Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ex-Prosecutor explains what's wrong with the War on Drugs

Nick Cowdery speaking at Apr├ęs restaurant
in Potts Point this morning
This morning on World No Tobacco Day Nick Cowdery, until recently head of Public Prosecutions in NSW, spoke at a business breakfast in Kings Cross hosted by the Potts Point and Kings Cross Partnership.

His message supporting the regulated legalisation of drugs was well crafted, emphasising the criminal enforcement sanctions that would still exist under legalisation, neatly heading off the usual 'legalisation would lead to a free-for-all' assertions of prohibitionists.

The rate of tobacco smoking is steadily being reduced, he pointed out, even though it was legal. Illicit drugs on the other hand are as popular as ever.

"Criminal law is a singularly inappropriate mechanism for dealing with a market," he said before explaining that since people first chewed on a plant and found that it altered the way they thought and felt, or ate some fermented fruit, they "have rather liked the idea".

This produced a demand and that always inspires someone to create a supply, and voila, you have a market.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Beware a new police state in NSW

David Clarke at home in Cherrybrook,
heart of the hills district bible belt
Photo: Hills Shire Times

Inner city subcultures beware: hard times are a-coming.

I was dismayed this morning to hear that hard-right Christian Liberal prohibitionist David Clarke ha been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General AND head of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice. He had held these positions in the shadow government before the elections. On top of a $17,000 pay rise, this gives him powerful influence over the NSW law and order agenda.

This is where the nice avuncular face of Barry O'Farrell, who supported Clarke in his preselection, gives way to persecution and intolerance. Front and centre will be a crackdown on users of illicit drugs as Clarke is hand-in-glove with a worldwide network of fanatical right-wing Christian prohibitionists who really want to use the law to force everyone else to live like them.

Organisations such as Drug Free Australia (linked to Drug free America) incessantly lobby politicians to get tougher on drugs, wilfully ignoring mountains of evidence showing that prohibition causes more harm than drugs, and stereotyping drug users (other than alcohol, prescription drugs or tobacco, of course) as crazy dysfunctionals as per the film Reefer Madness.

They call for mandatory drug testing and ever-harsher penalties for drug offences. For a taste of what we may face, see Florida USA* which has just brought in mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients (who have to pay for the tests!). Those caught face a year or more without benefits - can you imagine the crime, distress and mayhem that will result from creating a new underclass of unemployed drug users with no income.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Urinators wanted for city survey

Weeing in Springfield Plaza Kings Cross
Photo: Steve Lunam/SMH

The City recently trialled portable pissoirs in Kings Cross and Oxford Street, and now wants feedback. Apparently 5,500 people used them during the trial (who was counting??).

This seems to mark a bit of a turnaround in Council's attitude to Kings Cross, from a simplistic 'shut it down' to finding ways of improving the late-night situation. They also deployed late-night ambassadors in George Street, and claim they prevented lots of potentially ugly scenes and helped a lot of people. Sounds reasonable to me.

The SMH says 1600 litres of urine were collected, about 33 beer kegs. Makes you think. One thing's for sure, it's not me taking the piss.

Fitzroy Gardens in the SMH today

The community's win over Fitzroy Gardens gets a good run in The Sydney Morning Herald today, quoting yours truly and that doyen of the local cool set, the robust Bill Pilkington who betrays potential talent as a media spokesman.

Kelsey Munro reports the planning and 'consultation' cost $623,000.

There's something unfair about the way Council can throw so much public money at winning support for its own projects while the unpaid public has to struggle along in their spare time to oppose them.

The consultation process is fundamentally broken, a deep gulf yawning between street-level reality and Council's ivory tower view.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Locals win over Fitzroy Gardens but fake consultation reigns

Word has already raced around Kings Cross: After a massive local campaign of opposition, Clover Moore has backed down over Council proposals to redevelop Fitzroy Gardens and nearby Lawrence Hargrave Reserve.

Ms Moore made the surprise announcement via a Lord Mayoral Minute at last night's Council meeting.

You can read the details via the link above, but the language and content of the Minute reinforces the fake consultation processes Ms Moore has perfected since becoming Lord Mayor in 2004.

The minute opens with yet another lengthy spiel about the enthusiastic support the project had according to Council's consultation process. This support of course was never there, but was spun like fairy floss out of cherrypicked snippets and Council's biased analysis of feedback.

A prime example was the reporting on the first consultation session in 2008, when we residents were asked to use sticky notes to post what we liked or didn't like about the Gardens as they are. An avalanche of comments appeared on the 'like' board with relatively few on the 'don't like' board. Among them were many notes saying 'Leave it alone' or 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kings cross visuals

'Are you good?' asks this sticker on a fire hydrant at the top of William
Street. In the background, out-of-focus, are three blue Piano Bar logos
under the Coke sign. 'Good at what?' I ask.

And here's the reverse shot, looking from the Piano Bar down
William Street. Beautiful people, uptight bar-tabbing protocols but
no drive-by shootings as yet. (It's an Ibrahim venue).
The Kings Cross Road sign locates it if the Westfield neon doesn't.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Mediawatch busts climate sceptics

I enjoyed the episode of Mediawatch titled Balancing a hot debate in which the outright propaganda from shockjocks about global warming is exposed. Most of them interview only two scientists, active deniers Professors Ian Plimer and Bob Carter. Plimer's nonsense has been detailed on this blog here and here.

You have to give him credit for having the hide to continue presenting as an expert, but you have to wonder at the motivations of shockjocks like Alan Jones who continue to give him credibility, a wondrous approach for a so-called journalist.

Particularly astonishing is the continuing shockjock assertion that human-induced C02 is only 0.001% of the total. That figure is probably arrived at because charlatans count all the C02 in the history of the world and calculate human emissions as a percentage of that. However if you take CURRENT figures, it's more like 30%, as outlined in my posts linked above and evidenced several ways in the Mediawatch episode, eg this from Professor Matthew England:
... Atmospheric CO2 is now around 390ppm up from 280ppm pre-industrial -- and humans have emitted more than enough to be responsible for all of this rise and more (I say this as [fortunately!] the oceans and terrestrial biosphere have absorbed just over 1/2 our emissions to date). So 110ppm rise due to us out of 390ppm there today, or approx. 28% of today's atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
If Alan Jones and the like had the any integrity they would give people like this a run. Unfortunately their audience listens, believes, and the lie is spreading to the point where it will topple governments trying to address the reality.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


OK, social networking experiment -- I'm trying to link the blog to my facebook page, on which I've just posted some pix and text about the launch last night of Mandy Sayer's new book Love in the years of lunacy. So here's another pic, to my eyes the most beautiful girl in the room (she's from Katoomba and her girlfriend is a hot drummer, forgot their names sorry!)

Let's see if I can get this up on facebook.

Monday, May 02, 2011

You find it ugly?

Every time it rains in Kings Cross I am reminded of the first stanza of Kenneth Slessor's poem William Street.

So here is the poem, and my pix taken in William Street during last week's downpour as I ventured out to get some nice Italian wine.

William Street

The red globe of light, the liquor green, 
the pulsing arrows and the running fire 
spilt on the stones, go deeper than a stream; 
You find this ugly, I find it lovely 

Ghosts' trousers, like the dangle of hung men, 
in pawn-shop windows, bumping knee by knee, 
but none inside to suffer or condemn; 
You find this ugly, I find it lovely. 

Smells rich and rasping, smoke and fat and fish 
and puffs of paraffin that crimp the nose, 
of grease that blesses onions with a hiss; 
You find it ugly, I find it lovely. 

The dips and molls, with flip and shiny gaze 
(death at their elbows, hunger at their heels) 
Ranging the pavements of their pasturage; 
You Find this ugly, I find it lovely

This shot shows the 'running fire'. It was PISSING down!

How prohibition screws the environment, too

A new report from the US claims that modern cannabis cultivation, which largely happens indoors under lights so people can hide it from police and dobbing or thieving neighbours, uses a frightening amount of energy creating massive greenhouse pollution.

It seems that in the US 415,000 indoor plants were eradicated but this has not affected supply. It's the nation's largest crop by value -- yes, worth more than corn, wheat or canola. Each joint produces the equivalent energy of running a 100-watt light globe for an hour. Each kilo equates to driving a car across the country five times; Each 4-plant module is like running 30 refrigerators; and nationwide cultivation equates to the energy consumption of 2 million average homes.

If it was legal and commercially grown this energy bill could be reduced by 75%.

An enterprising designer has wrapped it all up in a nice green graphic at http://www.lumininteractive.com/