Here is your single's love horoscope
for Sunday, November 15:
Here comes a little luck in the love department, just in the knick of time for some flirtatious fun. Help that good fortune along by giving yourself plenty of opportunities for chance encounters with intriguing people.
Christopher Kane Resort 2010
LONDON, June 8, 2009
By Sarah Mower
At first sight: pretty. Second glance: loaded with visual aftershock. The dresses in Christopher Kane's first-ever pre-collection radiate instant-appeal commerciality in just enough of a subversive way to be interesting. "I wanted something natural, but I'm so fed up with florals," he explained in his London studio. "And then I came across these images of nuclear test explosions from the fifties to the seventies on the Internet. I like the crazy-bright chemical colors. The way they're sinister—but beautiful."
The hyper-colored mushroom-cloud prints, sourced from free public-access photos on the U.K. Ministry of Defense Web site, are placed on innocent-looking suspended cutout baby-doll and georgette T-shirt dresses and some of Kane's signature soft biker jackets. "I wanted clean, sexy shapes that are quite easy to wear," he said. Most are short, but the newest-looking—possibly a direction for next season—is a mid-calf dress cleverly draped to catch the waist without clinging. The collection is further fleshed out with Kane's made-in-Scotland cashmeres, a "Shrapnel" organza dress decorated with grosgrain tabs that shimmy with movement, and crinkly washed leather jackets.
All this, in addition to a mega-successful new T-shirt line (the latest have the explosions in black and white), an expanded collection for Topshop timed to drop in September, and his avidly ordered Fall collection for Versus: Is there no limit to Kane's prodigious growth? Well, maybe. The wedges in these pictures aren't for sale. "We didn't have any shoes, so we cobbled them together ourselves with gaffer tape and whatnot in the studio," he admits. "But I liked it, sort of walking on clouds!"
The Yellow Cake Revue
For singer or reciter and piano
opus number: 88
completion date: 1980
duration: 25 minutes
1. Tourist Board Song: O come to sunny Warbeth
2. Patriotic Song: You've heard of the man with the pace-maker
3. Piano Interlude: Farewell to Stromness
4. Recitation - Nuclear Job Interview 1: The Security Guard
5. Uranium's Daughters' Dance: They said, when they'd extracted the uranium from the ore
6. Recitation - Nuclear Job Interview 2: The Truck Driver
7. Atlantic Breezes
8. Recitation - Nuclear Job Interview 3: The Mental Healthworker
9. Piano Interlude: Yesnaby Ground
10. The Tourist Song: Have you heard of the terrorist suicide squad?
11. The Triumph of the Cockroad: As earthquakes subsided
scoring: Singer or reciter, piano
world premiere: 21 June 1980, Stromness Hotel, Stromness, Orkney (at the St. Magnus Festival)
Eleanor Bron voice, Peter Maxwell Davies piano
publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
category: Instrumental work
difficulty level: 2
text: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
programme note: Short Note by Paul Griffiths
This was Peter Maxwell Davies's contribution to the campaign to stop the Orkney Isles becoming the site of uranium mining, 'yellow cake' being the uranium ore. The work is a set of cabaret songs and recitations, with two piano interludes, Farewell to Stromness and Yesnaby Ground. The singer/reciter may be a man or a woman. The songs are tonal and may be transposed to suit different voices.
composer’s note: The Yellow Cake Revue takes it name from the popular term for refined uranium ore, and concerns the threat of the proposed uranium mining to the economy and ecology of the Orkney Islands which islanders are determined to fight, down to the last person.
Stromness, the second largest town in Orkney (pop. 1500) would be two miles from the uranium mine's core, and the centre most threatened by pollution etc. Yesnaby is the nearby clifftop beauty spot under whose soil the uranium is known to lie. Warbeth beach is the most popular beach in summer for Stromnessians. The 'Dounreay dragon' refers to British Nuclear Fuels' Establishment at Dounreay, opposite Orkney on the Scottish mainland coast.
The voice may be a man's or a woman's. The songs are tonal and may be transposed to suit different voices.
additional information: 'Yellow Cake': The Facts behind the Icing by Archie Bevan
During the early 1970s, a geological survey being carried out as part of a check-up on strategic reserves of uranium in Britain revealed a corridor of uranium ore ('yellow cake') of 'nuclear' quantity between the town of Stromness and the cliffs of Yesnaby on the main island of Orkney. The South Scottish Electricity Board, with an eye to the possibilities of nuclear energy, negotiated individual agreements with the local farmers (who didn't realize their significance at the time) to make test bores in the area. Application was subsequently made to the Orkney Islands Council.
In 1977 the Orkney Heritage Society started a campaign to prevent the exploitation of local uranium resources, and the Orkney Islands Council, alerted to the implcations, formalized local opposition by turning down the Electricity Board's application. The Islands Council then tried to launch a private members' bill in Parliament which would grant it full control over Orcadian mineral resources. This attempt failed.
The Orkney Islands Council had to produce a structure plan of its future developments, and included a clause concerning permanent resistance to any future plans to extract uranium. This was submitted for the approval of the Secretary of State for Sotland who chose the uranium clause as a point for public examination, and appointed a Public Examiner to hear both sides of the issue.
The Orkney Islands Council and the entire local pupulation were now totally opposed, and a large silent protest demonstration was organized to make the Public Examiner aware of the extent of local opposition. The case was heard in the spring of 1979, with Orkney arguing not only from the fear of pollution itself, with the gravest consequences for the second principal town of the islands, but also from the point of view of the psychological damage and disastrous social and economic implications of uranium extraction on Orcadian fishing, dairy farming and tourism.
Late in 1979, the Examiner's report was made public, and he recommended to the Secretary of State that the Orkney submission be rejected in the national interest. Maxwell Davies wrote The Yellow Cake Revue in the aftermath of this report, and it was first performed at the 1980 St. Magnus Festival. The Secretary of State for Scotland gave no immediate authorization for uranium mining to begin, but the long-term threat remains.
The original local agreements negotiated by the Scottish Electricity Board have since run out, and there is now strong activity afoot in the direction of alternative energy sources, with Orkney the centre of experimentation in wind power generation. In the meantime, The Yellow cake Revue symbolizes the active position of vigilance inside Orkney. Well-maintained placards still stand outside the town of Stromness, and the campaign would be immediately resusitated if there were any suspicion of attempts to re-open the matter.
Iran rejects sending uranium abroad
By Parisa Hafezi
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 12:47 PM
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran ruled out on Wednesday sending enriched uranium abroad for further processing, but would consider swapping it for nuclear fuel provided it remained under supervision inside the country, the ISNA news agency said.
The decision is expected to anger the United States and its allies, which had called on Iran to accept a deal which aimed to delay Tehran's potential ability to make bombs by at least a year by divesting Iran of most of its enriched uranium.
A draft deal brokered by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), calls on Iran to send some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be turned into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.
"Surely we will not send our 3.5 percent fuel abroad but can review swapping it simultaneously with nuclear fuel inside Iran," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the ISNA students' news agency.
The United States has rejected Iranian calls for amendments and further talks on the deal. President Barack Obama said time was running out for diplomacy to resolve a long standoff over Iran's nuclear program.
Mottaki criticized Washington for pressuring Iran to accept the deal. "Diplomacy is not black or white. Pressuring Iran to accept what they want is a non-diplomatic approach," he said.
Russia and France, which are both also involved in the fuel proposal, also pressed Iran to accept it as is. Tehran faces possible harsher international sanctions and risks even Israeli military action to knock out its nuclear sites.
Iran says it needs nuclear technology to generate power but its history of secrecy and restricting U.N. inspections have raised Western suspicions of a covert quest for atom bombs.
Tehran has repeatedly said it preferred to buy reactor fuel from foreign suppliers rather than part with its low enriched uranium (LEU) -- also bomb material if refined to high purity.
EXPERTS TO EVALUATE
Iranian pledges in Geneva talks with six powers on October 1 won Tehran a reprieve from sanctions targeting its oil sector, but Western nations stressed they would not wait indefinitely for it to follow through.
Iran had previously indicated that it may agree to send only "part" of its stockpile in several shipments.
Should the talks fail to help Iran obtain the fuel from abroad, Iran has threatened to enrich uranium from the 5 percent level up to the 20 percent threshold needed for the reactor fuel. For bombs, uranium needs to be refined to 90 percent.
Enrichment above 5 percent would ring Western alarm bells since Iran is not known to have the technology for converting the material into fuel plates for the medical reactor. Only France and Argentina have that know-how, Western officials say.
If 70 percent of Iran's uranium is exported in one shipment, or at the most two shipments in quick succession, Tehran would need about a year to produce enough uranium to again have the stockpile it would need for a weapon.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has been seeking compromises to rescue the deal, including Iran parking its LEU in a third country, pending delivery of reactor fuel. Turkey says it would be willing to store Iran's enriched uranium.
Mottaki did not say what would happen to the low-enriched fuel it was prepared to swap, but authorities have said in the past that it could be stockpiled in Iran under IAEA supervision.
Asked about Mottaki's remarks, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh said Tehran wanted a guarantee that it would receive fuel it contracted for.
He recalled that Tehran once paid the United States and France to provide nuclear fuel but it was never delivered because of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
"We never got the fuel or our money back. So a guarantee is now the pivotal issue for us. More than 200 hospitals in Iran depend on this reactor," Soltanieh told reporters after an informal meeting of IAEA governors in Vienna.
"We are ready for a second round of negotiations to finalize this matter. But we want a 100 percent guarantee."
(Additional reporting by Mark Heinrich in Vienna; Editing by Jon Hemming/David Stamp)
© 2009 Reuters
Monday, July 27, 2009
Bolivians resist Iran's search for uranium
SAN IGNACIO DE VELASCO, Bolivia | Iran's worldwide search for uranium to feed its nuclear program has sparked a local revolt in this marshy town in Bolivia's eastern lowlands, whose inhabitants are alarmed by plans to extract radioactive minerals from a nearby mountain.
Bolivian officials treat information about the uranium deposits in San Ignacio and other locations in Bolivia as a state secret. Chief ministers reacted indignantly to recent claims by Israel that Iran was receiving uranium from Bolivia and Venezuela.
"Bolivia is a peaceful nation that would never aid an effort by Iran or any other country to develop nuclear weapons," said Presidency Minister Juan Ramon Quintana. He called Israel's intelligence service "an agency of inept, incompetent clowns" for leaking a report about Bolivia's uranium sales.
However, Bolivia's leftist president, Evo Morales, has exchanged state visits with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and signed up to $1.2 billion in joint ventures.
"The issue has taken on a high profile recently because of the government's agreements with Iran, which include mineral projects," said Jose Padilla, chief mining inspector for the provincial government of Santa Cruz, which has jurisdiction over San Ignacio and is a bastion of opposition to Mr. Morales.
The prospect of exploiting Bolivia's uranium also troubles leaders of some Indian factions that form the base of Mr. Morales' ruling party, the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS).
"We need to ask what Iran's real interest is in Bolivia," said Roman Loayza, a MAS dissident who is running against Mr. Morales in presidential elections scheduled for December. "Evo has no business entering into agreements with foreign interests at the back of the Bolivian people which could harm our environment," Mr. Loayza told The Washington Times.
Bolivian officials insist that Iran's activities in Bolivia are benign. Iran's ambassador has toured Indian communities and promised to finance development projects.
Mr. Morales has said that Iran wants to build a radio and TV station in his home district of Chapare to "support the peasant struggle in South America."
Iranian movies are regularly broadcast over Bolivia's state-run TV channel and a Muslim preacher even delivered services at a state-sponsored event earlier this month.
According to studies by private mining companies, Bolivia possesses significant quantities of high-grade uranium comparable to the world's most important uranium mines in Canada and Australia.
Iran has limited indigenous uranium, not enough for an ambitious plan to build more than a dozen nuclear power plants. Iran's only civilian reactor project at Bushehr gets fuel from Russia and has yet to start operation despite years of work.
Indian inhabitants around Manomo, a mountain that means "sleeping man" in native Guarani, have said that its bald, rounded top glows at night. Underground mine shafts and open pits are visible at various points along the mountain's side and barren peak.
Mincruz, a Santa Cruz mining company, reported that an analysis of 280 rock samples extracted last year shows a 2.4 percent uranium content, which is considered of "high value."
Mr. Morales tried to impose military control over San Ignacio and areas surrounding Manomo by deploying 3,000 troops in May. Eduardo Cisneros, a local cattle rancher, told The Times that government officials escorted by troops broke into his property to access the mountain.
Mr. Morales said at the time that the army had been sent to fight drug trafficking. The deputy governor for San Ignacio, Aurelio Vaca, told The Times that the colonel heading the operation spoke of plans to build a large military base with an airstrip.
That resulted in daily protests in San Ignacio and adjacent towns, where mayors and civic leaders led opposition to the troop presence by calling a general strike.
The military withdrew last month when protesters clashed with troops as Mr. Morales tried to hold a rally in San Ignacio.
Mr. Vaca said the government still planned to build a city for 2,000 peasant supporters from the capital, La Paz, that it wants to resettle around San Ignacio as part of a land redistribution program.
"They would declare a new municipal government that would have jurisdiction over Manomo," Mr. Vaca said.
"This would neutralize our authority to withhold environmental permits for any further mining," said the mayor of San Ignacio, Ervin Mendez, at a recent town meeting. Loose radioactive particles could contaminate a local lake that Bolivia shares with Brazil, he said.
"My people's livelihood depends on fishing in that lake," said Antonio Suarez, a local activist. "If underground mountain streams, which feed it become contaminated, it would destroy our way of life. It's better if the mountain is left sleeping."
Bolivia to buy presidential plane from Russia
Sat Sep 12, 5:50 pm ET
LA PAZ, Bolivia – President Evo Morales says Bolivia has decided to buy a presidential plane from Russia after Moscow offered to set up an aircraft maintenance center in the South American nation.
Defense Minister Walker San Miguel announced in early August that Bolivia had agreed to purchase an Antonov presidential plane with satellite phone, Internet links and a meeting room from Russia for $30 million.
Morales postponed the purchase, but said his government has now decided to buy it because of the offer to set up a service center for Russian planes in Bolivia.
Morales said Saturday the offer from President Dmitry Medvedev was delivered to him by Russia's ambassador.
The current presidential plane is U.S.-made Sabre jet from the 1970s.
Copyright © 2009 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Morales, Correa target TV foes
By Martin Arostegui
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
May 31, 2007
SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia -- The leaders of Bolivia and Ecuador are moving with Cuban encouragement and in concert with their mentor, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, to restrict press freedom in their countries.
Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa both announced steps to crack down on independent broadcasters within days of Mr. Chavez's closure on Sunday of Venezuela's main independent television station, RCTV.
Speaking before an international gathering of leftist intellectuals in Cochabamba last week, Mr. Morales proposed creating a tribunal to oversee the operations of privately owned press and broadcast outlets. Mr. Correa announced over the weekend that he would order a review of the broadcasting licenses of opposition news channels in his country.
Both leaders have drawn support and inspiration from Mr. Chavez's increasingly authoritarian government since coming to power in the past 18 months, and both are drafting new constitutions that would greatly increase their own powers.
Mr. Correa has ousted 51 opposition deputies from his nation's Congress and Mr. Morales this week ordered the arrests of four high court judges after they issued rulings that challenged his government.
"The main adversaries of my presidency, of my government, are certain communications media," Mr. Morales said at the Fifth World Conference of Artists and Intellectuals in Defense of Humanity, a Venezuelan-backed group supporting "the process of change in Latin America."
Appearing alongside Cuba's minister of culture, Abel Prieto, Mr. Morales suggested "drawing on the experience of our friends in Venezuela and Cuba" to establish closer controls over the press.
Mr. Prieto suggested that some owners of the independent press should receive long prison sentences. "I wish that we could imprison the owner of a media outlet. With much pleasure we would give him a life sentence for lying, for confusing the people," Mr. Prieto said.
The Cuban official said it was "imperative" to establish a tribunal that would "permit the evaluation and work of the media. Not only local and national but of all the great disinformation machinery in decisive media outlets with enormous world influence."
Mr. Chavez announced Monday that he would investigate CNN as well as Venezuela's last remaining opposition news channel, Globovision. He has remained defiant in the face of international condemnation and daily street protests in Caracas, telling his opponents to "take a tranquilizer."
In Ecuador, meanwhile, Mr. Correa issued a statement saying that "radio and TV frequencies have been granted in ways that are frequently dark and it's time to analyze the matter."
He accused owners of major news outlets of using political influence to get their broadcasting licenses and using the press "to defend private interests that are often corrupt." He also announced legal action against Ecuador's opposition newspaper La Hora.
Mr. Correa has repeatedly attacked the ownership of news channels by current and former opposition legislators. A reporter for one such radio network was expelled last week from a press conference given by Economics Minister Ricardo Patino.
Indications that Mr. Morales is preparing to follow the example of his close Venezuelan ally have alarmed Bolivian opposition leaders and news editors, who are frightened by his moves against the judiciary.
"Morales identifies his enemies," read a banner headline in the Santa Cruz newspaper El Mundo, which pictured a newsroom in the cross hairs of a telescopic rifle.
Mr. Morales tried to deflect mounting protests on Sunday by saying that he had no immediate plans to close down any TV station and that his criticism was aimed at owners of news organizations and not at individual journalists.
He organized a game of soccer with the presidential press pool on Tuesday to show his personal affinity with reporters.
Copyright 2007 Washington Times
From the Los Angeles Times
Bolivia's coca production rising
President Evo Morales sees the leaf as an economic linchpin. U.S. officials see an inevitable boost to the drug trade.
By Patrick J. McDonnell
Times Staff Writer
July 14, 2007
CARANAVI, BOLIVIA — In the past, Bolivian cocaine labs tended to be primitive, makeshift affairs where peasants known as pisa-cocas stomped on coca leaves to produce coca paste.
But recent busts of relatively sophisticated cocaine-refining laboratories in the country's jungles have set off alarms about rising drug production here. Many of the labs have links to Colombian narcotics traffickers, officials say.
"We're seeing more Colombian and other international traffickers turning up in Bolivia, and that's troubling," said Brad Hittle, an official with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "These are people with a lot of experience, money, connections and know-how."
Bolivia still ranks a distant third behind Colombia and Peru as a supplier of cocaine to the United States. But coca production here experienced the steepest rise among the three nations in 2006.
The latest estimate from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, released last month, showed an 8% increase in Bolivian cultivation of coca leaves, the raw ingredient in cocaine.
U.S. law enforcement authorities see the increase as a sign of trouble stemming from the policies of Bolivian President Evo Morales.
Morales, who took office in January 2006, rose to prominence as a leader of the country's coca producers. He has proclaimed a goal of "zero cocaine" while simultaneously exalting coca production as a linchpin of Bolivia's social and economic identity. He favors the "industrialization" of coca for products as varied as tea, medicines and toothpaste, and is pushing to abolish international bans on export of coca products.
From Morales' viewpoint, coca is a resource to be exploited, like natural gas or minerals.
He and his supporters draw a clear dividing line: The good guys are the poor cocaleros, or coca growers; the bad guys are those who use the substance to produce and transport cocaine.
"Obviously, coca is the mother of our economy," said Asterio Romero, a Morales ally and fellow cocalero who leads the Bolivian legislature's anti-narcotics commission. "As for the problem of narco-trafficking, that's very difficult to resolve until the United States does something about its drug addicts."
Fifty-pound bundles of coca leaves are hawked legally in the Villa Fatima market in La Paz, Bolivia's capital, as well as at other sites.
And here in the wild, mountainous region known as the Yungas, Bolivia's largest coca-growing zone, Morales' policies have proved popular.
"Coca provides us with a living," Cenobia Pacxi, 30, said as she cared for her daughter in a hut near this coca boomtown. Five siblings harvested coca leaves on the steep slope below. "We depend on coca," she said.
Morales' family was among the many Bolivians who migrated to the subtropical Chapare region after the collapse of the country's mining industry in the 1980s devastated the economy of its highlands. The migrants were drawn to coca, a steady cash earner with as many as four harvests a year.
"Coca provides us a bit of income to live on," said Eliseo Valencia, a farmer in Villa 14 de Septiembre, the hamlet where Morales once tilled his field. Farmers say they cannot survive on alternative crops touted by U.S. officials.
But officials in Washington say Morales' policy of "yes to coca, no to cocaine" will not work. Increased coca production inevitably boosts the cocaine trade, they argue, because the market for legal uses such as chewing, medical preparations and tea is stable.
"More coca means more cocaine," has been the mantra of U.S. Ambassador Philip S. Goldberg.
Reports of escalating cocaine production also have caused consternation in Brazil, which neighbors Bolivia and is the world's No. 2 cocaine consumer after the United States. Brazil is now the principal market for Bolivian cocaine.
South America's largest nation faces a destabilizing drug-crime crisis, as the daily death toll in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo illustrate.
Brazil also is a major transshipment point for cocaine en route to Europe, a growing market.
Clandestine laboratories and hidden airstrips now dot the isolated Bolivian-Brazilian border zone, law enforcement authorities say.
"Various Colombian narco-trafficking clans have been detected operating along the border, introducing new techniques for fabricating cocaine," said Col. Rene Sanabria, director of the Bolivian anti-drug police.
For years, Washington touted Bolivia as a successful front in the fight against drugs. U.S.-backed tactics were aimed at destroying coca fields.
A military-style offensive in Bolivia during the 1990s contributed to the shifting of cocaine production to Colombia, now the main U.S. supplier.
But the U.S.-financed assault, with its bloody clashes pitting police against cocaleros, caused much damage and fanned anti-Washington sentiment. Many innocents were jailed, human rights activists say.
Coca growers were at the forefront of social upheaval that ousted several presidents and led to the election of Morales.
"Evo is, I think, without doubt a son of the U.S. War on Drugs," said Alejandro Landes, director of a new documentary, "Cocalero," about Morales' rise to power.
The Morales government named as its drug czar Felipe Caceres, a coca-grower from the Chapare. Eradication last year dropped to 12,523 acres, the lowest level in more than a decade. All was voluntary, the government says.
The change in direction has brought a measure of social peace: Tens of thousands of hardscrabble farmers dependent on coca no longer face loss of a livelihood.
But Morales' two titles — president and coca-growers union leader — have generated conflicting demands. Farmers' natural instinct is to plant as much coca as possible without deflating prices.
As president, however, Morales must also assuage a wary international law enforcement community.
Morales opposes unrestrained coca plantings, both to calm international fears and to maintain the leaf's price for farmers dependent on its sales. His strategy encourages voluntary limits on cultivation while stepping up efforts to stop cocaine traffickers.
Bolivia reported seizing 15 tons of cocaine base and related products last year, a 27% increase from 2005, according to U.N. figures.
Seizures of Peruvian cocaine moving through Bolivia en route to Brazil, Argentina and Europe account for part of the upsurge, Bolivian authorities say. Bolivia also recorded an increase of more than 50% in the number of clandestine labs destroyed.
In the Chapare, interdiction efforts are high profile: Fatigue-clad police officers known as las garras (the claws) man checkpoints, searching suspect vehicles for contraband coca leaves, coca base and cocaine. Teams roam the forests and savannas seeking maceration pits, where coca leaves are turned to paste.
But the once-prevalent atmosphere of tension and conflict is gone.
"Today we operate in a climate of cooperation with the people of the Chapare," said Lt. Col. Rene Salazar of the anti-drug police.
Bush administration officials remain skeptical, however, arguing that more arrests may simply reflect the greater production of cocaine.
"It remains to be seen if the increased interdiction results are from stricter law enforcement or as a result of increased cocaine production due to a more permissive environment," said the report on Bolivia by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Special correspondent Oscar Ordoñez in La Paz and Andres D'Alessandro of The Times' Buenos Aires Bureau contributed to this report.
June 10, 2007
Cocaine: Hidden in Plain Sight
By MELENA RYZIK
SKIING on the beach tomorrow?”
“Late-night ski lift looking for a snow bunny.”
“Where are the cool Brooklyn ski bums? I’ve got tons to share.”
“Take a ride on the snow train.”
The come-ons in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist last week — or any week — are as plentiful as they are obvious (and cheesy). Using a variety of euphemisms that have been around since Jay McInerney wrote about Bolivian Marching Powder, posters invite others to join them for a line or a lost weekend fueled by cocaine.
The cheeky openness of these ads is hardly anomalous. While cocaine and drug abuse seem to have faded from the headlines, with coverage limited to the not-so-veiled references surrounding the exploits of waifish celebrities, it is still very much a part of the social scene, especially in New York.
Evidence of that is popping up in music, television and even theater. Indeed, for a generation that has not had its John Belushi to drive home the dangers of drug abuse, references and even use are open, casual, even blatant.
“You do see it,” said Noel Ashman, an owner of the Plumm, a hotspot near the meatpacking district. “We’re pretty tight at the club with drug use, whenever we see it we kick it right out. But it has popped up more than it did five years ago.”
And like the red flash of a Louboutin pump, it is easy to spot.
“It’s definitely prevalent in clubs, bars, parties — everywhere, basically,” said Cristiano Andrade, 26, a Brooklynite who manages a wine shop and goes out in the city once or twice a week.
Drug-abuse experts say the blasé attitude toward cocaine use is a result of “generational amnesia.”
“There seems to be less of a stigma about” cocaine, said Dr. Herbert Kleber, director of the division of substance abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in Manhattan. As part of his oversight of research into cocaine addiction and treatment, and in his private clinical practice, Dr. Kleber hears stories about the drug’s use. “People don’t feel nearly as much the need to hide it,” he said. “They feel that they can use it in a more open fashion.”
The visibility of cultural markers — and the absence of cautionary tales — leads to the assumption that coke is not as harmful, say, as heroin (which was associated with the high-profile overdoses of River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain in the 90s), or methamphetamine, whose recent popularity in the gay community has led to a targeted campaign against it, said Perry N. Halkitis, a professor of applied psychology at New York University who studies behavior, the AIDS epidemic and drug abuse.
“If you’re a 19-year-old and you go out and party and you’re offered meth, you say no because you’ve heard these bad things,” he said. “But you’re offered coke, you say yes because you assume it’s safe.” And, he added, as the authorities crack down on meth, “people are going to tend to go to cocaine, which has similar, if not identical properties” as a stimulant.
NOT to mention that the supply and the price of cocaine, about $25 to $30 on the street for a half-gram bag, have remained stable for several years, said John Galea, director of the street studies unit of the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. (In rare cases, a large bust can affect prices. Chief James P. O’Neill, the commanding officer of the New York Police Department Narcotics Division, said the authorities seized a record 20 tons of cocaine off the coast of Panama in March, and wholesale prices rose in the last few weeks.)
A prevalence among young people is not entirely borne out by national statistics. According to an annual survey by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, lifetime cocaine use remained stable between 2002 and 2005 among 18- to 25-year-olds. (Data before 2002 are noncomparable.) But the study — which estimates national rates based on a poll of 67,500 people — recorded a 20 percent increase in past-month use among that age group in 2005 from 2004, the last period for which data were available, said Joe Gfroerer, the group’s director of the division of population surveys. (There was no change in usage rates among people over 26.)
The Police Department has not recorded an increase in drug-related arrests at clubs recently, Chief O’Neill said. But, he added, “It doesn’t mean if you’re doing drugs in a club you won’t get caught.”
But in interviews over the last five months with people in the night-life, entertainment, media and finance industries, all said that cocaine is a prominent part of a night out. Teron Beal, 34, a songwriter and aspiring actor, said he encountered cocaine regularly and does it occasionally — and not only in clubs and bars. “When you’re in meetings and you’re in the studio, it’s offered like coffee,” he said. “If you say yeah, they’re cool with it and if you say no, they’re like O.K., and they just go and do it in front of you.”
“Coke is the new weed,” he continued. “Everybody says that.”
Tom Sykes, a former night-life reporter for The New York Post who chronicled his alcohol- and drug-fueled life in the memoir “What Did I Do Last Night?” said that cocaine is more socially acceptable than smoking. “You could go into a swanky party in New York and do a line and nobody would notice,” said Mr. Sykes, who is now sober. “Pull out a cigarette and people would think you’d pulled out a gun.”
And cocaine is not only popular in New York. “When I go to travel somewhere else, people think I do it and they’re so eager to shove it up my nose,” said Roxy Summers, a party promoter and D.J. who goes by the name Oxy Cottontail.
Mr. Beal, who is old enough to remember the drug wars of the 80s, said the perception of the drug has changed. “When I was growing up, it was like a VH-1 ‘Behind the Music’ moment whenever anyone talked about their cocaine habit,” he said. “It was like rock bottom, coke is crazy.” Now, he said, it is merely flashy fun.
Dominic Streatfeild, the author of “Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography,” who is based in London, where according to recent government studies, use among young people has tripled since the late 90s, had another theory. “In a culture obsessed with celebrity,” he said, “the fact that cocaine makes you feel rich and beautiful — it’s the perfect drug for our times.”
With Wall Street surging and a 24-hour global economy, young professionals have the money and the incentive to stay constantly wired.
“I do it every day,” said Kristoff, a European transplant to New York who works in finance and would not give his last name. He said he pays $150 for two grams of cocaine. “If I have to work at 6 in the morning and I have to be on top of the game, I’ll do it. I’ll take a gram of coke and make half a million dollars.”
That cavalier attitude carries over to pop culture, where references to cocaine are as prevalent as the 80s fashions that accompanied its previous heyday. Cocaine rap is a recognized genre in hip-hop, as Sasha Frere-Jones noted in a December 2006 article in the New Yorker; the platinum-selling rapper Young Jeezy made his name rhyming about his days as a dealer and adopted a menacing-looking snowman as his logo. In the last few years, the drug has been the subject of multiple anthologies, some of them flattering.
Recently the comic Todd Barry, a staple of the downtown comedy circuit, used a conversation he heard at a bar — when one man called a friend to remedy his “nose problem” — as the basis for a new joke in his act. And on a recent episode of NBC’s “30 Rock” when two go-getter writers attribute their success to cocaine, it was a laugh line, not a rebuke.
Even Broadway is not exempt: In “Talk Radio” and “Jack Goes Boating” (starring Liev Schreiber and Philip Seymour Hoffman, respectively), the characters do lines and carry on.
When Gridskipper, a travel blog, ran a post in March about the top bars in which to find cocaine in New York, the response was so overwhelming — the list of places named was like a taxonomy of “it” joints on the Lower East Side, the meatpacking district and Williamsburg — and the comment section so lively that the editors pursued the subject for several more days.
“Drug use tends to be cyclic,” Dr. Kleber said. “If you have a really dangerous drug, the generational remembering will come back quickly. If it takes time for the casualties to add up, the epidemic will last longer.” Referring to the drug’s last heyday, he added, “As some of my colleagues said, John Belushi had to die before people believed that these drugs were really dangerous.”
Besides its addictive potential, cocaine can cause elevated blood pressure, seizures, stroke, cardiac arrest or other heart problems, particularly in people with a pre-disposition. Combining it with alcohol, as many do, increases its toxicity, particularly in the liver, said Dr. Thomas Kosten, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience and the director of the division of addictions at Baylor College of Medicine.
But these negative effects are overshadowed by the drug’s glamorous image, which is perhaps best personified by Kate Moss. After a brief furor when photographs of Ms. Moss apparently snorting cocaine appeared on the cover of a British tabloid in 2005, she entered rehab for a short time and emerged more successful than ever, with bigger advertising contracts and her own line of clothing at Topshop, the British retailer.
“You never hear about the addiction, you just hear about exclusive photos of wild parties with cocaine, ” Mr. Streatfeild said. “The dangers of cocaine are without a doubt very real, but it’s never dispelled that Champagne image.”
IT took the death last February of the skateboard star and downtown bon vivant Harold Hunter, who died at 31 of a heart attack and whose wake was attended by friends like Rosario Dawson, for Ms. Summers, the D.J. and promoter, to rethink her own behavior.
“Harold’s death really affected me; I know the ways in which he treated night life,” she said, adding that she “never touched” cocaine again. Likewise, she said, people in her community of downtown skateboarders, musicians, artists, and D.J.s went into hiding with their drug habits. “But,” she added, “that only lasted six months, if that.”
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
Has cocaine really lost its social stigma? Neel Shah does some sniffing around
THIN WHITE LINE Our correspondent does some research in the New York Public LibraryLast June, the New York Times proclaimed that attitudes toward cocaine were evolving: "You could go into a swanky party in New York and do a line and nobody would notice." But is the city that never sleeps really that blasé about blow? To find out, we dispatched reporter Neel Shah—clad in his finest Club Monaco getup—to places swank (Graydon Carter's Waverly Inn) and pedestrian (Starbucks), armed with a baggie of confectioners' sugar and our lawyer's phone number. Here's what happened:
AFTERNOON DELIGHT The Midtown Starbucks crowd was nonplussed by the sight of a public blow-down Starbucks, Midtown
Scene: 3:15 p.m. A steady flow of corporate types in search of an afternoon pick-me-up.
PASS THE SUGAR Refueling at the milk station
Reaction: Baristas and patrons stare as I stand on line and snort away; shockingly, nobody says a word. I joke to a dandyish white male in his early thirties that at these prices he's better off doing blow than buying $4 grande café lattes. He laughs. I follow him to the milk station, where I offer him a plastic baggie. He says he'd love to indulge, but he's scheduled to deliver a presentation at his ad agency in 20 minutes.
SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE? Yes.
The New York Public Library
Scene: 1:30 p.m. Law students, fifth-grade field-trippers, senior citizens surfin' the Net.
MARCHING POWDER A leisurely stroll in the reading room resulted in two separate groups of library patrons switching tables
Reaction: A Filipino lady threatens to "punch me in the face" after I offer a young woman a bump to help her get through the final Harry Potter book. (She looks to be about 20, but, to my horror, turns out to be 15. The Filipino lady is her mother.) A trio of Asian students studying organic chemistry refuse to make eye contact with me as I sniffle loudly with powder all over my face. After two tense minutes, the female in the group glares at me and whispers something to her pals. Moments later, they pack up their books and flee.
SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE? No.
The Waverly Inn, West Village
Scene: 10:00 p.m. Diane von Furstenberg and Jay McInerney hold court at separate tables.
Reaction: At the bar, a male sporting flip-flops and a goatee attempts to order a Stoli Red Bull. The bartender informs him that the Waverly stocks neither Stoli nor Red Bull. I tell him I have something that will do the trick, wink-wink. Spotting the baggie, he flashes me a broad smile. His Eurotrash girlfriend is less enthused. Later on, two servers catch me doing key bumps near the bathroom. They walk by without a second glance.
SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE? Uh...There's a reason they call it high society.