Forbidden Freedom and Democracy

orbital-siphonI occasionally mention the only scientific paper that’s ever been published with my name on it. It was about a novel space launch system. It consisted of a long chain of masses extending in a straight line about 150,000 km radially outwards from the Earth’s equator. This chain would be revolving around the equator once a day, and the net centrifugal forces acting radially upwards on it would exceed the net gravitational forces acting radially downwards, and the whole chain would rise. And as payloads were released from the top, new ones would be added in at the base. It would keep working as long as the Earth kept spinning, and could be used to launch millions of tons of material into space into space at speeds that would either drop into close orbit around the Sun, or exit the Solar System. With not a single rocket used!

At the time it was published, in 2005, my co-author told me that somebody else was claiming to have already thought of it. His name was Alexander Bolonkin. And I was never quite sure whether he’d thought of it before me or not, although we exchanged emails in which he (rather kindly) referred to it as “your idea”.

Today I came across one of his publications online. In it there was a description of a similar (but not identical) centrifugal launcher. And there were several other publications of his. One of which was Memoirs of Soviet Political Prisoner. For it emerged that he had been a political prisoner in the Soviet Union for 15 years up until 1988.

He had many awards in the Soviet Union. In 1972 professor Bolonkin was arrested the Soviet Secret Police (KGB) because he read forbidden political literature about freedom and democracy and listen in “Voice of America”. More 15 years KGB tortures him into special prisons, concentration camps, and exile in Siberia.

So I’ve spent the day reading his memoir. Life in the camps was very unpleasant:

Punishment cell represented a torture cell, where a prisoner suffered
not only from hunger (though it came down to starvation and hunger
hallucinations) but mostly from cold. One was placed there in thin cotton
prisoner’s wretched clothes. There was no bunk and the temperature was
low. Wooden plank bed was unfastened from the wall only for 8 night hours.
Chill tormented prisoner’s exhausted organism. It was especially difficult to
survive nights. One had to jump out of bed 5-10 times, do exercises to warm
up a little. It was hard to fall asleep even in warmth on those rough snaggy
plank beds with iron screw-bolts. The food was scanty – 450 grams (one
pound) of raw brown bread. Huge iron close-stool was producing such
―odours which made breathing hard.

The letters he wrote were either censored or rejected by the camp authorities:

Then I made such an
experiment. In our scanty library I found a complete set of Lenin’s works.
KGB thought it might help political prisoners to understand how great
communism was and how wrong they (prisoners) were. I took the volume
with Lenin’s correspondence and began rewriting his letters to Gorkiy (well
known Russian writer), Krupskaya (Lenin wife), Armand (Lenin mistress and
communist revolutionist) and others and gave them to censor as MY OWN. I
didn’t change a word in those letters. Some really long ones were abridged,
some names were omitted. Neither of Lenin’s letters passed the censorship.
All of them were confiscated as ―anti-Soviet, ―slandering, and ―cynical. As a
result I was brought to a psychiatrist, because only a psyche could write such
letters, said KGB. I avoided diagnosis ―mentally incompetent only when I
said that those letters had been copies of unforgettable Ilyich’s letters.

As I was reading it, I was thinking about my own free-and-easy life from 1972 to 1988. I had believed, back then, that the Soviet gulag had largely been emptied. In fact, it appears that it was still in operation as late as 1988. And so when I was holidaying in Portugal, Alexander Bolonkin was probably suffering in an icy punishment cell in Siberia.

And I was also thinking about what sort of mad society it was in which it was forbidden to read or write about freedom and democracy. And about my post a couple of days back in which I wondered whether the ideas of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ had become obsolete in Western society. And whether some day soon I would find myself in a punishment cell – for reading and writing about freedom and democracy.

Anyway, I very much doubt that Alexander Bolonkin was able to think very much about space launch systems while he was a Soviet political prisoner. I’d dreamt up my idea in 1991, and first published it online in 1997. His version of it seems to have first been published in 2005 in a book called  “Non-Rocket Space Launch and Flight”. So I seem to have been the first to publish an idea along these lines.

But today, after reading his memoir, I wished that he had been.

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52 Responses to Forbidden Freedom and Democracy

  1. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank Im awaiting my trip to the Gulag,Im sure bayonets will be fixed and painful tortures await!
    I am sure we are all at the top of the governments hit list for fighting back and surrendering no ground to the enemy. Yet I digress as even mental tortures cant ever compare to having been in an actual Gulag. But we fight on lest we become Gulag prisoners ourselves……………..

  2. waltc says:

    But today, after reading his memoir, I wished that he had been.

    Honorable and understandable impulse. Horrific what people are forced to endure; magnificent, though, that they do endure. Can you get in touch with him again?

    I remember one summer during high school picking up a novel from my parents’ bookshelf whose title was ‘It Can’t Happen Here” and whose point was that it could. I didn’t think so back then but I’m not so sure now. And as far as the freedom to discuss freedom, I begin to wonder, as we turn the net over to “the international community” (whatever the hell that is, though the concept of it makes me think “the UN” and we know what that is) and as the rules of the road change, that we heretics may wind up having to communicate with Russian-style samizdat, or maybe, as in Farenheit 451, as Living Blogs., or maybe by tapping on the walls of our cells. Aside from having read an article yesterday that the gov’t sent up a trial balloon about considering political columnists as tacit campaign contributors and charging them as such, there’s the plans for the net…

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/net-neutrality-s-death-could-spark-populist-revolt-20140506

    and if those perhaps fail to stamp out heresy, there’s always this…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-orders-1000-lashes-and-tenyear-sentence-for-editor-of-website-that-discussed-religion-9338285.html

    Cuidado, amigo.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Can you get in touch with him again?

      I’d probably be able to. But he’s about 80 now. And to be honest, I really don’t care who dreamt up the idea. Isaac Newton would have been perfectly capable of doing so, and – who knows? – maybe it’ll be discovered as a footnote in his papers.

      Bolonkin moved to the USA in about 1988, after being released. And started working for NASA. The only thing I’d like to ask him is how he feels about the direction his adopted country is taking, with the rise of Political Correctness.

  3. They won’t even bother trying to re-educate me. As well as not believing the modern pseudoscience and being politically incorrect, I don’t believe in evolution theory, so they’ll just shoot me. They’ll save those electrodes for others, like those who haven’t gone ‘tobacco-free’ in Scotland by 2034.

    It’s not a laughing matter, as it’s where we’re heading.

    “Forbidden Freedom and Democracy”

    The world’s greatest democracy is/was the USA. Wrong. It’s a republic, not a democracy. They had their rights enshrined – or so they thought. The world’s planted ‘leaders’ keep calling for more democracy everywhere because it destroys freedom. Same with ‘equality’ and, obviously, health fascism.

    All of it is apparently for our benefit, but it is all to trap us; to deprive us of one freedom after another. What ‘democracy’ delivers is the belief that people can change their government if they don’t like it, but the way it’s all been set up, the main ‘opposition’ is controlled by the same people as the lot you want rid of, so nothing will ever, ever improve, but keep getting worse as they obey all UN diktats and sign us up to one destructive international treaty after another.

    ‘Democracy’ is a far more effective and economical means of creating a nation of slaves than the Soviet way. It just takes a lot longer. Our system is largely Marxist-Leninist too, but the Soviet people knew they were slaves while our people believe themselves to be free and to have a say in how the country is run.

    As I said yesterday about trying to get through to Labour talking head MSP Ken Macintosh years ago (and failing, of course), I’ve been trying with other politicians, with the local NHS, with benefits agencies when I needed them, even with the odd charity when things got bad enough. Nearly everyone is in their job to make money first and foremost. They also don’t want to break the rules, no matter how crazy they are. One charity worker (Council-funded) refused to do the simplest of tasks which would have helped me hugely, would have taken him ten minutes and so could have included it in some other activity, but it was ‘against the rules’ which some truly ignorant desk jockey invented, so was scared to help me and left me in quite a bad position.

    We have no say in this ‘democracy’. The only chance we have is that UKIP will form the next government, but the chance of that is very slim and the further chance is that they’ll be full of compromised sell-outs like all the others as soon as they’re elected, because most people need to fit in with the system in which they find themselves.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Stewart you bring up a good point. Ive always thought the left wanted federal Depts with regulatory powers to easily subvert the constitution and get what they wanted anyway.

      It appears my gut feeling was right!

  4. One crying in the Wilderness says:

    Behind the Iron Curtain I saw the everlasting greyness of Socialism,the long drawn faces of despair,the absence of hope,the hatred of human freedom. Friends you could not trust, family
    you could not speak to, a state controlled nightmare no one dare challenge.
    Then suddenly a promise of freedom of self expression,choice,meeting places where many views could be epressed.Had the Wall really been pulled down,had the wings of Liberty embraced the
    Western Soul. No it had not. State control had seeped through the sewers,it had aquired smart suits and pretty dresses,it had donned the attire of well intentioned interference, a thousand
    good looking rules and regulation, nice polite guidelines for our own good.
    Western Democracies are now no more than Talking Shops,fronts for dark ideologies,too complex for the common man to see through. There are many who still think the ballot box
    is the mainstay of freedom, a piece of paper every 4 or 5 years , just how low can the reasoning of humans fall.
    Freedom,democracy and hope is kindled by valour,honour,action, it is nourished by blood
    and sweat, it survives when oppressors tremble with fear
    Sadly the vanguard of resistance now is an army of chattering well intentioned budgies content to
    groan Liberty to an early grave filling a million monitors with sadness and regrets.

    • margo says:

      Wonderful piece of writing, OCITW.

      • Frank Davis says:

        Indeed it is, for someone who is forever complaining about scribblers.

        • Harleyrider1978 says:

          But But I plead the 5th! My 6th Grade edumication included a tad of Cyphering but not to the ability to put a ball and chain into space but I have an idea on it,Jethro mentioned it in a Beverly Hillbillies episode:

          Trebuchet Plans

          http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Trebuchet+Plans&FORM=RSRIMG

        • nisakiman says:

          Heh! My thoughts too, Frank.

          I’ve yet to read amongst his/her eloquent prose (condemning all and sundry for their ‘scribblings’), any constructive suggestions as to what we should actually do (take up our pitchforks and advance on Westminster, perhaps?) to remedy the situation.

          Or, perhaps more pertinently, what he/she is currently, actively doing about the situation which gives him/her the right to castigate others for their perceived inaction.

  5. prog says:

    I think the chain might be too heavy..

    I did see a documentary about carbon nanotube escalators to space a year or so ago.

    I think this is it http://www.spaceelevatorblog.com/?p=889

    Apparently these are (or will be) as strong/stronger and as light as spider thread. I believe the plan is to make a rope from them and reel it out from a space craft in orbit. Also to build miles high lightweight skyscrapers.

  6. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Smoking bans at Sydney beaches not being enforced

    DateMay 9, 2014 – 5:35PM

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/smoking-bans-at-sydney-beaches-not-being-enforced-20140509-zr81r.html#ixzz31DkuTFMB

  7. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Should we ban cigarette filters? Scientists claim that 4.6 TRILLION litter the planet each year and damage the environment
    Cigarette butts are the items most commonly picked up in urban clean-ups
    Experts claim they contain the same toxins found in cigarettes and cigars
    As a result they can contaminate the environment and water sources
    Researchers from San Diego are calling for the filters to be banned

    They want tobacco firms to be made legally responsible for the waste

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2623582/Cigarette-filters-banned-experts-claim-butts-damaging-environment.html#ixzz31DmeLb00
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  8. margo says:

    MJM (if you’re reading) – two new sales for you – I’ve just ordered both books. Looking forward to receiving in a few days’ time.

  9. Harleyrider1978 says:

    SMOKER VOTER heres one for you

    Agency boasts improved efforts to curb tobacco tax evasion

    Allows for excise taxes to get to proper funds for schools and health care

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. –

    It’s been seven years since the last time the State Board of Equalization measured its efforts in this area, but judging from the report, a dent has been put in tobacco tax evasion in California. The agency’s task force has reduced tobacco tax evasion by roughly $62 million. That benefits all Californians because the tobacco taxes get to the funds to support community efforts, such as breast cancer research.

    BOE’s Investigations Division partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; U.S. Attorney’s Office; and Department of Justice in “Operation Big Pinch,” a task force aimed at cracking down on contraband tobacco products. Their efforts have reduced tobacco tax evasion from $276 million in 2005-2006 to $214 million in 2012-2013.

    During calendar years 2012 and 2013, the task force “pinched” nine illegal operators who cost the state $36.6 million in tobacco tax revenue. The BOE said if those criminal enterprises had continued, they would have cost the state an additional $55.5 million through the first month of 2014, depriving the state and local communities of excise taxes that benefit programs for young children, breast cancer research, and a host of other health and community programs.

    Since 2003 sellers of cigarettes and tobacco products must be licensed. BOE inspectors conduct about 10,000 inspections statewide to take down violators. Compliance efforts have reduced the percentage of violators over the last 10 years from more than 15 percent to just 1 percent.

    Every year the state spends about $32.1 million administering and enforcing cigarette and tobacco product tax and licensing laws. These programs generate more than $871.5 million in revenue for the above-referenced funds.

    http://www.kionrightnow.com/news/local-news/agency-boasts-improved-efforts-to-curb-tobacco-tax-evasion/25886548

    • prog says:

      ‘The BOE said if those criminal enterprises had continued, they would have cost the state an additional $55.5 million through the first month of 2014, depriving the state and local communities of excise taxes that benefit programs for young children, breast cancer research, and a host of other health and community programs.’

      Well, this is what happens when taxes = extorsion and smokers are beaten with a fucking big stick as a way of ‘thanks’.

      Hardly rocket science..

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        If the mpney actually went to those things. Its no doubt syphoned off to fund tobacco control and other out of state tobacco control efforts where the states defunded them. That’s what they were going to do with the failed dollar a pack tax back 2 years ago.

        • prog says:

          I think it just goes into the big pot in the UK. Around £12,000,000,000 pa. Yet whenever tobacco duty and inevitable hikes are discussed by the government and cronies it’s invariably about reducing smoking rates and burden to society. Never about it being a major source of Treasury income.

          How many lives could be saved with a year on year income of this magnitude paid by smokers? How many hospitals could be built, staffed and run for (let’s say,after the claimed cost of tobacco) £9 billion pa? Every frickin year?

          Just an observation: the UK pays about £55m/day to the EU. After ‘benefits’ the net cost is around £33 million/day – almost precisely the same amount extorted from UK smokers every day.

        • Harleyrider1978 says:

          It doesn’t make the news unless the losses due to blackmarket gets really up there but either way you will never get the truth from the government about actual losses to the revenue man about blackmarket sales as itd be so damning the governmand ash would be burned at the stake like they should be.

  10. nisakiman says:

    Looks like they’re rowing back on the proposed ban on tobacco sales on US Navy bases:

    Keep Selling Tobacco On Navy Bases And Ships, Says Rep. Hunter

    http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/may/08/smoking-duncan-hunter-tobacco-navy-bases/

    Good comment from Audrey Silk under the article, too.

  11. beobrigitte says:

    Perhaps you both did think of this elevator at the same time?

    I have noticed something, though, which is entirely MISSING in the field of science today:
    Mutual respect.

    His name was Alexander Bolonkin. And I was never quite sure whether he’d thought of it before me or not, although we exchanged emails in which he (rather kindly) referred to it as “your idea”.

    as well as:

    But today, after reading his memoir, I wished that he had been.

    Scientists nowadays aren’t like that; they are more like children in the playground squabbling all the time; with the rules of this playground (agendas) leaving no space for innovative thought. Any findings outside the agenda box will simply be deleted and the scientist ridiculed before being bullied out of work.

    Science no longer is thought inspiring and therefore it no longer is science.

    • Harleyrider1978 says:

      Mutual respect went out the door with criminalization of smoking and the loss of private property rights calling private property public property.

  12. Philip Neal says:

    Frank, I like the idea but this guy has some well thought out objections to the concept:

    http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/cables.htm

    Numberwatch is an excellent site and John Brignell is on our side on a great many issues.

  13. One crying in the Wilderness says:

    Sorry, Frank and other concerned scribblers re. my anger at the angry ghosts
    Just for the record,I can sleep easy on my watch,4000+ leaflets,300 + stickers,50+ protest meetings
    From Blackpool to Brussels, 400+ letters to publicans and politicians,200+ railway stations,bus stations and airports. I could have done more but when I realised most were content to click/click
    being in my 70s I thought I’d join in the fibre optic brigade. If we are going under at least it will be
    in comfort …………In the meanwhile any suggestion for some sort of action ,most welcome.

    • waltc says:

      Ah, there it is. Ultimately, it seems, you don’t know either. No shame in that. With a few exceptions,–Clash in the US, Freedom2choose, UK, Cage in Canada– most of us are stumped. beyond doing pretty much the same things you’ve been doing (don’t imagine that we aren’t) though we’re swimming against a tide of money and power and a mostly hostile media. But just keep on doing it, Confucius says something like, a constant wind can erode a mountain. You’re an excellent writer; write an op ed, an article and submit it around, or a book like MJM. Start a blog, if you’re up to it; try to recruit as many smokers and libertarians as you can. (And, yes, it’s tough.) or tell the smokers you see around you to go the existing sites like Frank’s, Audrey’s, Junican’s etc where they’ll find a community and learn a thing or two.

      • margo says:

        And there’s a good quote from Lucretius about the ability of a constant drip, drip of water to dent a stone.

    • nisakiman says:

      As Walt says, many of us are doing similar things to that which you have done. Don’t dismiss the scribbling and clicking out of hand – we probably reach a much wider audience than you have with your leaflets and letters.

      I spend much of my spare time trawling the world for articles that promote the lies and exaggerations we have become accustomed to being disseminated by Tobacco Control, and wherever possible I try to refute those untruths with links to the actual research etc. And I’m not even affected by the smoking bans, living as I do in a country where smoking is considered normal and socially acceptable.

      And it’s not just me. Many of the commenters you come across on this and other ‘freedom of choice’ (for want of a better phrase) sites can be found arguing our case in many diverse places. And our comments are read by tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people.

      ‘Harley’ is a classic example. He is a prolific commenter on all sorts of obscure and not-so obscure publications, predominantly in the US, but also around the globe. In fact he’s probably been banned from more publications (for revealing that the reality is the polar opposite of the editorial stance) than you even realised existed.

      So don’t think us ‘scribblers’ are doing nothing constructive. People like Frank, Dick Puddlecote, Chris Snowden, Leg Iron et al reach a big audience, and many of their readers like me pass the word on further. We aren’t just sitting at our computers complaining to each other, we are out there on the interweb, fighting.

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        we are out there on the interweb, fighting

        Quite right and trust me Ive spoken via phone even to some of those so called non-activist commenters we run across everyday. They aren’t to happy. One even told me that we are the meanest people on the internet. So yes we are having an effect and its magnified by a hundred thousand with every post of truth.

        MJM is right that people love a good fight and keep coming back to see how it goes on even days later. This equates to internet hits = money to websites.

        We don’t get paid we all know that,we just want life to return to normal and that’s pretty well it in a nutshell. But after going into 7 years of a fight we are starting to finally have the effect we were looking for. The Myths been busted and its hard to find a single soul that will even defend it these days.

        So from what Ive seen they fallen back and openly state now its about denormalization of smoking itself ans the ecig controversy has brought that to the forefront.

        “It renormalizes the Smoking activity ”

        They seem to be in a mad dash to pass the most extreme measures these days regardless of the backlash from public outcry. They are doing it simply because they have the authoritarian power to do it. Its really become apparent the hatred posted on these public housing comments sections.

        Quit or be in the street they shout……………..They don’t care,they don’t even care that the public sees their open hatred and treatment of the poor and under priviledged.

        Now they openly state that HUD and other federal housing authority are the ones pushing the public housing bans openly. Caring not that its all stemming from Washington and Ive seen them claim its the republicans pushing it when its coming straight from OBAMA and his Administration!

        • Harleyrider1978 says:

          Since April 1, Connor and other tenants of the housing agency’s nine properties should have been abiding by a newly expanded smoke-free policy approved by LHA’s board of commissioners in October. It’s one of 489 housing authorities nationwide to fall in line with a push by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to ban smoking at federally funded housing properties.

          In a May 29, 2012, notice to public housing officials, HUD said it was encouraging the ban to eliminate adverse health effects caused by ­secondhand smoke, to reduce house fires caused by smoking and to cut costs of cleansing homes of smoke stains and odors.

          The federal notice also directs housing authorities implementing such a policy to arm resident smokers with resources like cessation classes to help them kick their habit, as well as phone numbers and websites of groups like the National Cancer Institute and the American Lung Association.
          http://www.theledger.com/article/20140509/NEWS/140509254?tc=ar

        • Harleyrider1978 says:

          It is simply not the province of the Bureau of Parks & Recreation to contribute to a national drive to ‘denormalize’ smoking.

          http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/a_smoking_ban_in_the_parks_no.html

      • Harleyrider1978 says:

        Anti-smoking bigotry turns brother against brother just like a CivilWar

        Man attacks brother over smoking in the house

        The Bugle

        Niles police arrested a man accused of knocking his brother out over an argument about smoking in the house. The incident happened on May 5, …

        http://www.buglenewspapers.com/niles/article_37d1ab78-d7c5-11e3-bcca-001a4bcf6878.html

  14. caprizchka says:

    This post reminds me of the movie, Land of the Blind with Donald Sutherland. In the re-education camps, the prisoners learn the following mantra: Nothing is better than a juicy steak. A crust of bread is better than nothing. A crust of bread is better than a juicy steak.

  15. One crying in the Wilderness says:

    In praise of “some” in the electric army,I have met several worthies whose actions match their
    eloquence,at gatherings,meetings ,party conferences and protests.Sadly we must admit these are
    a few for whom I have nothing but praise. Let us test the resolve ,the endeavour and fervour of
    those whose anger is apparent but action somewhat muted
    Pick a time
    Pick a day (with ample notice)
    Pick a place ( a central location preferred PS I am in the North)
    Inform all rellevent bloggers and campaigns to advertise and promote
    Let us see once and for all ,the reach of the WEB
    Shall I be alone ,one of many or one of few
    Cheers.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Pick a time
      Pick a day (with ample notice)
      Pick a place ( a central location preferred PS I am in the North)

      Is there some purpose you have in mind?

      A couple of years back, more or less exactly this happened when about 200 of us met at Stony Stratford. But we had a purpose. It was to protest against the proposed street smoking ban there.

  16. Harleyrider1978 says:

    http://networkedblogs.com/WLnuX

    The New Flat Earthers

    Commenting on the incredible incompetence of the Western Australian government in banning e-cigs, shyster of the week is Roger Magnusson, Professor of Health Law and Governance at the University of Sydney.Professor Magnusson says it’s breathlessly naïve to assume e-cigarettes will function only or m

    NetworkedBlogs
    ..

    Like · · Share

  17. Harleyrider1978 says:

    Homegrown tobacco warning

    Big cigarette companies are warning homegrown tobacco is the next big black market drug that needs government regulation.

    The claim comes as the tobacco industry steps up opposition this week to plain packaging legislation – and comes amid the clamp down on legal high synthetic cannabis.

    A parliamentary health select committee held hearings this week into plain packaging.

    The industry argued that the lack of regulation and taxation on the homegrown tobacco market in New Zealand was an anomaly that must be addressed by the government.

    About 200 grammes of home grown tobacco sold illegally on the black market was shown to Fairfax Media by BAT.

    “It has been banned in Australia for the last eight years, it is completely unregulated and open to abuse. A couple of weeks ago we went down [to the South Island] and bought some product to show how easy it is to do,” said British American Tobacco general manager Steve Rush.

    But, the homegrown market is an attempted distraction from plain packaging and the health damage of the tobacco industry, said Kylie Lindorff, chair of the tobacco issues committee for the Australian Cancer Council.

    “There has been absolutely no change in the availability of illicit tobacco since the introduction of plain packaging [in Australia]. It is a tiny percentage of the market. It is a small problem and it appears it hasn’t gotten any worse,” she said.

    Plain packaging has been in force in Australia for the last 12 months.

    Rush said plain packaging will have no health benefits, will open New Zealand to international trade action, and fails to address the home grown tobacco market, while taking away the cigarette companies’ intellectual property.

    “To target the packaging, which is our intellectual property, the way we differentiate our product in a legal market, with no valid evidence that it will be effective, we believe is a very extreme measure,” said Rush.

    But these claims are completely untrue, according to anti-smoking advocates and international trade experts in Australia.

    Independent peer reviewed studies have shown plain packaging and the graphic health warnings already present in New Zealand have had an immediate effect on smokers.

    “It shows that health warnings increase awareness about the impacts of smoking, increase thoughts about quitting, smokers report them as really being really useful about quitting and reminding them,” said Lindorff.

    “To say that health warnings have no impacts is just out and out, false,” said Lindorff.

    And in the brief time plain packaging has been introduced in Australia the benefits are already being seen, Lindorff said.

    “There was another study that showed calls to the quitline increased considerably and that increase wasn’t attributable to anything else. There was a 78 per cent increase in calls to the quitline,” she said.

    The tobacco industry is trying to confuse the objectives of plain packaging, which are part of a broader package to reduce smoking, Lindorff said.

    “The objectives of plain packaging in Australia were not to just straight out reduce consumption and reduce prevalence. They were to decrease the appeal of the pack, they were to make the health warning stand out more, and they were to make sure the pack couldn’t mislead about harm,” she said.

    “The bottom line is the industry arguments don’t make sense. Their arguments about what has happened in Australia are completely baseless. They are trying to muddy the waters about what the expected impact will be,” she said.

    It is also highly unlikely that plain packaging will have any real impact on international trade, according to legal experts.

    Since Australia introduced plain packaging there has been five challenges bought before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for restrictions on trade.

    These challenges are made by tobacco producing countries not the industry itself, but are done with the financial support of the multinational tobacco companies.

    However, these are highly unlikely to succeed, according to the director for the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer.

    “My view, and the independent experts on this, think overwhelmingly that the claims won’t succeed. Essentially … there is enough room in all of these WTO agreements for states to implement measures to protect public health including tobacco control measures,” said Jonathan Liberman.

    By threatening governments with the possibility of expensive international litgation the tobacco industry is hoping to convince governments not to move on measures to restrict their trade, Liberman said.

    “It is clearly the strategy. They sue and they threaten to sue and clearly it doesn’t matter to them whether the claims have any merit or not. The purpose is to prevent governments from enacting measures that the industry knows will hurt their bottom line,” he said.

    Earlier in the week the tobacco industry claimed Indonesia and other countries could slap New Zealand wine and dairy exports with their own packaging requirements.

    In a submission on New Zealand’s plain packaging bill, tobacco giant Philip Morris said a senior Indonesian Government official had already told the Ministry of Health that retaliatory sanctions could be placed on Kiwi wine and milk.

    Professor Andrew Mitchell, of Melbourne University, said Indonesia could introduce sanctions only if New Zealand lost a legal trade dispute over plain packaging and refused to alter its law.

    Even then, suggesting milk or wine could be slapped with plain packaging rules was “ludicrous”, he said.

    – Stuff
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10031606/Homegrown-tobacco-warning

  18. One crying in the Wilderness says:

    Indeed ,Frank,a nice turn out at Stony Stratford,I was there having cadged a lift from the north.
    Reason to meet ,friendship,camaraderie,re union,set agenda for next years General Election
    formation of a united offensive to name a few.
    All in a good cause.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I must say that, my only disappointment with Stony Stratford was that almost everybody seemed to jump back in their cars and drive home as soon as the main event was over.

      So I only managed to say about 3 words to Chris Snowdon, and even less to Dick Puddlecote, and next to nothing at all to Pat Nurse. And there were a whole swath of people I didn’t meet at all. Yet I’m sure that we would have had plenty to say to each other, even if we were to disagree.

      I think ‘the Resistance’ spends too much time fighting the enemy (frequently ineffectively), and too little time talking to each other.

      That said, I think that the Stony Stratford protest was a great success in its primary purpose.

      • beobrigitte says:

        I think ‘the Resistance’ spends too much time fighting the enemy (frequently ineffectively), and too little time talking to each other.

        Indeed! I do wonder if people are still looking for some sort of leader….
        We do NOT need a leader, we need people who are vocal and CAN back their points up in public debates.
        However, people who keep this resistance going are priceless.

  19. beobrigitte says:

    I occasionally mention the only scientific paper that’s ever been published with my name on it.

    I think, ….HOPE…, I have sort of “cracked” it, what a great idea!!! (Oh, cr*p!!! It wasn’t mine!!!)
    – I have a question, though: surely this is a first draft of something that could at some point in the distant future become realistic? I could not find anything accounting for inconsistencies in a prospective building material…. Also, what about fluctuations of the payload? Plus accounting for e.g. hurricanes/earthquakes etc.

    • Frank Davis says:

      surely this is a first draft of something that could at some point in the distant future become realistic?

      Indeed! I think that this may well provide the way for humanity to get into outer space, big time. For it could launch huge amounts of material into space.

      I could not find anything accounting for inconsistencies in a prospective building material…. Also, what about fluctuations of the payload? Plus accounting for e.g. hurricanes/earthquakes etc.

      We don’t currently have materials that are strong enough or light enough to not break at the maximum tension in the chain, which is at geostationary radius. There are lots of potential problems of the sort you mention.

      • beobrigitte says:

        Frank, when I read the paper (and Alexander’s) I was fascinated – and had to try and figure out the maths. (That’s why I say I HOPE I figured it out!)

        We will need to send huge amounts of things into space; from telescopes to be assembled on space stations to components of space crafts.

        Alexander Bolonkin’s approach differs “slightly” – I’d have the same questions for him.

        Nevertheless, and not without some sort of envy; if I am right, this is the base for AMAZING possibilities.

        We don’t currently have materials that are strong enough or light enough to not break at the maximum tension in the chain, which is at geostationary radius.

        Thanks!!! I did think that the “weak” point is there. (Feel like a student getting 90% in an exam!). In my mind there is a material achievable for it – at the end of this month I meet my “adoptive son” Billy – who has a masters in engineering (thus the maths I lack!!!). I will have him calculate “shearing forces” at any given point on the length of the transport system on building material X ….

        We both will have fun doing this – however, I have yet to identify a potential building material X – and we usually have a few beers when we try to solve “problems”.

        WHAT AN AMAZING IDEA, Frank. *Envy*.

        • beobrigitte says:

          and we usually have a few beers when we try to solve “problems”.

          We also fill my ashtrays…. that goes without saying – but these day I better mention it.

        • Frank Davis says:

          If you want to see it working, and throwing things out, my original 1997 webpage shows how I pieced it together (although you’ll need to have a Java plug-in installed on your browser).

          It was this page that Professor Colin McInnes emailed me about in 2004. Once I’d explained it to him, he suggested a joint paper. And I went to Japan in 2005 for the presentation of the paper.

        • beobrigitte says:

          Thanks!!!
          And you did state back then:
          The engineering problems are not addressed.

          It was this page that Professor Colin McInnes emailed me about in 2004. Once I’d explained it to him, he suggested a joint paper. And I went to Japan in 2005 for the presentation of the paper.

          I take it that you haven’t taken up McInnes’ offer.

          And, I do have to find and read:

          Arthur C. Clarke – The Space Elevator: Thought Experiment or Key to the Universe? Pergamon Press 1981 http://plains.uwyo.edu/~mickray/clark.htm

        • Frank Davis says:

          I take it that you haven’t taken up McInnes’ offer.

          No, I did take up McInnes’s offer! And this was our 2005 joint paper that was presented in Japan. There’s also a second paper in an astronomical journal.

          Arthur C. Clarke – The Space Elevator:

          That’s a slightly different idea. It really entails tying a geostationary satellite to the ground below it by a tether, and hauling stuff up the tether. When I went to Japan in 2005, it was to a conference about such space elevators (which are within the bounds of engineering possibility, and have a lot of people working on them).

          Bolonkin’s ideas seemed to me to be much nearer to a space elevator than my Orbital Siphon.

        • beobrigitte says:

          LOL! Sorry, I was too preoccupied with figuring out the details…. As a “Banause” I paid little attention to the authors… *blushing-smilie-insert-here*

          At this point in time the whole concept is still utopic; nevertheless, it is something that I want to light up a ciggie to, watch the smoke meandering into nothing whilst thinking of e.g. possible building materials.

          On a practical note, this has got to wait (not that I think that I can provide something useful to it!) as I have taken on other things on top of a busy work life which I need to sort first.

          After my retirement, when everything else is sorted, do you mind if I ask questions?

        • Frank Davis says:

          do you mind if I ask questions?

          No. But don’t expect me to know the answers. I worked on this idea back in 1996-1997 and 2004-2005. And I have lots of questions too.

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