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Mexican drug war

9/18/12 1:16pm

132 Mexican Prisoners Escape Through Tunnel

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The hunt is on for 132 escaped prisoners.
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Over 130 inmates burrowed out of a Mexican prison yesterday, in one of the country’s biggest jailbreaks in recent years. The prisoners—who were held in the city of Piedras Negras, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas—escaped through a tunnel that was 21 feet long and four feet across, before cutting through a chain-link barrier to a neighboring property. The tunnel “was not made today," explains Homero Ramos Gloria, the Coahuila Attorney General, helpfully. "It had been there for months. The prison was not overcrowded; none of our prisons are. We have 132 inmates escaping through a tunnel, and it doesn’t make sense.” Some are speculating that prison officials may have aided the inmates, and the director and two other employees of the prison have been detained for investigation. The prison holds about 730 people—meaning that this escape involved almost one fifth of its population. Of the 132 escapees, 86 were serving sentences or awaiting trial for federal crimes such as drug trafficking. Members of Mexico’s drug gangs frequently attempt to bust out their incarcerated members, and guards are often accused of working with the cartels—in December 2010, 153 inmates escaped from a prison in Nuevo Laredo, and 41 guards were charged with helping them. And of course, Mexican cartel members tend to be well-equipped with tunneling skills.

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By Chrisanne Grise

college drinking

9/18/12 12:01pm

Shaq Attacks Campus Binge Drinking

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A mighty voice against binge drinking
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At 7'1", Shaquille O'Neal was always a huge presence on court; now he's hoping to make similar impact against campus binge drinking. He and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), spoke for a campaign sponsored by the Century Council to fight binge drinking at historically black colleges and universities. Cleaver and O'Neal share a personal investment in the cause: Shaq's uncle Tom Nelson, a close friend of Cleaver's, was killed as a passenger in a single-car crash. The driver had been drinking heavily. “He walked away without a scratch, and my best friend was killed instantly. He went right through the dash,” says Cleaver. "That had an impact on my life forever." Although this campaign is targeted towards historically black universities, a recent study from Morgan State University showed that binge drinking rates at these schools are lower than at universities with a predominantly white student body: “It may be that when students at historically black schools go out, it is for a purpose,” says researcher Linda Loubert, comparing this to the "casual style of ‘let's go drinking’” found at many universities. But Cleaver says he hopes to make clear that weekend binge drinking can be even deadlier than the drinking patterns that many understand as alcoholism. “People will generally shun alcoholics, but they won’t shun binge drinkers—because on Monday, everybody’s at work,” he says. “Nobody is falling out on the campus. They’re back in class, so obviously there’s nothing wrong with them.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

Crazy drunk

9/18/12 11:02am

Flying Tomato Crashes to Earth

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White sports a black eye in his mugshot.
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Double Olympic gold medalist Shaun White—"The Flying Tomato"—has been charged with vandalism and public intoxication in Nashville, Tennessee, after allegedly causing drunken chaos. The 26-year-old snowboarding phenomenon was a guest at Nashville's Loews Vanderbilt Hotel this weekend. Police were summoned at 2 am Sunday morning, after a fire alarm was pulled by a drunk man—identified as White—causing the hotel to be evacuated. A hotel employee also claims to have witnessed White destroying a hotel telephone. Police say the athlete smelled of alcohol and appeared extremely intoxicated. White then attempted to leave the scene and was stopped by a hotel guest—whom White allegedly kicked before running away. The man chased him, and the two collided, causing White to fall backwards and hit his head on a fence. The Olympian was taken to a local hospital and given the opportunity to sign misdemeanor citations—but refused. "He basically put himself in jail by not signing that," says a police source. White was released from the hospital early yesterday morning, and arrested shortly after. Released later in the day, he's set to appear in court on October 10. This isn't White's first hotel-related incident: back in December 2007, he was cited by Colorado police after discharging a fire extinguisher. 

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

9/18/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: September 18, 2012

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Teen Mom star Catelynn Lowell may not be
such a good girl after all. Photo via

By Chrisanne Grise

Alcohol Sales

9/17/12 5:28pm

Booze to Flow Through Disney's Magic Kingdom

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Disney's gourmet experience now includes
alcohol. Photo via

"You have your purists. You have the people saying. 'Walt is spinning in his grave'" admits A.J. Wolfe, editor of the Disney Food Blog. She reports a 50-50 split in reader opinion on a new decree in Disney's Magic Kingdom: for the first time in the park's 41 years, guests will be able to buy booze. But before we start conjuring images of drunken mobs brutalizing Mickey Mouse and friends, the wine and beer will only be sold at one specific restaurant and only during dinner hours. The "Be Our Guest" restaurant is based on Beauty and the Beast, and will serve French cuisine, which apparently demands alcoholic accompaniments. "You cannot walk into a French restaurant and not get a glass of wine or beer," explains Maribeth Bisienere, vice president of food and beverage for Walt Disney Parks. "It made more sense to do it than not to do it." Be Our Guest will now offer 20 wines and several Belgian and French beers. Says Bisienere, "We really wanted to wait until it became something that worked with the particular theme." 

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By Chrisanne Grise

Harm reduction

9/17/12 4:43pm

Tanzania Starts Needle Giveaway

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Tanzania hopes to stop the spread of HIV.
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Next month, the government of Tanzania will begin issuing medical injection equipment such as hypodermic syringes, needles and swabs to narcotic drug abusers, in a major effort to prevent the spread of HIV. The "Needle, Syringe Programme" (NSP) will also educate addicts on safe injections and the dangers of needle-sharing. It's an approach that has plenty of opponents: "Surely, this cannot be the solution to the problem," says Fabian Theopil, the secretary general of Sober Tanzania, an organization that combats alcohol and drug abuse. "The plan will only succeed in promoting addiction among our youths." Sober Tanzania is completely against the program, and is asking the government to look for a better solution. The situation is urgent—a recent survey found that 51% of the estimated 25,000 people injecting drugs in Tanzania are HIV positive. 

Other approaches are available: the Muhimbili National Hospital began providing methadone treatment back in 2007, and now sees about 490 patients. According to Dr. Frank Masao, head of the hospital's psychiatry department, the biggest challenge is just getting addicts to come in daily to receive their methadone, due to transportation and personal issues. "They have a specific kind of life where they only think of getting the drug and nothing else," he says. "After the therapy we try to rehabilitate them often giving them something to do thereafter. Some of them engage in gardening at the clinic." Despite these difficulties, the project is considered a success—so much so that the government decided to open more methadone clinics at other hospitals. Says Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, the Minister for Health and Social Welfare: "This effort is tailored to bring the methadone treatment closer to patients so they can easily access it without having to travel from afar."

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By Chrisanne Grise

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