Archive for the ‘drugs’ Category

Zimbabwe: Riot Police Charge into Doctors and Nurses Protesting Health System

December 3, 2008

Humanity seems turned upside down when riot police attack doctors and nurses during a cholera outbreak…But this is Zimbabwe today….

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Riot police charged into a group of doctors and nurses protesting Zimbabwe‘s deepening economic and health crisis, eyewitnesses said Wednesday as deaths rose sharply from a cholera epidemic blamed on collapsing infrastructure.

The witnesses said officers in downtown Harare ran into a march of doctors and nurses — some in uniform — who fled the police charge. A few blocks away, police stopped teachers trying to join the same protest and at least six people were taken away in police trucks, according to the witnesses, who declined to give their names for fear of official retribution.

The unions are joining a mass movement to press the government to respond to the worsening crises.

Men in the blue uniforms of paramilitary police armed with rifles were seen positioned atop several high-rise bank headquarters Wednesday.

On Monday, soldiers went on a rampage after they were unable to withdraw wages from banks, which have been short of cash as a result of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown.

Zimbabwe’s state newspaper said quoted defense minister Sydney Sekeramayi as saying that rogue elements in the country were trying to incite violence against the government.

He said the coincidence of Monday’s incident and the call for protests by unions and civil rights organizations “raises a lot of questions” and that any unlawful demonstrations would not be tolerated.

The United Nations said that deaths from the cholera epidemic had risen to 565, with 12,546 people infected. The government had been reporting 473 cholera deaths since August, and a total of 11,700 people infected as of Monday.

The nationwide outbreak of the waterborne disease is blamed on collapsing water treatment plants and broken sewage pipes.

Zimbabwe has been paralyzed since disputed elections in March. President Robert Mugabe and the opposition are wrangling over a power-sharing deal.

The country is suffering from the world’s highest inflation and Zimbabweans face daily shortages of food and other basic goods. Many hospitals and clinics have been forced to shut their doors because of a lack of drugs and medicines.

On Wednesday, water supplies were restored to parts of Harare after authorities turned off the taps for three days after saying they had run out of purifying chemicals.

Zimbabwe’s government is cooperating with aid agencies to try to stem the spread of cholera but has stopped short of declaring the epidemic a national emergency.

The European Commission said it was providing more than $12 million for drugs and clean water while the International Red Cross was also releasing more funds to deal with the epidemic.

“Cholera is a disease of destitution that used to be almost unknown in Zimbabwe,” Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid said.

Plaxico Not The First ‘Star’ to Shoot Himself in the Foot

December 2, 2008

From Michael Vick to Jim Brown there is a parade of “Bad Boys” from the NFL, other sports and Hollywood.  We are not saints; just people.  Now Plaxico Burress gets 15 minutes of fame not for a Super bowl touchdown but for shooting hemself in the foot, er, leg….

Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick(R) leaves ... 
Suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick(R) leaves Surry County Circuit Court after entering a guilty plea on two felony counts connected to dog fighting in Sussex, Virginia. Under a plea agreement, Vick, who is currently serving a term in prison for federal dog fighting charges, will serve one-year of probation for the state charges.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Geoff Burke)

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The weekend self-injury of New York Giants star badboy Plaxico Burress, who sustained a personal injury gunshot in the leg when an illegally concealed weapon accidentally went off may have a few others in hot water.

In New York state, it is a misdemeanor for a hospital not to report a gunshot wound to the police, and according to reports, that is exactly what happened.  It appears that several employees of New York-Cornell Hospital, who treated Burress, did not contact the police. The New York State Department of Health is investigating to see if information was deliberately hidden to protect Burress. Additionally the hospital itself has admitted it has suspended an employee for not following procedure.  The hospital says it is their policy to contact the police in regards to all gunshot patients.

New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, center, arrives ... 
New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, center, arrives in Manhattan Supreme Court in handcuffs, Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, in New York. Lawyer Benjamin Brafman says Burress planned to plead not guilty to a weapon possession charge during a Monday afternoon court appearance. Burress accidentally shot himself at a Manhattan nightclub Friday evening.(AP Photo/David Karp)

Meanwhile Antonio Pierce, another New York Giant who was with Burress at the club Latin Quarter during the injury and aftermath, is being sought for questioning by police.  It appears, however, that he ditched the cops yesterday in favor of a paid radio appearance.  Pierce also is reported to have spoken to NFL security about the incident without a lawyer present which could get the league itself tangled up in the investigation.

Link to:

http://lawofhollywoodland.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/plaxico-burress-
weekend-shooting-puts-others-in-laws-sights/


Above: Mug shots of Ryan O’Neil and son Redmond when they were booked by police on drug charges….


Jim Brown was my hero when he played for the Cleveland Browns and he is again my hero now.  But there was a time there when he was just about nobody’s hero…..

Cocaine Blocks Free Trade

November 13, 2008

The expanding cocaine trade in Colombia is undermining President George W. Bush’s effort to push through a free-trade agreement with his southern neighbor.  Despite opposition from Democracts, Bush is trying to seal a deal before he leaves office in January by hitching it to a bailout for U.S. automakers. Álvaro Uribe, the Colombian president, has argued that free trade would produce jobs in Colombia that would provide alternatives to the illegal drug trade. With the global economy in the cellar, that argument has lost much of its luster.

Now it appears the cocaine business is stronger than previously thought. As the United States was pouring $5 billion into Colombia to fight drugs over the past eight years, particularly cocaine, the country’s drug cartels were finding new routes through West Africa and shipping their wares to expanding markets in Europe, Africa, and South America. The U.S. General Accounting Office reported last week that instead of reducing the cultivation and production of drugs by 50 percent, the stated goal of the U.S.-funded Plan Colombia, Uribe has presided over an increase in coca cultivation of 15 percent and an increase in cocaine production of 4 percent. 

The report was ordered by Vice President-elect Joseph Biden, meaning President-elect Barack Obama, one of the main barriers to the free trade deal, probably took note.

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe, center, gestures, during ... 

Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe, center, gestures, during a graduation ceremony for new police officers in Bogota, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. At left is Colombia’s Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, at right, the commander of Army Forces Gen. Freddy Padilla.(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

From Newsweek

Read it all:
http://www.blog.newsweek.com/blogs/ov/archive/
2008/11/11/coccaine-a-thriving-industry.aspx

Veteran’s kin wants answers on PTSD drugs

November 13, 2008

A West Virginia man whose son survived the battlefields of Iraq only to die in his sleep at home is crusading to find other military families whose loved ones also have died after taking drugs prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

By Andrea Billups
The Washington Times 

Stan White’s son Andrew, who was found dead in bed at the family’s Cross Lanes, W.Va., home on Feb. 12, 2007, is one among a cluster of young veterans in the state who have died in their sleep with little explanation. Now Mr. White wants the federal government to monitor the drugs it prescribes to some 375,000 soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental trauma.

So far, he has identified nine veterans across the country – including four in West Virginia – who have died in their sleep after taking antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.

Mr. White has met with members of Congress and asked for Capitol Hill hearings to investigate the deaths. His research prompted a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) investigation into Andrew’s and one other death, which were found to have been caused by “combined drug intoxication.” But the investigation could not determine whether the prescribed medications were at fault….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008
/nov/13/veterans-kin-demands-answ
ers-on-ptsd-drugs/

Afghanistan at the crossroads: Drought, food crisis drive Afghans out of villages

November 10, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan, November 10 (UNHCR) – Severe drought and food shortages have caused thousands of people to leave their villages in Afghanistan’s north and west to find work and aid. Many more are expected to move in desperation as winter approaches.

Provinces such as Badghis, Faryab, Jawzjan, Ghor, Saripul, Balkh and Samangan have been hard hit by a harsh winter earlier this year, followed by a debilitating drought and poor harvest. The production of wheat – an Afghan staple – is reportedly down by 36 percent compared to last year, while the Ministry of Agriculture has said the country is facing a deficit of 2 million tonnes of mixed food items over the next six months.

Soaring global food prices have exacerbated the problem of food insecurity. A UN appeal in July reported that the prices of wheat and wheat flour have gone up by 200 percent countrywide over the past year. The worst affected people are the small farmers, landless people, nomads and casual labourers.

“There’s no rain this year,” complains Qadir, 25, who left his village in Balkh three months ago to find work in Kabul. “Back home, I own a plot of rain-fed land and grew wheat on it. It’s small but was enough to feed my family – until the drought. I just left the land. It’s useless.”

Saifullah, 30, chips in, “The drought has affected hundreds of families in Samangan. We cultivated seeds but couldn’t get a harvest or recoup our money. We’re all leaving.”

Momin, 18, is from Charken village in Balkh province, where he supports a family of six people. “My whole neighbourhood is affected. In the past, we could work on our farms. But now, people are going to Mazar-e-Sharif or Kabul to find jobs,” he says.

The three men have joined hundreds of others at Charahi Sarai Shomali, a busy roundabout in northern Kabul located beside a bus station that plies the route between Kabul and the northern provinces. They come here early every morning and wait for potential employers to pick them up for daily-wage labour, mostly on construction sites. They make US$3-US$4 a day and work three to four days a week on average.

To save up for their families, it’s not unusual for more than 10 of these migrant workers to share one room in Kabul. The living is rough, but at least they have some income and a roof over their heads – unlike the thousands of others who have been displaced by the drought and shortage of food and water.

The numbers of the drought-displaced vary. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates that more than 6,500 Afghans have left their homes in the north and west as a result of the drought this year. The International Committee of the Red Cross believes some 280,000 people are suffering from its effects, and that thousands of families could leave their homes in search of food and work as winter looms.

In the last six months, UNHCR has reported the displacement of more than 2,700 families (approximately 19,000 people), mostly from or within Badghis, Balkh, Saripul and Samangan provinces. Some have gone to district centres like Mazar-e-Sharif, to nearby provinces like Herat, or to neighbouring countries such as Iran and Pakistan. All were forced to move because of food insecurity, drought or poverty.

Some families leaving Keshendeh district in Balkh dismantled their houses, indicating they had no intention to return. Those who remain said that without food and water assistance, 70 percent of the population – or some 500 families – could leave the area. UNHCR is working with other UN agencies and the government to start bringing water tankers as soon as possible.

“Meeting humanitarian needs in areas of origin is the best way to prevent food and drought-related displacement,” said Ewen Macleod, the UN refugee agency’s acting representative in Afghanistan. “This means pre-positioning aid before snow and the cold weather cut off access to some of these areas.”

Returnees have been affected too, including 183 families who returned from Pakistan to Saripul last year and recently left again for Quetta in south-western Pakistan. In the central Afghan provinces of Logar and Ghazni, food insecurity meant that returnees were too busy trying to support themselves to complete construction on their UNHCR-funded shelters. The agency worked with the World Food Programme to provide food to 700 families so that they could focus on finishing their homes before the onset of winter.

The largest recent displacement took place in Balkh, where 1,400 families left their homes in Alborz in late May and set up a makeshift camp beside a river in Sholgara district. After weeks of talks between the community, government and UN agencies, the families were transported back to their villages in mid-July, where they received food rations.

As security deteriorates in parts of the country, the UN has appealed for humanitarian access to allow aid workers to distribute food to needy communities ahead of winter. A recent report by British think tank, the Royal United Services Institute, warned that a looming famine in Afghanistan could pose a greater threat to international efforts to rebuild the country than the conflict there.

Desperation defies definition. Whether driven by hunger, thirst or poverty, thousands of Afghans are moving in an effort to survive. Asked if he plans to return home to Balkh soon, Momin the young job seeker in Kabul sighs, “If you have money, you miss your family. If you have no money, you can’t afford to miss them. You need to do something to help them.”

His friend Abdul Qadir, also from Balkh, adds simply, “If things get worse in Afghanistan, I’ll have to go to Pakistan again.”

By Vivian Tan
in Kabul, Afghanistan

Happy hours and cheap alcohol should be banned, say Brit MPs

November 10, 2008

Alcohol and drug use have become more than a problem in Britain.  Some say there is now a crisis….

By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
The Telegraph, London
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A damning Home Affairs Select Committee report said that alcohol-related disorder was placing a “heavy burden” on police and diverting officers from fighting serious crime.

Police chiefs blame the Government’s decision to relax licensing laws, drinks promotions in pubs and clubs, and the cheap availability of alcohol in supermarkets and off licences, it said.

The report also criticised Whitehall-imposed targets for distorting police priorities, leading them to focus on “trivial misdemeanours” and meaning that forces across the country were “hitting their targets but missing the point”.

Opposition leaders said that the findings exposed the Government’s “reckless” approach to 24-hour drinking laws and a top down target-driven agenda that has proved “an expensive disaster”.

The report, “Policing in the 21st century”, unveiled the strain that alcohol-related violence had put on police resources.

In Devon and Cornwall, Chief Constable Stephen Otter said there has been a “fairly significant increase in the proportion of violent crime where we can be absolutely sure there is an alcohol-related aspect” in the past four years.

The committee called for a ban on selling alcohol as a loss leader and the setting of a minimum price for all drinks.

Chairman Keith Vaz said: “We cannot have on one hand a world of alcohol promotions for profit that fuels surges of crime and disorder, and on the other the police diverting all their resources to cope with it.”

The report cited research that found 45 per cent of victims of violence described their assailant as being under the influence of alcohol.

There has also been an increase in trouble in suburban areas, because people are drinking locally at weekends, where pubs now stay open later, rather than paying the cab fare and entry fees of pubs in town centres.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3411958/Happy-
hours-and-cheap-alcohol-should-be-banned-say-MPs.html

General bucks culture of silence on mental health

November 8, 2008

It takes a brave soldier to do what Army Maj. Gen. David Blackledge did in Iraq. It takes as much bravery to do what he did when he got home.

Blackledge got psychiatric counseling to deal with wartime trauma, and now he is defying the military’s culture of silence on the subject of mental health problems and treatment.

By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer

“It’s part of our profession … nobody wants to admit that they’ve got a weakness in this area,” Blackledge said of mental health problems among troops returning from America’s two wars.

In this photograph provided by Maj. Gen. David Blackledge, Blackledge, ... 
In this photograph provided by Maj. Gen. David Blackledge, Blackledge, right, stands in front of a helicopter in Iraq in this undated photograph. Blackledge got psychiatric counseling to deal with wartime trauma, and now is defying the military’s culture of silence on the subject of mental health problems and treatment. ‘It’s part of our profession … nobody wants to admit that they’ve got a weakness in this area,’ Blackledge said of mental health problems among troops returning from America’s two wars. The man at left is unidentified.(AP Photo/Blackledge Family Photo)

“I have dealt with it. I’m dealing with it now,” said Blackledge, who came home with post-traumatic stress. “We need to be able to talk about it.”

As the nation marks another Veterans Day, thousands of troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with anxiety, depression and other emotional problems.

Up to 20 percent of the more than 1.7 million who’ve served in the wars are estimated to have symptoms. In a sign of how tough it may be to change attitudes, roughly half of those who need help aren’t seeking it, studies have found.

Despite efforts to reduce the stigma of getting treatment, officials say they fear generals and other senior leaders remain unwilling to go for help, much less talk about it, partly because they fear it will hurt chances for promotion.

That reluctance is also worrisome because it sends the wrong signal to younger officers and perpetuates the problem leaders are working to reverse.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081108/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/
military_mental_health;_ylt=AmZE9YFVxoU6x8QhB_jGf6Ws0NUE

Cocaine Smuggling Submarines: Druggies Getting Trickier

November 7, 2008

Authorities discovered a submarine-like vessel Friday still under construction by drug traffickers who planned to use it to smuggle cocaine, the head of Colombia’s secret police said.

Eduardo Fernandez said the fiberglass submarine was nearly complete when police found it near the Pacific Ocean, in Tumaco, 370 miles southwest of Bogota.

Associated Press

“The ingenuity of drug traffickers is amazing,” Fernandez told The Associated Press.

He said the vessel would have been used to carry cocaine to speed boats offshore, which would then take the drugs to Central America or Mexico, for eventual delivery to the United States.

The discovery came after authorities were tipped off to pieces of fiberglass and other construction material being transported to where the submarine was being built.

Officials stand next to an submersible craft with 1.6 tons of ... 
Officials stand next to an submersible craft with 1.6 tons of cocaine in Cabo Manglares, near the Ecuadorean border with Colombia November 4, 2008.REUTERS/John Vizcaino (COLOMBIA)

Fernandez didn’t provide details of its size. But Colombian authorities have caught drug traffickers using subs on a few occasions. They have been small, fiberglass vessels that travel just below the surface. But in 2000, police on a raid of a warehouse near Bogota were stunned to find a 100-foot-long steel submarine being built to transport up to 150 tons of cocaine.

British troops back from Afghanistan are 10 times more likely to suffer mental illness, say MOD

November 5, 2008

British troops returning from combat in Afghanistan are 10 times more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than colleagues who stay at home.

Last year almost 4,000 military personnel were diagnosed with mental health problems including hundreds suffering from depression, mood swings, alcoholism or ‘adjustment disorders’ after serving in war zones.

By Matthew Hickley
The Mail (UK)

This is because mentally-scarred troops often suffer in silence for many years before seeking help.

Mental health statistics released by the Ministry of Defence showed 3,917 serving armed forces were assessed as having mental disorders in  2007.

While most conditions showed no significantly heightened risk for those returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, PTSD was a dramatic exception.

Officials said that while numbers of new PTSD cases were modest there was a ‘marked increase’ in the risk for those recently deployed on combat operations, accounting for 38 out of 43 of the cases recorded in the last three months of the year.

Overall those who have served in Afghanistan were more than nine times more likely to develop the crippling condition than their colleagues who have not served abroad, while for Iraq the figure was almost seven times.

While defence officials insisted the number of PTSD cases was ‘fairly low’ – with 180 servicemen and women diagnosed last year – veterans’s charities warned that the figures could be only the tip of the iceberg.

Read the rest:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1082991/British-troops-Afghanistan-10-times-likely-suffer-mental-illness-say-MOD.html?ITO=1490

soldiers

Figures showed 3,917 new cases of armed services personnel assessed to have a mental disorder

Al Qaeda Won’t Feel Effects of Global Economic Trouble

October 16, 2008

CAIRO, Egypt (AP)  —  Al Qaeda, which gets its money from the drug trade in Afghanistan and sympathizers in the oil-rich Gulf states, is likely to escape the effects of the global financial crisis.

One reason is that Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorists have been forced to avoid using banks, relying instead on less-efficient ways to move their cash around the world, analysts said.

Those methods include hand-carrying money and using informal transfer networks called hawalas.

US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll speaks during ...
US military spokesman Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll speaks during a news conference at the Green Zone area in Baghdad, Iraq. The US military said on Wednesday that a foreign insurgent killed in the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul this month has been identified as Abu Qaswarah, Al-Qaeda’s number two in Iraq.(AFP/POOL/Ali Abbas)

While escaping official scrutiny, those networks also are slower and less efficient — and thus could hamper efforts to finance attacks.

“It would be inconceivable that large amounts of [terror-linked] money would transit through the formal financial system, because of all the controls,” said Ibrahim Warde, an expert on terrorist financing at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

The question of where Al Qaeda and its sympathizers get their money has long been crucial to efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. A 2004 U.S. investigation found that banks in the United Arab Emirates had unwittingly handled most of the $400,000 spent on the Sept. 11 attacks.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,439382,00.html