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TEHRAN — Iran's Islamic Republic has sought to control morals and public conduct for some 40 years now, and the apparent détente with Western powers won't be changing anything on this front.

Take its ongoing antipathy toward Western — or some would say, virtually all — music. For Iran's clerics, music and related festivities are often considered a moral distraction and a prelude to lewdness.

A senior policemen warned this week that authorities would act against any school buses or taxis playing music while transporting children to school, the reformist daily Arman-e Emruz reported. Jabbar Esfandiari, the deputy traffic police chief for the western province of Ilam, said parents had complained that "moral norms were being flouted" on some school buses. The ban extends nationwide, though it is not clear how effectively it can be enforced.

Meanwhile, Arman-e Emruzhas also reported this week that Hossein Hashemi, the governor of the Tehran province, has voiced concerns over drugs. The governor declared that the capital and its surroundings had some 15,000 drug addicts on the streets, who were increasingly taking drugs in public and enjoying "nighttime parties" in Tehran's parks.

Hashemi told a seminar in Tehran that "many dangerous addicts are loose on the streets and there are reports of their gathering around midnight in parks and by roadsides and sidewalks to take drugs."

Parties, drugs and alcohol use are forbidden in Iran. The daily cited police in Tehran as saying that it was of no use arresting these addicts, as rehabilitation facilities were insufficient and they would be back on the street within days. Western problems indeed.

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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