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Cartel Killer

11/29/13 3:00pm

Teenage Mexican Cartel Murderer Could Be Deported To U.S.


Lugo may cross over soon
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At the age of 14, Edgar "El Ponchis" Jimenez Lugo beheaded four boys in Central Mexico at the age of 14 while working for the Cartel of The South Pacific. The boys' bodies were later hung from a bridge in the town of Cuernavaca. But now that his three-year prison term in Mexico is about to come to an end on Dec. 3, Mexican authorities may end up deporting the teenage killer to the United States.

As Lugo's release date approaches, Mexican authorities have expressed concern that his release could incite violence in Mexico City, where he used to live. Graco Ramirez, governor of the Mexican state Morelos, where Lugo is being held, said that “he is an American citizen” and confirmed that “we have 13 days to see if he can be deported to the United States so that he can be placed in an institution there.”

Lugo was arrested at a Mexican airport for trying to flee authorities and fly to his mother in San Diego. Shortly thereafter, Lugo's mother was arrested on immigration violations and was deported last April.

San Diego criminal defense attorney Guadalupe Valencia said that Lugo can come to the U.S. on his own when he turns 18 in May, claiming that “the U.S. can’t do anything and Mexico can’t do anything. He wasn’t charged with conspiracy in the U.S.” The teenager said he was kidnapped by the cartel at age 11 and forced to work for them, claiming that his four executions were completed while “drugged and under threat that if I didn’t, they would kill me."

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By McCarton Ackerman

Dr. Nutt

11/29/13 1:00pm

Pill Aims to Get You Drunk Without the Hangover


He looks like he means well
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With our ever-increasing reliance on pills for just about everything, is it any wonder that someone out there is trying to develop one that will get you drunk?

Dr. David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at the Imperial College of London, plans to create a pill that mimics the effects of being drunk without the nasty hangover the next morning. In development since 2009, Dr. Nutt’s little pill will act as an alcohol surrogate that targets the gamma aminobutyric acid (Gaba) neurotransmitter subsystems. “We know that the main target for alcohol in the brain is…[the  Gaba], which keeps the brain calm,” he wrote in an editorial for The Guardian. “Alcohol therefore relaxes users through mimicking and increasing the Gaba function.”  Nutt has further claimed to have conducted research where he replaced the ethanol in alcoholic drinks with safer alternatives like benzodiazepine, which he alleged can be “switched off at the end of the night with a ‘sober pill.’” But despite the apparent promise of the pill, Emily Robinson, deputy chief executive of the U.K.-based charity Alcohol Concern, urged caution. “We should focus on what is going wrong in our drinking culture rather than swapping potentially one addictive substance for another,” she told the Telegraph.

Still, the only thing really stopping Nutt from commencing his project is money. “A few contacts within the alcohol industry suggest they are interested but do not need to engage until this new invention becomes a threat to their sales,” Nutt wrote in The Guardian. Perhaps he hasn’t yet heard of Kickstarter?

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By Shawn Dwyer

southeast asia

11/29/13 11:00am

Southeast Asia's Biggest Little Drug Problem


Who wouldn't want to chew this?
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Betel quids, or "nuts," are relatively unknown in the United States, but they just happen to be the fourth-most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world behind tobacco, alcohol and caffeinated drinks.

More than 600 million people chew betel nuts, otherwise known as small parcels of areca nuts, wrapped in a betel leaf and coated with slaked lime. Most of the parcels that are sold throughout southeast Asia contain tobacco, but spices can be added in as well. And while the betel nuts are used as an energy boost among cab drivers and other professions, they also cause severe health issues like reddish-black stained teeth from the dyes, or even oral cancer. "Having one is okay, but the danger increases when you start having the second one. When you reach a certain point, people will get cancer," said Professor Ying-chin Ko, vice president of Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. However, the low cost of the betel nut parcels makes them appealing to consumers – a pack of three in Myanmar costs 100 Burmese kyat, or roughly 10 cents American.

Despite the dangers, chewing betel nuts dates back to the Bronze Age, and the practice has long been an important part of cultural and even religious rituals in some parts of Asia. In Taiwan, scantily clad betel nut vendors  have even become something of a tourist attraction in certain parts. Women are drawn to selling the parcels because they can make up to $1,900 per month, roughly twice the amount of a recent college graduate's starting salary. The trend of sexy betel nut vendors began in the 1990s, but is so pervasive now that the girls are often forced to dress provocatively if they want to have any chance of selling their product. "In Taiwan, if you want to sell betel nut, you have to take off some clothes," said a taxi driver named Hsu. “If you wear too much, you won’t make any money.” Unfortunately, some of the women have to deal with the hazards of the job. "There are a lot of perverts. They'll try to touch your breasts, or stroke you. Usually we take care of it ourselves. I've slapped customers before," said an anonymous vendor.

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By McCarton Ackerman


11/29/13 10:00am

Greece Opens First Drug Consumption Center


Outbreak in HIV largest among drug users
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Greece has joined an ongoing trend worldwide by setting up its first legal drug consumption center in the city of Athens. Greece’s Organization Against Drugs, known as OKANA, set up the center last month, which allows users to inject their own drugs they bring themselves while under medical supervision. More than 200 addicts have visited the facility since it opened shop last month.

Sakis Papaconstantinou, the head of OKANA, said that “demand is increasing day after day and we believe that very soon we may need more facilities in other parts of the city.” But the 200 addicts who have accessed the center represent less than one percent of the estimated 25,000 drug users in Athens who are homeless and without access to healthcare services. In addition, OKANA statistics show that the number of HIV-infected drug users peaked at the height of the economic crisis last year, while fatal drug overdoses have also increased from previous years.

The drug issue throughout Greece has been exacerbated by the country’s ongoing recession, which has seen unemployment skyrocket to 27 percent. In exchange for funds that are helping Greece stay afloat, the country has agreed to reduce health spending as part of austerity measures prescribed by international lenders.

Meanwhile, more than 90 drug consumption rooms have been set up throughout the world since 1986 and eight nations currently help facilitate them: Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Norway, Canada, and Australia.

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By McCarton Ackerman


11/29/13 8:00am

Japan Plans Internet Fasting Camps for Web-Addicted Youths


Unhappy camper.
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In order to save its over half a million web-addicted youths in Japan, the Japanese Ministry of Education is putting together government-sponsored Internet fasting camps.

“We estimate this affects around 518,000 children at middle and high schools across Japan,” said Akifumi Sekine, a representative at the ministry. “But that figure is rising and there could be far more cases, because we don't know about them all.” That number, according to a Nihon University study, means about 8.1% of Japanese school children admit to being addicted to the Internet. At these proposed camps, the Japanese government hopes to see kids playing outside and speaking to one another face to face so that they achieve "limbic resonance" - a feel-good rush in the brain that comes from interacting with others. “Verbal and non-verbal communication releases specific neuro-chemicals,” Hilarie Cash, co-CEO of internet addiction rehab reSTART, explained. “It's not a reaction that occurs when you're online. A lack of it can even hinder developing social skills.”

But some feel the camps only address symptoms, not problems. "Why are these young people turning to the internet? Why do they feel more comfortable talking to strangers on the Internet, instead of their classmates or family?" said Kaz Aoyama, a Japanese student. "I feel like there are more important issues to tackle for these middle and high schoolers, like bullying at school and on the web. Taking away the Internet won't put an end to it."

Japan is not the only country struggling to understand online addiction; Internet addiction boot camps have also sprung up in China and South Korea. 

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By Bryan Le


11/29/13 6:00am

Morning Roundup: November 29, 2013


Police smelled something fishy... Photo via

By Bryan Le


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