Nation

So, for now, the threat of a date-rape drug is for the most part limited to Rohypnol, little white pills also referred to as "roofies," "roachies," "roofenol," "La Rocha," "rope," and "the forget pill." This surgical anesthetic (manufactured by Hoffmann-La Roche, from which some of the drug's street names are derived) is a hypnotic sedative that causes loss of inhibitions as well as weakness, drowsiness, and memory loss. It is the last effect that accounts for the total confusion of victims when they wake up alone and naked in a strange room or hotel.

But there is some good news. Hoffman-La Roche has recently modified Rohypnol to make it more recognizable in drinks. The new pills turn drinks bright blue. If the drink is dark, look for a cloudy appearance. They also take longer to dissolve and form chunks. In both its new and old form, Rohypnol can be picked up in urine tests for up to about three days, although the sooner the test, the more accurate the results. (Of course, the most common of all date-rape drugs is still alcohol.)

There is no question that rape is a pervasive issue for college women. A major research study (Koss, M., "Scope of Rape," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology) has shown that one in eight college women is the victim of rape during her college years, and one in four is the victim of attempted rape. Eighty-four percent of the women know the men who raped them, and 57 percent were on dates. If these numbers seem high, it is because the silence that surrounds rape is astonishing. Ninety-five percent of women did not report being raped to police or college officials, and 42 percent told no one at all.


British Syndrome
Bargain-Basement Nukes

After years of fruitless lobbying, British industry has come up with a surefire scheme to make money off the U.S.'s rapidly aging nuclear power plants, which have become an albatross around the electric utilities' plans for a sparky, deregulated future.

The plan is simple. Buy up the old U.S. plants at bargain-basement rates (a plant that cost taxpayers $4.2 billion goes for as little as $20 million). Then the Brits cut back operations—running the plant into the ground, reducing safety and health standards, and taking advantage of loopholes in U.S. laws that allow compensation for plants that have been stripped down and decommissioned.

This has led to the rise of a company called Amergen, the U.S. affiliate of once government-owned British Energy. Through different combines, including one with Philadelphia Electric Co., Amergen currently controls 20 nuclear reactors, or about 20 percent of U.S. nuclear-generating capacity. And that's just the beginning. British Energy's aggressive takeover plans in Britain and Canada could end up with the parent utility controlling 10 percent of the world's entire capacity.



Spaniel on a Leash

"Is there anything more ridiculous in the news today than the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle? I doubt it. These anti-WTO protesters—who are a Noah's ark of flat-earth advocates, protectionist trade unions and yuppies looking for their 1960s fix—are protesting against the wrong target with the wrong tools." —Thomas Friedman, December 1, The New York Times

Additional reporting: Kate Cortesi

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