In a policy turning point, the Obama administration is ending its pre-emptive marijuana prohibition policy towards states like Colorado and Washington states where legalization measures have been approved by voters. The decision is a victory for those opposing the multi-billion dollar militarized War on Drugs.
The Peace Exchange Bulletin
Published by Tom Hayden, The Peace Exchange Bulletin is a reader-supported journal, critically following the Pentagon's Long War in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, as well as the failed U.S. wars on drugs and gangs, and U.S. military responses to nationalism and poverty around the world.
As the hunger strike against solitary confinement in California prisons enters a critical sixth week, Governor Jerry Brown is preparing to force-feed scores of inmates rather than meet any of their demands for improved conditions. Since the governor declared “the California prison crisis is over” last January, the crisis has only deepened, with the hunger strikers nearing the door of death.
The Obama administration lacks a public mandate for escalation in Syria. While the elites seem gripped by war fever, "barely one in four Americans back attacking Syria even if it’s proven poison gas was used on civilians.” And only ten percent of the British public favors sending even small weapons to Syria. Never in the decade of the War on Terrorism has the gap between elites and the public been wider. On the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, the public mood is decidedly set on domestic priorities.
I took a bus from Harlem, New York, the morning of March 28, 1963, with friends from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Northern Student Movement. We left about sunrise and the bus was filled with energized black people from the city. I was part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in spirit, because I had been living in Georgia the previous two years and had been both a Freedom Rider and a pamphleteer for SDS. We were riding on a wave. Never before had I been among so many marchers and activists from all over.
Any hopes for the Obama administration winding down its drone strikes and Global War on Terrorism policy framework and concentrating on domestic priorities are in danger of being suddenly derailed, for reasons that are unclear.
When Secretary of State John Kerry described Egypt’s military coup as restoring democracy, it was a classic example of the periodic bond that exists between liberals and military dictators against those they perceive to be the dangerous classes. Their reasoning is that their version of democracy can only be restored when their enemies are eliminated, even if the enemy has won an election.
At least 300 inmates are now several weeks into a fast that could soon lead to organ failure and death for many of them. Events are moving rapidly, but as I write, nothing has been resolved. And, as California corrections chief Jeffrey Beard made clear recently in an Op-Ed for this newspaper, the sides are far apart.
Word from within is that California’s prison hunger strikers have been studying the Irish hunger strike of 1981 led by Bobby Sands, in which ten Irish republicans died because of the stubborn refusal of Margaret Thatcher to recognize them as human.
The ruling by federal judge Shira A. Scheindlin against New York’s stop-and-frisk policing is the equivalent of Brown v. Board of Education applied to unconstitutional policing. Coupled with Attorney General Eric Holder’s order to end mandatory minimum sentencing for minor drug offenders, the new policies are a huge victory for critics of the mass incarceration resulting from decades of politically inspired wars on gangs and drugs.