Thursday, June 08, 2006

Souder Sees Blind People

Our good friend Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), no longer content with denying financial aid to hundreds of thousands of students with drug convictions, is pushing a plan to blind Colombian peasants. According to a report in In These Times, Souder sponsored a provision to a recently passed House bill that requires the fungus Fusarium keratitis to be sprayed in a "major drug producing country" such as Colombia in an effort to eradicate drug crops. Unfortunately, in addition to destroying coca crops, Fusarium also destroys the human cornea.

According to the story:
On April 16, the New York Times ran a full-page ad from contact lens producer Bausch and Lomb, announcing the recall of its "ReNu with MoistureLoc" rewetting solution, and warning the 30 million American wearers of soft contact lenses about Fusarium keratitis. This infection, first detected in Asia, has rapidly spread across the United States. It is caused by a mold-like fungus that can penetrate the cornea of soft contact lens wearers, causing redness and pain that can lead to blindness - requiring a corneal replacement.
Souder and co-sponsor Dan Burton (R-IN) seem to be alone in thinking that blinding Colombian peasants is an effective means of controlling drug crops. The article mentions various government agencies opposing the use of Fusarium, including the State Department, the USDA, the CIA, the DEA, and the ONDCP:
The DEA stopped funding Fusarium research in the United States during the early '90s after it learned that Fusarium infections can be deadly in "immunocompromised" people - not only AIDS patients and those with other illnesses, but also those who are severely malnourished. The University of the Andes in Bogotá has recently reported that 12 percent of Colombian children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Spraying this fungus on a vulnerable population could be perceived as using a biological weapon.

The CIA has been against the use of Fusarium to kill drug crops since at least 2000. At that time, one official told the Times, "I don't support using a product on a bunch of Colombian peasants that you wouldn’t use against a bunch of rednecks growing marijuana in Kentucky."

Mark Souder has once again proven himself to be the most hysterical drug warrior in Congress, devoid of all logic and reason when it comes to anything concerning drugs. In this case the government's own anti-drug agencies have enough sense to realize that causing a public health crisis in one country does is not an acceptable means of addressing a perceived public health crisis in this country. If this provision does become policy, perhaps we can convince Souder to support supplying medical marijuana to relieve the intra-ocular pressure of the newly blinded Colombians.

To find out just how heartless the "distinguished" Congressman from Indiana really is, you can read the entire article here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A college try

Libby at LastOneSpeaks has an account from Jackl (who is a frequent commenter here) about an encounter he had with former ONDCP official Andrea Barthwell at his college reunion. Apparently, Barthwell gave a talk intended to bolster support for the War on Drugs, but failed miserably.
Barthwell's talk was billed "A Rational Drug Policy for Contemporary America" and the seminar brochure noted that "reunion weekend is a time for reflection and those who were at [the college] during the 60's and 70's participated in a great cultural change that was pivotal in the development of modern drug policy" and that the seminar would "examine the impact of the 60's and 70's on contemporary drug the nation has moved from the 'War on Drugs' metaphor to a public health approach, to prevention, intervention and treatment...", including, perhaps, Barthwell "recall[ing] her campus experiences", something of interest to my SSDP colleagues who asked I take notes on this point especially.


The whole idea, as she explained it, was that you wanted to set up interventions like drug testing (the traffic cones) so students would not go over the cliff of drug experimentation, abuse and addiction. In these slides we also realized that medical marijuana is a dangerous fraud because of the much greater harm potential of today's super-duper high potency cannabis than the cannabis smoked by boomers back in the day, and the false legitimacy conferred upon the drug by the "medical" claims.

Barthwell repeatedly referred to this as a "recipe for disaster" for the kids and society at large, although she did not explain the precise nature of this "disaster", except by offhand anecdotal references to unnamed kids spiraling down into addiction and ruining their lives, etc. But, kids being kids and some not abstaining after drug education efforts, if they did go over the cliff, according to Barthwell, there would be an "ambulance" of intervention and treatment at the bottom to help them, illustrated by a Powerpoint with an ambulance photoshopped onto a shot of the base of a cliff.


According to Barthwell, adult "recreational" use is also the ultimate source of evil because it is what allows the black market in illegal drugs to exist and be maintained to serve as a trickle-down supply to impressionable kids. Kind of like the guilting logic used by ONDCP a couple of years back in those Super Bowl ads to claim drug users and their black markets support international terrorists and are responsible for drug gang murders in Colombia or something.

The audience in the small lecture hall seemed to be getting increasingly impatient during Barthwell's rambling and simplistic talk. I could see my friend M. across the aisle begin to bristle when Barthwell was discussing why teen drug use was bad because it afforded pleasure to kid's brains and was fashionably (for kids) anti-authoritarian. M. remarked later during lunch that if we had presented term papers which were as free of facts and full of gauzily vague, undefined speculations as Barthwell's talk, we would have been roundly chastised by our intellectually demanding professors (as well as receiving C-'s to F's for our feeble efforts), that's how far off the expected high content Barthwell's talk was.
Click over to LastOneSpeaks to read the whole thing.