Coca-Cola must surely represent the ultimate in corporate hypocrisy. It’s an addictive toxic substance which rewarded its makers with $48 billion in revenue in 2012. And while it sounds like the ultimate US enterprise success story, it’s only known positive use is as a degreaser.
Unsurprisingly, the Coca-Cola honchos believe they are entitled to waste without responsibility. With their mates Schweppes and Lion, they recently took the Northern Territory – ie the people – to court over an environmental incentive that reduced the amount of empty bottles ending up in landfill, drains or oceans.
The effect of sugar and caffeine addiction can be extreme: a thirty- year-old New Zealand mother of eight, Natasha Harris, died from drinking too much Coke, The Age reported on February 12. ‘Evidence at her inquest showed she drank up to 10 litres of “classic” Coke every day – equal to more than twice the recommended safe daily limit of caffeine,andalmostonekilogramofsugar.’ Thecoronerfoundthatshe died from cardiac arrhythmia, most likely caused from the high levels of caffeine. ‘She suffered from a myriad of medical conditions, including a racing heart and “absent teeth”, which her family says had rotted out from Coke consumption.’
Additionally, controversial artificial sweetener aspartame is found in Diet Coke and Coke Zero, as well as many other soft drinks.
Lastly, the India Resource Center has kept a spotlight on Coke’s groundwater extraction and heavy metal polluting practices that affects surrounding villages. Such as Mehdiganj in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
On March 7 the centre claimed that Coca-Cola ‘applied to the central and state government to increase its groundwater usage from the current 50,000 cubic metres annually to 250,000 cubic metres annually’.
It’s no wonder the Coke corporate record leaves a sour taste in the mouth, driving protesters to leave ‘out of order’ signs on the company’s vending machines. Sugar addiction, as with oil, is part of a diet which is making the planet sick.
Given the upcoming Nimbin Aquarius Festival celebrations in May, it’s a good opportunity to point out the importance of counter culture.
While not particularly a popular notion these days, it is perhaps the most valuable tool a society has. As Frank Zappa once said, ‘Without deviation from the norm, “progress” is not possible.’
Counter culture is mostly known for the 60s hedonistic drug- taking, which spurred psychedelic music, free loving, mismatched colourful clothing and infrequent personal hygiene practices.
But it’s so much more because it challenged the narrative of imperialism, which includes slavery and warfare. Counterculture can also summon that disgusting word intellectualism, the antithesis of slavery and warfare. And anything with the word counter in it obviously means the opposite. Activist Howard Zinn once said, ‘Historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.’
Counter culture’s history includes the The Age of Enlightenment (1650 to 1700), Romanticism (1790 to 1840), Bohemianism (1850 to 1910), the Beat Generation (1944 to 1964) and Hippies (1964 to 1974).
And counter culture’s influences were usually fleeting: after the Vietnam war ended in 1972, almost all hippy baby boomers discarded the tie dye for a suit and embraced their planet-wrecking ego.
Counter culture is important because it helped to liberate gay rights, among many other things. Oscar Wilde’s 1895 trial and imprisonment for ‘gross indecency’ seems ludicrous now. With any luck the imprisonment of US private Bradley Manning for spreading transparency via WikiLeaks will seem just as stupid in 100 years.
As for the counterculture of the present, some current Echo staff were present at the Aquarius Festival all those years ago, as were many who still live in this shire. Activist Harsha Prabhu’s efforts to immortalise this region and festival through a book should be wholeheartedly applauded and supported.
It was an important event that generated a significant blip of consciousness forty years ago in May.
Last weekend’s MardiGrass festival proved once again that Nimbin is a truly progressive township.
It’s willing to hold on to its ideals despite society’s scorn, and that makes it a leader in any place and time.
Hemp should not only compete with the fuel, plastics, cotton and paper industries, but be allowed as a food. Currently Australia and New Zealand are the only countries that don’t allow this, according to local hemp-fibre advocate Paul Benhaim.
He says the Australian governing body that decides the fate of foodstuffs, FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), will submit its final report in December on hemp seed to the ministerial COAG committee. More on this can be found at www.hempfoods.com.au.
Through long-term strategic PR campaigns, the mainstream has been led to believe that pot is a gateway drug. It’s not; it’s more of a drive-through drug that leads to french fries and sugar-coated doughnuts.
There are no recorded deaths from dope smoking, though hydroponic pot is well known to be a shitty synthesis of what is a naturally occurring psychoactive element. Marijuana grown under lights with chemicals can potentially cause a higher level of psychosis and hospitals unfortunately have to cope with ‘hydro’ wards. The recent hydroponic bust in Ewingsdale has the full support of The Echo. Hydro dope is dangerous, is costly to our health system and has no benefit whatsoever.
US publication The Lowdown (www.hightowerlowdown.org) examines such topics and provides a much-needed alternative perspective to the US corporate/political agenda.
Every month, the publication examines a different subject in detail; in November 2009 it was the war on drugs. It reads in part, ‘In 1914, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst mounted a yellow- journalism crusade to demonise the entire genus of cannabis plants. Why? To sell newspapers, of course, but also because he was heavily invested in wood-pulp newsprint, and he wanted to shut down competition from paper made from hemp – a species of cannabis that is a distant cousin to marijuana but produces no high.’
The Lowdown says US president FDR signed federal prohibition laws on August 2, 1937 which remain in effect today. The article adds, ‘It’s not widely publicised by the US agriculture department, but marijuana is America’s largest cash crop – topping the value of corn and wheat combined. A 2005 analysis by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron found that legalisation would generate $7.7 billion a year in enforcement savings for local, state, and federal taxpayers, while producing annual tax revenues of $6.2 billion.’
Not many Australian politicians have the balls for this kind of reform.
Thankfully Texas native Jim Hightower from the The Lowdown will be talking about such issues with Kerry O’Brien at the Byron Community Centre on Wednesday May 16.
With so many law enforcers in town, it’s an opportunity for The Echo to send a clear message to them, the community and any schoolies who may read these hallowed pages.
We agree with the late comedian Bill Hicks: ‘Not all drugs are bad; in fact some of them are great.’
My first acid trip with my father when I was 19: boy, was that an eye opener. Thankfully that experience was a guided one; many are not. And that’s the point with drug taking.
Apple founder Steve Jobs is said to have told Microsoft’s Bill Gates that he should try acid. The result? Jobs produced the iPod while Gates produced the forgettable Zune music player.
It is also very apparent who, in public life, has dabbled in psychedelics and who hasn’t. Tony Abbott? Not a chance. Paul Keating?Perhaps. The Beatles explored ‘soul-manifesting’ through acid as did Aldous Huxley. His book Brave New World was required reading at Mullum High when I went there. What is the message our education department is sending here?
If we were honest, half of us use legal prescription drugs and the other dabble in the illegal kind. Sure, there are people who don’t do either; however, the point is that there is no right or wrong, just education and knowledge of what you are doing to your mind.
In Peru’s Amazon jungle, an ayawaska ceremony is a rite of passage that takes preparation. It first starts with the ritual of boiling the plant for most of the day, then it is guided by an experienced shaman. Same with the San Pedro cactus plant, also a native of Peru. It’s called a plant medicine over there; however, here it’s an illegal drug. And as Hicks also said, ‘Making plants illegal is like saying God made a mistake.’
Laws against drugs are enforced so that those without education don’t end up in psych wards. Some people should also not do them, as it can potentially ruin their lives and those around them. And the alcohol and cigarette lobby work hard at keeping our minds from expanding while their profits continue. It’s that simple.