Not long ago, the Mexican city of Torreon was on track to become a shining example of economic and cultural prosperity. But when the Zetas cartel arrived in the area in 2007, it turned the city instead into one of Mexico's most dangerous. Greater Torreon has seen 830 killings in the first nine months in 2012—compared with 62 throughout 2006—and its murder rate is second in the country only to Acapulco. In addition well-documented massacres at drug rehabs and gunfights at soccer stadiums, gangs also took control of the local police and invaded city hall in March 2010—demanding that Mayor Eduardo Olmos sack the army general he had hired to clean up the force. Now, several of the city's leaders are so desperate that they're considering reaching an agreement with the rival Sinaloa cartel to push the Zetas out of the area. "[The Zetas] act without any kind of principles," says Torreon's police chief Adelaido Flores. "The ones from Sinaloa don't mess...with the population." Local politicians have admitted that unspoken deals with cartels helped keep the peace at one point, but President Felipe Calderon's began a military-led crackdown against organized crime in 2006 that has seen over 60,000 deaths in the country since then. Still, Flores believes that the Zetas' power is declining even without the Sinaloa cartel's help: according to city estimates, over 90% of the hundreds of suspected gang members killed or arrested in Torreon this year have been Zetas.
British pop star Robbie Williams makes no secret of his sobriety and how he sought help for his drug and alcohol addictions—but bizarrely, he wishes he didn't do it so early in life. The former Take That singer says he realized his life was spiraling downhill in his late teens and ended up getting sober for most of his 20s. But he now feels a few more years of a partying before seeking help might not have been a bad thing. ''I regret that it was all over so fast. I regret the fact I was 19 when I realized I was out of control," says Williams. ''I regret the fact I wasn't 29 or 30 when it happened and I'd splodged my way around the world in some sort of alcoholic drug stupor. I spent most of my 20s sober.'' But despite the resources available to him, Williams admits he relapsed several times in his 20s and early 30s before finally getting clean, shortly before meeting his wife Ayda Field in 2006. "In my 20s I was like, 'This is fucking horrendous' but I didn't think I was going to die. The short period in my 30s I thought, 'I'm just about to die and I don't care.' In fact, it would have been a relief," he says. "But that's where your fucking head goes when you're taking loads of things you shouldn't be taking. The only person I knew who understood anything about it was Elton John. After a big bender it'd be [calling] 'Elton'. How weird is that, when the only person you know can help you is Elton John?'' There are added benefits to his sobriety too: the notorious ladies man says being sober keeps him from cheating on his wife. "You know like on anniversaries women expect you to get them flowers and things? I think every fucking night you haven't stuck your cock in someone else, you should be given a gold ring."
Stats and sterotypes point the finger mostly at boys and young men when it comes to Internet addiction. But experts are warning that because of this, young women's web-dependence, which typically develops through social networking sites like Facebook, often slips under the radar. “[Young women] are always thinking about what's going on right now in the network,” says Bernd Werner of the German Foundation for Media and Online Addiction. “They use such sites to chat with others in their clique. There's pressure from within the peer group.” Werner thinks that many parents remain unaware of their daughters' online problems, believing incorrectly that this compulsion only affects boys. One recent German study indicated that 0.7 % of males aged 25-64 had trouble breaking away from social networking sites and games, compared with 0.4% of women. Despite that disparity, Werner suggests putting strict boundaries on your child’s computer use—regardless of gender—by limiting hours, placing computers in common areas rather than the bedroom, and not succumbing to pressure to give young children smartphones. “The signs parents would note for online addiction are the same for girls on social networking sites as for boys involved in online gaming,” he says. “For one thing, there's a loss of control. I can no longer control how long I stay on the internet.” Taking an interest in what your daughter is doing on Facebook is important, says Werner; red flags include when a girl begins to ignore personal hygiene, hobbies and friends.
- Salafi Muslims Attack Alcohol Sellers in Tunisia [Reuters]
- More Mexicans Seek Asylum in U.S. as Drug Violence Rises [Los Angeles Times]
- Maltese Employers Take Advantage of Incentives for Former Drug Users [Malta Independent]
- Women with Lifelong Smoking Habits Lose a Decade of Life [Examiner]
- Qantas Pilot Blames Asia's Black Market for Pill-Popping Passengers [The Australian]
- NY Drug Raid Nets 640 Marijuana Lollipops, Cash [ABC News]
- Alcohol Was Becoming "Life or Death" For John Goodman [The Guardian]
Just in case Halloween's ghouls and goblins don't terrify you enough, there's always the horrifying prospect of a big jump in boozing at this time of year—with the nation's monitored offenders no exception. According to data compiled over the past nine years by Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS), the producer of SCRAMx alcohol monitoring anklets, drinking increases by 20.4% on a weekday Halloween, and rises by a full 25% over the adjacent "party" weekend—ie, right now. The company bases its findings on a population of 258,000 offenders across 48 states who have been mandated by court or addiction treatment to wear SCRAMx anklets; the devices test their sweat every 30 minutes, 24/7. These numbers may even understate the general population's extra drinking: “If these are the individuals being monitored 24/7, every 30 minutes, and they know they're going to be caught and face consequences, you can imagine the rate of drinking for those who aren't being monitored," says Lou Sugo, vice president of marketing for AMS. "Drunk people generally make poor decisions, and deciding to get behind the wheel of a car is just one of the potential issues.” The roads are always haunted by drunk drivers around now, so the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration is running a Halloween Impaired Driving Prevention initiative from October 25-November 4.
Former tennis champion Chris Evert was known as the "Ice Maiden" during her playing days, but there's nothing chilly about her enthusiastic support for drug addiction charities in South Florida. The 24th installment of the Chris Evert Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic kicks off tomorrow, featuring several former champions playing doubles with celebrities including Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, comedian Jon Lovitz and Real Housewife Jill Zarin. Matt Lauer, Chevy Chase and President G.H.W. Bush have participated in previous years. "It wasn't getting compassion and sympathy," says Evert of drug abuse and addiction issues. "I was an athlete; I had no drug problems, but that's not to say people that I love [didn't have drug problems]. We said, 'Let's be proactive.' I always believed that people make mistakes and everybody deserves a second chance." Since the annual event began in 1989, over $20 million has been raised for addiction-related charities.
Evert may have escaped addiction herself, but there was a timely reminder this week that many other tennis pros haven't. Current player Claudine Schaul, who was the flag bearer for Luxembourg at the 2004 Olympic Games, was arrested for trafficking cocaine. She says she sold the drug out of her car with two accomplices, one of whom was her boyfriend, while also taking it herself to minimize pain from ongoing injuries. It's safe to say that trafficking was her main source of income: ranked as high as No. 41 in the world in 2004, she's since fallen to No. 775 and only earned $3,650 in prize money so far this year. She admits that she was "scared but relieved" when police showed up at her door, but now faces up to 20 months in prison.