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Jamaica Passes Act Decriminalizing Small Amounts of Pot

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In this Aug. 28, 2014 file photo, legalization advocate and reggae legend Bunny Wailer smokes a pipe stuffed with marijuana during a “reasoning” session in a yard in Kingston, Jamaica. Jamaica lawmakers on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, passed an act to decriminalize small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the island. (AP Photo/David McFadden, File)

In this Aug. 28, 2014 file photo, legalization advocate and reggae legend Bunny Wailer smokes a pipe stuffed with marijuana during a “reasoning” session in a yard in Kingston, Jamaica. Jamaica lawmakers on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, passed an act to decriminalize small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the island. (AP Photo/David McFadden, File)

DAVID McFADDEN, Associated Press

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaican lawmakers on Tuesday night passed an act to decriminalize small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the Caribbean island.

After several hours of debate, legislators in the lower House on Tuesday gave final passage to drug law amendments that make possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana a petty offense that would not result in a criminal record. Cultivation of five or fewer plants on any premises would be permitted in Jamaica, where the drug has long been culturally entrenched but illegal.

The law paves the way for a “cannabis licensing authority” to be set up to deal with regulations on cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical, scientific and therapeutic purposes.

Rastafarians can also legally use marijuana now for religious purposes for the first time on the tropical island, where the spiritual movement was founded in the 1930s. And tourists who are prescribed medical marijuana abroad will soon be able to apply for permits at a cost authorizing them to legally buy small amounts of Jamaican weed, or “ganja” as it is known locally.

Peter Bunting, the island’s national security minister, said authorization of the law does not mean that Jamaican government plans to soften its stance on transnational drug trafficking or cultivation of illegal plots.

“The passage of this legislation does not create a free-for-all in the growing, transporting, dealing or exporting of ganja. The security forces will continue to rigorously enforce Jamaican law consistent with our international treaty obligations,” Bunting said in Parliament.

William Brownfield, the U.S. assistant secretary for counter-narcotics affairs, told The Associated Press days before the Tuesday vote that “Jamaican law is of course Jamaica’s own business, and Jamaica’s sovereign decision.” But he noted that the trafficking of marijuana into the U.S. remains against the law.

“We expect that Jamaica and all states party to the U.N. Drug Conventions will uphold their obligations, including a firm commitment to combating and dismantling criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking,” he told AP.

For decades, debate has raged in Jamaica over relaxing laws prohibiting ganja. Previous efforts to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have been scuttled because officials feared they would violate international treaties and bring sanctions from Washington.

But emboldened by changes to drug laws in other countries, Jamaican officials now have high hopes that the island could become a player in the nascent medical marijuana industry, health tourism and the development of innovative pot-derived items. Local scientists already have a history of creating marijuana-derived products, such as “Canasol,” which helps relieve pressure in the eyes of glaucoma patients.

On Tuesday, Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton said the industry holds “great potential” for Jamaica, which is laboring under its latest loan program with the International Monetary Fund.

The Tuesday move by Jamaican lawmakers adds to an international trend of easing restrictions on marijuana for medical or personal use. More than 20 U.S. states allow some form of medical marijuana and last year Colorado and Washington legalized personal use. On Tuesday, Alaska became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

In the Americas, Uruguay last year became the first nation to create a legal marijuana market. Other countries in the region have made similar moves to Jamaica. In Argentina, personal possession of marijuana was decriminalized under a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that jail time for small amounts of drugs violates the country’s constitution.

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David McFadden on Twitter: : http://twitter.com/dmcfadd

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Activism

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds Biden Administration for Hosting the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference

Congresswoman Lee was inspired by her predecessor, Congressman Ron Dellums, to establish the framework for the Global Fund. She worked closely with Republican Congressman Jim Leach to get H.Res.3519, the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act of 2000, through the Banking Committee, which was eventually signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000. The legislation was later championed at the United Nations by Secretary General Kofi Annan.

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.

Post News Group Staff

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Barbara Lee applauded President Biden for announcing that the United States will host the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference on Sept. 19, 2022 in New York City. The United States is proud to be a founding contributor of, and the largest single donor to, the Global Fund, having contributed nearly $20 billion since 2002.

Founded in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) is a unique financing mechanism that relies on a dynamic partnership among governments, the private sector, and civil society to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria in ways that contribute to strengthening health systems.

“Over the last two decades, the Global Fund has maintained strong bipartisan support in Congress,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Since the United States became the first country to pledge to it in 2001, the Global Fund partnership has saved over 44 million lives from the three deadliest infectious diseases before COVID-19 arose — AIDS, TB and malaria. Hosting the next Replenishment will speed the world’s progress toward ending these epidemics, while showing U.S. commitment to preventing future pandemics.

“This has been a top priority of mine spanning decades. We must invest in programs like the Global Fund and PEPFAR, which have saved countless lives, contributed to reducing health inequities and protecting human rights and health services for those around the world. As we continue to fight our current public health emergencies and prepare for those in the future, gatherings like the Replenishment Conference are crucial. I applaud President Biden for reaffirming the United States leadership in the fight for an AIDS-free generation.”

President Biden’s FY 2023 budget includes a request for $2 billion for the Global Fund intended to be a first part of a total U.S. $6 billion three-year Seventh Replenishment pledge, to save lives and continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Global Fund raises funds ahead of each three-year grant cycle at replenishment conferences when donors formally pledge their intended contributions. The Seventh Replenishment Conference will raise funds to be used in the 2023-25 grant cycle.

Congresswoman Lee was inspired by her predecessor, Congressman Ron Dellums, to establish the framework for the Global Fund. She worked closely with Republican Congressman Jim Leach to get H.Res.3519, the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act of 2000, through the Banking Committee, which was eventually signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000. The legislation was later championed at the United Nations by Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic Leadership, she is the highest-ranking Black woman in the U.S. Congress.

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Bay Area

Liberian Presidential Candidate Tiawan Gongloe Makes Visit to Bay Area

As the next president of Liberia, Liberian presidential candidate attorney Tiawan Saye Gongloe has unveiled a 10-point plan for “A Better Liberia Agenda” and a 12-point strategy to fight corruption in Liberia, which is chief among his plans. He believes fighting corruption in Liberia will be his biggest challenge due to the characters that he wants to purge.

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Liberian presidential candidate Tiawan Saye Gongloe at the Federal Building in Oakland holding the broom symbolizing his intent to sweep out corruption in his home country.
Liberian presidential candidate Tiawan Saye Gongloe at the Federal Building in Oakland holding the broom symbolizing his intent to sweep out corruption in his home country.

By Uche J. Uwahemu

Liberian presidential candidate attorney Tiawan Saye Gongloe is making a tour of the United States to gather support for his vision of a corruption-free Liberia.

Beginning May 12, Gongloe visited several cities across the U.S., touching base with centers of the Liberian Diaspora, including the Bay Area, where approximately 10,000 Liberians live.

Known as the ‘poor man’s lawyer’ because he has helped protect the rights of the poor and journalists, Gongloe has participated in several meet-and-greets, Town Halls and high-level meetings with government officials, business and community leaders from Atlanta, Ga., to Columbus, Ohio, to Fargo, N.D., and Minneapolis, Minn.

The Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb, Nigerian natives Uche Uwahemu, and Kayode Gbadebo sat down with Gongloe and some of his supporters at the Post’s downtown headquarters to discuss his vision for Liberia on July 13, 2022.

Friends of Gongloe Global, a group formed and dedicated to electing Gongloe to president of Liberia organized his California visit, which included a stop in Antioch. Group member and long-time Liberian civil rights activist Lovetta Tugbe could not contain her enthusiasm and support for Gongloe. “Attorney Gongloe exemplifies what a true public servant is about. He has for decades fought for all Liberians and has on many occasions almost paid with his life. He is the candidate for any Liberian that believes in freedom.”

For decades, Liberia has been plagued by corruption and insecurity. Gongloe sees no end to the suffering and lack of opportunities for the majority of the population. So, he was compelled to run for president.

Now 65, Gongloe has served the Liberian people in other official capacities, among them Minister of Labor and Solicitor General, resigning from his post in 2010.

According to Front Page Africa, “Gongloe has helped in drafting legislation for civil service reform, local government reform, forestry reform law, jury reform, anti-press laws, code of conduct for public officials, land authority act, whistle-blower and witness protection act.”

As a civil rights lawyer, he has devoted most of career to fighting for freedom of speech and equal rights for Liberian people. He has fought to bring to justice the politicians and their supporters that engaged in human rights violations in Liberia.

In addition, he has represented victims of human rights abuses.

Challenging the status quo comes at a high cost and Gongloe has the battle scars to prove it. He has been arrested and imprisoned many times. The civil rights icon has worked with many international organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In 2003, Gongloe was awarded the prestigious John Humphrey Freedom Award by the Canadian government.

As the next president of Liberia, Gongloe has unveiled a 10-point plan for “A Better Liberia Agenda” and a 12-point strategy to fight corruption in Liberia, which is chief among his plans. He believes fighting corruption in Liberia will be his biggest challenge due to the characters that he wants to purge.

He carries a tightly wrapped broom that represents his unwavering commitment to fight and sweep corruption out of Liberia.  “From top to bottom, we must respect and abide by our Constitution. The president should not have the power to change the Constitution whenever she/he feels threatened or uncomfortable with the letter of the law.”

After corruption, Gongloe wants to address education. “Access to quality education is a right, not a privilege,” he said.

In order for Liberian youth and the nation to compete in the global market, Gongloe will make both primary and secondary education free. As a nation, he wants to create economic opportunities for all Liberian and he is using this U.S. tour to meet with business leaders to discuss bilateral synergies.

Gongloe wants to re-establish a mutually beneficial relationship with the United States.  He urged all Liberians across the globe to get involve and retake their country from corrupt politicians.

To learn more or support Gongloe’s presidential campaign and to learn more, contact Dr. Tuwe Mehn and Shad Mongrue (209) 242-1974.

Front Page Africa reports contributed to this story.

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Activism

Protest of Palestinian American Journalist’s Killing by Israeli Police Draws 500 in S.F.

“If you were a Palestinian anywhere around the world who watched the news since the late ’90s, you grew up with Shireen Abu Akleh,” said Sabreen Imtair, a San Francisco State University student and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) member in an interview during the protest. “A lot of people are saying they lost a household member. We are really feeling her loss right now.”

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Protesters march down 16th Street in San Francisco on May 14 to speak out against the Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 74 years of occupation, and USA support of Israel. Photo by Zack Haber.
Protesters march down 16th Street in San Francisco on May 14 to speak out against the Israeli killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 74 years of occupation, and USA support of Israel. Photo by Zack Haber.

By Zack Haber

Starting at noon on May 14, over 500 people rallied and marched in San Francisco’s Mission District to protest the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and 74 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine.

“If you were a Palestinian anywhere around the world who watched the news since the late ’90s, you grew up with Shireen Abu Akleh,” said Sabreen Imtair, a San Francisco State University student and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) member in an interview during the protest. “A lot of people are saying they lost a household member. We are really feeling her loss right now.”

Abu Akleh, who had worked for the Al Jazeera news network for 25 years as one of the most prominent journalists reporting in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, died of a bullet wound on May 11 while covering an Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

She was wearing a blue vest with large white letters stating “PRESS.” During Abu Akleh’s massive funeral on May 13, Israeli police beat people carrying her casket.

“We’re not even able to bury our dead in peace,” said AROC organizer Sharif Zakout during a speech at the San Francisco protest. “It’s disgusting.”

AROC, Palestinian Action Network, Palestinian Youth Movement, and Jewish Voice For Peace organized the San Francisco demonstration. It was one of at least 60 such actions occurring between May 14-16 around the world to remember Abu Akleh and to mark Nakba Day, an annual commemoration for Palestinians that began after 1948, when the British government formally stopped recognizing the state of Palestine and recognized Israel in its place.

This sparked the Arab-Israeli war when Zionist military forces expelled over 750,000 Palestinians and captured 78% of Palestine’s land.

In an interview at the protest, Lisa Rofel, a member of Jewish Voice For Peace, spoke out against Israeli occupation and explained why the Jewish group was present.

“We’re here because we strongly support the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation,” Rofel said. “It’s an occupation which has been vicious, cruel and inhumane and now has turned into military rule over almost every aspect of Palestinians’ lives. We also demand an end to U.S. complicity in that occupation.”

According to a report by Congressional Research Service, the Biden administration has allocated over $3.8 billion in military financing and missile defense funding to Israel this year.

During the demonstration, a diverse array of people that included elders along with young children, marched about a mile-long route carrying signs, banners, Palestinian flags, and art as they chanted in English and Arabic. Over 18 marchers carried one giant Palestinian flag together.

Some protesters carried signs stating 55 journalists have been killed by Israeli forces since 2000, a figure The Palestinian Journalists’ Union cites.

Other protesters carried signs calling attention to Ahmed Manasra, a 21-year-old Palestinian who has been imprisoned since he was arrested at age 13 after being with his cousin, who allegedly stabbed two Israeli settlers in Pisgat Ze’ev.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, UN bodies and the International Court of Justice considers Pisgat Ze’ev an illegal settlement.

Chris Gazaleh, a Palestinian American artist based in San Francisco, made some of the art for the rally by creating signs inspired by Palestinian architecture and Arabic calligraphy to represent cities that Zionists ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba.

During a speech at this year’s San Francisco Nabka rally, Rivka Louissant, a Haitian cultural worker who organizes with the an anti-war and anti-racism coalition ANSWER, spoke about how people and organizations are increasingly supporting an end to Israeli occupation and the struggle for Palestinian autonomy.

“Support for Palestinian rights and BDS is more popular than ever,” Louissant said. “The public is waking up to the evils of imperialism.”

In April of last year, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of “crimes of apartheid,” and in February of this year, Amnesty International described Israel as an “apartheid system,” and characterized its treatment of Palestinians as “a crime against humanity.”

Some local politicians have recently shown support for Israel. During a speech at the rally, AROC organizer Sharif Zakout criticized San Francisco Board Supervisor Rafael Mandelman for his recent visit to Israel for the Israel Seminar in light of Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing. Zakout characterized the seminar as “a propaganda trip.” The Israel Seminar is organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, which has taken a public stand against the BDS movement, and has refused to denounce Israeli attacks against Palestinians. Photos from the trip, posted on May 15 and 16, also show Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, and San Mateo Councilmember Amourence Lee.

“We are here today to say the Bay Area does not put up with that BS,” said Zakout to cheers from the protesters. “We stand with oppressed people everywhere. From Haiti to Palestine to Sri Lanka, we stand by resisting all state violence, colonialism, occupation and warfare.”

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