Read more: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/151635/…
For the first time in U.S. history, more Americans died in 2016 of drug overdoses than were killed in the Vietnam War. Let that sink in.
Last year’s death toll in the War on Drugs was 59,000 killed, while during the entire Vietnam War, 1955 to 1975, 58,220 American service members’ lives were lost. And, thanks to the immoral and futile police approach to the drug problem, there appears to be no hope in sight for the tide to change.
As The Free Thought Project had previously reported, drug overdose deaths outnumber the number of Americans killed in automobile accidents each year. Answering the question of who is responsible for so many overdose deaths requires a careful examination of the crisis which has now reached epidemic proportions.
The principal players appear to be pharmaceutical companies, who knowingly manufacture dangerous opioids — essentially synthetic heroin — which, alone, kills tens of thousands. Big Pharma has been caught time and again pushing the pills onto the nation’s physicians who prescribe the dangerously powerful painkillers en masse — even to children.
Then, there are the abusers, those who are addicted to opiates. Getting hooked on opiates is easy, according to the CDC, who recently recommended the powerful class of drugs be taken for no more than 14 days. According to the Washington Post:
Noting that “long-term opioid abuse often begins with treatment of acute pain,” the CDC said that “three or fewer days” of opioid treatment “usually will be sufficient for most non-traumatic pain not related to major surgery.”
Street pushers provide the missing source for the drugs when doctors will no longer prescribe the pills to patients who have demonstrated a pattern of abuse. Yet, thanks to the war on drugs pushing the sale of these drugs into dark alleys and the like, the quality of street drugs is questionable with every dose sold. Some opiates have even been laced with the powerful drug Fentanyl, a drug so dangerous even casual contact with it can prove fatal.
As TFTP reported, Insys Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Fentanyl, donated half-a-million dollars to keep marijuana from becoming legal in one U.S. state. One-third of the overdose deaths in Ohio were linked to Fentanyl, yet instead of creating a safer drug, the company was more concerned with combating cannabis legalization.
Last, but certainly not least, is the government’s own Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The DEA’s only purpose is propping up Big Pharma while raining hell down on Americans for their choice of substances. The DEA even admitted, early this year, it has been trafficking large quantities of controlled substances into the country.
Any decision to ban opiates or remove them from the market, would likely further drive the drugs underground, increase crime, criminalize abusers, lead to growth in the prison industrial complex, and result in many more overdoses. In fact, that is exactly what’s happening. The war on drugs is creating a de facto prison state.
Some U.S. States are taking matters into their own hands. As TFTP reported recently, Ohio is now suing drug manufacturers for their role in the crisis, stating their desire to increase their bottom line profit margins have crossed ethical lines and led to the deaths of countless Ohioans.
Other states and police departments are also taking radical measures to fix the problem instead of prolonging and expanding it through the use of police violence.
As the Boston Globe reports:
As Gloucester police chief, Leonard Campanello pledged in 2015 that drug users could walk into the police station, hand over heroin, and walk out into treatment within hours — without arrest or charges. The concept of help rather than handcuffs became a national sensation.
Campanello is no longer police chief there, but the program is continuing in Gloucester. The concept of helping addicts instead of criminalizing them is such a success, it’s been adopted by 200 police agencies in 28 states. This encouraging phenomenon shows that it’s possible for law enforcement to listen to reason when it comes to drug abuse and actually helping communities.
“It puts police in the lifesaving business instead of the spin-drying business of arresting and releasing,” said John Rosenthal, a Boston resident fighting the opioid epidemic. “We estimate that approximately 10,000 people have been placed into treatment.”
In Gloucester, records show that 530 people have sought help at the police station since June 2015. Steve Lesnikoski was the first person to get help under the program, and now, after 18 months of being clean, he says without the Angel Program, “I’d probably be in jail or dead.”
Fatal overdoses and drug arrests have decreased in Gloucester. A study by Boston University and Boston Medical Center provided compelling evidence for the Angel Program’s efficacy.
In 417 cases where a person who visited the Gloucester police station was eligible for treatment, police data showed that 94.5 percent were offered direct placement and 89.7 percent enrolled in detox or other recovery services, according to Dr. Davida Schiff, a BMC pediatrician who was lead researcher in the study.
Those numbers, reported in December by the New England Journal of Medicine, compared with less than 60 percent of direct referrals from hospital-based programs, which recruit patients who visit emergency rooms with substance-abuse disorders, Schiff said.
It is also important to mention that the opiate addiction, overdose, and accidental death problems might simply be avoided if, ironically enough, marijuana is made legal nationwide. A little over half of the United States have legalized cannabis in some form, leaving nearly half of the remaining states and their residents with no access to legal weed.
As TFTP has documented on several occasions, cannabis holds the promise of helping opiate addicts kick their addiction by substituting their cravings for opiates with the non-addictive pain killing properties of marijuana. And it’s not folklore. Doctors have experimented with cannabis as a substitute for opiates with high degrees of success.
For now, the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the direction of Attorney Jeff Sessions and his staff, has threatened to roll back the progress cannabis activists have made in the last eight and a half years. Joining the DOJ is the DEA which refuses to reclassify cannabis, and remove its current status as a Schedule I narcotic, alongside cocaine, LSD, and heroin.
All of these moves and potential moves by the DOJ and DEA will only make the problem worse unless states like Ohio take measures into their own hands. Now that many in Congress have addicted family members, children, siblings, and friends, the matter has been taken much more seriously.
The idea of treating an addict with compassion instead of violence is a revolutionary notion in this country. However, in other countries, such as Portugal, its effects have been realized for more than a decade. In 2001, the Portuguese government decriminalized all drugs.
15 years later, drug use, crime, and overdoses have drastically declined in Portugal exposing the disturbing reality of prohibition.
Police departments choosing compassion over kidnapping and caging people is the solution and this program’s massive adoption by hundreds of departments across the country is nothing short of bombshell. It is revolutionary, and will undoubtedly lead to progress. However, there is still a long way to go.
This is how change comes — not through the barrel of a gun — but through empathy and peace.
Of course, as the Russians were left out, because one of them toured Crimea, this whole contest is a sham.
“In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament estimated that “at least 200,000” East Timorese, a third of the population, had perished under Suharto.”
With permission from
May 9, 2017
Filming undercover in East Timor in 1993 I followed a landscape of crosses: great black crosses etched against the sky, crosses on peaks, crosses marching down the hillsides, crosses beside the road. They littered the earth and crowded the eye.
The inscriptions on the crosses revealed the extinction of whole families, wiped out in the space of a year, a month, a day. Village after village stood as memorials.
Kraras is one such village. Known as the “village of the widows”, the population of 287 people was murdered by Indonesian troops.
Using a typewriter with a faded ribbon, a local priest had recorded the name, age, cause of death and date of the killing of every victim. In the last column, he identified the Indonesian battalion responsible for each murder. It was evidence of genocide.
I still have this document, which I find difficult to put down, as if the blood of East Timor is fresh on its pages.
On the list is the dos Anjos family.
In 1987, I interviewed Arthur Stevenson, known as Steve, a former Australian commando who had fought the Japanese in the Portuguese colony of East Timor in 1942. He told me the story of Celestino dos Anjos, whose ingenuity and bravery had saved his life, and the lives of other Australian soldiers fighting behind Japanese lines.
Steve described the day leaflets fluttered down from a Royal Australian Air Force plane; “We shall never forget you,” the leaflets said. Soon afterwards, the Australians were ordered to abandon the island of Timor, leaving the people to their fate.
When I met Steve, he had just received a letter from Celestino’s son, Virgillo, who was the same age as his own son. Virgillo wrote that his father had survived the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, but he went on: “In August 1983, Indonesian forces entered our village, Kraras. They looted, burned and massacred, with fighter aircraft overhead. On 27 September 1983, they made my father and my wife dig their own graves and they machine-gunned them. My wife was pregnant.”
The Kraras list is an extraordinary political document that shames Indonesia’s Faustian partners in the West and teaches us how much of the world is run. The fighter aircraft that attacked Kraras came from the United States; the machine guns and surface-to-air missiles came from Britain; the silence and betrayal came from Australia.
The priest of Kraras wrote on the final page: “To the capitalist governors of the world, Timor’s petroleum smells better than Timorese blood and tears. Who will take this truth to the world? … It is evident that Indonesia would never have committed such a crime if it had not received favourable guarantees from [Western] governments.”
As the Indonesian dictator General Suharto was about to invade East Timor (the Portuguese had abandoned their colony), he tipped off the ambassadors of Australia, the United States and Britain. In secret cables subsequently leaked, the Australian ambassador, Richard Woolcott, urged his government to “act in a way which would be designed to minimise the public impact in Australia and show private understanding to Indonesia.” He alluded to the beckoning spoils of oil and gas in the Timor Sea that separated the island from northern Australia.
There was no word of concern for the Timorese.
In my experience as a reporter, East Timor was the greatest crime of the late 20th century. I had much to do with Cambodia, yet not even Pol Pot put to death as many people – proportionally — as Suharto killed and starved in East Timor.
In 1993, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Australian Parliament estimated that “at least 200,000” East Timorese, a third of the population, had perished under Suharto.
Australia was the only western country formally to recognise Indonesia’s genocidal conquest. The murderous Indonesian special forces known as Kopassus were trained by Australian special forces at a base near Perth. The prize in resources, said Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, was worth “zillions” of dollars.
In my 1994 film, Death of a Nation: the Timor Conspiracy, a gloating Evans is filmed lifting a champagne glass as he and Ali Alatas, Suharto’s foreign minister, fly over the Timor Sea, having signed a piratical treaty that divided the oil and gas riches of the Timor Sea.
I also filmed witnesses such as Abel Gutteras, now the Ambassador of Timor-Leste (East Timor’s post independence name) to Australia. He told me, “We believe we can win and we can count on all those people in the world to listen — that nothing is impossible, and peace and freedom are always worth fighting for.”
Remarkably, they did win. Many people all over the world did hear them, and a tireless movement added to the pressure on Suharto’s backers in Washington, London and Canberra to abandon the dictator.
But there was also a silence. For years, the free press of the complicit countries all but ignored East Timor. There were honourable exceptions, such as the courageous Max Stahl, who filmed the 1991 massacre in the Santa Cruz cemetery. Leading journalists almost literally fell at the feet of Suharto. In a photograph of a group of Australian editors visiting Jakarta, led by the Murdoch editor Paul Kelly, one of them is bowing to Suharto, the genocidist.
From 1999 to 2002, the Australian Government took an estimated $1.2 billion in revenue from one oil and gas field in the Timor Sea. During the same period, Australia gave less than $200 million in so-called aid to East Timor.
In 2002, two months before East Timor won its independence, as Ben Doherty reported in January, “Australia secretly withdrew from the maritime boundary dispute resolution procedures of the UN convention the Law of the Sea, and the equivalent jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, so that it could not be compelled into legally binding international arbitration”.
The former Prime Minister John Howard has described his government’s role in East Timor’s independence as “noble”. Howard’s foreign minister, Alexander Downer, once burst into the cabinet room in Dili, East Timor, and told Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, “We are very tough … Let me give you a tutorial in politics …”
Today, it is Timor-Leste that is giving the tutorial in politics. After years of trickery and bullying by Canberra, the people of Timor-Leste have demanded and won the right to negotiate before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) a legal maritime boundary and a proper share of the oil and gas.
Australia owes Timor Leste a huge debt — some would say, billions of dollars in reparations. Australia should hand over, unconditionally, all royalties collected since Gareth Evans toasted Suharto’s dictatorship while flying over the graves of its victims.
The Economist lauds Timor-Leste as the most democratic country in southeast Asia today. Is that an accolade? Or does it mean approval of a small and vulnerable country joining the great game of globalisation?
For the weakest, globalisation is an insidious colonialism that enables transnational finance and its camp-followers to penetrate deeper, as Edward Said wrote, than the old imperialists in their gun boats.
It can mean a model of development that gave Indonesia, under Suharto, gross inequality and corruption; that drove people off their land and into slums, then boasted about a growth rate.
The people of Timor-Leste deserve better than faint praise from the “capitalist governors of the world”, as the priest of Kraras wrote. They did not fight and die and vote for entrenched poverty and a growth rate. They deserve the right to sustain themselves when the oil and gas run out as it will. At the very least, their courage ought to be a beacon in our memory: a universal political lesson.
Bravo, Timor-Leste. Bravo and beware.
On May 5, John Pilger was presented with the Order of Timor-Leste by East Timor’s Ambassador to Australia, Abel Gutteras, in recognition of his reporting on East Timor under Indonesia’s brutal occupation, especially his landmark documentary film, Death of a Nation: the Timor Conspiracy.
Here in BC, Canada, population ~3.5 million, we are experiencing 4 deaths per day from Fentanyl laced drugs.
In 2012, Portugal had just 16 deaths, or 2.3 for every million people in the country between 15 and 64 years of age.
By Justin McElroy
Feb 03, 2017
When people discuss bold options for dealing with British Columbia’s drug crisis, decriminalization of all illegal drugs comes up with regularity.
There are two main reasons for this: one is that B.C. already employs many of the strategies that other countries are still debating, from needle exchanges to supervised injection sites.
The other is the story of Portugal. Once ridden with a heroin epidemic that affected approximately one per cent of the country’s entire population, the European country decriminalized all illegal drugs in 2001.
Over time, the drug crisis in Portugal stabilized to the point where, going by the 2016 United Nations World Drug report, they have the one of the lowest fatal overdose rates in the world. In 2012, they had just 16 drug-related deaths in a country of 10.5 million.
However, the person who has overseen that transformation cautions British Columbians not to believe decriminalization would be a silver bullet.
“It was a part of a much broader strategy, focused not only on decriminalizing. It’s not a magic solution,” said Dr. Joao Goulao, the head of Portugal’s Service for Intervention in Addictive Behaviour and Dependencies.
“We can’t establish a direct link between decriminalizing and the results. It’s the complete responses that led to a positive resolution.”
In Portugal, people can have the equivalent of an up to 10 day individual supply for a drug, without being charged. But Goulao says the most important thing isn’t the lack of punishment: it’s the presence of support systems.
“If you are [caught with drugs], you are asked to present yourself to an administrative body, under the Ministry of Health … which can apply penalties, such as fines, but its main goal is to evaluate the kind of user you are,” he said.
“If you’re a problematic one in need of treatment or help, you are invited to join a treatment facility. If you’re not a problematic drug user, just an occasional one, even so, the commission tries to assess if there’s any kind of conditions in your life — social, family, psychological — that along with the drug use can lead you to become a problematic user. The attempt is to intercept a [path] that can lead to more problems.”
It’s the multi-faceted approach with decriminalization and substitution treatment next to counselling and employment opportunities, that he says was crucial for the way in which Portugal tackled its crisis.
But Goulao says laws need to go hand in hand with changing the culture of a country towards drug use.
“The big impact is that drug use and drug addiction is no longer a taboo. We can talk openly about it … the way society started to look at this problem, is mostly as a health issue, like diabetes or other chronic relapsing diseases,” he said.
“Addiction is a health and a social issue, rather than a criminal one.”
With files from CBC Radio One’s On The Coast
To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: How decriminalizing drugs helped Portugal solve its overdose crisis
Click here for the full story: http://cbc.ca/1.3962714