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  $4b Later, Drugs Still Flow in Colombia
Posted by CN Staff on May 21, 2006 at 09:01:45 PT
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Globe Staff 
Source: Boston Globe 

Poison Tumaco, Colombia -- Six years and $4 billion into the US-backed campaign to wipe out cocaine at its source, Colombia appears to be producing more coca than when the campaign started, according to US government estimates.

As Congress opens debate this month on another $640 million for next year for Washington's most ambitious overseas counternarcotics effort, a growing number of critics say the costly program has neither dented the cocaine trade nor driven down the number of American addicts. Two of the program's major missions -- to dramatically reduce coca growing in Colombia and provide alternative livelihoods for drug farmers -- have fallen far short of hoped-for goals.

One time supporters, including some Republican lawmakers who championed the plan at its creation, are now demanding to know why the most expensive US foreign aid program outside the Middle East and Afghanistan is not winning the war on drugs.

Backers of Plan Colombia, as the antidrug program is called, count its successes in the hundreds of thousands of acres of coca eradicated, hundreds of tons of cocaine seized, and thousands of clandestine drug laboratories destroyed. Without the campaign, they say, cocaine would be flooding the streets of America.

''Large coca farmers have been eliminated, along with power of large cartels," said Sandro Calvani, chief of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Colombia. ''Were it not for Plan Colombia, cocaine would be so cheap in America you could distribute it door-to-door like milk or pizza."

But critics say the program for Colombia, which supplies 90 percent of the cocaine and half the heroin consumed in the United States, has not lived up to the high hopes. Growers and narco-traffickers have adapted to the crackdown, drug enforcement officials say. While coca was concentrated in three provinces at the start of Plan Colombia, it has spread to at least 23 of the country's 31 provinces.

With heavily armed leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries running drug networks and protecting them, Colombian traffickers are a formidable opponent for even stepped-up law enforcement. Drug seizures in the first quarter of this year were less than half of what they were in the first quarter of last year, according to Admiral Álvaro Echandía, Colombia's navy intelligence chief. Authorities estimate that only a minority of drug shipments to the United States are intercepted.

Drug producers have also learned to rescue, replant, fortify, and move coca bushes. Satellite imaging over the last six years has revealed a ''balloon effect," in which illicit crops are squeezed out of one region and new bushes pop up elsewhere.

Opposition to eradication is also growing. Last week, about 5,000 farmers blocked the strategic Pan-American Highway in southwestern Nariño Province, and clashes with police left at least 60 people injured, according to the coca growers.

Spraying Coca Bushes

The highest concentration of coca in Colombia is grown in the municipality of Tumaco in Nariño Province. In remote villages, without markets or transport, most legal crops are unprofitable. Easy-to-sell, hard-to-spoil coca became the vogue about six years ago, when Plan Colombia's eradication planes targeted neighboring Putamayo Province, then the hotbed of coca.

Today, US-financed planes and helicopters buzz overhead, pumping herbicide onto swaths of land dotted with coca bushes. Police and military forces work to intercept cocaine before it leaves the province, headed for the United States via the Pacific.

At the same time, technicians from a US-funded United Nations development project that is part of Plan Colombia are trying to persuade poor farmers to abandon the quick-cash crop. Peasants who do so risk deadly reprisals from militias who control the production chain.

With a budget of only $2 million, the two-year program was able to enlist just 8 percent of farmers along the Rosario River, teaching them to grow cocoa for chocolate and to harvest lumber. Women are learning to make jewelry from discarded shells and seeds. The rest in this neglected backwater are left to grow illicit crops on the collectively owned land.

Participants in the alternative development project say spray planes are frustrating their efforts.

''If they're going to fumigate everything anyway, what's the advantage of planting legal crops?" asked Pablo Nilson Preciado, 32, a former coca farmer taking part in the project.

US and Colombian officials deny they are spraying indiscriminately. In a recent police flight over Tumaco to investigate farmers' claims of unfair fumigation, authorities pointed out small coca plantings hidden among plantains, palms, and other food crops. ''There was not a single complaint out of 210 that was legitimate," asserted Police Colonel Henry Gamboa, chief of crop eradication.

Yet farmers point to wilted bananas and palms. Rosalba Quiñones, 52, says she lost five acres of African palm to the herbicide glyphosate. ''How can we continue all this work if in one moment it can be gone?"

The UN's Calvani says eradication alone will never win the drug war. Governments must ''eradicate illicit crops from the minds of the people" by simultaneously helping farmers earn a living from other crops.

Yet the vast majority of $8.5 billion invested by the US and Colombian governments in the last six years has gone toward law enforcement and eradication. Alternative development projects reach fewer than 20 percent of coca-growing peasants, Calvani says, leaving the rest with little incentive to grow anything but drug crops.

More Funds for Colombia

On Friday, a House of Representatives subcommittee proposed $640 million in military, police, and social assistance to Colombia for next year. For the first time since the campaign began, congressmen proposed moving $135 million in economic aid out of the counterdrug budget, giving Colombia more freedom to spend it. The budget may face further changes in the Senate, with the full Congress voting by fall.

That aid is apart from about $160 million for Colombia expected to be approved as part of the Defense Department budget for next year.

Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, recently accused US drug czar John Walters of selecting data to paint ''a rosier, but not necessarily more accurate, picture" of the achievements of Plan Colombia.

Last November, the White House Office of Drug Control Policy announced a rise in cocaine prices and drop in purity in mid-2005, implying the campaign was squeezing the cocaine supply. In a letter to Walters last month, Grassley questioned Walters's claim of a price spike, and cited data showing cocaine prices on a downward slide since 1982 -- indicating a steadily growing supply.

Even using the controversial White House data, the retail price of cocaine would have been around $170 a gram last September, not far from the $168 price in 2000 when Plan Colombia began.

Plan Colombia's supporters say more money and patience are needed before the efforts will be reflected on the streets of America.

''We're making first downs," said US Ambassador to Colombia William Wood, ''but we're not sure how long the football field is."

Critics on Capitol Hill say it's not enough to cite eradication and seizure figures in Colombia, when the ultimate goal is a drop in drug abuse in the United States.

''We've put in all this money, and American people want results," said a Republican staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment. ''We see X number of tons seized and drugs labs shut down there, but we . . . don't have a marked increase in the price or kids switching to lesser drugs."

The latest US government National Survey on Drug Use and Health found a 33 percent increase in first-time cocaine users under the age of 18 between 2000 and 2004, and a slight increase in hard-core addicts.

Critics of Plan Colombia also cite the White House's own estimate last month that coca cultivation was up 26 percent in 2005 over the previous year. The White House drugs office counters that surveyors saw more coca because they were looking harder last year, at an area 81 percent larger than before.

Still, US estimates of coca cultivation are now higher than when Plan Colombia began.

''For American taxpayers, the benefit is a big fat zero. You're right back where you were in 2000," said Adam Isacson, Colombia analyst at the Center for International Policy, a Washington think tank.

The UN's Calvani says debating the efficacy of eradication is beside the point. ''If I got rid of all the crops tomorrow, I'd still be at square one, because people just replant it. The real debate should be about why there is replanting."

The Growers' Struggle

Desperately poor and far from public services or markets, farmers along the Rosario River say they resorted to coca because they had no other way to survive. But it brought disaster in its wake.

''We were in a critical situation; we had very little food for our families," said Inocencio Nuñez, 43, a former grower. ''Then we discovered that people live in ruin with coca."

First, the crop destroyed the habitat. On average, three acres of virgin forest are cut and burned to make way for one acre of coca. Nearly 500 pounds of chemicals are used to process one acre's worth of leaves, toxins that contaminate rivers into which they are discarded.

Guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the National Liberation Army came to the Rosario River on the trail of coca, charging ''taxes" to growers as a percentage of each harvest, and persecuting those who didn't comply, residents say. Even when coca plants were fumigated, rebels demanded money. Peasants lived on loans from big drug producers, so when their crops were fumigated, they lost everything.

One reason Colombia has been so attractive to narco-trafficking is that before Plan Colombia, there was virtually no government presence in vast swaths of territory, allowing illegal armies to control and profit from drug networks.

US aid, supporters say, has helped return Colombian security forces to the countryside, and has loosened the grip of illegal militias. Since 2002, US antinarcotics aid to Colombia can be spent on counterterrorism. About 80 percent of US funds go to eradication and military and police assistance.

Under congressional strictures, a maximum of 800 US military and 590 civilian contractors can be posted in Colombia, and Americans cannot be directly involved in counterinsurgency operations. Embassy officials say about 350 US military personnel and 400 civilians are flying crop dusters, maintaining aircraft, and conducting security training and assistance.

Many involved in trying to stem the drug trade say a combination of pressure on coca growers and support for alternative crops is the only hope for lasting change.

Javier Sánchez, of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, directs the US-funded program on the Rosario River that the UN says can be a model for weaning farmers from coca. With a transport network and markets for their goods, farmers in such programs can make as much or more than they did in coca, the UN drugs office says.

''Maybe 70 percent of the population is ready to get out of illicit crops," Sánchez said. ''What they're missing is a bigger program to accommodate them."

Former coca farmer Nuñez has been singing the program's praises to his neighbors, and little by little, they are taking notice.

''This project has convinced us we can leave that behind and take advantage of our own natural riches," he said. ''Now we may earn little, but we live in a situation of peace and tranquility."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Newshawk: Sam Adams
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Author: Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Globe Staff
Published: May 21, 2006
Copyright: 2006 Globe Newspaper Company

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Comment #44 posted by FoM on May 23, 2006 at 12:13:07 PT
You nod along. That made me laugh. I understand totally. LOL!

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #43 posted by whig on May 23, 2006 at 12:06:54 PT
Actually we prefer to maintain the illusion of conservative middle-class folks. No lava lamps or black lights or posters for us. My mother-in-law has no idea what I do, and it's always interesting to hear her go on to me about how awful the hippies are in Humboldt County where they live. I haven't had a good opportunity to express disagreement, so I just nod along.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #42 posted by Hope on May 23, 2006 at 07:02:13 PT
An old door and some more blocks...
or filing cabinets to support it make a great desk.

Maybe a Jimi Hendrix tapestry hanging on the wall! Lol! Posters and a black light and you're ready to go!

(Framed posters and prints are still good, inexpensive decoration in a pinch.)

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #41 posted by Hope on May 23, 2006 at 06:59:11 PT
Whig and Max.
Whig, bout that furniture and stuff, bet they have some "groovy" garage sales in Berkley. You'd be surprised what people in the sixties and seventies came up with from virtually nothing. It can be fun. One that comes to my mind is bookselves from planks and hadite blocks. Mexican blankets for curtains. Whoo-hoo. A lava lamp and a wooden crate to hold your records...ahhh...not records, now. Oh yeah...and a three foot bong in the corner...ready to go when necessary! :0)

Max Fowers....Commentator Extraordinaire! McCain is "Nasty".

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #40 posted by Truth on May 22, 2006 at 15:38:12 PT
What do you think of Obama?

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #39 posted by whig on May 22, 2006 at 10:25:17 PT
Says it all:

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #38 posted by FoM on May 22, 2006 at 10:21:36 PT
WOW Max Flowers
Excellent and my husband wants me to say he agrees.

We are angry and they better pay attention this time.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #37 posted by Max Flowers on May 22, 2006 at 10:11:38 PT
That's right FoM
If we get Hillary Clinton, I believe we are not going to move forward. I sense no moral substance in her whatsoever. She's a cold, calculating lawyer. What this country is going to need is someone with healing energy, someone with new ideas who can inspire everyone. Hillary is not that person. And sadly, I know what a long shot it is that someone like I describe will emerge.

I read yesterday that Al Gore is now telling people pretty firmly that he is not going to run. And even if he did run, he would have to divest himself of all his oil type investments before many people could take him 100% seriously.

I read some things about John McCain recently too that made me realize what a nasty piece of work he is. One of them was that he told a mean, sick joke about Chelsea Clinton at a public speaking engagement... he said "you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Her dad is Janet Reno." That gives a clear view to the way his mind works, and shows he does not deserve to be president. We don't need another immature punk. We have had all we can take of immature punks!

I also want to say that Chelsea is definitely not ugly. She may have been a little awkward looking as a kid, but so what, lots of kids are and then grow into beautiful people. What McCain needs to hear: "You want to see ugly, McCain? Look in a mirror. Maybe you should do something about that big swollen goiter on your face, you bitter old man." And anyone who thinks he's a war hero should think again. Dropping bombs on people from the air is not so heroic. At least John Kerry was on the ground, facing the "enemy" directly, dodging their bullets to rescue his buddies. I also know Vietnam vets who were grunts facing danger 24/7, who never talk about it ever, while McCain did about 20 hours of combat and sells himself as a "hero" all the time.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #36 posted by FoM on May 22, 2006 at 09:58:07 PT
Off Topic: Dixie Chicks
The Dixie Chicks are following Neil Young's lead and have their new record streaming on their web site. I read where Neil Young challenges Country Channels to play it. It is number one in sales on Amazon.

Play this music! Stop censoring us.

Play Living With War too!

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #35 posted by FoM on May 22, 2006 at 09:07:32 PT
Max Flowers
I hope that Hillary Clinton is just a decoy and that they actually won't consider her. I want to vote but I just can't vote for someone who is a want a be republican. I always thought that about President Clinton too and now that he is buddy buddy with senior Bush I know I was right.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #34 posted by Max Flowers on May 22, 2006 at 08:58:46 PT
(OT) An indication the neocons aren't confident
Check this out... the first and last paragraphs say it all. This is from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about an assault on Taliban in Afghanistan that was just done (where many civilians, naturally, were also killed, because that's the way our military apparently does things).

The escalation in fighting came amid reports that US military officials have secretly requested a "prodigious quantity" of ammunition from Russia to supply the Afghan Army in case a Democrat president takes over and pulls out US troops.

Pentagon chiefs asked arms suppliers for a quote on a vast amount of ordnance, including more than 78 million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 100,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 12,000 tank shells - equivalent to about 15 times the British Army's annual requirements.

The Bush Administration is said to be worried that the next president could be a Democrat, possibly Hillary Clinton, who could abandon Afghanistan.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #33 posted by Truth on May 22, 2006 at 08:00:59 PT
What Hope says is very true. When we moved here from CO 9 years ago we brought it all with us. It would have been better financially to leave it behind. Our financing on the new home got held up and we ended up paying storage with the moving company until we finally got into the new place. When it was all over we felt like we had be held up. We're totally glad we moved here. No regrets.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #32 posted by Hope on May 22, 2006 at 04:42:58 PT
Cool pics, Truth...Thanks
Whig. I'm excited about your going to California. I hope it's wonderful for both of you. Might be cheaper to sell your old furniture and buy new than moving it all the way across the country.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #31 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 22:48:49 PT
I can imagine it will be expensive to move furnitire that far and I hope you find out soon on your house sale.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #30 posted by whig on May 21, 2006 at 22:31:08 PT
No, it's the one major stress we still have. That and the buyer of our current place still has a financial contingency. Hopefully both will be resolved in early June. My wife is supposed to get a laptop for school but we can't afford to buy it until we have these other things definite because it would really mess us up if we ran short when we need to pay movers and everything else.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #29 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 22:19:47 PT
I never heard of the song but the lyrics are very interesting.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #28 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 22:17:04 PT
I think you will enjoy Berkeley. Have you found a place to live yet?

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #27 posted by whig on May 21, 2006 at 21:47:57 PT
Maybe after we visit with you here someday you will come out and visit us there. I think there's a need for people like us to be everywhere, even though concentrating in one place has a lot of benefits. When we're scattered we bring our little bits of light to the dark places. When we're concentrated we can shine like a beacon but we're also vulnerable to having our light extinguished. So we're here, there and everywhere. But I won't mind to be somewhere brighter than where I've been for so long. I need to make sure I get together with some people for Memorial Day and keep a connection when I'm gone.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #26 posted by gloovins on May 21, 2006 at 21:31:35 PT
Anyone hear of this song?...very apppopriate now
The The Armageddon Days Are Here (again)

They're 5 miles high as the crow flies

leavin' vapour trails against a blood red sky

Movin' in from the East toward the West

with Balaclava helmets over their heads, yes!

But if you think that Jesus Christ is coming

Honey you've got another thing coming

If he ever finds out who's hi-jacked his name

He'll cut out his heart and turn in his grave

Islam is rising

The Christians mobilising

The world is on its elbows and knees

It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

It's war, she cried, It's war, she cried, this is war

Drop your possessions, all you simple folk

You will fight them on the beaches in your underclothes

You will thank the good lord for raising the union jack

You'll watch the ships out of harbour

and the bodies come floating back

If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today

He'd be gunned down by the C.I.A.

Oh, the lights that now burn brightest behind stained glass

Will cast the darkest shadows upon the human heart

But God didn't build himself that throne

God doesn't live in Israel or Rome

God belong to the yankee dollar

God doesn't plant the bombs for Hezbollah

God doesn't even go to church

And God won't send us down to Allah to burn

No, God will remind us what we already know

That the human race is about to reap what it's sown

The world is on its elbows and knees

It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

Armageddon days are here again...

Scary, this was written 1989...

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #25 posted by lombar on May 21, 2006 at 21:17:13 PT
cannabis product for pets!
New over-the-counter drug gives your pooch pot

Updated Mon. May. 15 2006 10:22 PM ET News Staff

Pet owners across Canada have a new a new way to treat the ailments of their beloved four-legged friend -- through cannabis treatment.

While most Canadians are aware that medicinal marijuana is legal in Canada, many may not know that there is a product available that also offers cannabis health benefits for your pets.

Med-Marijuana's newest product, Medi-Paws, is being used by Canadian pet owners for a host of animal issues such as cardiac health, arthritis, liver and kidney functions.

The product is a supplement that contains 100 per cent pure cannabis sativa oil. Med Marijuana uses customized seeds using a certified grower through Health Canada.

Sherry Martin gives her 18-month-old dog, Jade, a shot of Med Marijuana's Medi-Paws everyday.

Martin gives him the cannabis drug as preventative measure because he is part German Shepard - a breed that is notorious for hip problems.

"There are no psychoactive properties to it," Martin told CTV Calgary. "You won't get the munchies - - humans or pets. That's what makes it legal for over the counter sale."

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #24 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 19:04:21 PT
We will meet you and then you will be gone but you won't be gone you'll still be here on CNews. You will learn so much out in Berkeley. I hope you share with us all you will learn.Even though I have never been to Berkeley a little part of my heart is there. I can't explain it but it's true. I also feel that way about the Boston area. I know what it is. It's the musicians like James Taylor, Carole King and others from that area. Berkeley is just a free spirit place in my mind.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #23 posted by whig on May 21, 2006 at 18:43:15 PT
I can't wait... move.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #22 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 16:33:52 PT
Thank you. They are great pictures. Look at Joan Baez still dancing and barefoot too.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #21 posted by Truth on May 21, 2006 at 16:09:28 PT
Hopefully this works.

for some reason they got posted in reverse order...

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #20 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 15:46:24 PT
If you don't have time right now that's ok. We'll be here. There's no rush.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #19 posted by Truth on May 21, 2006 at 15:44:06 PT
I'll try. We'll see what happens....

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #18 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 15:42:30 PT
Breakfast in Bed at Woodstock
I love my copy of Woodstock 69. I wish I could have been there but I'm glad I have the DVD.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #17 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 15:39:45 PT
Would you put the pictures on the Marihemp Network Gallery and then post the link so we can see them? That would be great.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #16 posted by Truth on May 21, 2006 at 15:06:17 PT
Wavy Gravy
We got some great shots, we were in the third row.

Wavy, among other things, offered breakfast in bed to Woodstock. Ben and Jerry named a flavor after him.

The show was a benefit for Seva. The Seva organization has been doing corneal transplants in third world countrie. They sold some 3000 seats last night and every seat sold represented a corneal transplant, litterally SIGHT for someone. Wavy's one of America's finest.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 14:23:51 PT
Here's information for you.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by kaptinemo on May 21, 2006 at 14:17:00 PT:

Deja vu, all over again
If you use the Search facility in the upper right of the WebPage, type in "Plan Colombia" with no quotation marks, then set the limits all the way to 320, you will find past CNEWS articles on the present subject going back at least to 2001.

You will also find something else: if you take the time to randomly click on the old articles, you find that the only thing that has changed has been the names of the various bureaucrats. The situation has become precisley the open-ended cash-siphon that the commenters (your's truly having been among them) predicted it would.

More proof of Santayana's observation that those incapable of learning from history are doomed to repeat it. Colombia was a known maze the US entered into with its' eyes wide open. There were signs saying it was a maze. The locals warned us it was a maze. But dumb ol' Uncle just loves a challenge. Well, the bread crumbs are on the ground, but crushed into dust from all the circling around. The faded arrows are exactly where we placed them 5 years ago. We've come full circle in Colombia, and the only thing that has happened is what was predicted would happen. 5 years and billions of taxpayer dollars later, and cocaine is still pouring into the country like an invisible underground river, and the price has fluctuated by only a mere $2 a gram. Billions of hard earned, tax-extorted dollars gone over the political event horizon into a black hole...resulting in $2 shift in price. And this is something the Bush Administration takes pride in?

I still say that somewhere there's a secret lab, where pols and bureaucrats are whisked away to in the middle of the night and lobotomized. How else can you explain the rank stupidity the DrugWarriors insist upon displaying? People like us warned them the debacle in Colombia was a foregone conclusion, but like 'developmentally challenged' children, they just kept squeezing that 'balloon', hoping it will pop. But it never does, ever.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by global_warming on May 21, 2006 at 14:14:09 PT
sorry 'Truth
who the fuck is "wavy"?

Is this some human being who "smoked" "Cannabis"?

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 14:11:18 PT
Did you or anyone get pictures? You can put pictures on Ron Bennett's Marihemp Gallery Page if you want. Just an idea.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #11 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 14:07:16 PT
Thank you. How unbelievable it must have been for you and everyone.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #10 posted by Truth on May 21, 2006 at 13:58:12 PT
Wavy looked great at 70. Larry Brilliant, the Executive Director of Google, was there and said how him, Wavy and others did a fat camp and learned how to eat right. Seems to be working.

Larry also did a presentation on a big screen, using Google Satalite to show where Wavy's life has taken him. All from a satalite view he would take us from places, zooming in and out, like where Wavy took walks with Albert Einstein as a youngster in New Jersey, they did the bus trips that Kesey and The Merry Pranksters took both in America and Eurasia. Egypt, Katmandu, we went everywhere, real photos, it was fun. It ended up at the Hog Farm in Laytonville. Our house was in that shot but too small to see. Then he put up a photo of Ayers rock in Austalia and announced that he and others were sending Wavy and his wife there since he was so fit now. He also said that they talked to the native tribe of the territory and they were going to take Wavy to special spots in the rock, where only very special folks go, they said they would treat him like the shamen he is.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by global_warming on May 21, 2006 at 13:46:17 PT
that was a pitiful story

I wonder why these lost souls have found an inexpensive high,

that can so completely obliterate their life

and existence?

In the meantime,

Those very powerful people in Columbia,

Protect and are becoming the New Worlds Racketeers,

Until this futile war on drugs, and human beings is dissolved,

This is not a war on drugs,

It is a war on good peoples tax dollars,

Those same bloody tax dollars,

That are fueling those militia in Columbia,

I hope this US Congress is awake,

To continue this ignorant waste

Can be likened to insanity

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 13:41:24 PT
All I can say is wow oh wow and thank you for sharing it with me and all of us. I too feel that the war is more important then our issue. I don't want our young men and women to die for nothing.

A Big Happy Birthday Wavy Gravy!

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by Truth on May 21, 2006 at 13:34:10 PT
A little story from yesterday:

Martha and I made the three hour trek into San Francisco yesterday for Wavy Gravy's 70th birthday party. We stopped early in the drive and bought two copies of Living With War, one to listen to on the drive and one to give to Wavy G. for his birthday. We gave him the CD at dinner and then went to the concert. After the first act, Linda Tillery and Nina Gerber, they were reseting the stage for David Lindley. Wavy was on stage talking and almost right away went into telling the audience about Neil's great new album. He sang a couple bars of Let's Impeach the President. During the intermission the house music started with Looking for a Leader.

Wavy spoke out stongly against the wars, both of them. He said he wants to work on the pot war but more folks are dying in the other war so that came first for him.

It was a great night with some outstanding performers. Besides the artists mentioned there were Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, Joan Baez and her son Gabe played, Mickey Hart from the Dead, Bob Weir, too, with his band Rat Dog.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by lombar on May 21, 2006 at 13:20:31 PT
Opiates are safe, glue is not
People find a way to escape their suffering albeit temporarily, by whatever means they can. The war on drugs is a war to promote suffering, making drug usage more dangerous than it has to be. Making access to affordable safe recreational drugs difficult leaving whatever is at hand to do the job. Why can't the so-called guardians of virtue just demonstrate how their lives have 'more quality' rather than coerce anyone who does not agree into their mindset? If drugs were all so bad, why does the state need to invent further ill consequences?(bathtub gin, E cut with meth, cannabis laced with ferts, gangsters, illegal labs, grow houses, lying police....)



Legions Of Solvent Abusers In Winnipeg's Core Exist Only To Find Their Next Poisonous Fix; The Downtown BIZ Is Taking Steps To Do Something About The Problem

Police reporter Bruce Owen and photographer Joe Bryksa spent a few days this month on the city's Main Street strip between Higgins and Logan. Like all big cities, Winnipeg's core has a substance-abuse problem. What's being done?

RUSSELL Sinclair points to the scar around his right eye and says the eyeball is plastic.

You'd never know.

He says it was beaten out of him a couple of years ago on the Main Street strip in a fight that also left him with a permanent, bow-legged limp. He walks with a cane.

Still, the 40-year-old solvent abuser says he feels safe living on the street, shuffling from one soup kitchen to the next and sleeping at the Main Street Project.

Today begins like almost every other. Some soup and a peanut butter sandwich at the Lighthouse Mission and then he's off. He's got five bucks in his pocket that'll get him half a plastic "chubby" bottle ( four ounces ) of paint thinner from a bootlegger. "It gets you high," says the former Fort Alexander resident in a mumble that's almost impossible to understand. "It's like cocaine."

The small bottle of paint thinner and its fumes will last him two days, some of it passed out on the street, the odd time ending up in the back of an ambulance.

Paint thinner contains toluene, which causes serious nerve damage in habitual sniffers like Sinclair.

"Some days I don't know if Russell's dead or alive," Lighthouse Mission pastor Scott Miller says as Sinclair heads out the door. "Why do people sniff? I think they just want to blot out the reality of their existence."

Sinclair's not alone. Anyone who's driven Main Street between Higgins and Logan knows this already.

There, on the sidewalk of one of Winnipeg's busiest streets, the almost daily display of addiction and hopelessness plays itself out, worse on cheque days. That's when social assistance money flows so the down-and-out can buy solvents to sniff and two-buck king cans of beer to wash it down.

While most Winnipeggers roll up their car window and drive on, people like Miller are trying to do something about it.

The biggest initiative is a $300,000 program led by the Downtown BIZ. It will put 10 special constables on the street to detain solvent abusers and other heavily intoxicated and sometime aggressive people. The constables will have the power of arrest under the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act. Once off the street, a formal outreach process will be initiated to steer some of the solvent abusers to agencies to help them dry out and get back on their feet.

"Businesses want to contribute towards a solution," says Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande.

Why the program is needed is simple: City police are too busy on more serious calls to pick up drunks and passed-out sniffers.

"For Winnipeg police, we're not a priority for them," says Siloam Mission director of patron services Dan Ingalls.

Four years ago, the Manitoba government brought in penalties to yank the licences of retailers caught knowingly selling intoxicants like hair spray and paint thinner to abusers, but only a handful of people have so far been prosecuted. One Elgin Street store was back in business hours after being raided by police two years ago.

The Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association is also trying to put a dent in the problem. It's distributing 4,000 kits to members across the province to educate them about the risks of solvent abuse, and the role of pharmacies in not selling certain products to abusers.

There are about 3,500 solvent abusers in Manitoba, according to a government estimate released in 2002. The numbers don't appear to have changed since then.

What has changed is that they've become more visible. In the past, they'd hang out in parks, out of sight, but these days they're out on the sidewalks, where it's a short walk to the Bell Hotel vendor for $2 king cans of beer.

Outside the Lighthouse Mission, help can't come soon enough for these people. The only social contact they have is with soup kitchens, the Main Street Project, and sometimes, when things go very wrong, city paramedics. There is nothing else. A few feet from the tattered blue awning of the North Main Development Corp. -- a long-forgotten, multimillion-dollar public initiative to revitalize the Main Street strip some two decades ago -- two men are standing hunched together in the doorway of a derelict building.

One is a bootlegger. He's got a can of paint thinner. He's pouring some of it into a small plastic drink bottle held by the other guy. He pours slowly so as not to spill. Don't want your profit hitting your shoes.

The guy with the small bottle hands him some cash and stumbles away, picking up his buddy slumped against the Salvation Army's Booth Centre. He grins when he sees his buddy's bottle and off they go. It's 10:25 a.m.

A lot's been said and written about sniffers, drunks and aggressive panhandlers in Winnipeg. Some people say the problem only seemed to go away during the 1999 Pan Am Games, when the city was centre-stage to the world and wanted to put its best face forward.

Miller and others who work in the area's shelters and soup kitchens say the area's substance-abuse problem simply mirrors issues of poverty and addiction not only in Winnipeg, but across Canada.

John Mohan, executive director of Siloam Mission, says most street people are aboriginal, but that is slowly changing. Siloam plans to open a 60-bed shelter next year.

"They're younger and whiter," he says. "A lot come from rural areas to escape abusive homes. They come here and get caught up in the drug culture."

Mohan says it's similar with aboriginal people. They're fleeing the extreme poverty in northern communities and come to the city with little education or support. A lot of them end up sniffing solvents as it's the cheapest high.

It's also a crippling high. While others can get into emergency shelter and soup kitchens, the sniffers often become incapable. They tend to wander in pairs or groups down the length of Main Street or in the downtown. They sleep where they fall. They're also easy victims. Two were murdered in 2001 -- their cases remain unsolved -- and another two are on the police long-term missing person's list.

"A lot of them, there is no hope," Henderson says.

"When you start talking to them, they're not bad people," adds Donna-Lynn Nelson, a Main Street fixture. She's decked out in a big fuzzy blue hat, children's sparkly stickers on her face and too much makeup. She's able to strike up a conversation with everyone, including two men carrying rags of glue and king cans of beer.

"What you see on the outside is not what these people are on the inside," adds a man who calls himself "Helper". He reeks of glue. "All of us, we try to help one another in little ways."

Across Main Street at the Lighthouse, pastor Miller says it's an uphill battle helping people like Sinclair and Helper off sniff.

"It doesn't happen very often," he says, standing under a Got Jesus? banner. "I have to be very careful how I measure success. I can preach the gospel when necessary, or I can use words of compassion. Sometimes that speaks louder."

How can you help?

The Siloam Mission needs volunteers.

The soup kitchen and drop-in centre at 300 Princess St. needs people on a regular basis as it plans to now run seven days a week.

Volunteers are needed for the meal program, officer administration, fundraising and to run the clothing bank.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by afterburner on May 21, 2006 at 12:57:25 PT
The 'Drug' Problem Created by Poverty & Treatries
Before heroin was demonized and declared illegal by international treaties, heroin was a common ingredient in pain-killing medications. When the international treaties were implemented by federal governments, medical patients seeking pain-relief were turned into criminals overnight.

Then, the media began concocting the myth of the drug-crazed morally-corrupt degenerate junkies. This propaganda, due to the expense of the black market and the tendency of heroin to fuel addiction, became a self-fulfilling prophecy as these former medical patients struggled to find the money to pay for their addictions and to kill their pain.

The treaties created the problem. The media sensationalized it. Public bigotry was encouraged. The former medical patients became social pariahs, abused by law enforcement, doctors, the public at large, politicians, and gangsters. With monkeys on their back and few job prospects, the addicts turned to theft, further endangering the community and justifying the call for more demonization and more law enforcement!

ELLE Magazine - Love In The Time Of Shakira

Excerpt: {A setback occurred when Shakira was eight: Her father's business collapsed. Overnight, the family's color TV morphed into a little black-and-white, and the furniture was pawned. “My father even sold the air conditioners,” she recalls. “I was so pissed. I thought they were doing it on purpose.” In response to her youthful outrage, Shakira's parents took her to a local park filled with homeless kids. “These children had no food,” she says, “so they sniffed glue to bear the cold nights. It moved me so much that at that very moment, I took up a mandate to succeed in life and give a hand to those kids.” A decade later, Shakira started her foundation, Pies Descalzos, which offers food and services to some 3,000 Colombian children, in addition to operating schools around the country.}

The homeless kids "had no food so they sniffed glue to bear the cold nights"!

What do we learn from all this? Shakira's parents were wiser than the 'drug czar' and all the prohibitionists combined. Her parents rightly identified poverty and hunger as the cause of drug abuse.

Poverty causes drug addiction, not the other way around as the drug warriors would have us believe. Hunger causes drug addiction. Public policy is based on the mistaken idea that drug addiction causes poverty. The reverse is true. Some families may pass along drug addiction to their children by their example: that may lead to continued poverty for the children. However, the roots of the problem start in the poverty and the lack of social justice and social compassion for our fellow members of the human family. "There but for the grace of God go I."

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by observer on May 21, 2006 at 10:49:44 PT
Eradicate from the Minds vs Freedom of Thought
The UN's Calvani says eradication alone will never win the drug war. Governments must ''eradicate illicit crops from the minds of the people" by simultaneously helping farmers earn a living from other crops.

Ah so. The UN's self-styled crusade has now become to "eradicate [ideas] from the minds of the people".

So much for freedom of thought, eh?

Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Well, there were bound to be some conflicts and flat-out rank contradictions when you set out to jail people for growing (what you, in your omniscience) deem to be immoral plants.

The UN's Calvani says eradication alone will never win the drug war.

The idea of making "war" on a set of inanimate objects and substances was a hare-brained reification and self-contradictory to begin with. Additional wrong springs from it. The idea of "winning" an imaginary and fallacious "war" on "drugs" would be laughable, were it not for the trail of bodies and broken lives that this idea has caused.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by Truth on May 21, 2006 at 10:35:42 PT
John Kay
"You waste my coin, Sam, all you can to jail my fellow man. For smokin' of the noble weed you need much more than hemp. You've been telling lies so long some believe they're true so they close their eyes to things you have no right to do."

- "Don't step on the Grass, Sam", John Kay, (recorded by Steppenwolf)

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by FoM on May 21, 2006 at 09:40:21 PT
EJ, I Agree
That is true. The only one that control substance abuse is the individual. That is hard for people to accept but that's the way it is.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on May 21, 2006 at 09:31:08 PT
You know what this reminds me of
Getting booze away from an alcoholic. It can't be done. You can search every corner of your home, you can crawl up the chimney and stick your hand into the toilet to make sure there aren't any bottles stashed anywhere.

But the alcoholic is always one step ahead.

Eventually you have to give up trying to control them by finding their booze and you have to focus on them as human beings and harness the power of love to convince them they can find a better way to live, if they just accept the right help from others.

[ Post Comment ]

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