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Robert Halfon: For years, I’ve urged that the Conservatives become a Workers Party. Now it is one.

Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow.

It feels like I’ve woken up from a dream. Not a White Christmas, but a sea of blue-collar, spanning the length and breadth of the country, on the electoral map. For many years as MP, I’ve been campaigning for us to be the “Workers’ Party” – the representatives of blue-collar men and women up and down the country. In Essex, we use the term, “white-van conservatism”.

It is extraordinary to think that this dream has been realised by the election of MPs from all over the country, from Bishop Auckland, to my own constituency of Harlow.

Of course, the narrative from the Corbynites is that their catastrophic performance is because of Brexit. But, if you look at long-term trends, Labour have been losing the vote of working people for a number of years. The Labour movement is seen as an enemy of aspiration. In my own constituency, the Labour vote has not veered from 30 to 38 percent since 2010. Having said that, the results this time around were remarkable.

We have a real chance to fundamentally change our Party for the better. As the Prime Minister said, many people have lent us their vote, and they won’t be so generous next time if we get it wrong.

The Conservative Party must take this opportunity to become the true Workers’ Party.

That means, first, being incredibly careful with our narrative and language, and ensuring that we’re seen as the party of the ladder of opportunity and the safety net.

We should be modest, humble and kind in all our dealings with the public. Real thought and care about our language must be taken at all times, but particularly when we face the media, to ensure that Tories don’t come over as heartless or lacking emotional intelligence. Too often, we’ve allowed ourselves to be seen as out of touch and not on the side of people who are struggling. Each of us has a role to play, individually, to change this perception.

Second, let us show that we Conservatives have a real passion for our public services and are just as proud of increased funding for the NHS – as we are of the necessary tax breaks for small businesses – which we know increases investment and employment opportunities.

Third, we have to be relentless about cutting the cost of living. Lowering taxes is a moral good. We must convey that it is not all about helping rich people in the city or tycoons. This means, as the Manifesto pledged, focusing on cutting taxes for the lower paid by continuing to reduce income tax and making increases to the National Living wage a priority.

But we shouldn’t just cut taxes for lower earners, we need to ensure they know about it. On wage slips, for example, the Treasury should set out exactly how much the Government is saving taxpayers. The wage slip should read: “Your tax bill would normally be £X, but the Conservative Government has discounted it to £Y, saving you £Z.”

A simple, practical mechanism to ensure that workers on lower incomes know that it is Conservatives that are cutting their tax bill.

So, too, should the fuel duty freeze continue – again, as mentioned by the Prime Minister in the campaign. More action needs to be taken to improve Universal Credit so that its purpose of eliminating the poverty trap finally becomes a reality.

Fourth, many working people in communities that have now voted Conservative are passionate about apprenticeship opportunities for their children. Our vocational and technical education reforms should be at the forefront of policy for our Education Secretary. Every single young person should have the offer of a high-quality apprenticeship – right through from Level 2, up to degree-level.  Conservatives should aim for 50 per cent of students to take up degree apprenticeships.

Conservatives must come good on school funding and continue to provide as much parental choice of schools as possible and do everything to improve standards of reading and numeracy. Skills, Standards, Social Justice and Support for the profession should be the four s’s mantra of our education policy.

Fifth, it is high time we deal with the lack of housing in this country. We have to be bold and build hundreds of thousands more houses, recognising that 90 percent of land is not yet built on. It cannot just be about schemes like Right to Buy and Help to Buy, great though they are, but also about real affordable housing that people can rent.

Sixth and finally, whatever happens, as well as being the Workers’ Party, Tories must be a movement for social justice, too. Millions of our countrymen and women struggle everyday, whether it is a parent waiting for 39 weeks for their child to be diagnosed with a mental health issue, or people living in ghetto-type social housing, or individuals being sucked into a spiral of dependency on addictive drugs. We should do more to combat abusive relationships and domestic violence, too.

Conservatives must be the Party for these people as much as those who are already climbing the ladder of opportunity. Our job is to bring people to the ladder, to help them climb up and be ready with a safety net should they fall. The Party that enables and strengthens social capital, as much as economic capital.

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A $2 Drug Test Identified Bird Poop as Cocaine. But Law Enforcement Continues to Use it, and People are Being Wrongly Imprisoned

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Do you need a hit?

Of that white powder?

That Columbian booger sugar?

I’m talking, of course, about bird poop (they have lots of birds in Columbia).

If so, you might get arrested — for possession of cocaine.

According to a Vice report, cops across America have been using the same type of $2 test to determine whether any given suspicious substance is the ol’ 80’s standby or other illegal doorways to euphoria.

And that test has come up positive when supplied with bird droppings.

Additionally, it’s interpreted doughnut crumbs as meth and vitamins as oxycodone.

Man — that’s making want a dozen glazed meth.

In every case known to Vice, drug trafficking charges were eventually dropped, thanks to further testing by a state lab.

But the initial tests — known as “presumptive field tests” — have, as stated by Vice, “a history of being almost laughably wrong — if they weren’t putting people behind bars, even temporarily. And the follow-up lab tests that eventually clear people’s names can take weeks, if not months.”

During that interim, the article asserts, some who are innocent may be scared into accepting a plea deal rather than risking worse at trial.

Furthermore, those who can’t afford bail are stuck in jail as they decide which to do.

The article spotlights Cody Gregg, a homeless Oklahoma City man. He pleaded guilty, purportedly to get out of the city’s terrible lockup. He was charged with possession after a janky test identified powdered milk as Satan’s Snow.

The guy was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

It took nearly two months of jail time before he was cleared.

Claflin University Biology Professor Omar Bagasra insists, “You cannot indict somebody — put somebody in jail — over something you know has a very high rate of false positives.”

He knows a thing or two about it — he once partook in a Marijuana Policy Project study that determined a common field test wrongly identified spearmint, eucalyptus, and patchouli as the Devil’s Lettuce.

His research team pinpointed “the serious possibility of tens of thousands of wrongful drug convictions.”

To stress their point, the group repeatedly produced false positives before the National Press Club — from common substances such as chocolate bars.

As per a 2016 ProPublica investigation, the cheapo tests lead to thousands of arrests each year.

Fortunately, they’re frequently inadmissible in court, hence the follow-up in a proper lab.

But here’s how the little critters work: An officer drops a sample of something into a small pouch, then he breaks a capsule containing compounds which ignite a chemical reaction. A few moments later, your Kool-Aid Pixie Stick may have just snagged you a deuce in the joint.

The problems with the tests aren’t unknown to the powers that be, but they don’t always trickle down:

In 2000, the Justice Department issued guidelines requesting the tests’ manufacturers include warning labels telling cops that the tests could produce false positives and therefore require appropriate training. But ProPublica’s investigation found those guidelines were largely ignored. Newer, more accurate tests are available, but police departments don’t typically buy them because they can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“If officers are not trained to get the message that a positive drug test is more equivocal than the label would make you think, you’ll have police officers thinking, ‘Positive means it’s definitely drugs,’” said Carl Takei, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality. Instead, a positive result means that the presence of drugs can’t be ruled out but should be weighed with plenty of other evidence before officers proceed.

The pouches’ flaws were considered — to a degree — amid the arrest of aforementioned homeless Cody Gregg:

Oklahoma City Police told VICE News that the officers did weigh other evidence in Gregg’s August arrest for possessing the powdered milk that tested positive for cocaine.

For example, Gregg had a prior history of drug convictions and ran from police when they attempted to stop him for a missing taillight on his bicycle. Once they retrieved the backpack he was carrying, they found the clear bag of a “white powdery substance” and a scale, too. All of those things factored into his arrest — not just the presumptive drug test.

Tulsa County public defender Natalie Leone claims she handles a drug case with false positives about once a month.

One such was that of Calamitous Carl:

This past May, Tulsa police found one of her clients, Carl Fisher, with a glass container of liquid that tested positive for meth in the field. Fisher, who’s homeless, was asleep in a car in a residential parking lot when officers approached him with guns drawn because they considered the car stolen. They tased him multiple times and dragged him out of the car, body-camera footage shows.

Fisher was arrested on drug charges, resisting arrest, and assault on a police officer. He was behind bars for nearly two months on what was initially a $160,000 bail before state lab results cleared him. He then remained in jail until October, when he agreed to plead no contest to the charge of resisting arrest.

So we’ve learned a few things: Firstly, don’t sleep in strange cars.

And as for your wacky substances, you’re out of luck initially, if a cheap test points the wrong way.

You may need to bolster your case to the popo. So maybe keep those vitamin bottles. And candy bar wrappers. And that doughnut box.

As it turns out, Mitch Hedberg was wrong:



A Forced Baptism, Sexual Assault, And A Cavity Search Comprise The Worst Non-Lethal Police Conduct You’re Likely To Find – By The Same Officer

Manure Mania: North Koreans Are Fighting Over Feces As The Government Demands Every Citizen Produce 200 Pounds Of Human Waste

Tragedy In Texas: Police End Up Shooting A Woman During A Welfare Check On Her. Some Are Calling It Murder

Find all my RedState work here.

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Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. 

The post A $2 Drug Test Identified Bird Poop as Cocaine. But Law Enforcement Continues to Use it, and People are Being Wrongly Imprisoned appeared first on RedState.

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Susan Hall: The Prime Minister is serious about defeating the drugs gangs. But the Mayor of London is not.

Susan Hall is a member of the London Assembly.

County Lines is one of the biggest and fastest-growing issues facing the police across the country. It involves gangs in cities such as London using young people to deal drugs over a network of dedicated phones placed in smaller towns, suburbs and rural areas across the country. Horrifyingly, the children involved can be as young as 11 and deal mostly class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.

I am so glad that this is something our wonderful Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has committed to tackling. The Prime Minister made it clear in his speech to Conference that we Conservatives will not stand for this any longer, saying how he was committed to “rolling up the evil county lines drugs gangs that predate on young kids and send them to die in the streets… and we will succeed.”

It is paramount that we stamp out County Lines as it is not simply a drug enforcement issue – it is child exploitation. Something needs to be done and we are better placed to deal with the problem than ever before. Through improved reporting and enforcement, as well as having a Prime Minister who is desperate to tackle this issue, we can confront the problem head-on.

The Prime Minister has committed to getting 20,000 more Police Officers on our streets. He has started recruitment within six weeks, whilst the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has disgracefully taken over six months to start the recruitment drive he promised, meanwhile choosing PR over policing.

At City Hall, the London Assembly Conservatives developed a fully-costed plan to put 1,378 more police officers on our streets by cutting the £83 million that the Mayor has wasted on PR, bureaucrats, and other pointless expenditure. Whilst Johnson prioritises keeping us safe, Khan shamefully prioritises his own image.

It is thanks to a Conservative government that the £3.6m National County Lines Coordination Centre became fully operational a year ago. This is starting to greatly aid officers in tackling the problem. Thanks to improved awareness and investment from the government, the picture around county lines is the clearest it’s ever been.

More Police Officers on the frontline is a great start to tackling this issue but we all agree that a wider, strategic approach is what will help bring down the organised gangs who co-ordinate the County Lines. Reporting cases of County Lines is key for this to work and the good news is, reporting is vastly improving.

According to the most recent intelligence assessment, 2,000 individual phone numbers have been identified as being used for established County Lines networks – almost three times the previously established figure of 720. Although this may appear concerning with the number of cases growing, with reports of County Lines improving, the police are in a good position to combat the problem. For example, in 2015, an intelligence gathering exercise found only seven police forces were reporting County Lines. This has swiftly grown to 38 forces by 2017 and then up to 44 forces in 2018, including the British Transport Police (BTP), highlighting the vast improvement in the police’s capabilities and response to the issue.

As well as improved reporting, enforcement is improving by using modern slavery legislation. This legislation is helping to deter gang leaders from using young people for County Lines. Gang members are less worried about going to prison for dealing drugs than they are for child exploitation or trafficking as there is a stigma attached and harsher repercussions than just drug crime.

The growth of County Lines is hard to track as drugs gangs go to where the markets are. It is supply and demand. However, reports demonstrate the scale of the problem, with the Children’s Society estimating 4,000 teenagers in London alone are exploited through County Lines, whilst according to the Children’s Commissioner, at least 46,000 children in England were caught up in gangs.

Whilst it is clear Johnson understands the scale of the problem and the need to take action, sadly the current Mayor of London does not. Sadiq Khan uses the excuse that crime is rising faster outside of London than it is inside of London to defend his poor record and avoid dealing with the problems on his doorstep. The shocking reality is that the Metropolitan Police force area is the largest exporting hub of County Lines in the UK, with 65 per cent going into other forces. Disgracefully, Sadiq Khan is exporting crime to other areas of the country to avoid taking action.

I am thrilled that we have a Prime Minister who is doing all he can stop the evils of County Lines, setting an example to the Mayor of London of how to get his priorities right. The London Assembly Conservatives will continue to hold this failing Mayor to account and do all we can to stop the appalling exploitation of children through County Lines.

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Neil O’Brien: Fifty shades of conservatism

Neil O’Brien is MP for Market Harborough.

You might say socialism and liberalism are ideologies, while Conservatism is more like a character trait. But that’s not quite right. Socialism and liberalism are ideologies about maximising one thing, be it equality or freedom. In contrast, Conservatives believe in a wider variety of ideals.

So what kind of conservative are you?

Since the classic Liberal party gave way to Labour, we’ve been the party of the free market and sound money, even more so since the Thatcher/Reagan era. The free market is a such huge part of what we are about, it tends to dominate, but there’s much more to conservatism.

Perhaps you are a law and order Conservative: patron saint Thomas Hobbes, who, inspired by his experience of the civil war, observed that without strong authority and law and order, life tends to be “nasty, brutish and short.”

But in a nice example of how conservative ideas fit together, a strong law and order policy is also a One Nation policy: because who suffers when there is crime and disorder? Those who live in the most deprived fifth of neighbourhoods are 50 per cent more likely to be victims of crime than those in the richest fifth.

Or perhaps you are a constitutional conservative. Do you believe in keeping the Monarchy? A House of Lords that isn’t elected? Do you believe in keeping first past post elections, and an unwritten constitution? Do you believe in the common law and rule of law? Those ideas are more important now Labour believes in expropriation of your pension, your shares, your house, and anything else that isn’t screwed down.

Perhaps you’re a conservative because you believe in Liberty. Habeas Corpus. Limits on Government. Legal protection of personal and family life. Liberty always raises contentious issues like hunting or drugs. Or think of recent cases like the gay marriage cake. I thought the courts got it right: a business can’t refuse to serve gay people, but people can’t be made to promote political views they don’t hold, even if I disagree with those views.

What do we think about the growing deployment of live facial recognition technology in public places? Liberty lovers might want to ban it. Law and order fans might want to allow it.

Liberty-loving conservatism can also clash with another ideal – social conservatism. Are you worried about family breakdown? What do you think about transgender issues? What do you think about full facial veils? That question pits liberty against traditional pattern of our society. France banned them, we allow them.

Do you think what you get out of the welfare system should be linked to what you put in? And how should we make choices about immigration: do we just think about migrants’ skills and earnings, or how easily they will integrate into our culture? I incline to the latter view.

One big idea that I think fits under social conservatism is the idea of the nation state. National self-determination and the lack of a shared European demos powers the idea of Brexit, but it also explains why we are prepared to make compromises to try and keep the United Kingdom together.

Zooming down from the nation to the individual, conservatism is about individual self-reliance. That’s why we strongly support individual home ownership. Mrs Thatcher expressed this well. She said that people: “are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.”

Things like the doubling of the Income Tax Personal Allowance and the National Living Wage – and also welfare reforms – are about self reliance. George Osborne was onto something when he talked about a “higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare spending” society. Personally, I believe tax should be based on the ability to pay, and so we should bring back the higher tax allowances for children Labour abolished in the 1970s.

But conservatives don’t just believe in individualism. We are the society party. Civic conservatives know that many problems can’t be solved by either the free market or the state. David Cameron said: “There is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same as the state.” When we think about problems like loneliness in an ageing society, we can only solve them by catalysing and helping voluntary groups and family life. The Big Society may have been a good idea, badly timed. But the ideal of voluntary action remains very attractive, I find particularly to younger conservatives.

Conservatism is also about gradualism. Burke attacked the French revolution as a huge, risky, leap-in-the-dark.
Gradualism is behind all our biggest policy successes. Welfare reforms started under Peter Lilley, continued under New Labour, and then under another Conservative government – and now have the record employment. The academy schools programme also spanned governments: from Kenneth Baker to Gavin Williamson.

In contrast, Socialists believe in utopian leaps. In the USSR and under China’s Great Leap Forward millions died, yet John McDonell still says, “I am a Marxist”. In contrast we should be proud gradualists. What do we want? More use of evidence. When do we want it? After randomised control trials.

As well as gradualism, Conservatism is about pluralism and decentralisation. Environmentalists have shown us why it is dangerous to have a monoculture of anything, because if things then go wrong, they do so on a huge scale. Think about the Irish potato famine.

Take a more recent policy example: during the heyday of disastrous progressive teaching methods, they swept all before them. But independent schools and grammar schools were a bastion for traditional methods (like phonics), which could then make a comeback after trendy methods failed.

Devolution allows experimentation. In the US they say the states are “laboratories of democracy”. Ideas like welfare reform or zero tolerance policing were tried locally and taken up nationally when they worked. Conservatives also believe in pluralism in a deeper way. People have different ideas of the good life.

That’s one reason I think we should keep the honours system – to recognise those who are motivated by something other than money, whether they want to serve their country on the battlefield, or help their community by running a youth club. That should inform our thoughts on things like childcare. Do we just focus on maximising employment or education? Or let people choose if they want to be stay at home parents?

I’m sure readers will point out things I’ve missed. But those are some of the main elements of Conservatism.
Law and order. The Constitution. Liberty. Social Conservatism. Civic Conservatism. Individual-self reliance.
Gradualism. Pluralism. Ideas that are sometimes in tension, but which fit together.

Conservatism is a bit like the roof of parliament’s Westminster Hall: which is held up by a lot of huge, ancient beams all resting on each other. Likewise, the elements of conservatism fit together, and have also made something really strong and enduring.

This article is based on a contribution by the author to a Centre for Policy Studies event, “Free Exchange: The case for conservatism”, at last week’s Conservative Party Conference.

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Puberty blocking drugs used on “trans kids” have killed more than 6,000 people

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Here’s a horror show of a story that you’re probably not going to see on CNN anytime soon. A report emerged on Thursday indicating that the puberty-blocking drug Leuprolide Acetate (Lupron) has resulted in tens of thousands of serious “adverse reactions” in patients, including more than six thousand deaths. That’s bad enough, but it’s even more significant when you consider that this is one of the drugs being administered by doctors to so-called “transgender children” to unnaturally prevent their normal sexual development. And the testing done on the drug by the FDA for such applications appears to be thin at best. (Daily Wire)

More than 6,300 adults have died from reactions to a drug that is used as a puberty blocker in gender-confused children, Food & Drug Administration data reportedly shows.

“Between 2012 and June 30 of this year, the FDA documented over 40,764 adverse reactions suffered by patients who took Leuprolide Acetate (Lupron), which is used as a hormone blocker. More than 25,500 reactions logged from 2014-2019 were considered ‘serious,’ including 6,370 deaths,” The Christian Post reported on Thursday.

“Lupron is being prescribed off-label for use in children who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria despite the lack of formal FDA approval for that purpose,” the outlet explained.

You can do a search of the FDA’s incident reports here and enter the name of the drug (Lupron) to see their data.

Despite the possible adverse side effects, there are approved uses for Lupron, but it tends to be administered only for serious conditions. It’s useful in treating prostate cancer in men and endometriosis in women. For children, it is sometimes used to treat precocious puberty, a condition where children begin puberty at an unusually early age, but only for a short time.

The list of potential side effects for the drug is alarming. It includes breast disorders, malignant neoplasms, and psychiatric and nervous disorders. Stop and think about that for a moment. If you have a child that is already so confused that they are questioning their “gender identity” before they’ve even reached the age where their body is dealing with such issues, do you want to give them a drug that can produce psychiatric or nervous disorders?

To top it all off, the FDA has never formally approved the use of Lupron for treating gender dysphoria in children. Two years ago the agency announced that it was beginning a study of “nervous system and psychiatric events in association with the use of … a class of drugs including Lupron, in pediatric patients.” We don’t know the results of that study yet.

What adults, including transgender individuals, choose to do with their own bodies is their business as long as they’re willing to take responsibility for the results. But the experiments being performed on confused young children who have been convinced that they were somehow born the “wrong gender” are simply monstrous. Blocking the natural arrival of puberty in otherwise healthy children should be considered child abuse and medical malpractice to begin with. All of the questions raised in this report about one of the drugs being administered to do such things makes it all the worse.

The post Puberty blocking drugs used on “trans kids” have killed more than 6,000 people appeared first on Hot Air.

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Marshall Tisdale: Scotland’s drug statistics are a call to arms for radical reform

Marshall Tisdale is studying history and politics at Cardiff University.

Scotland was recently shown to have the highest drug death per capita of any other European country, with the rest of the UK having the fifth-highest.

This figure should be a wake-up call, to both the SNP in Scotland and to the Conservatives in Westminster. This needs to be met with a new, radical approach to tackling drug-related issues. That approach should start with two things. Decriminalisation and legalisation.

It is clear by now that the UK’s war on drugs have failed. Consumption is up, overdoses are up, and our prisons are filled with non-violent drug offenders. We cannot carry on with the same old policies and attitudes towards drug use. These were summed up by Boris Johnson in the first leadership hustings in Birmingham a few weeks ago. In answer to a question on the issue of drugs, Johnson’s response was “drugs are bad”.

It bothers me that such a simplistic statement has essentially been the driving force behind policies to deal with one of the most complex issues of the last few decades. ‘Crackdowns’ on drug use is not the solution the country needs to tackle the epidemic we face. Instead we need to look for solutions that work, and the best place to look isn’t too far away.

What stood out most to me in the drug death per capita statistics was not just that Scotland saw the highest rates in Europe, but that Portugal saw the second lowest. This is the same Portugal that in 2001 decriminalised all drugs in its efforts to deal with their own drugs death crisis. Since 2001 in Portugal, deaths from overdoses have dropped by 80 per cent, while the percentage of drug users diagnosed with HIV fell to seven per cent – from 52 per cent between 2000-2015.

Decriminalisation, in Portugal’s case, helped begin the road to recovery. Only once we start treating drug users as victims rather than criminals, and drug consumption as a public health matter and not a criminal one, can we be serious about reducing death rates.

What follows from decriminalisation are public health policies geared towards safe drug consumption. Establishing safe consumption rooms and needle exchanges helps reduce the risk of drug-related deaths. Treating drug users like human beings with a problem encourages greater numbers of people voluntarily entering treatment – again, as seen in Portugal.

The Conservative Party need to get behind these initiatives. They aren’t even too alien to the UK; countless numbers of Police and Crime Commissioners have been arguing for these measures for a while. If the Conservatives, and our next Prime Minister, threw their weight behind these initiatives, then we could be seen as a credible voice in the mission to end this epidemic.

However, decriminalisation is just one piece of the puzzle of effectively grappling with the UK’s high drug death rates, not to mention reducing drug use and ending organised drug crime. Admittedly, decriminalisation in Portugal hasn’t seen a clear impact on drug use, it still ebbs and flows. But, if paired with legalisation of marijuana, there is case to be made that drug use could fall.

Marijuana has been treated as a ‘gateway drug’ by many for a long time. But addictiveness of marijuana is a low ten per cent in terms of users developing addictions, compared to 15 per cent and 32 per cent for alcohol and tobacco respectively.  Marijuana is only a ‘gateway’ in the fact it leads you to suppliers on the black market, who then get you hooked on harder drugs.

If the Government were to legalise and regulate the sale of marijuana, then you remove the need for a black-market supplier. You put a choke hold on the black market and organised criminals. There is no way they can compete with the regulatory powers of the state and the initiative of legitimate businesses. It’s akin to the end of prohibition in the US, and the subsequent decline of the American mafia.

The only thing I see stopping the Conservative Party and its base in changing its approach to drug issues is its fear that doing so will lead to a drug culture in this country. The issue there is, there already is a drug culture. Around ten per cent of British adults take some form of drug each year, and this figure doubles in the age group aged 16-24. More importantly, around 50 per cent of the British public support weed legalisation, with just 24 per cent opposing.

Our Party needs to catch up with the rest of the country on drug matters. We already have a political class that have partaken in this drug culture, its time they now start addressing it.

I feel it’s time to put to rest the idea that legalisation would turn the UK into a population of layabouts. One just has to look to countries like the Netherlands, and certain states in America, to see this is not the case. We need to fight the disinformation and false narratives around marijuana if we are going to be serious about tackling wider drug issues in this country.

My pitch to Johnson and Priti Patel, our new Home Secretary, is this: if my 76-year-old Mormon grandfather can get behind marijuana, then so can the rest of the party and country.

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Texas Has a Growing Homeless Problem, and California May Shoulder a Good Deal of Blame

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The issue of homelessness in Texas has been on the rise, specifically in its capital of Austin.

According to the Washington Post, staunch Democrats in Austin have expressed a desire to switch parties purely out of the way the city has handled homelessness, which lately, includes allowing them to sleep anywhere they’d like:

But as Paul, 50, sprawled out shirtless on the sidewalk on a 100-degree day, shop owner Craig Staley stood a few feet away on Congress Avenue reconsidering his party affiliation.

“I got two emails last month from customers who said, ‘I can’t go to your store anymore because it smells like urine,’” said Staley, who operates Royal Blue Grocery. “I am a Democrat at heart; I have been in Austin, Texas, for over 30 years. But I am telling you, I am feeling a lot more red these days when it comes to my business.”

Over the past couple of months, Governor Greg Abbott has been giving the issue his personal attention and considering actions to take against the Democratic leadership of Austin for its allowance of homeless people to take over the streets. As he does this, Austin Mayor Steve Adler is going to California to talk to leaders who specialize in creating the problem for advice.

In fact, the policies surrounding the homeless in Austin look a lot like the kind seen in San Francisco and Los Angeles, both of which have a level of homeless so extreme that medieval diseases are making a comeback. This is on top of the mounting drug problem and excess of trash that litters the streets. In San Francisco, the homeless problem also comes with seeing an inordinate amount of used needles littering the sidewalk and a feces problem.

Austin seems to be heading in the same direction.

“They thought it would be compassionate and not a big deal, but it has been an absolute disaster for this city,” said Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the GOP party of Travis county according to WaPo. “This is our best example of [liberal] overreach, so we have been very strategic focusing on this issue.”

According to Austin’s homeless, California may be partly to blame for the rising tide.

“They said there is a waiting list of at least six months,” Curtis Underwood, a homeless man said. “I guess I need to get a job, but the rent is so expensive because all the people from California are moving here.”

As businesses move to Texas, it brings with them their coastal employees. The rent skyrockets, driving people into the streets. However, it may not just the economy doing so either. The rate at which the homeless are growing is monumental, and it may be that the homeless in California are hearing about the opportunities in Texas and are heading there themselves.

They’re heading there with the help of the state of California, no less.

According to a 2017 article from The Guardian, California has been bussing out its homeless problem for some time, essentially paying for bus tickets out of the state and sending them elsewhere, using America’s national bussing companies as a valve to release pressure on itself. Texas is likely one of them, especially with its business boom giving out of state officials the idea that warmer climes and better business opportunities may give them a good chance of getting back on their feet.

There has yet to be a hard count on the number of homeless people California has bussed to Texas, but we do know that California’s impoverished do like to migrate to the Lone Star State. A 2017 article from the Sacramento Bee shows that when it comes to those in California who live below the poverty line, most choose Texas:

The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.

All told, California lost about 260,000 economically disadvantaged residents to the 10 states with the lowest cost of living during that time period, compared to a net gain of about 40,000 from the 10 states (other than California) with the highest cost of living.

It’s not unreasonable to assume many of the homeless would choose a bus ticket out of town for the greener, job-filled pastures of Texas.

So we have Californians moving here to drive up the rent, Texas Democrats getting advice on how to handle it, and California likely bussing its homeless to Texas.


The post Texas Has a Growing Homeless Problem, and California May Shoulder a Good Deal of Blame appeared first on RedState.

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Thomas Kerr: Scotland needs radical change to tackle the drugs crisis, and the Tories offer it

Cllr Thomas Kerr represents Shettleston Ward on Glasgow City Council.

1,187. That is the number of people who passed away last year alone in Scotland with a drug related illness. Scotland is in the middle of a drugs crisis and radical change is needed for us to tackle this growing scandal.

I speak not as a politician on this but as a son. You see in 2016, 867 people passed away with a drug related illness and within those numbers was my father.

For every number in this year’s total I know that there is a son, daughter, wife, husband, mother or father that will be going through the pain I went through in 2016. That is why I am determined, more than ever, to find a solution to this growing public health emergency. 

I speak on this subject as someone who has experienced the pain of loss, but also the hope of someone who has seen my mother overcome addiction. How did she do that? Rehab.

Scotland’s drug policy is tailored entirely towards parking those who have an addiction onto the methadone programme in the hope that this will solve the issue. This is not the way forward, and we need a radical approach that steers drug users away from methadone and onto abstinence-based rehabilitation models. These are the kind of programmes that have helped my mother get to where she is today, and which I believe is the way in which Scotland can tackle the drugs emergency.

For years drug and alcohol partnerships, rehabs, move-on services, and other vital third sector organisations have seen their funding cut in Scotland by the Scottish Government and yet ministers wonder why these deaths are spiralling out of control. It is time we as politicians listen to the experts, those who work in the service and have given us the advice we need: that a move away from methadone is the way to go for Scotland. 

The Scottish Government’s response to this scandal has been shameful, with the Minister responsible saying that this should be a wakeup call… for the UK Government. Well I am sorry, Joe Fitzpatrick, but the responsibility also lies with you and your administration, which has been in charge of Scotland’s drug strategy for over ten years now.

The blame game must stop, Scotland is seeing through it and it is not saving a single life. I have been open in the past in calling for the UK Government to have a serious conversation about reforming the Misuse of Drugs Act, but now it not the time for that debate. For Holyrood ministers to use this subject as another way of having a proxy war with Westminster is shameful – perhaps if they dealt with their own responsibilities first they would have more credibility.

I am very clear that Scotland is facing a drugs crisis, with drugs related deaths continuing to rise year on year, and our city of Glasgow is at the forefront of this epidemic. What we need to do, as a cit,y is stop calling for more powers and instead utilise the ones we currently hold to their fullest. I was the first politician on Glasgow City Council to call for the declaration of a public health emergency regarding the drug crisis our country is facing when I marched with friends at the Glasgow Recovery Walk last year.

My own personal experience dealing with the devastating effects of drug addiction inform my attitude towards the policy of safe consumption rooms. Seeing my mother going through rehab and witnessing first-hand the amazing work of our charitable and third sector organisations shows how the root causes of drug addiction can be identified and treated through effective rehabilitation. I know that rehabilitation and abstinence-based programmes helped her and do help others.

The SNP administration in Glasgow needs to call on their Scottish Government colleagues to utilise their existing powers and reverse their failure of the last ten years.

Miles Briggs and Annie Wells, two Tory MSPs, have been pillars of change in this area, and my Group on Glasgow City Council are calling on the council administration to get behind the position of the Scottish Conservatives. It is based on a simple premise: drug users don’t need a drugs plan to help them manage their addiction, they need a life plan to help them end their addiction.

This strategy calls for an independent review of methadone, a redesign of alcohol and drug services, the redirection of funds into recovery and abstinence, and a third sector-led recovery task force. This is how we sort this issue out, not by creating a proxy fight with Westminster about a facility that might not solve the underlying causes of drug abuse.

I would urge the Scottish Government, and Glasgow’s administration, to look seriously at these proposals and not seek to implement a policy that would prolong the suffering of drug users and their families.

Scotland is in a crisis. It’s time we act and I believe the Scottish Conservative Strategy is the right one for us to be getting behind. 

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Pre-empting Dems on health care? HHS announces “pathways” for Canada drug purchases

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Democrats ate the GOP’s lunch on health-care messaging in 2018’s midterms. The Trump administration might be preparing better for the 2020 election. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar rolled out a new initiative today that would allow for prescription purchases from Canada, addressing a key Democratic talking point on the cost of health care:

“President Trump has been clear: for too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices. When we released the President’s drug pricing blueprint – PDF for putting American patients first, we said we are open to all potential solutions to combat high drug prices that protect patient safety, are effective at delivering lower prices, and respect choice, innovation and access,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “Today’s announcement outlines the pathways the Administration intends to explore to allow safe importation of certain prescription drugs to lower prices and reduce out of pocket costs for American patients. This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first.”

The Action Plan outlines the government’s intention to pursue two pathways to allow safe drug importation from foreign markets:

  1. Through a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), HHS and FDA would propose to rely on the authority under current federal law (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C Act”) Section 804) that would, when the rule is finalized, authorize pilot (or demonstration) projects developed by states, wholesalers or pharmacists and submitted for HHS review, outlining how they would import certain drugs from Canada that are versions of FDA-approved drugs that are manufactured consistent with the FDA approval. The NPRM would include conditions to ensure the importation poses no additional risk to the public’s health and safety and that the demonstration projects would achieve significant cost savings to the American consumer.
  2. Through guidance, FDA would provide recommendations to manufacturers of FDA-approved drugs who seek to import into the U.S. versions of those drugs they sell in foreign countries. Under this pathway, manufacturers would use a new National Drug Code (NDC) for those products, potentially allowing them to offer a lower price than what their current distribution contracts require. To use this pathway, the manufacturer or entity authorized by the manufacturer would establish with the FDA that the foreign version is the same as the U.S. version and appropriately label the drug for sale in the U.S. This pathway could be particularly helpful to patients with significantly high cost prescription drugs. This would potentially include medications like insulin used to treat diabetes, as well as those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer.

The crescendo for action on this issue has built for some time. It came up in the ObamaCare debate, but Democrats successfully capitalized on growing anger over escalating prices in the US in recent months. Trump had also campaigned on the issue in 2016 but hadn’t taken any action, leaving him politically vulnerable, the Associated Press noted:

The administration’s move comes as the industry is facing a litany of consumer complaints over drug prices, as well as legislation from both parties in Congress to rein in costs. President Donald Trump is supporting a Senate bill to cap medication costs for Medicare recipients. …

As a candidate, Trump called for allowing Americans to import prescription drugs from abroad, and recently he’s backed a Florida law allowing state residents to gain access to medications from Canada.

Trump spiked the football shortly afterward:

The question of pharmaceutical importation has its complexities, and it might not be a great idea in terms of long-term policy outcomes. For one thing, drug prices in Canada are artificially low thanks to intervention by the Canadian government, which will be tougher to maintain if demand increases exponentially via re-importation into the US. (Canadians in particular might not be very happy about what happens to their drug prices.) It doesn’t solve the major problems in pharmaceutical production costs, which are consolidation in the industry, copyright issues, and bureaucratic delays in FDA approvals, among others. It’s a Band-Aid over a gaping wound.

However, it’s going to be a very popular Band-Aid in the short run. The new HHS effort also lends itself to a slow rollout, which will play right into Trump’s need to pre-empt Democrats on health care in this cycle, as the Washington Post notes, and that’s very much the purpose of this and other initiatives coming down the pike:

White House advisers, scrambling to create a health-care agenda for President Trump to promote on the campaign trail, are meeting at least daily with the aim of rolling out a measure every two to three weeks until the 2020 election.

One of the initiatives would allow states to import lower-priced drugs from Canada and other countries and bar Medicare from paying more than any other country for prescription drugs — controversial ideas in line with Democratic proposals. Yet it remains unclear the administration has the legal authority to execute some of these policies without Congress. …

One lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described being stunned at a recent White House meeting when Domestic Policy Council Director Joe Grogan said the administration would not let Democrats run to the president’s left on lowering the prices of prescription medicines.

In another tense meeting, top pharmaceutical executives were told bluntly “it wasn’t in the industry’s best interests” to block the bipartisan Senate bill backed by Trump. If it failed, they were told, they’d see “the president of the United States negotiating with Nancy Pelosi [on allowing the government to negotiate drug prices in Medicare],” said a person familiar with the meeting.

It might be better for Trump if Congress balks at the initiatives, or if courts block it. That way he gets the benefit of fighting for the people without the risk of incurring the long-term negative impacts of the policies themselves. It also dilutes Democrats’ ability to use health care as a sledgehammer in suburban districts as they successfully did in 2018. In terms of electoral strategy, posturing usually beats legislating, and it certainly beats dealing with unintended consequences. Barack Obama knew that well enough to delay ObamaCare’s rollout until a year after his re-election.

The post Pre-empting Dems on health care? HHS announces “pathways” for Canada drug purchases appeared first on Hot Air.

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