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Obama defends drug war, suggests fewer incarcerations of nonviolent offenders

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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Thursday said America’s long-running prohibition of drugs serves an important purpose, but advocated for “shifting resources” away from incarcerations of “nonviolent, first time drug offenders.”

“I think this is an entirely legitimate topic for debate,” Obama said from the White House during an interview broadcast live on YouTube.

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But, he added, “I am not in favor of legalization.”

His remarks came in response to a videotaped question from retired deputy sheriff MacKenzie Allen about whether the drug war may be counterproductive by way of fueling violence in market pushed underground.

“We have to go after drug cartels that are not only selling drugs but also creating havoc on the US-Mexican border,” Obama said. But he added that drugs should be treated as a public health issue and that the United States would benefit by spending less time and money jailing offenders.

“On drugs, I think that a lot of times we have been so focused on arrests, incarceration, interdiction, that we don’t spend as much time thinking about how we shrink demand,” he said.

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The Associated Press reported last May that “[a]fter 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.”

“The president talks a good game about shifting resources and having a balanced, public health-oriented approach, but it doesn’t square with the budgets he’s submitted to Congress,” said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

“Still,” Franklin added, “it’s historic that the president of the United States is finally saying that legalizing and regulating drugs is a topic worthy of discussion.”

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The question about the drug war, which came from a member of LEAP, was voted the most popular ahead of the interview. All but a few of viewers’ 200 top-rated questions touched on different aspects of the drug war.

Obama’s remarks reflect an unchanged stance but different tone on the issue than in 2009, when he was asked about drug legalization and responded: “I don’t know what this says about the online audience — but, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow the economy.”


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‘The wheels are coming off’: MSNBC panel says Trump told his chief of staff to ‘walk the plank’

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Two MSNBC anchors discussed Thursday's whirlwind day of breaking news in scandals involving President Donald Trump.

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" joined Brian Williams on "The 11th Hour" to discuss Trump holding the G7 Summit at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course and the White House acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, confessing that there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine -- before attempting to walk back his confession.

"Did things change today, do you think?" Williams asked.

"I do feel like the wheels are coming off," Maddow said.

"For the Energy Secretary [Rick Perry] to resign, you've had two cabinet secretaries resign during the impeachment proceedings already, one of whom, the current one resigning tonight, the Energy Secretary, does appear to be involved in the scheme, at least on a couple of different levels. We have got the White House Chief of Staff who was sent out today, not only to make the, 'Yes, it was quid pro quo. Yes, we did it. What are you going to make of it?' article -- which was bracing, but then to take it back, simultaneously announcing this self-dealing, which is something more blatant than we’ve ever seen from any president in U.S. history," she explained.

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Rick Wilson rips Trump for holding G7 meeting at his ‘South Florida House of Bed Bugs Hotel’

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Republican strategist Rick Willson blasted President Donald Trump after the administration announced that the G7 meeting of world leaders would be held at his Trump National Doral Miami golf course.

Chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney announced the severely under-performing resort would receive the lucrative contract during a contentious White House briefing.

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2020 Election

Trump impersonated a CNN anchor — and a US president — during epic meltdown at Texas speech

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President Donald Trump offered multiple impersonations during a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas on Thursday.

Trump showed the crowd his impersonation of a president of the United States -- and a CNN anchor.

"No guns. No religion. No oil. No natural gas," Trump said. "Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas under those circumstances. Couldn’t do it."

In fact, Abraham Lincoln could not win Texas when he ran for president as the state refused to print any ballots with his name.

He then showed the audience two impersonations as part of his 87-minute speech.

"I used it to say, I can be more presidential. Look," Trump said, as he shuffled awkwardly on stage.

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