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News in Brief: Vicente Fox Calls on Mexico to Legalize Drugs, and More

Vicente Fox Calls on Mexico to Legalize Drugs

Vicente Fox Calls on Mexico to Legalize Drugs

According to New America Media, the former President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, said last week at the Interamerican Press Society and the American Society of News Editors joint conference that “nobody is going to be able to stop drug trafficking” from Mexico to the United States. The only way to target the multi-billion dollar black market, which has contributed to the deaths of almost 40,000 people in Mexico over the past four years, would be for Mexico to legalize the consumption of drugs and for the US to crack down on money laundering and domestic drug use, Fox said. “The [Mexican] army is not prepared to act as police, neither is it trained to deal with issues of human rights,” Fox said, referring to a Mexican Human Rights Commission report that found that human rights violations increased significantly since current President Felipe Calderon ordered his military to patrol violent cities such as Juarez and Reynosa. “We can't fight violence with violence,” Fox said.

Worldwide Military Spending at an All-Time High; US Tops the List

Defense spending worldwide totaled $1.6 trillion last year, Reuters reports. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released a report that found global spending slowing from 5.9 percent in 2009 to 1.3 percent last year in a delayed reaction to the financial crisis; meanwhile, the United States increased its defense spending by 2.8 percent to $698 billion, approximately six times as much as China spent on its military. US military spending has increased by 81 percent since 2001, SPIRI said. Rounding out the top five were Britain, France and Russia.

Indian Activist Ends Hunger Strike as Government Promises to Enact Anti-Corruption Bill

Indian social justice activist Anna Hazare ended a hunger strike on Monday after the government said it would move toward implementing an anti-corruption bill, according to Democracy Now!. Hazare had been campaigning for an independent ombudsman to investigate and prosecute ministers, bureaucrats and judges on charges of corruption; the 70-year-old's hunger strike had garnered comparisons to Mahatma Gandhi's protests against British colonial rule. “Our three or four members of the committee have taken the draft to the government, and I will call off my fast when that draft comes back,” Hazare said. “Because the government has accepted our demands, I believe that this is a victory for Indian democracy.”

Latino Population Grows in US, Posing Challenge to GOP

The increase in the United States' Hispanic population in the Sun Belt states could present a challenge to Republicans, The Wall Street Journal writes. Republicans previously benefited from the support of the right-leaning states in the South and the West, which are expected to add more seats to Congress in the next election, but the GOP will have to win over the growing Latino base, which tends to lean Democratic; some analysts say that the party's anti-illegal immigration rhetoric can be seen by Hispanic American citizens as a cultural affront. But some GOP leaders say their constituents prefer their party agenda of low taxes and family values, reflected in the recent elections of conservative Hispanic politicians, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

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