-pack federal tax increase in McCain's bill to $1.50 a pack and sent the bill to the full Senate on a 13-6 vote. With the tobacco industry saying the measure would drive many cigarette makers out of business, several senators will seek to soften it. Senate Assistant Republican Leader Don Nickles of Oklahoma has said he will seek to scale-back the McCain bill, now estimated to cost the industry $516 billion over 25 years. Sen. Orrin Hatch has paired with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, on a measure worth roughly $425 billion. House Republicans may be forced to rethink their position, Daschle said. "If we generate the kind of momentum that I think exists here, I think it will be very difficult for the House leadership to ignore" the legislation, he said.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Cannabis Campaign - MP Hails Reform Of Jail Rules (Britain's 'Independent On Sunday' Says Brian Iddon, The Member Of Parliament Representing Bolton South East, Has Joined Other Labour Backbenchers In Publicly Welcoming The Government's Decision Last Week To Let Up On Cannabis And Focus On Reducing Hard-Drug Use In Prisons) From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: "MN"
Subject: MN: UK: MP Hails Reform Of Jail Rules Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 19:53:10 -0500 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Jerry Sutliff Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 Source: Independent, The (UK) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.independent.co.uk/ CANNABIS CAMPAIGN: MP HAILS REFORM OF JAIL RULES The Government's new moves to distinguish between cannabis and hard-drug use in prisons have been welcomed by the MP for Bolton South East, Brian Iddon. Mr Iddon was the third Labour backbencher to defy his party line and join the Independent on Sunday's campaign for the decriminalisation of cannabis last year and, following the call by Lord Bingham, the Lord Chief Justice, for a national debate on the issue, he took his concerns to the Home Office prisons' minister, George Howarth. "A number of people in Parliament, including Paul Flynn and myself, have been very concerned about these priorities in the community in general and I am very pleased to see that Mr Howarth now plans to take action on the treatment of prisoners," he said. Last week the Review of the Prison Service Drug Strategy reported that the introduction of random mandatory drug tests (RMDT) had resulted in a fall in cannabis use but had not markedly affected the use of more harmful opiates. In the light of these findings the "drug tsar", Keith Hellawell, plans to concentrate resources on controlling use of Class A drugs among prisoners. "We have been suggesting for some months that we take the pressure off cannabis and stick it on heroin and cocaine," said Mr Iddon, a former science academic. "If we concentrate in that area we could spend a lot more on tackling those drugs that do more harm. We could introduce more sniffer dogs and detect the supplies that are still coming in, in a small number of cases, through the back door." The government report has called for "governors to discriminate effectively within the disciplinary system between more and less harmful drug-related activity, so that the pattern of punishment, and response by way of treatment and support, more closely follows that pattern in the community at large". Aside from the greater risk to prisoners' health from hard-drugs use, research by the National Association of Probation Officers has shown that half of all property theft is carried out by opiate users. Suggestions that RMDT may have persuaded prisoners to switch en masse to harder drugs have also been undermined by the findings of the review. While it is true that opiates are not so easily detected because they do not stay in the blood as long as cannabis, the National Addiction Centre's research shows that cannabis positivity rates have fallen whether the opiate status of the prisoner is positive or negative. "There is no good evidence of substantial individual shifting from cannabis to opiate use to an extent that impacts on overall levels of opiate positivity," the centre's report states. This backs up Mr Iddon's contention that cannabis users in any environment are unlikely to fall into hard-drug use unless they already have the kind of psychological make-up that would lead them to Class A substances in any case. "The vast majority of people who smoke cannabis do not proceed to other drugs," he insists.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Dutch Woman Arrested Trying To Smuggle Cocaine In Shampoo ('Associated Press' Describes One Attempt To Smuggle Cocaine In Liquid Form And Another Attempt To Smuggle It Mixed With Iron Dust And Charcoal) Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 00:53:18 EDT Originator: firstname.lastname@example.org Sender: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Lee T. Neidow) To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: Ferrous cocaine Dutch woman arrested trying to smuggle cocaine in shampoo BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - A Dutch woman trying to smuggle 22 pounds of liquid cocaine in children's shampoo bottles was arrested at Bogota's airport, police said Saturday. Airport police became suspicious because of the weight of the suitcase owned by Felicia Capellan, 41, in which a hidden compartment contained the bottles, authorities said. Capellan, who was bound for Amsterdam via Frankfurt, Germany, was arrested Friday, as was a 35-year-old Colombian, Raul Garcia. On Wednesday, police seized a 331-pound shipment of cocaine mixed with iron dust and charcoal. Narcotics division director Col. Leonardo Gallego said he'd never seen black cocaine before and explained that the iron and charcoal were easily extracted. That cocaine was bound for France and Italy.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Gangsters Declare War On Mandela (Britain's 'Sunday Times' Says The 'Gangsters' Who Control South Africa's 'Burgeoning' Prostitution, Drugs And Protection Rackets Have Been Angered By The Plan Of President Nelson Mandela's Government To Seize Their Assets) Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 19:57:02 -0800 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) Subject: MN: South Africa: Gangsters Declare War On Mandela Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Newshawk: Martin Cooke
Pubdate: Sun, 17 May 1998 Source: Sunday Times (UK) Contact: email@example.com Author: Andrew Malone, Cape Town GANGSTERS DECLARE WAR ON MANDELA IN THE Little House on the Prairie, an illegal drinking den less than 30 minutes' drive from the centre of Cape Town, the rich and powerful of the "new" South Africa gathered last week to talk politics and money. As the wind whipped sand across the Cape Flats, a desolate plain that is home to 3m impoverished people, members of the Sexy Boys and Hard Living gangs sipped cold beers and announced that they were going to war. Brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle, Sticks "The Mongrel" Nbugane, a self-confessed mob hitman, leapt to his feet and fired bullets into the wall. "This is what they have got coming," he cried. The gangsters who control South Africa's burgeoning prostitution, drugs and protection rackets have been angered by the plan of President Nelson Mandela's government to seize their assets. The move is part of a campaign to contain a crime wave which is threatening the future of the country. Rashied Staggie, described by police as the most wanted man in South Africa, regards this lack of "respect" from the government as intolerable. "Look! Mandela was a gangster who used force against the white government," said Staggie, who plans to form his own political party. "Now they call him a politician. We have had enough. We are going to take over the country." In what Thabo Mbeki, the deputy president, acknowledged last week was a "national emergency", the gangs have become the most potent symbols of the anarchy sweeping the country. Staggie, whose twin brother Rashaad was shot and set on fire by vigilantes two years ago, is funding the United Democratic Alliance, which will challenge the African National Congress (ANC) in elections next year. He already controls most of the Cape Flats. With wealth estimated at £10m, he leads the Hard Living gang, a 10,000-strong force of armed men who trade in drugs and death. He was tried for the murder of a rival gangster earlier this year, but was acquitted. People are scared to testify against him. Last week two witnesses to another gangland murder were gunned down in a Cape Town suburb after they agreed to appear in court. Crime is no longer confined to the slums. In March six members of the Junkie Kids, another gang, were executed outside the Waterfront, a tourist development in the heart of the city. Another four gangsters were found dead in a suburb last week. People are growing nervous. Each day 63 people are murdered in South Africa. An estimated 1m whites have left the country since Mandela was elected in 1994. Others have moved from Johannesburg, the crime capital, to Cape Town, which is regarded as safer - but now many of them are also preparing to leave. The police unit charged with tackling Cape Town's gangs believes they are stronger than ever. Earning £150 a month, the 60 officers of the city's anti-gang squad are outmanned, outgunned and frequently outwitted. When I accompanied one patrol last week, officers carrying pump-action shotguns and backed by an army unit swooped on homes believed to be used by gangsters. In five raids they recovered £100, three crack cocaine pipes and a small amount of marijuana. The occupant of one house fired three shots through the bars of his front door when the police arrived, then fled down an alley. The officers returned his fire but he got away. Groups of residents threw stones at the police. Nobody was arrested. For the police, the temptations are great. With gangsters earning thousands of pounds a week, many officers take bribes in exchange for turning a blind eye. "Everybody needs money," said Ricky Offstander, a member of the unit. "I would never take the money because these people are scum. But I understand why some people do." The biggest problem is the number of guns on the streets. In the Little House on the Prairie, an AK-47 can be bought for £130. Guns pour in from war zones across Africa. With the police fighting a losing battle, groups of vigilantes opposed to the gangs have sprung up. Pagad (People Against Gangsterism and Drugs), a force of Islamic fundamentalists allegedly linked to Iran, has carried out a series of revenge killings. The prospect of Staggie becoming a political figure horrifies the police, who fear he may end up in parliament. He reputedly pays the rents of many people in the townships, where male unemployment runs at more than 70%. Staggie smiled last week at the possibility of political office. "People make out that I am some sort of psychopath," he said as his two children played on his knee and armed men stood guard outside. "I just want to do my bit for the community." -------------------------------------------------------------------
The articles posted here are generally copyrighted by the source publications. They are reproduced here for educational purposes under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.C., section 107). NORML is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The views of the authors and/or source publications are not necessarily those of NORML. The articles and information included here are not for sale or resale.
Comments, questions and suggestions.Reporters and researchers are welcome at the world's largest online library of drug-policy information, sponsored by the Drug Reform Coordination Network at: http://www.druglibrary.org/
Next day's news
Previous day's news
to 1998 Daily News index for May 14-20
to Portland NORML news archive directory
to 1998 Daily News index (long)
This URL: http://www.pdxnorml.org/980517.html