Tag Archives: Portugal

NATO Launches Massive Exercise to Prep for War With ‘Not Russia’

by Jason Ditz

NATO today launched its biggest single military exercise in more than 13 years, involving some 36,000 troops in the Mediterranean Sea, simulating a war spanning from Sicily to Spain and Portugal against a major invading European superpower, who officials are insisting is definitely totally not Russia.

The exercise is planned to last through November 6 and will focus on support a “Spearhead Force” that NATO intends to install along the Russian border, nominally to fend off a Russian invasion of Eastern Europe. The predictions of a Russian invasion have been growing out of NATO for a couple of years, and have justified significant increases in spending and military deployments into otherwise calm nations in the east.

The exercise is also going to involve “hybrid warfare” and challenging officers with Internet “propaganda” involving manipulated pictures and false intelligence, claiming to center on “lessons learned” during the 14-year-plus occupation of Afghanistan.

In addition to the NATO nations, 7 non-member nations will be participating in the exercise. Noteworthy among these is Ukraine, which predicts a full-scale global war with Russia seemingly on a weekly basis, and has ambitions to join the alliance.

14 Years After Decriminalization, Portugal’s Drug Fatalities Rank Second Lowest in EU

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs, replacing criminal penalties with civil penalties and court-ordered stints in drug treatment. As The Washington Post‘s Christopher Ingraham points out, supporters of the US War on Drugs have in the past offered up gloomy predictions as to the escalating rates of drug use that would eventually befall Portugal as a result of this policy change. However, new research into drug overdose fatality rates by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction demonstrates that Portugal has not suffered under the policy, but instead features the second-lowest drug overdose fatality rates in the European Union.


Meanwhile, the Transform Drug Policy Foundation notes that young adult past-year and past-month drug use, adult drug use, and HIV diagnoses among drug users have dropped since 2001.

Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 per million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the UK, all the way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The EU average is 17.3 per million,” wrote Christopher Ingraham for The Washington Post.

Opponents of Portugal’s policy have in the past predicted that drug use rates would rise in the European country. Office of National Drug Control Policy deputy director Thomas McLellan said of the move, “If you make any attractive commodity available at lower cost, you will have more users.

Columbia University Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse founder Joseph Califano once argued that “vigorous and intelligent enforcement of criminal law makes drugs harder to get and more expensive” and that any similar effort to decriminalize drugs in the US “will make illegal drugs cheaper, easier to obtain and more acceptable to use.” Califano continued, “The US has some 60 million smokers, up to 20 million alcoholics and alcohol misusers, but only around 6 million illegal drug addicts. If illegal drugs were easier to obtain, this figure would rise.

Not only have Portugal’s drug use rates dropped and drug fatality rates remained among Europe’s lowest, but the use of unsafe drug alternatives like bath salts and synthetic marijuana has plummeted below use rates in other nations.

Portugal’s national drug coordinator Dr. Joao Goulao, whom Christopher Ingraham credited as the “the architect of the country’s decriminalization policy,” cautioned that “it’s very difficult to identify a causal link between decriminalization by itself and the positive tendencies we have seen.” That said, these new numbers challenge the claims of decriminalization’s opponents, who said that Portugal would fall victim to rising drug use rates as a result of the policy.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode challenging the US federal government’s mixed messages on marijuana prohibition and medical marijuana. Watch it in the below embedded video player.