Why is the UK government making khat illegal?

05/10/2013

Khat is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In 1980, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a “drug of abuse” that can produce “mild to moderate psychological addiction” but less so than alcohol or tobacco. Khat chewing is a social custom that has gone on for thousands of years in the regions where it is grown, and no problems were ever identified. But because it can cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria, it has become a “problem drug” that is being made illegal in the so-called “developed” world. The plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations such as the DEA and is already a controlled substance in some countries, such as the United States, Canada and Germany.

Because khat was being looked at so hardly, the British government commissioned an investigation by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. After a review of the evidence, the expert committee recommended in January 2006 that khat should remain legal. But the Conservatives weren’t happy with that. On 3 July 2013, the British Home Secretary Theresa May announced that khat was to be banned, designating it a Class C substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Accordingly, the Frank drug advice site says:

Khat and the law
Khat will shortly become a Class C drug which means it will be illegal. If you are caught with the drug (possession) you could go to prison for two years and get an unlimited fine. If you are caught dealing or supplying (and that could just mean giving some to your mates) you could get 14 years in jail. It will also be an offence to bring Khat in and/or out of the country, so if you’ve been abroad you cannot bring it back to the UK with you.

Khat is an illegal substance in many other countries like the US and taking khat into the US could attract a heavy prison sentence.

So, Khat is pretty harmless, its use has gone on for thousands of years… and the UK government is banning it anyway. Why?

Because its use is fun! British (and many other) governments love to ban drugs that have a side-effect of euphoria. Look here for the proof! The British government (amongst many others) hate the idea of us enjoying ourselves. Alcohol, tobacco, refined sugar, and caffeine would be illegal if they didn’t have such a long tradition.

Unfortunately, voting for a different party won’t make much difference. The Lib Dems claim to want drugs to be decriminalised and the market regulated, but I think we all know by now that they are a bunch of liars. Maybe the Pirate Party UK would do something positive if they ever got the chance… but I can’t see them getting into government any time soon.

I hate hate. The government hates fun. So I hate the government. If you like fun, maybe you should start hating the government too?

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Lib Dem MP accused of “casual antisemitism”

26/01/2013

The Liberal Democrat David Ward faces disciplinary action over a comment he wrote on his website concerning Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Apparently he wrote about honouring those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust but also accusing “the Jews” of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians … on a daily basis”. Th is is in the run-up to Holocaust Memorial Day. He wrote:

“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

Ward’s use of the expression “the Jews” was unfortunate, as it appears to suggest that repression of the Palestinians is something that involves all Jews. But he has tried to explain what he meant. In an interview with Sky News he was asked if he accepted that he was accusing Jews, rather than the Israeli state, of inflicting persection on the Palestinians, to which he replied:

I’m accusing the Jews who did it, so if you’re a Jew and you did not do it I’m not accusing you. I’m saying that those Jews who did that and continue to do it have not learned those lessons. If you are a Jew and you do not do those things and have never done those things then I am of course not criticising you.

So, did Ward do anything wrong? Well, apart from the stupid use of the word “Jews” and “Israelis”, I would contend that he did nothing other than speak the truth. It is a fact that the state of Israel was founded on terrorism (for example by the Irgun terrorist group that later became an official arm of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces), that it fought wars of expansionism and forcibly removed Palestinians from their ancestral homes (which were then given to Israeli “settlers”) and that Israel continues to impose an apartheid regime that treats Palestinians as second class citizens. The siege of Gaza clearly demonstrates Israel’s policy concerning its opponents: the civilians of the Gaza Strip will continue to live in Israeli-imposed hellish conditions for the “crime” of democratically electing a government which doesn’t accept Israel’s “right” to steal Palestinian territories.

Unfortunately, we live in a bizarre system which equates anti-Israeli rhetoric with anti-semitism. I wish David Ward luck in defending himself against the ridiculous charges levelled against him. But I fear that all the luck in the world won’t save him from the Israeli-apologists who rule the Western world.

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Benefits cuts will kill the poor

08/01/2013

Today, the House of Commons voted through government spending cuts that will cut benefits to the poor for at least the next few years. The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition government won the vote easily. Labour voted against it, and former leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy led 6 Lib Dem rebels to oppose the government (which must have upset deputy prime minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg) – but it easily passed, 324 to 268. And this was after Whitehall published their “impact assessment” that showed the very poorest in Britain will suffer disproportionally from these cuts.

I’m really depressed about this. I know people whose lives will be harmed by the cuts. The government have tried to make the British people believe that benefit claimants are “shirkers” or “skivers” sponging off society. And this propaganda has worked on a lot of people – there have even been reports of hate crimes against disabled people, who have also been declared the “undeserving poor”. In fact, I’m so depressed I can’t face writing about this at length. So I’m going to cut and paste in some of the best readers’ comments about this, from the Guardian. Sorry. I promise to behave tomorrow.

First, here are some statistics posted by “thenewscritter” to try to disprove what the government’s black propaganda has been saying:

From FullFact.org:

– On average people think that 41 per cent of the entire welfare budget goes on benefits to unemployed people, while the true figure is 3 per cent.

– On average people think that 27 per cent of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently, while the government’s own figure is 0.7 per cent.

http://fullfact.org/factchecks/welfare_spending_economy_Lib_dem_conference-28294

Next up is “stayingalive”:

i am also sick of reading that “pensioners and the disabled will be protected”. Disabled people will NOT be protected, according to the government’s own figures, and for any media to continue to simply regurgitate the Government’s spin is an offence against journalistic integrity.

People who have somehow managed to get found not fit for work by ATOS, despite the demeaning, woefully inaccurate systems, receive ESA. The main component of ESA will be included in this cut.

People who have been found “fit for work at some point in the future” and placed into the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA will find all of their income is included in this cut.

People who have been found to be “incapable of any work, now or in the future” and placed into the Support Group will find most of their income included in this cut, so that they are likely to receive an increase of 1.4% overall, far below inflation levels.

People who currently receive DLA – a payment to reflect the additional costs of disability and paid whether people are in or out of work provided they are substantially disabled – will be gradually switched over to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) from October. The Government have written the new rules to totally redefine what “disability” actually means.

At present, if you cannot walk 200 m you can receive low rate mobility DLAt; if you cannot walk 50 m you can receive high rate of mobility

DLA. From October if you can walk 50m IN A DAY you will be regarded as having NO MOBILITY restrictions and lose DLA.
The changes to the care component of DLA are complex, but equally very draconian and far more stringent.

And given that the new PIP is being assessed by ATOS “health care professionals”, who are making enormous numbers of patently wrong decisions on ESA, there is little cause for any sense of security for “genuinely disabled people”.

In addition, from April disabled people who have one or two “spare” bedrooms and are in receipt of Housing Benefit will have their HB cut by 15 or 33% of their rent, REGARDLESS of whether there are any suitable adapted smaller properties for them to move into. This extra housing cost is somehow supposed to come from monies paid to cover disability or illness needs.

In addition, from April disabled people are no longer going to automatically receive credits for Council Tax. The Government has reduced the amount available by 20% and passed it to local authorities to each make their own decisions as to who receives help, but ringfencing the Council Tax credits for pensioners. As a result, far less will be available to all other groups (people in low-paid work, families with children, disabled people, unemployed people) who will receive bills for a “tax” they have until 31 March been deemed too poor to pay.

Quite HOW is the government protecting disabled people, from anything? And if i know this, why do not the Guardian, Channel 4 news, the BBC ….?

i despair of the future. How many wheelchair users have to lose their jobs through losing their ability to travel to work from DLA; how many terminally ill people have to lose their homes through rent arrears; how many blind people have to attend food banks before this is taken seriously and properly reported??

A good question, “stayingalive”.

Next up, “maxivory”:

Its pretty clear that many Tory MPs, none of whom have ever known any form of hardship themselves, are relishing the chance to put the boot into “people on benefits” who are they consider to be a homogenous group of workshy skivers with no motivation to better themselves. No matter that 68% of those claimants affected have jobs, the important thing is to ‘set an example’ and score a politcal victory over Labour. Never mind that the government defict reduction is wildy off target and that we still borrow 2.5bn a week, the poor MUST be made to suffer so that the Treasury can rake in another 5bn over two years.

Full time workers havent had 2.5% pay rise, so apparently its unfair to increase benefits by this amount. What facile logic. If you have a full time job earning 26,000 a year (average wage) you are infinitely better off than anyone on benefits, even if you receive no pay rise at all. Also, a 1% rise (£260) woud be materially more than a 2.5% rise in a family’s paltry £200 a week benefit (£104). They are not comparing like with like, and 99.9% of those on benefits would like.. a job.

And finally, an excellent comment from “PaulTreloar”:

I warn you. I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can’t pay. I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don’t notice and the poor can’t afford.

I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don’t earn, they don’t spend. When they don’t spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient. I warn you that you will have defence of a sort – with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding. I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

If Margaret Thatcher wins on Thursday, I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old.

That was then and this is now……

Thanks for that “PaulTreloar”.

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Minimum price for alcoholic drinks? Come on, ConLibs, give us a break!

23/03/2012

According to the Guardian, a minimum price for alcoholic drinks is on the cards… and it might be more than 40 pence per unit!

The government claim it’s to tackle binge drinking.  But you’d have to be pretty dense to swallow that one whole.  Sure, there is a problem with some people “pre-loading” with a bottle of vodka or something before they hit the town.  But these drinkers aren’t going to be affected by this minimum price.  They’ll still be buying their Smirnoff or whatever.  It’s the poor who will be really affected by this.  It’s those on fixed incomes who buy the “budget booze” – and a 40p per unit minimum price will make the supermarkets’ cheapest vodka cost £11.20 a bottle.  Not a problem for most folk, but a pretty drastic hike for those on fixed incomes – those who could really do with a drink after all the other crap that’s been thrown at them by our Con-Lib government.

Oh, and before anyone says this plan will help stop underage drinking – well duh! there’s already a way to stop that.  It’s called enforce the laws we already have.  In the UK it is illegal to sell booze to anyone under 18, and most places ask to see ID of any alcohol customer who looks under 25.  Hitting poor adults in the pocket is no solution to the problem of children drinking.

Come on, Cameron, give us all a break!  You want to take benefits away from the poor, now you want to make it impossible for them to even have a drink more than once a month.  The figures being bandied about might seem small change to those who aren’t poor.  But believe me, this will make a big difference to a lot of people!

 

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Medicinal marijuana – and why the hell not?!

09/04/2008

The Liberal Democrats are predictably liberal in their stance on cannabis.  But I was surprised, and pleased, to discover that even the Conservatives are in favour of legalizing medicinal marijuana – David Cameron has said that he’d be “relaxed” about legalization if there was evidence of cannabis’ clinical efficacy. But the bloody Labour Party won’t go for it.

Not too long ago, things looked more hopeful. Mo Mowlam, the former cabinet minister in Blair’s government who died in 2005, supported the campaign to legalize cannabis for medical use; the Home Office started to investigate whether cannabis was medicinally beneficial, but that hasn’t gone anywhere – and now the government is strictly anti-cannabis, harping on about its “dangers” and pushing for it to be made a Class B drug again. There has been development of a “cannabis-based” pill for sufferers of multiple sclerosis… but the damn thing contains no THC, the Puritan authorities don’t want anyone to get high, and THC is very likely the active ingredient that makes cannabis a beneficial drug.  So the pill doesn’t work.  Idiots.

What really pisses me off is the fact that even the USA, the most anti-drug nation in the world, accepts that marijuana is an effective medicine.  Okay, so the federal government is anti-cannabis still; but a great many states have medicinal marijuana policies. Laws that legalize growing and/or possessing medical marijuana are in place in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon,  Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Twelve states have medical marijuana research laws, and only fifteen states have never had a positive medical marijuana law.

MS and glaucoma sufferers get great relief when they use cannabis.  Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy find that dope eases their otherwise debilitating nausea. AIDS, epilepsy, depression, chronic pain, are all ameliorated to some extent.  So why won’t the UK government legalize medicinal marijuana? Why are patients in Britain forced to live in fear of prison?

SUPPORT THE LEGALIZATION OF MEDICINAL MARIJUANA!! CHECK OUT THE CAMPAIGN TO LEGALIZE CANNABIS ASSOCIATION AND THE  “BUD BUDDIES” MARIJUANA COOPERATIVE FOR THE SICK.


London Assembly wants to sack Met Commisioner

07/11/2007

Ain’t it a shame that the London Assembly doesn’t have the power to dismiss the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police?  Cos they made it pretty clear that they want the idiot to go.

The Guardian tells how the Assembly passed a vote of no confidence against Sir Ian Blair – it was carried by 15 votes to 8.  The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives united to tell the Commissioner how disgusted they are by his handling of the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes.  Only the Labour assembly members supported the police chief.

It really makes me mad how Sir Ian Blair refuses to accept any responsibility for the wrongful killing.  Last week the Metropolitan police force was convicted of health & safety offences stemming from the shooting of de Menezes… and Sir Ian then complained about the “health & safety Taliban” giving him trouble!  It seems that the idiot really can’t see that the killing was wrong!  His attitude is: “De Menezes looked like a suicide bomber, so we killed him!  Serves him right for looking suspicious!”

I remember how, at the time of the shooting, Sir Ian said on TV that a suicide bomber had been killed; then, when the news broke that de Menezes was actually Brazilian, and innocent, Blair said that the guy had run away from officers and had been generally dodgy.  This turned out to be complete lies.  But Blair has refused to apologize – it seems he blames de Menezes for getting himself killed!

Now Sir Ian wants “a line to be drawn” under the whole affair… meaning, he wants everyone to stop criticizing him and his murderous lackeys.  Luckily, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.  Next year there’s going to be an inquest into why the armed officers pulled the trigger on de Menezes.  I hope to God that the inquest will have the balls to say clearly that the killing was unlawful and that the killers – and their boss – should be prosecuted.  Then maybe the government will stop supporting the gutless police chief.  Sir Ian Blair should be sacked.

sirianblair.jpg

Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, defending his men for shooting Jean Charles de Menezes in cold blood:  “He looked like he was guilty of something!”


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