Columnist for the Independent in London for nine years and twice named Newspaper Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International UK, Johann Hari, discussed his epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey looking into the 100-year-old war on drugs. He shared surprising truths he uncovered, and what he found in countries that have decriminalized drugs. Hari told the story of how Billie Holiday, the great jazz singer, was stalked, imprisoned, and eventually died at the hands of the founder of the war on drugs, Harry Anslinger. Some of the original rationale against drugs by Anslinger and others was motivated by a fear of immigrants, particularly Chinese and African Americans, he explained.
At the start of the drug war, armed criminal gangs bribed officials to introduce the drug war, and cartels have made enormous profits throughout the years, amidst a culture of violence. Hari spent time in Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs from cannabis to crack, 15 years ago. They took all the money they were using on the drug war and put it into extensive drug education, as well as made a concerted effort to connect addicts into society rather than isolate them, he detailed. What they found was a big decrease in crime such as muggings and burglaries. Portugal also showed that when you get rid of all punishments, you don't suddenly have an increase in people using drugs, he reported.
Hari learned that drug addiction has less to do with the substances themselves, but the mental state and environment that people are in. The primary cause for substance abuse is pain and isolation in one's life, he continued. "The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. It's having meaning in your life. If you've got meaning in your life, you don't want to be out of it all the time," he remarked.
Behind Oil Prices
First hour guest, business and energy journalist, James R. Norman, talked about the drop in oil prices and the worldwide strategic implications. There's been a large migration of money out of the crude futures market, which contributes to the lower oil price, he explained. While some have speculated that the Saudis deliberately manipulated the lower oil price, it's actually been a US national security effort aimed at weakening the Russians, via economic warfare, he contended. Though US citizens will enjoy the lower gas prices, there are some negative effects to oil companies, and frackers whose investments will be hurt, he added.
News segment guests: Jerome Corsi, Robert Zimmerman