Increased militarization as a result of the drug war has created an "epidemic" of violence against women in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala, according to a new report authored by Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchu. All three countries face mounting security threats from drug cartels—and in response, the governments have increased police and military protection of their citizens. But these efforts to improve "security" have also stirred up violence and perpetuated abuse, particularly against women, declares the report: "The war on drugs...has become a war on women." It was written after a team of researchers spoke with hundreds of female survivors of violence, presidents, activists and high-ranking officials, and gathered statistics to illustrate the problem. In Honduras, they found the homicide rate for women rose 257% between 2002 to 2010—four times faster than that of men. In Mexico, homicides towards women have increased by 40% since 2006; and in Guatemala, the number tripled between 2000 and 2010—a time period during which security aid to Guatemala also increased threefold. A portion of the increased security backing comes from US forces—who have allegedly been involved in a number of attacks against women, although the DEA claims in only a "supporting role." Another disturbing finding is that these crimes against females are often carried out with impunity, due to flawed, fragile judicial and political systems that "implicitly condone" violence against women. Williams says, "I am horrified, but the truth is, this happens over and over again to women in the region."
Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet may help smokers kick the habit, according to new research. The University of Buffalo study, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, randomly surveyed 1,000 smokers over 25 from around the US and followed up with the participants 14 month later. "Other studies have taken a snapshot approach, asking smokers and nonsmokers about their diets," says researcher Gary A. Giovino, PhD. "We knew from our previous work that people who were abstinent from cigarettes for less than six months consumed more fruits and vegetables than those who still smoked. What we didn't know was whether recent quitters increased their fruit and vegetable consumption or if smokers who ate more fruits and vegetables were more likely to quit." The study finds smokers who ate lots of fruits and veggies were three times more likely to have given up tobacco for at least 30 days compared to those whose consumption was minimum. The results also showed that those who ate high amounts of these healthy foods smoked fewer cigarettes per day and even scored lower on a test for dependence to nicotine. Exactly how fruits and veggies affect quitting smoking isn't yet clear, but researchers have a few ideas: "Foods like fruit and vegetables may actually worsen the taste of cigarettes," says Jeffrey P. Haibach, MPH. "It is also possible that fruits and vegetables give people more of a feeling of satiety or fullness so that they feel less of a need to smoke, since smokers sometimes confuse hunger with an urge to smoke.”
Actor and comedian Simon Pegg has revealed that he stopped drinking alcohol two years ago, and has been feeling healthier ever since. “I was starting to do Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, which required more of a physical contribution and drink is so many empty calories,” he says. “I find it easier to keep fit if I don’t drink. I have given up for two years and I don’t miss it in the slightest." The health-conscious star also began working with a personal trainer to get in shape, since he will be sharing screen time with so many young and fit actors when he returns as Scotty in the next Star Trek installment. In addition to health reasons, Pegg added that he also gave up alcohol in order to be a better parent to his daughter, who will turn three in a few weeks. “I also want to be able to wake up fresh in the morning and play with my kid," he says. "You can’t be a present parent and drink, unless you take it in turns to lie in until 11 every morning.”
Maybe you've heard the tale that smoking pot isn't as bad for your health as smoking tobacco cigarettes, and has practically no health hazards. But the British Lung Foundation (BLF) calls this balderdash, making the claim that one joint contains the carcinogenic equivalent of 20 cigarettes. It appears that nine in ten Brits believe the myth that tobacco is more toxic—a fact that has Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, very concerned. “Young people in particular are smoking cannabis unaware that, for instance, each cannabis cigarette they smoke increases their chances of developing lung cancer by as much as an entire packet of 20 tobacco cigarettes,” she says. “This is not a niche problem—cannabis is one of the most widely-used recreational drugs in the UK, with almost a third of the population having tried it.” Why does the BLF say weed is more dangerous? Puffs from a joint are about two-thirds larger, are inhaled more deeply and are held four times longer than those from cigarettes, bringing in four times as much tar and five times as much carbon monoxide to the lungs. The good news is without nicotine, marijuana is not as addictive as cigarettes. Shovelton and the BLF hope to create a public health campaign to end the myths surrounding the “healthiness” of marijuana, as well as to raise funds for more research in to its potential dangers.
Here's someone who won't be a candidate for Father of the Year. When Arizona native Kristopher Harvey found out his two teenage boys were drinking his alcohol, he wanted to teach them a lesson—unfortunately, that lesson involved making the 13 and 14-year-old boys take shots of hard liquor and throwing them in the pool. Neighbors called police once they heard the boys screaming and when they arrived, they found Harvey intoxicated and unable to stand or speak clearly. Both boys were also in their underwear, drunk and vomiting. Harvey was arrested on two counts of child abuse while his girlfriend Karen Edwards was issued a criminal citation for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. However, Harvey said he was remorseful for his actions after the fact. "Unfortunately it was some of the things I learned when I was a child, that this is how you teach your children to do things. I realize now that it was the biggest mistake of my life," said Harvey. "I've lost my job, I've lost my children, I've now got to come up with $10,000 for an attorney just to fight to keep from having to do 17 to life on two counts." Harvey also said the experience was a teachable moment in that he now realizes he has a drinking problem. "I don't think I'm a bad guy but I do have some issues with drinking," he said. "I'm actually going into AA meetings and going to see a preacher or a pastor."
The TV shows, movies, songs, books and even food and drink—black-cherry seltzer! disco fries!—that people in early recovery indulge in often can take on outsize meaning for them, as they come to associate these things with the ways in which they are changing. The same is true for Bill Clegg, the high-profile NY literary agent, recovering crack addict and author of the recovery tomes Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days, as he told GQ.com in a recent interview. So what was the big hit for Clegg? A singer-songwriter named Rachel Yamagata, whose album Happenstance Clegg first heard in New York’s Greenwich Village. “I was in a coffee shop on Jane Street, and heard the first few notes on a piano to a song of hers called ‘Quiet’ and they were the saddest, most mournful notes I'd ever heard,” he tells GQ, of the time in which he was fresh out of rehab and attending three 12-Step meetings a day. “I thought: there I am, that's me. And I went home and downloaded Happenstance, and listened to that album until I couldn't anymore.” Here’s a video of Yamagata performing “Quiet” on the KRCW program Morning Becomes Eclectic: