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hippy crack

7/26/13 10:31am

"Hippy Crack" Sweeps the UK

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You could die of laughter. Photo via

Laughing gas is no joke. More than 6% of young adults in England and Wales have used the legal substance—dubbed "hippy crack"—to get high in the last year, according to a new government crime survey. Better known as laughing gas, the legal substance is inhaled from canisters or balloons to induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria—and to cause "raucous laughter." It is reportedly popular on the club and festival circuit, and among celebrities like Prince Harry—who was seen indulging two years ago. But experts warn the seemingly harmless substance can cause suffocation and even be fatal. "Nitrous oxide is a legal substance which has a number of legitimate medical and industrial uses but any suggestion of abuse, particularly by young people is of concern," says a government spokesman. "Like all drugs there are health risks and nitrous oxide should not be experimented with." Earlier this year, Minister Jeremy Browne wrote to festival organizers asking that they take steps to ban the substance. But despite the rising use of hippy crack, the report shows that overall drug use in England and Wales is at a record low: Around 8.2% of 16 to 59-year-olds had used an illicit drug in the last year, compared with 11.1% in 1996, which Browne calls "really positive news."

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By May Wilkerson

headlines

7/26/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: July 26, 2013

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Breaking Bad actors roll up in style.
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By Victoria Kim

loopholes

7/25/13 12:52pm

Korean Internet Cafes Fight Smoking Ban

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Smoking room 1,000 won an hour.
PC use is free. Photo via

Korean internet cafes, which have been under attack for enabling the country's growing epidemic of gaming addiction, are now facing another hurdle: a nation-wide law banning smoking at all net cafesGaming and smoking go hand-in-hand in South Korean Internet gaming culture, and with many government gaming restrictions already in place, cafe owners say that the new smoking ban could put at least 40% of them out of business. Despite their outcry, the law was passed and the government has given the cafes a six-month extension to ease the transition. But some cafe owners believe they've found a loophole—rebranding their establishments as “smoking rooms” where clientele pay to smoke, and there just happen to be high-end gaming PCs available for (free) use. “Smoking Room, 1000 won per hour. PC use is free.” reads one new sign outside a former net cafe, alongside the specs of the computers they have inside. While there aren't technically any laws forbidding public smoking rooms, the Korean government reportedly plans to crack down on these establishments next.

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By Bryan Le

drunk diving

7/25/13 11:00am

Drunk Canadian Swims From Ontario to Detroit

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The mile-wide stretch is a no-swim zone.
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A Canadian man with lofty hopes and a high blood alcohol content swam to the US by crossing the Detroit River earlier this week, authorities report. John Morillo, 47, says he was about eight beers deep but "wasn't really drunk" when he made the decision to fulfill a lifelong goal. "The thing is, I've been telling people I'm going to swim across the river for years and they're like 'yah, yah, blah, blah, you can't make it,'" he says, "So, I don't know...I just decided it was the time to go." Morrillo says he made it across the mile-wide river separating Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan—one of the world’s busiest shipping channels and with the powerful undertow—and was on his way back to Canada when he realized he was surrounded by helicopters and rescue boats. His neighbor in Canada had alerted police when she lost site of him and they'd launched a rescue party involving both US and Canadian coast guards. “As soon I saw the helicopters going by and the boats looking for me, I was like ‘oh, this is really stupid,’” said Morillo, who was arrested for public intoxication and released on Tuesday. He faces fines of up to Can $25,000 (US $24,200) for swimming illegally in a shipping channel, and has been banned from visiting the waterfront. Additionally, he faces the wrath of his mom: “She just hung up on me,” he said, “She said ‘you’re just so stupid.’”

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By May Wilkerson

headlines

7/25/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: July 25, 2013

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Cheers to the royal birth! Photo via

By Victoria Kim

legalization of marijuana

7/24/13 4:20pm

Uruguay's Pro-Pot President Admits He's "Never Tried It"

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"A lot of young people have tried it" Photo via

Uruguayan president José Mújica supports marijuana legalization, even though he confessed this week that he's never tried it. "I have never tried it in my life and I don't know what it is," he told a local radio station on Monday, adding that he's aware "a lot of young people have tried it." Many Uruguayan lawmakers support "trying" legalization of pot in an effort to curb drug-related crime in the country. "There's no real alternative," said Senator Sebastian Sabini, earlier this year. "In Uruguay it's clear that illegal drug consumption has increased in the last 50 years with prohibition, even as we improved the quality of repressive aspects." Marijuana legalization has been on the Uruguayan government's agenda since the bill was first introduced in 2012. But it was the citizens—not lawmakers—who have stalled its passage. Polls from earlier this year showed that most Uruguayans opposed a bill which would allow people over 18 to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana per month from state-sanctioned distributors. The law would also establish a National Institute of Cannabis, which would invest revenue from marijuana sales into crime prevention and addiction treatment. Last December, the government had the votes needed to pass the bill, but President Mújica postponed the vote until advocates could drum up more support from citizens. "Don't vote on a law because you have majority in parliament," he told lawmakers at the time. "Support has to come from the streets." Since then, the vote has been delayed and legislators on both sides have tried to sway public opinion. A vote is now set for the end of this month.

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By Victoria Kim

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