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‘I don’t think we can convert people with talk’– says Larry Commodore, First Nations Soowahlie community passenger on Gaza boat

“Why are you Israeli soldiers wearing masks, only criminals wear masks?”


Kim Jensen ( is a Baltimore-based writer, poet, and educator who spends a great deal of time in historic Palestine. Her books include a novel, The Woman I Left Behind, and two collections of poems, Bread Alone and The Only Thing that Matters.

Larry Commodore is a long-time indigenous rights activist and former elected chief of the Soowahlie community of the Stó:lō Nation, near Vancouver.

Larry was invited to participate in the Freedom Flotilla, and was a passenger on the al-Awda when masked, armed Israeli soldiers violently surrounded and boarded the vessel in international waters.

Screen shot of Larry Commodore speaking before he embarked on the Freedom Flotilla, July 16, 2018. (Video: Canada Boat to Gaza)

His foot and bladder were injured when the Israeli forces dragged him off the boat in Ashdod. In Givon prison in Ramle, he was verbally abused and denied treatment for his bladder for two days, despite the urgency of his condition.

He finally got the catheter he needed. After four days of detention, Larry was deported and is now safely back in the Soowahlie community.

Larry Commodore and I were able to talk by telephone a few nights ago. His voice was full of a beautiful Northern First Nations lilt, emanating a gentleness and modesty of character that are still lingering in my spirit.

With his permission, I have edited our conversation for length and clarity.

Kim Jensen: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.

Larry Commodore: Thank you.

KJ: Can you tell me about where you come from?

LC: I live in the Soowahlie community. There are 24 communities in the Stó:lō  Nation. We are called the People of the River, and we are also part of the Ts’elxwéyeqw tribe. The Soowahlie community is a small place. There are about 350 people living on the rez here.

KJ: What’s it like there? What is the economy?

LC: We live close to a resort here, the Cultus Lake resort community. It has water-slides and swimming and boating—all that kind of stuff. In terms of economy, we don’t have a lot going here. We’ve got a campsite and a gravel operation. That’s about our main source of revenue on the rez. We are kind of small in acreage. We only have 100 acres.

KJ: Oh, that’s really small.

LC: It’s because we are a non-treaty people. Our land was stolen from us. In 1864 they laid out the Soowahlie Indian reserve, and a promise was made—it was called the Crown’s Promise—that this reserve would be protected, but we would also get revenue from the rest of our traditional territory.

But that promise didn’t come through. That was how we became impoverished. We are not a rich community at all. Far from it. Traditionally, before contact, we were considered one of the wealthiest of the original first nations because of the abundance of our natural resources.

KJ: So now you have a gravel mine and a campsite. Is that where people going to the resort stay?

LC: Yup. It gets pretty busy up here in the summer.

KJ: How do you feel about that?

LC: [Laughs] Well, I rarely go up to Cultus Lake. Like most of the locals, we just kind of put up with it.

KJ: How is what you have just described connected with the story of Palestine?

LC: Well, the whole basis of settler colonialism is to exploit the resources, to take the land from the natives.

That’s the whole program—and that’s what’s happening in Palestine and here. Our resources are being exploited and we’re not benefiting from it. And the settler-colonialists are. BC, Canada is one of the wealthiest places in the world, and it’s because they stole it from us. And that’s what’s happening to Palestinians too.

In Gaza I guess there’s some offshore oil or gas resources that Israel wants to exploit, so they’re getting rid of the people.

KJ: When did you first learn about this?

LC: About 30 years ago. I came across something that Yasser Arafat had said—that the Palestinians are the Red Indians of the Middle East and that kind of gave me pause, kind of resonated with me.

So I started looking more into it. I read Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Edward Said, and other writers and of course, and started following the news. It really outraged me.

KJ: Was there a specific event that spurred you to want to be more actively involved?

LC: Two years ago, I went to a Palestinian solidarity conference at a university just down the road from me here and I met up with Rachel Corrie’s parents. I had known about Rachel Corrie from the time she was murdered in the early 2000’s.

And I could really relate to her parents. I could really relate to their loss. A lot of indigenous community members have lost family members. I’ve lost family members too, so we know what loss is like. I could really identify with Cindy and Craig there.

KJ: They are such amazing people.

JC: And then of course there were Palestinians too, and we developed a rapport right away. And I met a Jewish friend of mine there, Sid Shniad from Independent Jewish Voices. But the person that had the most impact was Hanna Kawas.

He’s with the Canadian Palestine Association—and has been in exile here a few years and has worked with other native activists too. And I met with other Palestinian activists too and learned about their struggles. So when I was asked to go on the boat to break the blockade Gaza, of course I wanted to go.

Palestinians take part in a rally to support with the “Freedom Flotilla 2”, at the Seaport of Gaza City, on July 9, 2018. (Photo: Abed Abu Ryash/APA Images)

KJ: You were aboard the al-Awda for the last leg of its journey from Palermo to Palestine. What memories of the trip will stay with you?

LC: Well, there were 22 of us and each of the others were extraordinary people in their own right. I was quite impressed with my shipmates. Most of our intimate time was standing on watch—we had two of four-hour watches a day—so we really got to know each other. We really had a great time singing, telling jokes, being silly on the watch, making up songs.

KJ: Sounds fun! What kind of songs?

LC: [Laughs] Well Mikkel, the radio operator, he knew a few sea songs there. And the Norwegians had a strong sea background—more than the rest of us—they had some sea songs, but most of the time we were making up songs, and being silly, and not worrying about too much else. We were just a group of loving, caring people being together.

KJ: Well that’s lovely. I mean that’s what it is all about, right? The brotherhood and sisterhood we share.

LC: Exactly. I guess you can say we were modeling how societies should work.

KJ: Speaking of how societies should work, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has committed itself to nonviolent resistance in its actions, and that leaves you very vulnerable out on the open sea. Were you afraid?

LC: I was more angry than afraid. I had prepared pretty well for how I would react if something happened directly to me, but what I hadn’t prepared enough for was my reaction when my shipmates were being assaulted.

KJ: What was that like? To see your shipmates being beaten and tasered?

LC:  Well that’s what got me going. That is what got me really quite angry—when I watched one of our guys on the deck being put down by an Israeli commando. It pissed me off. It was hard to hold my tongue. When the Israelis were guarding us, I was so pissed off. I was asking them, “Why are you wearing masks, only criminals wear masks?” They were really quite brutal.

KJ: And you were assaulted too. When you arrived at port, they verbally assaulted you and dragged you off the boat. In prison, they stitched up your gashed foot, but denied you care for the bladder until the last day. After all of this, I’m wondering if are you planning to try to get compensation.

LC: We’re looking into that. That’s going to be our next step. I spoke with David Heap, and we’re putting together our case. Because everything that I had with me was stolen, except my passport. Everything was stolen. And the other participants, all of their money was stolen too. So at the last count, there was about $4,000 stolen.

KJ: Well they better give it back. It’s not their property.

LC: Exactly. I mean, what kind of professional army stoops to petty thievery?

KJ: Yes, it’s looting.

LC: Yup. It’s what pirates do. So that’s what we’re working on now, but there is still a good bit of evidence to be collected.

KJ: Are you facing criminal charges in Israel?

LC: No, I’m not. But they banned me for 10 years. I’m not allowed to Israel for 10 years [laughs]. Well, it’s kind of strange because I wasn’t planning to go to Israel. They’re the ones who dragged me into Israel. They dragged me in, then kicked me out again [Laughs].

KJ: How do these first-hand experiences reinforce the similarities between your people’s struggles and the Palestinians?

LC: It’s that settler colonial mindset. It’s all about exploiting our land and our resources, and using the thin veneer of “the rule of law” to acquire our resources. It’s more the rule BY law, rather than the rule OF law that is used to oppress us. I’ve always said that there’s no justice in the colonizer’s court. There in Palestine, and in Canada too.

KJ: The rule BY law, not the rule OF law.

LC: Another similarity is what’s happening to the fishermen in Gaza. They are being killed, not infrequently, and are prevented from pursuing their indigenous right to fish. We, the Stó:lō people, we are people of the river. Our main source of protein comes from the wild salmon. It’s been our main source of protein for thousands of years. They say our bones are made of it.

KJ: And what are the differences that you see?

LC: I guess the big difference right now is the level of violence.

For us, there’s not that scale of violence, at least not right now. And that really concerns me, because we’re dealing with what they call inter-generational trauma.

Our parents were brought into residential schools where they were abused—sexually, psychologically, mentally, and physically. And one of the doctors who has studied trauma is finding out about how this affects the DNA of generations of people. And so I wonder how the greater level of violence will impact the children of Palestine. Dr. Gabor Maté is the one who did that research.

KJ: This thought is making me so sad. To think of the violence that the children of Gaza are being subjected to.

LC: But there is a beautiful thing to remember. This is a worldwide grassroots effort. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition has given us a beautiful opportunity to engage with our own communities. Because of this trip, my community has been really worried about me, and now they are holding a dinner and a ceremony for me. This is an opportunity for me to engage with them, to explain some of what’s going on in Gaza.

So as a grassroots organizer, I’m quite grateful to the coalition for giving me this opportunity. Of course in the whole area up here, people are talking a lot, and it’s been in the media. It’s been quite an experience in the last few days. Literally hundreds of people have sent their regards, encouraging me, and telling me that I did a good thing.

KJ: I’m glad to hear that. So here comes that well-worn interview question. If you could talk to the Israeli people as a whole, what would you say?

LC: Well, I’m not so sure talking really does much. Here in Canada, we’ve been told that we’ve got to educate the non-natives. I’ve heard that for a couple of generations. I’m 63 now. So I get kind of cynical about this question. I don’t think we can convert people with talk. I think actions, like the one we just did, speak a lot more than just verbal communication.

KJ: I agree. So will you go on any more Freedom Flotilla actions in the future?

LC: [Laughs] Yup. With no hesitation at all.

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 145

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pay attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

If there is an Arab civilization then it was created during the Omayyad period since the people in that part of the Near East could comprehend and write Aramaic.  The classical Arabic language was established and spread during the Omayyad dynasty.

For the Arab Nations (about 22 States) to exist in the future they have to mind their classical language and enrich it with various modern “Arabic” slang words and expressions to be viable among the Arab people.

Have you tasted Wasabi? This Japanese green peas size condiment? I ate two of them in one setting.  I challenge you to try. One suggestion: close your nose, otherwise the vapor of pimento will blind you.

The UNSC just voted on a resolution rejecting Trump’s decision, but the US vetoed it (14-1). Let’s stand up to US bullying across the region. Next step would be the entire UN, where US will have no veto power and cannot even vote since the resolution is against it. As we say: without our membership, you role is void and Not valid 

~Dr. Gabor Maté on the Myth of “Normal” in Psychological Disorders. He explains how mental distress and pathology exists in a continuum and are largely a result of a materialist culture that rigidly “idealize individuality and ignores emotional needs,” prioritizing objects over people and well being.

I say: the responsibility of the individual is to fight for fairness and equal opportunities, against all kinds of discrimination in communities. Hating you for doing The Right thing is the ultimate in respect.

We don’t regret failing the Big Life Changes: just the tiniest changes that were feasible and had plenty of support to undertake them.

We have always attributed our reality to act of God, His will, our Destiny; we have been sons of God until recently.

God is no longer the sole and exclusive owner of man.  Research and technology is altering many genomes for a healthier man, even before he is born, even when he is a fetus, even by sorting out and selecting one among the many embryos to re-insert in the mother’s uterus.  Man has started to affect genetically future generations.  Can the religious sects leave us in peace?

Man is becoming part owner of the creation process, though with admittedly a tiny share to appease the religious clergies and tight-assed conservatives.  As long as man is Not able to tamper with the brain on a large scale, then God will still have the bigger share to man.

When you partially own a person then you are responsible for the whole entity.  

We tended to let God off the hook for too long.  If man has to be taken to court for wrong doing or designing and manufacturing defective products, then it is about time that God be taken to court after each war, each genocide, each apartheid systems of suffering and humiliation.

The Zionist movement and the various Zionist lobbies in the US and France…take arms against this “Jew hater of Jews. A Jews who criticizes the State of Israel for occupying Palestinian lands, or applying apartheid policies of discriminating among Jews and non-Jews (Goim) in Israel, differentiating among European Jews and Middle-Eastern Jews and so-called Jews from Ethiopia in higher civil services



The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered,

and It Is Not What You Think

Johann Hari. Author of ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned — and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments.

This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too.

But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her.

From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man.

From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer.

From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.

I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers.

One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind — what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can’t stop?

How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not difficult to grasp.

I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That’s what addiction means.

One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it.

The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.”

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently?

So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War.

Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that.

Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park.

He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in the book.)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be? This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day.

If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief.

The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it.

So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe — as I used to — that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place.

The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction.

If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

When I learned all this, I found it slowly persuading me, but I still couldn’t shake off a nagging doubt. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins.

You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come from a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism — cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that’s still millions of lives ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one-hundred-year-old war on drugs.

This massive war — which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool — is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction — if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction — then this makes no sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction.

For example, I went to a prison in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages (‘The Hole’) for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use.

It is as close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed deadly addiction in rats as I can imagine. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off even more. I watched this playing out in the human stories I met across the world.

There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it.

Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society.

The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.

One example I learned about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals firm. Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other’s care.

The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent.

Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass — and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal’s example.

This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect.”

But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before.

Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention — tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won’t stop should be shunned.

It’s the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction — and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever — to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t.

When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.

The full story of Johann Hari’s journey — told through the stories of the people he met — can be read in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores and read more at

Johann will be speaking on August 26th in Edinburgh, in early September in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, and in mid-September in Mexico City. For details of these events go to

The full references and sources for all the information cited in this article can be found in the book’s extensive end-notes.

If you would like more updates on the book and this issue, you can like the Facebook page:




January 2023

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