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Since Richard Nixon proclaimed the “War on Drugs” four decades ago, drug use around the world has skyrocketed. From 1998 to 2008 alone, global opiate use rose 34.5%, cocaine 28% and marijuana 8.5%. People in the US are the world’s largest users of cocaine, Colombian heroin, Mexican heroin and marijuana. When Nixon launched the “war”, his initial budget was US$100 million for the first year. This has ballooned year after year, until it was $15.6 billion for 2011. Given this, here are many commentators who proclaim that the “war on drugs” has failed.
A landmark ruling in Sydney on February 15 gave the biotechnology industry an unprecedented right to make huge profits from genetic testing. The case involved the breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 and the right of US biotechnology company Myriad Genetics to have exclusive licence to a patent over their use in research. Federal Court Justice John Nicholas had ruled that a private company can continue to hold a patent over an isolated gene, in this case, the BRCA gene. The BRCA gene is responsible for repairing or removing defective DNA cells.
In Western Australia, mental illness is the second-highest cause of disease for women and the fourth-highest cause for men. Premier Colin Barnett has responded by publishing a green paper for public discussion for a new Mental Health Act. The proposed act contains provisions that would improve the rights of people subjected to a Compulsory Treatment Order (CTO). But it negates those same provisions by allowing the treating psychiatrist to simply ignore them.
About 10,000 nurses and midwives across Western Australia were threatened with disciplinary action and deregistration by the state’s director general if they went ahead with a 24-hour strike on February 25. The evening before the planned action, WA premier Colin Barnett intervened to offer the nurses a 14% pay rise over three years. Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) members accepted the offer after voting at a mass meeting on February 25.
That Cuba has already developed four vaccines or inoculations against different types of cancer is without doubt important news for humanity. The World Health Organisation says each year about 8 million people die from this illness. However, the international mainstream media have almost totally ignored this news.
It was great to see all big health unions in Victoria hold a joint community rally on February 3 to protest against the state and federal governments’ slashing of health funding in Victoria. But any casual observer couldn’t help feeling that a re-elect Labor strategy was lurking. It was true that all of the secretaries from the key health unions roundly condemned the state Coalition and federal Labor governments for the $107 million cut to be implemented by June this year. The cut will result in more than 300 beds closing, elective surgery delays and job losses in many hospitals.
This statement was released by the Melbourne branch of Socialist Alliance on February 1. *** Labor and Coalition governments are both to blame Hospital administrators and staff are reeling. The Ted Baillieu state government axed $616 million from its last two health budgets and the Julia Gillard federal government has recently cut $107 million from Victorian hospitals.
In Port Pirie, an industrial centre 220 kilometres north of Adelaide in South Australia, more than half of two-year-olds suffer from lead poisoning at a level consistent with later behavioural problems and loss of learning ability. The problem is more than twice as bad as anywhere else in Australia, including such lead-polluted cities as Mt Isa and Broken Hill.
It's just about impossible to watch a commercial TV channel anywhere in Australia without being assaulted by slick mining company ads telling us how good they supposedly are for the community. Incredible amounts of money are being spent on these brainwashing campaigns. One set of these advertisements more specifically targets communities that are resisting the onslaught of the coal seam gas (CSG) miners, particularly in precious water catchment areas and prime food producing regions. These ads are often more targeted in their messaging, but they have been caught out lying.
Renowned Jewish-American academic and author Noam Chomsky visited the Gaza Strip over October 25-30. The article below, on the suffering of the Gazan people, is areprinted from www.chomsky.info. * * *

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