B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘drugs’ tag

Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House

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Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House
Richard M. Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House, originally uploaded by The U.S. National Archives.

From: Series: Master Print File, compiled 1969-1974 (Collection RN-WHPO)

Created by: President (1969-1974 : Nixon). White House Photo Office. (1969 – 1974)

Production Date: 12/21/1970

Persistent URL: http://arcweb.archives.gov/arc/action/ExternalIdSearch?id=1634221

Repository: National Archives at College Park – Archives II (College Park, MD)

Nixon high on whatever he was high on (lies and duplicity, and maybe a little Scotch whisky) and Elvis Presley high on various prescription drugs…

Written by swanksalot

February 3rd, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , , ,

John P Walters – Drug Warrior to the Bitter End

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John P Walters is either ignorant, willfully misleading, or both. Saturday’s WSJ contained a pro/con section discussing legalization of drugs. The pro-legalization side, written by Steven B. Duke, mostly dwells on the benefits of legalizing marijuana, with arguments you’ve probably heard before: tax revenue, reduce burden on our prison system, etc. John Walters, a two-term Bush-ite, bases his argument against marijuana legalization by ignoring marijuana, and pointing fingers at methamphetamine addicts, and the crack so-called epidemic of the 1980s.

Justified alarm over drug-related Mexican border violence has led to the predictable spate of drug legalization proposals. The most prominent was a call by three former Latin American presidents — from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico — to end what they claimed was the drug war. While there are many “end the drug war” plans, all of them, as even their advocates admit, result in more drug use and addiction. Their response? We should emasculate prevention and law enforcement and just spend more on treatment.

What would America look like with twice or three times as many drug users and addicts? To answer, consider what America was like in the recent past, during the frightening epidemic of methamphetamine, so similar to the crack outbreak of the 1980s. Each was a nightmare, fueled by ready drug availability.

Americans can’t forget the meth epidemic hitting the heartland earlier this decade. In 2004, 1.4 million people said they had used methamphetamine in the past year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The powerful, long-lasting stimulant began growing rapidly as the make-it-yourself drug, using a precursor in over-the-counter cold medicine. It later was produced in large quantities by Mexican traffickers and smuggled into the U.S. Drugs weren’t just an urban problem anymore.

[From Drugs: To Legalize or Not – WSJ.com]

I have never actually ever met a marijuana addict in my life: do such creatures exist?

Walters continues his spiel:

The violence essential to drug trafficking is meant to be shocking — from the marijuana traffickers who brutally murdered DEA special agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in Mexico in 1985 to the viciousness of rolling heads across a dance floor — calculated to frighten decent citizens and government authorities into silence.

and so on

Legalizing drugs is the worst thing we could do for President Felipe Calderón and our Mexican allies. It would weaken the moral authority of his fight and the Mexicans would immediately realize that we have no intention of reducing consumption. Who do we think would take the profits from a legal drug trade? U.S. suppliers would certainly spring up, but that wouldn’t preclude Mexican supplies as well — or Mexican production for consumption in other countries. The Mexicans know that they too have a dangerous use and addiction problem. They have already learned that it is wrong and dangerous to make abuse and addiction worse.

We can make progress faster when more of us learn that drug use and addiction can not be an expression of individual liberty in a free society. Drug abuse is, by nature and the laws of organic chemistry that govern this disease, incompatible with freedom and civil society. Drug abuse makes human life solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short (a special version of Hobbes’s hell in our own families). In the deepest sense, this is why failure is not an option.

What a buffoon

Written by Seth Anderson

December 4th, 2009 at 10:33 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , ,

Psychedelic Tea Brewing In Santa Fe

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Oh come on, I wonder how many opponents of this church’s sacrament know anything at all about hoasca? If their only information comes from the DEA, no wonder they are worried. They needn’t be.

A secretive religious group that fought a long legal battle for the right to drink hallucinogenic tea in pursuit of spiritual growth now plans to build a temple and greenhouse in a wealthy community here — to the dismay of local residents.

The church was founded in Brazil in 1961 and remains most popular there, but about 150 people in the U.S., including about 60 in Santa Fe, practice the faith, which goes by the Portuguese name Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, or UDV. Members say the church is based on Christian theology but also borrows from other faiths and finds spirituality in nature.

Since the U.S. branch of the religion emerged in the late 1980s, practitioners have imported from Brazil their sacramental tea, known as hoasca, which is brewed from two Amazonian plants and contains the psychedelic compound dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. The U.S. government classifies DMT as a Schedule I controlled substance, the same designation given to heroin and marijuana. But in a unanimous ruling in 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the UDV had the right to use hoasca in its ceremonies.

Now, the Santa Fe branch has drawn up plans to build a greenhouse for growing their own sacred plants, a ceremonial kitchen for brewing the tea and a 7,100-square-foot temple, complete with a children’s nursery and foot-thick walls to ensure privacy.

[Click to continue reading Psychedelic Tea Brews Unease – WSJ.com]

Plants are not demons, treating farmers like they are the enemy of civilization is not a helpful attitude. Since eating the flesh and blood of your god is ok, why not a tea that opens up your consciousness?

[Aya-preparation, via Wikimedia Commons]

Hoasca, or as it is more frequently referred to, Ayahuasca is not a party drug, despite the morons in the DEA classifying it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Ayahuasca (ayawaska pronounced [ajaˈwaska] in the Quechua language) is any of various psychoactive infusions or decoctions prepared from the Banisteriopsis spp. vine, usually mixed with the leaves of dimethyltryptamine-containing species of shrubs from the Psychotria genus. It was first described academically in the early 1950s by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes who found it employed for divinatory and healing purposes by Amerindians of Amazonian Colombia.

Sections of B. cap vine are macerated and boiled alone or with leaves from any of a number of other plants, including Psychotria viridian (chacruna) or Diplopterys cabrerana (also known as chaliponga). The resulting brew contains the powerful hallucinogenic alkaloid N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and MAO inhibiting harmala alkaloids, which are necessary to make the DMT orally active. Though B. cap is a central ingredient in traditional ayahuasca brews, harmala-containing plants from other plant-medicine cultures, such as Syrian Rue, can be used instead of the vine to make an ayahuasca analogue, yet it isn’t considered ayahuasca, as Caapi vine is considered the main plant in the brew.

Brews can also be made with no DMT-containing plants; Psychotria viridian being substituted by plants such as Justicia pectorals, Brugmansia, or sacred tobacco, also known as Mapacho (Nicotiana rustic), or sometimes left out with no replacement. The potency of this brew varies radically from one batch to the next, both in strength[clarification needed] and psychoactive effect, based mainly on the skill of the shaman or brewer, as well as other admixtures sometimes added and the intent of the ceremony.[citation needed] Natural variations in plant alkaloid content and profiles also affect the final concentration of alkaloids in the brew, and the physical act of cooking may also serve to modify the alkaloid profile of harmala alkaloids

[Click to continue reading Ayahuasca – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Written by Seth Anderson

September 15th, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Reading Around on August 25th through August 27th

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A few interesting links collected August 25th through August 27th:

  • Mac OS X Automation: Services Downloads – Download free services. Service collections are grouped by color. Some services will install required Automator actions and may require an adminstrator password to do so.”
  • One_Billion_Dollar_Daley_Chicago_Reader.jpg
  • Chicago vice – chicagotribune.com – Chicago Police Sgt. John F. Mangin displays a bushel of marijuana leaves and a jar of ground marijuana found Sept. 27, 1945, in a flat at 601 W. Madison St.. Six men were arrested in the narcotics bust, including a 60-year-old man that Mangin said was the first person he arrested when he joined the narcotics detail in 1931.

Written by swanksalot

August 27th, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Drug Chief at the FDA Is Accused

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Allegations of corruption and conflict of interest at the FDA? Really? How novel

Neon - NH Ballin Drugs Prescriptions

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a conflict-of-interest allegation involving the official in charge of drug approvals at the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA said.

The investigation of Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, stems from an ethics complaint filed by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc., a California company that says it has been delayed in its six-year effort to win approval for a generic version of Lovenox, a multi-billion-dollar blood thinner.

In its complaint, Amphastar alleges that its competitor had special access to Dr. Woodcock at critical times in the prolonged approval process, which is ongoing. Amphastar points out that Dr. Woodcock co-authored a scientific paper with scientists at Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. while both companies were battling to win FDA approval of their generic blood thinners.

[Click to continue reading Drug Chief at the FDA Is Accused Of Conflict – WSJ.com]

Big Pharma owns the regulating process, makes sense they own the regulators themselves as well.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 12th, 2009 at 9:47 am

Why it’s time to end the war on drugs

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The Financial Times comes out strongly against the asinine and never ending War on Drugs:

Nancy Reagan - Just Say Yo
[Nancy Reagan – Just Say Yo]

For nearly 40 years, since the habits established in the 1960s took root in society, there has been a stand-off. Across the free world, and most of the unfree, anyone seriously interested in smoking, snorting, swallowing or injecting illegal substances can acquire the wherewithal with a little effort, and proceed without much fear of retribution, particularly if they are wealthy enough. Police and politicians say they are interested in punishing the suppliers and not the users. This is an intellectual nonsense, but it has suited everyone who matters. The drug users don’t care; governments have felt no pressure to attempt a politically dangerous reform; and above all it suits the international gangsters who control the drug business, which offers massive rewards and – for them – minimal risks.

But 2009 has seen a change: among the academics and professionals who study this issue, from Carlisle Racecourse to the think-tanks of Washington, there is growing sense that reform is possible and increasingly urgent. The argument is not that drug use is A Good Thing. It is that the collateral damage caused by the so-called war on drugs has now reached catastrophic proportions. And even some politicians have started to think this might be worth discussing. The biggest single reason (as with so much else this year) is the Obama Effect. In one way, this may be short-lived since the president’s reputation will eventually be tarnished by reality. But the chief barrier to reform has been that the international agreements barring the drugs trade have been enforced primarily by threats of retaliation from the White House.

Obama is the third successive president believed to have used illegal drugs: Bill Clinton famously did not inhale; in a conversation that was secretly taped when he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush didn’t deny that he had smoked marijuana or used cocaine; Obama has admitted using both dope and “a little blow”. Unlike the other two, he is also on record as favouring decriminalisation of cannabis and more generally addressing the problem. The president having other preoccupations, there is no sign of him proposing the Do What The Hell You Like Bill to Congress any time soon. There is every sign that the blanket ban on other people’s initiatives has been partially lifted.

[Click to continue reading FT.com / Reportage – Why it’s time to end the war on drugs]

and concludes with:

Of course drugs need to be controlled, just as alcohol, tobacco, firearms, prescription drugs, food additives and indeed UN bureaucrats with massive budgets need to be controlled. But the whole point is that illicit drugs are not controlled. The international pretence of prohibition sees to that. One of the major arguments advanced for continuing the ban on cannabis is that the currently available strains of the drug do not offer the gentle highs of the hippie years but are intensively cultivated and far more potent, with potentially serious ­psychological effects. The analysis is correct, according to my stoner friends. But the logic is 180 degrees wrong. Imagine a total ban on tobacco, which is no longer so unthinkable. Among the consequences would be an immediate return to the unfiltered full-strength gaspers of the 1950s, just as American alcohol prohibition produced moonshine. One benign consequence of drug legalisation would be that users would have a guarantee of quality and strength/mildness: an end to heroin flavoured with brick dust (many believe adulteration is the real killer), and the type of marijuana they actually want.

Decriminalisation or even legalising cannabis on its own would achieve little. Something more radical is required. The crucial issue concerns the supply chain: the way prohibition has enriched and empowered gangsters, corrupt officials and indeed wholly corrupt narco-states across the planet. It was a point made eloquently by the Russian economist Lev Timofeev, when interviewed by Misha Glenny for his book about global organised crime, McMafia. “Prohibiting a market does not mean destroying it,” Timofeev said. What it means is placing a “dynamically developing market under the total control of criminal corporations”. He called the present situation a threat to world civilisation, which international public opinion had failed to grasp.

Proper reform means legitimising production and supply, precisely so it can be controlled. Would it unleash a drug epidemic worse than the one we now have? Well, it would be an unusual child of the 1960s who did not mark the moment with a celebratory joint. But the novelty would soon wear off. And from then on, the places where it is easiest to obtain drugs would no longer be the inside of jails and inner-city school playgrounds.

Imagine a situation…where all drugs were sold in pharmacies licensed for the purpose. Taxation could be set at a level that brought in revenue but still made illegal dealing uncompetitive. For the more dangerous and addictive drugs there would be compulsory medical supervision. Identity checks and strict record-keeping would be required. There would be laws (which could actually be enforced) against advertising, adulteration, use in public, driving under the influence and supply to minors.

In what way would that be worse than the present situation?


Written by Seth Anderson

August 1st, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Reading Around on July 18th

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Some additional reading July 18th from 20:56 to 23:29:

  • Falling Off the Turnip Truck… – ” four heads of cabbage? Some of us fled the shtetl and crossed the North Atlantic precisely to avoid having to eat four heads of cabbage n a single week…”
  • Drug WarRant – Prosecutors Scared of the Constitution – Of course prosecutors are scared by this ruling. It makes their job harder and it also means that more drug cases might go to trial in the hope that they could get a dismissal if the prosecutor can’t produce the analyst. The only way prosecutors manage the huge load of drug cases is to see to it that only 5% go to trial (through piling on charges to make the plea deal attractive in comparison to the alternative). If more drug cases go to trial, the whole system falls apart, particularly in a time when more money for courts is unlikely to be found.

    And the system is corrupt. This Supreme Court ruling merely states that the prosecutors and judges must do their job as specified in the Constitution. If they can’t handle it, then maybe we’ll finally take a look at why we’re prosecuting so many people.

  • heroin
  • From Israel to the N.B.A., Missing the Hummus – NYTimes.com – The first Israeli in the N.B.A., Omri Casspi, is busily trying to adapt to life in the United States.

    For starters, he needs a cellphone with a local number. He just received a $4,500 bill for about two weeks of calls, which is expensive even by N.B.A. standards. He needs new chargers for all his gadgets. But he is struggling most to find comfort food.

    “Hummus,” Casspi said, with a hard h and a long u, stressing the first syllable in a way that conveyed utter seriousness. “You don’t have that here, though.”

Written by swanksalot

July 19th, 2009 at 12:05 am

Albert Hofmann fundraising letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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Strangely, I had never heard of this before

Steve Jobs has never been shy about his use of psychedelics, famously calling his LSD experience “one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life.” So, toward the end of his life, LSD inventor Albert Hofmann decided to write to the iPhone creator to see if he’d be interested in putting some money where the tip of his tongue had been.

Hofmann penned a never-before-disclosed letter in 2007 to Jobs at the behest of his friend Rick Doblin, who runs an organization dedicated to studying the medical and psychiatric benefits of psychedelic drugs. Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, died in April 2008 at the age of 102.

See the letter here.

[From Ryan Grim: Read the Never-Before-Published Letter From LSD-Inventor Albert Hofmann to Apple CEO Steve Jobs]

Steve Jobs and Albert Hofmann

Steve Jobs and Albert Hofmann

and for lack of a better place: the Google Voice message left, presumedly by Google executives:

Written by Seth Anderson

July 10th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Posted in Apple

Tagged with , , ,

These are The Liars On Drugs

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In a manner of speaking

Cut Rate Liquors and Real Drugs
[Rothschild’s Cut Rate Liquors and Real Drugs, on Chicago and Ashland, or nearby]

AMONG OUR LEADERS in Washington, who’s been the biggest liar? There are all too many contenders, yet one is so floridly surreal that he deserves special attention. Nope, it’s not Dick Cheney or Alberto Gonzales or John Yoo. It’s a trusted authority figure who’s lied for 11 years now, no matter which party held sway. (Nope, it’s not Alan Greenspan.) This liar didn’t end-run Congress, or bully it, or have its surreptitious blessing at the time only to face its indignation later. No, this liar was ordered by Congress to lie—as a prerequisite for holding the job.

Give up? It’s the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a.k.a. the drug czar, who in 1998 was mandated by Congress to oppose legislation that would legalize, decriminalize, or medicalize marijuana, or redirect anti-trafficking funding into treatment. And the drug czar has also—here’s where the lying comes in—been prohibited from funding research that might give credence to any of the above. These provisions were crafted by Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Bob Barr (R-Ga.) and pushed for by then-czar Barry McCaffrey, best remembered for being somewhat comically obsessed with the evils of medical marijuana. A few Dems complained that the bill, which set “hard targets” of an 80 percent drop in the availability of drugs, a 60 percent decrease in street purity, and a 50 percent reduction in drug-related crime and ER visits, all by 2004—whoops!—was “simplistic” and “designed to achieve political advantage.” Though the vote count was not recorded for history, it got enough bipartisan support to be signed into law by Bill “Didn’t Inhale” Clinton.

If this tale strikes you as the kind of paranoid fantasy you’d expect from someone who’s taken one too many hits off the joint, consider that it isn’t the most bizarre, hypocritical, counterproductive moment in our nation’s history with drugs. Not by a long shot. Consider that Prohibition came about when progressives got into bed with the Ku Klux Klan, but was rolled back once they’d had enough of the Mob. Or that the precursor to today’s drug czar supplied morphine to Sen. Joe McCarthy because he worried about the national security consequences—not of the red-baiter’s habit, but of its potential exposure. Or that drug war progenitor Richard Nixon ordered a comprehensive study on the perils of marijuana, and then ignored the study once he learned it recommended decriminalization.

[Click to continue reading This Is Your War on Drugs | Mother Jones]

Any legislation that bears the imprint of the three stooges, Hastert, Barr and McCaffrey is bound to be ridiculous and objectionable. Drug policy in the United States is in serious need of reform, and that’s no joke. Will it happen in our lifetime? The jury is still loaded up in chambers…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 6th, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , , ,

Uncle Sam’s Human Lab Rats

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This isn’t a new allegation1 but still disquieting. Experimenting with mind altering drugs on your own initiative is one thing, but being dosed by your employers? Strange, and disturbing.

“The Project MKULTRA Compendium: The CIA’s Program of Research in Behavioral Modification” (Stephen Foster)

“Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond” (Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlain)

Gordon Erspamer [a San Francisco lawyer]…has filed suit against the CIA and the US Army on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans of America and six former American soldiers who claim they are the real thing: survivors of classified government tests conducted at the Army’s Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland between 1950 and 1975. “I get a lot of calls,” he says. “There are a lot of crazy people out there who think that somebody from Mars is controlling their behavior via radio waves.” But when it comes to Edgewood, “I’m finding that more and more of those stories are true!”

That government scientists conducted human experiments at Edgewood is not in question. “The program involved testing of nerve agents, nerve agent antidotes, psychochemicals, and irritants,” according to a 1994 General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) report (PDF). At least 7,800 US servicemen served “as laboratory rats or guinea pigs” at Edgewood, alleges Erspamer’s complaint, filed in January in a federal district court in California. The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that military scientists tested hundreds of chemical and biological substances on them, including VX, tabun, soman, sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like phosgene and mustard. The full scope of the tests, however, may never be known. As a CIA official explained to the GAO, referring to the agency’s infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments, “The names of those involved in the tests are not available because names were not recorded or the records were subsequently destroyed.” Besides, said the official, some of the tests involving LSD and other psychochemical drugs “were administered to an undetermined number of people without their knowledge.”

Erspamer’s plaintiffs claim that, although they volunteered for the Edgewood program, they were never adequately informed of the potential risks and continue to suffer debilitating health effects as a result of the experiments. They hope to force the CIA and the Army to admit wrongdoing, inform them of the specific substances they were exposed to, and provide access to subsidized health care to treat their Edgewood-related ailments. Despite what they describe as decades of suffering resulting from their Edgewood experiences, the former soldiers are not seeking monetary damages; a 1950 Supreme Court decision, the Feres case, precludes military personnel from suing the federal government for personal injuries sustained in the line of duty. The CIA’s decision to use military personnel as test subjects followed the court’s decision and is an issue Erspamer plans to raise at trial. “Suddenly, they stopped using civilian subjects and said, ‘Oh, we can get these military guys for free,'” he says. “The government could do whatever it wanted to them without liability. We want to bring that to the attention of the public, because I don’t think most people understand that.” (Asked about Erspamer’s suit, CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf would say only that the agency’s human testing program has “been thoroughly investigated, and the CIA fully cooperated with each of the investigations.”)

[Click to continue reading Uncle Sam’s Human Lab Rats | Mother Jones]

The CIA lying to the American people? I’m sure that has only happened in the past, and not in the present day. Ahem…

From the Project MK-Ultra wikipedia page:

The Agency poured millions of dollars into studies probing dozens of methods of influencing and controlling the mind. One 1955 MK-ULTRA document gives an indication of the size and range of the effort; this document refers to the study of an assortment of mind-altering substances described as follows:[16]

  1. Substances which will promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public.
  2. Substances which increase the efficiency of mentation and perception.
  3. Materials which will prevent or counteract the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
  4. Materials which will promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol.
  5. Materials which will produce the signs and symptoms of recognized diseases in a reversible way so that they may be used for malingering, etc.
  6. Materials which will render the induction of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness.
  7. Substances which will enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so-called “brain-washing”.
  8. Materials and physical methods which will produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use.
  9. Physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use.
  10. Substances which produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc.
  11. Substances which will produce “pure” euphoria with no subsequent let-down.
  12. Substances which alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced.
  13. A material which will cause mental confusion of such a type that the individual under its influence will find it difficult to maintain a fabrication under questioning.
  14. Substances which will lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts.
  15. Substances which promote weakness or distortion of the eyesight or hearing faculties, preferably without permanent effects.
  16. A knockout pill which can surreptitiously be administered in drinks, food, cigarettes, as an aerosol, etc., which will be safe to use, provide a maximum of amnesia, and be suitable for use by agent types on an ad hoc basis.
  17. A material which can be surreptitiously administered by the above routes and which in very small amounts will make it impossible for a man to perform any physical activity whatsoever.

Historians have learned that creating a “Manchurian Candidate” subject through “mind control” techniques was undoubtedly a goal of MK-ULTRA and related CIA project

I would not be surprised to learn that the CIA has continued their experiments up until the present. They just probably outsourced the location to Gitmo and Syria and Abu Ghraib.I had not ever heard this allegation:

A considerable amount of credible circumstantial evidence suggests that Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, participated in CIA-sponsored MK-ULTRA experiments conducted at Harvard University from the fall of 1959 through the spring of 1962. During World War II, Henry Murray, the lead researcher in the Harvard experiments, served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was a forerunner of the CIA. Murray applied for a grant funded by the United States Navy, and his Harvard stress experiments strongly resembled those run by the OSS.[42] [Alexander Cockburn article at Counter-Punch]

Beginning at the age of sixteen, Kaczynski participated along with twenty-one other undergraduate students in the Harvard experiments, which have been described as “disturbing” and “ethically indefensible.

nor this one:

Jonestown, the Guyana location of the Jim Jones cult and Peoples Temple mass suicide, was thought to be a test site for MKULTRA medical and mind control experiments after the official end of the program. Congressman Leo Ryan, a known critic of the CIA, was assassinated after he personally visited Jonestown to investigate various reported irregularities [M Meier]

though I have heard this conspiracy theory, and dismissed it2

Lawrence Teeter, attorney for convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan, believed Sirhan was under the influence of hypnosis when he fired his weapon at Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Teeter linked the CIA’s MKULTRA program to mind control techniques that he claimed were used to control Sirhan.[47] Teeter’s assertions are generally dismissed due to lack of supporting evidence

  1. I’ve read several books on the subject in the early 1990s []
  2. well, to the extent that any Kennedy assassination theory can be dismissed []

Written by swanksalot

May 19th, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Legalize our Sins

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Other than the headline – that believing in sins requires one to believe in a religious authority that assigns value to actions – this is an idea I believe would benefit our society. Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason Magazine, writes:

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

Here’s a better idea — and one that will help the federal and state governments fill their coffers: Legalize drugs and then tax sales of them. And while we’re at it, welcome all forms of gambling (rather than just the few currently and arbitrarily allowed) and let prostitution go legit too. All of these vices, involving billions of dollars and consenting adults, already take place. They just take place beyond the taxman’s reach.

Legalizing the world’s oldest profession probably wasn’t what Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, meant when he said that we should never allow a crisis to go to waste. But turning America into a Sin City on a Hill could help President Obama pay for his ambitious plans to overhaul health care and invest in green energy. More taxed vices would certainly lead to significant new revenue streams at every level. That’s one of the reasons 52 percent of voters in a recent Zogby poll said they support legalizing, taxing and regulating the growth and sale of marijuana. Similar cases could be made for prostitution and all forms of gambling.

In terms of economic stimulation and growth, legalization would end black markets that generate huge amounts of what economists call “deadweight losses,” or activity that doesn’t contribute to increased productivity. Rather than spending precious time and resources avoiding the law (or, same thing, paying the law off), producers and consumers could more easily get on with business and the huge benefits of working and playing in plain sight.

[Click to continue reading Nick Gillespie – Paying With Our Sins – NYTimes.com]

Unfortunately, too many vested interests impeding the progress of this idea. Too bad, because the economic numbers are extremely favorable:

Based on estimates from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Americans spend at least $64 billion a year on illegal drugs. And according to a 2006 study by the former president of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Jon Gettman, marijuana is already the top cash crop in a dozen states and among the top five crops in 39 states, with a total annual value of $36 billion.

A 2005 cost-benefit analysis of marijuana prohibition by Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, calculated that ending marijuana prohibition would save $7.7 billion in direct state and federal law enforcement costs while generating more than $6 billion a year if it were taxed at the same rate as alcohol and tobacco. The drug czar’s office says that a gram of pure cocaine costs between $100 and $150; a gram of heroin almost $400; and a bulk gram of marijuana between $15 and $20. Those transactions are now occurring off the books of business and government alike.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 17th, 2009 at 8:19 pm

Conflicts of Interest Ensare Journalists, Too

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Just a little corruption, nothing to pay attention to

Health reporters may become entangled in the same kinds of ethical conflicts they often expose when accepting industry-sponsored awards and relying on corporate public relations offices, three researchers warn.

Journalism awards consisting of cash prizes and all-expense-paid trips given out by drug companies are among the more “astonishing” financial ties between journalists and drug companies, the authors said. The paper appears in the online edition of the British medical journal BMJ.

Among the prizes cited are the Embrace Award for reporting on urinary incontinence — consisting of trips to Washington, D.C., and Paris — offered by pharmaceutical firms Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim, as well as another Eli Lilly award for cancer treatment stories that includes a weeklong international trip for two.

The authors also point a finger at journalism training and education programs sponsored by the health care industry and to professorships funded by drug company grants. The writers go on to criticize reporters’ reliance on drug company press officers for referrals to experts or to patients, whose views may have been carefully screened.

[Click to continue reading Conflicts of Interest May Ensnare Journalists, Too – NYTimes.com]

Written by Seth Anderson

May 17th, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Business

Tagged with , , ,

Stanford A Drug Informer and Bush Ally

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Somehow the allegation that an 2006 SEC investigation into Sir Allen Stanford was dropped at the request of the Bush Administration because Stanford was too well connected, and a drug informant, does not surprise me. Rules are different for the very rich, no matter how they got their money. The Bush team was always more interested in loyalty than law-abiding anyway, and Stanford, being a fifth generation Texan, was a Bush Ranger1.

Sir Allen Stanford, who is accused of bank fraud, is the subject of an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama.

Sources told Panorama that if he was a paid anti-drug agency informer, that could explain why a 2006 probe into his financial dealings was quietly dropped.

On 17 February of this year, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Sir Allen of running a multi-billion dollar Ponzi fraud – when cash from new depositors is used to pay dividends to old depositors – civil charges he has denied.

Two and a half months after the SEC filing, the Texan has not yet faced criminal charges.

He was initially investigated by the SEC for running a possible Ponzi fraud in the summer of 2006, but by the winter of that year the inquiry was stopped.

Panorama understands that the decision was taken because of a request by another government agency.

Panorama is aware of strong evidence that Sir Allen was a confidential agent of the DEA as far back as 1999 – the year he made out the $3.1m cheque to the DEA.

[From BBC NEWS | UK | Stanford drug informer role claim]

Stanford got his knighthood from Antigua and Barbuda, yet insists upon being called Sir Allen, by the way. A bit of a douche-bag, in other words.

Among several framed certificates hung on a wall is one with the gold seal of Antigua and Barbuda pronouncing Stanford Knight Commander, which allowed him to use the title Sir Allen Stanford, and a letter on White House stationery dated Jan. 25, 2006, signed by then-President George W. Bush.

If I’m not mistaken2, when Bush the Smarter3 was in the CIA, there were allegations of CIA drug smuggling, using the body bags of American GIs returning from Southeast Asia. Also using various drug lords in the Golden Triangle as fronts to pay various military operations supported by the US. Wonder if that’s how Stanford and Bush met?

  1. I’m assuming []
  2. too lazy to look right now []
  3. aka George Herbert Walker Bush []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 10th, 2009 at 7:57 am

Chief Gil Kerlikowske Confirmed As Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

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Follow up to a previous post, (Big) Chief Kerlikowske confirmed for his new post.

Big Pot of Smiley Faces

Vice President Biden issued this statement today after the United States Senate voted to confirm Chief Gil Kerlikowske as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

“I am very pleased by the Senate’s overwhelming support for Gil Kelikowske today. Chief Kerlikowske is the right man for the job. With over 36 years of law enforcement experience at all levels, he has long been on the front-lines in the battle against drugs. And, while the challenge before him is great, the President and I believe that he will lead our nation’s efforts against illegal drugs with unshakable resolve.”

[From The White House – Press Office – Vice President Biden Issues Statement on the Confirmation of Chief Gil Kerlikowske as Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy]

The real question is whether Kerlikowske will bring sanity to the federal response to drugs, or whether he’ll take the easy route and keep the failed policies of his predecessors. The citizenry is ready for a change, is the Obama administration?

Written by Seth Anderson

May 8th, 2009 at 6:22 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Lobbying vs Good Policy

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Drug companies are fretting that their huge advertising budgets won’t be large enough to sell their expensive drugs at the expense of cheaper generics, so are ramping up lobbying efforts.

Crack in your Bridge

U.S. drugmakers led by Merck & Co. and Biogen Idec Inc. are stepping up their fight against President Barack Obama’s move to encourage cheaper medical care.

Already the biggest spender on influencing policy, the drug industry is hiring well-known individuals, some with stories of personal battles against disease. They include Tony Coelho, a former House Democratic leader who has epilepsy; Andrea LaRue, counsel to Tom Daschle when he was Senate Democratic leader; and the firm of Democratic fundraiser Tony Podesta, brother of Obama adviser John Podesta.

The firepower shows the drug industry’s resolve to stop Obama from using comparisons of medical treatments to force cuts in health costs. More than half of medical care may be based on insufficient evidence of effectiveness, the Congressional Budget Office said in March. Meantime, the Health and Human Services Department says all medical spending will probably rise this year to $2.5 trillion, or 18 percent of the economy.

“The companies fear that older generic drugs might very well turn out to be better than the newer advertised drugs, which bring in much more of a profit,” said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. “In difficult economic times, the drug companies don’t want to take any risks, so they are bringing out the biggest lobbyists in the business.”

[Click to continue reading Merck, Biogen Boost Lobbying to Defy Obama’s Drug Comparisons – Bloomberg.com ]

Pathetic, but will undoubtedly be effective. In these sorts of matters, money usually trumps good policy. Would be surprised if the Obama administration (and 111th Congress) would be any different.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 17th, 2009 at 9:39 am