Friday, November 30, 2007

Another late-night booze fest

Kings Cross IS going to the dogs with new clubs opening up on every corner. Tut tut. It looks to me as if the Cross is simply Sydney's premier club precinct and locals who don't like that will just have to live with it. Meanwhile sights like this Campari launch at Favelas in Kellett Way on a random Wednesday night provide some compensation. This is not the sort of thing one sees in Pymble. Shame the Barons Building opposite is about to be demolished. There goes the neighbourhood.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Crown Street building bites the dust

Last night the upstairs tenants and patrons of the Indian Chilli Restaurant on Crown Street near Foveaux heard ominous cracking sounds and called police, who evacuated several buildings and closed the street.

The whole building, next door to the construction site for Council's new Surry Hills Community Centre, had started listing, a large crack appearing between it and the next terrace.

Today a large wrecking crane tore the building apart, levering most of it into the excavation next door in a cloud of dust damped down by several fire hoses.

Speculating spectators surmised that the large hole council had dug next to it was behind the disaster but Council is not admitting any liability and dodged reporters' questions about compensation for the Restaurant.

The cost of the Surry Hills Community Centre had already blown out massively before it even commenced. It is billed on its designer hoardings (pictured below) as 'A benchmark in environmental design' with silhouettes of cute guys holding hands and glowing messages from Clover Moore. Part of the hoarding came down with the demolished building.

Environmental experts also challenge the 'environmental benchmark' label as there are several other comparable buildings in Sydney that are far more self-sufficient.

Still, it looks good in Clover Moore's newsletters and that's what counts. Here's the Sydney Morning Herald account.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I wonder why Sydney is turning to drink

It's almost amusing watching the public panic about rising alcohol consumption and associated social problems. Almost.

Here's a theory. All but the terminally naïve now know they can't bring happy, nonviolent drugs like cannabis or MDMA on a night out because there are too many sniffer dogs. The only alternatives are Friday night TV, meditation, stamp-collecting or alcohol.

Surprise surprise, liquor venues are opening everywhere, drinking is on the rise, the demographics of Oxford Street are going downhill fast. People are not stamp-collecting but drinking more, drinking stuff like a certain Australian rum about which it is said 'there's a bushfire and a bashing in every bottle.' What an un-fun city Sydney is becoming. 

The only allowable solutions are repressive -- from more police to residents pushing councils to restrict venues. Anything but address root causes.

I know regulated legal supply of more socially benign drugs won't be happening anytime soon but I can't help documenting the insanity of the conservative establishment.

Here's a story about MDMA we won't be seeing repeated in Australia.

The pictures below tell a story too, I think. Let's caption them 'Police exacerbating a problem that can't be properly policed because there aren't enough police'.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

UK heroin trial makes life easier for everyone else

A trial in the UK of three supervised injecting centres which supplied heroin and methodone clearly shows that regulated supply removes most of the problems of addiction and slashes the fallout and drug-related crime suffered by the wider community.

Ten percent of drug addicts commit three-quarters of acquisitive crime, reports The Independent. They are caught between irresistible cravings and a prohibited drug market that charges prohibitive prices. Crime is the solution for that ten percent, and the rest of us suffer.

Addicts in the trial received either methodone or pharmaceutical grade heroin under strict conditions, going a step further than the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in Kings Cross. The drugs were injected on-site under supervision with no takeaways allowed.

Meanwhile back home we see Don Weatherburn, director of BOCSAR, saying 'If we want to get the most out of demand reduction... we have to inflict some harm.' (SMH 26 10 07). I'm sure the latest victim of a heroin-related mugging or home break-in would be pleased, especially after reading the UK story. I would love to debate Mr Weatherburn on on his belief that inflicting harm reduces harm. Prohibition brings many harms to the community, persecutes those who use drugs other than alcohol, diverts police from solving real crime and costs the taxpayer by locking up large sections of the population.

Prohibitionists continue to assert that regulated supply would not undermine and shrink the criminal drug supply chain but this UK trial (and common sense) indicates they are wrong. And re-directing drug addicts from the rebellion and glamour of an underground economy into a medically supervised environment removes the 'heroin chic' element from the culture while limiting the ability of existing users to initiate new users.

That refutes another prohibitionist argument -- that regulated supply will encourage more users -- and counters Mr Weatherburn's belief that inflicting harm is necessary to reduce demand.

Now watch the christian right ignore these facts and continue their hysterical and oppressive dogma.