Monthly Archives: February 2008

The elephant that sat in the room whilst the UK Government announced its new class A drugs strategy.



Almost unbelievably the UK governments new ten year strategy to reduce the use of class-A drugs fails to take an in depth look at the type of treatment available to drug addicts. Which is a massive flaw if one considers the main purpose of the strategy is to edge people who are experiencing problems due to their drug use on to government sponsored treatment programs. The only conclusion one can draw from this omission is the government in its naïvety believes the current drug treatment programs available are perfectly adequate, which is about as far from reality as one can get.

Eighty percent of the treatment programs currently in use revolve around an oral methadone prescription; and before anyone get any illusions about this prescription, this is not a methadone prescription tailored to the addict’s needs, but a one size fits all program that was first brought into use in the early 1980s; and which was opposed at the time by many people who have some understanding of drug addiction. The only reason the government uses this outdated method of treating drug addicts is because it is cheap and it separates addicts from other users of the NHS and thus it allows the politicians to claim they are doing something without in the process upsetting their constituents, who regard addicts as the lowest of the low, due to the way the media and it has to be said politicians portray class A addicts.

What the current treatment program consists of is the addict going along to a Drug Dependency Unit run by the local health authority approximately twice a month, where they will be given a prescription for a oral methadone to be picked up from a local chemist daily. In the majority of cases the only time the addict will see a doctor is on a single occasion when the doctor writes up the addicts first prescription.

It makes no difference whether the addict has been addicted for thirty years or one year, whether they are snorting, smoking or injecting their narcotic of choice, each will receive a similar dosage of methadone. (Strict guidelines are set between twenty and one hundred mils of oral methadone)

An addict who has spent decades injecting street heroin would need a prescription for injectable methadone if they are to have any hope of stabilizing let alone coming off drugs completely. Better still to provide them with pharmaceutical heroin. Thus for them the current treatment offered is little better than useless. Whilst a youngster who has been using for less than a year should not be provided with a methadone prescription without first being given the opportunity to come off drugs completely, as a methadone prescription will only reinforce her/his addiction.

What those who have been using class A drugs for a comparatively short time really need is to be taken out of their drug fueled environment and sent beyond their home area to a Treatment Centre, the duration of their stay must at the very least be from three to six months. During which they will gradually be weaned, both physically and psychologically, off all class A drugs whilst living in a closed drug free environment. At the end of this period of their treatment they will still need a considerable degree of after care support, and help with finding work, accommodation etc if that is their wish.

This may sound and indeed is expensive, but if successful it is money well spent as this type of treatment has a better than average success rate; and if one considers that the government in all likelihood is going to pay business and certain charities up to fifty thousand pounds to get a long term unemployed person back into the world of work, one gets a better perspective of the costs involved.

It should also not be overlooked that twenty percent of class A drug users are either prepared or willing to consider going cold turkey, these are people who are showing enormous courage for it is the fear of cold turkey that keeps most long term addicts addicted. If a user is prepared to take that titanic step, the very least the State should do is provide them with a safe and secure environment in which they can pass through their very own calvary and make no mistake calvary is the perfect description for going cold turkey.

To expect an addict to go cold turkey at home borders on crass stupidity and sadism. Those who work in the drug treatment field must also move beyond the silly notion that if it does not hurt, addicts will never stay drug free; and give the addicts some medical relief from the sleeplessness which all those going through cold turkey experience.

Indeed it is the inability to sleep and thus by doing so gain some respite from their suffering, that is the number one cause of addicts giving up their attempt to become drug free. For this inability to sleep can last months, in some cases years and the same goes for diarrhea. Yet still the medical profession refuses to prescribe sleeping tablets or anti diarrhea medication to withdrawing addict, on the pretext that by doing so they will be adding to the addicts problems. What this in reality means is the doctor prefers the addict to stay addicted to street narcotics than risk them having a minor problem with a mild prescription drug. Can you imagine any doctor treating a patient suffering from any other serious illness in a similar manner.

I am not suggesting prescription methadone does not have an important role to play when it comes to treating those who are unfortunate enough to become addicted to opiates, it does. However if there is to be real progress all treatment programs must be tailored to the individual history and needs of the addict who puts themselves into the hands of the health professionals. Indeed it is time drug addicts were treated by the medical profession in the same manner as that profession treat those who are suffering from other serious diseases.

Over all, the governments new class A drugs strategy suffers from the same shortcoming as previous New Labour strategies that covered schools, hospitals and local communities. The people who it effects the most, in this case the class A drug users, have not been asked to contribute when the strategy was drawn up, thus an elephant sat in the room whilst the government announced its new class A drugs strategy.

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Filed under Afghanistan, drug-addiction, Globalization, NHS, opiates, Organized Rage

Turkish army relying on US ‘real time intelligence’ whilst in northern Iraq.



Robert Gates, the US Defense Decretary, said yesterday he would tell Turkish leaders that the on going Turkish military assault into northern Iraq must not continue for longer than two weeks. This is the first time the US or any of Turkey’s NATO allies have put a time limit on Turkeys military incursion into Iraq. Within hours of Gates announcement, the Turkish military and government were briefing the Turkish media that,“Turkish ground troops who entered northern Iraq on February 21 for a ‘cleanup operation’ of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) bases, expected to return home in a couple of weeks’ time.*

One of the military spokesmen also gave an insight in to how much the Turkish military have been relying on the United States for intelligence information when he told the media,

“During the previous operations the Turkish armed forces have mounted into northern Iraq they did not have the capability to find the PKK targets accurately. We did not have detailed, almost surgical information about the PKK’s hideouts. Consequently more troops were needed at the time. But most definitely the latest operations are taking place more logically and are based on the US’s real time intelligence.” He went on to say, “Turkey has been providing the US with the list of possible targets, and through the ‘real time intelligence,’ US experts based in Ankara are supplying the Turkish military with accurate locations of the PKK hideouts.

A military analysis told the Turkish Zaman daily newspaper, “Against expectations, the Turkish ground offensive came earlier than planned, in late February instead of some time in March, with the primary goal of catching the PKK by surprise.” “During the massive 1995 Turkish cross border offensive inside northern Iraq, which used around 35,000 troops, the majority of the PKK terrorists had already left the camps as, among other things, the large number of troops were more visible unlike this time when the Turkish military have sent in smaller but equally efficient units which are supported by accurate real time intelligence”.**

If this is true then it seems the Turkish military will have little choice but to withdraw from Iraq at the end of the USA’s new time limit, although this does not mean they will not leave special forces within northern Iraq, or return at sometime in the future.

Whilst the Turkish army is claiming their armed forces have been successful in killing PKK Pesmerga and over running their camps, to date we have seen no video footage of the PKK camps etc which the military have claimed to overrun. Which is surprising as the Turkish military are media savvy, the General Staff even have their own web site. This makes one wonder if the operation is going as well as has been claimed?

Mean while Ahmet Türk the head of the pro Kurdish, Democratic Society Party’s (DTP) group in the Turkish Parliament has said the ground operation launched by the Turkish Armed Forces, (TSK) against the camps of the ‘outlawed’ Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq is a violation of human rights and international law. Which in itself demonstrates just how far Turkey has changed in recent years, for it was not that long ago when anyone who criticized the Turkish military would have been hauled before the courts for slandering the guardians of the Turkish State.

Indeed Mr Türk has in the past been sentenced twice to terms of imprisonment under the above laws, first for using the word ‘Sayin’ in front of the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan name, (the word means esteemed and is used as Mr is in English) and the second time he was imprisoned was for distributing a political leaflet in the Kurdish language. As I said all is not bad news, as for him to get up at this time and criticize the Turkish incursion into northern Iraq without sanction amounts to real progress.

The Photos above are of Turkish troops in northern Iraq and the DTP politician Mr Ahmet Türk.

*http://www.hurriyet.com.tr

**http://www.todayszaman.com

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Filed under EU, Iraq, Kurds, Organized Rage, PKK, Turkish-military, US-intellegence-services

Tommy Sheridan: already vindicated by a jury of his peers


The judicial system in the UK is adversarial, the libel Courts are especially so, the case for and against is put before the Judge and Jury and it is for a jury made up of our peers to decide. If anyone honestly believes that the truth and nothing but the truth is all that is spoken with in a British Court then they must be living in la la land. When Tommy Sheridan sued the News of the World for libeling him, Rupert Murdoch hired the best Lawyers and QC’s in the land, who in turn hired private detectives to make mince meat of Sheridan’s claims.

Murdoch had his day in court and failed to convince the Scottish jury, despite due to his great wealth having had every opportunity to knock Tommy Sheridan’s hat off. Such is life and the honorable thing for all to have done was move on. Dissatisfied with the result Murdoch as is his right, decided to appeal the juries decision, as is the way with his ilk, he believed he would get a more sympathetic hearing from the judicial elite.

It now seems some were far to impatient to await the outcome of the appeal, so the Scottish Constabulary were conscripted to do what Murdoch’s lawyers were unable to achieve when they had their day in court. Information released by the Lothian and Borders Police, to the veteran Scottish socialist Hugh Keer under the freedom of information act, shows that police force has spent over one million pounds investigating whether Mr Sheridan and others who gave evidence in the court case committed perjury.

Approximately forty-thousand police/support-staff hours have been spent so far investigating this case, police who had been working on other more serious crimes were drafted in to work on this inquiry. If you consider that in some areas of the UK, if your home is burgled you are unlikely to be visited by a police officer, one gets an idea of the priority the Chief Constable of the Lothian and Borders Police gave to this enquiry. It is difficult not so conclude that Tommy Sheridan and his wife and comrades have been singled out for special treatment by elements within the UK State, whether they be police, politicians or members of the judiciary.

That a number of people who testified for Mr Sheridan in the original court case against the News of the World have also been arrested, including Mrs Sheridan, makes me feel that this was done to bring pressure to bear so that these individuals reconsider whether to give evidence in the appeal. That this appeal has been put back to await the outcome of the Lothian and Borders Police enquiry confirms me in this suspicion.

For if those arrested are successfully prosecuted, which I do not believe will happen, Murdoch would almost certainly win his appeal with a nod from the top Beak and that cannot be right, for as one of the UK’s top Barristers, Ian Hamilton, QC said,
“Tommy Sheridan has been vindicated by a jury of his peers. A jury
 heard the evidence and awarded him damages. It is no part of the duty 
of our police to prove the jury wrong and a newspaper right.”

Finally I would just add this, whilst I recognize and applaud Tommy Sheridan’s contribution to the struggle for a more equitable society within Scotland, I feel he made a major political error when he encouraged his supporters to leave the Scottish Socialist Party, but when it comes to supporting Sheridan or Rupert Murdock (and a pliable Scottish criminal justice system) it is a no brainer. My support goes to Tommy all the way, I will argue through our political differences when these charges are dismissed. 



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Sunday 9th March: International Women’s Day


I received an email today from the good people at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, Manchester, letting me know that as usual the Library will be celebrating International Women’s Day on Sunday 9 March by holding an open meeting at which Eleanor Lewington will give a  talk about her mother Ivy Woods, who was an activist in the Co-operative Movement, the event is free, starts at 2pm and is open to women  and men. Light refreshments will be served.

The comrades also sent me a brief History of International Women’s Day which I found interesting and I thought I would share it with the readers of Organized Rage.*

MH

 
History of International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day [IWD] was celebrated on 28 February 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. Among other relevant historic events, it commemorates the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire (New York, 1911), where over 140 women lost their lives. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions. The garment workers were protesting what they saw as very poor working conditions and low wages. The protesters were attacked and dispersed by police. These women established their first labor union in the same month two years later.

More protests followed on 8 March in subsequent years, most notably in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. In 1910 the first international women’s conference was held in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset) by the Second International and an ‘International Women’s Day’ was established, which was submitted by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin. The following year, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. However, soon thereafter, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City killed over 140 garment workers. A lack of safety measures was blamed for the high death toll. Furthermore, on the eve of World War I, women across Europe held peace rallies on 8 March 1913. In the West, International Women’s Day was commemorated during the 1910s and 1920s, but dwindled. It was revived by the rise of feminism in the 1960s.

Demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in Russia, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared as a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of outstanding merits of the Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, their heroism and selflessness at the front and in rear, and also marking the big contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples and struggle for the peace.”

In 1975, which had been designated as International Women’s Year, the United Nations gave official sanction to and began sponsoring International Women’s Day. The 2005 Congress (conference) of the British Trades Union Congress overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for IWD to be designated a public holiday in the United Kingdom.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Women’s_Day

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Turk’s must ask why so many young Kurds went into the mountains.


One of the more unpalatable things about the western world today, is the way mainstream politicians and the media turn into villain’s, people who in the second half of the twentieth century had the temerity to resist the inequality and oppression they faced in countries like Turkey, Ireland, Palestine and Lebanon. This is partially done by the refusal of both politicians and media to place these people and the organizations they belong to in their true historical context. There could not be a better example of this than the way the members of the Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) are currently being portrayed, after the Turkish armed forces sent into northern Iraq two battalions of infantry, backed by air cover to hunt and kill PKK Peshmerga.*

No one expects leading western politicians to condemn their NATO allies the Turkish military, that is not the nature of the beast, but to simply blanket the PKK as psychotic terrorists as the European Union and the western media has done, hardly helps solve the problems of the inequality that the Kurds in Turkey have historically faced. Indeed it is almost implying that the Kurds who live within Turkey are responsible for there own oppression, if only they would break from the PKK and allow the Turkish army to remove it from the equation all would be well for the Turkish Kurds.

The reality of the situation is far more complex, for God did not ask one of his angels to swoop down in the night on the city of Diyarbakir and the surrounding region of Eastern Anatolia, whilst the people were asleep and sprinkle the place with looney dust; and the next morning when they awoke thousand of young Kurds walked into the mountains to become blood thirsty PKK terrorists.

The PKK was founded in 1984 and was able to recruit from the Kurdish working classes and peasantry because as a people they suffered great injustices and oppression; and saw the PKK as the means which would enable them to fight back. The Turkish State refused to recognize their ethnicity to such a degree that in government documents the Kurds were termed ‘mountain people’ and banned all Kurds from using their own language in all Turkish State institutions. Kurdish was banned in the schools, universities and the military and it is only in the last few years that these harsh laws were gradually being removed from the statute book.

Thus for a young Kurd who had experienced a boot on his/her neck, it was perfectly logical, if not patriotic to go into the mountains with the PKK, as they saw no viable means or democratic avenues open to them which would enable them to fight for their rights democratically. It was hard to argue against this fact, as time and again the various incarnations of the main Kurdish political party within Turkey have been closed down by the State, at the instigation of the military and right-wing politicians.

In recent times, change and democratic avenues were beginning to open up and blossom, the current Turkish government looked like it was prepared to go the extra mile in an attempt to bring the Kurds down from the mountain and into the democratic arena. At the last Turkish general election the Kurdish, Democratic Society Party, (DTP) by standing their candidates as independents was able to break through the 10% threshold which has for many years kept them out of the Turkish parliament, in the process gaining twenty-five MPs. Who then regrouped as the DTP’s parliamentary faction.

Most Kurds who live in Turkey, are war weary and welcomed the recent reforms and are willing to recognize and live in peace within the Turkish State, as long as they are given full equality within it; and allowed to express their ethnicity and cultural traditions openly without fear or sanction. The AK Party government in Ankara, who gained a sizable share of the Kurdish vote in the last general election was willing to go down this road, if cautiously, progress was being made.

This did not please many on the Turkish right and those within the military establishment who appear to be caught in a cold war time warp; and still view the Kurds as being in hoc to a communist devil incarnate the PKK. For a host of differing reasons the current crises exploded and brought the whole process to a stop. The Kurds and many on the Turkish left quite correctly understand that it is not enough to remove the contentious anti Kurd legislation, as welcome as that is. The PKK militants must be reintegrated back into Turkish society, after all it was the democratic deficit and misdeeds of the Turkish State which made them go into the mountains in the first place.

An amnesty of sorts has been offered in the past, but most Kurdish militants felt it was not worth the paper it was written on and few members of the PKK were willing to risk their future on it. In any-case to amnesty PKK militants as individuals will not solve the problem. What is needed is for the Turkish State to amnesty all those who are or have been members of the PKK and allow them to return to their homes as full citizens of the Turkish State. Those Kurdish militants who are currently within the Turkish prison system should also be released and allowed to return to their homes. In return for this over time the PKK should stand down and abolish all of it’s Peshmerga units and agree to commit in the future to solely democratic means.

* We are also seeing this in Ireland where almost daily Irish republicans are condemned in the Irish [and British] media for having refused to bend the knee to those who governed the sectarian northern Statelet in the 1960s. In Palestine and Lebanon, Hamas and Hezbullah are besmirched by western politicians, when their only real crimes has been to fight back against Israeli occupation and aggression and support the economically poor.

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Filed under EU, Ireland, Kurds, Lebanon, media, Organized Rage, Palestine, resisting-oppression, Turkey

Show me the way to Amaryllis.



I noticed a street lined with cherry trees in blossom today, it lifted my heart, so to spread a little joy I thought I would leave aside politics for one blog and post this beautiful flower up. I brought this Amaryllis plant for £1.50 just after christmas and it looked like it was on its last legs, but as you can see it have become a perfect bloom.

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