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OAS: Is the war on drugs a failure?

Caribbean & C. American Drug Traffiking

Antigua, June 5.─ Four decades after Washington launched its international "war on drugs" in Latin America (the U.S. no longer uses that term), members of the Organization of American States' General Assembly are questioning the logic behind what is increasingly viewed in the region as a failed policy.

In a General Assembly meeting that started Tuesday in the colonial town of Antigua, Guatemala, OAS members will begin to explore alternatives to a strategy focused on military and law enforcement intervention to fight the trafficking of illegal drugs, mostly from South America and destined for users in the United States.

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Turkey protests: Third day of anti-government unrest

  • Thousands set barricades of trees and benches near Prime Minister office
  • Tens of thousands of people have staged a third day of protests in Turkish towns and cities 

Turkey protests June 2013Ankara, June 2.─ Protesters erected barricades near the prime minister's office in Istanbul's Besiktas district, and police responded with water cannon and tear gas.

The protests were sparked by plans to build on an Istanbul park but have broadened into anti-government unrest across the country.

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George Washington, politician

The virtues of the pragmatic founding father are much missed nowadays  George Washington's farewell

June 1.─ A special rogues' gallery at Mount Vernon, George Washington's Virginia estate, displays portraits of three revolutionary leaders who went astray. Julius Caesar, Oliver Cromwell and Napoleon are portrayed as heroes with clay feet who toppled tyrannies only to grab absolute power for themselves. Washington was different, it is asserted. In guides' commentaries and schoolboy-friendly action films (featuring artificial snow flurries and seats that throb with cannon fire) Mount Vernon rams home the message that America's revolutionary commander-in-chief and first president had a genius for well-timed exits. A display depicts him resigning his military commission after biffing the British. The chair in which he decided to retire as president is pointed out as a national treasure. Washington's supreme virtue, it is suggested—greater even than martial derring-do—was knowing when to leave, ensuring his country's future as a civilian republic.

There is something to this: throughout his career, self-abnegation was Washington's shtick. Tall, dashing and posher than most revolutionary leaders, he maintained a pose of "Who, me?" astonishment when called to big jobs, loudly yearning for retirement beneath the "vine and fig tree" at his Virginia estates.

But the conventional view of Washington omits something crucial: he was a politician, too. Read more ...

CHINA: Settlers in Xinjiang circling the wagons

In a region plagued by ethnic strife, the growth of immigrant-dominated settlements is adding to the tension

Last summer's interference in the observance of Ramadan stoked grievances 

Xinjiang colonization

Xinjian, May 25.─ Many hours' drive along what was once the southern Silk Road, through a featureless desert landscape punctuated by swirling dust-devils and occasional gnarled trees, a curious sight eventually confronts the traveller: row upon row of apartment blocks with vivid red roofs, as if a piece of Shanghai suburbia has been planted in the wilderness (see picture). Following the military-style nomenclature of immigrant settlements in China's far west, it calls itself 38th Regiment. It is home to thousands of people, in a spot where just a few years ago there was nothing but sand.

The town is the latest addition to a vast network of such communities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China's biggest province by land area and also its most ethnically troubled. Neighbouring Tibet has long been roiled by ethnic tension, too, but rarely has it witnessed the kind of violence that has troubled Xinjiang: a low-level insurgency involving ethnic Uighurs whose Muslim faith and Central Asian culture and language set them apart from the Han Chinese who dominate places like 38th Regiment. Read more ...

EU lifts arms embargo on Syrian rebels

EU meeting on lifting arms embargo to Syria Brussels, May 28.─ European foreign ministers have lifted an arms embargo on Syria, paving the way for individual EU member states to provide weapons to the Syrian rebels.

The foreign ministers met in Brussels on Monday to bridge their differences over the issue, with Britain and France pushing to allow European governments to deliver arms.

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