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November 2005
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Challenge your mind

A couple of interesting pieces to read if you’ve got a little extra time.
“bullet” Ambassador de Sade, By John Gorenfeld in AlterNet.
Bush’s ambassador to Italy doesn’t speak Italian, and his qualifications seem to be a history of running a program that tortured kids. That’s right. Ambassador Mel Sembler and his wife ran STRAIGHT, Inc….

before seeing it dismantled by a breathtaking array of institutional abuse claims by mid-1993. Just one of many survivors is Samantha Monroe, now a travel agent in Pennsylvania, who told The Montel Williams show this year about overcoming beatings, rape by a counselor, forced hunger, and the confinement to a janitor’s closet in “humble pants” — which contained weeks of her own urine, feces and menstrual blood. During this “timeout,” she gnawed her cheek and spat blood at her overseers. “I refused to let them take my mind,” she says of the program. The abuse took years to overcome.

Despite all the lawsuits and legal actions, since the Semblers were political contributors, STRAIGHT, Inc managed to change its name to the Drug Free America Foundation, receiving government subsidies and spinning off organizations like SAFE, and the Semblers got to party it up in Italy, where they still keep busy…

The ambassador’s wife is an outspoken critic of what she calls “medical excuse marijuana,” and serves on the boards of such mighty anti-legalization campaigns as the International Task Force On Strategic Drug Policy, which works with Latin American countries to lobby for harsh drug laws. Mel himself used his Rome ambassadorial pulpit for a global conference in 2003, appealing to the “moral imperatives” of the drug war and urging a “culture of disapproval of drug abuse.” DFAF, founded by the Semblers, receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants from the Small Business Association to advance workplace drug testing in businesses — for example, a handout in 2000 of $314,000. Betty Sembler is president and Melvin has served as chairman.

It’s a pretty sickening article.
“bullet” Give me Cognitive Liberty by Salim Muwakkil in In These Times.

Psychoactive drugs offer access to varied states of consciousness; restriction of this access is a fundamental form of repression. Consequently, the “war on drugs” is not just a campaign against the use of certain substances; it’s also an attack on “cognitive liberty,” or the right to control individual consciousness. […]

By labeling this civil rights battle a “war on drugs,” Boire argues, the government is trying “to redirect attention away from what lies at ground zero of the war — each individual’s fundamental right to control his or her own consciousness.”

One of the most significant aspects of this war, he suggests, is the demonization of “entheogenic” (which means generating the divine within) substances thought to facilitate sacred experiences.

Probably not the most effective argument to use when debating your local prohibitionist, but an Interesting article with some points worth discussing.

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