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endangered

7/16/14 10:30am

Isolated Amazon Tribe Being Pushed Out By Drug Traffickers

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One of the most isolated tribes in the world is now reaching out to nearby local communities, but it could be because drug traffickers are pushing them out of their homes.

The Jaminawa ethnic group, located deep in the Amazon, could be affected by Brazil’s border with Peru becoming a major route for coca leaf smuggling. The group normally shoots arrows at any intruders, but dozens of members have reportedly approached other settlements along the Envira river to ask for tools and machetes.

Peru has become the biggest producer of the coca leaf, which is the primary ingredient for cocaine and crack, while Brazil is home to the second biggest drug market in the world behind the U.S. “Before uncontacted Indians were killed by loggers. Now they are killed by drug traffickers...most of the authorities are not interested in protecting the tribes,” said anthropologist Beatriz Huertas. “On the contrary, their existence is a problem for investment and the exploitation of existing resources in their areas."

Governments in Brazil and Peru are even urging nearby settlements to not interact with the Jaminawa group, although this is largely due to health reasons. Because the Jaminawa have no immunities from their lack of interaction with others, common cold and flu viruses can be deadly for them. Madeleyne Machado of the Brazilian government's protection agency for indigenous groups said a team was able to provide medical treatment for seven of the Jaminawa people and eliminated them as a risk for spreading contagious diseases.

However, the advice to not interact with the tribespeople has largely gone ignored when they have arrived at settlements. Francisco Estremadoyro of Propurus, a Peruvian organisation that sets up protection areas for indigenous groups, confirmed that “most people try to talk to them and give them tools and things to help them, and clothes.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

bad policy

7/16/14 8:30am

Honduran President Blames U.S. Drug Policy For Migrant Surge

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Wiki Commons

Honduran president Juan Hernandez has slammed the drug policies of the Obama administration, blaming them for an increase in violence throughout Central America and sparking a surge of migration to the United States.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world and Hernandez declared that the country has been living “in an emergency for a decade.” He blamed the war on drugs in both the U.S. and Colombia as a key cause, because it pushed drug traffickers into the country and created massive turf wars.

“A good part of [migration] has to do with the lack of opportunities in Central America, which has its origin in the climate of violence, and this violence, almost 85 percent of it, is related to the issue of drug trafficking," he said. "This is creating a serious problem for us that sparked this migration."

Hernandez’s comments come on the heels of those made last week by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who blamed drug addiction in the U.S. with fueling both an immigration crisis and violent cartels throughout Central America. He has urged Obama to ease up on his deportation-heavy plans and work to keep fleeing children in the U.S.

"How do the drug cartels maintain their power? With American guns bought with American dollars because of American consumption of the drugs," he said. "The drugs don't stay in Honduras. They don't stay in Mexico. They come straight to the streets of the United States of America. And so, I think we have a great responsibility in the debilitating of those countries."

The Obama administration is projecting that 150,000 children under the age of 18 could illegally seek to enter the U.S. from Central America next year. They have asked lawmakers for $3.7 billion to pay for more border security, speed up deportations, and hire additional immigrant court judges.

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

7/16/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: July 16, 2014

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Poster child for booze. Photo via

By Shawn Dwyer

draconian laws

7/15/14 7:30pm

Tennessee Woman Charged With Assault For Using Meth While Pregnant

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A 26-year-old woman has become the first person in Tennessee to be charged under a controversial new state law that makes it a crime to use drugs while pregnant.

Mallory Loyola was arrested this week after both she and her newborn baby tested positive for methamphetamine use. The law, signed by Governor Bill Haslam in May and in effect as of July 1, grants law officials the right to charge and prosecute a pregnant woman with assault for using an illegal substance while pregnant if the child is harmed or becomes addicted to the drug. Loyola was subsequently released on $2,000 bail and received a misdemeanor charge.

The bill has generated considerable opposition since it passed through both houses of the Tennessee legislature in early April. Michael Botticelli, former acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated in April that “what’s important is that we create environments where we’re really diminishing the stigma and the barriers, particularly for pregnant women…about their substance abuse disorders.” Representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood also voiced similar discontent.

However, Bill Bivens, sheriff of Monroe County, where Loyola was arrested, saw the arrest as a positive move. “Hopefully, it will send a signal to other women who are pregnant and have a drug problem to seek help. That’s what we want them to do,” he said. A provision of the law allows individuals who sought and completed treatment prior to being charged to use that program as defense.

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By Paul Gaita

eating disorders

7/15/14 5:30pm

Popular Food Blogger Opens Up About Eating Disorder

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A 20-something who gained a large Instagram following for her sunny posts about all things vegan, Jordan Younger—once known on social media as the Blonde Vegan—became so obsessed with veganism that it drove her into an unhealthy and restrictive diet that triggered an eating disorder known as orthorexia nervosa.

While not an officially recognized disorder, orthorexia nervosa has been defined as a "fixation on righteous eating," according to the National Eating Disorders Association, and caused Younger to suffer from a string of health issues that forced her to rethink her commitment to veganism.

"Food was not enjoyable anymore," Younger told People magazine. "I was spending the entire day obsessing about eating only vegetables, green juices, fruits and occasionally nuts and grains."

"I restricted myself from certain foods—even some that fell under the vegan umbrella—because they were not 100 percent clean or 100 percent raw," she continued. "I was following thousands of rules in my head that were making me sick."

Younger's health went into steep decline. She dropped 15 lbs., had low energy and bad skin, and had even stopped getting her period. At that point, Younger came to the realization that her veganism had contributed to her myriad health problems. That realization led to the simple act of buying a piece of salmon and bringing it home to eat it alone in private so that no one would see her, though Younger knew it would alienate her readers.

"My hormones were out of whack because I had damaged my biochemistry," she said "When I made that decision [to resume eating fish and eggs] I knew I was going to share it on the blog. I knew I would alienate tons of my followers, but there was no way I could live a lie."

But Younger was not prepared for the immediate and sometimes harsh reaction she received. She lost 1,000 followers right off the bat, and began getting death threats from hardcore vegans and animal rights activists.

In the end, however, she knew that the right decision was made. "My blog made it hard for me to see that I had an eating disorder," Younger said. "If I wasn't so closely tied to the vegan identity I'd given myself, I would have realized it a lot sooner."

Younger now blogs on Instagram as The Balanced Blonde.

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By Shawn Dwyer

awkward position

7/15/14 3:30pm

Woman High on Heroin Found Pants-Down Doing Yoga in Road

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On Wednesday of last week, police found 51-year-old Michele Rene Cernak stripping and doing yoga in the middle of a road a few blocks from a middle school in Orlando, Fla. And to the surprise of no one, Cernak was high on drugs.

Around 3:40 p.m., police received a call from onlookers reporting a woman taking off her clothes between yoga stretches, fearing that she may be under the influence of something.

"They advised the female had her jeans down to her ankles with only her panties covering her private area," the police report read.

Officers arrived to find Cernak indeed with her pants around her ankles and her gold Chevy GMC pickup truck on the side of the road, engine still running and driver's door still open. 

During their search, police found Cernak's ID and car tags that indicated she was actually from Texas. They also found she was in possession of heroin, a syringe, a crack pipe, and three different types of prescription pills. During questioning, Cernak admitted to police that a wound found on her ankle was from shooting heroin.

Cernak has been charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia, and is currently being held in Marion County Jail on a $5,000 bond.

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By Bryan Le

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