Category Archives: drugs

Adverts tells NASCAR fans to buy hangover-free, lo-cal marijuana not beer


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MARIJUANA has gone mainstream. We’ve yet to see weed adverts on the side of F1 vehicles, as we have for cigarettes and booze, but NASCAR fans heading to the 2013 Brickyard 400 races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will get to see a TV advert hailing cannabis.

Created by the Marijuana Policy Project, the message is that marijuana is the new, lo-cal, hangover-free, wife-beating-negative beer.

It will, however, not improve your driving:

Photo: Bobby Allison poses at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel with the Winston Cup trophy, Dec. 8, 1983. Allison, winning his first Winston Cup will receive $150,000 from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which sponsors the NASCAR series.

 

via Anorak | Adverts tells NASCAR fans to buy hangover-free, lo-cal marijuana not beer.

Big pharma mobilising patients in battle over drugs trials data


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The pharmaceutical industry has “mobilised” an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials.

Drugs companies publish only a fraction of their results and keep much of the information to themselves, but regulators want to ban the practice. If companies published all of their clinical trials data, independent scientists could reanalyse their results and check companies’ claims about the safety and efficacy of drugs.

Under proposals being thrashed out in Europe, drugs companies would be compelled to release all of their data, including results that show drugs do not work or cause dangerous side-effects.

While some companies have agreed to share data more freely, the industry has broadly resisted the moves. The latest strategy shows how patient groups – many of which receive some or all of their funding from drugs companies – have been brought into the battle.

The strategy was drawn up by two large trade groups, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and outlined in a memo to senior industry figures this month, according to an email seen by the Guardian.

The memo, from Richard Bergström, director general of EFPIA, went to directors and legal counsel at Roche, Merck, Pfizer, GSK, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Novartis and many smaller companies. It was leaked by a drugs company employee.

The email describes a four-pronged campaign that starts with “mobilising patient groups to express concern about the risk to public health by non-scientific re-use of data”. Translated, that means patient groups go into bat for the industry by raising fears that if full results from drug trials are published, the information might be misinterpreted and cause a health scare.

The lobbying is targeted at Europe where the European Medicines Agency (EMA) wants to publish all of the clinical study reports that companies have filed, and where negotiations around the clinical trials directive could force drug companies to publish all clinical trial results in a public database.

“Some who oppose full disclosure of data fear that publishing the information could reveal trade secrets, put patient privacy at risk, and be distorted by scientists’ own conflicts of interest. While many of the concerns are valid, critics say they can be addressed, and that openness is far more important for patient safety.”

Tim Reed, of Health Action International, a group that has previously exposed the pharmaceutical industry’s financial links with patient groups, said: “It’s incredibly ironic that this is a transparency initiative and we’ve now got clear indications that the pharmaceutical industry is ready to use patient organisations to fight their corner.

“It underlines the fact that patient groups who are in the pay of the pharmaceutical industry will go into battle for them. There’s a hidden agenda here. The patient groups will say they think it’s a great idea to keep clinical trials data secret. Why would they do that? They would do that because they are fronts for the pharmaceutical industry.

“Patient groups get traction because they are assumed to represent the voice of the suffering. But industry uses them to say we’re not going to get innovative medicines if the industry is deterred from investing by having to be transparent about their clinical trials,” he added.

A recent review of medical research estimated that only half of all clinical trials were published in full, and that positive results were twice as likely to be published than negative ones.

A source in the European parliament, who is close to the negotiations over the clinical trials directive, said he had experienced intense lobbying from patient groups. “We’ve witnessed this sort of activity in recent months, and it’s a concern if the pharmaceutical industry is behind some of it. They are trying to weaken some of the transparency proposals and that’s clear from the amount of lobbying we’ve had,” he said.

The patient groups focus on the concern that if companies release all of their clinical trials data, the information might be misconstrued, or intentionally cherry-picked, and spark damaging health scares around certain drugs or vaccines.

“These aren’t completely unfounded concerns, but the risk already exists, and those things already happen. The answer is to have a responsible scientific community that can counteract the allegations and claims,” the source said.

Two other strands of the campaign include discussions with scientific associations about the risks of data sharing, and work with other businesses that are concerned about the release of trade secrets and confidential data. The final strand calls, in the long term, for a network of academics across Europe that can be called on to correct false interpretations of the data. “That is deemed to be happening in any case,” the memo concedes.

In response to queries from the Guardian, GSK said: “This is not something we are doing. One of the reasons we’re involved in this is we want more companies to move towards greater transparency. I don’t think it’s for us to be mobilising patient groups to campaign on a negative level.”

A Roche spokesperson said the company consulted patient groups to understand their concerns about clinical trials, but “to our knowledge Roche has not been involved in any EFPIA’s potential activity in mobilising patient groups to express concern about the risk to public health by non-scientific re-use of data”.

A Lilly spokesman said: “Lilly is committed to working with Europe-based patient advocacy organisations for the benefit of patients in a way that is true to the EFPIA code of practice and Lilly’s integrity in business policy.”

Individuals who received the memo at several other companies, including AstraZeneca and Novartis, did not respond.

Tracey Brown, director of the campaign group, Sense about Science, and co-founder of AllTrials, a campaign to get all clinical trials registered and all results reported, said: “We now have the prospect of really significant developments to end the secrecy and make clinical trial reporting a practical reality and, finally, some sound commitments from parts of industry.

“In this context, the industry associations’ strategy to get others to raise further spurious problems is backward. It should embarrass anyone associated with it. I would say to the individual companies that they should publicly distance themselves from any association with EFPIA and PhRMA’s strategy now,” she said.

The EFPIA told the Guardian it had been working with PhRMA on a “commitment to enhance sharing of clinical data” to researchers and the public, and intended to make an announcement this week.

“Knowing that some people want all data to be made available to everyone, EFPIA is engaging with stakeholders to share concerns with harmful ‘re-use’ of data. We will engage not only with patient groups, but also with the scientific community,” it said.

Matt Bennett, senior vice-president of PhRMA, said in a statement: “EMA’s proposed policies on clinical trial information raise numerous concerns for patients. We believe it is important to engage with all stakeholders in the clinical trial ecosystem, including the patients who volunteer to participate in clinical trials, about the issue.

“If enacted, the proposals could risk patient privacy, lead to fewer clinical trials, and result in fewer new medicines to meet patient needs and improve health.”

via Big pharma mobilising patients in battle over drugs trials data | Business | The Guardian.

GlaxoSmithKline Alleged to Pay Bribes in China


GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been accused of bribing doctors in China in order to boost sales. Chinese government officials say they have uncovered evidence of a bribery scheme involving 700 travel agencies who were used to funnel as much as three billion yuan ($480 million) in payments.

“We found that bribery is a core part of the activities of the company,” Gao Feng, the head of China’s fraud unit, said. “There is always a big boss in criminal organisations and in this case GSK is the big boss.”

Allegations about bribes at GSK first surfaced in January of this year in a series of tips made by an anonymous individual to company officials. The whistleblower alleged that the UK company made payments of $249 to $490 to promote Botox, a toxin used for medical purposes as well as for cosmetic purposes to get rid of wrinkles.

Soon after, the Wall Street Journal says it reviewed documents from as late as April 2013 for an internal GSK project called “Vasily” to pay 48 doctors who promoted Botox with “either a percentage of the cash value of the prescription or educational credits” depending on how many sales they made. GSK officials were encouraged to discuss the scheme on personal email accounts.

“I recommend that everyone else use a private email account because it will be better that way,” Ruiting “Candy” Chen, Glaxo central nervous system marketing manager said in an email translated by the Journal. “Remember you must send to personal email accounts, you accidentally sent to [another sales team member’s] public mail, careful next time!” wrote Any Zheng, Botox regional sales manager.

Chinese media reported on Monday that GSK allegedly made payments to the travel agencies which then transferred the money to doctors via credit cards when they made prescriptions. The travel agencies booked the payments for travel expenses to fake meetings.

GSK says it has suspended all work with the travel agencies. It also says Vasily was never implemented and has denied the charges.

“We take all allegations of bribery and corruption seriously,” a spokesman said in a press statement. “We continuously monitor our businesses to ensure they meet our strict compliance procedures. We have done this in China and found no evidence of bribery or corruption of doctors or government officials. However, if evidence of such activity is provided we will act swiftly on it.”

Chinese officials say that Mark Reilly, the head of GSK operations in China, fled the country on June 27 and has not returned. Several other executives have been arrested.

“The anonymous claims highlight the challenges multinational pharmaceutical companies face in China, one of their most significant and fastest-growing markets, because its health-care system is controlled and owned by the state and it has a tradition of government patronage and gift-giving,” write Christopher Matthews and Jessica Hodgson of the Wall Street Journal.

In reality, the comment by the Journal reporters reflects a bias on their part. GSK has been found guilty of routinely offering U.S. doctors lavish payments for promoting company products, despite the absence of a state health care system.

In July 2012 GSK agreed to pay out $3 billion to settle charges on pushing bupropion and paroxetine (as well as their failure to report safety data about the drug Avandia to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) — the largest such fine ever paid by a pharmaceutical company.

The U.S. Department of Justice noted that the company gave out “cash payments disguised as consulting fees, expensive meals, weekend boondoggles and lavish entertainment.” For example, doctors who promoted Wellbutrin were taken on “training sessions” to Jamaica. “Dr. Drew,” a TV doctor, was paid $275,000 in two months in 1999 alone to “deliver messages about [Wellbutrin SR] in settings where it did not appear that Dr. Pinsky was speaking for GSK.”

Nor was it the only Western pharmaceutical company accused of paying bribes to doctors to promote its products. In August 2012, in a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, investigators laid out detailed charges against Pfizer for paying bribes in eight countries: Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Serbia.

For example, Pfizer Italy employees provided free cell phones, photocopiers, printers and televisions to doctors, arranged for vacations (such as “weekend in Gallipoli,” “weekend with companion” and “weekend in Rome”) and even made direct cash payments (under the guise of lecture fees and honoraria) in return for promises by doctors to recommend or prescribe Pfizer’s products.

http://www.corpwatch.org/index.php

via OpEdNews – Article: CorpWatch : GlaxoSmithKline Alleged to Pay Bribes in China.

Irish News


Irish Turn on Obama
Patriot Post
Perhaps, as several Irish people said, the President should get American schools in order before he criticizes other countries’. Others, especially religious groups in the U.S.were less shocked than they were offended. “[This is] another example,” said 
See all stories on this topic »

Irish company leading war against counterfeit drugs
Irish Medical News
The Irish pharmaceutical export business is worth €55 billion a year but is under threat from counterfeit drugs, of which more than 11 million were stopped at EU borders in 2009. Horizon Engineering, which has offices in Dublin and Mayo, is working 

Irish home mortgage arrears 90 days+ above 12% in Q1 2013
FinFacts Ireland
The Central Bank today published Q1 (first quarter) 2013 data on mortgage arrears, repossessions and restructures, which shows that there were 95,554 (12.3%) private residential mortgage accounts for principal dwelling houses (PDH) in arrears of over 

Friday Newspaper Review – – Irish Business and International News – – June 21 
FinFacts Ireland
The move and other changes to regulatory rules for how struggling borrowers should be treated by lenders have been condemned by David Hall, of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, as a “banker’s charter” that will lead to a spike in repossession.

Irish pro-lifers continue push for ‘free vote’ on abortion legislation
Catholic Culture
“Abortion is a matter of natural moral law which is written on every human heart,” the American cardinal told the Irish Catholic. “One cannot, as a Catholic politician, excuse oneself from the question of abortion by claiming that one should not bring 

Irish Pol Blasts ‘War Criminal’ Obama: We’re ‘Prostituting Ourselves’ As 
Mediaite
President Obama was in Ireland earlier this week for the G8 summit, but at least one Irish politician is not happy about the visit. Clare Daly, a member of the Irish Parliament, tore apart both Obama and the “unprecedented slobbering” over him and his 

Irish-based ‘deckchair tycoon’ was €130million drug lord… now he’s in prison
Irish Mirror
The luxurious life of a drugs lord who masqueraded as an Irish businessman, came crashing down when he was jailed for 18 years yesterday. Scheming Philip Baron, 58, peddled a story that he ran a deckchair rental firm in Spain, but was flooding Britain 
See all stories on this topic »

Irish health minister says new abortion law will save lives
Arabic UPI.com
DUBLIN, Ireland, June 21 (UPI) — Dr. James Reilly, the Irish minister of health, opened debate on an abortion bill Thursday by saying it would assure women their lives will be protected. Reilly also said the bill, by bringing abortion into the open 
See all stories on this topic »

 

Dutch government to compensate cannabis cafes over weed pass


THE HAGUE, Netherlands – A Dutch court on Wednesday ordered the government to compensate owners of cannabis-selling cafes who say they lost money because of measures aimed at stamping out drug tourism.

But in a setback for owners of so-called coffee shops, the Hague District Court ruling also said that other moves to prevent foreigners from buying soft drugs in the Netherlands were legitimate.

The court said that turning coffee shops in the southern Netherlands into private member-only clubs last year deterred not only foreigners but also Dutch customers, and ordered compensation for the cafe owners. The amount will be settled later.

The decision was the latest skirmish in a long-running legal battle between the government that wants officially tolerated coffee shops to sell cannabis only to locals, and owners of the cafes who insist they should be allowed to sell to anybody.

Cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but police turn a blind eye to possession of small amounts and it is sold openly in coffee shops. Large-scale growers are prosecuted.

Michael Veling, a spokesman for the Dutch Union of Cannabis Retailers, said the group was disappointed by the parts of the ruling that upheld anti-drug-tourism measures, and would appeal.

In a written reaction, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice called the judgment “a powerful underpinning of the present policy” and said it saw grounds to appeal the ruling that said turning coffee shops into private clubs was too harsh and unnecessary.

Under a government policy change that came into force May 1 last year in southern provinces close to the Dutch borders with Germany and Belgium, only holders of a “weed pass” are allowed to buy cannabis. The measure took aim at problems caused by thousands of foreigners who pour across the borders each year to buy drugs.

The government scrapped the pass in November, but continued its policy of allowing coffee shops to sell drugs only to Dutch residents.

However, it said local authorities would be responsible for enforcing the measure. Amsterdam, whose scores of coffee shops are a major tourist draw, immediately said it would continue to allow tourists to buy weed in the cafes.

By Mike Corder, The Associated Press

via Dutch government to compensate cannabis cafes over weed pass.

Italian Court Rules MMR Vaccine Caused Autism: US Media Blacks Out Story


The debate over vaccines continues as an Italian court ruled in favor of the Bocca family whose nine-year-old son became autistic after receiving the MMR (Measles/Mumps & Rubella) vaccine. I came across this case and felt it was a good idea to report on this as the vaccine debate has been a hot topic here lately. Although the case concluded in 2012, the information is just as relevant today.

UPDATE: We realize the controversy surrounding Wakefield and his study. Please also note that the story about Wakefield being paid to create data to due vaccine makers is a false story. At the time of this false story, vaccine makers were protected from even being able to be sued. He obviously can see no benefit in creating a “fake study” to sue people that cannot be sued. Instead of focusing on Wakefield, observe the other studies involved and the massive growing movement to re-think vaccines based on science and evidence. We also recognize that Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there is a wide range in how it affects people. A phenomenon due to vaccines could account for some type of Autism on that spectrum. On the other hand we recognize that there could be be some genetic differences within ones DNA that could result in showing behavior and other types of characteristics seen in what we have labelled as Autism or ASD.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that there is a wide degree of variation in the way it affects people.

via Italian Court Rules MMR Vaccine Caused Autism: US Media Blacks Out Story | Collective-Evolution.

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Lawyers request court injunction against Digicel Haiti


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (defend.ht) – Two citizens and lawyers rebuffed a request for an apology from Digicel and instead retaliated by filing an injunction against the telecommunications giant for it to disclose information on the circumstances and contracts that led to the sending of mass text messages to its clients in the early morning hours of May 14, 2013.

Digicel, on Thursday June 13, requested a public apology from Citizens and Lawyers, Newton Louis Saint Juste and André Michel by sending a court order for them to submit their apology within 24 hours of the notice.

The two lawyers had accused the telecommunications giant of being part of a vast money laundering, drug trafficking and kidnapping operations with the Haitian government, which helped fund the May 14, 2013 two year anniversary event of the President of the Republic.

Michel and Saint Juste retaliated by declaring a writ, Friday, June 14, 2013, to the Executive Director of Digicel in Haiti, Damian Blackburn, to make an invitation to the Tribunal of the jurisdiction. They requested that in a PERIOD OF ONE (1) DAY, Digicel is to communicate to the Central Financial Intelligent Unit (UCREF) the identity of the persons who signed the contract for messages to be sent to customers of Digicel, where no legal standing was in place, and invite them to visit the streets on May 14, 2013 to celebrate two years of “Tet Kale” in power. The injunction also requires that Digicel disclose the amount of the contract and other terms.

After this time, the lawyers request that the facts be at the behest of the two lawyer plaintiffs to be brought to the Prosecutor and with bodies involved in the fight against money laundering and organized crime.

The complaint reads:

That the applicants are surprised that Digicel would assume the right to send messages to citizens, called clients, with which it maintains no legal link from mafia contracts with unknown amounts for which origin is unknown.

That the applicants remind you that the Minister of Economy and Finance, Trade and Industry, Wilson Laleau said to the Honorable Members, that the festivities of May 14, 2013 to commemorate the second anniversary of Tet Kale in power, which Digicel is associated, were funded by supporters of President Martelly, whose names and addresses are unknown.

It is of dubious origin mobilized funds contrary to the law of 21 February 2001 on laundering of assets derived from illicit drug trafficking and other serious offenses.

via Lawyers request court injunction against Digicel Haiti.

Top Ten Reasons to Legalize Marijuana Now


10. Hemp benefits are denied. Hemp can be made into paper, paneling, plastics, clothing and thousands of other useful products. The highly nutritious seeds can be used to make flour, cooking oil and cattle feed.

This environmentally friendly plant grows without herbicides, nourishes the soil, matures quickly and provides high yields. It’s the number-one biomass producer in the world – ten tons per acre in four months. It could be an excellent fuel-producing crop.

Hemp, “nature’s perfect plant,” could bring a bonanza to hurting American farmers while greatly reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels, which could significantly mitigate climate change.

9. Prohibition diverts billions from the needy. More than 50 government agencies feed at the drug war trough. Food stamps and other social programs are being slashed while billions are spent trying to stop adults from using marijuana.

8. Prohibition is clearly counterproductive. Guaranteeing massive profits to anyone on earth who can produce and deliver marijuana to our streets cannot do anything but assure that even more will be produced and delivered.

7. Criminalizing marijuana lacks moral justification. A real crime implies a victim and a perpetrator. Can you imagine being jailed for robbing yourself? As insane as this sounds, our government has done the equivalent by making adult use of marijuana a crime.

Only a depraved, corrupt government could invent a crime you commit against yourself.

6. Marijuana users are not debased human beings. Cultures throughout history – and pre-history! – have altered their minds with a variety of drugs. Billions around the world derive positive benefits from mind-altering drugs (especially from alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and marijuana).

Demonizing and criminalizing some drugs, while approving others without rational criteria, is clearly arbitrary and deceitful. Why are marijuana users criminals while alcohol and tobacco users are not? Why are marijuana dealers demonized, but alcohol and tobacco dealers are not?

5. Marijuana is effective medicine. There’s overwhelming evidence that marijuana can safely relieve pain, nausea and vomiting caused by various illnesses. In fact, marijuana is patently safer than many commonly prescribed drugs.

4. Promising medical research is thwarted. The discovery of naturally occurring marijuana-like substances in the human body that activate so-called cannabinoid receptors has opened up vast possibilities for new medicines derived from the 66 or so cannabinoids identified in marijuana. These receptors are not just in the brain, but also found in many other parts of the body including the immune, endocrine and reproductive systems.

3. Billions in potential taxes go to drug cartels. Our cash-strapped states are being cheated out of billions that could be obtained by taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.

2. Thousands of prohibition murders occur each year. Mexico is the world’s largest exporter of marijuana (most goes to the United States). There were at least 24,000 prohibition-related murders in Mexico since 2006. Thousands more died here, also a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

1. Prohibition denies our most basic human right. Prohibition takes away our right of sovereignty over our own bodies and gives this power to government. Does any other human right make sense if we don’t have sovereignty over our own bodies?

There’s a word for people who don’t have sovereignty over their own bodies: slaves.

The Glaring Truth About the Drug War

The drug war is a blatantly dishonest, extremely expensive, highly destructive, grossly unjust, abject failure of our government.

Despite 40 years and $1 trillion-plus of taxpayer money spent trying to stop – not robbery, not rape, not murder, not even shoplifting – but mostly trying to stop adults from using marijuana; despite draconian punishments; despite jailing millions of nonviolent Americans; despite thousands of prohibition-related murders each year, illegal drugs are cheaper, purer and more readily available than ever.

The drug war is a vast government scam guaranteed to be perpetually futile. Prohibition only pretends to fight drugs. In fact, it guarantees massive profits to anyone on the planet who can produce and deliver prohibited drugs to our streets.

Jailing drug dealers just creates lucrative job openings for more efficient, more ruthless, eager replacements. Only a small percentage of illegal drugs are intercepted, and these are easily and cheaply replaced.

Prohibition creates, sustains and handsomely rewards the illegal drug industry while pretending to fight that very same industry. Like the classic mafia protection racket, our government creates a perpetual problem and then charges us exorbitantly to “protect” us from it.

This abomination continues unabated because our government is addicted to the taxpayer billions it wastes year after year after year pretending to fight an enemy created and sustained by prohibition itself.

Marijuana is the linchpin of the drug war. Legalizing marijuana will sound the death knell for this devastating crime against humanity.

via OpEdNews – Article: Top Ten Reasons to Legalize Marijuana Now.

London Mayor Boris Johnson Invites Toronto Mayor Over to Advise on Capital’s Crack Problem  


LONDON – EnglandMayor Boris Johnson has invited the Canadian Mayor, Rob Ford to come and deal with London’s massive crack cocaine problem blighting the inner city.

“I’ve heard he has a lot of knowledge about crack cocaine,” Boris Johnson told the Evening Standard on Friday.

Crack cocaine is a terrible problem in London’s inner city area and is now even quite prevalent in the capital’s suburbs.

Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford is himself an expert in crack cocaine and can sniff it out from miles away.

Speaking from a crack den in Toronto the Mayor said: “Aaaah that hit the spot. Yeah, sure I would love to come to London, England. Where there’s crack, I be going to that spot. I need another blast of this pipe, hmmm. Hell, I might even introduce Boris to a bit of crack, and I’m not talking about his saucy secretary either.”

via London Mayor Boris Johnson Invites Toronto Mayor Over to Advise on Capital’s Crack Problem  .

’Black ops’ strengthen resolve of Reilly and European Commission to push through tobacco reforms


 

Did the Tobacco Industry Arrange for European Commission headquarters in Brussels to be Burgled?

On the night of October 17th/18th last year, burglars targeted three offices housed in an eight- storey office block near the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. They entered through the windows, disabled outdoor sensors and then waited for 45 seconds. They knew where the internal alarm was situated.

They took several laptops, although significantly not the chargers. Clearly it was not the laptops they were after, but the information inside them.

The three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which were targeted were the Smoke Free Partnership, the European Respiratory Partnership and the office of the European Public Health Alliance.

All those organisations have one thing in common – they are all engaged in the business of tobacco control.

Qui bono? Who benefits? Who would be interested in breaking into the offices of NGOs involved in tobacco control and why would the burglars be interested in laptops which had information only of interest to those in the tobacco industry?

In a recent interjection at the Oireachtas committee on health, the Minister for Health James Reilly gave a colourful if not altogether accurate description of the “black ops” involved in that break-in.

Disabled alarms

“The intruders abseiled down from the roof to the seventh floor of the building, cut holes in the plate-glass window, disabled the alarms and got into the offices.

“There were a number of offices and they went straight to the Office of Tobacco Control and removed all the hard discs from the computers.

“Who could afford to launch such an operation?”

Who indeed? Florence Berteletti Kemp, the director of the Smoke Free Partnership, said those who carried it out were “top professionals” and knew exactly what they were looking for. “I cannot say who did it, but I will leave it to the public imagination,” she said.

Kemp was one of the speakers at last week’s European Week against Cancer conference in the Aviva Stadium.

She said the break-in “delayed our work for at least a week or two”, but was ultimately a futile act because the most critical information was backed up.

The day after the health commissioner John Dalli resigned over a scandal which involved the tobacco industry.

It had been alleged that a friend of his in Malta had sought a large bribe from a Swedish company which makes a tobacco product called Snus citing his influence with Dalli. Dalli has denied any impropriety.

Coincidentally, Dalli was a stern advocate of the tobacco directive which is currently with the Irish presidency of the EU.

Rightly or wrongly, the tobacco industry was blamed for both events but the actions had the opposite effect, according to Kemp.

“I would say that it redoubled our efforts. It has brought the subject of the power of the industry to the parliament. It was a bad idea. It totally backfired on whoever did it.”

Advancing the directive is now in the gift of the Irish presidency and our fiercely anti-smoking Minister for Health Dr Reilly.

He said the break-in made the European Commission aware “that there was a real danger that the tobacco industry had the upper hand on them and clearly the commission is not going to allow that.”

The tobacco directive has a number of main provisions. The first is to outlaw cigarettes such as those flavoured with, for example, menthol or vanilla; the second is to ensure that health warnings cover at least 75 per cent of the pack face, although some countries want it smaller than that; and the third is to ban so-called slim cigarettes which are mainly marketed at women.

It does not include provision for plain packaging which will be brought in by Ireland unilaterally.

While there is broad agreement on the need for tobacco control, tobacco manufacturing is a big industry in countries such as Greece, Spain, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Agreed position

Dr Reilly acknowledged that there was “very serious” opposition from certain countries, particularly Poland which has Europe’s second largest tobacco industry.

He said the goal of the Irish presidency was to get an agreed position on the directive at European Commission level and then take it to the parliament for approval.

“I’m a great believer in doing what is pragmatic and doing what is quick rather than try to hold out for the perfection that never comes your way,” he said. “There is a real sense that this is an important initiative and it has to be done.”

The Lithuanian presidency, which takes over from Ireland in July, will now be charged with bringing the directive forward.

“The Lithuanian presidency is very supportive of this and they are determined to lead the charge, but it is very difficult to know when it will come into force,” the Minister concluded.

via ’Black ops’ strengthen resolve of Reilly and European Commission to push through tobacco reforms – Health News | Irish Medical News | The Irish Times – Tue, Jun 04, 2013.

27 Ways To Tell You’re Too Stoned


You really shouldn’t have smoked that whole joint by yourself.

1. Before it really kicks in, you make big plans to be productive…

Before it really kicks in, you make big plans to be productive...

Which lasts about five minutes.

Which lasts about five minutes.

2. Like you actually can’t get off the couch.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

3. Sleeping. Eating. Watching cartoons. This is your life now.

Sleeping. Eating. Watching cartoons. This is your life now.

4. Seriously, you can’t stop eating.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

5. Plus you make terrible dietary choices.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

6. You stop caring about pretty much everything.

You stop caring about pretty much everything.

7. Except getting another bag of chips.

Except getting another bag of chips.

8. And the quality of the weed you’re smoking.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

9. Nothing anyone says makes any sense.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

10. Because it takes about 20 minutes to process a simple thought.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

11. MeSource: biggaysteve666.tumblr.comanwhile you stop making sense to anyone else.

 

12. They can tell you’re stoned, and they’re JUDGING YOU.

They can tell you're stoned, and they're JUDGING YOU.

13. You think you’re being really profound, but you’re not.

You think you're being really profound, but you're not.

14. And everything becomes HILARIOUS.

And everything becomes HILARIOUS.

15. Like, so ridic funny. Like, you may never stop laughing.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

16. You’re easily entertained by the STUPIDEST things.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

17. And believe me, NO ONE ELSE is amused.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

18. Then you start to get really, really paranoid.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

19. Like you’re no longer sure you remember how to breathe.

Like you're no longer sure you remember how to breathe.

20. You don’t remember anything else either.

You don't remember anything else either.

21. You start to feel like you’re incapable of doing anything that ISN’T getting high.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

22. And, I mean, that’s kind of true.

27 Ways To Tell You're Too Stoned

23. But you somehow convince yourself that marijuana is a performance enhancer.

But you somehow convince yourself that marijuana is a performance enhancer.

24. You forget how to behave sober.

You forget how to behave sober.

25. All the while you hope for some once-in-a-lifetime stoned experience.

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Bee Health: EU-wide restrictions on Pesticide use to enter into force on 1 December


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Bee Health: EU-wide restrictions on Pesticide use to enter into force on 1 December

A restriction on the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family was today adopted by the Commission. These pesticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) were identified as being harmful to Europe’s honeybee population. This restriction will enter into force as from 1 December 2013 and will be reviewed, at the latest, within two years. It targets pesticides used in the treatment of plants and cereals that are attractive to bees and pollinators.

“Last month, I pledged that, based on the number of risks identified by the European Food Safety Authority’s scientific opinion, I would do my utmost to ensure that our honeybee population is protected. Today’s adoption delivers on that pledge and marks another milestone towards ensuring a healthier future for our honeybees, as bees have two important roles to play: not only that of producing honey but primarily to be a pollinator. About 80 % of all pollination is due to the activity of bees – this is natural and free of costs” said Tonio Borg, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.

Today’s measure forms part of the Commission’s overall strategy1 to tackle the decline of Europe’s bee population. Since the publication of the Commission’s bee health strategy in 2010, several actions have been taken or are underway. These include: the designation of a EU Reference Laboratory for bee health; increased EU co-financing for national apiculture programmes, co-financing to carry out surveillance studies in 17 voluntary Member States (€3.3 million were allocated in 2012) and EU research programmes such as BeeDoc and STEP which look into the multifactorial aspects that could be attributed to Europe’s bee decline.

Next steps

Member States must withdraw or amend existing authorisations to comply with the EU restrictions by 30 September 2013. They can allow the use of existing stocks until 30 November at the latest. National authorities are responsible for ensuring that the restrictions are correctly applied.

As soon as new information is available, and at the latest within 2 years, the Commission will review this restriction to take into account relevant scientific and technical developments.

Background

Following the absence of an agreement (qualified majority) between Member States during the appeal committee of 29 April 2013, the Commission announced that it will proceed with the restriction as foreseen.

The restriction applies to the use of 3 neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for seed treatment, soil application (granules) and foliar treatment on plants and cereals (with the exception of winter cereals) that are attractive to bees. The remaining authorised uses are available only to professionals. Exceptions will be limited to the possibility to treat bee-attractive crops in greenhouses, in open-air fields only after flowering.

Pesticides have been identified as one of several factors which may be responsible for the decline in number of bees. Other factors also include parasites, other pathogens, lack of veterinary medicines or sometimes their misuse, apiculture management and environmental factors such as lack of habitat and feed and climate change.

For more information:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/liveanimals/bees/neonicotinoids_en.htm

EFSA’s website:

http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/beehealth.htm?wtrl=01

via EUROPA – PRESS RELEASES – Press Release – Bee Health: EU-wide restrictions on Pesticide use to enter into force on 1 December.

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