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Mexican drug war

4/02/12 12:05pm

Obama, Calderon and Harper to Talk Drug War

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Obama and Calderon in 2009 in Guadalajara,
pledging to combat drug trafficking. Photo via

Mexico's drug violence pandemic is tipped to be the hot topic during President Felipe Calderon's visit to the White House today. Mexico's president will meet with President Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss the economy, climate change and security issues—but Mexico's ongoing, unchecked drug war may well take top priority. Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has made aggressive efforts to curb drug-related violence in Mexico, including reforming the judicial system, raising military salaries and deploying thousands of Mexican police to cartel-run areas. But these efforts have often seemed counter-productive, with violence escalating between warring cartels as military and police crack down, and Calderon has expressed guarded support for drug decriminalization in the US. Today's Rose Garden chat could focus on US involvement in the violence, with an estimated $2 billion a year in cash and arms flowing south into Mexico each year. Congress has authorized just $1.6 million in aid to help diminish the power of cartels; the war continues to rage south of the border and has claimed the lives of about 50,000 people since Calderon took over. This will his final visit to The White House before his six-year term ends in November.

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By May Wilkerson

Celebrity rehab

4/02/12 11:09am

Ewan McGregor Was a "Maniac on the Booze"

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The prolific British actor no longer gets
"blootered". Photo via

Ewan McGregor admits to being a maniac on booze, but is now 12 years sober. The Star Wars: Phantom Menace actor—who just turned 40—has been reminiscing about his past battles with the bottle. “I got away with it more or less unnoticed,” he says. “I was a maniac on the booze but I only remember it fondly.” After starring in Trainspotting back in 1996, McGregor transformed himself into a poster boy of the Britpop era. He recalls hanging with the likes of Oasis and Damon Albarn—and passing out in rooms across the country. McGregor had an eye-opening moment after an encounter with Iggy Pop, whom he ironically played in the film Velvet Goldmine. “He was playing at this Versace fashion show I’d been invited to, so I went backstage to meet him. But I was blootered by that point,” he recalls. “I came to my senses when something in my brain went, ‘What are you doing?’ He was just sitting there looking at me while I was dancing away, doing my Iggy Pop impersonation to Iggy Pop. It was one of the more embarrassing moments of my life.” The sober star refers to his drinking days as “massive debauchery," but still sees his struggles as part of a valuable journey: “Your experience of life is what makes you who you are.”

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By Valerie Tejeda

Bad Sports

4/02/12 10:21am

Ex-NFL QB Busted for Burglary and Possession

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Leaf was already on probation. Photo via

Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf—who had spells with teams including the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboyswas arrested on Friday in his hometown of Great Falls, Montana on burglary and drug possession charges. After a month-long investigation, police believe that 35-year-old Leaf was breaking into an acquaintance's home to steal prescription pain medication, and may have broken into other homes, too. "We do have some information that this may not be an isolated incident," says Central Montana Drug Force Commander Chris Hickman. Leaf was also found with two bottles of oxycodone, for which he didn't have a prescription. Back in 2008, he was accused of burglarizing a player's home while working as a quarterbacks coach for Division II West Texas A&M. Investigators then found that he'd secured around 1,000 pain pills from local pharmacies in an eight-month span, which got him 10 years' probation. Leaf released a statement saying: "I've made some mistakes, and have no excuses. I am using the tools I've learned to move forward rather than backwards, and will be open to talking about the details in the days to come. I am confident that there will be further understanding when the facts are revealed, and feel very blessed for all of the support, especially from my friends and family." If his probation is revoked, he could face a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

4/02/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: April 2, 2012

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Not a teaching aid Thinkstock

By Will Godfrey

Face checking

3/30/12 4:31pm

Face Scans Could Foil Fake IDs

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New tech could make a fake ID as useful as
a sexy hamburger. Photo via

Sneaky underage youths with fake IDs trying to buy booze might find themselves betrayed by their own fresh faces—Face.com has new tech it claims can determine a person's age with just one look. By scanning a human face (or photo), taking note of shape, wrinkles and smoothness and then cross-referencing its findings with its database, Face.com's software can let a liquor store clerk know to turn away that unusually tall teen, foiling any plans of drunken under-21 mischief. But of course the software risks miscalculating the age of folks who look unusually young, pegging 30-year-old Kate Middleton as age 23 (and calculating 30 years to be her maximum upper limit) as well as inspiring countless “will not work on Asians” quips from commenters. “Adults are much harder to figure out [their age], especially celebrities," says Face.com Chief Executive Gil Hirsch. "On average, humans are much better at detecting ages than machines.” But the company will continue improving on its facial recognition tech, hoping one day to be able to turn away children trying to watch R-rated flicks on Netflix—and even to target digital billboards at the age group of anyone who gets close.

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By Bryan Le

Celebrity rehab

3/30/12 3:14pm

Hunger Games Star's Heroin History

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Bentley had a close shave. Photo via

For a time, Hunger Games star Wes Bentley experienced hunger for real. The actor—who also appeared in American Beauty back in 1999—has revealed to Star Magazine that he overcame drug addiction, homelessness and severe debt on his journey back onto Hollywood's A-list. Most of his troubles stemmed from his addiction; an arrest on heroin charges led to a stint of homelessness after he lost his Hollywood home in 2009, which was when he hit rock bottom. “I told a friend for the first time, ‘I’m a drug addict and I need help," said Bentley. "I need help or I'm going to die. Back then I was stuck...I'm back in the sunlight." Star Magazine also learned through court documents from his 2010 divorce with Jennifer Quartz that the couple racked up $221,000 in credit card debt during their nine years of marriage. But now that The Hunger Games has debuted with a record breaking $152.5 million in sales this past weekend—and Bentley has roles in five films in post-production—it's likely that money won't be an issue for him anytime soon.

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