11 Stories

After 'Unbearable' Weekend, Flower Fields Are Off-Limits

The bloom is off tourism for Walker Canyon, Calif., after crowds trample poppies

(Newser) - Walker Canyon in Southern California is filled with blooming poppies—providing a rolling, orange view that extends as far as the eye can see—but as of Sunday, it's no longer filled with visitors. Lake Elsinore tried to accommodate the thousands of "super bloom" tourists by bringing in... More »

Secret Ingredient Used in China's Restaurants: Drugs

Country's FDA going after eateries it says use opium poppy powder as seasoning

(Newser) - If repasts at restaurants in China have seemed especially delectable (and irresistible) as of late, it may be because workers were sprinkling addictive opiates into the mix. That's what that country's equivalent of the FDA alleges, and now five restaurants are being prosecuted, while 30 others are getting... More »

Ex-Blackwater Firm Makes Millions in Futile Fight on Afghan Drugs

Guardian: Academi pulled in $569M to kill Afghan narcotics industry, which is thriving

(Newser) - The company formerly known as Blackwater has pulled in a pretty penny from US taxpayers in its Pentagon-supported drive to flush out the Afghan narcotics industry: Nearly $570 million from fiscal 2002 to September 2013 was funneled to the firm now known as Academi—about 32% of the $1.8... More »

US Preps Plans to Take Out Taliban Poppy Crop

Offensive aims to cut off Afghan insurgency's financial lifeline

(Newser) - American commanders in Afghanistan are preparing a huge assault on the Taliban's opium-growing heartlands this summer, reports the New York Times. Taking out the opium crop is key to NATO strategy, and commanders expect casualties on both sides will be high as the militants stand their ground to defend the... More »

Taliban Stockpiles Surplus Opium

This year's crop was double global demand

(Newser) - The Taliban is stockpiling opium in Afghanistan, where high yields in recent years have led to a surplus, the UN drug office says. Poppy cultivation is less widespread than it once was, but the high yield offsets the contraction—and allowed the Taliban to make $300 million off opium last... More »

Afghans Hard-Pressed to Hold Gains in War on Opium

Corruption, other obstacles make cultivation of legitimate crops tough to maintain

(Newser) - Afghanistan’s second-largest opium-producing province has eradicated the drug, a remarkable feat but one that farmers fear is short-lived, the Christian Science Monitor reports. NATO-backed efforts in the country that makes 90% of Earth's opium have reduced poppy harvests, violence, and corruption nationwide. But to grow anything else, the region... More »

Marines Tread Lightly in Opium Poppy Fields

Fighters ignore Afghan crop to avoid alienating locals

(Newser) - The US Marines have been battling the Taliban in the world's largest opium-growing region—and they're taking care not to damage the crop, the AP reports. Troops in Afghanistan are aware that the Taliban makes millions from the poppy harvest, but they also realize that destroying the locals' only source... More »

More Afghan Families Using Girls to Pay Debt

Farmers hit by crop woes give daughters as 'opium brides'

(Newser) - Besieged by debt, more Afghan farmers are paying lenders by handing over their girls as "loan brides," Newsweek reports. Often taken from their families forever, the girls—some younger than 5 years old—are commonly beaten or pushed to suicide by their fate. "My heart is still... More »

Afghan Deputy Governor, 5 Others Killed in Mosque Attack

Bombing comes amid 'failed state' warnings

(Newser) - A suicide bomber in Afghanistan killed six people, including the deputy governor of the dangerous Helmand province, in an attack inside a mosque today. At least 11 others were injured in the explosion in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, a focus of reconstruction programs led by the British army,... More »

US Targets Afghan Opium Crop

Karzai reluctant to allow spraying of heroin producing crop

(Newser) - The US is pressing the Afghan government to stem its booming poppy crop with mass spraying following the biggest opium harvests in its history—which accounts for 91% of the world's production. Therein lies much of the resurgent Taliban's revenue, the New York Times reports, but Karzai fears a Taliban-inspired... More »

Afghanistan Supplies 93% of World's Opiates

Poppy crop jumps 34% over last year

(Newser) - Afghanistan's opium production has soared over the last year and the country now supplies 93% of the world's opiates. Most of the poppies are grown along the country's southern border with Pakistan, where the insurgency is strong, security is weak, and the Taliban continues to use its drug profits to... More »

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