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Gaming Addiction

4/04/12 4:58pm

Chinese Gaming Addicts "Become Gigolos"

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Gaming addicts flock to internet cafes to get
their fix. Photo via

Despite the Chinese government limiting gaming time and access for its citizens, online gaming addiction is still a serious problem in the nascent superpower. And according to Chinese media, that's leading to an even bigger problem among "second generation farmers"—the children of current rural farmers and countryside workers, who typically migrate to nearby cities. The Chinese newspaper Southern Rural reports that a lack of education and "discipline," coupled with a desire for quick money, causes these young men to turn to prostitution to support their gaming addictions. Male prostitutes—or "ducks" as they're often known in China—can make the equivalent of nearly $250 for an overnight visit. But these second generation farmers are apparently already starting to feel the taxing physical effects of marathon online gaming sessions and frequent "pick-ups." One of them, 20-year-old Xiao Guan, says he fled from his home to nearby Guangzhou after dropping out of school at age 13, and eventually turned to prostitution at age 17. After finishing his work for the night, he heads directly to a net cafe to play online games until the afternoon, before repeating the cycle.

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By McCarton Ackerman

drug laws

4/04/12 3:33pm

NJ Hosts Rival Drug-Offender Treatment Plans

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NJ State Sen. Lesniak agrees in principle
with Gov. Christie. Photo via

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has recently been advocating that non-violent drug offenders get mandatory treatment, rather than jail time. Now another, similar proposal, championed by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D.), is moving through the state legislature. Lesniak—in a riposte to the old joke that a Republican is a Democrat who’s been mugged—actually came to believe in treatment instead of jail time after suffering a home invasion at the hands of two men in 2009. He realized then that it made no sense for his attackers to be sentenced to jail without getting treatment for their addiction—and testified to that effect at the trials of both men, one of whom did end up being remanded to treatment, rather than prison. The bill now proceeding through the state senate differs from Christie’s in a couple key points, most notably scale and roll-out. The governor’s proposal would make treatment mandatory for all non-violent drug offenders in New Jersey, while Lesniak’s bill is more cautious and less costly: it would introduce a pilot program in two counties, while allowing a larger number of offenders statewide to volunteer to participate. “We don't know that mandatory treatment is effective," Lesniak tells the Associated Press. He adds: “We don't want to deny someone who volunteers for treatment because someone else was forced into treatment.”

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By Hunter R. Slaton

hangover cures

4/04/12 2:53pm

Bizarre Hangover Cure Endangers Rhinos

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Rhino horn is a "must-have" in upper class
Vietnam. Photo via

Vietnam's growing "addiction" to rhinoceros horn threatens to wipe out the world's dwindling rhinoceros population. Rhino horns—composed of keratin, a protein found in human hair and fingernails—are considered good luck in the Asian nation, where they're widely used to prevent hangovers and cure a range of physical and spiritual ills. The horns, smuggled illegally from Africa, are often ground up and ingested in liquified form after a night of hard drinking. Authorities say Vietnam's voracious demand drives the rhino horn trade, with the high price perhaps even increasing the appeal: in Asia, the crushed powder fetches up to $55,000 per kilogram ($25,000 per pound)—a price that rivals the US street value of cocaine. Meanwhile, illegal rhino killings in Africa reached record heights in 2011 and are expected to rise again, with 150 rhinos already poached this year. Vietnamese laws around horn trafficking are less than watertight and, despite pledges to curb the problem, government crackdowns are rare. "It's a very dire situation," Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe tells the Associated Press. "We have very little cushion for these populations in the wild."

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By May Wilkerson

Mexican drug war

4/04/12 2:02pm

Call for More Weapons on Mexico Border

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US border police could soon acquire some
serious hardware. Photo via

The Southwest border could soon resemble a war zone, if calls from two Texan members of Congress and several sheriffs in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are heeded. They've called on the US Department of Defense to send military equipment that's on its way back from Afghanistan and Iraq to local law enforcement agencies in the region. Democrat Henry Cuellar and Republican Ted Poe wrote a letter recently to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, citing the need for war gear due to an ongoing security threat from drug cartel operations, combined with budget shortfalls in local and state police departments. "With the drawdown of US troops and equipment in Iraq, and our role in Afghanistan winding down," they write, "it is to be expected that in the next few years there will be a significant amount of surplus equipment that will become available that could be extremely beneficial for border security operations." The idea of police departments receiving wartime gear isn't entirely new. California police picked up 163,344 new and used wartime items last year that are valued at over $26 million, while the Texas Department of Public Safety has more than a dozen state-of-the-art helicopters and is in the process of acquiring "interceptor" gunboats that reportedly have fully automatic machine guns, bulletproof shielding and night-vision capabilities. 

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By McCarton Ackerman

Crazy drunk

4/04/12 12:30pm

Video: Drunk Driver Smashes Through 7-Eleven

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A black SUV crashes through
the window. Photo via

You walk into a 7-Eleven to pick up a lottery ticket and perhaps a snack. All is calm. Then the walls literally crash in around you. On Monday Jonaya Peterson, of Waterbury, Connecticut experienced exactly this terrifying situation. A black SUV smashed through the store window directly behind her, grazing her back and narrowly avoiding killing her. She instinctively jumped up onto the counter, out of the vehicle's way, as it reversed back over the broken glass and debris and drove off. The driver was Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Kennedy Dowdell. When the cops caught up with him, he refused to take a sobriety test because, “I’m drunk and I know I will fail the test.” Dowdell appeared in court yesterday on charges of third degree assault and operating a vehicle under the influence. Peterson was taken to the hospital, but was unharmed. “I think I’m very lucky,” she says. “My angels were looking over me because, after seeing that video—it's hard to watch.”

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By Rebecca Gray

Beer goggles

4/04/12 10:36am

Women Wear Stronger "Beer Goggles"

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If you drink, you could wake up next to an
asymmetrical face! Photo via

Booze makes potential partners seem sexier, according to a gasp-inducing study, but the effect isn't equal for both sexes. Researchers at Roehampton University in London sought to discover the science behind “beer goggles” by recruiting more than 100 men and women and dividing them into two groups. One group receiving alcohol, and the other a non-alcoholic beverage. After drinking, participants had to rate the attractiveness of images of male and female faces. The pictures were distorted to make some more symmetrical and some less; previous studies have shown that more symmetrical faces are generally believed to be more attractive. Both the men and women in the study had a hard time judging attractiveness—but women's perceptions were more dramatically altered. “People that had drink tended to be less good at noticing if a face was asymmetrical, they often saw it as being symmetrical when it was asymmetrical,” says researcher Lewis Halsey. “What we have shown is that people’s ability to detect symmetry is part of the explanation for the beer goggle effect.” Many of the participants admitted to meeting their spouse while drinking. “A lot of people say they met their partner when they were drunk. Are their marriages shorter or longer lasting? Does it change the nature of the relationship?” worries Halsey. More research is planned.

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By Valerie Tejeda

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