Arizona’s Republican Sen. Jon Kyl wasted little time. A member of the bipartisan congressional “supercommittee” charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, he did his best to forestall even discussion of cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. “When we had our first meeting the chairman asked, ‘Well, what do we think about defense spending?’ and I said, ‘I’m off of the committee if we’re gonna talk about further defense spending [cuts],’” he told the audience at a recent forum sponsored by several conservative think tanks…
The Senate minority whip may be the most outspoken member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction when it comes to the military budget, but the Democrats currently considering whether to cut the deficit via reductions in defense spending or programs like Medicare and Medicaid have received far more money from Pentagon contractors than Kyl or any of their Republican colleagues on the panel, according to an investigation by Alternet, with assistance from the Brave New Foundation and Salon.com.
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Proposals have been made by the Greek Justice Minister Miltiadis Papaioannou to the Greek Committee on Social Affairs which notably include decriminalisation of personal drug use, as long as the drug use only impacts the behavior and condition of the individual drug user.
Under the reforms possession of drugs for personal consumption will be classed as only misconduct so long as it is used for only private use, and the cultivation of cannabis will be tolerated if only for personal use. The bill also proposes to guarantee the right for drugs treatment to all who request it, including drug users incarcerated. The reforms will not legalise the supply or trafficking of drugs, these actions will still be considered offences under Greek law.
The Minister explained that these actions would be now regarded as misdemeanors, as long as it effects only the user and no others. Minister Papaioannou noted that the law had to be changed because of the minor danger of specific actions. In this way, police will have the ability to deal more quickly and easily with more severe issues. The Minister stressed that the law has a therapeutic approach to the issue and every drug user will be treated as an addicted person who needs help rather than punishment.
Austerity does have its benefits! I suspect Portugal’s high-profile (and somewhat-different) decriminalisation, and the EU’s quietly favourable attitude will deserve some credit too if this comes to pass. Watch this space.