Portugal

Breaking: Madeleine McCann Arrests ‘imminent’ [POLL]

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British police plan to arrest three burglars who made “many phone calls” after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007.

The Mirror says the Crown Prosecution Service last week sent an official request to Portuguese police asking permission to arrest the trio, who reportedly raided other holiday flats at the Praia da Luz resort where the three-year old was on holiday with her parents.

It is the second ‚ÄėInternational Letter of Request‚Äô from Scotland Yard, after an earlier letter requesting mobile phone data.

Met officers were preparing to fly to the Algarve to make the arrests. They want to speak to the thieves because mobile phone records showed the men made numerous calls to each other in the hours after Madeleine disappeared.

The gang were believed to have raided another holiday flat at Praia da Luz in May 2007, days before Madeleine’s disappearance.

During that raid they disturbed a child, then fled when they were interrupted by the youngster‚Äôs parents. ¬† Read more »

Seriously insane surfing

Check out some crazy nuts surfing, yes we blogged this a week ago, but it is worth a reminder…then check out the second video:

The man who tasted the biggest wave in the history of surfing might have improved the Guinness World Record. McNamara returned to Nazaré and on the 28th January a giant swell headed into his life.

The image captured by Tó Mané, one of the best surf photographers in Europe, is simply breathtaking. Garrett McNamara is seen riding what seems to be a 100-foot wave.

Although is far from clear, as the shot is taken from an upper angle, the ride is unbelievable. Tó Mané freezes the moment when McNamara descends the face of the wave.

Read more »

We need to do this here

ŠĒ• The Independent

Yesterday I blogged about Portugal and today it is¬†Uruguay and their solution with¬†regard¬†to drugs…I think a combination¬†approach¬†of these two jurisdictions would have¬†immense¬†benefits here. Especially if we removed the money and the drugs from the gangs, and in particular for methamphetamine. Make it available on prescription and price control it really low…the gangs would then have no cash and no hold:

Uruguay ‚Äď in a bid to curb a narcotics-fuelled violent crimewave across the country ‚Äď has unveiled plans to nationalise its cannabis market and become the first government in the world to sell the soft drug to consumers.

The measure is aimed at both reducing the rising power of drug gangs and the growing number of users of crack and freebase cocaine in what has traditionally been one of Latin America’s most peaceful nations.

“We want to fight two different things: one is the consumption of drugs and the other is the trafficking of drugs,” said the Defence Minister Eleuterio Fern√°ndez Huidobro.

“We believe that the prohibition of certain drugs is creating more problems in society than the drug itself. Homicides have risen as a result of the settling of accounts [between rival drug gangs] and this is a clear symptom of the appearance of certain phenomena that did not exist previously in Uruguay.” Under the plans, the government would initially grow cannabis and sell it to registered users. But once the scheme is up and running, it hopes to cash in and allow private companies to take over the production of the drug.

Possession of small amounts and consumption of marijuana is currently not illegal in Uruguay but growing and selling it is. The new bill would seek to put the drug dealers out of business by making it easier, safer and possibly cheaper for users to buy marijuana from official dispensaries.

Decriminalisation has worked…in Portugal

The Beckley Foundation

A while ago I posted a video about drug decriminalisation in Portugal and the success that it was meeting with. Here it is again:

Now research has confirmed the dramatic results in Portugal:

On July 1st, 2001, Portugal decriminalized every imaginable drug, from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. Some thought Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven, others predicted usage rates among youths to surge. Eleven years later, it turns out they were both wrong.

Over a decade has passed since Portugal changed its philosophy from labeling drug users as criminals to labeling them as people affected by a disease. This time lapse has allowed statistics to develop and in time, has made Portugal an example to follow.

First, some clarification.

Portugal‚Äôs move to decriminalize does not mean people can carry around, use, and sell drugs free from police interference. That would be legalization. Rather, all drugs are ‚Äúdecriminalized,‚ÄĚ meaning drug possession, distribution, and use is still illegal. While distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense, possession and use is moved out of criminal courts and into a special court where each offender‚Äôs unique ¬†situation is judged by legal experts, psychologists, and social workers. Treatment and further action is decided in these courts, where addicts and drug use is treated as a public health service rather than referring it to the justice system (like the U.S.),reports Fox News.

The resulting effect: a drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following ten years. Portugal’s drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states, according to the same report.

One more outcome: a lot less sick people. Drug related diseases including STDs and overdoses have been reduced even more than usage rates, which experts believe is the result of the government offering treatment with no threat of legal ramifications to addicts.

They had it coming

Julia Gillard isn’t one to hold back with her opinions and her opinion on Europe and their mass credit downgrades was that they had it coming:

THE Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has rubbed salt into the wounds of European nations reeling from weekend credit downgrades, declaring they had it coming for avoiding tough decisions.

Speaking after¬†Standard & Poor’s stripped France and Austria of their AAA ratings and downgraded Italy, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Malta, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, Ms Gillard said the moves were the “price to be paid” by governments that had put off reforms.

“For too many years, European governments have deferred the nation-building, productivity-enhancing reforms which Australia has made the foundation of our dynamic and resilient economy,” she said yesterday.

“In stark contrast to Europe”, Australia had strict fiscal rules that would return it to surplus in 2012-13. European leaders should “swiftly undertake structural reforms to boost their economic potential and lift growth”.

Portugal’s Fix

Here is a short doco from SBS about¬†Portugal decriminalising the use of all drugs, from marijuana to heroin, but has it worked in tackling the country’s drug problem?

A decade ago, Portugal took the bold step of completely decriminalising the use of all drugs. At the time, the country was suffering the highest instance of drug-related AIDS deaths in all of Europe. Drastic action needed to be taken to reach out to the addicts. But opponents warned the course that Portugal took would turn the country into a drug abuser’s paradise and that usage would soar. 10 years on, how well has the policy worked?

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Sticking one up the French and Germans

The Portuguese left look like they are trying to make a comeback by telling the voters they don’t have to pay for their debt.

“We have an atomic bomb that we can use in the face of the Germans and the French: this atomic bomb is simply that we won’t pay,” said Pedro Nuno Santos, vice-president of the Socialist Party in the parliament.

“Debt is our only weapon and we must use it to impose better conditions, because recession itself is what is stopping us complying with the (EU-IMF Troika) accord. We should make the legs of the German bankers tremble,” he said.

The warning of Small Business

via Andrew Sullivan:

A very interesting commentary about small businesses and failing economies. Given that the overwhelming number of New Zealand businesses are small, surely we should be mindful of what other economies show us.

The developed countries with the highest percentage of workers employed by small businesses include Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy‚ÄĒthat is, the four countries whose economic woes are wreaking such havoc on financial markets. Meanwhile, the countries with the lowest percentage of workers employed by small businesses are Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the U.S.‚ÄĒsome of the strongest economies in the world.

This correlation is not a coincidence. It reflects a simple reality: small businesses are, on the whole, less productive than big businesses, and though they do create most jobs, they also destroy most jobs, since, while starting a business is easy, keeping it going is hard. This is true around the world.

Hobson Ward – Indicative Selection

I attended the Hobson Ward Indicative Selection meeting of Citizens and Ratepayers last night.

It is called an indiciative selection because the constitution and rules of Citizens and Ratepayers vest selection in the Executive but with input from members in the form of an indiciative selection.

There were six nominees, Aaron Bhatnagar, Ken Baguley,  Stephen Goodman, Julie Chapman,  Paul Goldsmith and Megan Jaffe. Megan pulled at the  last minute. Speaking positions were selected by drawing numbers and Stephen Goodman went first. 

He presented his impeccable family connections with Auckland and local body politics, but was somewhat hesitant in his delivery and stumbled a couple of times. He was followed by Julie Chapman who spoke confidently from notes and she covered what she had done, it was somewhat a me, me, me speech, but I guess that is politics. Aaron Bhatnagar followed her an spoke confidently. It was clear from the reaction of the 60 or so people in attendance that Aaron was very popular. He elicted the best laugh with a classic joke, he said;

[quote]the current council couldn't run a bath, and even if they did manage that they would find that Bruce Hucker had stolen the plug"[/quote]

Aaron was strong and confident and covered the things that he had been doing in Hobson despite not being a current councillor. Goldsmith was the last live speaker and delivered a very good speech. I thought he was very intelligent and thoughtful. The last candidate couldn't be there in person so instead had sent in a video recording of his speech which was played. Ken Baguley had prepared the video with the attendence of the President of Citizens and Ratepayer and the Campaign Manager to ensure strict time keeping and the correct format so as not to prejudice the integrity if the indicative selection. Ken got the second best laugh from the audience despite not being there in person.

After voting we were treated to an expose of the Council, the bias of the media, in particular Bernard Orsman, and the woeful state of the Auckland City finances by Toni Millar, current C&R councillor.

The results of the indicative selection were the selection of three candidates for forwarding to the executive for consideration. those successful were Aaron Bhanagar, Ken Baguley and Chapman.