Friday, October 29, 2010

Obama Administration opposes legalising Marijuana

The following has been kindly provided by Paul Dessauer in response to the opening link:

Go here to see that the NYC "Aggressive Arrest Policy" Sabet lauds actually focused overwhelmingly on the misdemeanor "smoking marijuana in public view", (MPV):

Observe that while the number of people busted for smoking on the street skyrocketed, arrests for other cannabis-related offences remained relatively stable. Arrests for non-drug misdemeanors also increased.

However arrests for other drug offences ("controlled substances") and for non-drug felony offences (both of which should be of greater concern to the community than smoking cannabis or non-drug misdemeanors) fell dramatically.

Go here to see that all these extra MPV charges overwhelmingly targeted Hispanic and Afro-American people; t.PPMCAppController.PPMCArticlePage.PPMCPubmedRA&linkpos=1

<<< Since 1980, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) expanded its use of arrest and detention for minor offenses under its quality-of-life (QOL) policing initiative. Arrest data indicate that during the 1990s the primary focus of QOL policing became smoking marijuana in public view (MPV). By 2000, MPV had become the most common misdemeanor arrest, accounting for 15% of all NYC adult arrests and rivaling controlled substance arrests as the primary focus of drug abuse control. Of note, most MPV arrestees have been black or Hispanic. Furthermore, black and Hispanic MPV arrestees have been more likely to be detained prior to arraignment, convicted, and sentenced to jail than their white counterparts. >>>

This policy appears to prioritise forcing people who don't need or request it into drug treatment, (along the way disproportionately incarcerating or criminalizing Black and Hispanic New Yorkers), and simultaneously policing more serious and antisocial crime in a significantly less effective fashion.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Booze the greater of two evils: Nick Crofts

With the consistent and regular opinion pieces on the folly of Prohibition emerging out of the UK as of late, it is timely and inspiring to read Professor Nick Crofts' take on matters in the Age from yesterday. The articles from our northern 'neighbours' have been penned by highly qualified and experienced professionals, and such a description applies to Crofts, currently with the Nossal Institute for Global Health.

I don't need to spell out the merits, as you can see by clicking above that not only does Professor Crofts have a rational and reasonable grasp on the issues, but uses words like 'defenestrated' with aplomb. Typically, though, I just wanted to enact the slightest of nit-picks, as I can't help but keep the tragically unaware public in mind.

The first point I want to raise is the need to exercise caution with regards to contributing to the demonisation of any one substance. Of course it appears understandable when a drug like GHB for example is causing havoc because dose accuracy is difficult, or when many of a person's loved ones have lost their lives to heroin-related overdose, but what emerges is a further distortion of the drugs issue as:

a) people are further inculcated into embracing inaccurate and stigmatising sterotypes in general, as well as those attached to specific drugs
b) a misleading hierarchy is set up whereby certain drugs are okay but only 'scum' use those other drugs - this way of thinking has also gone hand-in-hand with the 'War on Drugs'
c) a well-rounded understanding of the drugs in question is lost as information is blurred and often, emotions ramped up

I am confident that Professor Crofts intends to venture nowhere near the aforementioned points, but I can't help but feel concerned when amphetamines, yet again, and in tandem with the Hall/ Weatherburn article in the Sydney Morning Herald a little while back, is described as "nasty" or something similar (plus, as one reader points out in the comments section, MDMA is in the amphetamine family - methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Refreshingly, Crofts places alcohol under this banner too, but again, the unaware public, who are most in need of an article like this, may be inclined to think, like a fair few people do, that particular drugs are more destructive or even 'evil' and therefore more deserving of prohibition.

This is not to say that amphetamines haven't led to nasty consequences, but MDMA, placed here in contrast to the former, has also been 'nasty' (teenage death, psychosis etc.). Ironically, most of the people that I have spoken to see amphetamines as okay and heroin as the evil, so Crofts' piece may cause a rethink in this regard, but I firmly believe that, in line with the article's recognition of the issue's complexity and the need for sensible, evidence-based humanism, we need to move away from inaccurate hierarchising. Apart from anything else, there is a significant number of regular amphetamine users who do not fit the 'nasty, psychotic, violent' stereotype and are, in fact, too busy having fun when they are on the drug to be damaging to others. And of course, there are those who medically require such drugs.

And whilst most readers in the comments section haven't gone in such a direction, we did have this from 'Scratcher' in Sydney:

"That being said, Cocaine and ICE are incredibly dangerous due to the paranoia,violence and heart damage caused in the long term. Now the South American Cartels are targeting Australia, we will start seeing a lot more street violence. My Answer, mandatory Cocaine and Amphetamine tests at the doors of clubs, more drug sniffing dogs located in clubs, patrons found to carry to be ejected."

Sounds like GHB, where, in some instances, people were merely being ejected from clubs when ambulances should have been called.

And then there are just those readers who... well, don't seem to be able to read:

"Let's cut the bull - pot is addictive, it does stuff up lives, and it does cause psychosis in many who are vulnerable. Don't paint it as the harmless drug because that is just an absolute load of rubbish"

That's right, 'Mother' from Sydney, Professor Crofts clearly stated that cannabis is "harmless" (NOT!).

The other point that will need to be made for the largely unaware public, is why drug taking occurs and what role it has played in the entire history of humanity. Professor Crofts most likely had limited space and it would probably be best in another article, but I can hear the remarks now from those who couldn't or wouldn't add a comment: "Well, it's their bloody fault! No-one forced them to take ecstasy because alcohol prices went up! It shouldn't be "If you drink and drive you're a bloody idiot!" - it should be "if you take an illegal pill just because you couldn't afford alcohol you're an absolute dickhead!". In fact, I'm sure you can probably hear it too: "And you know what? They're even more stupid because they don't even know what's in the pill. Yeah, just like this Crofts bloke is saying - they are made by criminals who don't really know what they are doing and they're still bloody taking them! Waste of space I say. Either send 'em to the army, lock 'em up or let them rot. Actually, let them rot, because I don't want my taxes supporting them."

Like I was saying to a friend last night, our bodies actually have the pre-existing 'hard wiring' to be able to experience the effects of these substances (e.g. cannabinoid receptors etc.) and we also produce endogenous forms of these substances - so, there is something more to it that someone like Professor Crofts is far better placed to explain further.

And thirdly, whilst a previous blog posting here called alcohol a "crappy" drug, it is probably important not to demonise alcohol as there are a hell of a lot of people who have been enjoying the drug for many, many years and who are doing pretty good, and who have never been violent on it. So yeah, *note to self*, alienating these people is probably not a good idea.

To end, I kinda like 'abalone diver' from Sao Paulo:

"If society refuses to treat people like adults, then they will either act like children, or ignore it's rules, both of which continue to happen now."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Herald Sun: Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones urges Victoria to debate illicit drug legalisation

Well, it seemed like a wasted effort to respond to this article from yesterday's Herald Sun, but it came amidst a big-wig law enforcement meeting held in M-Town this week and not since the recent canonisation of long-decayed remains has there been such an outpouring of fallacy. In Monday's Age, Australia's 'finest' take credit (again!) for the decrease in the amount and purity of heroin since the 'glut' died down at the turn of the century. I, and no-one I know, has yet seen evidence to show that this is the case and, in the spirit of Saint Mary MacKillop, this week's conference didn't even see the need for evidence at all.

Our esteemed 'representatives' then weighed in when a Sir Ken Jones called for a public debate on the issue, but made it very clear that he is not in favour of a softer approach. Now I have to say that Sir Jones' idea is a great one and Paul Dillon's supporting comments are the highlight of this article. Issues of importance are not opened up to public debate nearly enough and this is one that, if executed fairly, would be an incredibly valuable opportunity. And yes Paul, thinking outside the square will be important. However, next time you mention the situation with pot in the Netherlands it would be highly appropriate to also explain the current political context. I'd hate for the unaware public to think "Gee, those Dutch wastoids ended up with overflowing looney bins and shooting in the streets, so now they're cracking down." It's also interesting that California, located in the heart of the drug war, is currently considering a proposition that would allow personal possession and cultivation of weed under a prescribed amount.

Unfortunately, Sir Ken goes wayward later in the piece with this lovely piece of saint-inspired work:

"He said the public should be educated about the flow-on costs, from higher insurance premiums to delays in elective surgery as hospitals treated the fallout from drugs and crime."

Kenny, Kenny, Kenny; a primary aim of "legalisation", as you call it, is to REDUCE the levels of fallout and crime from drugs. I am astounded that you didn't pick this up from the law enforcement folk you chatted to at the conference, given that this very point is the foundation upon which they build their argument as 'crime fighters'. A friend in an inner-western suburb recently had his house run through and most tragically, lost two laptops that had years and years of photos, documents etc., and he informed me that the entire suburb has suffered from break-and-enters that he thinks are most likely drug-related. I tend to agree.

So I'm bewildered Sir Jones, why a REGULATED market/ treatment program (I like to use the word regulate rather than legalise, because the latter has become tainted and consequently gravely misunderstood) where price and availability would be affordable, or maybe even subsidised, would increase levels of crime and raise insurance premiums. Golly gee, I think that insurance companies are probably part of the armada that supports the drug war - they are likely to be raking it in based on the millions of people who wish to protect their home and contents from the world's 'insane junkies'!

Dear Ken, if you actually took the time to speak with people who use illicit drugs or who are dependent upon them, access to their drug of choice, a decent feed, somewhere reasonable to stay, a meaningful job (if they can manage), a solid group of friends, family connection, travel, great tunes and an otherwise regular life are all that is wanted. Crime is most often the last resort for the most desperate. And then if people want to move on from their drug use, all they want is timely access to non-judgmental, effective services. We've been using drugs for thousands of years Ken, don't you think it's a fair way to go?

And then your daughter comes up and you even go so far as to touch on alcohol and tobacco. Oh Ken, what did they teach you when you were knighted? Are you sure they got the right Ken Jones? What does this mean?:

"If we had our time again, we wouldn't have allowed tobacco ... or alcohol. Are we going to add another 20 to the list? I don't think so."

Cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, psilocybin and cannabis were all prolific prior to the implementation of Prohibition but this didn't stop anyone. Because the implication from your statement is that now that alcohol and tobacco have been around for so long we can't do anything about those drugs because, hey, it's too late. Well actually Kenny, according to the 'War on Drugs', it isn't too late and you might want to get started on it. Oh but wait, you won't do that because it wouldn't work and would actually do more harm then good. Ahhh, I gotcha Kenny *wink wink*; up there for thinking mate *smile*

Golly, did I forget Teddy Baillieu? He presented the following:

“For example, the Mental Health Council of Australia has found that cannabis users are three times more likely to develop psychosis and that Victorian secondary school students who use cannabis weekly are five times more likely to harm themselves."

With regards to the first half, is this the statement you have distorted?:

"There is a 2-3 times greater incidence of psychotic symptoms among those who used cannabis, however, the epidemiological data shows that cannabis cannot be considered a major causal factor."

And whilst, at this stage, I do not dispute the second half of your statement, you might want to know that regulation aims to reduce young people's access to certain drugs by placing responsibility in the hands of legitimate retailers instead of the black market, where such controls could be put in place. Of course, young people will always find a way, a fact that I am reminded of every morning when I pass the same group of school kids puffing away. I mean it's not all bad - my pot-smoking mate from high school is now a high flyer in the video games industry. If drugs were actually regulated, people would receive comprehensive education regarding the drug they are interested in prior to purchase, rather than people just interested in making money - or that's how I see it anyway. It's important to remember that people are not going to start flocking to use drugs just because they are no longer criminalised.

In the end, though, I agree Sir Ken Jones - we need to have a debate that is fair and open.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Australian - Casual coke use on the rise

This story appeared in today's Australian.

For those accustomed to drawn-out and detailed diatribes on this blog, you will be relieved to know that this will be a quick one.

You will note that Dr Lucy Burns from the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) is quoted in the aforementioned article:

Dr Burns said that although cocaine use did appear to be on the rise, the link between this and the decline in ecstasy use had to be made with caution.

"Cocaine is substantially more expensive than ecstasy -- it's unlikely that people using ecstasy would be able to substitute with cocaine, and it's more likely they would switch to something like mephedrone," Dr Burns said. "This is a new drug that we are seeing emerging in this market."

Well Dr Burns, with all due respect, and I hope that you haven't been misquoted, it would have been worthwhile if you could have provided a little bit more evidence for why substitution is "unlikely". Is there not something in the data that can back up your statement?

The reason I ask, is that it is probably important for the readers to know that MDMA ('Ecstasy') is not merely purchased simply because it is relatively cheap. People who use the drug are seeking a specific effect, and it just so happens that the price has decreased to a mildly-healthy 30 or so dollars (a smarter person out there will be able to tell me why). The people who use this drug are not necessarily unable to afford more expensive drugs; it is just that real MDMA has a very specific effect - and by all accounts, a very kick-arse one!

Anyhoo, I digress. I need to ask Dr Burns, why is substitution unlikely due to affordability? I know of a significant number of people who can not only afford MDMA as well as cocaine, but could probably afford to help me a little too. Of course, there is probably data in your files that documents the demographics of your participants, and income is probably included as part of that, so I'm going to end up looking like more of a right twat than I already am.

If not, though, I am going to offer the following possibilities:

a) substitution is actually occurring and people bought cocaine because their usual MDMA dealer said to them on a few Saturday mornings (probably at around the 3am mark), "Sorry mate, but there aint no more to speak of. Charlie's just hit town though? You up for it?" To which the reply came, "Hell yes! I aint leaving the house with nothing. How much?... Oh yeah, no worries; I'll have two and my friends will probably take another five" Because the price of pills, whilst attractive, was not the primary reason such people bought them and the near-six figure salary they earn or that their friend/ partner/ family member earns can move amongst a range of substances.

b) people, as you say, decided to try a new emerging drug on the market and enjoyed it so much that they left MDMA alone.

c) people couldn't get 'E' so decided to not worry altogether, because drug users don't always need a substitute if they can't get their preferred substance.

And you state, Dr Burns, that people are more likely to switch to mephedrone when they can't get 'E', and your figures show that its use has shown up in "significant numbers". But there is nothing to show in this article what that mephedrone use was really about. You see, I would hate for the unaware public to think, "Gee, these pill-popping rave junkies will try anything, even if it's cat fertiliser, when they can't get their fix." It's just that the people I have spoken to who have experimented with mephedrone did so purely because they were very curious - not because they were switching or because they were desperate for SOMETHING. Also, there are many people who aren't mindless drug 'Hoovers' and won't just use a drug because it is new, cheap and has a funny name. Many people who use drugs are actually discerning with their choices.

So yeah, I guess we can include:

d) people switched to mephedrone when they couldn't get 'E'.

Anyway, Dr Burns, we are probably on the same side, I just needed to put my two cents into the overflowing fountain. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

7:30 Report: Paul Kelly

Great excerpt from Paul Kelly's (the muso) interview on the ABC's 7:30 Report (broadcast: 21/09/2010) regarding his experience with heroin, as documented in his recently-released book. Now this is truly refreshing:

KERRY O'BRIEN: You're very candid in the book about your period with heroin. You say, "Heroin was the one for me." You single out all the other drugs that were available, but you say, "Heroin was the one for me." It sounds like for a long time you told yourself you could use it, enjoy it, without succumbing to it. Is that right?

PAUL KELLY: Yeah. Well, it was - I had a relationship on and off with heroin for 20 years. Again, as I was saying before, when you - I didn't realise for a while that I was writing a memoir and once I realised I was, I realised certain things had to be spoken about.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Because it was so much a part of your life for that long.

PAUL KELLY: Well a part of my life.

KERRY O'BRIEN: A part of my life.

PAUL KELLY: But my sort of other rough rule of thumb for what stayed in the book and what wasn't was whether it was interesting, whether this particular chapter is an interesting piece of writing. And I thought I had something to say about heroin that was different to the usual narrative. I mean, you hear people - the usual sort of story of heroin is either a tragedy or redemption, you know. You go down with it, you don't get up; or you go down and you come up and you got the redemption story. And I thought there was - I just thought there was another story there.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And what is it?

PAUL KELLY: That, you know, people do use hard drugs recreationally and not all the time, that people can use drugs like heroin without having a habit. I never did. And that, at some point, you weigh up the costs against the benefits and at some point you think, "The costs are getting too much; I'll stop."

KERRY O'BRIEN: And what were the costs in the end for you?

PAUL KELLY: Um ... oh, there's a lot of costs. There's ...

KERRY O'BRIEN: You talk about the fact that towards the end, the coming down, that the coming down was taking much longer, that it was harder to come off it each time. That's the way I read it.

PAUL KELLY: I think it's like most drugs, including alcohol. You know, when you're young you can drink 20 beers in a night and get up the next day and play football. But, you know, I can't drink that much anymore without feeling the effects of it. So it's the same with any kind of drug. I think as you get older, you get - the toll gets - you can't go at it so hard.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But you - whether it was just that heroin was illicit or whether you felt something else about it, felt uncomfortable about it anyway I'm not sure, but for a long time there you were hiding it from others. You hid it from friends and family and colleagues, but you say that after a certain time you knew that they knew, that the - it was becoming obvious to people when you were using heroin.

PAUL KELLY: Yeah, I think - I mean, it's - I don't know whether it's a particular trait of heroin or just other drugs, but I think it is a kind of brainwasher so you sort of think you're getting away with it. And if you have any sorta clarity about it, you start to realise, well, you're not.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I've talked with James Taylor about his experience with heroin. He said that for him it was self-medication for depression, but that in the end it was too narrow, too stultifying. "I felt as though I lived on a postage stamp," he said. Does that ring any bells for you?

PAUL KELLY: Like I said, I think I had a different experience. I didn't ...

KERRY O'BRIEN: So you didn't come to it as a prop, you didn't come to it as an escape. For you it was - you were introduced to it as a recreational drug and that's how you saw yourself using it.

PAUL KELLY: Yeah. For a long time it worked like that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So have you ever talked to your own kids about that experience? What would you - have you ever said to them, "I'd be relaxed if you tried it," or, "My advice to you is stay away?"

PAUL KELLY: Ohh, yeah, well, my conversations with my children is probably not something I wanna talk about. I'm sorry, Kerry.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well then let me put to it you this way: what would you now say to others who might consider using heroin?

PAUL KELLY: Ah, I wouldn't say anything at all. I think the last thing the world needs is pop sinners giving advice.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You're more than a pop singer.

PAUL KELLY: Well I'm certainly not someone who wants to give advice to people I don't know.

KERRY O'BRIEN: How hard was it to walk away from when you did?

PAUL KELLY: Not that hard.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You don't occasionally still miss it?

PAUL KELLY: Not anymore.

For the transcript of the full interview, click here:

Today Tonight: 'Suburban Warzone'

Well in true post-news, commercial network style, Channel 7 ramped up Australia's blood pressure last night with tales of a shopping centre security guard. Today Tonight's security guard action hero, 'Kevin', was a resplendent gentleman with an ASIO-like earpiece, hours of video footage and a sleek crew cut - who just so happens to think it's okay to talk to television cameras like he's a pro-wrestler raring up for a fight. Kevin means business.

Interestingly, TT's host used the term 'drug users' in the introduction for the piece and the journalist describes a person in the segment who is obviously substance-affected as being in an "altered state of mind". The language selection caught me by surprise and it seems as if someone has gotten into the ears of the show's producers. In the end, though, it appeared to be a contrived effort.

In his WWF style, Kevin opens by asserting that he is "protecting you (us) from the scum!" Arrrggghh!!!; the only thing left to do now Kev is tear off your shirt and snarl into the camera lens. Of course, drug users are not the only people occupying Kevin's time, as he goes about the unenviable task of monitoring and securing a suburban shopping centre. However, 'Desert Storm' it is not, and the ear-pieced Kevin appears to be taking himself a tad too seriously.

The viewer is first introduced to a verbal dispute between people known to each other that is derived from a misunderstanding. Of course the camera is dragged around the place, cinema verite style, establishing Kevin's workplace as a verifiable Hollywood action film. Australians sitting meekly in their lounge rooms should be freaking out at this point as the local shopping trip might require semi-automatic artillery the next time around. If this isn't enough, we are then introduced to our very first 'abandoned child' - dum dum (said in a descending tone like a piano soundtrack for impending doom). I couldn't help but laugh when the very Australian guardian returns, who looks like the children's grandfather, simply stating that "they didn't want to get out!" Fair enough, I say. I can recall many a time when I opted to stay in the car at the shopping centre to listen to more Sam Cooke on the cassette player.

It is at this point that we are shown the antics of the most dangerous of criminals; the kind that puts the 'under' in underworld; the 'scum' that Kev is protecting you from. That's right - 'THE SHOPLIFTER'. Ever since these devil children were shipped over to the prison colony that once defined this island-continent we call home, Australians have continued to deal with dastardly thieves. Only now, they are apparently stealing food to sell rather than eat. That is, every shoplifter is attempting to cart away thousands of dollars in meat goods. No, no, there are no longer people trying to cope with the FACT that they live below the poverty line. Anyway, one gentleman is caught and the camera footage shows that he is immediately grabbed around the throat with big Kev using his forearm to drag him across the floor when his actions cause the 'perpetrator' to fall to the ground. There appears to be no attempt at verbal engagement as Kevin immediately and literally, goes for the throat in a case of vitamin and seafood theft. No joke. It's difficult not to think that Kev is getting something more out of his job than just the hourly rate. Unwarranted violence then turns to pathos as a young lady removes a line of unpackaged sausages from beneath her tank top. TT asks us to shake our heads in disgust, but I can only think about how sad this person's life is. 

And finally, the "junkies", as Kev calls them, enter the 'Thunderdome'. A couple are spotted using syringes (maybe? Not easy to tell with the blurring) in their vehicle in the parking lot whilst a man of Eastern Asian appearance is apprehended doing the same in a toilet cubicle.  It is explained that drug users think the shopping centre is "a good spot for anything" and that they don't want "drug users in a shopping centre because there are so many children". Well apart from the drinking and smoking that has always taken place in shopping centre parking lots, the car and the public toilet can be a necessary setting for desperate people in acute withdrawal aiming to relieve incredibly painful symptoms. Of course, not always the case, but it does take place on countless occasions because people become desperate or simply have nowhere else to go. What the public needs to understand is that most people who inject drugs would prefer to use their drug away from places such as the local shopping centre. Public toilets are often disgusting and it is easy for mishaps to occur in the tight 'space' provided by cars. The preferred option is always a trusted home or secluded spot that can provide privacy, amenities like running water, shelter from unwanted 'guests' and a place to relax afterwards. People don't want to have to constantly look over their shoulder, accidentally spilling their drugs in the process, and intensely dislike immersing themselves in someone else's post-excrement odour. And yes, there are those who are just thoughtless, inconsiderate or impatient. As for drug users and children, TT may have been wise to seek out Bernie Geary's quote from several years ago as the Victorian Child Safety Commissioner: "...but I’ve seen people using in that pretty rapid way and then go into a period of contemplation and then become absolutely more than adequate parents and in some cases whilst using being very adequate parents. In fact I think some users that I’ve seen are certainly better parents than non users..." ('Four Corners': ABC: 2007)

Then, in a very concerning turn, there is a sudden move back into 'abandoned children' territory. There is no prefacing whatsoever, as the journalist immediately returns to the issue without any explanation at all. I may have missed something but the effect, and clear intent, of this sudden shift is the close association that the viewer is almost forced to make with the "junkies" of the preceding scenes. No tangible connection is made as no children are identified as having been abandoned in the parking lot because their folks were banging up in the centre's toilets. Instead, the segment's 'running sheet' condemns by way of implication. What is frightening is that the only explanation for the subsequent section is that the producers could not adequately demonise drug users with the footage they had logged and thus needed to haphazardly create a tenuous connection between abandoned parking lot children and drug using parents. This is a slightly strange move, as they couldn't even find legitimacy in the first example, which clearly involved a guardian who had given up on trying to convince his little ones to leave the car, and then, in the second example, there is nothing to show that the children in question had even been abandoned at all (sure, one of the children is sweating, but what does this actually mean? And what is the connection to drug use?). Of course, if you mention kids and irresponsible parents in the same sentence then it doesn't matter how much evidence you have - people will always be aghast ("Nooo! They did what to their children?!")

And then the segment finishes with a sequence of violent episodes, presumably from Kevin's footage reel, that were more likely to have been caused by alcohol, if anything. The 'story' section of the segment, however, ends abruptly and unclear. I remember one of my old teachers telling us during singing rehearsals that an audience only remembers two things in a show - the beginning and the end. According to him, the middle is meaningless. In this instance, we started with big Kevin telling Australia "Make no mistake; I will catch you!"; and the two things that ended the story were 'drug users' and 'abandoned children'. So if my teacher is right, Today Tonight viewers will take away the following message from last night's episode:

'Drug users are abandoning children in cars at a Queensland shopping centre and the security guard Kevin will stop this "scum" from getting away with it.'

Thanks Kevin.

To view last night's program, click on this link and go to the 'Suburban Warzone' segment: