Thursday, February 27, 2014

Australia lags as world adapts to new industries

With the very public collapse of manufacturing in Australia you might think the country would nimbly leap to new industrial opportunities. Instead, we are losing them to more progressive nations.

Victoria's Hazelwood open-cut brown coal mine
still burning after some weeks.
Our race to the 19th century in fossil-based energy generation has robbed us of our once world-leading position in clean energy technology. Meanwhile South Korea, for instance, has a 3-month fast-track patent process for local innovations in clean energy, part of a program that devoted 2.7% of GDP to clean energy. By contrast, we have boosted our filthiest fossil fuel source, Victoria's brown coal mines, one of which is ironically now burning out of control after heatwave-induced bushfires. It is expected to burn for another two weeks. [Note: the fire was 'under control' as of 9 March - it burned for a little over four weeks. However there are coal mine fires on every continent except Antarctica including one in Pennsylvania that has burned since 1962.

Note#2: Radio National News reported on 21 March that the fire was officially "out"]

Then there is the Abbott Government's patchwork National Broadband Network. In a country ruled by 'the tyranny of distance', you might think state-of-the-art communications was essential.

The Coalition's internet connection vision.
But no, Malcolm Turnbull's fibre to the node concept will leave my copper connection to the home operating out of this pit just outside my front door (pictured). The cost savings inherent in this second-best model do not take into account the cost of repairing/replacing these copper tangles  left over from 100-year-old telephone technology. Impressive, no?

Now it's industrial hemp, a forest-saving, low irrigation crop with a thousand uses. As it has no intoxicating effects, there was never even any justification for banning it and now even the USA, which invented the ban, is legalising the growing of hemp. But conservative, backward Australia remains in the dark ages as it misses out on yet another opportunity to compete in the 21st century. Once the 'lucky country', should we now be known as the 'dumb country' as we race towards banana republic status?
Just say no - emblematic of Australia's
attitude to everything?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Prohibitionists AGAIN caught out telling porkies

SAM head Kevin Sabet - he doesn't
look stupid, so why is he telling
idiotic porkies?
'It's like saying 10% of people in Australia, Canada and Bolivia scratch their ears before breakfast, therefore 30% of people scratch their ears before breakfast. Duh.'
It must be difficult for prohibitionists now the changing face of history is proving their arguments to be little but hot air and fear mongering. So you can understand why they have to fall back on complete nonsense to keep the uninformed scared. But you'd think they could at least add up, especially if they call their organisation Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).

Close on the heels of their last misleading factoid, SAM's head Kevin Sabet has tweeted that - wait for it - 39% of HS students in Washington state report using marijuana that came from from a "medical" marijuana dispensary [his quote marks].

Shock, horror! See, they told us so - legalise it and a tsunami of pot smoking will destroy society!

Then Russ Belville from the Huffington Post looked at the source figures Sabet had quoted.  They showed only 14.9% of 12th-grade students said their pot usually came from a medical dispensary. The percentage fell for more junior grades, down to 3.8% for 9th graders.

Seems Sabet had simply added up all the percentages, apparently unaware that each one came from a different sample of people so adding them is nonsensical. It's like saying 10% of people in Australia, Canada and Bolivia scratch their ears before breakfast, therefore 30% of people scratch their ears before breakfast. Duh.

Meanwhile teenage cannabis use seems to have stayed pretty level during the rash of legalisation spreading across US states, so the scariest thing about Sabet's paper tiger is that the same smokers are getting their stuff from a legal rather than illegal source.

Embarrassed into a retreat, Sabet then tweeted implying that the students must be faking back pain or cancer, further spreading the egg over his face because the figures deal with cannabis that CAME FROM a dispensary - with no claim that the students had attended the dispensaries. It's all a bit subtle for a fossilised prohibitionist, I guess.

SAM's "smart" approach [my quote marks] apparently involves diverting cannabis users who are caught into treatment (or else get arrested again).

"The proposal is on par with forcing every alcohol user into treatment at their own cost or at a cost to the state," said Marijuana Policy Project communications director Mason Tvert. "In fact, it would be less logical because the science is clear that marijuana is far less toxic, less addictive, and less likely to be associated with acts of violence."

While Sabet denies that, everything I have previously read about SAM points in that direction.

Oh, Sabet also claims that 10% of cannabis users become addicted. No they don't, Kevin. In fact the commonly quoted figure of 9% is another dodgy bit of bad science from the prohibitionists, as the Huff Post again explains.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Old lies live on in the prohibitionist mind

No lie is too old or discredited to be recycled by our shock-jocks. The latest is Miranda Devine writing another prohibitionist rant in the Telegraph. I won't even link to the propaganda piece - why help them, even a tiny bit?

Suffice it to quote Devine's central lie, that "When the Howard government launched its Tough on Drugs strategy in 1997, drug use plummeted for the first time in three decades."

No, Miranda, it didn't. In fact Asian suppliers were switching from heroin to crystal meth and some young people were switching from cannabis to ecstasy and other chemical drugs, arguably a shift from less risky to more risky substances. This is a well-known symptom of prohibition, driving the drug industry to more potent, portable and profitable substances. The heroin drought coincided with the rise of ice.

In the same piece Devine bemoans that "A study in the Medical Journal of Australia last September found ambulance call-outs for crystal meth, aka ice, had tripled in two years."

Well, duh, Miranda. This is what happens under your beloved prohibition. But with the money you are paid to spread your poison, I guess truth is a minor consideration.