David Lands enters an upscale office building, checks in with the receptionist and goes inside to shoot heroin and cocaine into his veins. \nThe frail, long-haired addict is one of the first to use North America's only government-sponsored safe injection site -- called Insite -- which opened last month as a trial project in a seamy downtown neighborhood known for junkies and prostitutes. \n"They should have more places like this," Lands said afterward, holding two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches provided by Insite clinic staff as he recovered from his heroin and cocaine speedball. "You'd find less people that have overdosed in the alleys." \nCritics disagree, saying that providing a legal place for addicts to shoot up only enables more drug use. US drug chief John P. Walters has called the Insite clinic "state-sponsored suicide," but those who use it believe the opposite. \nLands, 32 and a heroin addict since 1997, said junkies can end up injured or dead from robbers or overdosing when injecting in alleys of the Downtown Eastside, a 15-block area frequented by 5,000 drug addicts. \nThe Insite clinic means an addict can feed his habit without worrying about getting attacked while lying comatose after injecting. \n"If you overdose, they help you here," he said. "Not in the alleys. There they don't care." \nLands and another longtime addict, who would give his name only as Joe, outlined the Insite procedures. Users bring their own drugs, and clinic staff provide a kidney-shaped bowl containing a needle, a "cooker" and matches to heat up the goods and an antiseptic swab. \nJoe, a 39-year-old construction worker wearing a bandanna on his shaved head, agreed the clinic was safer than the streets. \n"I was in an alley shooting up and two guys stuck a knife in my throat," he said, describing a robbery of his stash. "They would have killed me if I hadn't given it up." \nAt Insite, the junkies have their backs to nurses when shooting up, but are monitored by mirrors in the 12 injection booths, according to Joe and Lands. Nurses show those who ask how to inject safely, but otherwise have no direct role in the process. \nVivianna Zanocco of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which runs the clinic with a local advocacy group, said 153 addicts came during the first two 18-hour days the site was open. Total pre-registration for the clinic was 600 people, she said. \nAfter injecting, users are monitored in a "chill-out room" -- where Lands got his sandwiches -- before leaving. They also can get help if they want to kick their habits. \nThe WHO and the UN have singled out Vancouver for high HIV infection rates in a wealthy, western city. According to the British Colombia Center for Disease Control, more than 30 percent of addicts in the area have HIV or full-blown AIDS. The city already hands out needles to addicts under anti-infection programs. The Insite clinic is exempt from Canadian drug laws, allowing the addicts to posses heroin and cocaine inside. Such an exemption can be made for medical or scientific reasons, or if it is in the public interest. \nZanocco said smoking marijuana or crack cocaine is prohibited, and initial fears that drug dealers would congregate around the site have proven unfounded, so far. \nPolice officers maintain a low profile outside, permitting addicts to enter the clinic with their drugs. \n"It is not the police intention to intervene or interfere with anyone entering the site, unless there is a lawful reason to do so," Police Chief Jamie Graham said. However, the police presence presumably scares off dealers \nMayor Larry Campbell, a former police officer and coroner, was elected last year after pledging to establish safe injection sites as part of a "four pillar" drug policy involving treatment, prevention, harm reduction and enforcement. \nHe called the Insite clinic a vital part of a plan to reduce overdose deaths and the spread of AIDS and hepatitis C, and to provide primary health care to drug users. So far this year, 37 people have died of drug overdoses in Vancouver. \nTwo blocks away, users inject at an illegal shooting gallery that opened in April due to impatience over waiting for the opening of the government-sponsored clinic. Police are letting it operate for now, but say they are keeping a close watch. \nJoanne Csete, a spokesman for the international group Human Rights Watch, praised the opening of the Insite clinic as essential to helping users avoid overdose and infection while exposing them to help toward kicking the habit.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big