Honduran president Juan Hernandez has slammed the drug policies of the Obama administration, blaming them for an increase in violence throughout Central America and sparking a surge of migration to the United States.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and Hernandez declared that the country has been living “in an emergency for a decade.” He blamed the war on drugs in both the U.S. and Colombia as a key cause, because it pushed drug traffickers into the country and created massive turf wars.
“A good part of [migration] has to do with the lack of opportunities in Central America, which has its origin in the climate of violence, and this violence, almost 85 percent of it, is related to the issue of drug trafficking," he said. "This is creating a serious problem for us that sparked this migration."
Hernandez’s comments come on the heels of those made last week by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who blamed drug addiction in the U.S. with fueling both an immigration crisis and violent cartels throughout Central America. He has urged Obama to ease up on his deportation-heavy plans and work to keep fleeing children in the U.S.
"How do the drug cartels maintain their power? With American guns bought with American dollars because of American consumption of the drugs," he said. "The drugs don't stay in Honduras. They don't stay in Mexico. They come straight to the streets of the United States of America. And so, I think we have a great responsibility in the debilitating of those countries."
The Obama administration is projecting that 150,000 children under the age of 18 could illegally seek to enter the U.S. from Central America next year. They have asked lawmakers for $3.7 billion to pay for more border security, speed up deportations, and hire additional immigrant court judges.
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A 26-year-old woman has become the first person in Tennessee to be charged under a controversial new state law that makes it a crime to use drugs while pregnant.
Mallory Loyola was arrested this week after both she and her newborn baby tested positive for methamphetamine use. The law, signed by Governor Bill Haslam in May and in effect as of July 1, grants law officials the right to charge and prosecute a pregnant woman with assault for using an illegal substance while pregnant if the child is harmed or becomes addicted to the drug. Loyola was subsequently released on $2,000 bail and received a misdemeanor charge.
The bill has generated considerable opposition since it passed through both houses of the Tennessee legislature in early April. Michael Botticelli, former acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated in April that “what’s important is that we create environments where we’re really diminishing the stigma and the barriers, particularly for pregnant women…about their substance abuse disorders.” Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood also voiced similar discontent.
However, Bill Bivens, sheriff of Monroe County, where Loyola was arrested, saw the arrest as a positive move. “Hopefully, it will send a signal to other women who are pregnant and have a drug problem to seek help. That’s what we want them to do,” he said. A provision of the law allows individuals who sought and completed treatment prior to being charged to use that program as defense.
A 20-something who gained a large Instagram following for her sunny posts about all things vegan, Jordan Younger—once known on social media as the Blonde Vegan—became so obsessed with veganism that it drove her into an unhealthy and restrictive diet that triggered an eating disorder known as orthorexia nervosa.
While not an officially recognized disorder, orthorexia nervosa has been defined as a "fixation on righteous eating," according to the National Eating Disorders Association, and caused Younger to suffer from a string of health issues that forced her to rethink her commitment to veganism.
"Food was not enjoyable anymore," Younger told People magazine. "I was spending the entire day obsessing about eating only vegetables, green juices, fruits and occasionally nuts and grains."
"I restricted myself from certain foods—even some that fell under the vegan umbrella—because they were not 100 percent clean or 100 percent raw," she continued. "I was following thousands of rules in my head that were making me sick."
Younger's health went into steep decline. She dropped 15 lbs., had low energy and bad skin, and had even stopped getting her period. At that point, Younger came to the realization that her veganism had contributed to her myriad health problems. That realization led to the simple act of buying a piece of salmon and bringing it home to eat it alone in private so that no one would see her, though Younger knew it would alienate her readers.
"My hormones were out of whack because I had damaged my biochemistry," she said "When I made that decision [to resume eating fish and eggs] I knew I was going to share it on the blog. I knew I would alienate tons of my followers, but there was no way I could live a lie."
But Younger was not prepared for the immediate and sometimes harsh reaction she received. She lost 1,000 followers right off the bat, and began getting death threats from hardcore vegans and animal rights activists.
In the end, however, she knew that the right decision was made. "My blog made it hard for me to see that I had an eating disorder," Younger said. "If I wasn't so closely tied to the vegan identity I'd given myself, I would have realized it a lot sooner."
Younger now blogs on Instagram as The Balanced Blonde.
On Wednesday of last week, police found 51-year-old Michele Rene Cernak stripping and doing yoga in the middle of a road a few blocks from a middle school in Orlando, Fla. And to the surprise of no one, Cernak was high on drugs.
Around 3:40 p.m., police received a call from onlookers reporting a woman taking off her clothes between yoga stretches, fearing that she may be under the influence of something.
"They advised the female had her jeans down to her ankles with only her panties covering her private area," the police report read.
Officers arrived to find Cernak indeed with her pants around her ankles and her gold Chevy GMC pickup truck on the side of the road, engine still running and driver's door still open.
During their search, police found Cernak's ID and car tags that indicated she was actually from Texas. They also found she was in possession of heroin, a syringe, a crack pipe, and three different types of prescription pills. During questioning, Cernak admitted to police that a wound found on her ankle was from shooting heroin.
Cernak has been charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia, and is currently being held in Marion County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
In a mind-boggling decision, Reno fire fighters are allowed to show up to work with up to .08 percent blood alcohol content or certain levels of illegal drugs in their system without facing discipline.
According to a report in the Reno Gazette Journal, firefighters can be found with cocaine or marijuana in their system and no disciplinary action will take place, even if the drugs are present in their system while they are on duty. According to the firefighter contract with the city, the policy will remain in place unless it revised through the collective bargaining process.
As reported by journalist Anjeanette Damon, every other employee of the City of Reno falls under the city's general drug and alcohol policy that dictates a clear prohibition on drug and alcohol use in the workplace. As detailed in the city policy manual, "[w]hile on duty, whether on or off city property, employees are prohibited from using, being under the influence of, possessing, manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, ingesting and/or inhaling alcohol or illegal drugs."
Courtesy of the International Association of Firefighters and the city, this leeway was passed in 2002. The policy states the allowable limit of marijuana is five times the legal limit for driving, while the acceptable limit of amphetamines and cocaine is twice the legal limit for driving. The Reno Fire Department is the only entity to have collectively bargained their own drug and alcohol policy, while every other employee in Reno, including police, fall under the city's clear prohibition against drug and alcohol use while on the job.
When the existence of this policy was realized, a media firestorm started to brew. Although confronted by the insanity of such a policy being on the books, the officials involved seemed not to think there was anything amiss, particularly Fire Chief Michael Hernandez. "What I'm sensing is you're trying to make an issue out of something that really isn't an issue," Hernandez said. "Granted it's a higher threshold, but does that mean firefighters are coming to work drunk? No."
Given the importance of safety and having a clear head on the job, one would believe the union would be against such a policy. However, IAFF President Dennis Jacobsen told the Gazette Journal, "The policy seems to work. If you could show me eight or nine occurrences where you've proven the policy is inadequate, then absolutely we would sit down with the city. But I don't want to try and fix something that is so rarely used."
While impairment puts both firefighters and the public at risk, Reno's policy is not exactly unusual. According to an investigation by NBC Chicago last year, several communities in Illinois have policies allowing for a .08 percent blood alcohol level or higher.