czwartek, 23 maja 2019

On Jewish restitution


Before the Holocaust one-third of the Polish population was Jews. It was the reason why Warsaw was called at that time Jerusalem of the North.

The Holocaust changed everything and now there is no more than 15 000 of them living in our country. A group to small to make an impact on politics. 

Still, the country faces claims on the restitution of their heritage. Claims that are foolishly resited by the Polish government. Antisemitism is a phobia and as every phobia is blocking a cold reason. 

It would be better for the Polish nation to acknowledge these claims and state that they will be fulfilled from the money from the compensation that Germany owns Poland for the II World War destruction. This way it would only make Polish case stronger, as it will bring Jewish lobby into that game. 

But instead of this, we hear from Kaczynski party that they are not a side and they do not feel obliged to pay for Jewish legacy to anyone. It's both sad and irrational.

niedziela, 19 maja 2019

On the bring of collapse


The past two weeks were packed by the conferences. In one I had the pleasure to listen to Warsaw Stock Exchange plans on the other I had commented it. 

It's now 6 months since we have started agency ICOLE and the situation while is progressing did not changed in the way we had hoped.

We are still missing strategic investor. The one we thought about told us to make an official application on their program in June. 

We will do but personally, I'm giving myself three months more. If nothing will change ICOLE will close.

The most worrying is the plan of the Warsaw Stock Exchange to make their own Blockchain crowdfunding platform. It will destroy all competition with the position of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and quickly will lead to monopolization of capital market in Poland.

It is sad what kind of support we received from the government. It's just a pacification. 

In contrast, our competition from Lithuania has been granted all licenses and funding. We were annihilated by the Warsaw Stock Exchange even before we started to operate.

It is doubly sad as we have five customers willing to pay for STO made in Poland but we are not able to secure capital to finish our platform and make an emission.


wtorek, 7 maja 2019

Council of Europe speech

Herewith I'm published a Council of Europe speech that has helped to tame up drug testing in the European schools. The background story behind it you can read here.

Dear experts and members of Ethical Platform,
Thanks very much for this opportunity to speak on the subject of drug prevention and drug testing in schools. I represent the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies - ENCOD, a platform of more that 100 organizations from Europe. Our members represent citizens who are either directly or indirectly affected by drug policies, as users, relatives of users, health agencies, research institutes, policy think tanks, prevention workers, activists and others.

Therefore I would like to present our views and opinions on drug abuse prevention and especially random drug testing in European schools.

Drugs of all sorts abound in our society. We are constantly confronted with a wide variety of substances that have recreational and medicinal uses and that can be purchased over the counter, by prescription, and illegally. Its important to note that many of them can and are used by people without making problems to themselves and society.

However, increasing drug use between young people and mass-media hysteria is sometimes leading decision makers to look for easy answers. Instead of trying to understand problem and find best solutions, usually under heavy lobbing, they are taking easy one, like drug testing. In past we had observed many attempts in different European countries to introduce random drug testing in schools. Fortunately they was usually dismissed because violation of constitutional rights to freedom and privacy.
For the safety and well being of young people, it is crucial to develop programs that effectively address drug use. But as scientifically evidences, from countries that implemented random drug testing in schools, shows it does not effectively reduce drug use among young people.

We believe that to be successful, drug abuse prevention programs must be grounded in research, compassion, and health. They must also promote trust and honest dialogue between adults and young people.

Why we say no to random drug testing

There are many reasons why we say no to random drug testing in our schools. Most fundamental is that, as many experts agree and all research on this topics shows, there is no scientifically evidence of effectives in reducing number of drug users. Instead of providing solution this strategy is leading to many problems and through this is counterproductive and do more harm that good. It costs a lot, leads to invasion of privacy and can undermine relationships of trust between students and teachers and between parents and their children;

Drug testing is expensive, taking away money from other, more effective programs that keep young people out of trouble with drugs. As data from United States shows drug testing costs schools an average of $42 per student tested, which amounts to $21,000 for a high school testing 500 students. This figure is for the initial test alone and does not include the costs of other routine components of drug testing, such as additional tests throughout the year or follow-up testing for positive results.

The cost of drug testing sometimes exceeds the total a school district spends on existing drug education, prevention, and counseling programs. In fact, drug testing may actually take scarce resources away from the health and treatment services necessary for students who are misusing drugs – seriously undermining the original purpose of the drug test.

Drug testing can result in false positives, leading to the punishment of innocent students. Over the counter decongestants may produce positive results for amphetamine. Codeine can produce a positive result for heroin. The consumption of food products with poppy seeds can produce a positive result for opiates.

Additionally, because marijuana, which is relative harmless and most popular illicit drug, but is the most detectable drug, that can be detected even month after intoxication, students may switch to drugs they think the test will not detect, like Ecstasy (MDMA) or inhalants. Knowing alcohol is less detectable, they may also engage in binge drinking, creating greater health and safety risks for students and the community as a whole.

In addition, students can outsmart the drug test. Introduction of such tests is leading to growth of anti-test market.  Students who fear being caught by a drug test may find ways to cheat the test, often by  purchasing products on the internet. A quick search on the Internet for “passing a drug test” yields over 80,400 hits, linking students to web sites providing information on how to pass drug test or selling drug-free replacement urine, herbal detoxifiers, hair follicle shampoo, and other products designed to beat the drug test.

Drug testing says very little about who is misusing or abusing drugs. Hundreds or even thousands of students might be tested in order to detect a tiny fraction of students who may have used the drugs covered by the test. Additionally, students misusing other harmful substances not detected by drug tests will not be identified. If schools rely on drug testing, they may undervalue better ways of detecting young people who are having problems with drugs. Most often, problematic drug use is discovered by learning to recognize its common symptoms. Teachers, coaches, and other school officials can identify students with a drug problem by paying attention to such signs as student absences, erratic behavior, changes in grades, and withdrawal from peers

There is of course much more arguments against  drug tests that you can find in booklets I gave you. But even this few shows that such strategy is ineffective and expensive. There are much better drug abuse prevention solutions that could be implemented.
Alternatives to drug testing
There are alternatives to drug testing which emphasize education, discussion, counseling, extracurricular activities, and build trust between students and adults. Schools and civil society should help engage students in extracurricular activities, and athletics since these are among the best deterrents for drug misuse.

Since decisions to use drugs of all kinds is ongoing, quality drug education should be incorporated into a broad range of science classes, including physiology, chemistry,
and biology, as well as psychology, history, and sociology. Drug education should avoid dishonest scare tactics, and it should also recognize the wide spectrum of drug use and misuse, and the reasons why young people might choose to use (or not use) drugs.
Schools should provide counseling for students who are using drugs in a way that is causing harm to themselves or others. An emerging model, which stresses relationships between students.  Counselors who teach about drugs can remain an important resource for students after the formal session ends.

Trust and respect are perhaps the most important elements of a relationship with teens. Young people who have the confidence of their parents and teachers, and are expected to assume responsibility for their actions, are the most likely, in turn, to act responsibly. Schools, if want to be effective in this should ensure that students:

  • Receive comprehensive, science-based information on all substances (including tobacco and alcohol)
  • Receive help when they need it; and
  • Stay busy and involved in productive activities when the school day ends.
We believe, that many members of our coalitions, because they are trusted by drug using people, could help in such hard task.
Thank you very much. I’m waiting for your questions.

poniedziałek, 6 maja 2019

Lesson from the past


Some could ask if I do not go to vote nether on PiS, nor on PO why I will not cast my vote on Robert Biedroń? The answer lies in my adventure with some American agency when I was second in the European Drug Policy Reform Movement.

The whole situation took place a few years ago when I was heading as the expert to the meeting of Pompidou Group of Council of Europe. The Council was set to make a recommendation on drug testing in schools. The fate of millions of young Europeans was at the stake. 

In that time I was also looking for a job in the IT industry, as millions of Soros' money we was receiving was merely a legend. I had an appointment in some American corporation.

I was a little bit surprised when I come to the meeting and there was only one person from their side. Usually, such meetings take place with a group of people. 

I introduced myself and then I heard words that made me shocked. The person on the other side of the table told me that he knows me very well and he will come to the point straight. 

Then he told me that the agency is interested in my work outside the IT. That they want me to cooperate with them and that unimaginable future awaits me if I will agree. 

I asked what I'm supposed to do. He told me that I will be preparing reports on the activities of my colleagues and that everything I will publish will first pass through their hands. 

I was shocked. I heard many stories about Americans but never supposed I will be in such a situation. As I told you I was just days between historical meeting in Strasburg and fate of millions was at the stake. I could not agree. 

I came to the Pompidou Group meeting and did my job delivering a speech there. In effect, the Group decided to neither recommend or disrecommend the recommendations on the drug testing in European schools. We were saved.

Now I'm no longer a drug policy activist but I taught an important lesson on how the politics works. And to be honest, I do not believe Robert did not have a similar meeting in the past. That is why I will never trust him and his party...

środa, 24 kwietnia 2019

On the way


Finally, we are negotiating an investment deal with the biggest Polish IT Corporation. The amount is anything between 50 000 to 1 000 000 Euro, as we do not know yet if they will send us to the acceleration or will perform capital investment. 

But May will be a busy month not only because of this. I'm involved in the organization of special STO track during the VI Digital Money & Blockchain Forum and will participate in several other events. 

Bellow, you will find the full agenda for May. If you are interested to hold a meeting with me - please reach me on my e-mail: artur@icole.eu




sobota, 20 kwietnia 2019

Pinocchio & Co


Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his close friend chief of Warsaw Stock Exchange Mr. Pawel Dietl wanted to do a good thing but as usual what they want to do is very wrong. 

Recently the Warsaw Stock Exchange announced ambitious plans to create Blockchain based crowdfunding platform. What is wrong with that?

It is simply an effort that will centralize and monopolize the financial market and we cannot be neutral to that. 

It is against the law and the status quo of the principles of the economic market. It is not a role of the Stock Exchange to make 'offering of financial instruments', their task is to 'organize a trade'. Nothing less, nothing more.

This separation of the Stock Market and Brokerage House is laying down the foundation of the modern economy. Therefore we have warned our Pinocchio & company against progressing their plan. 

If they will not listen we will inform both national and European organs of financial supervision. Including the Prosecutor Office. 

poniedziałek, 8 kwietnia 2019

Prince of Persia


The meeting in Bank was like a game in Prince of Persia. I had an impression when entering the room that all walls wanted to crash me. The argument that STO will outnumber IPO's and will reach billions of Euro in capitalization in a few years was unanswered. 

Much better was a meeting with the customer. It is some Polish software house that is making communication systems. Very interesting product and reasonable expectations also when it comes to the timeline.

Last week I had become a co-organizer of VI Digital Money & Blockchain Forum responsible for a track "STO - Brokerage Houses of Future". I will have there a presentation "Is it time for STO in Poland?". We want also to make a discussion panel with KNF's from different countries and ESMA representative. 

Friends from German Bitbond confirmed their presentation on "First STO in Germany". We have also President and Vice-President of smaller Brokerage Houses coming for our final debate. That is making us very optimistic, after failed talks in Bank...