Thursday 25th of July 2024

the war on drug war.....

People use drugs for many reasons: they want to feel good, stop feeling bad, or perform better in school or at work, or they are curious because others are doing it and they want to fit in. The last reason is very common among teens.

Drugs excite the parts of the brain that make you feel good. But after you take a drug for a while, the feel-good parts of your brain get used to it. Then you need to take more of the drug to get the same good feeling.

 

The Science of Drug Use: A Resource for the Justice Sector

 

Soon, your brain and body must have the drug just to feel normal. You feel sick, awful, anxious, and irritable without the drug. You no longer have the good feelings that you had when you first used the drug. This is true if you use illegal drugs or if you misuse prescription drugs. Misuse includes taking a drug differently than how your doctor tells you to (taking more or crushing pills to "shoot up" or snort), taking someone else’s prescription, or taking it just to get “high.”

Drug use can start as a way to escape—but it can quickly make your life worse. Besides just not feeling well, different drugs can affect your brain and body in many different ways. Here are a few:

  • Alcohol: You might have trouble making decisions, solving problems, remembering,
    and learning.
  • Marijuana: You might forget things you just learned or have trouble focusing.
  • Prescription pain relievers (opioids) or sedatives: Your heart rate and breathing
    may slow to dangerous levels, leading to coma or death.
  • Heroin: Similar to opioid pain relievers, your heart rate and breathing may slow
    to dangerous levels, leading to coma or death.
  • Prescription stimulants (e.g., ADHD medications): Your body temperature could
    get dangerously high, or you may have an irregular heartbeat, heart failure, or seizures.
  • Cocaine and methamphetamine: You may get violent, have panic attacks or feel
    paranoid, or have a heart attack.
  • MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly): You may feel confused for a long time after you take it
    and have problems with attention, memory, and sleep.
  • LSD: Your emotions may change quickly, and you might not be able to recognize
    reality; frightening flashbacks can happen long after use.
  • Inhalants: Your heart, kidneys, lungs, and brain may get damaged; even a healthy
    person can suffer heart failure and death within minutes of sniffing a lot of an inhalant.

Many drugs can also make driving a car unsafe. Marijuana can slow reaction time, make you judge time and distance poorly, and decrease coordination (how you move your body). Cocaine and methamphetamine can make a driver aggressive and reckless. Certain kinds of sedatives, called benzodiazepines, can make you dizzy or drowsy. These effects can lead to crashes that can cause injuries and even death.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is when you can’t stop taking the drug even if you want to. The urge is too strong to control, even if you know the drug is causing harm. The addiction can become more important than the need to eat or sleep. The urge to get and use the drug can fill every moment of your life. The addiction replaces all the things you used to enjoy. A person who is addicted might do almost anything—lie, steal, or hurt people—to keep taking the drug. This can lead to problems with your family and friends, and can even lead to arrest and jail. You can get addicted to illegal drugs as well as prescription drugs if you misuse them.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease. That means it stays with you for a long time, even if you stop using for a while. It doesn't go away like a cold. A person with an addiction can get treatment, but quitting for good can be very hard.

https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/criminal-justice/science-drug-use-resource-justice-sector

 

 

Domestic and International Dimensions of the U.S. Fentanyl Crisis

DR. VANDA FELBAB-BROWN, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

.......

There is more and more recognition and embrace of the idea that substance use disorder is a chronic illness and then it requires treatment and support, both effective psychosocial treatment as well as access to insurance that can cover, medical coverage.  There is more push for the medical profession to recognize substance use.  We now have drugs that – like buprenorphine that reverse overdose that the United States criminalized for decades.

The reason why we have the ability to reverse so many overdoses is because of buprenorphine.  So last year some 70,000 Americans died as a result of fentanyl; 110,000 Americans – that is in 2022 – 110,000 Americans overall.  The actual number of overdoses was significantly higher, and fortunately those devastating death rates are so low because of drugs like buprenorphine that can reverse overdose.  And so the United States moving to allowing that at state level, at community level, at a federal level, has been big progress.

Even so, we are still in a situation where only 13 – 1-3 – percent of people with substance use disorder who want to seek treatment are able to do so.  Often people who are able to seek some treatment will run into obstacles with with insurance that stops covering it in a matter of weeks for what needs to be lifelong medical psychosocial support.  So progress on the domestic side on how we think about substance use, a very long way to go yet.

On the international side, there are challenges, including what’s happening with U.S. Congress.  The polarization of politics in the United States is being dramatically manifested with what’s happening with the budget, with the inability of U.S. Congress to fund the government for anything but short periods of time.  And that has dramatic repercussion for the ability to stem the flow of fentanyl to the United States.

The Republican side is often complaining that the U.S. southern border is open, undefended, unsecure.  It is the case that legal ports of entry are the predominant venue though which fentanyl comes in.  It’s being brought in by trailer trucks and personal vehicles, the vast majority of which are driven by U.S. citizens and having U.S. license plate.  Migrants are very small percentage, in the single digits, of carrying fentanyl.  By and large, they do not.  This is not the way fentanyl enters the United States.

Yet we are in a situation where only some 2 percent of cars can be inspected for carrying contraband in legal ports of entry.  Yes, you did not mishear me: 2 percent.  The numbers of trailer trucks is higher; somewhere between 20-30 percent are being inspected, but vastly inadequate.  The Biden administration has for some years now been asking Congress to pass a budget that would allow the installation of screening equipment that would allow the number of vehicles screened to go up to 70 percent for trailer trucks and for personal vehicles to go to about 40 percent.  Still far from hundred, but far better than 2 and 20-30 kind of ratio.  Yet the Republican side has not been willing to pass even that very simple technical measure.  So the polarization of politics is having significant impact on how we can respond effectively to supply side.

That said I think it’s very appropriate that the Congress has been concerned about supply from China, that the Congress has been concerned about supply from Mexico.  Many hearings have been held about those two issues.  Again, the inability to pass meaningful immigration reform is a key vulnerability for U.S. supply side efforts because it gives this preponderant leverage to the Government of Mexico and allows it to ignore its own responsibilities toward its citizens and its responsibilities toward the United States in acting against criminal groups.

https://www.state.gov/briefings-foreign-press-centers/domestic-and-intenrnational-dimensions-of-the-us-fentanyl-crisis#

 

Related products and precursors sourced from China are also responsible for countless ruined lives, families, and communities. Chinese- produced fentanyl and associated products cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars annually in lost productivity, health care, and criminal justice costs. If China perceives itself to be in a silent or cold war with the U.S. these are all very effective and efficient outcomes.

Drug use has long been considered a form of asymmetric warfare. Others have advanced the premise that CCP Inc. is flooding the U.S. and the West with opioids as payback for the Opium Wars during the mid-19th century.

Of course, the ultimate responsibility lies with the user.

https://www.congress.gov/118/meeting/house/115542/witnesses/HHRG-118-BA10-Wstate-CassaraJ-20230323.pdf

IMAGE AT TOP: A CHINESE USES OPIUM IN THE 19TH CENTURY, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA:

Ceslestiality — or truth stranger than fiction (Scott, Sydney Punch, 1876). The use of opium is described as leprosy.

 

SO WHY IS CHINA ABLE TO SUPPLY FENTANYL BY THE TRUCK-LOAD?......

 

Paul Adriaan Jan, Baron Janssen (12 September 1926 – 11 November 2003) was a Belgian physician. He was the founder of Janssen Pharmaceutica, a pharmaceutical company with over 20,000 employees[1] which is now a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

.......

On 11 February 1958 Janssen developed haloperidol, a major breakthrough in the treatment of schizophrenia.[5] Working with his team, he developed the fentanyl family of drugs and a number of anesthetic agents, including droperidol and etomidate.[6][7] One of the anti-diarrheal drugs he developed, diphenoxylate (Lomotil), was used in the Apollo program.[8][9]

In 1959, Janssen synthesized the potent opioid fentanyl based on SAR studies of meperidine.[citation needed] In the 1970s, he would improve upon the potency of fentanyl with the synthesis of Carfentanil.

In 1985, Janssen Pharmaceutical became the first Western pharmaceutical company to establish a factory in the People's Republic of China (Xi'an).[10] In 1995, together with Paul Lewi, he founded the Center for Molecular Design, where he and his team[11] used a supercomputer to search candidate molecules for potential AIDS treatments.[12][13]

Altogether Janssen and his cadre of scientists discovered more than eighty new medications, four of which are on the WHO list of essential medicines.

In 1991, he was elevated to the Belgian nobility by King Baudouin receiving the title of Baron.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Janssen

 

THE REST IS HISTORY....

 

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the screen addiction.....

 

EU member calls for bloc-wide age restriction on social media use
Denmark’s PM says Brussels should impose a 15+ age limit to protect children from adverse content and screen addiction

 

Only children over age 15 should be able to register on social media platforms in the European Union, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has suggested.

The measure would help shield children from inappropriate content and the negative effects of screen addiction, Frederiksen wrote on Sunday in a piece for the Danish newspaper Politiken which she co-authored with EU lawmaker Christel Schaldemose.

Social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok require users to be at least 13 to sign up. The age limit requirement imposed by such companies stems from US legislation dating back to 1998 and bans the collection of children’s personal data without parental consent.

Frederiksen argued that 13-year-olds are too young to create social media profiles, stressing that the risks facing children on such networks are too great. She highlighted that the age restriction must come with effective verification tools, adding that tech giants currently aren’t taking responsibility for it.

The Danish prime minister and her co-author noted that the Digital Services Act (DSA) package, a content-moderation guide adopted by the EU member states two years ago, has proven to be insufficient in regulating social media platforms. They urged the bloc’s authorities to tighten the current legislation, having called for a ban on addictive designs and advertising which targets minors, as well as for a mandatory notification telling users how much time they spend online.

READ MORE: EU hits Meta with new investigation

The proposal comes a month after an expert panel commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron proposed barring the use of social media apps by anyone under 15, saying that minors over that age should only have access to platforms which have been deemed “ethical.” The expert group, headed by neurologist Servane Mouton and psychiatry professor Amine Benyamina, also proposed taking the necessary steps to tighten rules for tech companies.

The report presented by the experts found that excessive screen time substantially damages children’s health, impacting sleep, causing child obesity and increasing risks of anxiety and depression.

https://www.rt.com/news/598325-denmark-limit-children-social-media/

 

CAN THIS LEAD TO DRUG USE?....

WE, HUMANS, ARE OFTEN LOOKING FOR WAYS TO DISTRACT US FROM REALITY... 

 

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de-dollaring......

 

Clutching at straws: America will not maintain its economic dominance    By Michael Keating

 

Although rarely acknowledged, China is the world’s biggest economy, and it will most probably continue to grow faster than the US, its main competitor.

A core American belief is that America is exceptional. A belief that is underpinned by the presumption that the US is the most powerful country in the world, both economically and militarily.

As the US spends more money on defence than the next ten countries combined it is safe to assume that the US is the world’s most powerful country militarily. Although because US forces are spread around the globe, arguably the US does not have the most powerful military capability in East Asia, where China’s forces are concentrated.

Which is the biggest economy?

On the other hand, using the only measure that should count, China is definitely now the biggest economy in the world even though the media consistently report that China is still the second biggest economy in the world.

The reason why China is thought to remain in second place is based on a comparison using exchange rates to value the two countries’ GDP on a common basis.

However, as all statisticians know exchange rates can be over or under valued in terms of their purchasing power. That is why The Economist magazine each year produces an alternative measure of different currencies purchasing power by comparing the price of a MacDonald’s hamburger in different countries, noting that a Big Mac is exactly the same wherever you buy it.

So instead of using exchange rates as the basis for comparing the US and China’s GDP, we should revalue all the individual goods and services that China produces using the prices that would be paid for them in America. That way we compare the two countries’ GDP in terms of what is technically called their purchasing power parity.

Thus, according to the IMF, valued in terms of their purchasing power parity China’s GDP in 2023 was 32,931 billion international dollars compared to the US GDP of 27,358 billion international dollars. In other words, the latest data show that China’s economy is twenty per cent bigger than America’s.

But that begs the question as to why the US dollar is so over-valued compared to the Chines renminbi, and thus gives a misleading impression as to which is the biggest economy. The answer lies in some key differences in the fundamentals of the two economies.

A comparison of Chinese and American saving behaviour

What really stands out when comparing the fundamentals of the Chinese and American economies is the difference in their respective saving behaviour.

In brief, for the last ten years, Chinese national savings have ranged between an incredibly high 43 to 47 per cent of China’s GDP. By comparison US national savings are substantially below other developed countries, such as Germany or Japan (both around 29 per cent of GDP), and less than half Chinese savings rates, with the US national savings rate ranging between just under 20 and 16 per cent of GDP over the last decade.

The counterpart of China’s exceptionally high savings rate is that household consumption is very low – around 37% of GDP, compared to 60% or more in most advanced economies. On the other hand, the Chinese investment rate is very high, typically over 40% of GDP or 1 to 1½% less than the savings rate.

That high investment rate is an obvious reason why China’s rate of economic growth has so far exceeded the US growth rate that China has been able to catch up and is now the bigger economy. But the low rate of Chinese consumption would never have sustained this high investment rate on its own. Instead, China has had to depend upon a high rate of foreign demand for its exports to foreign markets to sustain the increase in aggregate demand needed to maintain Chinese employment.

In effect, the Chinese growth model has relied upon foreign demand partly financed by capital outflows, including through the Belt and Road initiative, to support demand for Chinese goods and services, and sometimes by directly employing Chinese labour as well.

But the fact that Chinese national savings are high relative to aggerate domestic demand means that the cost of borrowing in China (interest rates) are typically significantly lower than in America. For example, right now the yield on a 10-year Chinese government bond is 2.3% compared to 4.5% on the US government equivalent.

That difference in interest rates helps pull the American dollar up and pushes down the Chinese renminbi. As a result, Chinese goods and service seem cheaper than American when valued in dollars, and this difference provides a substantial competitive advantage for China.

The future economic outlook

Clearly China’s economy has outperformed America’s over the last forty years. But that was to be expected as China was catching up. Now, however, some American scholars are saying that Chinese growth has peaked, and that it will not present such a threat to America in future. Even President Biden said in August 2023 that “China is a ticking time bomb” that “doesn’t have the same capacity as before.”

Key factors underpinning this conclusion that China is past its prime are:

First, China’s workforce has started to decline and is projected to shrink by 20% by 2050.

Second, a major use of Chinese high savings was to finance a property boom, which led to massive over-development with far too many empty dwellings. As was to be expected, that property boom has now busted, leaving many developers, including local government authorities in the lurch.

However, this month the Chinese government responded by announcing that it will raise loans to tap the excessive private savings, and these loans will be used to stabilise the property sector by buying out the unused properties. There is no doubt that with China’s excessive savings the Chinese government can readily raise the money for this form of intervention.

Third, the global system of free trade under which China got rich is now disintegrating. Since 2017, the US has led the way in seeking to constrain Chinese competition by increasing tariffs on Chinese exports and in various other ways America has sought to limit Chinese growth.

Nevertheless, the Chinese share of world export has continued to increase and its trade surplus of around $823 billion in 2023 was nearly double what it was in 2017. The problem is that since then the US inflation rate has been higher than China’s and consequently the US dollar should have depreciated against the Chinese renminbi. However, assisted by large Chinese capital outflows, the dollar appreciated instead so that it is now estimated to be around 21% overvalued.

Most recently, President Biden decided to respond by imposing further tariff increases, including tariffs of 100% on electric vehicles made in China, and Europe is also now contemplating restrictions to limit Chinese competition. These restrictions by the US and its allies are a denial of the global rules-based order that America originally tried to create.

Nevertheless, the typical justification for these measures is that China steals other countries’ ideas and subsidises its exports. But it is an open question how much difference these tariff increases will make, other than damaging the living standards of Americans and Europeans, as well as international relations.

The reality is that China is a world leader (see more below) in the industries of tomorrow, aided by a significantly undervalued renminbi, a result of high capital outflows caused by both China’s response to its high savings and the US restrictions on investments in China.

Fourth, it is alleged that the authoritarian system of government reintroduced by President Xi Jinping will stultify Chinese entrepreneurs and thus Chinese innovation. But the fact is that China is dominating the industries of tomorrow.

Under Xi Jinping’s leadership China is deliberately focussing on the production of electric cars, batteries, solar panels, critical minerals and bio-manufacturing. And in many cases it is already a world leader, not depending on foreign technology at all. For example, even The Economist, which is usually critical of China, last week wrote that “The real fear about Chinese EVs is not that they are stealing from America, but that they have left American cars in the dust.”

It was, of course, always to be expected that as the Chinese economy matured, it would experience some reduction in its rate of economic growth, compared to the average annual growth rates of 9.3 and 10.4 in the 1980s and 1990s respectively when China first started its reforms and industrialising.

Nevertheless, in the last decade from 2013 to 2023, although China’s annual GDP growth rate fell back to an average 6.0 per cent it was still much higher than the American average of 2.3 per cent. And most recently, last year in 2023, the Chinese economy grew by 4¾ per cent, nearly double the growth rate for the American economy of 2½ per cent.

Looking to the future, the biggest risk to the Chinese economy remains its very high savings rate, especially if it must rely less on foreign demand in future to ensure that aggregate demand is sufficient to sustain full employment. But even on a worst-case scenario, if China can no longer rely as much on foreign demand to balance its high savings rate the solution lies in its own hands.

The obvious reason for China’s high savings rate is that there is little government provision of support for people who need it. Instead, people are forced to save to provide for their retirement or if they are sick or otherwise unable to work. Thus, it is probable that if China became much more of a welfare state, as would be consistent with its socialist ideals, the savings rate would come down and China could then rely less on foreign demand, while its people would be better off.

In sum, the idea that China will stop growing faster than the rest of the world, and that America will maintain its economic dominance is clutching at straws.

https://johnmenadue.com/clutching-at-straws-america-will-not-maintain-its-economic-dominance/

 

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GUS ASKS: WHY WOULD CHINESE EAT AT MACS?......