A visionary Canberra politician. News that the British government is moving to ban circuses in the UK from using wild animals reminded me that Canberra has produced a far sighted and visionary politician when it comes to animal welfare.

No, I’m not talking about that lot up on the hill that cannot even agree to stop torture in slaughterhouses but a former minister in the local ACT House of Assembly.

David Lamont years ago delivered what the British are now promising and the shame is his lead has not yet been followed by all other state and territory governments

Racism and sexism rampant in the ADF? What’s strange about that? Racism and sexism are rampant in society full stop. Banning members of the military from saying bad things on Facebook is not going to change the underlying attitudes.

Taking dirty election tricks to a new level? Russian presidential candidate Vladimir Putin believes the hunt for votes is about to take a rather frightening turn. As the election campaign reaches its dying days he has claimed that his opponents plan to kill one of their own so they can blame it on him

“They are looking for a so-called sacrificial victim among some prominent figures,” Putin, a former KGB agent, told a gathering of the All-Russia Popular Front, a group organized to support him.

“They will knock him off, I beg your pardon, and then blame the authorities for that.”

Not unsurprisingly his opponents have expressed their concern at this prediction. As The Washington Post reports, Boris Nemtsov, a foe Putin appears to despise more than most, tossed the imputation right back. It was up to the authorities, he said, to prevent such an unspeakable act.

“If the head of the federal government, who controls all intelligence agencies, makes a public statement that he has information about such a provocation and such a crime, he must do everything to prevent it and not just publicly scare Russians,” he told the Interfax news agency.

So much for the negative campaigning.

On the positive side Mr Putin is promising higher pensions, a firm retirement age (60 for men, 55 for women) and unfettered media besides. Plus state-run television will get rid of commercials.

Now that last one is the kind of promise I could vote for if a Julia Gillard or a Tony Abbott would rid SBS of those pesky interruptions.

A new meaning for advertorial. The Times of India has come up with a new way to boost sagging newspaper advertising revenues. Just colour all the “i’s”.

Making a hash of it. You have to love the Dutch. They are a people of such wonderful contradictions. For example it’s illegal to import hashish but quite okay to buy and smoke it at a cafe. But maybe not for long.

Radio Netherlands reports that the lower house of parliament is calling for a total ban on the sale of hashish. Both coalition partners, the VVD and the Christian Democrats support the measure, which will be proposed by Justice and Security Minister Ivo Opstelten. The move even has the support of the minority coalition’s parliamentary backers, the populist Freedom Party.

The radio network quotes the De Telegraaf newspaper providing the information that the “mind altering drug is usually smoked and along with marijuana, is the most popular drug in the country.”

The most popular sorts of hashish are “Lebanese blonde and dark brown Afghan.”

The THC content of imported hashish is about the same as that of home-grown Dutch marijuana, known as Nederweed. However, the VVD says it is not the THC content that is of concern but place where the hashish comes from.

VVD MP Ard van der Steur tells the paper, “We don’t want to co-operate with the criminal organisations that control the drug trade. Importing hash facilitates that co-operation.”

He adds, “It’s just too bizarre for words that the customs police do everything to prevent hash getting into the country but once it is here, it can be sold in coffee shops.”

Not really surprising I suppose that the AD news paper reports that the Christian Union party is calling for companies to be allowed to test their employees for drug use. CU MP Esmé Wiegman told the paper that various companies have reported problems to the party and say that “drug use is a problem on the work floor.”

The MP says drug use “leads to unnecessary days off and dangerous situations” but in that wonderful Dutch liberal fashion she added that workers that who test positive for drugs shouldn’t be fired but should be sent to addiction clinics.

Peter Fray

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