- - Tuesday, September 4, 2012

THE HAGUE — With slogans like “Don’t let your vote go up in smoke,” owners of the freewheeling cafes where bags of hashish are sold alongside cups of coffee are mounting a get-out-the-stoner-vote campaign ahead of next week’s Dutch election.

The campaigners are calling on their sometimes apathetic dope-smoking clientele to get out and support political parties that oppose the recently introduced “weed pass” that is intended to rein in the cafes known as coffee shops and close them altogether to foreign tourists.

At a coffee shop in The Hague, a member of the staff selling weed wears a T-shirt emblazoned with a modified Uncle Sam style poster calling on smokers to “Vote against the weed pass on Sept. 12.”

Under the new system, coffee shops become member-only clubs, and only Dutch residents can apply for a pass to get in. The cafes are limited to a maximum of 2,000 members.

The online vote2smoke.nl campaign offers cannabis and marijuana users voting advice by showing which political parties support dumping the “weed pass,” which came into force in the southern Netherlands earlier this year and is intended to roll out over the whole country in coming years.


NATO vows action on insider attacks

BRUSSELS — NATO’s top official vowed to “do everything it takes” to prevent more insider attacks in Afghanistan, saying they are threatening to undermine trust between international troops and their Afghan allies.

Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Tuesday the surge of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their foreign partners will not derail the transition process.

Afghan forces are scheduled to take over security for the country by the end of 2014, when NATO forces will withdraw.

Additional measures to prevent so-called “green-on-blue” attacks may include strengthened vetting and screening procedures, improved counter-intelligence, as well as cultural awareness training, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said.

Insider attacks have killed 45 international service members this year, most of them Americans. There were at least 12 such attacks in August alone, resulting in 15 deaths.


China, India agree to resume military drills

NEW DELHI — The defense ministers of India and China agreed Tuesday to resume joint military exercises that were frozen two years ago, signaling a thaw between the Asian giants even as regional relations are tense over the disputed South China Sea.

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