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banana trafficking

6/12/13 2:22pm

Supermarket Receives Cocaine in Banana Boxes

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A whole bunch of problems. Photo via

It appears Latin American cocaine dealers and banana suppliers have gotten their wires crossed. Authorities report that a shipment of cocaine was sent to a Danish supermarket, in a box of bananas. Employees at the Aarhaus branch of supermarket chain Coop noticed that several boxes of bananas in a recent shipment were heavier than the others. After popping them open, they found 100 kg (220 lbs) of white powder, which police "believe is cocaine." Coop spokesman Jens Juul says that they discovered more of the white powder in another Colombian supply shipment at their central dispatch facility in Copenhagen. They've since issued an enquiry to their Colombian supplier as to why their banana stock is being replaced with cocaine. Police haven't yet made any arrests, but are keeping their eyes peeled. A similar incident happened last year in the Netherlands—the supermarket there chose to donate the bananas that hid the cocaine to zoo monkeys.

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By Bryan Le

drunk dads

6/12/13 1:01pm

Do TV's Drunk Dads Give Fatherhood a Bad Rap?

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Hilarious, or discriminating? Photo via

Is beer-guzzling couch potato Homer Simpson your idea of a typical dad? Most dads on TV are bumbling, incompetent and alcoholic stereotypes, according to UK parenting site Netmums. But while these dads being the butt of jokes may be fodder for comedy, the trend reportedly has a “corrosive effect” on how the public perceives modern masculinity and fatherhood. About half the site's users polled said they found the media typically portrays dads as lazy and stupid, with a third regarding such portrayals as a “subtle form of discrimination.” Boozy dads from popular TV shows abound: from Homer to Family Guy's Peter Griffin, to Married With Children's Al Bundy to Frank Gallagher from Shameless. “It’s never been harder to be a father—but good dads have never been more needed by their families," says Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard. "So it seems perverse we are telling men to step up and be involved, while running them down in the media...Some people claim it’s ‘just a joke’—but there’s nothing amusing about taking away good role models for young boys.”

In reality, dads seem to be working harder than ever to avoid the Simpsons model of fatherhood. Of the 2,150 parents questioned, three quarters said the men were "more hands-on" compared to a generation ago, and nine of 10 dads polled said they're making an effort to be better fathers than their own dads. Two thirds of men report being happier having had children. “It would be nice to see more accurate representations that reflect the many fathers across the country that parent equally,” says Ross Jones of the organization Families Need Fathers. “When they see these negative representations it makes them feel the role of father is being devalued.”

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By Bryan Le

cold turkey

6/12/13 12:13pm

Will Turkey's Ad-Ban Harm the Booze Industry?

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Traditional "raki" is no longer Turkey's
national drink Photo via

Alcohol companies are facing economic fears in the wake of Turkey's new law banning alcohol advertising, which President Abdullah Gul signed into place yesterday. Turkish liquor company Yeni Raki ran a newspaper ad showing a hand shaking a glass of alcohol with the words: “Ads are over. Excuse us.” The most recent ad for Turkey’s Efes beer features an unmarked brown bottle and the cryptic message: “Even if we don’t see each other, we’ll know.” Paul Skehan, the director general for distiller trade association spiritsEUROPE, laments that "this law was rushed through at supersonic speeds and there was no consultation of any of the industries affected." The law, which also limits sales of alcohol and even blurs out depictions of drinking on TV, has furthered general unrest in the country, fueling massive protests calling for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's resignation. But Erdogan defends the law, which he says is designed to improve the nation's health and is in line with the 2008 bans on smoking in coffee houses and restaurants. “We did not ban alcohol; we just introduced a new framework," he said last month. "We want to raise a healthy generation." Erdogan has since declared ayran, a salty yogurt drink, to be the national beverage in lieu of the anise-flavored spirit, raki.

The World Health Organization says Turkey's average annual consumption of alcohol is already moderate at 3.4 liters per capita—just above half the global average. And many are skeptical that the ad-ban will even have any impact on drinking in Turkey. “Ad bans are not the way to make people drink less,” says Dominic Lyle, director general of the European Association of Communications Agencies in Brussels. The restrictions are “very much a political move and linked to the views of the government. It’s more about secular versus religious.” Diageo, the world's biggest distiller and home to brands such as Johnnie Walker whiskey and Captain Morgan rum, says in a statement that a “collaborative approach among the industry, government, and third parties would lead to a better outcome.” The Turkish Association of Advertising Agencies declined to comment, because of “deep tension” with the government.

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By McCarton Ackerman

celebrity busts

6/12/13 11:11am

Joel Madden Blogs About Marijuana Bust

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Madden hopes he didn't cause drama
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Good Charlotte singer Joel Madden has opened up on his blog about getting busted with illegal herb in Australia. While staying in Sydney to film the Australian version of The Voice, the 34-year-old was kicked out of his hotel after a housekeeper discovered small amounts (fewer than 5 grams) of weed in his room. Though no charges were filed, the star has addressed the incident on his personal blog. "Sunday while I was at work, a hotel employee found a small amount of marijuana in my hotel room. The police were called and responded," he writes. "Sydney is my adopted home and I appreciate the way the NSW police handled the situation. They have informed me there will be no charges. I hope this didn't cause too much drama for anyone." Though the investigation continues, Madden was not charged because Australian law issues only a warning for small amounts of drugs. But the singer was asked to immediately leave the hotel after the search, in accordance with hotel policy. "He was not afforded any special treatment and he's moved out," says a spokesman for Echo Entertainment, which oversees the casino/hotel where he was staying. Madden is married to Nicole Richie, and they have two children together.

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

6/12/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: June 12, 2013

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The music is nice, but... Photo via

By Bryan Le

addicts in prison

6/11/13 5:52pm

Cameron Douglas Writes from Prison, Demanding Change

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Despite everything, Douglas feels "blessed."
Photo via

In an editorial in The Huffington Post today, Cameron Douglas, currently serving a 9.5-year prison sentence for drug crimes, calls for reform of the criminal justice system's treatment of addicts. "There are half a million [non-violent drug offenders] in the US who, like me, will go to sleep behind bars tonight because of nothing more than a drug law violation," writes Douglas, 34, who has served 2 years of his sentencing in solitary confinement. The son of actor Michael Douglas was initially sentenced to five years in 2009 for selling methamphetamine; 4.5 years were then added to his sentence last year, after heroin and Suboxone were found in his prison cell. At the time, the Drug Policy Alliance and a group of leading addiction experts fought to appeal this increase—one of the harshest penalties ever recorded for drug possession in prison. "Punishing Douglas for using opiates in prison, while denying him treatment, is tantamount to punishing a diabetic for insulin possession,wrote The Fix's Maia Szalavitz. "Typically, prisoners caught with drugs are punished with loss of privileges like visits and phone calls, not a doubling of their initial sentence."

In his letter, Douglas criticizes the "outdated" criminal justice system for "paying little, if any, concern to the disease of addiction, and instead [punishing] it more harshly than many violent crimes." He argues that incarcerating addicts "does absolutely nothing but temporarily deter them from succumbing to their weakness" and calls on lawmakers and other people of influence to "find the courage to fight for change." Douglas admits his own transgressions and says he doesn't deserve "special treatment." "I'm not saying that I didn't deserve to be punished," he writes, "I made mistakes and I'll gladly and openly admit my faults. However, I seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of relapse and repeat, as most addicts are."

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By Victoria Kim

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