Friday, 27 March 2015

DRUGS

Governments, police, courts and hard-liners have been wrong, totally wrong
This could be the breakthrough of the century. New research and a new book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari, detonates the damnation wrought by holier-than-thou authorities on the victims of drug addiction, and in turn, their victims.

In the past, efforts by enlightened reformers have fallen on deaf ears, or they have been shouted down by hard-liners whose own addiction seems to be screaming for punishment.

Everyone is addicted to something; drugs, alcohol, tobacco, food, exercise, cleanliness, filth, gambling, sex, politics, talking, shopping, adventure, danger, or doing nothing. Personally, I’m addicted to writing and extending my old age.
Addicted to weird selfies in front
of weird mirrors

The old adage, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them,’ certainly applies here. Governments certainly need to join forces with the addicts to help them beat their addictions, instead of beating-up the addicts. Governments could be really innovative by supplying drugs free as a prelude to recovery and rehabilitation, thereby eliminating the need to buy drugs from criminals.

Anyone who advocates punishing people for being sick, are themselves rather sick.

The following article appeared in Huffington Post:

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think
Posted: 01/20/2015 3:20 pm EST Updated: 03/22/2015 5:59 am EDT
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned -- and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong -- and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.
If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man. From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer. From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.
I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers. One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind -- what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can't stop? How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.
If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: "Drugs. Duh." It's not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That's what addiction means.
One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments -- ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.
The advert explains: "Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It's called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you."
Continued below . . . .
But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexandernoticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn't know what was in them. But what happened next was startling . . . .
The full story of Johann Hari's journey -- told through the stories of the people he met -- can be read in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores and read more at www.chasingthescream.com.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

NEW ZEALAND TOUR 2015

Best of New Zealand in 18 days
The Australian and British tourists on the last day of their 18 day tour
Day after day of blue skies and comfortable temperatures seemed made to order on this 18 Day Discover New Zealand Tour with Hamilton based Leisure Time Tours. In fact it rained only briefly on just three days.

Queen Charlotte Sound in the Marlborough Sounds near Picton
Starting in Auckland on 20 February, the tour went north first to the beautiful Bay of Islands for two nights, then south to New Zealand’s geothermal wonderland at Rotorua for another two-night stopover. Then followed one-night stays at Napier, Wellington, Nelson,
Haast Pass
Christchurch and Franz Josef Glacier before traveling through the Southern Alps via the remote Haast Pass for two nights in the southern tourist mecca of Queenstown.
The Earnslaw at Walter Peak Station

After Queenstown, next on the itinerary was the spectacular alpine road to Milford Sound, the most unforgettable highlight of any New Zealand tour. And the weather was as perfect as the brochure photo, but it’s certainly not like that every day. Milford Sound gets over 300 inches of rain a year. At Milford tourists see spectacular mountain peaks reaching up from the mirror-surface of the Sound, or hundreds of cascading waterfalls in every direction.

It rained a little the next day on the road from Te Anau to Dunedin and the temperature was a little cooler, but nothing that could stop these visitors from enjoying this southern Scottish city and its beautiful historic buildings.

At Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, the weatherman turned it on again for a thrill-of-a-lifetime helicopter flight and a glacier landing high above the southern lakes. Later, a leisurely drive through the McKenzie Country to Christchurch brought the tour to a happy conclusion, and the tourists departed for their home ports, taking fond memories of New Zealand’s spectacular countryside with them.



Milford Sound
Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki






The tour was an opportunity to introduce other tour drivers and tour managers to the latest book, The New Zealand Tour Commentary 2015. Only a handful of copies remain unsold.
Peter's Books

A photo stop on the road to Milford Sound

A southern scenic video taken on the road to Milford Sound:
Driving Through the Homer Tunnel