The Consultation Scam- RoboCop II

In two recent cases the government’s consultation process has been shown to be an utter sham, an illusion of democracy where entrenched elites, the corporate lobby and their views override evidence & us-

Gordon Brown will call for an acceleration of nuclear power today in a speech to business leaders designed to show he is focused on the long term and will not buckle in the face of negative headlines. During his annual address to the Confederation of British Industry, the prime minister will also give his personal endorsement of the third runway project at Heathrow. He will tell business leaders: “Long-term reforms will intensify and be stepped up. We must leave behind the old policies of yesterday and plan for new long-term policies which will serve us better tomorrow. There are no answers to be found in old and outworn dogmas.”

Dogmas like..erm, truth, fairness and democracy apparently-

Greenpeace accused the Government of acting illegally by failing to consult properly on its nuclear power plans before giving them the go-ahead. Upholding their complaint, Mr Justice Sullivan criticised the consultation exercise, which lasted only 12 weeks as “seriously flawed”, “misleading” and “procedurally unfair”. The consultation document gave every appearance of being simply an “issues paper”, he said. It contained no actual proposals and, even if it had, the information given to the public was “wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response”, added the judge.

They must be on drugs, oh yes-

An influential Home Office-backed committee raised serious doubts about the consultation process behind the 10-year strategy which will be unveiled in April. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) described the process as ‘self-congratulatory and generally disappointing’ and questioned the credibility of much of the evidence presented to government.

the council said: ‘We consider that an opportunity has been missed to address the public health problem relating to drug misuse and the balance with law enforcement and the Criminal Justice System…The consultation would benefit from extending further to the wider social harm of drug misuse.’ It also said: ‘It is of concern that the evidence presented, and the interpretation given, are not based on rigorous scrutiny. It is not acknowledged that in many cases the information is uncertain and sometimes of poor quality.’

Steve Rolles of think tank Transform, which advises the UN on drugs policy, said: ‘The consultation process behind the new strategy has been woeful.’ Last month Transform branded the consultation process a ‘sham’, saying the government had already made up its mind to continue with its current strategy. (ht2 D-Notice)

Which means they will be ignoring this yet again-

The designation of drugs in classes A, B and C should be replaced with one more closely reflecting the harm they cause, a committee of MPs has said. The Science Select Committee said the present system was based on historical assumptions, not scientific assessment.

The alternative system was prepared by Professor David Nutt, a senior member of the Committee that advises the government on drug classification, and Professor Colin Blakemore – chief Executive of the Medical Research Council.

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Of course there is money in them thar prisons- £300 million on one contract alone, 11 private prisons and drug related offences make up a large proportion of the prison populace (65% test positive for drugs at arrest, inmates for drug offences 13% -in 2000- and rising). And corporations involved are usually fingering lots of other privatisation pies, some steaming with war OF terror juiciness.

And treatment is a hard sell to the tabloid felch even though it works-

Initial results from a London pilot scheme where addicts inject themselves with heroin in a clinic suggest it has reduced drug use and crime.

Trial leader Professor John Strang, of the National Addiction Centre, based at London’s Institute of Psychiatry, told BBC News that about 40% of users had “quit their involvement with the street scene completely”.

BBC correspondent Danny Shaw said initial results suggested the experiment was having a profound effect on hardened heroin addicts. Many were leading much more stable lives and were enjoying better family relationships because they were no longer in and out of prison, our correspondent added.

The cost of the treatment, including providing heroin, is between £9,000 and £15,000 per patient – about three times as much as a year’s course of methadone.

And what does prison cost-

prison.jpg

So why RoboCop II? The MacGuffin was a drug called ‘nuke‘. Whereas the MacGuffin here looks like capital and institutional traditionalism. It took Semmelweis, Wendell Holmes, Nightingale, Pasteur years to get the medical profession to wash their frickin’ hands and thus stop killing their own patients and that is an educated & scientific grouping (and they are so fucking dumb we need to be taught it all over again, even if some of the patients are drinking the stuff, jeebus). The obstinacy of institutions to accepting change and judging new evidence fairly is mind destroyingly frustrating, the influence of greedy entrenched interests, moralists and opportunistic corporations compound the consultation process into a farce. Which leaves me even feeling pity for the poor politician dealing with it all, or it would if they showed any sign they were fighting these demons and not leaping into bed with them for that revolving consultancy/directorship treacly goodness. What is the point of finding what works or innovating when it all gets binned in favour of the same old comfortable shite and mutual back scratching corruption from the usual cast of pigly ‘business leaders’ whose second, third and fourth homes are never anywhere near the industrial centers workers call home. No wonder drugs are such a bleedin’ popular getaway.

Stuck In Gaza

Reuters correspondent Nidal al-Mughrabi-

For many reasons, I had hopes the Israeli army would let me cross Israel to the West Bank. But my dreams of leaving Gaza for the other half of the Palestinian territories were disappointed. I wanted to meet colleagues — Israelis, foreigners and my fellow Palestinians — whom I speak to daily but have not seen in years. I also hoped I could travel on to Jordan for a few days off abroad, also for the first time in years. It was not to be. Why?

“Security reasons” was the only explanation the army gave for rejecting a request from Reuters for a permit to let me leave the Gaza Strip last month through the only open exit, the Erez Crossing into Israel, in order to attend a training course our news agency ran for staff in the West Bank city of Jericho. The same two words have for years prevented most of the 1.5 million people in the coastal enclave from visiting relatives and businesses in the West Bank, 35 km (20 miles) away across Israel.

Read the rest.

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The Murdoch Press Wakes Up To King George

Now that rich fraudsters and conservatives are the subject of King George’s imperial arrogance the Times gets excited-

AMERICA has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.

Of course the way it is reported they focus on Britain, but in fact the empire claims this right globally and the piece has this lovely line-

Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.

Er no, nice try though at normalising that outrage as an ol’ timey tradition we are all used to and bored of, and now the history bit-

extraordinary rendition is an updated form of “rendition to justice,” first secretly authorized in 1986 by President Reagan in National Security Decision Directive 207, which formalized U.S. policy to fight terrorism. It came into being, they say, because the U.S. in the 1980s did not have valid extradition treaties with countries that commonly housed terrorists or because those nations refused to give the suspects up. Under Reagan, they write, “it has never been suggested that the purpose of the program was to subject the detainees to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Once in the United States, the rendered individual would be treated like any other federal detainee awaiting trial.” Satterthwaite and Fisher said President George H.W. Bush authorized specific procedures for renditions in 1993 through National Security Directive 77. President Clinton, they noted, went further “emphasizing rendition as a key counter-terrorism strategy” and signing presidential decision directive PDD-39 on June 21, 1995, which stated, in part, “Return of suspects by force may be effected without the cooperation of the host government…” One outcome of the Clinton policy, the scholars write, was the rendition of Tal’at Fu’ad Qassim, an Egyptian national that had been granted asylum in Denmark and seized by the U.S. in Bosnia and transported to Egypt, where he was reportedly executed—the first known rendition by the U.S. of a victim to a third country with a record of torture. Between 1998 and 2000, the CIA rendered more than two dozen suspects, then-CIA Director George Tenet testified. In 2004, Tenet testified before Congress there had been more than 80 renditions prior to September 11, 2001.

Since 9/11, the scholars wrote, renditions have been used not to obtain jurisdiction over the suspects in order to prosecute “but instead to get an individual to talk.” Previous renditions that required approval by an inter-agency group that included the Departments of Justice and State, were now placed in the hands of the CIA, which could render suspects “without consultation.”

This new claim is probably more Federalist society style hijinks from the same fascists who invented the Bush unitary executive (dictatorship) wheeze. Probably somewhere they could also dig up a law that says the empire owns everyone’s blood and can at any time take it back or remove it from a person by any means it deems necessary. Which would explain a lot.