“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov
In late September, the Taliban launched an offensive against Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, capturing key buildings and freeing hundreds of prisoners from the city’s jail.
The offensive sparked a fierce battle between the militants and government forces, supported by US airstrikes. After several days of fighting, Afghan troops recaptured the city, and took down the Taliban’s flag from the central square.
American planes targeted Taliban positions, but at the beginning of October, a hospital run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) was hit, killing 22 hospital staff and patients, with many seriously injured. The Pentagon later admitted that the strike was a mistake.
Gaining exclusive access to the Taliban, VICE News filmmaker Nagieb Khaja spoke to fighters that briefly took control of Kunduz — the first major city to fall to the group since it was ousted from power in 2001.
This November, Ohio will vote on whether to become the biggest state to fully legalize marijuana. But the measure is very different from what’s come out of other legal pot states — and not in a good way, according to drug policy experts and legalization advocates.
Ohio is already an unexpected candidate for full legalization compared with the four legal pot states. It isn’t especially progressive like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington state, or libertarian like Alaska. It doesn’t even have medical marijuana yet, although it was one of the states to decriminalize pot back in the 1970s.
But what’s truly unusual is how Ohio’s Issue 3, as the legalization measure is called, is structured. It doesn’t just legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes; it puts the wealthy contributors for the legalization campaign in charge of growing all the pot in the state — as an explicit gift for their support. That hasn’t just rankled opponents of legalization, it has also pushed away some of the major national advocacy groups that would typically back a marijuana legalization measure.
The distinction has left even supporters of legalization wondering: Is ending the failed war on marijuana worth locking Ohio into a potentially disastrous system of legalization?
Ohio’s measure puts the campaign’s wealthy donors in charge of all the state’s pot farms
Under the measure, Ohioans 21 and older will be able to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in general and, with a $50 license, up to four flowering marijuana plants per household and up to 8 ounces of pot in their homes. Ohioans won’t be able to use pot in public spaces. The limits are fairly typical for a pot initiative — Alaska, for instance, allows adults 21 and older to possess up to 2 ounces of pot and up to six marijuana plants, and doesn’t allow public consumption.
Where Ohio’s measure really differs from other states is how marijuana is commercially produced.
Knowing that a ballot measure would be very expensive, ResponsibleOhio, the group behind the state’s legalization measure, structured its initiative to reward the top contributors to the campaign — and therefore get them on board. As a result, the state will only allow 10 marijuana farms, and more than 20 wealthy contributors signed on to the campaign will get guaranteed licenses to all 10 sites. These contributors vary — ranging from 98 Degrees band member Nick Lachey to the local Taft family.
The contributors and future pot farm owners vary — ranging former 98 Degrees band member Nick Lachey to the local Taft family
These 10 farms will then sell marijuana to more than 1,100 retail outlets, nonprofit medical dispensaries, and manufacturers. The measure charges a regulatory commission with overseeing all of these businesses, with a particular focus on making sure that Ohio’s demand for marijuana is met by the industry.
“In [the] face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst,” the newspaper argued in an editorial on Wednesday.
“This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity.”
The People’s Liberation Army Daily, China’s leading military newspaper, used a front-page editorial to accuse the US of sowing chaos in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Cast-iron facts show that time and again the United States recklessly uses force and starts wars, stirring things up where once there was stability, causing the bitterest of harm to those countries directly involved,” the newspaper said, according to Reuters.
Tuesday’s manoeuvre, which saw the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen sail close to artificial Chinese islands, came after Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping failed to find common ground over the issue during recent talks at the White House.
US defence secretary Ash Carter warned that further “freedom of navigation” operations in the region were planned. “We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits,” he told a congressional hearing.
China reacted to Tuesday’s long-anticipated mission by hurling a barrage of accusations at Washington.
“The United States has been very irresponsible,” defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun said, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
“We will take any measures necessary to safeguard our security.”
For a 56th birthday present to himself, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) took perhaps the most aggressive step yet against the Republican Party’s establishment.
It marked perhaps the most bombastic challenge to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) leadership, and another point at which long-simmering tensions within the Republican caucus have exploded out into the open.
Meadows introduced a resolution on Tuesday that aims to force Boehner from his post. The resolution will now be referred to a powerful House committee full of members loyal to Boehner, and has no chance of succeeding. But the message he had attempted to send was clear.
“The House of Representatives, to function effectively, in the service of all citizens of this country, requires the service of a Speaker who will endeavor to follow an orderly and inclusive process without imposing his or her will upon any Member thereof,” Meadows wrote in the resolution.
When Republicans took back control of the Senate and gained a bigger majority in the House of Representatives last year, their leaders promised an era of more responsible governance. But as Congress lurches toward a jam-packed legislative schedule this fall, infighting in both the House of Representatives and the Senate threatens that vow.
Republicans will come back to Washington in September with just 10 days to figure out how to avoid a second potential government shutdown in three years, as the right flank of the party is beginning to push to attach conservative priorities to the bill that keeps the government funded. The ramifications could extend all the way to the presidential campaign trail.
“The tension isn’t new and will continue until someone on the right has a ‘Sister [Souljah]’ moment,” one veteran Republican strategist told Business Insider, referring to the famous moment in American politics when then presidential candidate Bill Clinton repudiated the activist’s comments about race.
Throughout August 1947, as Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs engaged in one of the most terrible slaughters of the 20th century in next-door Punjab province, lights continued to blaze from New Delhi’s ivory-white Imperial Hotel. On weekends, diners packed the tables in the Grill Room overlooking the lawns, while Indian socialites dripping with gold and jewels filled the dance floor well past midnight. To many of the city’s well-to-do, the bloodshed that had erupted upon the birth of modern India and Pakistan still felt unreal. The Indian women in particular seemed to be “on heat,” one British journalist noted hungrily. “The aphrodisiac was independence.”
No band played on Saturday, Sept. 6, however. A curfew had emptied the dining room. Anyone standing on the hotel’s veranda would have been bathed in a different light—a rose-colored glow that filled the horizon to the north. The Muslim neighborhoods of Old Delhi were on fire.
When they imagine the terrible riots that accompanied the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent, most people are picturing the bloodshed in the Punjab. On Aug. 15, the new border had split the province in two, leaving millions of Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs in what was now Pakistan, and at least as many Punjabi Muslims in India.
Gangs of killers roamed the border districts, slaughtering minorities or driving them across the frontier. Huge, miles-long caravans of refugees took to the dusty roads in terror. They left grim reminders of their passage—trees stripped of bark, which they peeled off in great chunks to use as fuel; dead and dying bullocks, cattle, and sheep; and thousands upon thousands of corpses lying alongside the road or buried shallowly. Vultures feasted so extravagantly that they could no longer fly.
The temperature rose to a searing 114 degrees in Rancho Mirage, California, the day President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping gave their first joint remarks at the Sunnylands estate two years ago this week. The pair was about to begin bilateral talks at the venue, known as the “Camp David of the West,” largely about the two countries’ unmatched economic cooperation, as well as the more uncomfortable issue of China’s aggressive behavior in cyberspace.
The world was about to change ahead of unforeseen strife in the Middle East and Eastern Europe that has tested America’s ability to meet grave threats simultaneously. But at that time, Obama was left with Xi’s carefully chosen words, which have since proven prescient.
“When I visited the United States last year, I stated that the vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for the two large countries of China and the United States. I still believe so,” Xi said of the potential for U.S.-China cooperation across an increasingly turbulent sea. He added shortly after, “both sides should proceed from the fundamental interests of our peoples and bear in mind human development and progress.”
What appeared at the time to be relatively benign remarks foretold the increasing tension that was to come. In June 2013, China was capitalizing on growing political momentum from the last decade while modernizing its military at a staggering rate. And it would pursue developments in the East and South China seas that most of its neighbors consider increasingly aggressive, all under the banner of protecting what China claims it already owned.
There is some indication China has seized the opportunity of America’s distraction abroad. And its emboldened conviction prompts questions about how the world’s remaining superpower will act to contain it.
The year before the meeting at Sunnylands, Beijing had entered into a standoff with the Philippines over fishing rights around the Scarborough Shoals, and in early 2013 claimed it lit a Vietnamese fishing vessel on fire only by accident. Later in 2013, China established its Aerial Defense Identification Zone over a string of islands Japan also claims, soliciting heated rhetoric from Tokyo and its American backers. (It still enforces the zone, though more loosely.) And China almost entered into naval warfare with Vietnam in May 2014 after placing an oil rig in contested waters within 120 miles of its coast, before withdrawing it months later.
The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world, but it is also rich in natural resources. One of the official mining sectors has collapsed amid the country’s ongoing conflict, and now both sides are benefitting from the illicit trade of gold and diamonds. Clashes over control of the many mines have also created religious tension in places where there previously had been none.
VICE News traveled to mines located in the heart of the Central African Republic to see how the battle over natural resources is playing out in one of the world’s most violent conflicts.