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8/21/14 8:30am

Bogus 'Facebook Drug Task Force' Story Goes Viral

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A new report that Facebook has instituted a “Facebook Drug Task Force” has left potheads across the country in panic, but it turns out that the story was a hoax.

Satirical news site National Report was responsible for the bogus post, which has since received 150,000 shares. The story reported that Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg had hired a team whose sole purpose it was to monitor posts and messages for any sign of users trying to buy or sell drugs. The story was inspired by Facebook’s announcement that they would be adding “satire” tags to fake news stories after many gullible users were taking outrageous stories posted by other people to heart.

The story included a 24-hour hotline for the Facebook Drug Task Force, but those who called it were taken to the direct line of the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. Despite the absurdity of the story given its source, several anxious drug users took to Twitter with comments that included “THE FEDS ARE WATCHING” and “How the fuck am I going to buy drugs now?” A Facebook spokesperson was forced to address the story and labeled it as “spectacularly false."

Facebook has regularly been the source of drug-related controversy. Residents of Clermont County in Ohio were outraged at three teenagers injecting their friend with heroin and posting photos of his dead body to the social media site last October, and even more so after only one of them was charged with a crime. Dylan Owens, 19, died from the injection, but only Maddison Rogers, 22, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and corrupting another with drugs after administering the fatal heroin dose.

The Clermont County prosecutor said he doesn’t expect the other two individuals, both 20, to be charged with a crime unless new evidence is presented. “There were three people there, there were three people involved and they should all pay for what they did to Dylan,” said his mother, Tina Owens. “I don't know why they would do that, I don't know why they'd be so callous and cruel and heartless. Dylan would have my back and I want to have his and I just want justice."

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

8/21/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Aug. 21, 2014

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All aboard! Photo via

By Shawn Dwyer

synthetic drugs

8/20/14 7:30pm

Head Shop Owner Gets 17½ Years for Selling Synthetic Drugs

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Jim Carlson. Photo via

Jim Carlson, owner of the Last Place on Earth head shop in Duluth, Minn., was sentenced to 17½ years in prison for selling synthetic drugs out of his shop. A U.S District Judge doled out the long sentence during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis last Thursday. 

The case serves as one of the first tests in a federal court of how authorities can begin to fight synthetic drugs, which have previously been difficult for authorities to regulate due to drug makers constantly adjusting their formulas to stay ahead of the law. Lawmakers and police officials believe that the stiff sentence will send a clear message to the many people who continue to sell synthetic drugs.

During the hearing, Carlson, 57, of Superior, Wis., delivered a statement criticizing drug-laws and the government. “All over the place, not a person got bothered but me and my family,” he told the judge. “I was always told that laws are applied equally. I cannot see how this is equal.”

Carlson went on to argue that dozens of other stores and countless Internet sites across the country sell synthetics without interference from the government. “Everybody admits the war on drugs is not working. It's a fiasco,” Carlson complained.

Carlson’s defense attorney, Randall Tigue, told reporters of plans to appeal because Judge Doty prevented them from explaining why Carlson believed his actions were legal. “We'll have an appeal filed by Monday,” Tigue said.

After the hearing, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar issued a statement praising the sentence. “Today’s action sends a strong message about our commitment to cracking down on synthetic drugs and the people who push them,” she said. “Synthetic drugs are tearing families apart and claiming young peoples’ lives in Minnesota and across the country.”

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By Desiree Bowie

deadly drug

8/20/14 5:30pm

Survey Says: Alcohol Still the Deadliest Drug

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Despite messages in the media and laws that suggest otherwise, alcohol remains the most deadly drug available. In fact, alcohol has been involved in more homicides than all other drugs combined.

Surveys of those in prison have found that about 40% had been under the influence of alcohol during their offenses that landed them behind bars. The average incarcerated drinker has been three times above the legal limit when committing their crime, which includes murder, sexual assault, and domestic violence.

While alcohol isn't the deciding factor of whether these people would have committed crimes, it has played a distinct role in lowering inhibitions and increasing the likelihood that violence will happen.

Alcohol's effects aren't just limited to inhibiting the judgement of a perpetrator, but the victims' judgement as well, which could make them more vulnerable to crime than they would be sober. According to an analysis of Illinois violent deaths, 40% of homicide victims had alcohol in their blood systems at the time of death. In contrast, 10% had cocaine and only 3% were on opiates.

But the issue is complicated by alcohol's legality and availability. Some states have implemented programs to help control alcohol-fueled crime, such as South Dakota's 24/7 sobriety program that helps keep alcohol-related offenders away from alcohol through a support network rather than draconian penalties. And more could be invested into the treatment of alcoholism. For example, in 2011, four million uninsured Americans were in need of help for their alcohol disorders.

The Affordable Care Act has brought with it the biggest expansion in alcohol treatment resources in American history. While these steps have helped with America's alcohol problem, influences in our popular culture still need to be addressed, such as beer companies attempting to sell their products at the World Cup and their frequent sponsorship of violent sports such as ultimate fighting and boxing. 

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By Bryan Le

eating disorders

8/20/14 3:30pm

'Girls' Star Zosia Mamet Reveals Eating Disorder

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Zosia Mamet, actress and daughter of famed playwright David Mamet who plays the uptight Shoshanna Shapiro on HBO's Girls, recently wrote a column in Glamour magazine detailing her life-long battle with eating disorders.

Mamet described how she first developed issues with weight when she was told that she was fat at eight years old. That manifested into "a monster in my brain" that compelled her to "abuse my body" and "stand in front of the refrigerator late at night staring into that white fluorescent light, debilitated by the war raging inside me."

"I was only 17, living in misery, waiting to die," she wrote.

Mamet went on to reveal that it was her father who first compelled her to receive treatment by telling her that she wasn't "allowed to die." She realized for the first time that others around her were also being affected by her disease and that led to her receiving treatment.

"[D]uring treatment I discovered that my disorder has never really been about weight or food—that's just the way the monster manifests itself," Mamet wrote. "Really these diseases are about control: control of your life and of your body."

The control issues she faced were in part an extension of our culture, which constantly projects the idea that "skinny" is healthy and ideal. Mamet went on to urge those suffering from eating disorders to know that they aren't alone and to talk to the people they love.

"Today I'm at a healthy weight, though I realize that my obsession will always be with me in some way," Mamet wrote at the end of her piece. "For years the voice inside me has gotten louder or quieter at times. It may never disappear completely, but hopefully one day it'll be so quiet, it'll only be a whisper and I'll wonder, Was that just the wind?"

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By Shawn Dwyer

not so harmless

8/20/14 1:00pm

E-Cigarettes Are Not As Harmless As We've Been Told

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There is growing evidence that e-cigarettes are not as safe as manufacturers claim. The billion-dollar industry has exploded in recent years, drawing customers with the promise of safe nicotine consumption without the harmful, carcinogenic byproducts of regular cigarettes.

Aggressive marketing by e-cigarette manufacturers tout the health benefits of vaping, which involves the atomization of a nicotinated propylene glycol solution or e-liquid, over smoking. But several recent studies raise concerns about the actual safety of the devices.

Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, and his research team examined emerging data on what e-cigarette smokers are inhaling. The researchers found that e-cigarettes produce greater risk than scientists had thought, delivering high levels of nano particles which can trigger inflammation and have been linked to asthma, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

A study published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology showed that e-cigarette performance was virtually identical to that of regular cigarettes, in terms of exhaled nitric oxide rates. The presence of chemicals such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, toluene, and heavy metals like cadmium, nickel, and lead in both first and second-hand vapor was found in multiple studies, as well.

Solvents, which are used to dissolve the nicotine and flavorings in e-cigarette vapor, are potent lung irritants and upon heating can be converted to carcinogenic compounds known as carbonyls. A recent meta-study by Dr. Priscilla Callahan-Lyon of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products found that most e-cigarette vapor contained at least trace amounts of the solvents.

Not only is the evidence mounting against the health and safety of e-cigarettes themselves, but for many people, the devices are not actually conducive to smoke cessation either.

“The e-cigarettes are rapidly penetrating the market, especially with kids. They’re being heavily promoted largely by the cigarette companies that have purchased e-cigarette companies as a way to quit smoking, a way that’s safe and doesn’t pollute the air,” Glantz told Gizmodo. “What the evidence to date shows is that while a puff on an e-cigarette isn’t as dangerous as a puff on a regular cigarette, the main effect they seem to be having is to keep people smoking cigarettes.”

For many smokers, e-cigarettes have opened the door to the “dual use effect,” which means that instead of quitting cigarettes, smokers are simply supplementing their current smoking habit, using e-cigarettes for indoor use or wherever regular cigarettes are prohibited.

“Certainly, as the cigarette companies take over the e-cigarette market, there’s no incentive for them to promote e-cigarettes as an alternative to regular cigarettes because the tobacco companies make a lot more money off of cigarettes,” Glantz said.

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By Victoria Kim

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