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8/22/14 8:30am

Uber Begins Trial Run for Delivering Drug Store Products

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The taxi app known as Uber has created an empire worth $18 billion transporting people from one location to another, but it could soon be doing the same thing with drug store medicines.

The company is making its first trial runs of a new feature known as the “Uber Corner Store,” which will offer on-demand deliveries of drug store medicines and other products. The service is currently limited to specific neighborhoods throughout Washington, D.C., but the plan is to quickly expand it in the coming months.

Users access the service on their app by clicking on the “Corner Store” option and requesting a driver, after which they receive a text message with a list of available items for purchase. The driver will confirm the order and deliver it, while the user’s Uber account is billed. The drug store delivery is an extension of Uber’s experiments with delivering other items like flowers and Christmas trees, as well as the courier service they began operating in Manhattan earlier this year.

“We're in the business of delivering cars in five minutes. And once you can deliver cars in five minutes, there's a lot of things you can deliver in five minutes," said Uber founder Travis Kalanick last December.

But while the cars that Uber provides are certainly comfortable, they’re not the BMW’s and Land Rovers that were part of a major New York City drug bust by police last month. The “text-to-toke” operation, which went under the names of “Handsome Carl” or “Basic Landscaping,” used luxury cars to deliver about $10,000 per day in marijuana and club drugs like ecstasy.

Six dealers and the ring leader, Brooklyn-based Nunzio Gentille, were arrested and charged with possession with intent to sell a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute.

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

8/22/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Aug. 22, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

addiction in japan

8/21/14 7:30pm

Alcohol, Internet Gambling Addictions Skyrocket in Japan

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Pachinko machines. Shutterstock

According to a recent study, Japan’s affinity for alcohol, gambling and technology has also spurred a sizable increase in the number of individuals addicted to these particular pastimes.

A survey sponsored in 2013 by the country’s health ministry shows that an estimated 5.36 million people in Japan or roughly 4.8% of the country’s adult population, exhibit compulsive behavior in regard to gambling. The rate for many other countries stands at “more or less around 1% of the adult population,” according to a member of the study group that conducted the survey.

Gambling is an accepted everyday occurrence in Japan, where pachinko halls proliferate through the urban landscape, while programming devoted to racing of every type, from horses to motorbikes and speed boats, are regularly aired on weekend television.

Japan’s fascination for technological development has also sent the rate of Internet addiction to record-high levels. According to the study, some 4.21 million adults qualify as addicts in regard to Internet use—a number that has risen by 50% over the course of the last five years.

In 2012 alone, online users spent more than $5 billion on mobile gaming. Increased quality of digital content and the relative ease in accessing it through newer models of smartphones is considered the likely culprit. Internet addiction among junior high and high school students has been a subject of great concern in the Japanese media over the last few years, with government panels finding some 518,000 students in schools nationwide struggling with addiction.

Alcohol addiction has also seen substantially elevated numbers. The survey noted that more than one million people may be addicted to alcohol, compared with an estimated 830,000 just a decade ago. Little has been done to slow these rising rates or offer counseling and treatment for the growing number of addicts. “There is an absolute lack of preventive education for (gambling) addiction,” said Noriko Tanaka of the group Society Concerned about Gambling Addiction.

The issue is also rife with social stigma. Addictions are considered a dishonor to family names, and as such, are not openly revealed. “We are not calling for a ban on gambling,” said Tanaka. “But we must also discuss [its] negative economic and social impacts.”

Japan has taken strides to address Internet addiction among young people though “fasting camps,” which provide outdoor activities and counseling for children deemed to be online addicts.

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By Paul Gaita

bad parenting

8/21/14 5:30pm

Seven Year Old Rats Out Mom for Meth Habit

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According to police, a seven-year-old Florida boy told on his mom's meth habit and ultimately had her arrested.

The child took several days to work up the guts to tell someone about his mom's drug and paraphernalia stash. His mother, Briana Buchanan, was living with her boyfriend's brother, Peter—whose last name has been withheld—in Edgewater, Fla. where she kept her habit hidden in the trunk of her car.

The boy had told Peter several times that his mother was cooking "something bad," but it would be days before the kid showed Peter just how bad it was.

"He came up to me, and he said, 'There's really bad stuff in mom's car that I want to show you,'" Peter said, recalling how the paraphernalia was sitting among the boy's toys. Peter immediately called 911.

"Her son, who's seven, just told me she keeps bad stuff in her car, and he opened up the trunk, and she has a meth lab in her trunk," Peter told a 911 dispatcher.

Police arrived to find chemicals, two syringes, hot plates, and other items used to cook meth. The boy was also able to describe how his mother used the items, as she evidently had done the cooking in front of him.

"He said when they would get all this stuff together, they would put it all in a soda bottle, and they would shake the soda bottle and take the top off to, I guess, vent it out," Peter said.

Buchanan is now being held on $32,000 bail while the child went to live with his grandmother, where he will stay for the foreseeable future.

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By Bryan Le

notorious

8/21/14 3:30pm

Student Charged In Philip Seymour Hoffman Death Reports on Treatment

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Juliana Luchkiw Photo via

The Parsons student who was arrested for drug possession in connection with the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is successfully getting treatment, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

Juliana Luchkiw pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession in April. She, along with her then-boyfriend Max Rosenblum and neighbor Robert Vineberg, were arrested in February after the police searched their Mott Street building and uncovered two bags of cocaine in Luchkiw and Rosenblum’s apartment, as well as 350 packets of heroin in Vineberg’s apartment.

An informant, who told police Vineberg regularly sold heroin to Hoffman, led investigators to the building. The information made police believe that Vineberg may have sold Hoffman his fatal batch of heroin. The 46-year-old actor was found dead in his West Village apartment in February with a needle in his arm.

The Parsons, The New School for Design student was 22 at the time of her arrest. She was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, her lawyer Stephen Turano said. “She’s a college student. She is not a drug dealer,” he said.

Luchkiw is able to enter a new plea to disorderly conduct, which is a violation, after completing six months of drug treatment. She appeared in court to give an update on her progress.

“She’s doing very well. She’s been fully compliant with her substance abuse program,” Turano said.

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By Victoria Kim

the undecider

8/21/14 1:00pm

Jeb Bush Torn Between Being Anti-MMJ and Pro-States' Rights

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On the issue of medical marijuana, the former governor of Florida Jeb Bush is conflicted.

Last Thursday, Bush issued a written statement urging Floridians to vote against the proposed amendment, also known as Amendment 2, which would allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana to individuals with debilitating medical conditions.

However, when asked by a reporter on Friday about the federal government’s role in enforcing federal drug laws in medical marijuana states, Bush, who is considering a presidential bid for 2016, said, “I don’t know. I’d have to sort that out. I think that states ought to have a right to decide these things. I think the federal government’s role in our lives is way too overreaching.”

“I believe it is the right of the states to decide this issue,” he said in a statement. “And I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”

Amendment 2, or the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative is on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Florida as a proposed constitutional amendment.

So far, the proposed amendment is popular among voters in the Sunshine State. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 88% of Florida voters support legal medical marijuana, and more than half of voters favor the idea of allowing adults to have small amounts of pot for recreational use.

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By Victoria Kim

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