Friday, October 31, 2003


Maybe it's the solar flare thingy heating the scene up but the Halloween energy took over lovely downtown Noho early today. I've already seen lots of great costumes and an amazing little piece of street theater before 7:00pm.

My favorite was the parade of tykes at 4:20. A dozen four year olds in glamorous costumes parading down the sidewalk. An angel, a gypsy, a pirate, a puppy, a princess and my favorite, the tiniest little black kid dressed up as an African drum. He was all in black with natural wood beads around his neck and wearing a really new white drum net - that webbing they wrap around those tall drums- strutting down the street, head and shoulders above his companions even though he was six inches shorter.

The street theater was like a medievel flash mob. There was one guy in a giant puppet costume, like an Chinese dragon at New Year, only he was a drooling Alien, and he was surrounded by a dozen ghouls that tumbled around him or stood stock still and struck dramatic poses. They performed in front of every restaurant window on Main Street I'd guess. Hope they got some press. They deserved it. I'm pretty jaded these days and I watched them do six windows before I moved on.


Still working off the top of the inbox this week. Drug Sense Weekly offers an interesting study in contrasts. The entire issue is worth reading as always, but for those of you like my dear friend Michael who refuse to click on the links, let me illustrate.

First a look at the results of the almost forgotten insanity of Operation Afghanistan Freedom from the evils of the Taliban. Hell, I've forgotten the catchy name of that war myself. Now the Taliban was truly evil and oppressive however they had eliminated the heroin trade in the country.

Since we 'freed' those indigenous Afghanis, they are now scrabbling this many years later in the ashes of what was once at least a predictable if not exactly comfortable life. Today, Osama is still alive if not in body, then in organization, and the heroin trade, that the Taliban had almost eliminated, has exploded into dangerously unprecendented levels.

Don't take my word for it, from the newsletter,


Opium cultivation is spreading like a cancer in Afghanistan and risks transforming the world's leading supplier into a state of narco-terrorists and drug cartels, a U.N. survey said Wednesday.

Opium poppy cultivation is fanning out to areas it has never been seen in before, the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in its Afghanistan Opium survey for 2003 -- the first conducted in cooperation with the national government.

High prices for opium have lured poor farmers away from conventional farming, spreading poppy cultivation to 28 of Afghanistan's 32 provinces from 18 provinces four years ago.

"Either major surgical drug-control measures are taken now or the drug cancer in Afghanistan will keep spreading and metastasize into corruption, violence and terrorism," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.


Call me crazy but this does not sound like change for the better. This is why I'm so insulted when our Boy George gets up and proclaims the world is a better place under his leadership. Is misleadership a word?

* * * * * *

The counterpoint comes from a musician named Moby, also in this week's issue of Drug Sense. The name made me think of the old band Moby Grape, they were a little obscure but really fine musicologists. I wondered if it was the same person since the perspective of the piece felt so mature. In any event I found Moby, a reasonable voice in the cacophony.

A High That Wouldn't Hurt

I would love to see recreational drugs that aren't bad for you and that aren't addictive. It's obvious that billions of people the world over enjoy recreational drugs from time to time, and that most of these drugs ( the legal and illegal ones ) are physically harmful and/or addictive. So why can't the chemical composition and/or means of delivery of certain drugs be altered so that they're no longer harmful or addictive?

Not to drag out this old cliche, but do you mean to tell me that they can put a man on the moon but they can't subtly alter recreational drugs so that they're not addictive or bad for you? One doesn't have to make the case for the importance of recreational drug use, as almost every society since the extinction of the Neanderthals has to some extent incorporated recreational drug use as a valued or important personal or communal ritual.

These recreational drugs could be anything from alcohol to psilocybin mushrooms to opium to tobacco, and all of these are, to varying extents, toxic. So just as we've taken the sting out of space travel, why can't we eliminate or ameliorate the toxic qualities and effects of recreational drug use? We have the technology. We wouldn't become a nation of addicts, because addiction would be impossible.

Becoming addicted to these new drugs would be akin to developing an addiction to corn. Recreational drug use has been, and continues to be, an integral part of our culture. Recreational drug use is practiced in bars and in churches, in Dumpsters and in penthouses, so with all of our technological resources, why can't we make it as safe as it is fun?

I actually find this frighteningly like Brave New Worldish soma logic but it beats the hell out of out denying that human beings have an inherent need to alter their consiousness. Some percentage of our species will always want to understand and experience the cosmos outside of the framework of ordinary existence.

El Dia de los Muertos"

It's almost the midnight hour from where I sit so I'm taking the last word myself tonight. I had a request for a suggestion for a slogan to go with a Cheech and Chong costume tonight. Now I'm terrible at them but in the spirit of the holiday I offered,

Bongs don't hurt people, John Walters' do.

The solar flares are likely to make this a wild night. Don't forget to look up at the night sky in case there's an aurora borealis right above your head.

Celebrate the dead and the living.

Thursday, October 30, 2003


I should be in Rowe right now at Al Giordano's welcome back party. I'm sorry to miss it but it's interesting that Al blows into the Happy Valley and even the sun flares to send the Northern Lights to herald his return. I saw the tail end of a light show right over lovely downtown Noho this evening. Odd coincidence don't you think?

As if that weren't enough magic for one night, I received final confirmation that my scholarship to the Drug Policy Alliance conference has come through and I'll be blogging you from the New Jersey Meadowlands next week. Check out the agenda. I can't tell you how bowled over I am to be going to this event. I'm already agonizing over which break out sessions to go to. A great big thanks to Drug Policy Alliance for this opportunity.


Meanwhile, multicorporate malfeasance surfaced at the top of the inbox tonight. To this day I don't know how I got on the Sojourners newsletter but I have to say I keep reading it because David Batstone has a surprisingly clear perspective on politics and the state of the world at large that I wouldn't expect from a guy who publishes from such a holy roller Christian platform. Tell you the truth, he and I are not that different except I would bet the farm he doesn't smoke cannabis.

From today's Sojo News he focuses on a disturbing attempt by Monsanto to legally intimidate a small organic dairy from truth in labelling.

Oakhurst Dairy, a small dairy with headquarters in Maine, has placed a label on its milk carton, stating, "Our Farmer's Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones." For the past five years, Oakhurst has ensured that all of its milk originates from farms that pledge in writing - with a notarized affidavit - that they won't use artificial hormones on their herds.

Sounds reasonable doesn't it? That's information I want as a consumer. Monsanto thinks I shouldn't have that choice.

But last July, the huge biochemical company Monsanto sued Oakhurst and asked the court to force the company to remove its hormone-free label. Monsanto charges Oakhurst with deceptive advertising and unfair business practice. Monsanto makes Posilac, the leading recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Monsanto markets the growth hormone as a way to boost a cow's milk production by as much as 15 percent, and promises that it is safe. Milk from cows supplemented with rBGH, says Monsanto, is the same as other milk in every respect - nutrition, taste, quality, and health. For that reason, Monsanto charges that Oakhurst's label misleads consumers into believing that there is a difference in milk products. According to the suit filed in a Boston court, business relationships between Monsanto and dairy producers have suffered because the farmers, fearing consumer revulsion, have stopped using Posilac.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the bovine growth hormone, all 15 countries in the European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have banned it. Parties who oppose its use claim that it is linked to breast and colon cancer and premature puberty in children.

This is exactly the sort of thing that infuritates me when Libertarians start touting the virtues of the free market. Free to do what? Litigate their competition out of business at the expense of the public health? The Libs tell me the consumer will dictate the marketplace, but it looks to me that these guys are looking to define it in the courts.

Talk about greed. How big a chunk could that little corporation be taking out of their obscene profits anyway?

* * * * *

Speaking of the profits, from the newsletter:

Tax windfalls for U.S. corporations

U.S. corporations that have deferred taxes for years on the profits they made overseas could be in line for a huge windfall from Congress. Here are the amounts kept abroad that new legislation proposes to be brought back to this country at a greatly reduced tax rate (5.25%):

Company Profits kept abroad but not taxed in U.S.

Merck $15.0 billion
Hewlett-Packard $14.5 billion
Johnson & Johnson $12.3 billion
Schering-Plough $9.4 billion
Eli Lilly $8.0 billion

Total estimated corporate profits held overseas: $400 billion

Ever wonder why public funds seemed to disappear? Now you know why.

*Source: The New York Times, October 2, 2003

* * * * * * *

And on a related note from an earlier edition of Sojo News:

U.S. citizens pay more for prescription drugs

U.S. citizens pay higher prices for prescription drugs than do residents of other industrialized countries. How much more do they pay than people in these countries?

Switzerland 58%
United Kingdom 60%
Canada 67%
Germany 74%
Sweden 78%
France 102%
Italy 112%

Sources: Alan Sager and Debrorah Socolar, Health Reform Program, Boston University School of Public Health; Patented Medicines Price Review Board, Canada; USA Today

Think of those statistics while the DEA shuts down an on-line pharmacy selling Canadian prescriptions and politicians scramble in this election year to pander to their most loyal voting constituents, the elderly, to legally sanction their field trips over the border for their medications.

What I don't get is why they don't just investigate the reasons that the same exact drug plummets in price as soon as you cross the border. Why don't they just sell it directly to the American public at Canadian prices?


I leave you with this statistic, Of the world's 100 largest economies, 51 are now global corporations, rather than countries. Check out the chart.

Think global, buy local.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


It's still raining and I've been lying low so I'll give you the wrap-up on my little vacation. I found this picture of the Village Pump on the Village Grille website. The Grille and its martini bar caters to the tourists but they sponsor a great outdoor music performance on Friday nights. They block off the street and put tables out.

It was great vibe on a warm night when I arrived last week. I was surprised to find the scene and the band was fabulous. The Dave Camp Band was belting out some steamy Cajun blues. I caught half a set on my way out to see Sully and Patty on Las Olas. It was a five man gig and every one of them were superior musicians. They all knocked me out, but I was most impressed by the woman playing the huge antique sax.

I didn't realize the Pump was part of this operation. It makes it all the more miraculous that it's a traveler's bar and not just another tourist trap in that tiny center. It's also one of the longest running establishments in the county. They've been in business since 1949 and hold the number six liquor license.

Okay, so I'm done cheerleading, but it really was the best place on the beach to meet real people. In case any of them are reading this, Annie, Joe, Bill and Tom (thanks for the walk on the pier), it was a pleasure to meet you all. And Randy, thanks again for ehancing my experience in your little town.

* * * * *

It was a funny thing about Lauderdale-by-the-sea. Even though it was busy, they didn't allow highrises in those few square blocks so it did have this small town quality in the midst of an absolutely frantic city. Still it was hard to find a peaceful spot there. There were two. There was a charming little public park on the block behind my hotel with an exquisite tall fountain with marble benches around it and there was the pier.

The pier was open 24 hours a day and there was always fisherman on it. Best bargain in town, one dollar to get through the gate. I went out to the end of it several times and had great conversations with the gatekeepers. My most cosmic moment there happened late Saturday night. The weather had turned and the sea was raging. The breakers had been building all day. The surfers were out.

The wind was blowing cold, ripping through my clothes at 30 knots, nonetheless I stood at the end of the pier watching the whitecaps rise in the black water for a really long time - it was my last night. The sea flattened in front of me and I felt some sudden urgency to move. As I made my way around the corner, a group of young students moved into the space I vacated. I didn't hurry but I didn't linger.

I no sooner had made it two feet down the pier when the breaker hit exactly where I had been standing. Even the fisherman were surprised. There had been no overt sign. It was huge, I actually ran when I heard it hit and felt only a passing mist. It washed right over the top of the shelter. I stood there dry while the kids staggered by me, shrieking and soaked to the skin. I felt blessed.

* * * * * *

Most of my trips end up with some kind of inadvertent theme. My trip to Europe turned out to be the Virgin Mary tour and this short sojourn turned out to be the Blessings of the Universe. I don't always have so positive an experience. On this one however, I had so many charming encounters that I can't tell them all in this space so I leave you with a few of my favorites and close this chapter of my story.

The second time I had breakfast at Louie's, his grandkids showed up. He has a lot of them. He underwent a remarkable metamorphosis when they arrived. They swarmed around him at the grill asking for hamburgers and he melted from this gruff kind of macho guy into this beaming teddy bear of a man.

On my way back from that breakfast, there were two parrots sitting on a whitewashed wall. The owner of the adjacent hotel was hosing his driveway and giving his birds some air. I talked to them, but I didn't get that close even though he said only one of them bites.

My last night there was the night of the World Series. I was in bed watching the end of the game at the hotel in the dark when they won. I was about a block away from the center. I could hear the roar of the crowds cheering and dancing in the street. It felt almost as good as it would have if the Red Sox had beat the Yankees.


So vacation is officially closed and it's time to back to the serious business of ending this War on Some Drugs. First this breaking news out of the United Kingdom where MPs voted to downgrade the criminal classification of cannabis. The vote carried by a solid majority in the Parliment. Why can't we get this kind of sane policy passed in the US?

* * * * * *

Maybe it's because we allow an ineffective agency to dictate our policy here. According to to a recent U.S. Justice Department report reported in last week's Drug Policy Alliance newsletter, the DEA is not making the grade.

The article notes,

This is the second time in less than a year that doubt has been raised about the effectiveness of the federal agency. In February, days after the White House accused several countries of failing to meet the U.S.’s anti-narcotics expectations, an Office of Management and Budget report highlighted the DEA’s inability “to demonstrate progress in reducing the availability of illegal drugs in the United States,” including a lack of long-term strategy and financial management.

So why are our Congress critters continuing to fund them and more importantly why do we let them do it?

* * * * * *

As a final thought tonight, a look at the link between the prison industrial complex, the military industrial complex and the War on Some Drugs. The article is long but well worth reading to get a sense of how connected the whole scheme is and keep in mind that the warm bodies the DEA is supplying to the prison industrial complex is what's keeping the military supply side alive.

I leave you with these excerpts,

US soldiers are well-equipped with guns to fire, clothes to wear, vehicles to drive, radios to call and maps to help them navigate, thanks in large measure to the 21,000 inmates working for Federal Prison Industries (FPI), a quasi-public, for-profit corporation run by the Bureau of Prisons. In 2002, the company sold $678.7 million worth of goods and services to the US government, over $400 million of which went to the Department of Defense.

Over the years, FPI has grown exponentially, now ranking as the government's thirty-ninth largest contractor – in no small part due to the quantity and diversity of apparel items it manufactures for the Department of Defense. The company has churned out more than 150,000 Kevlar helmets in the past 24 months, more than $12 million worth. Aside from the battle-dress shirts sewn at Greenville, the company is also a major supplier of men's military undershirts, $1.6 million of which it sold to the Pentagon in 2002. In that year, FPI made close to $3 million fashioning underwear and nightwear for the troops. Inmates also stitch together the vestments donned by military pastors and the gowns cloaking battlefield surgeons. If an item of clothing is torn in combat, it will likely be sent to the prison shop in Edgefield, South Carolina, where it is mended at a cost of $5 per shirt and or pair of trousers. In 2002, 700 prisoners based at FPI laundry facilities located in Florida, Texas and Alabama washed and pressed $3 million worth of military apparel

The inmates are not allowed many breaks and the production lines are reported to be kept in rapid motion. Doesn't sound that different than a chain gang to me. Look at the profit numbers at the link. Do you see any incentive to stop putting people in jail and what better line workers than non-violent drug offenders? I imagine they are more employable than murderers and rapists. Do the math.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Readusting to the gloom and cold in lovely downtown Noho. The fall colors are still strong here and offer something of a consolation for a so far brutal week. Having nothing amusing to report let me take this moment to issue my second ever correction in the history of the blog.

You remember my favorite bar in Lauderdale-by-the-sea, the Pumping Station? Well, it really was a great place. I went there every night for my dose of human interaction. The patron base was mostly the local hospitality service crowd, and expats from the north. It was this oasis in the center of a dozen tourist ridden joints. The bar menu was the best in town, good food for a decent price and the bartenders were the best in town.

Randy and Tarra rocked the house. Pleasant, alert and efficient, great team, not to mention personable. They were the only ones having any fun and my guess is they were ringing a drawer at night that was bigger porportionately than the tourist traps.

Lest you think I'm being judgmental, I was a bartender for three years. I have a professional interest in these things. Randy's style is a lot like my own. He connects with his patrons. I always maintained the job was 10 percent mixology and 90% sociology. You have to relate to people to do the job well.

Randy spent enough time with me to get the blog address and actually check it out, which brings me the correction. Now in my defense, I'm going deaf and Lauderdale-by-the-sea is a noisy town. Randy very tactfully pointed out that the name of his bar is not the Pumping Station.

So, if you find yourself in this part of Lauderdale, stop by the Village Pump and tell Randy that Last One Speaks sent you....


Still battling our way through the inbox here, so we're taking it off the top again tonight. First report is out of Canada on the imminent demise of the decrim bill on marijuana. Although according to the results of a recent poll, 55% of Canadians support decriminalization, the bill appears to be doomed by the political machinations of a changing administration up North. The icy breath of John Walters is freezing this one it seems.

The contentious legislation is being pushed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, but Mr. Martin has not shown much support. Mr. Martin wants to rejuvenate Canada's troubled relationship with the United States, which opposes the bill.

I'm going to miss Chretien. It disturbs me to see a US agenda being imposed on the will of the Canadian populace via a weak willed incoming adminstrator. I don't really understand the politics there, but still, it feels somehow like this is a setback and not a total loss. They still did get the medical marijuana provisions through, weak as they were. Patience is definitely a virtue in this process.

* * * * * *

Across the pond, from France comes a positive development, Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin is backing a plan to amend French law to downgrade marijuana possession to a fine-only offense, according to published reports in L'Express. According to the article this is already a defacto policy but it's good to see it made official.

* * * * * * *

Meanwhile here in the US, Keith Stroup, Executive Director of NORML, testified today in favor of the legalization of marijuana at a special joint legislative hearing before the Maryland Senate Special Committee on Substance Abuse, the House Special Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, and the Baltimore City Senators and Delegates.

Maryland you may remember recently passed legislation allowing medical necessity as a marijuana possession defense.

Speaking of medicine, from Hanover Germany, comes this piece of the cannabis puzzle. The efficacy of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana,is sufficient enough to warrant its clinical use in the treatment of Tourette's Syndrome (TS), according to a clinical review published in this month's issue of the journal Expert Opinion in Pharmacotherapy.

In a related article linked to this notes, the herb marijuana,

is effective in reducing "tics" in patients suffering from Tourette's Syndrome (TS), according to clinical trail data published in a recent edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Tourette's Syndrome is a complex neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by motor tics (sudden spasms especially in the facial muscles, neck and shoulders) and one or more vocal tics.

I'm heartened by this research because I know someone with a son who has this condition. He's a teenager now and he tells her it relieves his symptoms and she sees it's true but is afraid to tell her doctor because it's illegal. None of the pharmaceuticals have worked.

Cannabis has been utilized as a medical remedy for 5,000 years. It's studies like this that will bring the dialogue into civilized debate and allow this child to live his life with dignity.

Sometimes, the old ways are best.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Well I'm back safe and sound but it was a long road home my dears, and although I have many more stories to tell of the trip, I also have 88 unread emails, an absurd pile of unopened mail (I don't usually get that much in a month's time) and the drug war unfortunately did not end while we were on hiatus.

So it will be a short post tonight. I usually try to distill a theme from what I read in a day however, tonight it's going to be the top three cannabis related items off the inbox. You never know, this could be fun. Let's see what's there....

Pot Luck

How interesting. First hit is a post from Tammera Halphen, that relates to my road home. From Lauderdale to BWI, I had two seat mates on the plane, friends who were coming from Fantasy Festival in Key West. One guy had an enormous orchid plant to appease his wife and the other had a Forbes magazine with a huge marijuana leaf on the cover.

I asked about the article, hoping he was done with it, but he read it on the way and put it back in his bag. It's an interesting look at the economic value of the cannabis plant. Marijuana consumers contribute in great ways to the economic health of the larger community and I think it's a good sign when Forbes takes note of that.

The article is not entirely accurate. It for instance it pulls out the debunked theory that marijuana is so much more potent now. There has always been really strong herb and hashish available, they just used to have to import it from the Middle and Far East and the delivery sporadic. Today's farmers figured out how to grow a plant at home of genetic consistency. Luther Burbank was revered for that kind of work and so should the cannabis innovators of today be for increasing the medicinal potency and reliability of a beneficial plant and eliminating the need for imported product delivered by criminal elements.

If the government truly cared about easing the pain of the sick and dying, they would embrace these scientists and botanists and ask for their help instead of imprisioning them for offering relief to the anguished.

Check the side bars on this article as well for an amazingly sympathetic spin on Chong's incarceration and an interesting look at a sideline and perfectly legal business in cannabis related fertilizers.

* * * * *


Speaking of Tommy Chong, there appears to be an as yet unsubstantiated rumor going around that the Bush twins bought a bong from TC's company and that's why Daddy sent in the DEA Pipe Dreams Team. The scary part is that I find it a plausible theory. I'll update if a link comes up on this one.



Kind of cosmic kids, it's all related. Third hit down is from DRC Net. They have a new video, "BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters," as their premium gift to members donating at the $35 level.

It's produced and narrated by a tireless warrior for civil rights, former ACLU director Ira Glasser. According to the promo,

BUSTED's actors illustrate the right and wrong ways to handle different police encounters, in an entertaining but revealing way, with special attention focused on instructing viewers how to courteously and confidently refuse police search requests.

It's brand new so of course, I haven't seen it but I don't hestitate to recommend any project Ira is involved in based on my knowledge of his work. It's always good to know your rights.

Friday, October 24, 2003


This will be my last dispatch until I get home on Sunday night, as this appears to be the only internet cafe in this town and it's not open on weekends. While I'm having a great deal of fun, I don't like everything about this place. Too many cars for one thing and although there aren't a lot of highrises, it's not quaint and pretty like most beach towns, the architecture is uninspired and there's no beautifully landscaped cottages around. I guess that should be expected, it's not really a town after all, but a beach city. Still I walked around some of the nearby neighborhoods a few blocks away from the beach and absolutely everyone's front yard is a parking lot. Even what appear to be single family homes have at least six spaces. Not attractive.

Still, there is much to like. For one thing the Goodyear blimp has been buzzing the beach and the immediate neighborhood since yesterday. It's really low and moving slow. My friends know that it's been a lifelong dream of mine to get a ride on that blimp. Somehow watching it hang over my neighborhood last night, so close it felt like you could touch it, made that dream feel a little closer. I was tempted to shout up and ask for a ride, though they weren't really low enough to hear me.

* * * * *

The local real estate agency next to this cafe has the greatest collection of Beatle's memorabilia I have ever seen. No one seems to ever be in the office, but there's signed poster in the window and the whole room is filled with rare items. I can't believe he leaves it out like that. It looks to be worth a significant amount of money, enough to tempt a smash and grab thief. I may call the guy before I leave to get the story.

* * * * * *

This whole town seems to be a pick-up joint. I can't believe the number of times I've been hit on here. Last night's offer for a one night stand came from Jim, obviously a rabid Marlins fan, he was dressed in the team uniform and extremely drunk. He was sitting with Austin, a street person he had just befriended and brought into the restaurant so he could sell his handmade palm frond roses. Austin doesn't like it here. He says the rich people are mean to the beach vendors and he is just trying to get his life back together enough to get a room and a regular job. I liked his honesty, he was totally guileless. I bought a rose for two bucks.

Jim was so drunk he was nearly incoherent so I never did figure out what he did for a living but he said he had a huge boat and that spending a day fishing on it would be the dream day of a lifetime. He wandered off as soon as I declined. I was chuckling over it as I made my way to the Pumping Station to watch the ball game for a while. I like that place. The people are very friendly, everyone talks to you and no one has tried to get me into bed there. Plus they have the cheapest beer in town.

* * * * * *

Having made it to bed early I got up in time to have breakfast at Louie's Diner. I love diners in general and this one although it was housed in a storefront instead of a diner car, was the quintessinal mom-and-pop establishment. I assume Louie was the cook and he was a maestro of the short order grill. My eggs were perfect and I watched him turn out batch after batch of equally perfect orders, including perfect poached eggs which you can't even usually find.

Clearly a local joint, almost undiscovered by the tourists although only a block off the main tourist track. Louie takes his food seriously. He noticed one of diners had not eaten their pancakes and checked with them to find out why. He seemed genuinely concerned that they enjoyed their meal. Charming joint, if you're in Lauderdale, forget the tourist traps on the beach that give you huge plates of mediocre food, eat at Louie's.

* * * * * *

Another thing I really like about this town is the newspapers. I have a new respect for the Miami Herald. I still don't necessarily believe what they say but I'm impressed with the scope of their coverage, particularly on international news, it's huge and it only costs a quarter. Makes my local rag that costs twice as much and is lucky to hit 28 pages total, look even more pathetic.

* * * * * *

Well that's it for the weekend kids. For those of you who are going into drug war news withdrawal, I leave with this link to the DRC newsletter which is the first to arrive this week. Be sure to check out their corrupt cop of the week section.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Well I'm blogging you from the center of lovely Lauderdale-by-the-sea. I arrived to bright sun and unexpectly warm water. I didn't realize the Atlantic ever gets that warm. The Shore Haven turned out to be a good value for the money. The rooms are large, clean and well stocked. The bed is comfy and the front desk kid is very helpful. I haven't figured out his name yet but I think he's the son of the owner. The pool also looks great but with the sea so close, I haven't tried it yet.

The locals are friendly lot and I have to say this is the place for a single middle-aged woman to score. In less than 8 hours, I was hit on three times. My long time readers know that I always go home alone, but I did have a jolly time hanging out with these guys. Larry from Pensacola, works for Verizon I think and travels all over the country. He was a kind of low-key guy, very sweet and unassuming. I left the popular local watering hole, Arubas for a while with him to check out one of the better kept local secrets, The Pumping Station. It was actually fun to watch the ball game in a room full of Marlins fans. The place reminded me of City Cafe back home.


I was passing Arubas on my way back to the beach to have a look at the stars when I finally succumbed to the group of Swedes. Three older guys, they all pitched me, but I connected with Anders the best and the other two sort of disappeared for a while. I don't know what kind of deal they were cooking up, they were very vague about what business they were in, but they insisted on ordering buckets of champagne followed by some obscenely rich chocolate strawberry shots.

Never did see the stars over the beach; I decided to accept their invitation to go clubbing down at the Riverwalk section of town. The clubs all seem alike down there, they reminded me of Atlanta. I wasn't impressed and Anders and I went in search of a jazz club nearby. It was already closed, one wonders if he had already known that since it was conveniently located next to his hotel.

He invited me up of course, I accepted on the proviso that he call me a cab from there. The guy was a smooth operator and I guess he used to getting what he wants. Maybe he thought I would be more impressed by the ultra-expensive Riverwalk Hotel. I guess I should have known that he would think I was just being coy in accepting the invitation to come up but I was genuinely curious and thought I was being quite straightforward.

I wasn't impressed by the room either, the furniture was nicer, but the room was smaller than mine and he had a terrible view. I actually have a partial ocean view in mine. I didn't stay long. It was late and he of course went into high gear to get me to spend the night. A champagne breakfast sounded pretty tempting at that moment, but I insisted he call the cab and to his credit although he was obviously irritated, he was rather gracious and waited with me in the lobby until it arrived.

I rolled back into my room at 3:00am and woke up at noon, really happy that I had come home. Moet doesn't really give you a hang-over but I sure didn't feel like eating breakfast. Maybe it was the chocolate things. I never drink shots.

So that's it for today friends. There is drug war news of course, but we're on vacation here. It's a lovely afternoon and I want to get back to the beach...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Next post will be coming from the beach kids. Can't wait to get there. There's something deep in me that needs the sea.

Since we're officially on a mini-vacation I leave you with just this one link tonight on the Twisted Roots Of Marijuana Prohibition as revealed in the Nixon Watergate tapes that demonstrate the foundation of the modern war on marijuana was Nixonian prejudice, culture war and misinformation.

A classic quote from the article, which includes a link to the original Shafer report recommending legalisation, that Nixon commissioned and subsequently ignored, says it all.

"I see another thing in the news summary this morning about it. That's a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them? I suppose it's because most of them are psychiatrists . . ."


Last word and quote of the day comes from Barbara Bush, the nuture behind our Pretender in Chief's nature.

"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it's, not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on
something like that?"

Like mother, Like son.

Monday, October 20, 2003


It appears that I have new neighbors moving in even as I begin to write this evening. I didn't get a look at them yet but they sound somewhat young and jolly. Of course they usually do. I'm going to have to get used to people being around again. That apartment has been empty for months.

Hard time to be moving. It's freezing here today but the good news is, the hotel clerk tells me that it's 86 degrees in Florida. I opted out for the funky motel with internet access at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. In the end I couldn't resist the name of the beach and besides the hotel is pink. To quote my dear friend Karen - one more day to crawl through....... I can't wait to be warm.

Noho has been pretty subdued by the chill winds, but I have one piece of hot gossip. Straight from Timmy Driscoll's mouth, he really is selling City Cafe to Harry's son Tully and his partner John Reilly, the guy I don't really know from Fitzwillys. I've been watching Tim wandering around silently saying farewell to the bar for a while, but I can also envision how happy he and his lovely wife Louise will be when they buy that condo and start living in the Carribean.

Me, I just hope the new guys don't change it too much. It's the last original refuge left in this town.


I have always thought the absence of pain feels better than never having been hurt at all. For those of you who have ever suffered a great injury, then you understand the miraculous nature of a remedy.

This article about the prosecution of Dr. William E. Hurwitz, a 57-year-old Virginia pain treatment specialist will resound with those of you who have suffered through some mind numbing, skull bashing pain and had a doctor refuse to prescribe for it.

Now Will is an unlikely poster boy for the issue of pain management, he's had some other legal trouble along the way, but his peers are rallying around him as a medical practitioner courageous enough to continue to prescribe adequate dosages of legal opiods in spite of the current intimidation tactics by the DEA.

I know you're bored senseless with Rush analogies but here is another classic illustration of how the prohibitionists punish innocent citizens who have a real need for these medications while sheltering those within their own ranks from these consequences inflicted on 'the people'.

Honest doctors are afraid to prescribe adequate dosages for fear of incurring the notice of the DEA's unsleeping eye. Meanwhile the monied right, people like Rush, pressure their housekeepers into finding an illegal source. Rush is more responsible for the black market than she is.

She could never afford that many pills, (what was it 40,000?), on the salary he was paying her. I read story today from a reporter who bought 20 or so Oxycotin at $3 a piece. So even assuming Rush got the big volume discount, at a dollar a piece say, it's still more than a year's salary for her. Think about it - without his money, it wouldn't have happened. He effectively financed the activities of some small mid-level network of dealers.

Rush's apologists spin this ad naseum as a medical problem, covertly blaming the doctor and the very practice of medicine for causing his addiction. They try to draw some distinction between his addiction and those of the 'street people'. That he was somehow inadvertently drawn into addiction because of the initial medically sound treatment plan. I don't like to be profane, but bullshit.

Rush is just another injured soul who self medicated in an attempt to cure his pain, just the same as the guy in the gutter begging or stealing for some dimes of heroin. The only difference is what quality of self-prescribed medicine they can afford.

And there's a far more evil element to this than just the obvious interference by the DEA in what should be purely medical decisions. Not only have these prosecutions made doctor's reluctant to prescibe adequate levels of these drugs, which are not actually addictive, they're habit-forming, there's a difference; they have also doubled the fees for the license to prescribe them.

The DEA made 60 million on this little rate hike which they intend to use for further prosecutions of this sort. DEA spokesperson, Pat Good said the funds will provide for a modest increase in DEA enforcement efforts. Well that's true at least, 60 mil is a drop in the 20 billion dollar budget bucket for them. Still it sounds kinds of like organized crime protection money to me.

It's a long article, so for my readers who don't read the links, a few excerpts to tempt you into clicking.

Hurwitz is regarded as a pioneer in pain treatment by many doctors, academicians and medical groups, who have decried his prosecution. The case, along with other prominent criminal prosecutions, is putting a chill on legitimate pain treatment by doctors who fear prosecution, they say.

The Hurwitz case has exposed a deepening rift between law enforcement and the medical community over the use of opioids in modern pain treatment.

What happens typically is that 99% of the physicians, who are good, decent people, can become paranoid," said John Burke, head of a drug enforcement task force in Ohio and vice president of the National Assn. of Drug Diversion Investigators. "This is a very touchy issue. We do not want to impact legitimate pain patients or their physicians."

Even doctors who adhere carefully to rules can run afoul of law enforcement agencies, according to David Brushwood, an expert on opioid legal issues and a professor of pharmacology at the University of Florida.

"Something is terribly wrong with the way some criminal justice authorities have begun to enforce the law against physicians and pharmacists who prescribe and dispense high-dose opioids to treat chronic pain," he said. "The necessary balance ... has tipped drastically in the direction of ruthless drug control."

There isn't any doubt that these prosecutions are increasing under the Bush administration," Hallinan said. "It is like busting a car dealer because somebody runs off the road and kills somebody."

"It seems to us that the DEA has shifted its focus from street thugs to doctors, because doctors are easier targets," said Kathryn Serkes, a policy executive at the association of physicians and surgeons. The group now flatly advises its doctors not to prescribe opioids.

The American Medical Assn. has not weighed in on the Hurwitz case, but last July fired a warning shot by posting on its Web site a statement that it "wants no doctor harassment over pain medication" and pledging to take the case to President Bush and Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft.

I'm glad to see the AMA concerned enough to make a statement on this issue and right on. The DEA has no business interfering with the practice of medicine.


Well, we're already running long here and I know I've already lost Michael on this post so I leave with with the words of Leonida ZuritaVargas, a cocalera and the secretary general of Bartolina Sisa, an association of peasant women in Bolivia who issued this eloquent plea to end the war against Bolivian farmers.

Al Giordano remarks at BigLeftOutside that newly installed president Mesa will have to address the proposal by coca growers that families be allowed to grow one "cato" (a 40-by-40 meter plot) of coca without being persecuted by police or invaded by the military. The US Embassy, always preferring to go after poor farmers while allowing narco-bankers off scot free, violently opposed this proposal.

Leonida can tell you more.

My tribe, the Quechua, comes from the jungles of the Chapare. We are used to chewing coca leaves every day, much as Americans drink coffee. We sustained ourselves by growing coca for chewing and for products like shampoo, medicinal teas and toothpaste.

We did not turn coca into cocaine; the chemicals needed for that are made in countries like the United States. Bolivia now allows us to grow a very small amount of coca, but it is not enough.

I am a cocalera. I owe my life to coca. My father died when I was 2 and my mother raised six children by growing coca. I was a farmer myself, growing coca for traditional purposes.

The war on the cocaleros has brought nothing but poverty and death.

Her story makes me want to apologize for being a US citizen.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


I was checking for new dispatches from Stephen and Anthony at GNN when I realized they were live on the chat board. I'm on a lot of discussion lists but I've never done the chat thing in my life. Turned out to be pretty easy and it was kind of cool to be able to have a real time conversation.

They've been having some adventures, what with getting cut off from their hotel by an impromptu gun battle and being chased by packs of feral dogs....

And speaking of Iraq, I ran across this today. Is anybody surprised that the first permanent US commericial installation in Baghdad is a Burger King at the international airport? Conveniently located by the way within a complex heavily fortified with 6,000 soldiers and a significant number of civilian contractors.

Gross as it sounds, the franchise provides a welcome reminder of home to the discouraged troops.

"It's $2 of heaven. It's the only thing getting us through this deployment," Gercken said in reverent tones.

"The perforated edge of that pouch, when you open it up it sings," Beck said.

"I like grease," said a tall, slim Sgt. Michael Beard, 28, from Las Vegas, who scarfed down a Chicken Royale with cheese, a Whopper with cheese, an apple pie and a Coke. "And I need the weight."

There's no mention in the article about how many Iraqis are allowed through the guards and the checkpoints to enjoy their taste of American enterprise. I suspect it's not many.


There have been a lot of developments in the legal arena of the WODSU lately. Looking first to the north, Preston Peet with his usual razor sharp logic, deconstructs the current Canadian cannabis climate. He aptly notes that while it was a small victory for medical marijuana patients, the other provisions create greater penalties for recreational users and small grow operations who would supply that market.

Preston also makes a strong case for the notion that this increased intolerance came about as a result of direct intervention by our own prohibition bureaucrats here in the United States. It's certainly telling that this law proposes to introduce mandatory minimum sentencing, one of the greatest hallmarks of the failure in the WODSU here.

* * * * *

Meanwhile, back in the homeland the much touted recent Supreme Court decision refusing to uphold gag orders against doctors who tell their patients about the benefits of marijuana has not received rave reviews from all quarters either. It is rightly another small victory for medical marijuana, and may spur other states to join the eight that already authorize it's use but as Vikram Amar, a law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, puts it,

"I don't think this is a big victory for medical marijuana. Unless the federal government can't criminalize its use or cultivation, big deal. Doctors can recommend it, but no one can act on the recommendation."

The Wired article goes on to note,

To make things more complicated, the Supreme Court's decision isn't permanent, doesn't cover the entire nation and suggests nothing about the court's views on medical marijuana in general.

Good point. It wasn't really a decision so much as a declination to decide anything. It's better than having them uphold the gag orders, but hardly a courgeous and definitive rendering on the facts of the issue. Not that I expected much from a body heavily stacked with right wing appointees.

Still it wasn't a loss either, and we have to take our victories as they come, however small. I believe if not for the vigorous intervention of the reform community, the outcome could have been far less beneficial. It's actually a rather large victory that SCOTUS would deign to address the case at all.

* * * * *

The nation's jurists are speaking out against this war from all over this country. DRCNet's Drug War Chronicle features an interview with retired New York State Supreme Court Justice, Jerome Marks. Judge Marks has devoted great effort to revoking some of the worst excesses of New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws since his retirement.

He has this to say on mandatory minimums there,

Marks: Money. We have a $5 billion budget deficit this year, and we're not alone. States around the country are changing mandatory minimum laws, especially on drug cases. It costs the state of New York $32,000 a year to keep a man in prison. In Michigan, they will save $60 million by having repealed their mandatory minimums. We could really save some money here, and that is becoming a powerful argument. The fact that we could save millions is why I think change is now possible.

From your mouth to all the ears inside the beltway, Your Honor.


Time is running out to register for the Drug Policy Alliance's biennial conference. They recently posted the agenda. Mandatory sentencing and a wealth of other reform topics will be covered along with training sessions for fledgling activists like myself. I'm hoping they come through with a scholarship for me so I can be there. The presenter's list reads like the who's who of the movement.


It's official. The phenomenon that was Narco News now lies in state, not deceased but in suspended animation. No eleventh hour reprieves appear to be forthcoming and they've posted their Closing Statement. Last word goes to three of my favorite journalists on the planet. Thanks for the ride guys, it sure was fun.

photo Ricardo Sala
I’m grateful to everyone – to our readers and supporters, to the amazing people who have come through the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism in one way or another, and of course, most of all, to Al and Luis – for the opportunity to take a mundane and seemingly boring profession (web programming) and put it to the service of such important tasks.
Dan Feder

photo Jeremy Bigwood
"We were just a few guys with laptops and an enthusiasm that you could call revolutionary…”
Luis Gomez

photo Eclectechmedia
We were lucky that, for three-and-a-half years, a modest but sufficient amount of resources came to us without our having to grovel for them. And we thank, again, each of you who made that possible. The results we’ve achieved, together, speak for themselves.
Al Giordano

Saturday, October 18, 2003


I need a new piece of luggage. The overnighter is not quite big enough to accomodate the inevitable purchases for the trip home and my old bag finally died on the way back from Mexico last winter. It was a hideous nylon Totes bag that I got for five bucks in 1990 because I needed an extra one on the way home. It was filthy and torn but it had travelled with me halfway around the world and had become a kind of good luck piece. I'm going to miss it.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to decide what part of town to stay in. I spent a night in the Las Olas sector a couple of years ago, it's close to my friends and I could do the water taxi thing but it's a little upscale trendy for a longer term stay. I'm thinking of trying what the guidebooks tout as a quaint little fishing village about ten miles up the road. It sounds a more likely venue to catch some authentic local color. They call it a walking town and having checked out the bikini worthiness of my butt today, I'm thinking a little walking could only do me some good.


The weekly newsletters have all arrived and the hot topic is the almost miraculous empowerment of the indigenous poor in Boliva. Highly charged reports have been flooding in from all camps and former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, trying to drown out the clamor of his people demanding accountability, was still spitting out his bilious US-supplied disinformation as he fled to the exile isle of choice these days for the Latin America oligarchy - Miami, Florida.

It used to be that models and actors were the mainstay of the South Beach scene. I suppose it's only a matter of time until the new cachet will be around having drinks with deposed world leaders. There could be more coming soon. Latin America is a political powderkeg and the sparks of popular dissent are flying as the people who bear the brunt of IMF and US Policy and foreign corporate privitizations rebel against these entities that benefit most by the perpetration of the US imposed drug war.

The WODSU is after all, against them as well, the producing countries whose crops mainly exist to supply US demand. We consumers in the US should be ashamed that we sit and watch as hundreds of thousands of Latinos fight our battles. It's an embarassment that 200,000 Bolivians are willing to suffer great deprivation to march for days to make a point and the US reform movement can barely get one tenth that many people to pick up their cell phones and take 10 minutes a week to call their legislators and demand political reform.

The dynamics of this region are complicated and one of the best summaries I've seen on the current state of unrest in the Americas, courtesy of the Drug Sense Weekly, is this piece on LATIN AMERICA'S SEASON OF DISCONTENT .

The protests began against government plans -- since put on hold -- to export natural gas to the U.S. But they have evolved into a locus for widespread dissatisfaction with the government's pro-U.S. policies, including the eradication of coca plantations as part of Washington's war on drugs, and the adoption of economic policies prescribed by the International Monetary Fund.

The protesters came not only from the streets but also from the ranks of the nation's professionals with doctors, nurses and teachers joining in the action. The literate Latin Americans have a much healthier skepticism about proganda there and even in the more developed cities there are fewer outlets that carry the spin. People debate more, are more engaged in the process. I would guess they don't watch FOX News there either.

Many Latin Americans believe that Washington has become so obsessed with the fight against terrorism that it has disengaged from the hemisphere. Meanwhile, the U.S. message of free trade is interpreted in the Latin American street as cover for a ripoff of the region's riches.

It seems fitting somehow that these momentous events would occur just as Narco News suspends publication. In many ways, that site and its still emerging authentic news force lit the fuse of dissent in this place called America. At least they ended up with some fireworks.

Speaking of the autenticos, Carola Mittrany's COAV newsletter carried an archived story on a staged photo op in Boliva that quoted Alex Contreas. Alex, a frequent contributor to Narco News, was recently illegally detained by men identified as 'narco-officers' on re-entering Boliva his native country. After filming all his belongings, including his notes, they released him.

I know Alex personally from the J-school session. He gave an knock-out presentation featuring the already impressive body of his work. He's a prolific writer of great integrity and high-caliber journalist who literally puts his life on the line to fulfill the public trust that the profession once demanded. He's certainly not a narco trafficker and you can't convince me he wasn't detained for his politics. I'm glad he's safe. They shoot journalists there, don't they?

The article posted some five day before Goni's hasty departure is prophetic.

When the government cannot find peaceful solutions to a problem, it seeks violent ones. To do so it must create a good pretext to justify repression, said political analyst Alex Contreras, who also said that the supposed guerrillas were filmed by only one station, ATB.

According to the analyst, the existence of the armed groups is the pretext that the government requires to carry out repressive measures. “In Bolivia there are no guerrillas, much less in the region of Lake Titicaca, due to its geographic and demographic characteristics. There is, however, a very strong social movement with archaic weapons given to them by the MNR (governing party) during the revolution of 1952.”

* * * * *

Whenever there is conflict, the government plays the guerrilla card. When the social movements block highways, the press reports terrorist acts, attacks and armed insurgency. The reality is different,” said Contreras.

In April, a “media show” organised by the US embassy showed the capture of a Colombian citizen and four Bolivians accused of carrying out terrorist activity linked to the National Liberation Army (known by the Spanish abbreviation ELN) of Colombia, that country’s second largest guerrilla group. Contreras said that police captured Colombian citizen Francisco “Pacho” Cortés and two Bolivian coca growers and two underage relatives of one of the growers.

Alex goes on to debunk the announcement with details of the contradictions in the ensuing coverage. The Bolivian Interior Minister admitted US involvement in the capture. I'm not surprised. It sounded like just our kind of bungled operation.

Speaking of our own government, this quote from US government spokesman, Richard Boucher contained in a comminque from the Andean Information Network.

US Government Support

Sánchez de Lozada, who won the presidential election a little over a year ago with less than 23 percent of the vote, now has next to no backing from the citizens of Bolivia. However, the US government has pledged their support of his presidency. In a press statement on October 13, Richard Boucher, US government spokesman, said that, "The American people and their government support Bolivia's democratically elected president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, in his efforts to build a more prosperous and just future for all Bolivians. All of Bolivia's political leaders should publicly express their support for democratic and constitutional order. The international community and the United States will not tolerate any interruption of constitutional order and will not support any regime that results from undemocratic means."

On October 17, the U.S. announced that it would evacuate its employees out of the country.

If Boucher thinks he's speaking for this American person, let me say yeah, I support democratically elected presidents. Let me know when you find one.

Photo by Susan T. Wehren

Howard Wooldridge's cross country odyssey is over after three years, 3 pairs of boots and six pairs of horseshoes. He and Misty are probably resting up in Fort Worth right now. I expect Misty may retire but Howard will soon be back on the trail in his relentless campaign to instill some common sense into drug policy. He believes that more than half of the police he has talked with in each of the states would vote secretly for LEAP.

Last word, to a man who has much to say on the criminlization of a plant.

"In the 15 years I was a cop, I never took a call for an accident, suicide or assault resulting from use of marijuana,"

Friday, October 17, 2003


Well the flags are flying at half-staff in the Red Sox Nation today. The dream is dead for another year. I think the fans have finally stopped believing in the curse, but that underlying fear that the armageddon will arrive if the Sox win the pennant is harder to overcome. I suppose it would have been the end of life as we now know it but I was willing to take that chance.

No matter, there's always next season when you're a Sox fan and to tell you the truth I'm a little relieved to be able to get back to work again. I'm pretty much useless during playoff season when my team is in the running and the drug war has not stopped while we were mesmerized at Fenway.

Check in again later tonight and we'll be catching up on the news.


The mood was defintely somber at the City tonight, verging on funereal. The lights were dimmed and so were the moods. Everyone was exhausted but none could deny that it had been a great playoff. Besides in lovely downtown Noho, there's always a reason to celebrate. Shannon, and her fiancee Aric, were celebrating her 30 something birthday and lightened the atmosphere considerably with their good spirits. All the best to you my dear. Hope the rest of your evening was fun.


The Boston Phoenix published the story on last week's Drug Czar Propaganza in Boston and they delivered in spades. Not only is the lead article a great analysis of how the prohibitionists orchestrate these events to prevent intelligent discourse on the subject, but of their fear of being confronted with direct questions that would expose their fradulent data.

The entire issue is worth reading. Check out the special section on "Drugs: Why can't politicians face facts?" All five are worth reading, including the excellent editorial, Reefer madness, redux.

From whence comes the quote of the day:

This is madness.

* * *
While you're on the site, check out their charming farewell to Narco News. Al once worked there, they occassionally published his freelance work and they were one of the very few papers with the gravitas to publish the Banamex story. They're still one of the better main stream sources left in the media world. No small accomplishment in today's political climate.


Speaking of Narco News, the site may be only moments away from ceasing publication however, as I predicted, Al Giordano has laced up his running shoes and he's now posting the breaking news out of Boliva at blazing speed on BigLeftOutside. If you want news of the Latin Americas, look for it there from now on.

* * * * *
I received more news from Boliva today via another Narco News J-School alum, Ramon Acevedo. There's no link so I leave you an excerpt from the article and more of the photograhs which I have heard are worth 1,000 words apiece.

This is an extraordinary story developing in Boliva right now. 200,000 ordinary people said, we have had enough with the exploitation of our class and are doing something about it, at literal risk of their lives. They just forced their corrupt president to resign. Americans could take a lesson from their courage.

From the article, Bolivia's Gas War Intensifies:

Bolivia's president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, maintains that the millions in revenue from the sale of gas to the U.S. will create jobs and stabilize the Bolivian economy. He has promised that the money generated will go directly into funding for education and healthcare. But many Bolivians believe that foreign companies and Bolivian business and political leaders will be the only ones to benefit from the sale.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003


I've got to get out this town and out of my own head for while. I have a free plane ticket I have to complete travel on by the end of the month. I think I'm going to Florida for a few days next week. It's still warm there and as luck would have it, Harry, Jeannie, Sully and Patty are all going to be there in the same time frame. I just found out tonight while I was watching the Sox lose.

The game was a little painful but the series is far from over and for the 'Red Sox Theory' faithful, I have two words: Remember Oakland.


To underscore yesterday's post on the collateral damage in the WODSU, Tami Halphen sends this tragic story of an innocent teenage Hispanic girl, Ashley, who was senselessly murdered in a botched DEA raid. She could have been a poster girl for a clean teen campaign, and had a bright future until it was extinguished by the zealots who perpetrate this war against free choice.

This story is so sad I couldn't read the whole thing myself. It's all too familar a scenario in my inbox lately and I'm at my sorrow limit today. I really need this vacation.

Photo Monday Magazine

Thanks to Tim Meehan who blows through the inbox with this little gem today to lighten things up with this great piece from what appears to be an alternative weekly in Toronto. But would he inhale?, by Alisa Gordaneer, sums up the current Canadian cannabis situation with charming style.


I've been staying out of the Limbaugh dialogue so far. I can't deny feeling a certain fiendish glee in seeing him reap his karmic debt but I don't wish him ill. I hope he beats the addiction and I think he should be treated and not imprisioned just like any addict. Trouble is, he's getting off a lot easier than your average offender who's not an an obscenely rich apologist for the Bush administration.

I ran across this editiorial today in the LA Times, Now, a Real Drug Challenge, that summed up my feelings on the subject so well, that I decided to post the link even though you have to do the tiresome free registration thing to read it. Last word to the LAT.

When Limbaugh emerges from treatment this time around, perhaps he'll understand that he was no different from the addict on the street scrounging for his next fix. Maybe he can contribute something better than macho bluster to the debate over treatment of drug offenders — a group that includes those offering medical marijuana to cancer patients and rich, white radio hosts trying to score pills in the parking lot of Denny's.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Photo GNN News

I don't usually talk about the other wars in this space but my thoughts are in Baghdad today with Stephen Marshall and Anthony Lappe, two of the driving forces behind the Guerrilla News Network. I was fortunate to have become acquainted with these two high-caliber videographers at the Narco News J-School this year. They are young guys who have already accumulated a great body of impressive work. They now train their lens on the Iraqi people and are already providing a window to the ordinary citizens living in the rubble of what once was a beautiful ancient city.

They reported in at the forum today from on the ground in Saddam City, one of the more dangerous ghettos in the city and on the front page of the site, their story on Frank's War challenges assumptions on the temperment of the people on the street regarding the occupation. If you're interested in what's going on right now, this is the real unfiltered picture.


On a related note, as long as we're on the subject, I saw this staggering statistic today - there are more than 88,000 Americans still unaccounted for in all conflicts. Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Karl Malone, is doing something to draw attention to these unreported causalties of war and will wear the MIA/POW symbol on his sneakers for the rest of the season.


All wars harbor their unseen victims and this irrational War On Some Drugs and Users is no exception. Maybe if they issued a body count every day even the non-consumers would be horrified enough to help us end this war. In California alone, over 40 legal medical marijuana patients have been raided by federal agents. This list looks tame compared to a new feature at Drug War Rant, an all too long list of Drug War Victims, many of whom died during botched raids.

This is a war on us, my friends, and this is the kind of collateral damage your government feels is acceptable in waging it. I call it senseless slaughter.


Meanwhile our law enforcement agents become more and more corrupted by the enormous profits in illegal drugs. If the war ended not only would they be out of jobs but a great source of graft would disappear along with the laws. Now I'm not saying that all cops are corrupt, far from it, but more succumb to promise of easy money all the time.

Do a google search on - police corruption drugs - and you'll get well over 200,000 hits. The newspapers are rife with these stories every day. Here's three that came through this week:

FORMER VAN ZANDT PROSECUTOR LOOKING AT FED DRUG CHARGE. Of course they are only prosecuting him for the meth and not the two pounds of prescription drugs that were legally prescribed. Anybody else thinking Rush Limbaugh?

Police officer will appeal firing over marijuana use. Here's a long time cop who probably busted a lot of kids for smoking a joint and he admitted to investigators that he bought and used marijuana. He said he should be disciplined, but that his firing ''goes above and beyond the charges.''

He thinks he shouldn't be fired? A private citizen would already be in jail. That's the thing about this corruption, not only is the temptation to cheat large but the punishments are light.

Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story 10/10/03. A former Virginia deputy sherrif Kevin Glin Kinsey was actually sentenced to 40 months by a federal judge for using his position as a county jail supervisor as a crack cocaine franchise. That may sound long but it's a fraction of what would ordinarily be imposed in the current political climate. You remember the small meth lab they were prosecuting under the anti-terrorism law, I'm sure. I believe the prosecutor was going for about twice that amount on that bust and the guy's operation was tiny, certainly not of franchise proportions.


Well since we're on a prisoner of war theme today, the last word is Tommy Chong's address in prison. He recently began serving his nine month sentence for selling those evil empty bongs. Working in the law firm, I've met a lot of prisoners. Mail call is a big there so send him a card. No matter where you stand on the whole debate of whether or not he sold out by not going to trial, it would cheer him up and he's still another victim in this war.

Thomas Kin Chong
Taft CI
1500 Cadet Road
Taft, CA 93268