Archive | November, 2008

Dublin: Man Held After Ballyfermot Gun And Drugs Find

29 Nov

By J. P. Anderson:

A 50-year-old man was being quizzed (Friday night) after the seizure of a pistol, ammunition and drugs in Dublin.
The man was arrested when a planned search which was carried out at a house in the Cleggan Avenue area of Ballyfermot.
He is currently being detained in Ballyfermot Garda station under Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act on suspicion of having cannabis and cocaine.
A garda spokesman said the search took place as part of an operation targeting serious crime in the Ballyfermot area.
“Subject to analysis, the estimated value of the cannabis seized is €28,000 and the cocaine €3, 500,” he added.

UPDATE: Also:

Cannabis worth an estimated €140,000, along with processing equipment, has been seized at a house in Co Mayo.

Gardaí carried out a planned search yesterday evening of a rented house in an isolated area, four miles from Moygowna near Crossmolina.

420 cannabis plants, a watering system and electrical equipment used for growing and processing the drug were found in the search.

No arrests have been made.

Schools Need Gay Guidelines

29 Nov

By J. P. Anderson:

SCHOOL staff are often more uneasy than their students about young people being openly gay, research has found.
A key aspect of the study for the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) was to examine the challenges presented to school staff by students being openly gay.
Staff from 18 second-level schools spoke to the research team from National University of Ireland Maynooth about the need to support them in dealing with their own discomfort or lack of familiarity with issues relating to homosexual students.

A deputy principal said a senior student who recently revealed he was gay was overwhelmed by support from his fellow students.
“But it seemed to be the *adults who might have had the problem,” (*Editor’s note: What There Are No Gay Adults?), the researchers were told.
An assistant principal mentioned one student had remarked that when a Lesbian couple went to a debs together she considered it weird that none of the teachers said anything, “Like they thought it wasn’t right”.
“Not talking about it openly gives young people a bad message; that there is something wrong with being gay and that homophobia from teachers and students is okay,” the assistant principal said.
Most teachers noted a lack of clarity in the school’s general approach to dealing with sexual orientation issues and this was a barrier to responding positively to students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or unsure of their sexual orientation.
The report suggested religious bodies, which have a role in the running of most second-level schools, could play a major role in giving clear guidance and direction for schools to deal effectively with homophobic bullying. It also said teachers need training to sensitise them to these issues.
Seán Haughey, Minister of State at the Department of Education which funded the research, said the report highlights the need for schools, parents and the wider community to continue to tackle bullying, peer aggression and violence directed at young people based on their sexual orientation.
The department and GLEN are working on guidelines to help principals address issues around sexual orientation in their schools.

Limerick: Row Keeps Hospital Paediatric Unit Shut

29 Nov

By J. P. Anderson:

A ROW between management and nursing unions at the largest hospital in the Midwest has resulted in medical equipment being left idle while children are sent for treatment to other facilities.

The equipment was bought for a new paediatric high-dependency unit at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle, Limerick, more than four years ago, but there is still no sign of the unit opening.

In the meantime, critically-ill children are being treated in an adult intensive care unit or transferred to other hospitals.

A Limerick woman living in Ruan, Co Clare has begun a campaign to have the unit opened as soon as possible. Paula Montwill says her now healthy four-year-old son could have died because life-saving equipment had been "left in boxes" at the Dooradoyle hospital.

"Sam was born by Caesarean section in June 2004 at 31 weeks. He was sent immediately to the neo-natal unit at the maternity hospital, where he spent five days on a ventilator before he could breathe on his own and spent a further six weeks in the neo-natal unit before being discharged to go home."

After just two weeks at home his condition had deteriorated and he had to be admitted to the accident and emergency department at the Mid Western. Having seen Sam cared for in the neo-natal unit of the regional maternity hospital across the city, Ms Montwill had assumed that the hospital in Dooradoyle had a similar unit.

"Since then I have found out that at that particular moment those ventilators that he needed . . . were sitting in boxes in the corridor just around the corner."

In a statement, the HSE said: "The unit in question has been designed and equipped for some considerable time. We are still attempting to reach agreement on staffing levels with the nursing unions. The issue has been referred to the Labour Relations Commission on a number of occasions but so far without any successful resolution."

March Urges That FARC Hostages Be Releasd

29 Nov

By J. P. Anderson:

Thousands of people have marched in Colombia and other countries to call for the release of hostages held by Colombia’s FARC rebel group.

Farc is holding hundreds of hostages in jungle camps, either for ransom or to exchange for government-held rebels.

In Madrid, Ingrid Betancourt – held for six years by Farc – appealed for the rebel group to release its captives.

The protests were smaller than ones held earlier this year, when millions marched in support of the hostages.

"We are thinking during these moments of those who are chained to a tree, who live in humiliation, we carry this cross with them and we want to relieve them of these chains," Ms Betancourt said.

"We invite Farc to lay down their arms," she added.

She was rescued along with three American military contractors and 11 Colombian military personnel in a daring rescue operation in July.

Farc defeats

The Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has fought to overthrow the Colombian government and install a Marxist government since the 1960s.

In the 1990s it turned to the drug trade to raise money for its struggle and has suffered a series of defeats in recent years, including a number of defections and the Betancourt rescue.

The group holds 28 high-level hostages they hope to trade for hundreds of Farc guerrillas captured by security forces, something the government has ruled out.

Farc is also holding several hundred other hostages it is holding for ransom as a source of funds.

Before Ms Betancourt’s rescue, millions of Colombians protested to show their outrage at the hostage situation.

With the reduced size of the protests, it appears that not only has the international community forgotten about Colombia’s kidnap victims, but that the ire of Colombians themselves is much diminished, says the BBC’s Jeremy McDermott in Bogota.

French Need Bigger Condoms

29 Nov

By J. P. Anderson:

The French say they need the largest condoms in Europe while Greeks get by on smaller ones, according to a Europe-wide study by a German consultancy that provides advice on condoms.

The study by the Singen-based Institute of Condom Consultancy was done by asking 10,500 men in 25 countries to measure their penis and enter the number into a database.

The results show Frenchmen on average claim to need 15.48-cm (6.09-inch) long condoms, about 3 cm longer than Greeks, whose condom-size requirement was the most modest.

Jan Vinzenz Krause, the institute’s director, told Reuters Friday the data was collected over a period of eight months.

He did not want to comment on how honest he thought the Frenchmen had been in reporting the data.

The survey was aimed at educating youngsters about the importance of effective

contraception.

The institute also offers online condom-size advice and hosts "Pimp Your Condom" — an annual fair organised in cooperation with the national Aids Trust — with the aim of educating teens about sexually transmitted diseases.

Krause was in the spotlight in the past when he produced a prototype of the "spray-on condom" — an aerosol can which contains latex that creates a perfectly fitting condom. But the idea was not developed further.

Internet Drug Peddlers Raided In Nine Countries

29 Nov

By J. P. Anderson:

Authorities in nine countries have raided businesses suspected of supplying medicines illegally over the Internet in an unprecedented global swoop coordinated by Interpol, officials said on Thursday.

The operation, codenamed Pangea, involved dozens of locations in Britain,

Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada and the United States.

The raids on Wednesday mark the first time that such action has been taken on an international scale, an Interpol spokeswoman said.

Illicit sales of medicines via the Web are a growing problem, since many of the products are counterfeits of dubious quality and potentially dangerous.

Britain’s Medicines and

Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which raided 12 residential and commercial premises in the crackdown, said illegal Internet sales posed a serious risk to public health.

"A medicine bought in this way has no guarantee that it is safe or that it is effective and can in fact be harmful," Danny Lee-Frost, head of operations, said in a statement.

"Our messages are simple — do not buy prescription-only medicines over the Internet without a prescription and if you are illegally selling or supplying medicines, we will use all appropriate measures available to stop you."

In many countries, the abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs now equals or exceeds the use of illicitly manufactured heroin, cocaine, amphetamine and opioids, according to the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board.

In Britain, operation Pangea resulted in the seizure of computers, documents and more than a thousand packs of unlicensed medicines.

Products seized including drugs claiming to treat conditions such as diabetes, impotency,

obesity, hair loss and male breast growth as a side effect from bodybuilding steroid abuse.

The Internet provides an easy channel because there are no national control mechanisms.

Properly regulated, Internet pharmacies can provide a valuable service by increasing competition and offering access to treatments in underserved areas.

But the online world is also a Wild West of spam e-mails and hard-to-trace suppliers, according to healthcare regulators.

Netherlands To Ban ‘Magic Mushrooms’

29 Nov

By J. P. Anderson:

The Netherlands will ban the selling and growing of all hallucinogenic "magic" mushrooms next week, the latest target of a country seeking to shed its "anything goes" image.

Here are five facts about "magic" mushrooms:

* The main hallucinogenic substance in "magic" mushrooms is psilocybin. Effects normally last up to about six hours and can include nausea, vomiting and drowsiness in the early stages after consumption, distortion of senses and thoughts, feelings of insight and spiritual awakening, visual hallucinations, quickly changing and intense emotions, confusion and anxiety.

* "Magic" mushrooms are also known as ‘shrooms, mushies, boomers, paddos, liberties and gold tops. They were commonly used for centuries in

Africa and in Central and South America, particularly in religious rituals, and became a popular recreational drug during the 1960s psychedelic movement.

* Mushrooms can be eaten in fresh or dry form or prepared as tea. They do not appear to be physically addictive, though some users can become psychologically dependent.

* There are several different types of "magic" mushrooms which grow in different parts of the world. Most of them are small and tan-coloured and can be confused with deadly poisonous fungi. Their strength can vary depending on their origin and freshness, with Dutch stores describing the Mexican varieties as suitable for beginners and the Hawaiian as among the strongest.

* Psilocybin is listed as a Schedule I drug under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Schedule I drugs are described as having a high potential for abuse with no known medical uses.

(Sources: National Drug Intelligence Centre of U.S. Department of Justice, United Nations Office on

Drugs and Crime, International Narcotics Control Board)