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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Six states plus DC included referendums or initiatives on their 2020 ballots that would liberalize drug laws. Mississippi’s Measure 1B would legalize medical marijuana. Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey, had ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana. South Dakota was given both choices: Amendment A to legalize recreational marijuana, and Measure 26 to legalize medical marijuana. Going even further in an attempt to end the disastrous war on drugs, Washington DC’s Initiative 81 decriminalized plant and fungi-based psychedelics, while Oregon’s Measure 110 decriminalized all drugs and directed new revenue towards drug addiction treatment.

Every single one of these measures passed. But based on election results as they stand at the time of writing, they didn’t just win, they won big. In South Dakota, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 56 years, the majority of voters approved both medical and recreational marijuana. Excluding DC, all six of these politically diverse states supported drug reform measures by a larger margin than they supported Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.


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Made with www.neverendingchartrendering.org

The 2010's was the best decade in horror since the 1980's. These last ten years have produced a veritable library of creative, terrifying, and visionary movies that will influence future filmmakers for years to come. Furthermore, just like the 80's, a tumultuous political environment has opened the door for horror to explore the world in new depth, using the genre to probe into a broad array of social and cultural themes: war, misogyny, drug abuse, environmental destruction, disability, racism, sexuality, religion, immigration, extremism, and more. What has changed, however, is that horror is now also taking a deep look at itself, questioning its own approaches and traditions in unpredictable and exciting ways. …


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This post was updated on October 13, 2020.

The Americas Blog featured a post last week about the growing wave of election interference and misinformation campaigns sweeping Latin America, especially as a tool of right-wing governments and political movements. As these digital operations have grown in popularity, so has the market for firms to organize them. In particular, new details about the recent Latin American operations of a US public relations firm called CLS Strategies illustrate that Americans are not just on the receiving end of manipulative social media campaigns, but are participants in them as well.

There is a long history of “crisis public relations (PR)” firms taking contracts with foreign governments or opposition movements, lobbying on their behalf or otherwise helping them “improve their image” in Washington. But on September 1st, Facebook announced its removal of “55 Facebook accounts, 42 Pages and 36 Instagram accounts” which were linked to the DC-based CLS Strategies, the first time that such action has been taken against a US PR firm. …


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Many people in the US first became aware of the problem of election interference on social media when allegations emerged of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 US elections through the dissemination of “fake news” on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. But as we learn more about the phenomenon, it is becoming increasingly clear that dishonest social media campaigns are a global issue, and that many private and government actors are now routinely using disinformation campaigns to influence elections. Indeed, in Latin America, such tactics have already become a go-to strategy for many right-wing movements and governments.

Earlier this month, Buzzfeed reported on a memo written by a Facebook data scientist-turned-whistleblower that provides new details on Facebook’s haphazard approach towards identifying manipulative political campaigns on their platform. The whistleblower, Sophie Zhang, noted that when Facebook enforce its rules, it focused on “harm and priority regions like the United States and Western Europe” where political interference campaigns were most likely to spark public issues for the company. When these campaigns were spotted in smaller countries with less Western news coverage, Facebook “simply didn’t care enough to stop them.” One manager at Facebook joked to Zhang that “most of the world outside the West was effectively the Wild West with [her] as the part-time…


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The nationwide protests against police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd have reignited debates over American policing. But the state response to the protests has also raised the question of where exactly “domestic” law enforcement stops and starts. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), an organization which describes its mission as “safeguard[ing] America’s borders,” has stated that it is deploying its officers around the country to help contain the protests. They are among officials from a wide variety of agencies serving as police on the streets of Washington, D.C. right now, many of which have no identifying insignia at all. Though the CBP’s mandate is to police borders, it has the authority to conduct operations anywhere within 100 miles of a U.S. border, an area encompassing about two-thirds of the American population. …


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On May 31, hundreds of people in Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in Brazil, protesters around the world in marching against police brutality. While the protest was in solidarity with the wave of Black Lives Matter protests in the US following the killing of George Floyd, Brazilian protesters were marching against their own police brutality problem as well. The state of Rio de Janeiro has one of the highest rates of police violence on Earth, with an average of five killings of civilians each day during the first four months of this year. …


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The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Latin America could be potentially devastating, according to a new Special Report by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The report, based on the available data in mid-April, has estimated a -5.3 percent drop for the region’s GDP growth in 2020 — the largest in the region’s history. …


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On April 22nd, President Trump signed an Executive Order putting a 60-day halt on the issuance of new green cards to immigrants admissible for permanent residency in the United States. This measure, coming on the back of other government measures restricting legal immigration, ostensibly seeks to protect the US from imported cases of COVID-19. But while Trump endeavors to block nearly all immigration into the US, his administration has been exporting the virus to countries that have extremely limited capacity and resources to deal with pandemics.

As the coronavirus crisis has unfolded, the Trump administration has continued deportation flights of undocumented migrants to Central America and the Caribbean, all while openly threatening countries that push back. The results are tragic and predictable: there are now multiple instances of the US deporting immigrants with active COVID-19 cases to countries with under-resourced public health care systems that are already strained by the pandemic. In doing so, the Trump administration is not just putting the lives of immigrants and Latin Americans at risk, but those of people around the world. …


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Though COVID-19 was slow to appear in worrying numbers in Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of infected people in the region is now rising rapidly. Between March 1 and April 1, total confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Latin America rose from 5 to 25,500. In the first half of April, that number nearly tripled to 75,200. The US currently has the highest rate of reported COVID-19 cases per capita of any country in the Western Hemisphere, but this may be primarily because it saw its first case weeks earlier. …


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Since the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez took power in early November 2019, the human rights situation in Bolivia has significantly deteriorated. Various government actions have been strongly criticized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Organization of American States (OAS), and over 850 public figures and scholars. …

About

Brett

Writer on politics, public policy, and current events. All opinions here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of employers past or present.

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