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quitting smoking

7/08/13 2:02pm

Man Dons Wire Mask to Quit Smoking

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The cost of freedom. Photo via

If you've ever tried to quit smoking, you may be able to relate to a man from Turkey who has created a special wire helmet to prevent a cigarette from entering his mouth. Ibrahim Yucel, a 42-year-old technician from Kütahya, Turkey, says he wanted to kick his 26-year-long two-pack-a-day habit for the sake of his family. But after multiple past attempts to quit on his own birthday every year, his three children's birthdays, and his wedding anniversary, he couldn't manage to stay smoke-free for more than a few days. So he invented and built a wire head cage, inspired by motorcycle helmets, which he locks on to his head. And he has given the only two sets of keys to his wife and teenage daughter. He says the shame of wearing a large wire helmet on his head in public is an additional factor motivating him to quit. Yucel lost his own father to lung cancer from smoking, and he is determined not to leave his family in the same situation. He's been wearing the helmet, and has been smoke-free, since the beginning of this month.

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By Bryan Le

celebrity recovery

7/08/13 1:06pm

Kat Von D Celebrates Six Years Sober

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Onwards and upwards. Photo via

Former LA Ink star Kat Von D celebrated six years clean and sober this weekend with a post on Instagram. "Today, marks my 6th year of sobriety! Yay for not being a drunken a**hole!! :)" she tweeted, with a photo of her holding up six fingers. The 31-year-old professional tattoo artist, whose celebrity clientele includes Lady Gaga and Beyoncefinally decided to get sober after her drinking started to threaten her work. "When I realized that drinking was getting in the way [of my tattoo'ing], I woke up one day and said I don't want to drink anymore and I stopped," she told Rosie O'Donnell last year. After quitting substances she realized, "My friends aren't really my friends, I'm just a party favor." But since getting sober, she hangs out with people who are "on the same frequency." Von D has been romantically linked to several sober dudes, including Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx (who also recently celebrated a sober anniversary), and Jesse James, to whom she was briefly engaged in 2011. After James was accused of cheating on his ex-wife Sandra Bullock in 2010, Von D urged others to show compassion. "I think we’re all human and we’re all capable of making mistakes," she said in his defense, "I think if I were to be crucified for my drug addiction three years ago now, it would be harder to live with that. I’m sober now, I’ve made mistakes too."

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By May Wilkerson

heroin kingpin

7/08/13 12:20pm

"Godfather of Heroin" Dies at 80

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Lo Hsing Han Photo via

Myanmar-based Lo Hsing Han, dubbed the "Godfather of Heroin" by the US government, died over the weekend of a stroke at the age of 80. Mr. Lo was considered to be one of the biggest heroin traffickers in the world for decades while also allegedly engaging in illegal business dealings that helped prop up Myanmar's former oppressive military junta. During the 1960s and 70s, Mr. Lo commanded a militia of 3,000 men who oversaw the cultivation of opium and heroin that was then trafficked from Myanmar (then known as Burma) to Europe and the US. He was reportedly given permission to traffic drugs in exchange for supporting the army's crackdown on Communist forces, but he then switched sides and was arrested for treason in 1973 and given life in prison. He was released in 1980 as part of a general amnesty. Described as the “kingpin of the heroin traffic in Southeast Asia" by President Richard Nixon, Mr. Lo later used his drug profits in the 1990s to build a corporate empire called "Asia World," which was believed to be a cover for drug trafficking. Asia World remains a powerful business conglomerate that is now run by Lo's son, Stephen Law. The father-son duo were placed on the US Department of Treasury financial sanctions list in 2008.

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By McCarton Ackerman

booze brain

7/08/13 10:31am

Even Moderate Drinking May Slow Your Brain

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Doh. Photo via

Drinking just three pints of beer or three medium glasses of wine a week can slow your brain permanently, according to a new study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. Researchers at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain compared 26 binge-drinker students—those who drank at least six units of alcohol in one sitting once a week—with 31 students who abstained from alcohol. After consuming the booze, the participants were asked to react to different flashing symbols. While there was no noticeable difference in speed or accuracy of responses between the two groups, the binge drinkers had to use 20% more brain power to achieve the same results. Researchers say this proves that drinkers “experience anomalies in neural activity” which can impact their working memory and their ability to pay attention. “This shows why we need to change the culture where it’s seen as the norm to drink excessively at university,” says Emily Robinson, director of the campaign group Alcohol Concern. “Binge-drinking carries lots of risks in terms of the immediate safety of students, but also in terms of their future health and the likelihood of developing an alcohol problem later in life.” In fact, the culture on campus may already be changing: A 2012 report found that college drinking is currently at an all-time low.

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By Chrisanne Grise

Headlines

7/08/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: July 8, 2013

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Roberto Pannunzi "the most important broker
for cocaine trafficking from South America
to Europe" Photo via

By The Fix staff

booze bans

7/05/13 3:31pm

Indonesia Could Ban Booze Sales

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"Sinful" spirits could soon be banned across
the country. Photo via

Local booze bans could soon gain ground in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country after Indonesia's Supreme Court granted jurisdiction over the sale and distribution of alcohol to local authorities. A judicial review filed by the Islam Defenders Front (FPI)notorious for conducting violent raids on "sinful" bars and nightclubswas accepted by the court, abolishing a 1997 presidential decree which barred local authorities from banning the sale and distribution of alcohol. Following the ruling, local bylaws can now forbid the sale of alcohol to tourists and the small numbers of Indonesians who do drink. FPI has hailed it as a victory. "All Indonesian Muslims are overjoyed," says Salim Alatas, the head of the FPI's Jakarta branch. "The ruling has saved generations from the negative impact of alcohol." Since the court issued the ruling in mid-June, more than 22 local municipalities have prohibited the sales of alcohol. Booze sales in Indonesia have increased by more than 20% annually over the past three years.

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