The focus of these documentaries varies vastly, and it’s sometimes hard to know beforehand if what you are about to watch will satisfy your curiosity. There are overlaps between the works, understandably so since the central theme of all of them is cannabis, however, the ones that do standout are the ones that emphasize certain details of the story. Four of these documentaries are embedded below.
In the first we address some of the basic issues at hand by taking a tour with a very pleasant and delightful young man. The second is about the business of getting high, centered on the marijuana trade industry in British Columbia, Canada. In the third we review the history of the war on cannabis. And in the fourth we learn about the benefits of cannabis to our societies. Enjoy.
Originally it was my intention to share my sentiments by providing a detailed post regarding the shooting and its implications. However, I came across a piece that did, for the most part, just that. I believe you will find the article entitled ‘Bug-Splats’ by George Monbiot well worth the read:
“It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president…
"The wider effects on the children of the region have been devastating. Many have been withdrawn from school because of fears that large gatherings of any kind are being targeted. There have been several strikes on schools since George W Bush launched the drone programme that Obama has expanded so enthusiastically: one of Bush’s blunders killed 69 children...
“‘Are we,’ Obama asked on Sunday, ‘prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?’ It’s a valid question. He should apply it to the violence he is visiting on the children of Pakistan.”
In society leading is done by example, and remote mass executions by our leaders are a very poor example to set for our children.
As well, a few questions still remain regarding the Newtown killings, one of the most important of which is, did pharmaceuticals have a role to play in what transpired?
Review of System of a Down's "Hypnotize" originally written in 2006.
The quick review of System Of A Down's "Hypnotize" is that this album is a masterpiece. This group of very talented and extremely intelligent individuals have just put themselves into the history books. The message shared is to educate ourselves, to learn that we are free, and to resist corporate laws disguised as protection from invisible enemies. This is done eloquently in operatic form by two vocal talents, each with dual personalities, and delivered with force while riding on a crest of layered music. If you want to know what the band is feeling, what they are going through and what is going to happen to us as a society, if we do not do a 180-degree turn and stop this madness, then listen to the brilliance. Loop individual songs so that you get to know each one intimately. All the songs are connected and when put together tell a grim story about us, and the world we have created. Buy this album, download it, read the lyrics, listen to the rhythm, and put it all together because "Hypnotize" is reality hitting you by the side of the head with a two-by-four. Truly one of the greatest albums ever created.
That was the quick version of what "Hypnotize" is really about. However, the only way to do justice to this work is to do a little in-depth analysis on just one of the main themes presented.
Simply put, what System Of A Down (SOAD) have created is one of the best and most beautifully produced albums ever to be release. It is also one of the most relevant albums to have ever been released in our time or any other time in history. It captures the anger, the pain and the frustration associated with the stupidity and ignorance that is the corporate war machine. It leaves us with the realization that aside from the power hungry vermin, the corporate profiteers, and the religious fanatics there is no one else profiting from the American Military Complex and the death and destruction that it is unleashing.
Two songs in this album require special recognition. The first is "Holy Mountain". Many people have been assuming that this song is only about honoring the Armenian Genocide committed by the Turk's during World War I. If that were the end of this story then we would not be living in this reality. "Holy Mountain" is not just about a genocide that happened in the past in which the perpetrators of the crime deny any responsibility, it is also about a genocide that is happening right now, while the perpetrators deny any responsibility. In "Holy Mountain" we are a rare witness to the depths of the pain and anguish that must reside in the victims of oppression. This song is desperately screaming and pleading with us to understand that history is repeating itself. Genocide is happening right now, in our name and with our support. So please wake up.
The second song that needs special consideration is "Soldier Side". We are reminded of the true cost of war. The fact that it's not others that we are killing, but ourselves. For each one of us that is sacrificed to this chaos, a part of us dies. SOAD reminds us that no matter what the crime or innocence, nor the level of stupidity or ignorance, no one deserves to be effected by this suicidal insanity.
The songs mentioned above are only two of the variables in "Hypnotize" that have allowed it to reach this level of excellence. The first song on this album sets the tone and prepares us for this audio experience by shattering the illusion of a divine cause in waging war using "the cold insincerity of steel machines". The indiscriminate destruction caused by our continual attack on what we do not understand is shown to be "the philosophy of displaced minds". The rest of the album builds from this initial moment by developing a unique personality for each song, which in turn connects the remainder of this work in an intricate symphony.
Even the transitions from one song to the next, throughout the album, reflect and amplify each individual song. One of these profound moments occurs from the beginning of "U-Fig", implying You-Figure-It-Out, to the mesmerizing rollover into "Holy Mountain".
In "U-Fig" there are two voices in conflict. At the beginning, the warmongers are calling to the masses to "come join the cause" and "melt in the sun", and "hide in the sky". The voice used to portray these entities is of a vile excuse for a human being, reminiscent of fascist leaders. After the initial two verses the voice of reason kicks in and suggests that we, that's "you and me", should do something to silence these "pathetic flag waving ignorant geeks". The conflict and the play in the lyrics between the two sides are amplified by the intricacy of the music. The angry chaotic beat of the war cry is silenced by a beautiful calming mandolin like guitar riff which in turn is shattered again by the chaos created by these "murderer(s)". This play continues into a beautiful climax where it is suggested that by standing up and resisting, perhaps "it'll show your mind that you have a mind".
There is an urgency in "U-Fig" which is brought upon by the realization that "we're out of time". The reason for this urgency and the consequence of our apathy is explained in the genocide that is magnificently depicted in "Holy Mountain". The rollover into the opening words, "Can you feel their haunting presence?" forces us to acknowledge that "they have all returned". Not only the same "liar(s), killers(s)" and "demon(s)" responsible for so much pain in the past, but also the victims, seeking retribution and justice.
"Hypnotize" is not twelve individual songs but one continuous story looped within itself to convey one simple message which has been the core teaching of SOAD from the beginning of their collaboration. All that they have required of us from the start, with the release of their first album, was to really "look at each other" and realize, that according to our government, "free thinkers are dangerous", and that is why "they" are spreading "blame" and "hate". One simple verse from their second album "Toxicity" explains the ultimate purpose of these creatures; "They're trying to build a prison, for you and me to live in". Hence "Hypnotize" is not really the second part of a double album, but the fifth album of one glorious production called compassion.
The depth of the lyrics with their brilliant imagery alone is among the best in the music industry. How many people in the world have ever felt frustration so powerful, or woken up with a cold sweat in panic, because they were "dreaming of screaming"? Unfortunately, many in war torn countries have, just like the families and friends of some of our dead. Young and old, man and women, the weak and the strong, no one is immune and no one is spared from the devastation. With three simple words overlain on top of hypnotic music they have captured the horror of loss.
To the rest of the music industry, the following message is shared. SOAD just "killed your rock and roll" and all those "sexy people" selling the past and the distorted products of the corporate entities. Welcome to the relevant world and the new rock that spits in the face of greed.
As SOAD puts it, we are "breathing each others lives", and if "we fall, we all fall". "We're the prophetic generation of bottled water" "causing poor populations to die" and we're about to "bring the dark disaster". The "murderer(s)" have "mesmerize(d) the simple minded" while "propaganda leaves us blinded". At this moment there are "two suns fighting" and we're "watching them both fighting" and "seeing them both dying". "Superstition (is) taking all of us for a ride" and "we're going down in a spiral to the ground" because "no one's gonna save us now".
How magnificent it would be, if "Hypnotize" with all its glory was turned into a musical. Can you picture the stage? An arena with two sides in a death match. The corporate war machines with their brainwashed sheeple "eat(ing) all the grass that (they) want" versus "you and me" and the survival of humanity. How could SOAD fail in raising awareness if they use imagery and music overlain on top of their lyrics to help educate the masses and set right what has gone wrong? I watched twenty thousand people sing their words and raise their fists in defiance during their performance of "Mesmerize" in Vancouver, and I for one will be there again for "Hypnotize" and beyond.
This album would have made John Lennon proud, incorporates the wrath and truth of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", and echoes the words of Langston Hughes and Nina Simone in "The Backlash Blues":
But the world is big
Big and bright and round
And it's full of folks like me
Who are black, yellow, beige and brown.
Mr. Backlash, I'm gonna leave you
With the backlash blues
Brilliant, magnificent and intoxicating. Hypnotic music to awaken the life within.
I recently attended a small family gathering, not my immediate family but my partners, so by extension people that I care for. I am Armenian and my partner is Jewish, and at the table were us and the elders, including a holocaust survivor.
During dinner the conversation drifted between various topics and at some point turned to politics, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Those who have followed my blog know that I am quite outspoken regarding my political views and rarely do I mince words, and this night was not an exception. I believe that dialogue, discussion, honesty, and candidness are needed to come to terms with what is actually taking place in the heart of the Middle-East because what transpires in that region, what the final outcome will be between Israel and Palestine, will decide the fate of humanity.
As I stated, I do not mince words, and in my opinion we are witnessing a slow genocide unfolding in real time. Unfortunately, this description of the bond that exists between these two peoples is not a well-accepted point of view in my corner of the world, understandably of course, because the word ‘Genocide’ implies so much(archive.org link).
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
“Nevertheless, alongside the legal definition of genocide, rooted in the 1948 Convention and confirmed in subsequent case law, there is a more popular or colloquial conception. In practice, this lay understanding of genocide is more akin to crimes against humanity, in that it comprises a broad range of mass atrocities.”
“Senator Biden and I, I think both acknowledge that, for those of you who aren’t aware, there was a genocide that did take place against the Armenian people. It is one of the situations where we have seen a constant denial on part of the Turkish government and others that this occurred. It has become a sore spot diplomatically.
“I have to check with my staff to find out what has gone on in our office that has resulted in us not signing onto it yet and I will be happy to get back to you on it.”
“Two forces have led to the attitude of the state of Israel and its leading institutions toward teaching and remembering other acts of genocide than the Holocaust: a) the pressure of the Turkish government regarding remembering and teaching the Armenian Genocide, and b) the opposition of several high-powered Jewish-Israeli groups who are afraid that dealing with other genocides could damage the concept of the uniqueness of the Shoah.
“The terrible tragedies that befell the Jews at the hands of Nazi Germany became, historically, an important element of Jewish and Zionist education. The educational institutions of the secular Jewish community in Israel, both before and after the establishment of the State of Israel, undertook the mission of constructing ‘the new Jew’ as a moral, conceptual and political entity... After the end of World War II, Zionist historiography used knowledge about the Holocaust as part of building a Zionist moral education…
“Under these circumstances it is not surprising to discover how little knowledge Israeli students have about other peoples' genocides. A survey which was conducted in 1996 about attitudes toward genocide (the first study that was conducted in Israel on this subject). 800 B.A. students from seven universities and colleges in Israel were asked about their knowledge, feelings and attitudes. Among other questions, they were asked to assess their knowledge about the Armenian Genocide. 42% answered that they did not have any knowledge, 44% that they had little knowledge, 13% that they had some knowledge, and 1% that they are well informed about it. Their answers about their degree of knowledge concerning the genocide of the Roma (Gypsies) were almost the same (36% no knowledge, 49% very little knowledge, 14% some knowledge, and 1% quite a bit of knowledge).”
The hypocrisy of the denial of the Armenian Genocide is of course not lost for many Israeli academics, and there are those who are working towards a reeducation program:
“Nonetheless, as noted, there are also encouraging private initiatives of teachers and directors of schools, who have decided to deal with other genocides in their schools. On the one hand, their influence is limited, yet on the other hand they exert long-term influence.”
As for the final outcome of the dinner conversation, we all learned something and its effects continue to unfold. Below you will find an essay regarding what transpired written by my partner for a school project. She is much wiser than I.
II. Compassionate and Personal
Oppression in a World of Different Perspectives
Oppression in a World of Differing Perspectives
This paper is a deeply personal exploration into my history, into understanding where I have come from and what constitutes my identity. It is an exploration into my personal situatedness and current constitutedness – two integral supporting relational practice within nursing care. In this paper I will explore my identity in relation to being born from a survivor of the holocaust and how this past history relates to my current personal life. This paper includes a broad exploration of the notion and experience of oppression with an overall foundation of compassion ebbing through out my views. I will explore how oppression and breaking the cycles of oppression are currently a topic of self-enquiry in my personal life. Other vital aspects of oppression including cultural safety and ethics will also be incorporated, including how they will influence my future nursing practice.
Making Meaning Out of Course Concepts
Through the process of self-exploration and the active enquiry into history, awareness of self-identity and human experience is supported. In this active personal process, cycles of suffering may be liberated into a positive experience of existence. Suffering and oppression are intrinsically connected (Tinsley & France, 2004). Through a historic exploration of oppression, both within cultures and within personal experience, the ability to act as an empowered and empowering person in community and society is possible (Bishop, 2002).
Individual and group suffering experience and oppression are part of the microcosm and the macrocosm and thus can be found within the human experience through out history. The phenomenon of suffering occurs within the scope of oppressive actions towards others. In relation to oppression, Cassell explains suffering as “the state of severe distress associated with events that threaten the intactness of a person” (as cited in Tinsley & France, 2004, p. 9). Oppression may be directly connected to a hierarchal institutional structuring (Tinsley & France, 2004). Oppression and the sense of power over another may occur within the structure of the hospital, between ethnic groups and may also encompass a larger arena, such as between countries. Control over another, whether it be a nurse asserting control over a patient, the dynamics between a nursing manager and a newly graduated nurse, or a political regime attempting to control neighbouring populations, oppression continues to exist in today’s world (Tinsley & France, 2004).
In order to support a shift from oppression to empowerment, a collective effort to seek and act for positive change is important. As a means to understand oppression and learn from suffering, it is possible to view humans as connected beings sharing a lived experience (Bishop, 2002; Watson, 2007; Watson, 2003). Bishop (2002) includes a list of characteristics integral for acting as an ally for ending cycles of oppression including, but not limited to: understanding personal heritage and history, accepting a universal connection to all peoples and understanding current political affairs and social structure. Bishop (2002) also notes how it is normal for persons who are oppressed or have been oppressed to take on the role of the oppressors. By acknowledging the personal experience of being oppressed in this lifetime or ancestrally, it is feasible to shift cycles of oppression and be an advocate for liberation (Bishop, 2002).
Exploring oppression within my personal life. With a focus on the concepts presented in N360, in conjunction with the active violence in the middle east, I have initiated an exploration into a part of myself that challenges me on a fundamental level – the part of me who was born from a man who survived the holocaust. In this enquiry, I have found I have fears around looking at and sharing this part of myself. I am afraid of anti-Semitism and being associated with the growing negative attitudes towards Israel’s current political practices and my familial relationship to it. I was first struck by the importance to reflect on my history and related sense of identity during the presentation with the Aboriginal leader, Roger John (September 24, 2012). He spoke about the importance of knowing and understanding personal history and how this relates to our acceptance and understanding of our personal identity.
Considering my family history as a timeline of events and experiences that have influenced who I am today, I am able to broaden my perspectives and release oppressive fears passed on to me. In agreement with this, Bishop (2002) articulates “ . . . [t]he oppressive history of the group you belong to is the burden you carry” (p. 118). By facing my burdens – the fears I hold on to – I let go of this repressive energy and gain personal power towards liberation over oppression for myself and those I connect with relationally.
While researching the oppression of my family through the holocaust experience, I found a published newsletter with reference to a story my father had shared with me as a child. To my surprise, the text about my father coincides with a recent piece of personal reflective writing. Following is an excerpt from this writing:
When I was a child, I remember looking in the sad light blue's of my father's eyes in one of those rare moments when he shared parts of his story about being in a concentration camp, behind a tall wall, where it was his job to carry the dead to large side graves. He told me about how he secretly dug a small hole under that wall, just wide enough for his skeletal body to pass under, where farmers on the other side would give him potatoes to share with a small few. Looking into those sad, beautiful blue eyes, he told me he still felt that suffering, never able to forget and never able to get away from the suffering that continues in the world. I take his story with me and it disturbs me, frightens me and still, it gives me hope. It is through the relationship I had with my father, I am able to believe in the beauty that can come out of tragedy - that a seemingly hopeless situation can turn into something unconditionally caring, healing and utterly full of love. (November 20, 2012)
Through coming to understand the realities of past oppression and suffering, there is a path towards liberating these stories and experiences towards compassion for all people (Bishop, 2002; Watson, 2003). Watson (2003), the creator of the nursing theory of caring further explains:
. . . it is our humanity that both wounds us and heals us, and those whom we serve; and in the end, it is only love that matters. It is in the entering of the sacred circle of life and death that we engage in healing (p. 199).
Communicating about oppression with cultural safety. Understanding the social economic and overall history of a culture is foundational for practicing with cultural safety (Doane & Varcoe, 2005). Doane and Varcoe (2005) offer “ . . . actions that recognize, respect, and nurture the unique cultural identity of people/families, safely meet their needs, expectations, and rights” (p.311). Cultural safety incorporates a respectful practice while working with diverse cultures. Approaching the topic of oppression must be articulated with cultural safety. Working though both sides of oppression – as oppressor and as someone being oppressed – is an integral part of the process towards creating political and social change (Bishop, 2002; Brown et al., 2009). Cultural safety guides dialogue through difficult conversations, but conversations as such continue to be challenging.
Recently I have found myself sharing dialogue with my family and partner about oppression in the world today. Communicating about oppression when differing perspectives co-exist involves a fine balance in expression. At a recent family dinner, I had the opportunity to share discourse regarding the conflicts in the Middle East. Conflict arose between my aunt - a survivor of the holocaust and a deep believer in the existence of Israel - and my partner who believes Israel is treating the Palestinian people with oppression and social injustice. The conversation at the table left me with the question: How to engage in important dialogue and conversations with cultural safety when opposing views are present? In order to practice with cultural safety it is vital to have understanding about the history and be sensitive to inherent meanings within the cultures (Kleiman, 2006).
Ethical practice in relation to oppression. Watson (2007) identifies nursing as a “ . . . human science of persons and human health-illness experiences that are mediated by professional, personal, scientific, esthetic, and ethical human care transactions” (p. 54). Ethical considerations and discussions are an integral aspect of nursing care within diverse populations and cultures. Within this context, Watson (2008) offers, “ . . . to look into the face of the other, not as a different other, but as a reflection of each of us” (p. 57). It is in the recognition that all of humanity is sharing a lived and connected experience, where caring despite difference may shape ethical practice.
Ethical nursing practice may evolve out of a place of caring and compassion for all peoples as connected aspects of self. In this way we “ . . . honor the paradox of differences and similarities that unite rather than separate our existence and experiences (Watson, 2008, p. 56). Chinn (2001) agrees with Watson’s notion of caring ethics and adds the idea of “PEACE Power,” (p. 12) where there is a collective shared agreement and harmonious focus. Here, the sharing of diverse perspectives are encouraged to further understanding and creative solutions. The ability for successful discussions incorporating different opinions may be supported with a sense of knowing our connectedness to one another (Bishop, 2002; Chinn, 2001; Eddington, 2010).
Sharing my nursing practice and living life with those I am in relation with, whether as a patient, nurse, colleague, lover, friend or family member, it is my intention to operate with a caring ethical demeanour. Watson (2003) articulates my intention clearly, “[b]y attending to, honouring, entering into, connecting with our deep humanity, we find the ethic and artistry of being, loving, and caring. We are not machines as we have been taught, but spirit made whole” (p.199). Practicing nursing and living life with a sense of respect for all perspectives and differences will be foundation for not only practicing with a caring ethic, but also to approach the inherent interconnections of oppression and social justice.
If it possible to find peace in the relationships that come into my life, whether perspectives and world views are similar or different, then there is a hope for peaceful relations between peoples, religions and between countries. Great suffering and also great rejoicing are part of my current and ancestral life experience. All peoples histories and perspectives are important, deserving of respect and opportunity to be heard and discussed. Culturally safe dialogue about oppression, issues of social justice and ethics is challenging and often a delicate matter. Dialogue between persons with difference world views and perspectives is extremely important for a future that may include peace. In this paper, I explored the idea of oppression and related it to my personal family history of oppression during the holocaust of World War II. I also discussed the connections between oppression and how to communicate within the context of cultural safety. Lastly, I considered how my resonance with Jean Watson’s theory of human caring guides my nursing practice and life endeavours with ethics grounded in compassion and a sense of connection to all beings.
Bishop, A. (2002). Becoming an ally: Breaking the cycle of oppression in people p. 109-124. Halifax, NS: Fernwood Publishing.
Browne, A., Varcoe, C., Smye, V., Reimer-Kirkham, S., Lynam, M., & Wong, S. (2009). Cultural safety and the challenges of translating critically oriented knowledge in practice. Nursing Philosophy, 10(3), 167-179. doi:10.1111/j.1466-769X.2009.00406.x
Chinn, P.L. (2001). Peace and power: Building communities for the future (5th ed.), How we get together from here: power (pp. 11-16). Jones and Bartlett Publishers: Mississauga.
Eddington, C. (2010). Compassion tempered justice. Journal of Psycho-Social Studies, 4(1), 1-15.
Hartrick Doane, G. & Varcoe, C. (2005). Family nursing as relational inquiry – Developing health promoting practice. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
Kleiman, S. (2006). Discovering cultural aspects of nurse patient relationships. Journal of Cultural Diversity. 13(2), 83-86.
Tinsley, C., & France, N. (2004). The trajectory of the registered nurse's exodus from the profession: a phenomenological study of the lived experience of oppression. International Journal For Human Caring, 8(1), 8-12.
Watson, J. (2003). Love and caring: ethics of face and hand -- an invitation to return to the heart and soul of nursing and our deep humanity. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 27(3), 197-202.
Watson, J. (2007). Nursing: human science and human care. A theory of nursing. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Watson, J. (2008). Social justice and human caring: a model of caring science as a hopeful paradigm for moral justice for humanity. Creative Nursing, 14(2), 54-61.
“The material that Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked has highlighted astonishing examples of U.S. subversion of the democratic process around the world, systematic evasion of accountability for atrocities and killings, and many other abuses. [The] archive of State Department cables have appeared in tens of thousands of articles, books and scholarly works, illustrating the nature of U.S. foreign policy and the instruments of U.S. national power.”
“This is Bradley Manning’s abuse case. Bradley Manning was arrested in Baghdad, shipped over and held for two months in extremely adverse conditions in Kuwait, shipped over to Quantico, Virginia, which is near the center of the U.S. intelligence complex, and held there for nine months, longer than any other prisoner in Quantico’s modern history. And there, he was subject to conditions that the U.N. special rapporteur, Juan Méndez, special rapporteur for torture, formally found amounted to torture.”
The pre-trial hearing was the first time since his detention that Manning had been given the opportunity to share his experiences in an open forum. The focus of the hearing was how the military had treated him for the last two and a half years while he was in captivity:
“A formal UN investigation denounced those conditions as ‘cruel and inhuman’. President Obama's state department spokesman, retired air force colonel PJ Crowley, resigned after publicly condemning Manning's treatment. A prison psychologist testified this week that Manning's conditions were more damaging than those found on death row, or at Guantánamo Bay.”
Most Canadians are embarrassed and utterly disgusted with what our Conservative government has done. Unfortunately, because of our ’First Past the Post’ electoral system and the bitter reality that a majority government can do anything they want, we can’t do much about it, at least not until the next elections. When that time comes, we promise to do our best to remove from power these fanatics who have shamed Canada and put us on the wrong side of history.
Palestine, of course, was welcomed as a Non-Member Observer State. “Voting by an overwhelming majority - 138 in favour to 9 against (Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States), with 41 abstentions — the General Assembly today accorded Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations.“
For those Canadians who have not been in the loop and would like to put into context what the Harper Government has just done, ask yourself this; was it to the best interest of Canada to vote and lobby against this resolution? If the answer is that you don't know, then Canada should have abstained.
The simple fact is that even though it is our technological evolution that is bringing about an economic metamorphosis that we see manifesting itself as a global financial crisis, it will be the environmental revolution forcing our civilization to implement the concept of sustainability that will finally transform our society. In essence, we need to seriously rethink our current economic system.
“Humans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe’s inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse.”
Below you will find four lectures that provide further insight into our current predicament:
This was an excellent discussion where Prof. Finkelstein provided a secular perspective focusing on international law, while Mr. Tzortzis shared his perspective as an international public speaker on Islam.
What I found especially of interest, however, were the following opening remarks by Prof. Finkelstein:
“I was asked to speak on a very specific topic this evening namely ‘How to resolve the conflict’, if I had my choice in the matter I would’ve preferred to speak about what’s happening now in Gaza and more importantly, what seems to be unfolding in Lebanon, which is quite serious and quite ominous. I think we’re headed towards a crossroads in the Israeli-Palestine conflict in Lebanon in the near future, probably in the next several months…
“In my opinion, there is a very sinister plot, and I don’t usually use the word plot, and there is a very sinister conspiracy, and I don’t usually use the word conspiracy, but I do think there is a plot, a conspiracy afoot, not just by the usual suspects the US and Israel, but also France, Italy, Canada, all the western powers are now acting in concert for a decisive moment.
“We should be very sensitive to that fact and just as they’re laying the groundwork for their evil, we should now be preparing ourselves and not being left at the last moment trying to mitigate a war but to prepare for it because it’s going to be a decisive moment. It will either be 1967 where a significant defeat was delivered to the Arab world or it’ll be 1956 where the British and the French and the imperial powers at the time suffered a major setback. But it is serious and in my opinion it’s really, if I could use the word, it’s quite filthy.”
To emphasize the hypocrisy of US foreign policy in the following reply from President Obama, the word “missiles” has been replaced by “drones”, the word “landing” replaced by “striking”, and the word “Israel(i)” replaced by “the country’s”. Obama’s actual video reply follows the modified quote.
"Let's understand what the precipitating event here was that's causing the current crisis, and that was an ever-escalating number of drones that were striking, not just in the country’s territory, but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate drones raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.
“So we are fully supportive of the country’s right to defend itself from dronesstriking people's homes and workplaces and potentially killing civilians, and we will continue to support the country’s right to defend itself.”
“In 1973 Oregon became the first state to modify its law and decriminalize marijuana use, which meant possession became a civil offense punishable by a fine. A key reason for this legislative change was pressure exerted by the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), a private citizens group founded in 1971 that believed drug laws were unfair to recreational users. The American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) also supported marijuana law reform – the AMA came out in favor of dropping penalties for possession of insignificant amounts of marijuana in 1972, while the ABA recommended decriminalization in 1973.”
“Ten other states followed Oregon in decriminalizing marijuana and it appeared the nation was well on its way toward a federal policy of less stringent marijuana regulation. This policy seemed all but guaranteed when Jimmy Carter, a liberal politician, was elected to the White House in 1976.”
“Carter chose Dr. Peter Bourne as his special assistant for health issues and instructed him to come up with a plan for reorganizing drug policy. Borne… argued in March 1977 in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. Five months later President Carter asked Congress for legislation to eliminate federal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. Though a call for drastic legal change, this was not an extreme departure from everyday reality, as most local police departments were not arresting individuals for possessing small quantities of marijuana.”
In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the elections, and the War on Drugs entered a new stage. “In his first year in office, Reagan called for total abstinence and substantially more funding for law enforcement – under the Reagan administration the enforcement part of the federal drug control budget shifted from one half to two thirds. The following year, Reagan launched a huge new campaign to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. It involved a variety of federal agencies and included the Defense Department, which was allowed for the first time to take an active part in the war on drugs. Vice President George Bush played a prominent part in the campaign by leading a task force to combat trafficking in Florida.”
“By 1984, thirteen antidrug task forces involving multiple federal agencies were operating nationwide and Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ campaign, a program that promoted the value of a drug-free life style, was being inaugurated in the schools. A year later, 1985, a federal drive was begun to combat the growth of marijuana plants.”
“African-Americans are arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for drug offenses at far higher rates than whites. This racial disparity bears little relationship to racial differences in drug offending. For example, although the proportion of all drug users who are black is generally in the range of 13 to 15 percent, blacks constitute 36 percent of arrests for drug possession. Blacks constitute 63 percent of all drug offenders admitted to state prisons. In at least fifteen states, black men were sent to prison on drug charges at rates ranging from twenty to fifty-seven times those of white men.”
"The sacrifices we make to build these prisons are astonishing. Between 1987 and 2007, state spending on prisons increased by 40 percent (as a percent of the general fund). State spending on higher education decreased by 30 percent. We are financing our prisons by cutting our colleges.
"We continue to build even though prisons are often disappointing for economic development. The best jobs go to people from out of town, and dollars spent on prisons have little 'multiplier' effect. They don’t generate future additional dollars of economic activity, as do dollars spent on transportation, schools and so forth. Every dollar invested in highway construction generates $2.50 of gross domestic product in the short term. Raising teacher wages by 10 percent is associated with a 5 percent decrease in drop-out rates. But still we shortchange our schools and other rural enterprise, and build new prisons."
“Rather than respond to public and political demands for marijuana's medical availability, federal drug agencies are instead promoting bureaucratically sanctioned alternatives which are synthetic, expensive and often ineffective. It is ironic that after decades of pretending marijuana is medically useless, federal drug agencies are now aggressively pushing synthetic Marinol, the so-called ‘pot pill,’ by arguing it is as safe and effective as marijuana.”
“‘There was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high (it was actually the number 1 question) and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation, and I don’t know what this says about the online audience,’ Mr. Obama said, drawing a laugh. He said he wanted to make sure the question got answered. ‘The answer is no, I don’t think that was a good strategy.’”
“The feds are busting growers who operate in full compliance with state laws, vowing to seize the property of anyone who dares to even rent to legal pot dispensaries, and threatening to imprison state employees responsible for regulating medical marijuana…
“‘There's no question that Obama's the worst president on medical marijuana,’ says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. ‘He's gone from first to worst.’”
The audacity of a leader that is willing to destroy countless lives for something that he has admitted to doing himself, frequently, must be taxing to those who have and are still willing to support him.
“’It’s very monumental,’ said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a Washington-based group that advocates legalization. ‘No state has ever done this. Technically, marijuana isn’t even legal in Amsterdam.’”
Under the measures, “personal possession of up to an ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana would be legal for anyone at least 21 years of age. They also will permit cannabis to be legally sold and taxed at state-licensed stores in a system modeled after a regime many states have in place for alcohol sales.”
In addition, the cultivation of up to six plants for personal use will be legal in Colorado while still remaining illegal in Washington State.
Just to recap, in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people are being arrested for marijuana violations under the pretence that marijuana has no medical use, but at the same time the government has allowed 5 people to carry a federal medical marijuana license. The US government has also authorized pharmaceutical companies to synthesize THC, the active ingredient of marijuana, and to market and sell it as medicine. Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move, Washington State and Colorado have gone beyond the medical marijuana debate and legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marihuana in private for personal use... Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marihuana.”
While we wait to obtain our freedom we should keep in mind that those who consume cannabis are not criminals. They are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, our grandparents and our children, and many have been sacrificed to further the agenda of certain individuals and organizations who feed off the profits from the criminalization of a plant.
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs - Johann Hari on RAI (1/2)
Below you will find the names and websites of some of the more prominent groups spearheading the battle to end prohibition in the United States and Canada. They are trying to bring sanity back into our lives and I’m sure they would appreciate our support as much as we appreciate their efforts.