Ecstasy

[Due to obvious reasons, a number of sources that I have been in contact for this story wish to remain anonymous, so in some places pseudonyms are used.]

After the death of 17-year-old Regane MacColl after taking an ecstasy pill at the Arches nightclub in Glasgow, the club took the bold move to ban all under 21s from all nightclub events. Furthermore to this the nightclub is also subject to a review at Glasgow City Council over it’s license’s future. Although it is unlikely to lose its license for more than a few weeks, if at all, the point remains that there is a massive culture in this country of ‘pill-heads’, and believe it or not, it’s not new.

It’s pretty much opened a huge metaphorical can of worms (again) though – and that hurt me more than you can imagine to use that pun, but there’s hardly a better way to describe the sweaty writhing bodies inhibiting the clubs in Scotland’s towns and cities.

So, to get a better idea of what the situation is in this country in terms of the ecstasy issue I posted on Facebook appealing for people involved in that scene, from either side of the argument, to get in touch. An influx of information hit me; not only with people voicing their opinions on the fact that the Arches has increased its entry age to 21, but people came forward with stories from within the drug culture through years.

The most in depth interview I collected served to put the drug culture in our country into historical context.  Adam (pseudonym) is a self-confessed ex-user of drugs like hash, pills and acid. Not only does he have the experience of these substances from around 20 years ago he, now, has a son who will soon be of age to go clubbing and therefore be exposed to this culture. He claimed he wouldn’t want to be hypocritical with his son and for that reason would like to see a change in attitude from the government when it comes to club drugs. When asked whether he thought the drug scene is any bigger now than back in 80s and 90s, he said that the biggest issue really isn’t the size, it’s more that the media has taken it for a ride, so it’s more apparent. Further to this, however, he thinks that what young people are consuming in clubs these days is more dangerous than what he was exposed to. Adam said, “The quality of the pills was good, they were expensive, £20 for one E and it would last you an entire night”

For this reason, maybe the logical solution is to introduce a regulatory system in this country, whereby, even if the drugs are illegal, testing kits should be readily available because no matter what line the government and police forces do there is still going to be consumption of these substances. The introduction of a system such as this would take a lot of heat off of the bouncers at clubs as there would be less situations where someone takes something sinister. Systems such as these are already in use in some of the big party islands such as Ibiza, so why not here?

When asked about the fact their children may be of age to go to these clubs they also gave startlingly similar answer both leaning towards wanting to avoid being a hypocrite by saying to their children they should avoid these substances, however also stressing the fact that the consumption of these drugs offered them admission into a whole new interesting culture that they admit has crafted them into the people they are today – be it through people they met or [places they got to experience being part of this scene.

However he was also – and urged they would be with their children – quick to stress that there are clear downsides to the culture. He has had friends that have been encapsulated by the negative side of the culture, some being admitted to mental institutions others being unable to cope with life. As Adam put it, “I guess it’s like crossing a road, it’s inherently dangerous, you can say don’t cross the road but that’s not going to work so you try to mitigate the risk.”

In speaking to a former Arches door-man, Lewis (pseudonym), I discovered a huge critic of the drug culture in this country. Being on the scene when the last (before Regane MacColl) death happened in the Arches, he has first -and experience of the sour effects of club drugs.

“I was one of the first on the scene and was treating him for over an hour before the ambulance came.

“In total, I think about 6 of us were giving him CPR and putting ice in his head to cool him down.

“I would rather every night club was shut down to stop stupid people (any age) being in a culture that kills them off.”

Although Lewis’ view is extreme, it gives an insight into how tragic the effect of these drugs can be. In my opinion, if the government was really serious about minimizing risk they should introduce their own regulatory system, where certain substances are legal and safer. Although that is wishful thinking.

 

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Multimedia Reporting Experience

It’s been an interesting experience thus far in the Multimedia Reporting class, interlinked with Intro to Reporting 2 and Social Media, there have been a number of overlaps and similarities within the course.

The main trends that I’ve picked up from all the courses and in particular Multimedia reporting, because it emphasises all the aspects, is that to be a journalist in this climate it requires for you to be skilled as a writer. On top of that there has to be some sort of knowledge of all sorts of media outlets be it print, internet or broadcast (radio and TV).

On top of that it’s a case of being as pro-active as posible, this was drilled from day one with the introduction to Edinburgh’s wordpress site and an insistence that we write. Now. This has been a valuable expereience actually, because although I already had a blog at http://musingsbyseangordon.blogspot.co.uk/ it was an invitation to explore the blogosphere fro ma more professional point of view, and it was really emphasised that the use of blogs is in effect the creation of an online CV and a major selling point for ourselves. 

So with that from this course so far we have been left with a major tool, to sell ourselves, at our disposal for our own professional development in an industry where prostitution of our skills  are not only encouraged, but they are the life-blood.

Russian threatens intervention in Ukraine

As the dust settles on the ground in a fractured Kiev, an arrest warrant for ‘mass murder’ has been issued for ousted Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych. However the world’s eyes aren’t focused on Yanukovych but on the President of neighbouring Russia Vladimir Putin amidst fears that Putin will act on threats to intervene in the situation in Ukraine.

 

These fears have prompted Britain and the US to offer further financial help to Ukraine to compliment the $15bn loan deal that has been agreed with Russia, however if this deal is to fall through it is vital the US and UK help out and deliver the $35bn that is needed to meet government needs this year.

 

The country has been plunged into grave financial turmoil in the wake of mass protest turned violent, which resulted in 88 deaths and hundreds more injured.

 

Fears that there may be a Russian intervention have come after the Russian foreign minister claimed that protesters had failed to abide by a peace deal signed on Friday. This prompted Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, to say today, “If people crossing Kyiv in black masks and Kalashnikov rifles are considered a government, it will be difficult for us to work with such a government.”

 

However it has been made pretty clear in the same statement that the money promised by Russia will be received by Ukraine as Medvedev as he said that any of these agreements that are legally binding ‘must be honoured’.

 

With this I believe that Ukraine will be able to begin mending the wounds these past few weeks have given, however the biggest factor on home turf will be the capture of the ousted president, not any intervention by other countries. If Russia and Ukraine are able to sort out the differences of opinion and get this money transferred then this should divert any feeling that there should be any military intervention in the country.

 

However because there has already been a ‘failure’ in the eyes of the Russians with the peace deal that has been agreed on Friday, it’s hard to assume that there won’t be any more intervention on by their neighbours and it may feel for the Ukraine to accept the money offered that there is something owed to Russia. This is where the EU as a whole needs to try and take some sort of regulatory role to make sure there isn’t any foul play on either side of the agreement, and this may be helped by the pledge from George Osborne to give money to Ukraine, and any other offers from the US or any other European countries so that they might have a say too.

Alistair Darling accuses Salmond of blindfolding the electorate

Darling meets with members of the public in the Piecebox Café in Polwarth.

Darling meets with members of the public in the Piecebox Café in Polwarth.

Better Together campaign leader, Alistair Darling, today met with members of the public to discuss the most recent developments in the  independence debate. The meeting, at the Piecebox Café in the city’s Polwarth Crescent, comes days after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, dismissed any hope that an independent Scotland could share the pound with the rest of the UK.

The former Chancellor of the Exchequer accused the First Minister of asking the people of Scotland to walk ‘blindfold’ into the polling stations 200 days from now. He said: “In the past few days the wheels have been coming off the nationalist wagon.

“Alex Salmond is not prepared to tell us what currency we will be using and cannot guarantee that if an independent Scotland were to join the EU that they would have the same deal as now.”

DSCN0608[1]Darling strongly emphasised the point that with thecurrency union completely off the table now there is no way to know what the pound in your pocket will be worth in an independent Scotland. This was reinforced by a representative from the Federation of Small Businesses present at the meeting who voiced concerns over the fact that many businesses rely on trade in other areas within the UK, an action that would be made difficult and expensive without a common currency.

He also warned that a change in currency could have dramatic effects on business in Scotland, and suggested that companies such as RBS and Standard Life would face a choice of a move down south in order to trade in the currency held by the majority of its customers.

Finally Darling warned not to take the decision of voting yes or no lightly, as the vote on 18 September is final: ”The result, whatever it is, will stand.

“People have to understand that there is no going back, and if the polls say yes? The result is binding.”

[ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE EDINBURGH REPORTER 17/02/14]

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The independence question – you decide

When it comes to the Scottish independence referendum, I’m not sure. It’s not a case of a lack of information as such, but probably a bombardment of disinformation.

When the original idea of an independence vote came around I was prolifically no. But really it was because I was thinking of ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. But that’s a pretty shallow argument, so it took a bit of thinking to arrive where I am now. I would say that I’m on the fence, leaning towards yes. My lean is attributed to one section of arguments: politics. The reason for that is because the way I see it the only spectrum in an independent (or not) Scotland that can truly be predicted is political.

The current state of affairs isn’t particularly desirable as Scotland is under a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition that we specifically didn’t vote for. I come from an area of Thatcher wasteland so for my community being ruled by Conservatives is a huge injustice. So, at least if we were independent we would be ruled by a government that we actually voted for. Thin argument if that’s your only one though.

The other side of the coin is that if we vote no then how would Scotland be treated as part of a country that we tried to escape. I dread the thought.

For me, that ends all viable arguments. For there is no models to compare of an already developed country in a similar situation. Because Scotland and the rest of the UK are so similar, I can’t see there being many social or economic arguments either way. This is unlike the situation with the Catalan region of Spain, which with the huge tourism industry in the region, if they were to become independent, and follow other small countries in installing a duty free law, could see their area turn into a country or principality such as Andorra or Monaco. The way I see it Scotland will remain indifferent.