Just like the drug war, another war sustained by lies, and massive wasteful spending.
23 Aug 2021: I served in Afghanistan as a US Marine, twice. Here’s the truth in two sentences. "The right call was getting out in 2002. 2003. ... We deserve better. Instead of politicians spending $6.4 trillion to 'nation build' in the Middle East, we should start nation building right here at home. ... When our country’s elites were preaching about how they had solved the financial crisis and the housing market was booming, I watched the house I joined the Marine Corps out of sit on the market for two years. My dad finally got $43,000 for it. He owed $78,000."
17 Aug 2021: Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Have Tried Marijuana. "The percentage of U.S. adults who say they have tried marijuana has ticked up to 49%, the highest Gallup has measured to date. More than 50 years ago, just 4% said they had tried the drug".
27 July 2021: Inside a KKK murder plot: Grab him up, take him to the river. The KKK owns law enforcement today in the Republican state of Florida. "Even though three current and former Florida prison guards were exposed as klansmen, the state’s Department of Corrections says it found no reason to investigate whether other white supremacists were employed in its prisons."
31 Mar 2021: New York Becomes 15th State To Legalize Marijuana.. "Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Wednesday [March 31, 2021] ... The legislation automatically clears the records of those with past marijuana-related convictions ... State lawmakers passed the legislation mainly along party lines late Tuesday, [clueless Republicans opposed it]."
22 Jan 2021: Recreational marijuana sales kick off in Arizona.. "Recreational marijuana sales have started in Arizona, with many of the state's medical-marijuana dispensaries getting the OK on Friday [Jan 22, 2021] to open sales to anyone 21 or older. ... It is the fastest that any of the 15 states with recreational marijuana has gone from voter approval [Nov 3, 2020] to actual sales."
15 Jan 2021:Local Massachusetts Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Psychedelics Decriminalization Measure. "Oakland, Santa Cruz and Ann Arbor—have also decriminalized possession of plant-and fungi-based psychedelics. In Oregon, November’s election saw the passage of a historic initiative to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic purposes. ... Much of this reform progress can be traced back to Denver, which became the first city in the country to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in May 2019."
As you can imagine, having the H*E*M*P Bar and its live web cam shut down and a sign on it's door saying "Gone to Mardi Grass" meant I was in a bit of a sticky situation from an 'organizational' point of view. Fortunate for me, the previous decades worth of 4 20's had left such an impression in the minds of all the hardcore repeat MardiGrassers, that I almost didn't need to mention it, but, mention it I did. At 20 minutes past the hour ,every hour, on the main festival sound system I talked up the event. MardiGrass Saturday was a very POLICE intensive atmosphere, road blocks around the town, riot squad in bullet proof sunglasses every where you looked. I urged everyone if they was going to smoke one joint all day, let it be at 420 today when they could light that joint in global unity with the millions of other people all around earth who will also be lighting up at 420. And I always make a point of asking that when you do light up at 420, let it not be an act of defiance, let it be an act of peace, a sharing, a celebration and a thing you do every day at 420 until the law is changed.................... Peace for Pot ------------ Pot for Peace
Best part is that outside the H*E*M*P Bar wasn't the only venue for the 420 Demonstration, H*E*M*P President Michael Balderstone did a HUGE 420 Demo in Peace Park, Captain Reefer did another in Allsop Park, the Stage down in the Markets did a 420 and pretty much everyone everywhere was part of the Demonstration and if I had to add one last thought it would be that 4.20 PM on Saturday was about the only time that the main street of Nimbin had that traditional smoky mardigrass look to it, no arrests were recorded by the police at 4.20 or in the 30 minutes after. Over 15,000 people attended this years www.NimbinMardiGrass.com and everyone of them
Nimbin tale: Site of the annual "First weekend in May" Nimbin MardiGrass, Nimbin is unique. Once a sacred initiation site for the Bundjalung tribe, it was originally "settled" by white Europeans in the very late 19th Century. Basically that means we clear-felled as much of the forest as we possibly could, fenced it off from the local Kooris and proceeded to wipe out any of them that objected to being uprooted, brain-washed and totally cut off from their traditional lands and way of life... It's a familiar story.
Within a couple of decades the white guys had pretty much run out of trees and so they started looking around for a NEW way to turn a buck. Sticking a whole bunch of heavy-footed European cows on the recently cleared slopes seemed like a good idea at the time, and so within ANOTHER few decades the once pristine forests surrounding this area had been transformed into an expanse of denuded, eroding cow pastures. Meanwhile the arse was busily dropping out of the international market for Australian meat and dairy produce. Ho-hum...
By 1973, Nimbin was almost a ghost town. Luckily for the local real estate agents, a bunch of long haired student radicals from the Australian Union of Students arrived seeking a site for a national student counter culture life style event called the Aquarius Festival. They had taken a left turn at Mullumbimby, chose Nimbin promising the village residents that Aquarius would "recycle the town".
Cut to 1993 - the same deserted dairy town has been transformed. The building and shop fronts are a garish yet somehow compelling collage of full blown psychedelia and traditional Bundjalung art. There's more cafes, craft shops and backpackers than you can wave a traveler's cheque at and the stinky sweet smell of ganja is positively enveloping the street. This definitely AINT Byron Bay.
Down the centre of the main drag of this tiny, tripped out tourist town, there's a huge throng of people, laughing, drumming, chanting, DANCING towards the local cop shop.
Dozens of them are helping to carry a huge smoking joint with "Let It Grow!" painted in 4 foot high letters on the side. Others are holding banners and placards calling for change - an end to drug prohibition, the legalisation of cannabis, an end to the drug war.
Many are openly smoking pot as they drum, sing and humba their way towards the suddenly vacant-looking police station. One dude is on stilts, wearing a huge cardboard helicopter he's made in mockery of the annual pot raids that Nimbin has suffered for more than a decade. Paradoxically, not one person looks angry.
What the f*ck is happening here?
Why, it's the first annual "Let It Grow!" MardiGrass Fiesta and drug law reform rally.
A thousand local "alternatives" (the politically correct way to say "hippies") finally spitting the dummy, coming out of the closet and in true 60s in-your-face street theatre style pointing out to the jaded apathetic mainstream that the drug wars just aren't working.
That night on the national news the Australian general public was faced with the bizarre spectacle of a bunch of aging hippies, their off-spring and an ever-growing army of young and old recruits joyously breaking the cannabis laws en masse and demanding a change to the drug laws. Not only has the war on drugs left a deep and unpleasant impression on our idyllic, lotus-munching existence (the hippies seemed to be saying) but these days it's seriously f*cking with YOUR way of life as well.
Ever since the '73 Aquarius Festival, Nimbin has had a strong tradition of civil disobedience of the drug laws. The cops tried to bust someone for pot in the middle of the festival, but were quickly (and peacefully) overpowered by the crowd and the "criminal" disappeared into the seething hairy melee. This was nothing new at the time.
The same kind of spontaneous rebellion had happened at the Sunbury rock festival the year before, and was of course a regular ingredient in the Vietnam protest movement of the sixties and early seventies.
By the late 80s however, people's willingness to take these kind of measures had markedly diminished... even in a place as supposedly pot-soaked as Nimbin. The U.S.-driven "War On Drugs" was in full swing. In the cities, the psychedelic, sacramental dealing circles of the sixties had long ago been replaced by more commercial, well-oiled interests. Smack was available everywhere in Australia. Hope was extremely unfashionable.
Those in Nimbin still clinging to their hippy ideals were pretty much trying to keep their heads down... at least as far as drugs were concerned. Regular invasive police helicopter raids were just a fact of life. The general wisdom seemed to be that showing an interest in drug law reform was as suicidal as walking into a police station smoking a joint.
Despite this generalised paranoia, a few brave souls were consistently stirring the pot.
Beginning in 1988, a series of public demonstrations, press releases and politically motivated events kept emanating from Nimbin, all of them hammering the same basic point ... the drug laws are a miserable, socially destructive failure.
At first, these words of wisdom only seemed to be coming from one person, Bob Hopkins, a Nimbinite who conducted a vigorous and extremely effective one-man campaign against the drug laws.
Gradually other folk began to get involved. Michael Balderstone (the owner of the local "hippy" museum) and David Heilpern (a lawyer and activist who later became a magistrate) were among the early ones.
By 1993, a small but dedicated bunch of folk had coalesced around the name "The Nimbin HEMP Embassy". Their press releases and activities had consistently kept the issue of drug law reform in the spotlight of the local media and more and more people were coming out in support of what they had to say. The time seemed right for a larger display of local public feelings. Hey presto, the first annual Let It Grow! MardiGrass and Drug Law Reform Rally was born.
The first MardiGrass attracted a crowd of about 1000 people and much publicity. The day went off without a hitch. It was a huge success.But controversy raised its ugly head when the Plantems 13 year old daughters photo holding a marijuana plant appeared in national newspaper 'The Sydney Morning Herald' and later, adult magazine 'The Underworld' including an interveiw with her, raising questions about child safety. Never the less, by the next year, many more local people were openly supportive of the event. That year, the MardiGrass rally was preceded by a conference and seminar which attracted politicians, academics and health professionals from all over Australia. In a tradition that has continued to this day, the crowd doubled over the previous year's numbers... 2000 people paraded through Nimbin calling for an end to the madness, prejudice and social chaos that masquerades as drug prohibition.
In 1995 the first MardiGrass Cannabis Grower's Cup was held.
The year 1996 saw the beginnings of many events that have since become intrinsic to the Mardi Grass. The HEMP Olympix had its inaugural year, as did the Kombi Konvoy and the Hemp Traders Trade Fair. The now-legendary HEMP Olympix comprised pothead contests around joint rolling, bong throwing and, for the more physically-minded, a Growers Ironperson competition. For this contestants pitted themselves against the odds in outlandish tests of strength such as crawling through lantana tunnels dragging large bags of fertiliser.
The Kombi Konvoy opened the 96 Mardi Grass and has done ever since. A procession of variously decorated Kombi vans winds its way from nearby Lismore, arriving at dusk in the crowded lantern-lit streets of Nimbin. Led by the Olympix torch-bearer, the Kombis eventually park in a circle and the crowd forms for the opening ceremony.
Thus begins a weekend of song, dance, speeches, workshops, poems, pot art exhibitions, hemp trade and fashion shows, drug law and drug health information exchanges, seed swaps, magick, myth and joyous, stoned civil disobedience and political demonstration.
Finally on the last day, a lucky few settle down for the Cannabis Cup.
Based (very loosely) on the Amsterdam event of the same name, the Nimbin Cannabis Cup is a nice mellow wrap-up to the heightened chaos of the previous few days. A rather broad selection of the best local buds is tasted, toked and tested by a smattering of card-carrying "expert" judges, eventually choosing a winner. If you don't make it as a judge however it doesn't really matter. Just like in Amsterdam, there's so much good pot everywhere that anyone that does make it to judge status is usually too stoned to tell anyway.
The MardiGrass has grown stronger and larger every year and the Nimbin HEMP Embassy has continued to stay at the forefront of drug law reform activism worldwide. Several large scale smoke-ins and demonstrations have been held outside police stations and courthouses, political candidates have been run (and polled quite highly), a television ad campaign was run requesting people to dial-in to a safe number and report any cases of police harassment or corruption. All this plus maintaining a high-profile drug education outlet in Nimbin's main drag.
One of the more interesting actions was the helicopter blockade in January 1997. Finally sick of the annual hippy-bashing helicopter raids that the police had been mounting every year, the HEMP crew and friends decided to do something about it. With a little ingenuity, they found out where the chopper squad was staying and where they'd parked the chopper for the night. Early the next morning, the cops awoke and opened their motel room door only to be greeted by the rather unnerving sight of one or two hippies chained underneath their wagons, a whole bunch of hippies waving and laughing at 'em from across the car park and a veritable swathe of camera-toting press all clicking and whirring and taking notes right next to those god damned hippies.
Needless to say the hippies had a very articulate and convincing press release ready about the waste of public money inherent in sending a bunch of gung-ho cops on double-pay in a very expensive helicopter to circle and swoop above the local communes and come back with a pathetic payload of what could only be described as personal stash.
Meanwhile on the other side of Lismore another couple of Hempsters were slowing things down by chaining themselves to the chopper. The press loved this story, and the cops?
Well, the cops just shook their heads, got in their little, blue wagon and went away. To this day, the helicopter squad has not returned to Nimbin.
All of these events lend colour and strength to the MardiGrass.
Last year's was a huge success and this year promises even more. As time goes on and the crowd grows, it's interesting to watch the demographic changing. These days, the old-school hippies are well and truly out-numbered by the whole array of society's archetypes. Many of these are just as counter or sub cultural as the hippies (punks, ferals etc). The vast number of them however are just plain, ordinary suburban working people. Many of them are there with their kids. Not all of them smoke pot, but they all know someone who does and they all agree that it's time for the drug laws to change.
It's ironic but somehow typical that the drug law reform movement should find it's most vocal and public face in a place like Nimbin. The MardiGrass gives voice to frustrations and problems that are vexing the whole of mainstream society, but most people aren't quite brave enough to express this to their neighbours. In the anonymity of a "freak-fest" like MardiGrass, many people are quite prepared to stand up and be counted. This is vitally important as a first step, but it's only when there's a MardiGrass happening in every town and when every pot smoker puts their hand up that the laws will change. It's too easy for the mainstream to ignore protest when it just happens in Nimbin.
So come this year to MardiGrass, but remember that it's a drug law reform rally and not just a pot party. We're there to make some points not just to get out of it, and remember to take some of the magick, idealism and commitment home with you when you go, there's enough to spare. Neil Pike 2004 http://www.nimbinmardigrass.com
Ronald Reagan, 1980 campaign speech: "Leading medical researchers are coming to the conclusion that marijuana, pot, grass whatever you want to call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States, and we haven't begun to find out all of the ill effects, but they are permanent ill effects. The loss of memory for example."
See: more info. The quote from Nixon aide John Ehrlichman (in 1994) is from an April 2016 Dan Baum article in Harper's Magazine:Legalize It All. How to win the war on drugs. Quote: "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."
See: Nixon's drug war against blacks and hippies.
11 Aug 2021: Article. "The world’s 2,690 global billionaires saw their combined wealth rise from $8 trillion on March 20, 2020 to $13.5 trillion as of July 31, 2021, ... The cost of vaccinating the world’s adult population was calculated as follows: two doses at $7 per dose for 5 billion people, for a total of $70 billion."
"By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries".
Median wealth is exactly in the middle. 50% of adults have more, and 50% have less. Wealth is all assets (money, stocks, property, etc.) minus all debts. See Wikipedia: List of countries by wealth per adult - From the 2021 publication: The average median wealth per adult for Canada ($125,688) is much higher than that of the former great nation, the USA ($79,274). It's due to Republican trickle-down voodoo economics: Giving tax cuts to the rich instead of to the middle class and poor who actually need them. Low federal minimum wage. Plus predatory mortgage loans and foreclosure. And predatory unforgivable student loans. Google News search: student debt.
Debt in America: An Interactive Map. 29% of all adults. 24% of whites. 39% of people of color. See the map there, and below. See the astonishing percentages of adults with debt in collection. By county. Especially in the South. The South has been greatly impoverished by low Republican minimum wages, lack of expanded Medicaid, unfair bankruptcy laws, massive evictions (past and upcoming).
10 Jul 2018: National (US) Pay Trends. "Since 2006, wages have risen 12.9 percent overall in the US. But when you factor in inflation, real wages' have actually fallen 9.3 percent. In other words, the income for a typical worker today buys them less than it did in 2006."
The KKK owns law enforcement today in the Republican state of Florida.
27 July 2021: Inside a KKK murder plot: Grab him up, take him to the river. "Even though three current and former Florida prison guards were exposed as klansmen, the state’s Department of Corrections says it found no reason to investigate whether other white supremacists were employed in its prisons."
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."
When it shall be said in any country in the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness: When these things can be said, then may the country boast of its constitution and its government.
Many clueless Republican leaders deny it all. They also block free birth control, and simple single-payer, public-option healthcare without deductibles, copays, and premiums. Something that seniors, and everybody else with health problems, needs in order to work part time as one is able, and as an aging world needs.
So politicians worldwide need to work on that instead of trying to incentivize more babies. Truly universal healthcare costs less since it encourages more preventive care, and doesn't need big wasteful middleman health insurance bureaucracies. Healthcare should be completely separate from income level and workplace.
Immigration has to be limited. Economic justice has to happen instead. Countries need fair trade treaties and unions, and to even consider merging countries (or nearly so, as in the European Union). Economies of scale. As they have prospered birth rates have fallen in the European Union, Canada, Japan, Korea, and other peaceful, cooperative, and relatively more economically just areas. South and Central America have relatively higher birth rates. They are also generally more violent, and economically unjust. Africa and the Mideast are generally even more violent, economically unjust, and authoritarian.