------------------------------------------------------------------- Waiting to Exhale (Eugene Weekly, in Eugene, Oregon, interviews Gary Webb, author of the San Jose Mercury News' "Dark Alliance" expose about the CIA-Cocaine-Contra scandal, prior to his Jan. 16 talk at the United Methodist Church in Eugene. Webb, whose appearance will be sponsored by Eugene Media Action, tells the newspaper that ". . . given what has come out since my series - there were two investigations that were done, by the Justice Department and by the CIA internal investigations - I didn't go nearly far enough in retrospect. The CIA knew a lot more about this than I would have imagined, and they've now admitted it. The problem is you haven't seen these stories in the paper because they contradict everything they were writing two years ago. The agency has basically confessed and nobody wants to hear the confession because [the big papers] had all declared them innocent.") Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 10:23:18 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US OR: Waiting to Exhale Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Olafur Brentmar Source: Eugene Weekly (OR) Copyright: Eugene Weekly 1999. Website: http://www.eugeneweekly.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Pubdate: 15 Jan 1999 Author: Alan Pittman WAITING TO EXHALE Crack-Contra/CIA scandal still smolders as nation turns its attention to sex scandals. The CIA-backed Nicaraguan Contras funded their war in Central America with crack sold on the streets of L.A. ghettoes, according to Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who will speak in Eugene this Saturday. Webb reported on the links between the CIA, the Contras and the deadly crack cocaine explosion in the U.S. in a 1996 series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News. After the series sparked public outrage in Congress and the African-American community, the national media and the CIA began attacking Webb's reporting as unfounded. Webb stuck to his story and quit the Mercury News after the paper failed to back him up. Now, he's published a book, Dark Alliance (Seven Stories Press, 1998) on the scandal. Webb will speak at 7:30 pm Jan. 16 at the United Methodist Church behind the Eugene Public Library. He spoke to EW by telephone from Sacramento about his work uncovering the crack-Contra/CIA connection. How are sales of your book going? Beyond my wildest expectations. I got my first report, and it was stunning. We sold like 50,000 books in five weeks. Why did the mainstream press attack your newspaper series? There were a number of reasons for that. This was a story that those papers - specifically the Washington Post, New York Times and L.A. Times - could have done if they had wanted to back in the '80s when this stuff was going on. There were certainly enough clues around. But in some cases for political reasons, in some cases for sheer incompetence, nobody ever put the pieces together and figured out what it meant. So when a little Northern California newspaper comes along 10 years later and has this big huge story, it pissed them off. The deeper problem was this is not the kind of story these papers have done for many, many years. Essentially, you're talking about a crime of state - you've got the U.S. Government complicit in drug trafficking. The other thing that I think annoyed them was that the story got out in spite of them. The big papers are used to being able to set the national agenda for what's news and isn't news. Here we came along, a paper that nobody on the East Coast reads, and we put the thing up on the Web with all our supporting documentation, and I went on talk radio. Suddenly we've got a Web site that's getting a million hits a day, and everybody is talking about this story that they [the big papers] have never printed a word of, and their readers are calling them up wondering why the hell they're sitting on this story. You put all that together, and I think they're natural inclination was, well, we're going to knock the hell out of this thing. The fact that nobody ever found a factual error in it, I thought was lost in the controversy. Was the CIA involved in the drug smuggling or did they just turn a blind eye to it? All my theories ever said was there were CIA agents who knew about it. And we proved it, we had pictures of a CIA agent meeting with these drug traffickers. The scenario a lot of people took from that was that this was a CIA plot to dump cocaine in the black ghettoes. I never found any evidence of that. But given what has come out since my series - there were two investigations that were done, by the Justice Department and by the CIA internal investigations - I didn't go nearly far enough in retrospect. The CIA knew a lot more about this than I would have imagined, and they've now admitted it. The problem is you haven't seen these stories in the paper because they contradict everything they were writing two years ago. The agency has basically confessed and nobody wants to hear the confession because [the big papers] had all declared them innocent. How does the Monica Lewinsky scandal compare to the story you uncovered? Well, that wasn't even a scandal as far as I'm concerned. It's just some guy getting his ashes hauled. This [crack-CIA] thing is a crime of state, and millions of Americans have paid for this over and over again. That's the problem with the press today. They'll focus on the trivial and titillating and let the big huge stories just go by in the night because they don't want to devote the effort to do them. It took me a year to work on this full time. Reporters don't get that kind of time anymore, they don't get the space to do that kind of story. You get the space for sex stories. Nobody is going to get in trouble for writing a story about a politician getting laid. The stories that I like to do are the stories that get newspapers in trouble. They [the mainstream press] have just become so timid. I saw it as not even worth hanging around, I mean, who wants to do that kind of crap? What's the significance of this story? It happened a number of years ago under a different president. Because we're still living with the aftereffects of it. We've still got crack raging in inner city neighborhoods, they're locking people up left and right for selling minuscule amounts of what government agents were bringing into this country by the plane-load. One of the things I hoped to do with this story is open up people's eyes to this parallel universe that exists out there in the intelligence community which we rarely if ever get a glimpse of. I think Washington was scared of that. I don't think they wanted extensive CIA drug-dealing hearings. Because people would sort of wonder what they're spending they're $26 billion a year on. Some of the critics said the story said or implied that the CIA was responsible for the entire crack epidemic. Is that what you were saying? All I ever said in that story was they were responsible for starting the first major market for it. What I really saw was really a chain reaction rather than a vast conspiracy. But I think the black community, because they have been so put upon over the years and have been the victims of conspiracies before, saw this as another CIA conspiracy to keep them down. I never found any evidence of that. But the more I think about it, it's the difference between manslaughter and murder. It's the intent. The intent was not to poison black America but to raise money for the Contras, and they didn't really care what it came from. If it involved selling drugs in black communities, well, this was the price of admission. The CIA has been involved in some questionable things such as torture and overthrowing democratically elected governments. Why were your stories surprising to people? It beats the hell out of me. This is an agency that has murdered foreign leaders, why would they have any qualms about selling cocaine? In this country - and I think in a large part due to the mainstream press - we have this delusion that the CIA is this noble enterprise of honorable men, and they're not. You really don't get that prospective until you go to a foreign country where the CIA is allowed to operate openly and ask people there what they think of the CIA. It's like asking people about the Klu Klux Klan, they hate them because of the stuff they do. Does your experience say a lot about how the press in Washington works? Absolutely. I get into in the book about the reporter at the Washington Post who launched the attack against my series. It turns out that the guy actually worked for the CIA in the '60s [spying on students]. If I was the editor at the Washington Post, he'd be the last person I'd assign to cover the CIA. The guy's compromised, he's too close to the agency. You want someone that's going to go in there and kick some ass, not someone who's going to go out and have lunch with these guys. But that's the attitude. I worked in the Washington press corps for a while, they want to be the people they are covering, they didn't want to be reporters. I think the alternative press is becoming more important as the mainstream press becomes more corporatized and more sanitized and homogenized. You'd be hard pressed to go to any major city in the United States and pick up the daily newspaper and tell it from any other daily newspaper. They're all pretty much the same anymore, which is boring. If the CIA hadn't been involved, would there still have been a crack epidemic in the U.S.? There would have been. It was coming anyway. Whether it [crack] would have wound up in South Central Los Angeles in the hands of the street gangs is a completely different question. That's one we'll never know the answer to. I doubt it would have happened the same way, with the same intensity. We're not talking about a little cocaine, we're talking about tons that were allowed to come into this country through this drug ring. editor's note: Eugene Media Action, a committee of Eugene Peace Works, organized Webb's talk in Eugene. The group works for more accuracy and diversity in the mainstream media and recently opened a Community Media Center in the Growers Market at 454 Willamette.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Police Intrusions (A staff editorial in the Orange County Register says police in Buena Park, California, who have begun to randomly stop cars in search of unlicensed drivers, violate constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. "Unfortunately, the D.A. is correct that these kinds of searches have been deemed by the Supreme Court to pass muster," said Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. In 1987 the California Supreme Court said drunken driving checkpoints are constitutional. In 1990 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a similar verdict.) Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 14:56:37 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US CA: Editorial: Police Intrusions Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: 15 Jan 1999 POLICE INTRUSIONS Buena Park police, who have begun to randomly stop cars in search of unlicensed drivers, say that public safety concerns justify the approach. They say these checks fall into the same category as drunken driving checkpoints, which the state and federal courts have found acceptable. The courts eventually will decide whether the drivers license checkpoints are a valid extension of the DUI checkpoints, but we believe the concept violates constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Police should have "probable cause" - reason to believe of specific illegal activity - before being able to stop and search a driver. Checkpoint supporters defend the jettisoning of these legal protections, citing overarching public safety concerns. Drunken drivers, for instance, imperil the safety of others, and that's true enough. But the slope keeps getting more slippery. The random license stops were justified by the fact that unlicensed drivers cause 35 percent of all fatal accidents in California. What other safety concern might be next? Surely, drivers in cars with bald tires are causing dangers. The checkpoints, too, become a pretext for wider searches. Of the 150 citations issued at the Buena Park checkpoint on Wednesday, one-third were for registration violations, with others for broken windshields, outstanding warrants and the like. Buena Park Police spokesman Sgt. Ron Natale told us that police are 'not going to turn a blind eye to obvious violations," and that the district attorney's office gave the OK for such searches. Two court decisions have bearing on this matter. In 1987 the California Supreme Court said drunken driving checkpoints are constitutional. In 1990 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a similar verdict. "Unfortunately, the (Orange County) D.A. is correct that these kinds of searches have been deemed by the Supreme Court to pass muster by the Constitution, but I strongly disagree," Tim Lynch told us; he's the associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies in Washington, D.C. He said that although the U.S. Supreme Court case appears to open the door to checkpoints for a wide range of reasons, he believes such rulings weaken the Constitution's protections against unreasonable government searches and seizures. Police cannot simply pull over any driver, or search anyone's home or person, without having probable cause that they committed an illegal act. But when the courts allow random checkpoints, they are saying that if everyone's "constitutional rights are violated, then it's not a problem," Mr. Lynch explained. Buena Park police noted their random checks succeeded, considering the large number of citations they issued at the checkpoint. But "if police had the power to search everyone's home, they would have impressive statistics of violations," Mr. Lynch countered. "It's really an issue of limiting police power .. not a question of effective law enforcement. If the Bill of Rights was repealed tomorrow it would make law enforcement easier." The foundation of a free society rests in large part on its ability to prevent unauthorized searches and seizures by the authorities. The Buena Park Police Department and even the courts may not grasp that fact at the moment, but we suspect that most Americans still do.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Prison Shootings To Be Reviewed (According to the Orange County Register, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office will "independently assess the circumstances of each" of two dozen shootings of inmates by guards at Corcoran State Prison. Last fall, a special state review panel concluded that five fatal shootings and 19 incidents in which inmates were wounded between 1989 and 1995 were unjustified. Guards argued the shootings were needed to break up fights, even though California is the only state that breaks up inmate fights by shooting to kill.) Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 18:12:24 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Prison Shootings To Be Reviewed Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Pubdate: 15 Jan, 1999 Source: Orange County Register (CA) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register PRISON SHOOTINGS TO BE REVIEWED Sacramento-The state Attorney General's Office will launch an independent investigation of two dozen shootings of inmates by guards at Corcoran State Prison. Last fall, a special state review panel concluded that five fatal shootings and 19 incidents between 1989 and 1995 in which Corcoran inmates were wounded were unjustified. Guards argued the shootings were needed to break up fights among inmates. "We are going to independently assess the circumstances of each of them," said Peter Siggins, chief deputy for legal affairs for new Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The prison guards' union has vigorously defended the officers involved in the shootings, arguing that if guards overreacted it was because they were following flawed Corrections Department policy. At Corcoran, guards killed seven inmates during fist fights among the prisoners. None of the inmates were armed or posed an immediate threat of great bodily harm to another inmate, according to the Los Angeles Times. No guard has been prosecuted for murder, manslaughter or assault with a deadly weapon. Only a handful of officers statewide have been disciplined for shooting at inmates in fights, the newspaper reported. One of the cases caught on videotape and being reviewed by Lockyer's office is the shooting death of William Marinez, the first inmate slain at Corcoran's Security Housing Unit in April 1989. He was shot during a fight with a rival gang member. Videotape from prison cameras shows that Martinez was getting the best of his rival and had delivered several blows and a single kick before walking away. The fight appeared over and Martinez stood a few feet from his rival when the fatal shot struck him in the back. A review panel at the time exonerated the officer.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Woman Cleared In Deputy Shooting (The Tulsa World says a pistol-packing 70-year-old was cleared Thursday of criminal wrongdoing for shooting a law officer during an ill-fated drug raid in 1996. After the prohibition agents' warrant was ruled invalid, Mary Lou Coonfield was able to invoke Oklahoma's "Make My Day" law, enacted in 1991, which states that an "occupant of a house is justified in using physical force, including deadly force, against another person who has unlawfully entered the house if the occupant reasonably believes that the other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant of the house.") Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 09:12:06 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US OK: Woman Cleared In Deputy Shooting Sender: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Michael Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org) Source: Tulsa World (OK) Copyright: 1999, World Publishing Co. Website: http://www.tulsaworld.com/ Contact: email@example.com Author: Bill Braun World Staff Writer Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 1998 WOMAN CLEARED IN DEPUTY SHOOTING Based on the "Make My Day" law, the defendant was justified in using physical force. A 70-year-old woman who benefitted from a "Make My Day" legal defense was cleared Thursday of criminal wrongdoing for shooting a law officer during an ill-fated drug raid in 1996. A Tulsa jury acquitted Mary Lou Coonfield of two felonies -- assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and feloniously pointing a weapon. Testimony indicated that she fired a .22-caliber pistol and wounded Tulsa County Deputy Sheriff Newt Ellenbarger, one of eight officers from multiple law enforcement agencies at her Sperry residence to execute a search warrant around 7 a.m. on Aug. 30, 1996. Officers were there to search for drugs. However, jurors could not hear any testimony about drug evidence that investigators reported was recovered from the premises, because of multiple court rulings in 1996 and 1997 that determined that officers had used a defective search warrant. Since the warrant was determined to be invalid after the raid, District Judge Jefferson Sellers told jurors Thursday that "as a matter of law the entry of the officers" into Coonfield's house "was unlawful." Based on the "Make My Day" law enacted in Oklahoma in 1991, the jury was instructed that an "occupant of a house is justified in using physical force, including deadly force, against another person who has unlawfully entered the house if the occupant reasonably believes that the other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant of the house." Coonfield testified Wednesday that she had no idea that the people who entered her home were law officers until after she fired one shot that struck Ellenbarger in the arm. "I was not shooting at anyone. I just shot. I'm very sorry. I certainly wouldn't have shot a policeman," she said. "I just wanted to get them out of the house so I could get some help." Assistant District Attorney David Robertson said officers loudly and clearly announced their identities as law officers with a search warrant -- and wore clothing with departmental badges and markings -- before forcibly entering the residence. "This is not Aunt Bea from `Mayberry, RFD,' " Robertson said of the defendant. Although the warrant was later ruled invalid, there was a reason that it was issued by a special judge to allow officers to conduct a search there, he told jurors. Defense attorney Bob Brown urged the jury to evaluate the situation from Coonfield's perspective. Brown said she has a hearing problem, was not wearing her glasses and made a split-second decision after being awakened and seeing a man with a gun outside her house. In addition to being cleared of an allegation of assaulting Ellenbarger, Coonfield was acquitted of feloniously pointing a weapon at Deputy Sheriff Lance Ramsey. By law, the prosecution had the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Coonfield was not defending herself against an intruder. To be convicted of the gun-pointing charge, jurors would have had to find that Coonfield acted without "lawful cause," and it is lawful to point a pistol "in defense of one's person against an intruder," according to the instructions issued by Sellers. While specific details of the warrant and property recovered in the search were not allowed into evidence, jurors could have surmised from testimony about duty assignments of the officers that drugs were a target. Two other counts -- possessing methamphetamine and possessing a firearm while in commission of a felony drug possession -- were previously dismissed against Coonfield because they hinged on drug evidence that could not be used in court due to warrant problems. In prior court rounds, Brown successfully argued that the language and description in the search warrant and supporting affidavit -- naming Coonfield and her son and describing four buildings on the property -- was not sufficiently specific. Brown had argued that the law disapproved of a "blanket" warrant for the search of property involving multiple occupants, owners and places. Drug charges were likewise dropped against her son, Johnnie Lee Stafford, because of the flawed warrant, attorneys said. Testimony indicated that Stafford lived in a separate neighboring residence when the raid was conducted. The search warrant affidavit, signed by a Tulsa police officer, said an informant reported that Stafford was selling methamphetamine "from his and his mother's residence" at a Sperry address. "I live alone," Coonfield said Wednesday. "I always thought everybody had a right to protect themselves in their own home."
------------------------------------------------------------------- A Small Victory in the War on Drugs (An op-ed in the Dallas Morning News tells a poignant tale about a Texan vacationing in London who apologizes to a Colombian for U.S. drug policy - and gets a surprising response.) From: "ralph sherrow" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: email@example.com Subject: Fwd: OP ED:A Small Victory Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 10:40:11 PST From: "stuart kocher" (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: email@example.com Subject: Fwd: OP ED: A Small Victory Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 07:55:50 PST Sender: Drug Policy Forum of Texas (DPFT-L@TAMU.EDU) From: Rick Day (rd@DALLASBBQ.COM) Subject: OP ED: A Small Victory Comments: To: firstname.lastname@example.org To: DPFT-L@TAMU.EDU A Small victory in the War on Drugs This Christmas, my family and I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in London and the surrounding area. Like all first time American visitors, we saw all the lovely sites of the London area, along with all the typical tourist stops. My fifteen-year-old son and I were visiting the National War Museum, complete with visuals of wars both past and present. Outside the museum sits a kiosk selling grilled items such as sausage, hot dogs and snacks. The owner was a friendly sort, like most Londoners are to us tourists. He casually asked each person where they were from, what country or area. While my son and I waited on our meal, I overheard a small young man about the age of 18, definitely of Hispanic origin. As with the other customers, the grill master asked the youngster where he called home. The lad replied, "Columbia". I was compelled, being an ardent student of our national policy on drugs, to approach him. My own stature being of about a foot taller and 150 pounds heavier, I must have cast a long shadow over this young man. As politely as I could, I removed my cap and asked him if he was indeed from Columbia. He looked up at me and affirmed that information. What I said next obviously took him by complete surprise. I said this: "On behalf of the citizens of the United States, I wish to apologize for what my country's drug policy has done to your country." I expected perhaps a stare or mumbled thanks, but not the response the young man had. He took two steps back, his eyes widened to the size of saucers and asked, "you are Americans?" I replied yes, from Texas. What he said then floored me to no end. As tears welled in his eyes he said these exact words: "My grandfather and uncles were murdered as a result of your drug war. I swore on their graves that the first American I met, I would kick him in the balls." At that point, I took two steps back. He then said, "you do not know what your words have done for my hatred. I accept your apology, and will take it back to my people." With that, he embraced me in a surprise hug of gratitude, took his hot dog, and walked away, leaving me to my dark thoughts, wondering how many more world citizens carry this hatred toward Americans and their policy that allows the thugs that killed this man's family, thrive. Rick D. Day
------------------------------------------------------------------- Repeal Of Drug Zones Law Is Sought (The Baltimore Sun says Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will ask the City Council to eliminate Baltimore's "drug-free zones" law on behalf of Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who wants the council to help devise legislation that would allow officers to more effectively seize illegal guns and drugs.The council established 50 drug-free zones in 1989, but prosecutors and judges have opposed the law because they consider it an infringement on the constitutional right to assemble. Schmoke noted that the city's circuit courts are so clogged that four first-degree murder suspects were set free.) Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 23:12:15 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US MD: Repeal Of Drug Zones Law Is Sought Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: Rob Ryan Pubdate: 15 Jan 1999 Source: Baltimore Sun (MD) Contact: email@example.com Website: http://www.sunspot.net/ Forum: http://www.sunspot.net/cgi-bin/ultbb/Ultimate.cgi?action=intro Copyright: 1999 by The Baltimore Sun, a Times Mirror Newspaper. Author: Gerard Shields and Peter Hermann REPEAL OF DRUG ZONES LAW IS SOUGHT Baltimore judges, prosecutors did not uphold measure Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke will ask the City Council to eliminate Baltimore's "drug-free zones" law because city prosecutors and judges did not uphold it. Schmoke will make the request on behalf of Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who wants the council to help devise legislation that would allow officers to more effectively seize illegal guns and drugs. The council established 50 drug-free zones in 1989 during the "Just say no to drugs" movement. In the zones, located around schools and high-crime areas, police are allowed to search and arrest loiterers. The council added 10 zones in 1994. Baltimore did not prosecute almost all of the people arrested by police in drug-free zones during the first nine months of 1998, a West Baltimore councilman's recent research showed. In the survey, conducted by 4th District Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., 25 of 26 misdemeanor loitering arrests in the 60 zones were not prosecuted. Misdemeanors in Maryland are punishable by up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine. Four of the 30 people arrested in the zone during the study period spent time in jail. Prosecutors and judges have opposed the law because they consider it an infringement on the constitutional right to assemble. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on a similar Chicago loitering law used to remove gangs from street corners. During recent arguments before the Supreme Court, justices expressed concern about the law. Baltimore police have welcomed the zones, saying they give officers probable cause for searches and seizures. Police officers worry that removing the law will hamper their ability to answer resident complaints. Maj. James L. Hawkins, police commander of the Eastern District, said yesterday that his officers handle about 20 percent of the city's 80,000 emergency calls each month. Most, he said, are complaints about people loitering on street corners. The drug-free zone law gives officers probable cause to move people along and frisk them. "It's going to be quite interesting how we can effectively deal with those concerns without this tool," Hawkins said. Clogged court system Schmoke noted that the city's circuit courts are so clogged that four first-degree murder suspects were set free because their cases were not heard before the expiration of the state's speedy trial deadline. He said police handling the loitering cases can be better used fighting crime. Mitchell called for the abolition of the zones, saying they are a waste of police effort. In addition, a study on how Baltimore handles crime is expected to recommend that the city become more aggressive in searches and seizures to intercept illegal drugs and guns, Schmoke said. "We need the ability for police to intervene to find weapons on the street," Schmoke said. "I'm very, very aware of how intrusive that can be so we're working together on the protocol, because we don't want to see an increase in complaints against police." The Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union welcomes the abolition of the drug-free zones. ACLU officials cautioned city leaders to wait until after the Supreme Court ruling before drafting new legislation. "We've been traditionally concerned about loitering laws and their potential for misuse," said Dwight H. Sullivan, the chapter's managing attorney. "Before we adopt any new legislation, we want to see what the Supreme Court says about that case." Circuit Court takeover In addition to removing the drug-free zones, Schmoke said he will push for the state to take over the Circuit Court system in Baltimore and throughout the state. Gov. Parris N. Glendening plans to follow through on his proposal for the takeover during the current legislative session, Schmoke said. Schmoke also said that the city will seek $2 million from the state to help Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy upgrade her office's computer system to better track cases. The $2 million state grant would be matched with $2 million in city funds, Schmoke said. Last year, America's 10 largest cities reported a 12 percent drop in murders, compared with 1997, while the number of Baltimore murders rose from 312 to 314. The city asked a Harvard University professor to study Baltimore's crime-fighting strategy and suggest ways to help the city more effectively intercept illegal guns. "We are not moving in the right direction," Schmoke said. "We can't let these numbers go in the direction they continue to go."
------------------------------------------------------------------- Shot By DEA Agents (According to UPI, police in Orlando, Florida, are saying little about the fatal shooting Thursday by Drug Enforcement Administration agents of a man in a sport utility vehicle said to be a former Central Florida law enforcement officer.) Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 06:04:28 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US FL: Wire: Shot By Dea Agents Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 Source: United Press International Copyright: 1999 United Press International SHOT BY DEA AGENTS Orlando, Fla., - Orlando Police are saying little about the fatal shooting of a man by Drug Enforcement Administration agents as he sat in a sport utility vehicle Thursday afternoon. The shooting occurred in a busy area in front of a Division of Motor Vehicles tag office. Some of the many witnesses said the agent told the man to get out and he did not comply. The dead man, whose name has not been released, is said to be a former Central Florida law enforcement officer. At least one person was taken into custody.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Former Deputy Killed (UPI says a man killed for refusing to obey federal DEA agents Thursday in Orlando, Florida, has been identified as Robert Pasteur, a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy.) Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 12:37:03 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US FL: Wire: Former Deputy Killed Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 Source: United Press International Copyright: 1999 United Press International FORMER DEPUTY KILLED ORLANDO, Fla., - The man killed by federal Drug enforcement Administration agents in Orlando Thursday has been identified as a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy. Forty-two-year-old Robert Pasteur was fired in July 1997 after his conviction on insurance fraud and arson charges for burning cars for the insurance. Orlando Police say Pasteur and another man were sitting in a sport utility vehicle in the parking lot at a tag office when DEA agents ordered them out. They failed to comply and Pasteur was shot. No one is saying why he was under investigation.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Theories On Ritalin Revamped - Found To Stimulate Regulator Of Mood (The San Diego Union Tribune says a new study published in the journal Science suggests that Ritalin diminishes hyperactivity not by lowering dopamine levels in the brain, as previously thought, but by boosting serotonin levels, like an antidepressant.) Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 18:12:23 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (MAPNews) To: email@example.com Subject: MN: US CA: Theories On Ritalin Revamped Found To Stimulate Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: email@example.com Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 Source: San Diego Union Tribune (ca) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.uniontrib.com/ Forum: http://www.uniontrib.com/cgi-bin/webx Copyright: 1999 Union-Tribune Publishing Co. THEORIES ON RITALIN REVAMPED | FOUND TO STIMULATE REGULATOR OF MOOD Millions of Americans young and old take daily doses of Ritalin and other stimulants because the drugs paradoxically seem to control their hyperactivity and inattention. Until recently, most scientists had thought that the stimulants worked by somehow shorting out the brain's sensitivity to a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which promotes arousal and activity and which stimulants rev up. But a new study published in the journal Science points to a completely different way that low doses of stimulants may act to calm hyperactivity. It appears that the drugs work by boosting production of another brain chemical -- serotonin -- which regulates mood and inhibits aggressive and impulsive behavior, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Although their study was limited to genetically altered mice, the scientists said they believe that the same situation exists in people. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is caused as much by having too little serotonin in the brain as by having too much dopamine. "This suggests that, rather than acting directly on dopamine, the stimulants create a calming effect by increasing serotonin levels," said Marc Caron, a brain researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratories at Duke and a co-author of the study.Caron and his colleagues said they believe that their findings could open the way for hyperactivity disorders to be treated with a new class of drugs which selectively turn up serotonin production without using stimulants. Stimulants can have side effects and are feared by some experts to set children at risk for later drug abuse. "We've always thought of ADHD as a function of too much activity in the brain, and it is, but it also appears to be a function of the brain's failure to inhibit impulses and thoughts that we all have but which we are typically able to control," said Dr. Raul Gainetdinov, a research associate in the department of cell biology at Duke and co-author of the study. The researchers were able to identify the brain's balancing act through a series of tests involving mice which had been genetically altered so that they lack a protein which serves to mop up dopamine after it has been used to transmit impulses between nerve endings in the brain. The mice behaved in a hyper, impulsive and inattentive manner but responded with calmness and focus to a dose of Ritalin or cocaine, just as do humans with ADHD. But the same doses given to a group of normal mice made them hyperactive. When the researchers measured dopamine levels in the brains of the two groups of mice after the dosing, the normal mice had increased levels of dopamine at the impulse exchange points, but the altered mice did not. This meant that Ritalin could not be working by increasing dopamine levels. So the researchers turned to two other neurotransmitters, giving the mice various drugs known to either inactivate or enhance those signaling chemicals. The breakthrough came when the researchers gave the altered mice a dose of fluoxetine (Prozac), which is known to boost serotonin levels. The drug had a dramatic calming, focusing effect on the mice, as measured by their ability to navigate a maze that had previously stymied them.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Study Shifts Thought On How Ritalin Works (A slightly longer version in the Orange County Register is identified as coming from Scripps Howard News Service.) Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 10:26:23 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: US: Study Shifts Thought On How Ritalin Works Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: John W. Black Source: Orange County Register (CA) Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register Website: http://www.ocregister.com/ Contact: email@example.com Pubdate: 15 Jan 1999 Author: Lee Bowman - Scripps Howard News service STUDY SHIFTS THOUGHT ON HOW RITALIN WORKS Medicine: The drug's effect on serotonin-not dopamine-helps manage hyperactivity, researchers say. Millions of Americans young and old take daily doses of Ritalin and other stimulants because the drugs paradozically seem to control their hyperactivity and inattention. Until recently, most scientists had thought that the stimulants worked by somehow shorting out the brain's sensitivity to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which promotes arousal and activity and which stimulants rev up. But a new study published in today's journal Science points to a completely deferent way that low doses of stimulants may act to calm hyperactivity. It appears that the drugs actually work by boosting production of another brain chemical - serotonin - that regulates mood and inhibits aggressive and impulsive behavior, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Although their study was limited to genetically altered mice, the scientists belive the same situation exists in people. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is caused as much by having too little serotonin in the brain as by having too much dopamine. "This suggests that rather than acting directly on dopamine, the stimulants create a calming effect by increasing serotonin levels," said Marc Caron, a brain researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratories at Duke and a co-author of the study. He and his colleagues believe their findings could open the way for hyperactivity disorders to be treated with a new class of drugs that selectively turn up serotonin production without using stimulants, which can have side effects and are feared by some experts to put children at risk for later drug abuse. "We've always thought of ADHD as a function of too much activity in the brain, and it is. But it also appears to be a function of the brain's failure to inhibit impulses and thoughts that we all have, but which we are typically able to control," said Dr. Raul Gainetdinov, a research associate in the department of cell biology at Duke and co-author of the study. The researchers were able to identify the brain's balancing act through a series of tests involving mice that had been genetically altered so that they lack a protein that serves to mop up dopamine after it has been used to transmit impulses between nerve endings in the brain. The mice behaved in a hyper, impulsive and inattentive manner, but responded with calmness and focus to a dose of Ritalin or cocaine, just as do humans with ADHD. But the same doses given to a group of normal mice made them hyperactive. When they measured dopamine levels in the brains of the two groups of mice after the dosing, the normal mice had increased levels of dopamine at the impulse-exchange points, but the altered mice did not. That meant Ritalin couldn't be working by increasing dopamine levels. So the researchers turned to two other neurotransmitters, giving the mice various drugs known to either inactivate or enhance those signaling chemicals. The breakthrough came when the researchers gave the altered mice a dose of fluoxetine, or Prozac, which boosts serotonin levels. The drug had a dramatic calming, focusing effect on the mice, as measured by their ability to navigate a maze that had previously stymied them. The same effect was obtained with several other drugs that either make nerve cells more responsive to serotonin or boost production.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Research outlines how drugs calm kids (The Associated Press version) From: "Bob Owen@W.H.E.N." (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: "_Drug Policy --" (email@example.com) Subject: Research outlines how drugs calm kids Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 19:07:14 -0800 Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Posted at 06:25 a.m. PST; Friday, January 15, 1999 Research outlines how drugs calm kids by The Associated Press WASHINGTON - Medical science now may know how the drugs taken daily by millions of American children to calm hyperactivity affect the brain. New research in mice suggests that drugs such as Ritalin quiet hyperactivity by boosting the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. A study was appearing today in the journal Science. Between 3 percent and 6 percent of American school-age children suffer from a condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Many adults also have the disorder. People with ADHD are restless and impulsive, and have difficulty concentrating. Drugs such as Ritalin and Dexedrine have a calming effect, but their action has been poorly understood. Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers at Duke University discovered the serotonin action of Ritalin by eliminating the possibility that the drug was acting on other brain chemicals. They used a laboratory mouse strain that had been genetically manipulated to lack a key protein in the processing of dopamine, another neurotransmitter. Such mice have symptoms similar to those of ADHD. When the mice lacking normal dopamine were given Ritalin, they were calmed, proving that the drug was not acting on dopamine. The researchers then blocked the effects of norepinephrine, another brain chemical, but this had no effect on the ADHD symptoms. Finally, the researchers gave the mice Prozac, a drug that inhibits the action of serotonin. The ADHD symptoms declined dramatically in the mice. The results, said the researchers, show that Ritalin acts on the serotonin levels in the brain by restoring a proper balance between serotonin and other natural brain chemicals.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Tajikistan, Rakhmonov To Speak On Drugs (Itar-Tass, in Russia, says Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov will address the nation on Friday on the problem of illegal drugs, which has acquired immense scope in the Central Asian republic.) Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 12:37:09 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Tajikistan: Wire: Tajikistan, Rakhmonov To Speak On Drugs Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 Source: ITAR-TASS (Russia) Copyright: 1999 ITAR-TASS. TAJIKISTAN RAKHMONOV TO SPEAK ON DRUGS PROBLEM. DUSHANBE - Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov will address the nation on Friday on the problem of illegal drugs which has acquired immense scope in the Central Asian republic. The address is to be made at the conference "Drug-free Tajikistan" in Dushanbe which is organised by the state commission on drugs control and the special UNO programme. It is to be attended by foreign ambassadors and international representatives accredited in Tajikistan. Tajik drug trafficking poses a serious threat to Russia. Early this year Moscow customs confiscated six kilogrammes of heroin which arrived from Dushanbe to the Domodedovo airport. Five Tajiks were detained on suspicion of drug trafficking. Before new year 800 grams of heroin were confiscated in the same Moscow airport.
------------------------------------------------------------------- Two Hang For Drug Trafficking (Reuters says the staunchly anti-drug city-state of Singapore hanged two of its citizens Friday for trafficking in an unspecified drug. More than half of the 300 people executed in Singapore since 1975 have been convicted drug traffickers. Singapore mandates the death sentence for anyone over 18 guilty of trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin, 30 grams of morphine or 500 grams of cannabis.) Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 06:04:40 -0800 From: email@example.com (MAPNews) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: MN: Singapore: Two Hang For Drug Trafficking Sender: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: Media Awareness Project http://www.mapinc.org/lists/ Newshawk: General Pulaski Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 Source: Reuters Copyright: 1999 Reuters Limited. TWO SINGAPOREANS HANG FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING Singapore hanged two men for drug trafficking on Friday, a prison official said. The official declined to give more details about the two Singaporeans. It was the first hanging this year in the staunchly anti-drug city-state, where more than half of the 300 people hanged since 1975 have been convicted drug traffickers. Singapore's tough anti-drug laws include a mandatory death sentence for anyone over 18 guilty of trafficking more than 15 grams (half an ounce) of heroin, 30 grams (an ounce) of morphine or 500 grams (18 ounces) of cannabis.
------------------------------------------------------------------- The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue No. 74 (The Drug Reform Coordination Network's original compilation of news and calls to action regarding drug policy, including - 10th Circuit overturns Singleton ruling: feds may trade leniency for testimony; "Snitch"; Voice of the prisoner; Forfeiture scandal in Missouri; Report: prohibition and public health; Health emergency 1999; City of Oakland files states' rights brief in defense of cannabis co-op; Peyote foundation tests patience of local law enforcement, may test Arizona religious freedom law; and an editorial by Adam J. Smith: Buying testimony, perverting justice) Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 03:02:07 -0500 To: email@example.com From: DRCNet (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue #74 Sender: email@example.com The Week Online with DRCNet, Issue #74 - January 15, 1998 A Publication of the Drug Reform Coordination Network -------- PLEASE COPY AND DISTRIBUTE -------- (To sign off this list, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org with the line "signoff drc-natl" in the body of the message, or mailto:email@example.com for assistance. To subscribe to this list, visit http://www.drcnet.org/signup.html.) (This issue can be also be read on our web site at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html. Check out the DRCNN weekly radio segment at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/.) PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of The Week Online is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: Drug Reform Coordination Network, 2000 P St., NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Articles of a purely educational nature in The Week Online appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted. FREE WILL FOSTER! See our alert and web site at http://www.drcnet.org/foster/ and act if you haven't already! Gov. Keating must make a decision THIS MONTH, so please don't wait. EXTRA CREDIT: Print out one or more of the prison caseworkers' supporting Foster's parole and fax them to Gov. Keating! Phone, fax, e-mail and mailing address all online at the above web site -- e-mail us at email@example.com if you need us to e-mail you a copy of the alert. The Week Online archives have been updated -- check out http://www.drcnet.org/wol/archives.html and browse the happenings of the last year and a half. We are now also offering archived copies of the DRCNN radio show (preview versions, broadcast quality available on request), linked from the DRCNN page at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/. TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. 10th Circuit Overturns Singleton Ruling: Feds May Trade Leniency for Testimony http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#singleton 2. SNITCH http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#snitch 3. Voice of the Prisoner http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#voice 4. Forfeiture Scandal in Missouri http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#missouri 5. REPORT: Prohibition and Public Health http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#drucker 6. Health Emergency 1999 http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#emergency 7. City of Oakland Files States' Rights Brief in Defense of Cannabis Co-op http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#oakland 8. Peyote Foundation Tests Patience of Local Law Enforcement, May Test Arizona Religious Freedom Law http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#peyote 9. EDITORIAL: Buying Testimony, Perverting Justice http://www.drcnet.org/wol/074.html#editorial *** 1. 10th Circuit Overturns Singleton Ruling: Feds May Trade Leniency for Testimony In a decision that clearly pleased federal prosecutors, the full 12-member 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision of a 3-judge panel from that court on the issue of trading leniency for testimony in federal cases. The decision was 9-3, with the original three judges dissenting. At issue was the common practice of offering leniency, including the dropping of charges, in return for the "right" testimony against others. The practice is nearly universal in federal drug cases, where it is not uncommon for numerous defendants to be sentenced to long sentences on the word of an informant alone. The three judge panel who rendered the original decision ruled that federal law, which states that "Whoever... directly or indirectly, gives, offers, or promises anything of value to any person, for or because of the testimony under oath or affirmation given or to be given by such person as a witness upon a trial... before any court... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both" -- applies to the government as well as to defendants and civil litigants. They equated the practice of the government as akin to bribery, holding the futures of cooperating witnesses over their heads to be determined based on the "nature and extent" of that witness' cooperation. Such a ruling would have impacted literally thousands of federal drug cases. That ruling was quickly set aside and a hearing en banc (in front of the entire court) was scheduled. The government's argument was that the statute does not apply to federal prosecutors, who, acting in the name of the government itself, are not included in the term "whoever". The full court agreed with the government on this point, and further found that it was not the intent of congress to outlaw this common federal prosecutorial practice. Nora Callahan, director of the November Coalition, an organization which advocates on behalf of drug war prisoners and their families, told The Week Online that the issue is far from closed. "In the months since the original decision by the three- judge panel, there have been similar decisions handed down in the 4th, 5th, 8th and 11th circuits. This indicates that there are many federal judges who are deeply disturbed by the practice of trading freedom for testimony. The incentive to lie, to tell the feds exactly what they want to hear, is overwhelming. Today, in America, there are literally thousands of people who are sitting in prison based on the bought testimony alone, with no other evidence against them. It is an affront to justice, and to humanity itself. And it's important for people to remember that this can happen to anyone, to anyone's child. If your eighteen year-old has a friend who is arrested on a drug charge, your child, regardless of whether he has done anything wrong or not, could easily be "named", and sent to prison, conceivably for life." Eric Sterling, President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, told The Week Online that while the 10th Circuit decided the case upon the narrow issue of the federal bribery statute, there is a broader and more important question to be resolved. "The general oversight power of the bench is to ensure that justice is done," said Sterling. "Therefore, the broader question involves the integrity of the courts. 'Is this fair? Is such testimony dependable?' Ultimately, it is not." "By offering such testimony to the court, prosecutors make an unwarranted vouching of authenticity. That in itself operates as a fraud upon the court. They (federal prosecutors) are putting forth testimony that they want to believe, that they hope is true. But such testimony is inherently suspect, and it is usually offered without substantial corroborating evidence. Such testimony, given under threat of imprisonment, ought to be generally prohibited, and allowed only in cases where it can be substantially corroborated." (The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation is online at http://www.cjpf.org. The November Coalition is online at http://www.november.org. See our original story from the Singleton case, featuring interviews with Sonya Singleton's attorney, John Van Wachtel, and National Association of Defense Lawyers spokesman Jack King, on our web site at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/068.html#testimony.) *** 2. SNITCH If you didn't have an opportunity to see "SNITCH" this week on PBS' Frontline, you missed one of the most powerful indictments of bought testimony, and of the drug war itself, ever to be shown on American TV. Check out the PBS web site at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/snitch/ for a primer on mandatory minimums and their history, pro/con arguments, background readings, case studies, discussion and more. One of the featured interviewees is Eric Sterling, a member of DRCNet's advisory board, quoted in the previous story. Videos can be ordered by calling 1-800-PLAY-PBS -- but call soon, they've gotten so many orders that they're backed up till February already. Ask them for the paperwork to get permission to show the tape at meetings of your local civic groups, or invite your friends or families over for a private showing. E-mail your comments and compliments to firstname.lastname@example.org. *** 3. Voice of the Prisoner The November Coalition announces the release of their long- awaited "Prisoner Audio CD," featuring 24 recorded messages from Drug War Prisoners and family members. The Prisoner Audio CD is available for $11 postage paid or $10 for $70, free to radio stations. Hear preview clips on the November web site at http://www.november.org/prisoncd.html. Comes with a three-page booklet of facts and figures. Send checks or money orders to: The November Coalition, 795 S. Cedar, Colville, WA 99114. To get involved in the CD distribution effort or find more information, contact project coordinator John Humphrey, email@example.com. The Prisoner Audio CD was funded by a grant from the Drug Policy Foundation. *** 4. Forfeiture Scandal in Missouri Lawmakers in Missouri are scrambling to revise the state's rules about police handling of assets seized in drug cases, after a five-part expose in the Kansas City Star earlier this month alleged that local police were diverting millions of dollars in seized cash and other assets that were supposed to go into the state's school coffers. Under Missouri's civil forfeiture laws, forfeited assets must be turned over to public schools. But according to the Star story, Missouri police have made prodigious use of a loophole in the law which allows them to turn the assets over to federal law enforcement agencies, which as a rule return 80-90% of the money to the local police. The Star said it was unable to confirm the precise amount of money siphoned off from schools in this manner, because both local and federal law enforcement agencies refuse to release exact figures. But the paper trail the Star was able to assemble from police reports, as well as from court documents in cases where school districts have sued their local police departments to recover the funds, has led their estimates to millions, perhaps tens of millions of dollars. Response from the state legislature was as varied as it was immediate. One proposal would prohibit police from turning over any seized assets to federal agencies, while another bill proposes to cut the feds out of the picture but allow the police to keep all of the money. Many legislators are supporting a bill that would split the take between schools and police 50-50. State Representative Craig Hosmer (D- Springfield) was quoted by the Star as saying that educators who had resisted such a compromise in the past were beginning to warm to the idea because they realize that "fifty percent is better than nothing." DRCNet spoke with Tom Gordon, president of Forfeiture Endangers American Rights (FEAR), who said the police behavior described in the Star story is "typical" of police agencies involved with civil forfeiture. "It's ironic that the law enforcement agencies claim to be going after people for crimes such as money laundering, when that's essentially what the police are doing themselves with the assets they seize. Their behavior is strikingly similar to organized crime, where the money is taken by force and then laundered through the federal government, which retains a processing fee but otherwise hands them back the cash free and clear. Then you have the state legislature acting like a crime victim on behalf of its citizens, trying to bribe the police by saying 'we'll give you fifty percent' in order to get what their schools are legally entitled to. It's like they're offering to pay protection money." It is unclear who will prevail in Missouri. Some law enforcement representatives have said they will fight any plan that nets them less than what they get now from the DEA and the FBI, but the Star's expose has already become a public relations nightmare for the police, both for the specifics of the case in Missouri and for the attention it draws to civil forfeiture in general. "Hopefully," says Gordon, "this will result in a lot of information becoming public as citizens become outraged at these abuses by the police." Learn more about civil forfeiture at the FEAR web site, http://www.fear.org. Read the Kansas City Star story at http://www.kcstar.com/projects/drugforfeit/. (Tom Gordon has been interviewed for this week's Drug Reform Coordination Network News radio show, online at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/ from late Friday afternoon.) *** 5. REPORT: Prohibition and Public Health The lead article of the January/February issue of Public Health Reports, the official Journal of the U.S. Public Health Service, argues that increasing U.S. drug enforcement has driven increased overdose deaths and drug-related emergencies. According to Excite News, the author, Dr. Ernest Drucker, professor of epidemiology and director of the division of community health at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said "While our government officials claim success in reducing drug use, drug-related deaths and diseases have increased sharply. That's the best measure of the impact of our drug policies and they are failing." From 1978 to 1994, drug-related emergency room visits rose by 60 percent, from 323,100 annually to 518,500, and overdoses increased by 400 percent, from 2,500 to 10,000, according to the report. Drucker further explained that Hispanics and African Americans are far more likely to be arrested for drug- related offenses and suffer a higher rate of emergencies and overdose deaths than whites, despite using drugs at the same rates. Dr. Drucker's article is available online in PDF format at http://www.of-course.com/drugrealities/. The excite.com Health New article is available online at http://nt.excite.com/news/u/990113/13/health-drugpolicy. For a qualitative discussion of the role of prohibition in damaging public health, check out our editorial from the October 1995 Activist Guide newsletter, online at http://www.drcnet.org/guide10-95/minimize.html. (Ernest Drucker has been interviewed for this week's Drug Reform Coordination Network News radio show, online at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/ from late Friday afternoon.) *** 6. Health Emergency 1999 One of the public health consequences of prohibition is the spread of HIV through sharing of syringes. Read the latest information on the epidemic of injection-related AIDS, with a focus on the disproportionate impact of the problem on the African American and Latino communities, in the Health Emergency 1999 report from the Dogwood Center, online at http://www.drcnet.org/healthemergency/. *** 7. City of Oakland Files States' Rights Brief in Defense of Cannabis Co-op The city of Oakland filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief on Monday (1/11) arguing that federal law does not, as the federal government has argued, always trump state law, under the 9th and 10th amendments of the Constitution. The brief was filed in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of the cannabis co-op, which is appealing an October 19th order by District Court Judge Charles Breyer that the club be closed. The club has since been reopened, but it is no longer providing marijuana to its patient-members. Instead, it is offering grow tips and related merchandise, trying to raise money for its defense. The city of Oakland has long allied itself with the club during this fight with the federal government; at one point, the city even "deputized" the club's personnel as officers of the city in an attempt to take advantage of a loophole in the federal controlled substances act. The city's brief calls the federal law on medicinal marijuana "legislated truths" and that the voters of California have deemed, by their vote, that access to medicinal cannabis to be "a fundamental liberty interest." Jeff Jones, the club's founder and director, is hopeful. "We feel that the 9th and 10th amendment arguments are very strong in this case. We're also extremely pleased that even after we've been shut down by the feds, the city is still behind us 100%, and that they have been willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure that the citizens of Oakland who are suffering from AIDS, cancer, glaucoma and other serious ailments have safe, legal access to their treatment of choice." *** 8. Peyote Foundation Tests Patience of Local Law Enforcement, May Test Arizona Religious Freedom Law Leonard Mercado says all he wants to do is live a simple life. But life became much more complicated for him and his family last Friday, when local law enforcement agents arrived on his doorstep in Kearny, Arizona to serve a warrant for unpaid child support payments, and left the next day with more than 11,000 peyote cacti. According to Mercado, the officers who served the warrant for unpaid child support (which Mercado settled that day) were members of the local narcotics task force. A spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff's Department could not confirm this. Police reports say that in the process of serving the warrant, an officer noticed the peyote, which was housed in greenhouses on Mercado's property. The officers then obtained a search warrant and confiscated the plants, but as of press time had not decided whether to press criminal charges. Mercado is the director of The Peyote Foundation, a private non-profit organization whose stated mission is to educate the public about the spiritual significance of peyote and to promote the plant's genetic diversity through cultivation and conservation. This is the third time in four years that local authorities have seized peyote from Mercado. In 1995, Pinal County Attorney Richard Figueroa declined to prosecute Mercado for possessing 2,000 plants, and returned the peyote to the Foundation. Two years later a new County Prosecutor, Robert Carter Olson, refused to return to Mercado a single peyote button, known as a "chief" or "grandfather" peyote, that had been seized from Mercado's medicine bag. Mercado went to court to have the peyote returned to him, but the judge in the case denied his claim, saying that Mercado had failed to prove he had a legitimate claim to possess peyote under Arizona law. Under the federal Religious Freedom Act, only members of the Native American Church are exempted from prosecution for possessing peyote. But the Arizona law is broader, allowing a defense from prosecution by anyone who can prove that the peyote is used in connection with "a bona fide practice of a religious belief, and as an integral part of a religious exercise, and in a manner not dangerous to public health or safety." Mercado says that he and his family are members of the Native American Church, but the judge in the 1997 civil case had not believed him. This week, a spokesman for the Church confirmed that the Mercados are in fact members and that religious ceremonies are performed at the Foundation, and has been negotiating with the county attorney's office for the release of the plants. For its part, the county attorney's office, still under the direction of Robert Carter Olson, has taken pains to assure the public that the sacred plants will be treated respectfully. Mercado told DRCNet that Olson's office has indicated its willingness to release the plants into the care of the Church, but not if they will ultimately be returned to Mercado. Olson's public affairs spokesman did not return calls for comment on the case. Many of the people DRCNet spoke with in researching this story said that while Mercado's cultivation of peyote is unorthodox by the traditions of the Native American Church, which generally hold that peyote must be found and harvested in the wild, his earnest belief in the sacred uses of the plant is obvious to anyone who knows him or visits his property. Richard Glen Boire, an attorney in Davis, California and editor of The Entheogen Law Reporter, said, "What's really frustrating about this is there's no question that the Mercados are sincere religious users of peyote. His entire lifestyle is steeped in a reverence for peyote, so there's no question about his sincerity, and that's really the only issue under Arizona's exemption. It appears to me that this is another instance of government trumping individual rights, and indeed the preeminent right of the freedom of religion in order to wage this monstrosity of a war on drugs." Mercado said he believes the Peyote Foundation is a thorn in the side of the county attorney's office. "We're not evangelists here but we're also not doing anything in secret," he said from his home this week, "and I've heard throught he grapevine how Robert Carter Olson how he's not going to have the Peyote Foundation existing in his county." Mercado is prepared for a court battle, he says, and would like to see the issue settled. But, he said, "I don't think this can really get fixed in the courtroom. For me it gets fixed in the ceremony. I've already settled my heart, but these guys don't know about that. So I'm going to have to go in there and play that game, even though for me it's just not the jurisdiction that I seek my justice in." In his 1997 decision denying Mercado's civil claim, the judge wrote that Mercado had "demonstrated himself to be an addicted user of peyote" who presented himself "as some carny offering cotton candy for any and all to use." But Mercado says that is not what he, or the Foundation, is about. "We're not here because we believe that peyote is for everybody," he said, "and that's why I believe that this threat that we seem to pose is really nonexistent. Because we're not out trying to get people to eat peyote, we're simply trying to preserve the species and live a simple and a good life." The Peyote Foundation is updating its web site daily throughout this crisis. You can read about it, and learn more about the Foundation's practices at http://www.peyote.net. (Leonard Mercado and Richard Glen Boire have been interviewed for this week's Drug Reform Coordination Network News radio show, online at http://www.drcnet.org/drcnn/ from late Friday afternoon.) *** 9. EDITORIAL: Buying Testimony, Perverting Justice Adam J. Smith, DRCNet Associate Director, firstname.lastname@example.org This week, the full twelve-member panel of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it is in fact legal for federal prosecutors to trade leniency, or even freedom, for testimony in criminal cases. The court reasoned that Congress, in outlawing the offer of "anything of value" in exchange for testimony, never meant the law to apply to federal prosecutors. And in fact, such exchanges have been an integral part of federal drug cases for quite some time. The 10th Circuit is probably correct in its assessment of Congressional intent. Where the court erred, however, was in its unwillingness to confront a practice that, in the name of the Drug War, has destroyed countless lives and corrupted the very principles of justice on which the Republic was founded. The issue, then, is not one of the intent of the legislature, or a technical reading of the federal bribery statute, but whether or not such inducements, which provide an overwhelming incentive to lie, are commensurate with basic fairness and due process. Federal prosecutors, armed with a combination of draconian federal sentencing guidelines, broadly interpreted conspiracy laws, and the power to grant leniency to those who testify "well", have in their hands a power so singular as to be virtually dictatorial in nature. Once a prosecutor can make a case, generally a drug case, against a single individual, that person is offered the following deal: "We have enough evidence to charge you with crimes that carry sentences of (insert number, add zeroes) under federal law. We are going to make sure that you serve every day of those sentences unless you give us names, as many as you can, of people who you will swear are involved with drugs, and we will, if we deem your testimony sufficiently "cooperative", let you off with a slap on the wrist, or with no penalty at all." Some people do elect not to cooperate. And some people are načve enough to believe that they cannot cooperate simply because they don't have any information to give. Many people, however, given this choice, will tell the prosecutors, and the jury, anything that the government wants to hear. Nora Callahan of the November Coalition, a non-profit organization working with drug war prisoners and their families, says that there are thousands upon thousands of Americans who are serving long prison terms based solely on the word of a snitch, someone whose freedom is at stake pending the "helpfulness" of their testimony. Our system of criminal justice is based upon the principles of due process, which demand that two sides, operating under the same set of rules, advocate their positions before a trier of fact. A process determinative of the liberty of an individual under the laws of a free society demands no less. When one side, however, is permitted an advantage that tilts the scales of justice dramatically, then the system is corrupted. The ability of the prosecution to pay-off witnesses, in the coin of their own liberty, in return for the "right" testimony is just such a corruption. Today, across America, thousands of our citizens sit idly behind bars, serving draconian sentences, often without any possibility of ever walking free, for no other reason but that someone else was bribed to give testimony against them. Tens of thousands of others, bit players on the fringes of criminal activity, serve long sentences while more culpable individuals who testified against them walk free. There is no societal crusade, least of which a drug war that has over a period of decades done nothing to reduce the availability of drugs, that can justify this outrage. It is an affront to the very meaning of the word "American". This week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals chose to ignore the fact that sworn testimony is being bought and coerced, on a regular basis, by U.S. prosecutors. Under their ruling, apparently, justice is whatever the government deems it to be. *** DRCNet needs your support! Donations can be sent to 2000 P St., NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC 20036, or made by credit card at http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html. Donations to the Drug Reform Coordination Network are not tax-deductible. Deductible contributions supporting our educational work can be made by check to the DRCNet Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax- exempt organization, same address. *** DRCNet *** GATEWAY TO REFORM PAGE http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/ DRCNet HOME PAGE http://www.drcnet.org/ DRUG POLICY LIBRARY http://www.druglibrary.org/ JOIN/MAKE A DONATION http://www.drcnet.org/drcreg.html REFORMER'S CALENDAR http://www.drcnet.org/calendar.html SUBSCRIBE TO THIS LIST http://www.drcnet.org/signup.html -------------------------------------------------------------------
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