Saturday, 26 July 2014

Police have seized more than $100,000 worth of cannabis in Taupo.

Detective Sergeant Dave Beattie says intelligence gathered during an operation code named 'Muffler' led them to execute a number of warrants at homes yesterday. He says in one search, 30 pounds of cannabis heads, which have a street value of $105,000, were discovered. Five men have been arrested for a variety of drugs and property offence charges.

Colombian cocaine smuggler gets 15 years

A federal judge in Tampa sentenced a cocaine smuggler on Friday to more than 15 years in prison. U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. sentenced Luis Alberto Urrego-Contreras to 15 years and six months in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. In January 2005, Urrego-Contreras, who was known by the nickname “Bacon,” bought a Beechcraft King Air airplane from a St. Petersburg business. He bought the plane on behalf of Colombian cocaine trafficker Fabio Enrique Ochoa-Vasco, according to the federal court. In June 2005, the plan was for the plane to fly from Venezuela to Colombia to retrieve 2,000 kilograms of cocaine. But when the pilot saw the Colombian Air Force was monitoring the Colombian airstrip, the pilot flew back to Venezuela where the pilot and co-pilot were arrested, according to the federal court. In October 2010, Urrego-Contreras was arrested at the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, according to the federal court. He agreed to speak to agents where he identified Ochoa-Vasco in several photographs and others involved in the smuggling conspiracy, according to the federal court. Urrego-Contreras told investigators that he was paid $50,000 to $100,000 for each cocaine load. He admitted to investigators that he was responsible for 1,000 kilograms of cocaine that was flown from Colombia to Mexico and later distributed in the United States by Ochoa-Vasco, according to the federal court.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dream Warrior Recovery: Individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence

Dream Warrior Recovery: Individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence

Individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence and not in its rational capacity for conceptual and analytic procedures." Reinhold Neibuhr - Theologian/Author of the "Serenity Prayer"

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tramps bikie club loses appeal to get back its guns because of link to Hells Angels Motorcycle Club

MEMBERS of a small-town motorcycle club linked to the Hells Angels have failed in their appeal to retrieve their confiscated guns. A decision was handed down today by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal upholding a decision to cancel four Tramps bikies’ gun licences because of their membership and social associations with other gangs. The verdict comes almost a year after nine current and former members of the Tramps MC fronted the Firearms Appeal Committee, one of which is a mobile butcher, arguing that Victoria Police had no right cancel their licences. Club head Ronald Harding, who took leave to withdraw, butcher Michael Oxenham, Malcolm Dinsdale and David Windsor are now considering appealing the decision to the appeal court of the Victorian Supreme Court. In August 2012, Chief Commissioner Ken Lay made a controversial decision to seize more than 100 registered guns from members of “outlaw’’ bikie gangs across the state. The VCAT appeal, taken on by four Tramps members, was seen as a test case for other “outlaw’ bikie members who also had their gun licences cancelled. The guns were seized under the test to whether the licence holder was a “fit and proper’’ person.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Ms Sandiford to be executed for drug trafficking.

A British grandmother has been sentenced to death by firing squad for smuggling almost 5kg of cocaine into Bali.

Lindsay Sandiford was arrested in May last year after she tried to enter the Indonesian holiday island with illegal drugs worth £1.6 million hidden in her suitcase.

Local prosecutors had called for the 56-year-old housewife to be jailed for 15 years. But today there were gasps in the Bali courtroom when a panel of judges announced Ms Sandiford would be executed for drug trafficking.

As the shock verdict was announced, Ms Sandiford, from Gloucestershire, slumped back in her chair in tears before hiding her face with a brown sarong as she was led out of the courtroom.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Griselda Blanco, gunned down in Medellin, Colombia Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown

Florida Department of Corrections

Griselda Blanco in 2004.

The convicted Colombian drug smuggler known as the “Godmother of Cocaine,” Griselda Blanco, 69, was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding assassin in Medellin, Colombian national police confirmed late Monday, according to the Miami Herald.

Blanco spent nearly 20 years in prison in the United States for drug trafficking and three murders before being deported to Colombia in 2004, the Herald reported.

Two armed riders pulled up to Blanco as she was leaving a butcher shop in her hometown, and one shot her twice in the head, the Herald reported, citing a report in El Colombiano newspaper.

Family members said Blanco had cut her ties to organized crime after returning to her country, the BBC reported. Police said they were investigating the motive.

Blanco was one of the first to engage in large-scale smuggling of cocaine into the United States from Colombia and set up many of the routes used by the Medellin cartel after she was sentenced in the United States in 1985, the BBC reported.

Investigators told the Herald that they estimate conservatively that Blanco was behind about 40 slayings. She was convicted in connection with three murders: Arranging the killing of two South Miami drug dealers who had not paid for a delivery, and ordering the assassination of a former enforcer for her organization, an operation that resulted in the death of the target’s 2-year-old son, the Herald reported.

Three of Blanco’s husbands were killed in violence related to drugs, the Herald reported, and one of her sons was named Michael Corleone, a reference to “The Godfather” movies.

Blanco is credited with originating motorcycle assassinations, the Herald reported.

“This is classic live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword,” filmmaker Billy Corben, who with Alfred Spellman made two “Cocaine Cowboys” documentaries, told the Herald. “Or in this case, live-by-the-motorcycle-assassin, die-by-the-motorcycle assassin.”

Monday, 2 July 2012

Beware of missed call to check SIM cloning

Next time if you get a missed call starting with +92; #90 or #09, don't show the courtesy of calling back because chances are it would lead to your SIM card being cloned. The telecom service providers are now issuing alerts to subscribers —particularly about the series mentioned above as the moment one press the call button after dialing the above number, someone at the other end will get your phone and SIM card cloned. According to reports, more than one lakh subscribers have fallen prey to this new telecom terror attack as the frequency of such calls continues to grow. Intelligence agencies have reportedly confirmed to the service providers particularly in UP West telecom division that such a racket is not only under way but the menace is growing fast. "We are sure there must be some more similar combinations that the miscreants are using to clone the handsets and all the information stored in them," an intelligence officer told TOI. General Manager (GM) BSNL, RV Verma, said the department had already issued alerts to all the broadband subscribers and now alert SMSes were being issued to other subscribers as well. As per Rakshit Tandon, an IT expert who also teaches at the police academy (UP), the crooks can use other combination of numbers as well while making a call. "It is better not to respond to calls received from unusual calling numbers," says Tandon. "At the same time one should avoid storing specifics of their bank account, ATM/ Credit/Debit card numbers and passwords in their phone memory because if one falls a prey to such crooks then the moment your cell phone or sim are cloned, the data will be available to the crooks who can withdraw amount from your bank accounts as well," warns Punit Misra; an IT expert who also owns a consultancy in Lucknow. The menace that threatens to steal the subscriber's information stored in the phone or external memory (sim, memory & data cards) has a very scary side as well. Once cloned, the culprits can well use the cloned copy to make calls to any number they wish to. This exposes the subscribers to the threat of their connection being used for terror calls. Though it will be established during the course of investigations that the cellphone has been cloned and misused elsewhere, it is sure to land the subscriber under quite some pressure till the time the fact about his or her phone being cloned and misused is established, intelligence sources said. "It usually starts with a miss call from a number starting with + 92. The moment the subscriber calls back on the miss call, his or her cell phone is cloned. In case the subscribers takes the call before it is dropped as a miss call then the caller on the other end poses as a call center executive checking the connectivity and call flow of the particular service provider. The caller then asks the subscriber to press # 09 or # 90 call back on his number to establish that the connectivity to the subscriber was seamless," says a victim who reported the matter to the BSNL office at Moradabad last week. "The moment I redialed the caller number, my account balance lost a sum of money. Thereafter, in the three days that followed every time I got my cell phone recharged, the balance would be reduced to single digits within the next few minutes," she told the BSNL officials.

France brings in breathalyser law

New motoring laws have come into force in France making it compulsory for drivers to carry breathalyser kits in their vehicles. As of July 1, motorists and motorcyclists will face an on-the-spot fine unless they travel with two single-use devices as part of a government drive to reduce the number of drink-drive related deaths. The new regulations, which excludes mopeds, will be fully enforced and include foreigner drivers from November 1 following a four-month grace period. Anyone failing to produce a breathalyser after that date will receive an 11 euro fine. French police have warned they will be carrying out random checks on drivers crossing into France via ferries and through the Channel Tunnel to enforce the new rules. Retailers in the UK have reported a massive rise in breathalyser sales as British drivers travelling across the Channel ensure they do not fall foul of the new legislation. Car accessory retailer Halfords said it is selling one kit every minute of the day and has rushed extra stock into stores to cope with the unprecedented demand. Six out of 10 Britons travelling to France are not aware they have to carry two NF approved breathalysers at all times, according to the company. The French government hopes to save around 500 lives a year by introducing the new laws, which will encourage drivers who suspect they may be over the limit to test themselves with the kits. The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood - substantially less than the UK limit of 80mg.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The number of Britons arrested overseas is on the rise, official figures have shown.

 The Foreign Office (FO) handled 6,015 arrest cases involving British nationals abroad between April 2011 and March 2012. This was 6% more than in the previous 12 months and included a 2% rise in drug arrests. The figures, which include holidaymakers and Britons resident overseas, showed the highest number of arrests and detentions was in Spain (1,909) followed by the USA (1,305). Spanish arrests rose 9% in 2011/12, while the United States was up 3%. The most arrests of Britons for drugs was in the US (147), followed by Spain (141). The highest percentage of arrests for drugs in 2011/12 was in Peru where there were only 17 arrests in total, although 15 were for drugs. The FO said anecdotal evidence from embassies and consulates overseas suggested many incidents were alcohol-fuelled, particularly in popular holiday destinations such as the Canary Islands, mainland Spain, the Balearics (which include Majorca and Ibiza), Malta and Cyprus. Consular Affairs Minister Jeremy Browne said: "It is important that people understand that taking risks abroad can land them on the wrong side of the law. "The punishments can be very severe, with tougher prison conditions than in the UK. While we will work hard to try and ensure the safety of British nationals abroad, we cannot interfere in another country's legal system. "We find that many people are shocked to discover that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cannot get them out of jail. We always provide consular support to British nationals in difficulty overseas. However, having a British passport does not make you immune to foreign laws and will not get you special treatment in prison."

Monday, 18 June 2012

Man arrested at Sydney Airpor

tMAN en route to Lebanon has been arrested at Sydney Airport and charged with the commercial supply of ecstasy and the psychedelic drug Nexus. A strike force of officers from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad was formed in May to investigate a drug supply ring. That month they seized 2.4 kilograms of ecstasy and 800 grams of Nexus, also known as Bees, after raiding homes at West Pennant Hills and Beecroft in Sydney's northwest. The drugs have an estimated potential street value of $375,000. One man was arrested at Beecroft and he remains before the court, police said. Just after 9.30pm (AEST) on Saturday another man was arrested after boarding a flight in Sydney headed for Lebanon. Police also seized $9000 in cash. The 30-year-old man was released into the custody of NSW police before being charged with two counts of supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and dealing with the proceeds of crime. He faced Parramatta Bail Court on Sunday and was remanded in custody to reappear at Central Local Court on August 16. Police said further arrests were anticipated. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Monday, 16 April 2012

British terror supergrass sentence cut by two years

jailed British terrorist has had his sentence cut by two years in a supergrass deal after giving evidence about an al Qaeda-linked “martyrdom” plot in New York, it was revealed today. Former teacher Saajid Badat was jailed for 13 years in 2005 for plotting with shoe bomber Richard Reid to blow up a transatlantic airliner in 2001 in what an Old Bailey judge said was a “wicked and inhuman” plot. He has now had his term reduced by two years under the first “supergrass” deal involving a terror convict, after providing intelligence to US prosecutors investigating an alleged plot to blow up the New York subway on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attack. Details of the deal — kept secret for more than two years — were revealed today by the Crown Prosecution Service as a trial of the alleged al Qaeda plotters began in New York. Defendant Adis Medanjanin, a 27-year-old Bosnian-born US citizen, is charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing “material support” to al Qaeda. He is said to have had terrorist training in Pakistan in 2008 and then returned to begin a plot to use beauty parlour chemicals to blow up the subway. Badat, from Gloucester, joined Reid’s shoe bomb conspiracy but pulled out at the last minute.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Western embassies targeted in Afghanistan attacks


Gunmen have launched multiple attacks across the Afghan capital Kabul. Western embassies in the heavily-guarded, central diplomatic area are understood to be among the targets as well as the parliament building in the west. There are reports that up to seven different locations have been hit. The Taliban has admitted responsibility, saying their main targets were the British and German embassies. There is no word at this stage on any casualties.

Taliban free hundreds from Pakistan prison

Hundreds of prisoners are believed to have escaped from a jail in northwest Pakistan after it was attacked by anti-government fighters armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Some of those who escaped from the facility in the town of Bannu, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, early on Sunday morning were "militants", an intelligence official told the Reuters news agency. "Dozens of militants attacked Bannu's Central Jail in the early hours of the morning, and more 300 prisoners have escaped," Mir Sahib Jan, the official, said. In Depth   Profile: Pakistani Taliban "There was intense gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades were also used." Many of those who escaped following the raid were convicted Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters, Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder reported from Lahore. A prison official in Bannu confirmed that "384 prisoners have escaped". A police official identified one of the inmates who escaped as a "dangerous prisoner", who took part in one of the attempts to kill the former president, Pervez Musharraf. The TTP, an umbrella organisation for anti-government groups that are loosely allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda, took responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for Hakeemullah Mehsud, TTP's leader, confirmed to Al Jazeera that the group was responsible for the attack. Another Taliban spokesman told Reuters: "We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way.".   Our correspondent said the attack took place in the early morning and had resulted in an exchange of fire that had left several people wounded. "After the attack the paramilitary and regular military forces came to that location and tried to surround the area," he said. "They have arrested up to a dozen men, but most of the people have indeed escaped." The injured were rushed to a local hospital in Bannu. Sources told Al Jazeera that as many as 150 fighters were involved in the attack. After blowing up the gates of the main prison at around 1:30am local time (20:30 GMT on Saturday), they entered the compound and freed the inmates, the sources said. The attackers had arranged for the transportation of the inmates from the facility. A police official told Reuters that Bannu's Central Jail held 944 prisoners in total, and that six cell blocks had been targeted in the attack.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Addictive painkiller sales surge in new parts of U.S.

Sales of the two most popular prescription painkillers in the United States have exploded in new parts of the country, an Associated Press analysis shows, worrying experts who say the push to relieve patients' suffering is spawning an addiction epidemic. Drug Enforcement Administration figures show dramatic rises between 2000 and 2010 in the distribution of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Some places saw sales increase sixteenfold. Meanwhile, the distribution of hydrocodone, the key ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab, is rising in Appalachia, the original epicenter of the U.S. painkiller epidemic, as well as in the Midwest. The increases have coincided with a wave of overdose deaths, pharmacy robberies and other problems in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Florida and other states. Opioid pain relievers, the category that includes oxycodone and hydrocodone, caused 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008 alone, and the death toll is rising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Across the U.S., pharmacies received and ultimately dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. That's enough to give 40 5-mg Percocets and 24 5-mg Vicodins to every person in the United States. The DEA data records shipments from distributors to pharmacies, hospitals, practitioners and teaching institutions. The drugs are eventually dispensed and sold to patients, but the DEA does not keep track of how much individual patients receive. The increase is partly due to the aging U.S. population with pain issues and a greater willingness by doctors to treat pain, said Gregory Bunt, medical director at New York's Daytop Village chain of drug treatment clinics. Sales are also being driven by addiction, as users become physically dependent on painkillers and begin "doctor shopping" to keep the prescriptions coming, he said. "Prescription medications can provide enormous health and quality-of-life benefits to patients," Gil Kerlikowske, the U.S. drug czar, told Congress in March. "However, we all now recognize that these drugs can be just as dangerous and deadly as illicit substances when misused or abused." Opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone can release intense feelings of well-being. Some abusers swallow the pills; others crush them, then smoke, snort or inject the powder. Unlike most street drugs, the problem has its roots in two disparate parts of the country -- Appalachia and affluent suburbs, said Pete Jackson, president of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids. "Now it's spreading from those two poles," Jackson said. A few areas that include military bases or Veterans Affairs hospitals have seen large increases in painkiller use because of soldier patients injured in the Middle East, law enforcement officials say. Experts worry painkiller sales are spreading quickly in areas where there are few clinics to treat people who get hooked, Bunt said. In Utica, New York, Patricia Reynolds has struggled to find treatment after becoming dependent on hydrocodone pills originally prescribed for a broken tailbone. The nearest clinics offering Suboxone, an anti-addiction drug, are an hour's drive away in Cooperstown or Syracuse. And those programs are full and are not accepting new patients, she said. "You can't have one clinic like that in the whole area," Reynolds said. "It's a really sad epidemic. I want people to start talking about it instead of pretending it's not a problem and hiding."

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Facebook's 'dark side': study finds link to socially aggressive narcissism


Researchers have established a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the degree to which you are a "socially disruptive" narcissist, confirming the conclusions of many social media sceptics. People who score highly on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often and updated their newsfeeds more regularly. The research comes amid increasing evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic, and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships. The latest study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, also found that narcissists responded more aggressively to derogatory comments made about them on the social networking site's public walls and changed their profile pictures more often. A number of previous studies have linked narcissism with Facebook use, but this is some of the first evidence of a direct relationship between Facebook friends and the most "toxic" elements of narcissistic personality disorder. Researchers at Western Illinois University studied the Facebook habits of 294 students, aged between 18 and 65, and measured two "socially disruptive" elements of narcissism – grandiose exhibitionism (GE) and entitlement/exploitativeness (EE). GE includes ''self-absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionistic tendencies" and people who score high on this aspect of narcissism need to be constantly at the centre of attention. They often say shocking things and inappropriately self-disclose because they cannot stand to be ignored or waste a chance of self-promotion. The EE aspect includes "a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others". The research revealed that the higher someone scored on aspects of GE, the greater the number of friends they had on Facebook, with some amassing more than 800. Those scoring highly on EE and GG were also more likely to accept friend requests from strangers and seek social support, but less likely to provide it, according to the research. Carol Craig, a social scientist and chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being, said young people in Britain were becoming increasingly narcissistic and Facebook provided a platform for the disorder. "The way that children are being educated is focussing more and more on the importance of self esteem – on how you are seen in the eyes of others. This method of teaching has been imported from the US and is 'all about me'. "Facebook provides a platform for people to self-promote by changing profile pictures and showing how many hundreds of friends you have. I know of some who have more than 1,000." Dr Viv Vignoles, senior lecturer in social psychology at Sussex University, said there was "clear evidence" from studies in America that college students were becoming increasingly narcissistic. But he added: "Whether the same is true of non-college students or of young people in other countries, such as the UK, remains an open question, as far as I know. "Without understanding the causes underlying the historical change in US college students, we do not know whether these causes are factors that are relatively specific to American culture, such as the political focus on increasing self-esteem in the late 80s and early 90s or whether they are factors that are more general, for example new technologies such as mobile phones and Facebook." Vignoles said the correlational nature of the latest study meant it was difficult to be certain whether individual differences in narcissism led to certain patterns of Facebook behaviour, whether patterns of Facebook behaviour led to individual differences in narcissism, or a bit of both. Christopher Carpenter, who ran the study, said: "In general, the 'dark side' of Facebook requires more research in order to better understand Facebook's socially beneficial and harmful aspects in order to enhance the former and curtail the latter. "If Facebook is to be a place where people go to repair their damaged ego and seek social support, it is vitally important to discover the potentially negative communication one might find on Facebook and the kinds of people likely to engage in them. Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking."

Saturday, 17 March 2012

It's Not Dementia, It's Your Heart Medication: Cholesterol Drugs and Memory


One day in 1999 Duane Graveline, then a 68-year-old former NASA astronaut, returned home from his morning walk in Merritt Island, Fla., and could not remember where he was. His wife stepped outside, and he greeted her as a stranger. When Graveline’s memory returned some six hours later in the hospital, he racked his brain to figure out what might have caused this terrifying bout of amnesia. Only one thing came to mind: he had recently started taking the statin drug Lipitor. Cholesterol-lowering statins such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor are the most widely prescribed medications in the world, and they are credited with saving the lives of many heart disease patients. But recently a small number of users have voiced concerns that the drugs elicit unexpected cognitive side effects, such as memory loss, fuzzy thinking and learning difficulties. Hundreds of people have registered complaints with MedWatch, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s adverse drug reaction database, but few studies have been done and the results are inconclusive. Nevertheless, many experts are starting to believe that a small percentage of the population is at risk, and they are calling for increased public awareness of the possible cognitive side effects of statins—symptoms that may be misdiagnosed as dementia in the aging patients who take them. Fat and the Brain It is not crazy to connect cholesterol-modifying drugs with cognition; after all, one quarter of the body’s cholesterol is found in the brain. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that, among other things, provides structure to the body’s cell membranes. High levels of cholesterol in the blood create a risk for heart disease, because the molecules that transport cholesterol can damage arteries and cause blockages. In the brain, however, cholesterol plays a crucial role in the formation of neuronal connections—the vital links that underlie memory and learning. Quick thinking and rapid reaction times depend on cholesterol, too, because the waxy molecules are the building blocks of the sheaths that insulate neurons and speed up electrical transmissions. “We can’t understand how a drug that affects such an important pathway would not have adverse reactions,” says Ralph Edwards, former director of the World Health Organization’s drug-monitoring center in Uppsala, Sweden. Two small trials published in 2000 and 2004 by Matthew Muldoon, a clinical pharmacologist at the University of Pittsburgh, seem to suggest a link between statins and cognitive problems. The first, which enrolled 209 high-cholesterol subjects, reported that participants taking placebo pills improved more on repeated tests of attention and reaction time taken over the course of six months—presumably getting better because of practice, as people typically do. Subjects who were on statins, however, did not show the normal improvement—suggesting their learning was impaired. The second trial reported similar findings. And a study published in 2003 in Reviews of Therapeutics noted that among 60 statin users who had reported memory problems to MedWatch, more than half said their symptoms improved when they stopped taking the drugs. But other studies have found no significant link between statins and memory problems. Larry Sparks, director of the Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Research at the Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City, Ariz., goes so far as to say that “you’ve got a better chance of buying a winning lottery ticket, walking outside and getting hit by lightning and dying” than you do of suffering a cognitive side effect from statins. Vulnerable Genes? Many experts agree that for most people the risk is quite low, but they are beginning to believe the effects are real. “A subset of the population is vulnerable,” argues Joe Graedon, co-founder of the consumer advocacy Web site the People’s Pharmacy, which has collected hundreds of reports of cognitive-related statin side effects in the past decade. Some researchers believe these people have a genetic profile that puts them at risk.

Statin side effects: How common are memory loss, diabetes, and muscle aches?


When the US Food and Drug Administration told the makers of cholesterol-lowering statins to add new side effect warnings to their labels last week, many of the 40 million statin users may have been unaware of the extent of the risks associated with these drugs that have been touted by some cardiologists to be safer than aspirin. No question, statins -- which include Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), and Crestor (rosuvastatin) -- are relatively safe drugs, and they’ve saved thousands of lives over the past 20 years, particularly in men with established heart disease. But like any drug they can cause problems in some, including muscle aches, an increased risk of diabetes, and, gaining recent attention, memory loss. University of California-San Diego researcher Beatrice Golomb published a paper two years ago describing 171 statin users who reported that they had developed memory problems and dementia-like symptoms that the statin users attributed to their use of the medications. The vast majority experienced an improvement in their symptoms after stopping the drugs and many saw their symptoms return after going back on statins. Robert Grindell, a state employee from Makinen, Minn., told me his short-term memory began to deteriorate after he started taking Zocor in his early 50s. (He contacted Golomb after hearing about her research.) “My co-workers told me I was coming in to ask them the same question three times in one day,” he said. “I had a CT scan to determine if I had a stroke, but it came back fine; the next day, I couldn’t even remember where I had the test performed.” After learning that Zocor caused memory problems, Grindell decided to go off it and said within a few days he noticed an improvement in his memory, not having to glance down several times at a printed phone number as he dialed it to remember the digits. Unfortunately, the exact incidence of these memory problems isn’t known. Manufacturer-sponsored clinical trials show that they occur in fewer than 1 percent of users, but statin researcher Dr. Paul Thompson, chief of cardiololgy at Hartford Hospital, said the real incidence is probably much higher. He has a study expected to be published sometime this year that measured cognitive effects in statin users compared with those on placebos that he said will provide a better estimate; the findings can’t be disclosed until the study is published. The diabetes risks of statins are more well-established. One review study published last year calculated an extra two cases of type 2 diabetes in every 1,000 patients who took a high-dose statin (80 milligrams per day) compared with those who took a lower dose (20 to 40 milligrams). And one clinical trial found that statin users had about a 25 percent increased risk of developing diabetes over a two-year period compared with those who took placebos. Experts, though, agree that in people at high risk for heart disease, the increased diabetes risk is outweighed by the statin’s protection against heart attacks and deaths from any cause. The danger of muscle destruction from statins -- which can damage the liver and kidneys -- is also clear but slight. According to Thompson, about 1 in every 1,000 statin users will develop severely elevated levels of the enzyme creatine kinase, which indicates muscle death, and only 1 in 10 million die from developing an extremely severe case of the condition called rhabdomyolysis. Muscle aches are far more common: occuring in about 1 in 10 users, according to Thompson. “It seems to be more common in people who do a lot of exercise.” In fact, a study he conducted found that marathon runners taking statins developed a greater increase in creatine kinase right after their race compared with runners who weren’t on statins. “We also see more muscle aches in older people and women since they have less muscle mass,” he said. Lowering the statin dose or switching to a different statin doesn’t always help, Thompson said. “In our studies, those who develop statin myalgia tend to get it again and again; they’re body may get sensitized to statins.” There may also be a genetic component, with statin muscle aches occuring more often in those whose parents also had them. And there may be a link between memory loss and muscle aches. “In our database, the majority of patients who had cognitive problems also had muscle problems,” Golomb said. She recommends that those who are having memory loss or muscle aches speak to their doctor about going off statins -- especially if they’re not in a high-risk group for heart attacks. Those who get the most benefits are men under 65 who’ve already had a heart attack, she said. Women, elderly people, and those without heart disease get much smaller benefits from statins, and it’s unclear whether the drugs extend their lives. “Many patients have told me that their doctor said going off statins would kill them,” Golomb said, “but that’s not an accurate representation of the evidence.”

Monday, 12 March 2012

Drug trafficking brothers jailed for more than five years each

Two brothers who tried to flood the north-east of Scotland with heroin and cocaine have been jailed. Paul and Anthony Smith were jailed for more than five years each after they admitted transporting a "significant" amount of class-A drugs into Aberdeen and Shetland. The pair, originally from Liverpool, were sentenced at the High Court in Aberdeen on Monday after previously admitting being involved in the supply of heroin and cocaine between October 2010 and February last year. Detective Inspector Alex Dowall said: "These men were intent on flooding the streets of Aberdeen and Shetland with class-A drugs and were willing to take great risks in the process in order to turn a profit. "Ultimately though, as their sentences today prove, the risk is much greater than the potential reward." Anthony Smith, 30, was jailed for five years and seven months while his 27-year-old sibling received a sentence of five years and two months. Det Insp Dowall added: "This was a complex inquiry across two countries and three force areas and it should serve as a warning to others intent on bringing drugs into the north-east that it will not be tolerated. "Operation Limehouse is an example of Grampian Police working closely with other police forces across the UK in order to target those suspected of committing drugs offences. "It must also be said that the assistance provided by local communities in Aberdeen and Shetland in bring these individuals to justice was invaluable."

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Woman jailed 10 years, fined Dh50,000 for smuggling 2.6kg cocaine in handbag

Woman jailed 10 years, fined Dh50,000 for smuggling 2.6kg cocaine in handbag A woman, who called herself stupid in court when she confessed to smuggling and possessing drugs, faces 10 years in jail By Bassam Za'Za', Senior ReporterPublished: 13:03 February 28, 2012 4 Dubai A woman, who called herself stupid when she confessed to smuggling and possessing drugs, faces 10 years in jail. The Dubai Court of First Instance convicted the 34-year-old Nigerian woman, B.O., of smuggling 2.6 kilograms of cocaine in to Dubai. “I am sorry sir. It was stupid enough of me that I did not examine what kind of substance I carried from Nigeria. I thought that I was carrying some kind of food supply,” B.O. argued when she defended herself in court. Presiding Judge Hamad Abdul Latif Abdul Jawad also fined B.O. Dh50,000. The accused will be deported following the completion of her punishment. Article continues below Drug prosecutors accused B.O. of smuggling and possessing 190 capsules that contained cocaine. “I did not know what substance I carried. A friend gave it to me at the airport and asked me to hand it over to another person. That person was supposed to pick it from me at the airport,” B.O. defended. An Emirati customs inspector testified that he was on duty when B.O. arrived at his counter. “I suspected her luggage and asked to search the bags. The scanner exposed some kind of oval pieces hidden between food supplies. My colleague discovered inside the bag small plastic sacks that contained white materials that looked like flour. The sacks contained nearly 190 white capsules. We referred B.O. and the possessions to Dubai Police’s anti-narcotics department for interrogation,” the inspector claimed to prosecutors.

Sheen's ex-wife charged with cocaine distribution

Charlie Sheen's ex-wife has been charged in Colorado with possession and distribution of cocaine stemming from her arrest in Aspen. Brooke Mueller was arrested by police on Dec. 3 after a woman reported being assaulted at a nightclub. Pitkin County chief deputy district attorney Arnold Mordkin said Friday that Mueller has also been charged with third-degree assault. Both drug charges are felonies. Possession with intent to distribute is the most serious and carries a penalty between four to 12 years. Conviction on the possession charge could result in up to 18 months behind bars. Mueller has vowed to fight the charges. Sheen and Mueller divorced last year after Sheen was arrested on suspicion of assaulting her in 2009. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and completed his probation in 2010.

Ex-drug prosecutor who handled Las Vegas celebrity cases gets 9 months in jail in crack case


A former top Las Vegas drug prosecutor who handled the high-profile Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars cocaine possession plea deals was sentenced Monday to nine months in county jail in a felony crack possession case. Former Deputy District Attorney David Schubert apologized to the court for what he called “a tragedy,” and then stood silently as a state court judge berated him as “a disgrace to his oath as a prosecutor and a lawyer.” 0 Comments Weigh InCorrections? Personal Post (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/Associated Press) - This undated police booking photo released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department showes former Deputy District Attorney David Schubert. Schubert a former top drug prosecutor who handled the Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars cocaine possession plea deals in Las Vegas has been sentenced to nine months in jail in his own felony cocaine possession case. Clark County District Judge Carolyn Ellsworth also said that the terms of a plea deal that could have gotten Schubert probation and a chance to clear his record were “offensive.” “I’m not going to give you the special treatment,” the judge said. Police arrested Schubert in March 2011 after they watched another man get out of Schubert’s car, go into an apartment complex and return. Officers found Schubert with a $40 rock of crack cocaine and confiscated an unregistered 9 mm handgun from his car. Schubert once handled Clark County’s highest-profile drug prosecutions as the district attorney office’s liaison to a federal drug task force. Hilton, 30, was arrested after police said 0.8 grams of cocaine fell out of her handbag following a Las Vegas Strip traffic stop in August 2010. The celebrity socialite received a year of probation on misdemeanor cocaine possession and obstruction charges. She successfully completed probation last fall. Mars, 26, was cleared in January of a felony cocaine possession charge after staying out of trouble for a year and meeting other conditions of a plea deal. The Grammy-winning pop star, whose real name is Peter Hernandez, acknowledged in court in February 2011 that he had 2.6 grams of cocaine after a performance at a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino nightclub. Schubert resigned from the prosecutor’s office after his arrest and underwent two months of inpatient substance abuse counseling. The 48-year-old has been undergoing outpatient alcohol and drug counseling since May, and has been practicing criminal defense law in some of the same courtrooms where he was a prosecutor for 10 years. Schubert pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance not for sale. The conviction could threaten his law career, depending on a review by the State Bar of Nevada and action by the state Supreme Court, bar official Phil Pattee said. The judge ordered Schubert to surrender March 12 to begin his jail sentence. Defense attorney William Terry said he may appeal the sentence or ask the judge to take the rare step of setting it aside.

Kathryn Fuller, who barely survived taking contaminated cocaine that killed her 'Amazing Race' producer boss, is likely to be arrested and prosecuted by police

Kathryn Fuller, who barely survived taking contaminated cocaine that killed her 'Amazing Race' producer boss, is likely to be arrested and prosecuted by police in Uganda when she is released from the hospital. 

Police spokesman Asuman Mugyenyi said Monday that Miss Fuller is being treated as a witness and suspect after she was found unconscious on the floor of her hotel February 18 alongside Jeff Rice, who died.

The announcement casts doubt on her ability to fully recover from paralysis that has left the right side of her body limp. Her father said she must return home to South African for medical treatment.

Kathryn Fuller

'Suspect and witness': Kathryn Fuller is subject to arrest in Uganda when she is released from the hospital, where she is recovering from taking contaminated cocaine

Poisoned or Overdose? Jeff Rice was found dead on his hotel balcony in Kampala, Uganda
Katheryne Fuller, who was found unconscious in a Ugandan hotel next to the lifeless body of 'Amazing Race' producer Jeff Rice, is recovering in hospital

Bad drugs: Jeff Rice (left) has produced episodes of 'The Amazing Race' and other shows for American TV. He was working on a film in Uganda when he and Miss Fuller (right) took cocaine laced with fatal additives

'Ask people to pray that we come home,' Stuart Fuller, her father, told The Mercury newspaper.

Mr Fuller has been staying in the Ugandan capital of Kampala since Miss Fuller was discovered ill. 

Mr Rice, American TV and film producer, was found dead bleeding from his mouth and nose after taking the cocaine in hotel room he and Miss Fuller were sharing.

The pair were in Uganda working on a film Mr Rice was producing. 




Miss Fuller is currently recovering at a clinic in Kampala, but her father said she needs medical facilities and expertise only available in South Africa. 

'She can regain the use of her right side, but needs to come to South Africa for treatment and to recuperate,' Mr Fuller said.

However, Miss Fuller must likely face charges of consuming cocaine in Uganda.  

The case has alerted officials there to the possibility that Uganda is becoming a 'consumption destination,' a spot for adventurers and addicts to take illegal drugs with little risk of police detection.


Family man: Mr Rice is the father of two small daughter, aged 7 and 1. He and his wife worked out of Durban, South Africa

Mr Fuller said he was disappointed in his daughter for taking the drugs, but says she has already paid the price for her mistake. 

'I am cross, extremely cross. She’s an extremely bright woman who made a mistake,' he said.

'After this, she’ll have to prove herself. We’ve been through hell, but which father wouldn’t rush to support his daughter?'

Police arrested Moses Kalanzi, a 23-year-old 'special hire driver,' for supplying contaminated cocaine and heroin to Mr Rice. 

The driver is co-operating with police and could face charges for his role in the transaction, according to Ugandan newspaper the Daily Monitor.

Work: Rice helped producers on The Amazing Race, which follows teams as they travel around the world for a prize of $1 million. He worked on its latest season

Work: Rice helped producers on The Amazing Race, which follows teams as they travel around the world for a prize of $1 million. He worked on its latest season


'There was constant communication between the special hire driver and Rice on phone about the purchase of the drugs,' said a police spokesman. 'So we want to know the source of the drugs and how it is trafficked into the country.'

Father-of-two Mr Rice, 39, who worked on the series The Amazing Race, was discovered slumped over a table bleeding from his nose and mouth at the Serena hotel in the capital, Kampala. 


Family: Miss Fuller's father Stewart Fuller traveled Kampala in the hopes of taking his daughter back to south Africa for treatment

Family: Miss Fuller's father Stewart Fuller traveled Kampala in the hopes of taking his daughter back to south Africa for treatment

An official toxicology report confirmed the narcotic with a 'lethal additive' was in Mr Rice’s blood, dispelling initial suspicions he had been poisoned by attackers or that he had swallowed it to conceal the drugs from police.

Mugenyi, the Ugandan police spokesman, said: 'Rice… used cocaine which had lethal additives and that’s what killed him.'

Brad Nathanson, a private investigator and friend of Mr Rice, said he had been shown the toxicology report by police and there was no evidence of 'foul play' in Rice’s death.

He said: 'In fact it was as a result of buying bad drugs, cocaine to be specific … it was a bad concoction.' 

'I have read the toxicology report … it shows that there were small traces of cocaine in their blood and urine.' 

Mr Nathanson said he had traveled to Uganda as a favor to the Rice family following rumors he had been poisoned.

Miss Fuller was found unconscious at the same time Mr Rice’s body was discovered 

Mr Rice and Ms Fuller were believed to have voluntarily consumed the drugs, meaning she could be prosecuted under Uganda’s drug laws. Drug use can carry a jail term in Uganda.

As well as the Amazing Race, Mr Rice also worked on Animal Planet's Whale Wars and the South African version of The Biggest Loser.

He is survived by daughters, ages 2 and 7.

Customs officers nab six foreign drug mules


drug syndicates have resorted to old ways in their attempts to smuggle drugs into the country. This was discovered by Customs Department officers last month when they arrested five Nigerians and an Iranian who were found to have swallowed condoms filled with drugs. From the Iranian and two of the Nigerians, Customs officers retrieved 191 pellets containing syabu worth RM626,500. The authorities are still waiting for the other three men to excrete the drug pellets. The trio, who were nabbed on Tuesday, are being detained at Serdang Hospital until the drugs come out. The six were among eight people detained at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport last month for attempting to smuggle in RM3.45 million worth of drugs. This amount does not include the drugs which have yet to be excreted by the three Nigerians warded at Serdang Hospital. Of the six who had swallowed the drugs, the first was nabbed on Feb 16. Customs Department deputy director-general (enforcement) Datuk Zainul Abidin Taib said the 31-year-old Nigerian had flown in from Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria. He said the man was nabbed after Customs officers decided to conduct a body scan on the man as he was behaving suspiciously at the airport. "The scan showed there was something in his stomach and we took him to the hospital for further examination. "The items were later confirmed to be pellets containing drugs." He said 66 pellets containing syabu worth RM264,000 were removed from the drug mule through excretion. The second and third arrests were made on Feb 25 and 26 respectively. "We removed 50 pellets, also containing syabu, from a 32-year-old Nigerian who was detained on Feb 25 and 75 pellets from a 27-year-old Iranian the next day." He said the pellets were worth almost RM500,000, adding that this showed that syndicates had returned to their "old tricks" in order to smuggle in drugs. "From smuggling drugs by hiding it in various items and luggage they are now back to the old trick of stuffing the drugs in condoms and making carriers swallow the pellets to avoid detection." The arrests last month brings to 11 the number of drug mules detained at KLIA by Customs officers this year. All in, 44.4kg of various drugs worth RM8.3 million have been seized.