iNPLACENEWS Blog Has MOVED

September 14, 2008

Hey everyone!  From all the staff to all the readers of our blog and the watchers of our live news programming broadcasted live over the internet directly to your desktop, we want to thank you for all your support and participatiion.  We have relocated our blog to iNPLACENEWS.COM.  There you will find all our blogs, including the old posts, your comments you made, the place to download our free desktop player and all of the current news from around the world.  Stay up-to-date on all the current events by watching our broadcasts, reading our blogs, and watching videos-on-demand.  Again, go to iNPLACENEWS.COM for all the newest blogs and the older posts you love to go back to read.  Thank you again for your time, support, and participation.

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Study Shows No Decrease In Illicit Drug Use in US Adults

September 4, 2008

Cocaine and methamphetamine use among young adults declined significantly last year as supplies dried up, leading to higher prices and reduced purity, the government reports. Overall use of illicit drugs showed little change.

About one in five young adults last year acknowledged illicit drug use within the previous month, a rate similar to previous years. But cocaine use declined by one-quarter and methamphetamine use by one-third.

Drug use increased among the 50-59 age group as more baby boomers joined that category. Their past month drug use rose from 4.3 percent in 2006 to 5 percent in 2007.

“The baby boomers have much higher rates of self-destructive behavior than any parallel age group we have data from,” said John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Walters, 55, is a boomer himself.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, being released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is based on interviews with about 67,500 people.

Overall, about 20 million people 12 or older reported using illicit drugs within the past month. Marijuana was the most popular by far, with 14.4 million acknowledging use of marijuana in the past month.

Among adolescents, age 12 to 17, drug use dipped from 9.8 percent in 2006 to 9.5 percent last year, continuing a five-year trend. Their use of alcohol and cigarettes also fell during the same period.

“The earlier you use drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, the more likely you are to have a lifelong problem,” Walters said.

Much of the progress in curbing drug use occurred between 2002 and 2005. Critics of the nation’s drug policies warned not to read too much into the latest numbers.

“Use of marijuana and other drugs naturally fluctuates and if you look at long-term trends, current rates are smack in the middle of the range they’ve been in for decades,” said Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project, which advocates the decriminalization of marijuana. “There is simply no evidence that current policies … have made any difference.”

A World Health Organization survey of 17 countries this year showed that people in the U.S. were more likely than people elsewhere to have tried illicit drugs. The U.S. tied New Zealand for the highest rate of marijuana use and far outpaced other countries on cocaine use, the survey found.

The U.S. report measured drug use over the past month, while the WHO’s looked at drug use over a lifetime.

The WHO survey concluded: “The use of drugs seems to be a feature of more affluent countries. The U.S., which has been driving much of the world’s drug research and drug policy agenda, stands out with higher levels of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal drug policies as well as a higher minimum legal alcohol drinking age than many comparable developed countries.”

More than half the people who tried drugs for the first time in 2007 used marijuana, according to the U.S. survey. The rate of new marijuana users came to about 6,000 people a day.

The overall rate of illicit drug use dropped from 8.3 percent of those 12 and older to 8.0 percent in 2007.

Walters also acknowledged concern about nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers among young adults. He urged parents to have more awareness of where they keep their prescriptions and to throw them away when the drugs are no longer needed.

The survey, which also examined mental health, indicated that 24.3 million people 18 or older experienced “serious psychological distress over the past year.” It stressed the link between mental health and substance abuse, noting that adults experiencing depression within the past year were more than twice as like to have tried illicit drugs during that time than other adults.

Article by Kevin Freking

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Junior Gotti Indicted On Cocaine and Murder Charges

August 5, 2008

John A. “Junior” Gotti has been indicted on conspiracy charges in Florida, linking him to large-scale cocaine trafficking and the slayings of three New York men in the late 1980s and early ’90s, federal officials said Tuesday.

Federal prosecutor Robert O’Neill announced the indictment of the 44-year-old Gotti and five other men at a news conference. He said the indictment showed that the men were “trying to gain a foothold” in the area.

“I think what you have here is the Gambino crime family reaching out to Tampa, Fla.,” said O’Neill.

Gotti – the son of the late Gambino family crime boss John Gotti – was arrested at his Long Island, N.Y., home and is expected to appear later Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. O’Neill said the slayings occurred in 1988, 1990 and 1991.

If convicted, Gotti faces life in prison.

“They tried very hard to convict him up here. They spared no resources and it didn’t work,” said Gotti’s attorney, Charles Carnesi. “It’s tragic for him and his family to have to continually go through this. It’s almost laughable.”

In 1999, Junior Gotti pleaded guilty to racketeering crimes including bribery, extortion, gambling and fraud. He was sentenced to 77 months in prison and was released in 2005.

Gotti also was tried three times in Manhattan on racketeering charges for an alleged plot to kidnap Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa. The trials in 2005 and 2006 ended in hung juries and mistrials.

Federal prosecutors announced at the time that they were giving up – and Gotti said he had long since retired from his life of crime.

Article by CHRISTINE ARMARIO and TOM HAYS


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Olsen Twin Wants Immunity in DEA Probe of Heath Ledger’s Death

August 4, 2008


Federal investigators want to question Mary-Kate Olsen about how Heath Ledger got two powerful painkillers that contributed to his accidental overdose death, but she’s refusing to talk without immunity, a law enforcement official said Monday.

Olsen’s lawyer has twice refused requests for her to speak with investigators, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. The lawyer, Michael C. Miller, said the “Full House” actress has nothing to do with the drugs, and has already told the government everything she knows.

“We have provided the government with relevant information including facts in the chronology of events surrounding Mr. Ledger’s death,” Miller said in a statement Monday, “and the fact that Ms. Olsen does not know the source of the drugs Mr. Ledger consumed.”

The official confirmed a report that Olsen wants a promise of immunity from prosecution before speaking to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Olsen was a close friend of Ledger’s, and was the first person called by a masseuse who found the 28-year-old “Dark Knight” actor’s lifeless body in his Manhattan apartment.

Authorities have obtained a subpoena that could force Olsen to appear before a grand jury if negotiations with her lawyer fail, the official said. Other potential witnesses all have answered questions voluntarily, including doctors, Ledger’s ex-girlfriend Michelle Williams and anyone who was in his apartment around the time of his death, the official added.

DEA investigators suspect the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone found in Ledger’s system were obtained with phony prescriptions or other illegal means, the official said. Oxycodone is sold as OxyContin; and hydrocodone as Vicodin.

The other drugs, including anti-anxiety medication and sleeping pills, were prescribed legally by doctors in California and Texas, the official said.

The medical examiner’s office wouldn’t say what concentrations of each drug was found, but made clear he was killed by the combination — not an excess of any one drug in particular. It’s common for the DEA to investigate an overdose death with so many different drugs involved, spokesman Garrison Courtney said last month.

The DEA’s New York office declined comment on the stalemate with Olsen, which was first reported Monday by the New York Post. There was no immediate response to a message left with a spokeswoman for Olsen.

The masseuse discovered Ledger’s body on Jan. 22. Police say she spent nine minutes making three calls to Olsen before dialing 911 for help, then called the actress a fourth time after paramedics arrived. At some point during the flurry of frantic calls, Olsen, who was in California, summoned her personal security guards to the apartment to help, police said.

Shortly after the Australian-born actor’s death, Olsen issued a statement that read: “Heath was a friend. His death is a tragic loss.”

Article by Tom Hays
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Brazilian Confesses To Killing and Dismembering Girlfriend

August 1, 2008

Police on Thursday accused a Brazilian man of killing and dismembering his 17-year-old British girlfriend, taking pictures of her body parts with his cell phone and stuffing her torso in a suitcase.

Officers found the suitcase with the torso of Cara Marie Burke at the edge of a river Monday in this central Brazilian city, Goias state police inspector Jorge Moreira da Silva said.

Burke’s boyfriend, Mohamed D’Ali Carvalho Santos, 20, was arrested and charged with homicide Thursday after “he confessed he cut her up and even photographed the body on his cellular phone,” Silva said.

One photo appeared to have been taken in a bathroom shower stall, showing Burke’s severed head placed on the chest of her torso along with a bloody butcher knife.

Silva said Santos confessed he killed Burke because she threatened to tell his parents he was a drug dealer addicted to cocaine, and she was considering turning him in to police.

After fatally stabbing Burke on Saturday, Santos left her body in the bathroom and went to a party, returning to dismember her the next day, the police inspector said.

Burke’s family in England identified her from a tattoo that said “Mum” after images of the body were broadcast on TV, Silva said.

Burke met Santos in London, where his mother lives, Silva said. She had been in Brazil for about three months.

Police were still searching Thursday for Burke’s head and limbs, which Santos said he hid in a rural area outside town. Taken out of his cell in handcuffs to be filmed by television crews, he held his head down and said nothing.

Karine Neves, a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Brasilia, said a British vice consul is in Goiania tracking the case and the police investigation.

Burke’s online acquaintances demanded justice in messages they posted on her Web page on Orkut, an online social networking community hugely popular in Brazil.

The page also featured pictures of the blond teenager posing with friends in London and Brazil and holding a baby in her arms.

Article by Marco Sibaja

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City of Seattle Puts Super Toilets on EBay

July 17, 2008

Seattle city officials decided to pull the plug on the multimillion-dollar self-cleaning toilet stalls and instead put them on the auction site eBay with starting bids at $89,000 apiece. This action was taken as a result of reports given by neighbors and city-commissioned analysts that the unisex facilities attracted drug users and prostitutes, and were less cost-effective than regular public restrooms. The German-made automatic, high-tech toilets were installed in 2004 and have cost the city about $5 million. Each has handsfree washing and drying ability and an emergency button that automatically dials 911.

On May 19, a City Council vote to remove the problem toilets was cast. The automated doors on the impact- and graffiti-resistant toilets will close Aug. 1, said Andy Ryan, a spokesman for Seattle Public Utilities. The auction will last for 10 days, but as of Thursday morning, none of the toilets had received any bids.

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Mistaken Fedex Delivery Leads to 400 Pounds of Marijuana

July 5, 2008

A mistaken delivery of a Fedex package tipped off police to a 200-pound shipment of marijuana that someone tried to send from Pembroke Pines, Florida to Baltimore. According to police, they learned about the shipment when it was delivered Tuesday to the wrong resident.

Authorities posing as FedEx employees arrested the shipment’s intended recipient, 30-year-old Richard Gwatidzo. He was charged Thursday with possession of a large quantity of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute along with other drug related charges.

Also seized were eight other FedEx boxes with nearly 400 pounds of the drug.

In the end of this anti-drug operation, the authorities are trying to determine the sender’s identity.

With all the states passing laws allowing medical marijuana, it leaves us to wonder if authorities will burn it, smoke it, or let sick people have it.

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Watermelons May Help In The Bedroom According To Research

July 3, 2008

Watermelons contain an ingredient called citrulline that can trigger production of a compound that helps relax the body’s blood vessels, similar to what happens when a man takes Viagra, according to researchers. Found in the flesh and rind of watermelons, citrulline reacts with the body’s enzymes when consumed in large quantities and is changed into arginine, an amino acid that benefits the heart and the circulatory and immune systems.

“Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it,” said Bhimu Patil, a researcher and director of Texas A&M’s Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center. “Watermelon may not be as organ-specific as Viagra, but it’s a great way to relax blood vessels without any drug side effects.”

The nitric oxide can also help with angina, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems, according to the study paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More citrulline, about 60 percent, is found in watermelon rind than in the flesh, according to the research, but that can vary. Scientists may be able to find ways to boost the concentrations in the flesh. Citrulline is found in all colors of watermelon and is highest in the yellow-fleshed types, said Penelope Perkins-Veazie, a USDA researcher in Lane, Okla.

According to Perkins-Veazie, the research is valid, but with a caveat: One would need to eat about six cups of watermelon to get enough citrulline to boost the body’s arginine level. “The problem you have when you eat a lot of watermelon is you tend to run to the bathroom more,” Perkins-Veazie said. Watermelon is a diuretic and was a homeopathic treatment for kidney patients before dialysis became widespread.

Another issue is the amount of sugar that much watermelon would spill into the bloodstream – a jolt that could cause cramping, Perkins-Veazie said.

The relationship between citrulline and arginine might also prove helpful to those who are obese or suffer from type-2 diabetes. The beneficial effects are beginning to be revealed in research. Citrulline is present in other curcubits, like cucumbers and cantaloupe, at very low levels, and in the milk protein casein. The highest concentrations of citrulline are found in walnut seedlings, Perkins-Veazie said.

“But they’re bitter and most people don’t want to eat them,” she said.

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Amsterdam’s Weed Shops Face New Challenge

June 28, 2008


This city’s famed marijuana bars have weathered many challenges over the years and are still smoking. But now they face an unwelcome blast of fresh air: On July 1, the Netherlands will be one of the last European countries to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in compliance with EU law.

The Health Ministry says the ban will apply to cafes that sell marijuana, known as coffee shops. But this being Holland, which for centuries has experimented with social liberalism, there’s a loophole: The ban covers tobacco but not marijuana, which is technically illegal anyway.

But that still leaves coffee shops and their customers in a bind. Dutch and other European marijuana users traditionally smoke pot in fat, cone-shaped joints mixed with tobacco.

“It’s the world upside down: In other countries they look for the marijuana in the cigarette. Here they look for the cigarette in the marijuana,” said Jason den Enting, manager of coffee shop Dampkring.

Shops are scrambling to adapt. One alternative is “vaporizer” machines, which incinerate weed smokelessly. Another is to replace tobacco with herbs like coltsfoot, a common plant that looks like a dandelion and that smokers describe as tasting a bit like oregano.

But most shops are just planning to increase their sales of hash brownies and pure weed – and are hoping the law isn’t enforced.

Michael Veling, owner of the 4-20 Cafe and a board member of the Cannabis Retailers’ Union, said he expected a small decline in sales as smokers are forced to separate their nicotine addiction from their marijuana habit.

But he expects the long-term effects to be minimal. “It’s absurd to say that coffee shops will go bankrupt in the second week of July. Nonsense,” he said.

Veling is instructing his staff to send tobacco smokers outside, but he doesn’t expect all coffee shops to do the same. He said some owners will ignore the ban – and will probably get away with it, at least for a while.

But “if obeying the smoking ban becomes a condition of renewing your business license, just watch how fast it will happen,” he said. “That’s the way things work.”

Chris Krikken, spokesman for the Food and Wares Authority, charged with enforcing the ban, said his agency won’t be targeting coffee shops in particular.

“For the first month we’ll just be gathering information about compliance in a wide range of hospitality businesses. Depending on what we find, we may focus more squarely on a sector that’s lagging,” he said.

But he said individual businesses caught allowing customers to smoke will be warned and definitely checked again. “Repeat offenders will face escalating fines,” he said.

Marijuana possession is illegal in the Netherlands, but smokers are not prosecuted for holding up to 5 grams. Around 750 cafes – half of them in Amsterdam – are licensed to have up to 500 grams in stock at any one time.

The Dutch “tolerance” policy recognizes that some people will smoke pot regardless of laws, so it might as well happen in an orderly way. Critics complain this encourages substance abuse.

But cannabis abuse in Holland ranks somewhere in the middle compared to other nations and is lower than in the U.S., France and England, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime.

At the same time, the levels of THC – the main active chemical in marijuana – have soared in the past decade and are now at 16 percent in Dutch weed.

The U.S. government sounded the alarm earlier this month because THC in American marijuana has doubled to 9.6 percent since 1983, and it warned of recent scientific findings linking the drug to mental problems.

The Dutch government, currently led by a conservative coalition with a religious bent, is slowly squeezing back the number of coffee shops by not renewing licenses when shops close.

Growers are arrested, leaving coffee shop owners struggling to obtain their main product.

“The rules are being set to pester us out of business one by one, slowly but surely,” said Richard van Velthoven, manager at The Greenhouse, who said he feared being shut down for tobacco violations.

“I’ve taken the cigarette machines out, I’m putting Coltsfoot on the tables, I’ve bought extra vaporizers, the staff is watching out – what more can I do?” he said.

German tourist Lars Schmit said lamented the possible end of an era.

Without coffee shops, he said, “a little bit of Amsterdam will die.”

Originally found @ AssociatedPress.com

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Busted in Mineola: Feeding Kids Pills and Forcing Sex Shows

June 22, 2008

In the windowless front rooms of a former day care center in a tiny Texas community, children as young as 5 were fed powerful painkillers they knew as “silly pills” and forced to perform sex shows for a crowd of adults.
Two people have already been convicted in the case. Now a third person with ties to the club, previously known in town only as a swingers group, is set to go on trial Monday not far from Mineola, population 5,100.

“This really shook this town,” said Shirley Chadwick, a longtime resident of Mineola. “This was horrible.”

Patrick Kelly, 41, is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, tampering with physical evidence and engaging in organized criminal activity.

In all, six adults have been charged in connection with the case, including a parent of the three siblings involved.

Jurors this year deliberated less than five minutes before returning guilty verdicts against the first two defendants, who were accused of grooming the kids for sex shows in “kindergarten” classes and passing off Vicodin as “silly pills” to help the children perform.

Jamie Pittman and Shauntel Mayo were sentenced to life in prison. Kelly also faces a life sentence if convicted, and Smith County prosecutors hope for another swift verdict.

Thad Davidson, Kelly’s attorney, said his client passed a lie-detector test proving his innocence and worries about getting a fair trial in Tyler, 25 miles southeast of Mineola, which is in Wood County.

“I think it’s impossible to get a fair trial within 80 miles of Smith County,” Davidson said.

Mineola, about 80 miles east of Dallas, is a close-knit, conservative bean-processing town of with more than 30 churches. Residents there want to put the scandal behind them as quickly as possible.

The one-story building where prosecutors say four children – the three siblings, now ages 12, 10 and 7, and their 10-year-old aunt – were trained to perform in front of an audience of 50 to 100 once a week has been vacant since the landlord ousted the alleged organizers in 2004.

Down a slight hill is a retirement home, and even closer is the office of the local newspaper. Doris Newman, editor of The Mineola Monitor, said rumors of swinger parties spread around town but that no one mentioned children being involved.

Newman, who can see the building from her office window, said she remembers the parking lot filling up with more than a dozen cars at night.

In August 2004, an editorial under the headline “Sex In the City” opined that if the swingers left quietly, “we’ll try and forget they’ve infiltrated our town with their set of moral standards.”

“It’s not that we’re trying to look the other way,” Newman said. “But there’s a lot more to Mineola than that.”

According to a Mineola police report, the department first investigated a complaint in June 2005 in which the siblings’ foster mother said one of the girls described dancing toward men and another child saying that “everybody does nasty stuff in there.”

In the second trial, Child Protective Services caseworker Kristi Hachtel testified, “I’ve seen a lot and I never in my wildest dreams imagined this. They were preyed upon in probably one of the most heinous ways possible.”

The children are now doing better, the welfare agency said.

“Through counseling and therapy sessions, these children are now finally feeling secure and safe,” agency spokeswoman Shari Pulliam wrote in an e-mail.

Permanent custody of the three siblings was given to John and Margie Cantrell. This week, prosecutors in California charged John Cantrell with sexually assaulting a child in the state 18 years ago. Margie Cantrell said her husband is innocent.

Kelly’s attorney moved Friday asking to postpone the trial in light of the allegations against Cantrell, a state witness. Texas Child Protective Services said it would be “common” for the agency to investigate.

The Rev. Tim Letsch is opening a church in the yellow-plastered building where the children were abused. He acknowledges that building a congregation might be difficult because of the stigma attached to the property.

“You got to decide whether you’re willing to forgive those kind of things,” Letsch said. “It’s a hard deal. Especially for a spiritual person to walk in and say, ‘This happened here.'”

Origally posted @ AssociatedPress.com

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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.