Posts Tagged ‘drugs’


Yemen’s hidden alcohol problem
Since alcohol is largely forbidden in this Muslim country, treatment for alcoholism is private, as government brushes it under the rug.
Yemen, Sana’a – It’s nine o’clock at night on a busy road on the outskirts of Sana’a and a man is waiting at the shadows. Samir, a 22-year-old university student, has been cruising in his car with his mates and has been engaged in a constant mobile phone negotiation with this man until finally, a location for the deal is made.

Samir halts his car. The man emerges from the shadows and quickly passes him a plastic bag containing two bottles of Stolichnaya vodka, wrapped in local newspapers and asks for the money. Samir gives him 12,000 Rials ($60) for both bottles.

In an Islamist country where alcohol is largely forbidden, just a simple transaction for a few bottles of vodka has a sinister nature of black alley contraband and fear. As much as alcohol is taboo, treating alcoholism is even more challenging since it exposes its sufferers to stigmas.

Samir, who spoke on condition his last name not be revealed, says he does not consider himself to be an alcoholic. He just has “to drink a few beers in the evening to be able to sleep.” A student at one of the Yemeni capital’s prestigious universities, Samir says he often skips classes to drink and was “stressed out” because of his father’s high expectations from him to get high marks and take over his family business. He both adores and fears his father and says his fear of not living up to his expectations makes him seek daily solace in alcohol.

He is not alone. According to Dr. Hisham Al-Nabhani, a psychiatrist at Al Amal psychiatric hospital, about six cases like Samir’s cross his door every month seeking treatment for alcohol abuse.

“They usually come after drinking for three or four years,” Al-Nabhani told The Media Line. “Most of them have high economic status, are the sons of military officers or businessmen who have money and therefore access to alcohol.”

Al-Nabhani said most of them had lived in Saudi Arabia for extended periods.

“This is where they picked up the habit of using alcohol. I know it is even more forbidden there than in Yemen but people tend to hunt after forbidden things,” he added.

Yemeni law prohibits the consumption of alcohol in public or public drunkenness. If caught, violators are sent to prison and not to treatment centers like the Al Amal hospital. What happens in private homes, however, is another matter and police do not as a rule search houses for alcohol. Unlike in Saudi Arabia, there are no religious police enforcing the Islamic ban on alcohol.

“If people drink at home, this is between them and Allah, not between them and the Yemeni law,” Dr. Al-Nabhani says.

Ironically, alcohol is relatively easy to obtain in Yemen. There is locally brewed vodka, called Baladi, named after the Arabic word ‘bilad’ which means country. Vodka, whisky, beer and gin is also smuggled in from Ethiopia or Djibouti and then sold through dealers. There are even towns such as Haima and Amran where whole streets are lined with little shops selling booze behind their iron doors. At first glance the shops appear like the average Yemeni grocery with cans of beans, washing powder and cigarettes lining the walls. But they have a clandestine side room where crates of Heineken beer and bottles of whisky of assorted brands can be found.

The shops are known by many, including government officials. A recent Wikileaks report quoted President Ali Abdullah Saleh joking with US General David Petraeus that he loathed drugs and weapons coming from Djibouti, but whisky, on the other hand was fine, as long as it was good whiskey. Curiously, the report did not receive much media attention in Yemen despite fears in the foreign press that it could lead to a “Whiskey Controversy.” Yemen denied the quotes were made and the government-controlled newspapers and television channels ignored it.

Samir recalls how he and others seeking an alcoholic drink had ventured to the Russian Club, a nightclub in Sana’a playing outdated music but where alcohol flows freely, provided one is a foreigner. The club denied Samir and his mates entry since they were Yemenis.

“This is not up to the guy at the gate, it is up to us, for heaven’s sake,” Samir says angrily, recalling they went home and ordered a bottle of gin from a dealer.

Dr. Al-Nabhani believes that those coming to his clinic with an alcohol problem are only the tip of the iceberg and that the phenomenon is much more wide spread than the Yemeni public wants to admit.

“We only see the complicated issues where families bring the man to our hospital,” he says. “It is always men. I have never seen a woman here. They usually are brought after he starts beating his wife, his sons, his neighbours and the family was desperate for treatment.”

“It is there, so why deny it? The first step to treatment is acknowledgement, but in our society this is taboo. Furthermore, everyone in Yemen who seeks psychological or psychiatric help is considered insane, so this does not motivate people to go to a psychiatric hospital either,” he says.

Al Amal hospital checks in alcoholics for a two-week treatment, during which they receive medication, group and behavioural therapy. After they leave, they continue to receive medication and psychological treatment.

“But it only works with people who come voluntarily,” Dr. Al-Nabhani laments. “Those who are forced here by their families usually fall back again.”

The Al Amal hospital is funded by the Charitable Society for Social Welfare, a Yemeni charity founded by Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, an influential Yemeni religious leader who is also on the United States lists of terrorists. This doesn’t bother Dr. Al-Nabhani or his colleagues since their goal is to deal with alcoholism, and stay away from religious politics.

Because officially there is no alcohol, there are no campaigns or any other public awareness programs. People only know about treatment programs such as the one at Al Amal due to word of mouth. For years, Dr. Al-Nabhani and his colleagues have tried to publicize their care, but they are not supported by the government.

“So we can only sit here and wait for people to come to us,” he says, adding sardonically that knocking behind the closed doors of Sana’a would likely lead to a seven-fold increase in alcoholism patients.

Meanwhile, young men like Samir continue to titter on alcoholism which raises the question: Would it not be better to legalize it and just sell it in the supermarkets so that things can be controlled? Dr. Al-Nabhani is not so sure.

“First of all, access would be easier so we will have more drinkers,” he says. “Secondly, people think that if this were the case then Yemen would no longer be an Islamic country. As long as it is hidden, they simply think the problem does not exist.”

Yemen’s hidden alcohol problem

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Still a player: guitar legend Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck

Guitar legend: Jeff Beck

By Stephen Wilmot

Published: September 30 2010 18:01 | Last updated: September 30 2010 18:01

Most musicians are known for a particular sound, style or song. But not rock guitar legend Jeff Beck, who says the secret of his staying power has been the ability to “move on to something else”. It’s a journey that has taken him – via rock, heavy metal, jazz and soul – to his current world tour, backed by a full string orchestra.
“I’m at home with anything that’s got a groove to it,” says the ex-Yardbirds guitarist, pointing to a DVD he is making in tribute to legendary guitarist Les Paul and 1950s jazz. “I get just as much of a kick from that as I do coming up with something from tomorrow-land.”
But Beck’s taste for experimentation does not stretch to his finances – something in which he claims to have no interest but just a little “intuition”. He was almost persuaded to buy a portfolio of shares just before the financial crisis; luckily, he decided at the last minute not to sign. “It was a near-miss for me. But I said no, because I wasn’t satisfied with – or didn’t understand – what was being proposed. When people talk bank-talk, I glaze over after five minutes,” he admits.
Beck now uses the London-based private bank Duncan Lawrie, mainly because it offers a reassuringly old-fashioned experience. Lamenting the passing of the days when “you could almost have a pint with your local bank manager”, he remembers how he and his former concert manager grew frustrated with the impersonal service and “incompetence” of their high street bank. After doing research, manager settled on Duncan Lawrie and suggested Beck switch too.
“I felt nervous at first, because I didn’t really know whether I was making the right decision. But I’ve no complaints. It’s so important to have a one-to-one talk with someone at your bank. They’re handling your money, after all. You go around the world and make your money, and you want to be sure it’s being looked after.”
Beck is currently on the second leg of his world tour. He is still basking in the success of his latest album, Emotion & Commotion, which was released in April and is now up for eight Grammys. He says it is the best response that he has received since 1975, when he teamed up with Beatles producer George Martin to make the album Blow by Blow.
Fans have been particularly struck by Beck’s lush use of strings as backing for his electric guitar. “There’s no substitute for a full string orchestra,” he explains. “I was fulfilling a dream – I wanted to do it back in 1966, but couldn’t afford it. I was always impressed by people like Tina Turner and the way that kind of record was produced. It’s a beautiful sound that can only be achieved with acoustic instruments.”
Beck is also pleased with the popularity of Emotion & Commotion because singers, not instrumentalists, tend to dominate the charts. The guitarist has been wary of working too closely with singers ever since he parted ways with Rod Stewart – then the unknown lead singer of his up-and-coming band the Jeff Beck Group – back in 1969.
“Rod was a bit of a problem because his name wasn’t on the ticket, and the whole ego thing kicked off. I said if you put your name on the ticket you won’t sell any seats, but he wasn’t happy being treated as a sideman,” Beck laughs.
Stewart left to join the group the Faces, which seemed a career upset for Beck, but turned out to be liberating. “The singer problem was gone when Rod left. Rather than see that as negative, I thought: the doors are open.” He says it was working with the New York jazz-rock group Mahavishnu Orchestra in the mid-1970s that made him realise there was “life after singers”.
Beck considers the US his second home. He cites American rock and roll, blues and jazz as his original creative sources, and the US still gives him the warmest reception. It was there he spent a year in tax exile in 1977, which ironically was to pay for his English home – an Elizabethan manor house in the Sussex Weald that he fell in love with on first viewing.
“It was complete lunacy, as I didn’t know if I had the money. But when the estate agents opened the door I just wanted them gone,” he reminisces, grateful that his home turned out to be a good investment too.
Beck struggles to single out one highlight of his career, which has spanned four and a half decades and at least 10 different groups. “The big highlight is that I’m still in the business,” he says with another raucous laugh. / Special Reports – Still a player: guitar legend Jeff Beck

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October 21, 2010

Marijuana Bonfire Celebrates a Fragile Calm

TIJUANA, Mexico — It is now the city safe enough for an Al Gore speech.
Indeed, Tijuana has become a place, in the narrative of federal and local officials, not only where the former vice president of the United States can attend a business conference, as he did earlier this month, but where the drug cartels are on the run.
Human remains are no longer discovered partly dissolved in chemicals; shootouts in broad daylight are rare; and local, state and federal law enforcement work so closely that they celebrated this week over the destruction of the largest load of marijuana — 134 metric tons, or about 150 United States tons — ever seized in the country.
“Citizens of Tijuana should be proud of the authorities and the armed forces,” said Gen. Alfonso Duarte Múgica, regional commander of the army, as the seized marijuana erupted in flames and smoke after soldiers set it ablaze.
But the question on the minds of many here is whether this is a fragile peace, or even peace at all.
It is true that this is not 2008, when the headlines reflected a sense of mayhem and out-of-control violence that led to 843 killings, a record high in this city of 1.6 million people across the border from San Diego.
Yet the body count this year stands at 639, on pace to match or exceed the 695 of last year.
“The only thing that has changed is you don’t see spectacular murders in the middle of the city,” said Victor Clark-Alfaro, a visiting professor from Tijuana at San Diego State University who has studied drug violence for years. “The elite feel more safe, but in the neighborhoods where drug dealers and addicts are dying, people do not feel any more safe,” he added.
Questions have also been raised about the hard-line tactics of the police and military here. Human Rights Watch, in a letter to President Felipe Calderón last month, urged him to investigate abuses at the hands of the authorities here, including more than 100 cases in the past year in which the group said people were taken to military bases and tortured into making confessions.
“Tijuana is anything but a model for an effective public security operation,” the letter said.
The police chief here, Julián Leyzaola, an army veteran who has been photographed kicking the body of a gunman believed responsible for killing a police officer, has remained unapologetic, saying a tough line is just what the town needs to clean up its police force and take on organized crime.
He beamed at an elaborate ceremony on Thursday, complete with a military band, bused-in dignitaries, and ample national and international coverage, to burn the tons of marijuana seized earlier in the week.
It was a spectacle meant as much to send a message to the traffickers as to reassure an anxious public of success, any success.
“This was a strike at the structure of this criminal group,” Chief Leyzaola said.
And for a moment at least, residents like Juan Alberto, 21, a law school student who watched the burning ceremony at the invitation of a professor, felt a measure of calm.
“I have felt a little safe these past few months,” Mr. Alberto said. “But I know things can change quickly.
Shopping centers are busy and bars and restaurants are slowly filling again, though American tourists remain scarce.
People go to work and school, and young people are venturing out, though with some trepidation.
“It is getting better, certainly better than a couple of years ago when everybody was afraid,” said Paula Cruz, 20.
Civic leaders have been anxious to put on the city’s best face.
The two-week Tijuana Innovadora conference, intended to stoke investment, concluded Thursday after speeches by Mr. Gore; the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone; the co-founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales; Mr. Calderón; and others.
But as if to remind the public of the drug war never far away, two decapitated bodies were found hanging from a bridge, and four young men were killed, both discoveries several miles from the conference.
David A. Shirk, who researches criminal justice in Mexico as the director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, said Tijuana might simply be in a lull while gangs regroup.
He noted that the authorities claimed success both when violence was high, as a sign of destabilization among criminal organizations, and when it was low, as a mark of criminal activity being kept under control.
The violence tends to ebb and flow with little explanation, Mr. Shirk added, as one group gains strength or cuts deals with the police while others fall out of favor or lose ground.
The conventional wisdom is that the gruesome shows of violence decreased after the arrest in January of Teodoro Eduardo García Simental, a kingpin known as El Teo who, among other crimes, was accused of having the bodies of scores of enemies dissolved in vats of chemicals.
Still, the bottom line, Mr. Shirk said, was that the marijuana seizure would not greatly affect the drug market and that “even with 134 tons, there is no sign the flow of drugs into the United States has abated.”
A United States Justice Department report this year said marijuana production in Mexico had increased 59 percent since 2003. The report attributed the increase in production to a 48 percent decrease in eradication efforts over the last four years.
The decrease in crop destruction “is the result of the Mexican military’s focus on antiviolence measures rather than illicit crop cultivation,” the report said.
Alejandro Poiré, the Mexican government’s chief spokesman on security, said in a recent interview that it had and would continue to make big seizures.
The seizure of the big marijuana haul, which occurred Sunday and was announced Monday, came about after the local police happened on a convoy and were fired upon.
They, along with the state police and the military, eventually found three tractor-trailers and a smaller truck in an industrial neighborhood near the border, raising the question of how such a large load could have eluded police and military checkpoints leading into Tijuana from the interior, where most of the marijuana is grown.
The 15,300 bales were tightly wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil, with some labeled “yoyo,” “dog” or “wolf,” or bearing the smiling image of Homer Simpson, apparent branding or labels for drug distributors in the United States.
It will take two days to burn it all.

Mexican Authorities Burn 134 Tons of Seized Marijuana –

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The importance of David Bowie

By Paul Morley
Published: September 3 2010 21:59 | Last updated: September 3 2010 21:59

David Bowie on stage in Rotterdam in 1976
David Bowie on stage in Rotterdam in 1976, the year he made ‘Station to Station’

How much do you like David Bowie? You will have to like him a lot to want to spend more than £80 on a deluxe box set edition of his 10th studio album Station to Station (1976), an ostentatious souvenir collection of memorabilia, outtakes, live concerts, photography, essays, remastered versions, exclusive mixes and heavyweight vinyl inspired by the mere six tracks that made up the original record.
It is a mesmerising album, one of Bowie’s best, which is saying something, as he made many, most of them during the 1970s, that were sold as entertainment but contained the moving detail and mysterious, transformative depth of art.
It may well be one of rock’s very greatest, as a comment both on where the smart, neurotic artist who made it was, psychologically, creatively and commercially, but also where rock music itself was, on its compelling journey from Sinatra, Presley and the Beatles to Prince, Jay-Z and Gaga, from the Velvet Underground, the Kinks and Kraftwerk to Madonna, Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails. It is one of those Bowie albums, like Hunky Dory (1971), or Ziggy Stardust (1972), or Low (1977), or Lodger (1979), that are at times my favourite of his, because they demonstrate with such elan what a sparkling, mischievous mind he had, and what ambition, and what a stupendous ego, and how dangerously charming he was.
His impact as a musician, as a brand, as a sign of the times, has been as great as Dylan and the Beatles, his influence as an otherworldly pop star actually greater, and if you just want one example of what he got up to as this erudite pop combination of shaman, singer, thinker and shameless self-promoter, then Station to Station is as good a place as any. But is all of that worth £80? And does wrapping it up inside such technological and geeky paraphernalia clarify its position as a musical masterpiece, or turn it into a banal collector’s item, a nicely designed object of desire for committed Bowie fetishists and connoisseurs?
There’s no obvious anniversary marking the release of the deluxe edition. It’s a non-special 34 years since Station to Station was produced, coming between the Americanised soul-funk slickness of his Young Americans (1975) album and the radiant, challenging Euro-bleakness of Low. He was working on Nic Roeg’s dark film fable The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Peter O’Toole was not available to play Thomas Jerome Newton, an exiled visitor from outer space, a role that seemed perfect for the lost, distracted, preternaturally bright Bowie. Station to Station was a soundtrack that never was to the film as Bowie was strangely not asked to compose the movie’s music. Roeg just wanted the cracked, emaciated Bowie that was falling apart in real life, the wired, burnt-out pop star playing the baffled but brilliant spaceman from the future, part new-born innocent, part ancient guru.
Playing an alien, and having lost sight of his real self after years of relentless shapeshifting, Bowie constructed a new character, the Thin White Duke. Inside six years, since 1970, he’d been a psychedelic music hall singer channelling Syd Barrett and Anthony Newley, a whimsical novelty specialist, surreal folkie, risqué glam rock starman, cosmic wizard, apocalyptic androgynous Diamond Dog and blanked-out white soul man flirting with superstardom. Now, he would play a transparently autobiographical, ghostly, narcissistic, cocaine obsessed, existential adventurer, anxiously yearning for deeper meaning in a superficial, chilling world.
Bowie would kill off the damaged, demented Thin White Duke a little quicker than he killed off Ziggy Stardust, just in case the Duke took over like Ziggy appeared to. The soundtrack to this character showed Bowie withdrawing from his fascination with the expressive, penetrating showmanship of American soul and turning to more enigmatic and forward looking European music. Young Americans, containing hits such as “Fame” and an appearance by John Lennon, was the calculatedly commercial Bowie response to achieving the American fame he had set his heart on. He was becoming so successful he was peering into some form of the middle of the road, a fixed place Bowie wasn’t quite ready for.
Station to Station – feeling hunted, he was moving from place to place, character to character, fixation to fixation, charade to charade – was where he faced his demons, and made a kind of baroque soul music where it is not quite clear if there is soul involved. It retains the iced funk and post disco groove of Young Americans, alongside decaying traces of the kinky folk, metal, glam, and cabaret melodrama he’d passed through in the early 1970s. But it was already anticipating his less obviously commercial next destination, abstract and minimalist European electronic music. Station to Station contains echoes of everything Bowie had done, or was about to do. Previous characters re-dream themselves. It becomes the link, the tunnel, through which Bowie crawled – spent, emptied out – from fraying pop star decadence to the three classic made in Berlin albums he released next. On Low, Heroes (1977) and Lodger, Bowie and close collaborators Brian Eno and Tony Visconti created a stark, pulsating post-pop soundtrack to personal and historical tensions where Bowie broke out into the wider spaces of the universe. On this trilogy, Bowie refrained from entering the worlds himself, and losing himself in all the offbeat theatre. Station to Station was where he recovered himself, or at least enough of himself that he could continue his search for new extremes, and new experiences, and the kind of unusual, unforced new pop music he craved, music that produced worlds all of his own.
. . .
Depending on your age, you might already have bought a few versions of Station to Station. First of all, pretty much on the day it came out, the original RCA vinyl disc, released when the deliciously unstable Bowie dominated the pop planet in a way that makes Gaga, Beyoncé, Florence and co seem a little lightweight. Then, a few years later, the CD version, and then perhaps, depending how much you loved Bowie, a remastered CD version, even a Japanese import. Or two.

Album cover of David Bowie's 'Station to Station'
The original 1976 cover

Digging through my record cupboard, preparing the space for the big box of Station to Station, I find I have the vinyl version, with original black and white cover, and the bright orange RCA label that induces Proustian pangs of feeling for those days when a male teenager could fall in love with Bowie because he seemed so alive, and so scandalously full of himself. I’ve also got a CD version bought at full price, and then one bought for less than a fiver when I thought I’d lost the first one. The music business survived well into the 1990s following a policy of blind greed persuading people to buy albums they already owned all over again on CD. Now, perhaps at the end of its tether, devastated by the arrival of such alternative music sources as iTunes, the music industry is hoping to persuade people to buy once more in a gorgeous new format the same thing yet again, still relying on its back catalogues for sustenance. Or, depending on your point of view, ensuring that in a world where music can be so easily distributed through the air, the album can still exist in tempting solid form, as a tangible thing, something that you can hold, not merely store, and place in a sterile list of your favourite music.
The vinyl version is something that I have clearly held a lot, and loved, and still love, prized like a hardback first edition, now looking strangely oversized and florid in a world where even the miniaturised CD has been replaced by essentially the featureless, soulless, click-click nothing of the download. The CD versions look less powerful, more paperback, and more clinical.
Somehow, an old collection of music that could recently be bought for a few pounds, on the verge of being something you could get on tap, is now on sale, admittedly smartly done up, for almost £90. This is a lavish way of pointing out that a big part of the appeal of a pop record in the last few years of the vinyl era was the combination of the music and the art, the image, the design – the overall story, a constantly developing context – that went with it.
It calls into question just what is going to happen to all those albums that have been made and that artistically deserve to endure now that the era of this kind of vinyl-shaped album is more or less over. What was an album, what is Station to Station, how will we remember it? As a complete, significant work, as a series of loosely connected songs that will just randomly flow off into space and time, separated from each other, available on demand until they just fade away into silence, or some kind of work of art that needs to be celebrated and dissected in this way?
It seems right that David Bowie is at the forefront of such consideration of how vinyl era music – songs and stardom that existed because of the nature of the 45rpm single and the 33⅓ album – will survive this new period in music. He may not have been especially active for the past 20 years or so but he’s never stopped thinking, and plotting, and fastidiously nurturing his image.
After making his extraordinary albums in the 1970s, and inevitably running out of energy in the 1980s, he then settled down into his reputation, his history, with a knowing, Dylan-like acceptance, and an occasional Dylan-like reminder of his unique powers. He wasn’t as aloof and inscrutable as Dylan, but had his own ways of protecting, and projecting, his mystique. In Bowie’s case, this meant not just an occasional good new album, or a memorable tour. It also meant a strategic understanding of how entertainment itself was changing because of the technological progression that meant there would be more and more music, less and less originality, and newer ways of receiving and playing that music. He ended his formal alliances with record labels at the beginning of the century, set himself up as web location, turned himself into a sort of bank, and in 1997 sold his future royalties to the Prudential Insurance Company as Bowie Bonds, leading some wags to suggest he invented derivatives and was directly responsible for the latest recession. A confirmed futurist, he anticipated a breakdown in music industry and media certainties, and prepared himself for the science fiction future he always craved. A future where his 20th-century music could still exist, and still sound contemporary.
Albums such as Station to Station are from the past. Boxing them up in expensive deluxe editions is essentially a commercially based nostalgic act, extending their life as product, to some extent one last mad music industry fling. But the music itself, six songs, expertly weaving their enchanting phantom spell, from the opening title track, an extended montage of despair and determination, lunacy and sorrow, to the final track, a precious, caressing version of “Wild is the Wind” first sung in 1957 by Johnny Mathis, where Bowie appears to repair his self-control, via the tricky, nervily jaunty big hit “Golden Years”, is thus given yet another lease of life. The music is strong and intriguing enough to resist the vulgarisation of being repackaged and resold one more time. Somehow, the ornate deluxe edition of Station to Station says: the album is dead, long live the album.
From Ziggy Stardust to SpongeBob SquarePants
1947 David Robert Jones born January 8 in Brixton, south London. Shares same birthday as Elvis Presley.
1953 Family moves to Kent. Attends Bromley Technical High School where Peter Frampton, later a rock guitarist, is a friend.
1961 Fight with friend leaves one pupil severely dilated, causing illusion his eyes are different colours.
1963 Leaves school with art O-level. Becomes junior paste-up artist at ad agency.
1964 First release, under the name of Davie Jones, is “Liza Jane/Louie Louie Go Home”. Interviewed on TV as founder of Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-haired Men, he complains, “It’s not nice when people call you darling and that.”
1966 Changes name to Bowie to avoid clash with Davy Jones of the Monkees.
1967First solo album, David Bowie, an odd, jolly mix of pop and psychedelia.
1969 “Space Oddity”, song set in outer space, released to coincide with moon landing
1970 Marries Mary Angela (Angie) Barnett for whom the Rolling Stones song “Angie” was written. Begins unequalled run of 11 studio albums from Man Who Sold The World (1970) to Scary Monsters (1980).
1972 First appearance of glam group Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Produces Lou Reed’s Transformer.
1973 Breaks up Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.
1975 Re-release of “Space Oddity” is first UK number one.
1977 Bing Crosby records “The Little Drummer Boy”, with Bowie, a month before crooner’s death. Appears on old friend Marc Bolan’s ITV music show, duetting on “Heroes”. Bolan dies in car crash two days later.
1980 “Ashes to Ashes” is second UK number one.
1981 “Under Pressure”, with Queen, is third number one.

David Bowie in 'The Man Who Fell To Earth'
In ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’ (1976)

1983 Releases Let’s Dance, produced by Nile Rodgers; title track fourth number one
1985 Having won praise as actor in films The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), The Hunger (1983), Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1983) and on Broadway in The Elephant Man in 1980, turns down role in Bond film A View to a Kill. Duet with Mick Jagger on “Dancing in the Streets” leads to fifth number one.
1989 Forms Tin Machine. Critics sneer, live album does not chart.
1992 Marries Iman Abdul Majid in Switzerland.
1996 Plays Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat.
1997 Releases internet-only single “Telling Lies”. Predicts time when music will be freely available at click of a switch. Sells back catalogue for $55m, creating Bowie Bonds, planning to pay back money from future royalties.
2003 Declines knighthood.
2004 Suffers heart attack, undergoes triple bypass.
2006 Receives lifetime award at Grammys.
2007 Voices Lord Royal Highness on TV cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants.
2010 Lady Gaga says Bowie is her biggest influence and she wants to work with him

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U.S.: CIA Secretly Pays Afghan Officials
August 27, 2010

    The CIA is making secret payments to multiple members of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration to help the agency maintain a deep roster of allies within the presidential palace, according to current and former U.S. officials, The Washington Post reported on Aug. 27. A CIA spokesman denied a statement that a significant number of Afghan officials are on the payroll. A U.S. official said Turkey and Saudi Arabia are among the other countries funneling money into Afghanistan to influence events in the country.

How Chávez tries to hide the truth about his government
Washington Post Editorial
Friday, August 13, 2010; A18

ONE OF the principal goals of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s foreign policy is preventing governments or international organizations from telling the truth about him. Over the past couple of years, captured documents and other evidence have established beyond any reasonable doubt that Mr. Chávez’s regime has provided haven and material support to the FARC movement in neighboring Colombia — a group that is known for massacres of civilians, hostage taking and drug trafficking, and that has been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the European Union. That places Mr. Chávez in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and, at least in theory, exposes him to U.S. and international sanctions.
Luckily for Mr. Chávez, the Obama administration and other Security Council members have shown little interest in recognizing what, in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism, amounts to a smoking gun. But discussion and debate about the evidence — such as Colombia’s recent presentation to a meeting of the Organization of American States — makes this ostrich act difficult to continue. So Mr. Chávez has dedicated himself to bullying and intimidating those who dare to speak publicly about what everyone in the Western Hemisphere knows to be true.
His most conspicuous recent target was former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe, who ordered the report to the OAS shortly before leaving office. Mr. Chávez’s response to the maps, photographs, videos and other documentary evidence laid out by Colombia’s ambassador was to immediately break diplomatic relations and to threaten war. When Mr. Uribe’s successor, Juan Manuel Santos, signaled that he was ready to address the FARC problem through private discussions, the Venezuelan caudillo instantly reversed himself. On Tuesday he traveled to Colombia to meet Mr. Santos and agreed to restore relations.
Mr. Chávez also focused his attention on Larry Leon Palmer, the veteran diplomat nominated by the Obama administration as its next ambassador to Venezuela. Some Republicans question whether the United States should retain ambassadorial relations with Mr. Chávez’s government, and the nominee received a searching set of “questions for the record” from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s senior GOP member, Richard G. Lugar (Ind.).
To his credit and that of the State Department, Mr. Palmer answered truthfully. He said that he was “keenly aware of the clear ties between members of the Venezuelan government and Colombian guerrillas.” He said that he was “concerned” that two individuals designated as international drug traffickers by the Treasury Department “are high-ranking officials of the Venezuelan government.” He reported “growing Cuban-Venezuelan cooperation in the fields of intelligence services and the military” and “morale and equipment problems” in the Venezuelan army.
Mr. Chávez once again was quick to respond. On his weekly television show on Sunday, he announced that Mr. Palmer would not be allowed to take up his post in Caracas because “he has disqualified himself by breaking all the rules of diplomacy, by prejudging us.” He said that the Obama administration would have to “look for another candidate.” The State Department responded that it was sticking with Mr. Palmer. It should. If ignoring the facts about Mr. Chávez is a requirement for sending an ambassador to Caracas, then it would be better not to have one.

How Chávez tries to hide the truth about his government Article: US Probes Corruption in Big Pharmaceuticals
The US Department of Justice is scrutinizing payments by leading pharmaceuticals companies in markets around the world. The FT reports.
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