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11 Oct


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Mexico City: Vicious Drug Gangs Competing For ‘Cartel Cred’

9 Oct

Alfredo Carmona alias “el Capi,” leader of the New Generation gang, right, is escorted …
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Masked gunmen dump the bodies of 35 slaying victims during rush hour as terrified motorists watch and tweet friends to avoid the avenue in a Gulf coast city. A couple of weeks later, 32 more corpses are found nearby in three houses.

A woman’s decapitated body is left at a border city’s monument to Columbus, the head atop a computer keyboard with a sign saying she was killed for blogging about drug traffickers.

The severed heads of five men are dumped outside an elementary school in Acapulco, and two more near a military base in Mexico City days later.

That was just in the last three weeks.

The brutal public killings that began about five years ago have worsened as Mexican drug cartels try to one-up each other in their quest to scare off rivals, authorities and would-be informers — and still stun Mexicans increasingly numbed to the gory spectacles.

“These gangs have to keep escalating because they want the shock value but the shock value wears off,” said Clark McCauley, a psychology professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and an expert on terrorism. “Now, to get a headline you have to get more heads, or more bodies or do something more horrific.”

Latin American drug lords have long turned to grisly killings and torture tactics. At the height of its powers in the 1990s, the Juarez cartel used to cut off the fingers of snitches and shove them down their throats, a practice that other cartels soon followed.

The current show of savagery began in April 2006 when two police officers were decapitated; their heads dripping blood were left in the resort city of Acapulco, where four alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel had been killed in a shootout with police. Along with the heads was a sign that warned, “So that you learn to respect.”

The Zetas are a gang of drug smugglers and hit men led by deserters from an elite Mexican army unit, who for many years were assassins for the Gulf cartel.

Five months later, the La Familia cartel rolled five human heads purportedly belonging to Zetas across a dance floor in the western state of Michoacan. An attached note said La Familia “doesn’t kill for money, doesn’t kill women, doesn’t kill innocents, just those who should die,” an apparent retaliation warning for the particularly violent group.

Since then, drug traffickers have plunged into even more gruesome tactics. They have tied victims to overpasses and shot them to death during rush hour as sickened motorists watched. Some have decapitated people alive and then posted videos of it on the internet.

“In terms of the cruelty, it’s the Zetanisation of the country because the Zetas were the first to introduce these ghastly tactics into Mexico,” said George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, who has written several books about the rapidly expanding drug cartel. The Zetas are the game-changers.

Officials blame a group calling itself the “Zeta Killers” for dumping 35 bodies on a busy boulevard in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz on Sept. 20. They say the group also killed 32 people whose bodies were found at three houses in the area on Thursday.

On Monday, police in Mexico City found two severed heads on a street near a major military base accompanied by a note referring to the “Mano con Ojos,” or “Hand with Eyes,” drug gang. Motorists called the police after spotting one of the heads on the hood of an SUV.

“If you want to have cartel cred,” said Grayson, “you have to show you can carry off any act at any time and go as far as your enemy.”

Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna has said Mexican drug traffickers copied the terror tactic from the al-Qaida in Iraq after it posted videos on the internet of the decapitations of Americans. He said the cartels are using al-Qaida’s methods to pressure the government to halt its crackdown against drug traffickers, which has fractured many of the gangs.

Authorities have also said that in 2005, the Zetas began enlisting “Kaibiles,” former members of an elite Guatemalan counterinsurgency unit, to train newly recruited foot soldiers. The Kaibiles were known for massacres during the Guatemalan civil war that ended in the mid-1990s.

Very few of the killings result in arrests or convictions, so the only deterrent is revenge by another cartel.

In the five years since the beheading of the two Acapulco police officers, decapitations have become almost weekly occurrences and a prime terror tactic.

The practice dates back at least 2,000 years, said Dr. Michelle Bonogofsky, an bioarchaeologist who edited two books on the significance of of the human head in different cultures, from skull collection to decapitations.

“One of the worst things you can do to the body, in some instances, is to desecrate or dismember it and historically, this has been used by kings and various other groups to establish control,” Bonogofsky said. “This could be tied to the religious belief that you need your body intact to be resurrected.”

Residents in some cities caught in the bloody turf battles are already adapting to living with violence, said Dr. Oscar Galicia, a psychology professor who specializes in violent behavior at Iberoamerican University in Mexico City.

In the northern city of Monterrey, where the Zetas are fighting the Gulf drug cartel, many people don’t go out at night in certain neighborhoods, they avoid night clubs and bars and have added extra locks to their doors at home.

“What people are doing in Monterrey is adapting,” he said.

More worrisome is that the prolonged violence is creating a sense of helplessness among Mexicans, who are becoming increasingly numb to what’s happening, Galicia said.

“Now if it’s not 20 bodies, it doesn’t get our attention and that’s terrible and really dangerous for our society because we’re becoming as desensitized as the criminals,” he said.

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo, relatives weep after gunmen opened fire on a taxi killing the driver and the passenger in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico. The brutal public killings that began about five years ago have worsened as Mexican drug cartels try to one-up each other in their quest to scare off rivals, authorities and would-be informers _ and still shock Mexicans increasingly accustomed to the gory spectacles. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2011 file photo, relatives weep after gunmen opened fire on …

Amsterdam: Cofee Shops Ponder Compliance On New Cannabis Sales Law

8 Oct

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Coffee shops in the Netherlands were left wondering on Saturday how to comply with restrictions announced by the Dutch government on the sale of “strong” cannabis, saying enforcement would be difficult given the laws on production.

The Netherlands is famous for its liberal soft drugs policies. A Dutch citizen can grow a maximum of five cannabis plants at home for personal use but large-scale production and transport is a crime.

On Friday, the coalition government said it would seek to ban what it considered to be highly potent forms of cannabis — known as “skunk” — placing them in the same category as hard drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

But the industry said the guidelines were not clear enough.

“Commercial cannabis growers are already breaking the law so how can testing be legal? It’s not clear what coffee shops need to do,” said Maurice Veldman, a lawyer from the Dutch cannabis retailers association who represents coffee shops in court.

A pioneer of liberal drug policies, the Netherlands has backtracked on its tolerance in the last few years, announcing plans in May to ban tourists from coffee shops, which are popular attractions in cities such as Amsterdam.

The government said it would now outlaw the sale of cannabis whose concentration of THC, seen as the main psychoactive substance, exceeds 15 percent.

The average THC concentration in cannabis sold by Dutch coffee shops is between 16 and 18 percent, according to the Trimbos Institute.

“All this will do is lead to people smoking more joints and me selling more grams. But as it’s used with tobacco it will damage their health more,” said Marc Josemans, who owns a coffee shop in the city of Maastricht.

The Dutch government says high THC content is detrimental to mental health, particularly when used at a young age, and that it wants to send a clear signal that strong cannabis poses an unacceptable risk to users.

(Reporting By Greg Roumeliotis Editing by Maria Golovnina)

London: Children With ‘Green Fingers’ Behave Better’: Research

3 Oct


Teaching children how to garden helps them to become responsible, realise where food comes from and calms their behaviour, a survey suggests.

A poll by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) reveals that more than eight in 10 (81.6%) parents garden with their children.

But it also raises concerns that today’s parents may be outshone by their youngsters and their own parents, because few of them were taught to garden at school.

Teaching children how to garden helps them to become responsible, a survey suggests

Almost half of the parents questioned (48%) said their child knows more or the same amount about gardening as they do. And four fifths of parents said their own parents know more or the same about gardening as they do.

The RHS warned that a lack of gardening instruction at school had left today’s generation of parents without proper horticultural knowledge.

Less than 1% (0.6%) of parents were taught to garden by a school teacher, the RHS claimed, compared with 55% of grandparents and 40% of children.

Just 26% of parents said they had a school garden when they were a child, while 58.8% said their child now has access to a school garden, with 76.2% revealing their youngster uses the facility.

Sue Biggs, director-general of the RHS, said: “These findings suggest that today’s parents, who attended school during the 1980s and 90s, missed out on a huge opportunity, especially as gardening dropped off the agenda.

“When children learn to garden it is a skill that stays with them for life, something they will use and fall back on as they grow up. This is evident from the grandparents we surveyed, among whom nearly 80% say they like to garden, and more than a third of them grow their own fruit and vegetables.

“From the schools we work with we know they are desperate for more help from local parents and other adults to build and maintain school gardens. But with 65% of parents admitting that their own parents (now grandparents) know more about gardening than they do, and nearly half believing their own children, aged 4-11, have equal or better horticultural knowledge than themselves, it would seem today’s parents are shy of volunteering their time probably due to a lack of knowledge.”


London: “Club Drugs” Replacing Heroin & Crack As Substance Abuse Patterns Change

26 Sep

LONDON (Reuters) – “Club drug” abuse in Britain is on the rise, as young people ditch cocaine and heroin for mephedrone and ketamine, experts at the launch of a specialist drug clinic said on Monday.

Club drugs are constantly re-invented to evade drug laws and have left healthcare professionals ill-equipped to deal with new trends in substance abuse, consultant psychiatrist and founder of the Club Drug Clinic, Owen Bowden-Jones said.  &

“Patterns of drug use in the UK are changing and over the last two or three years we have continued to see an increase in the use of “club drugs“,” Bowden-Jones said.

The number of 16-24 year olds who used the stimulant mephedrone last year was at a similar level to powder cocaine abuse — a figure of around 300,000 people, a 2011 British Crime Survey showed.

Both of these drugs are banned in Britain, but there is a roaring trade for “legal highs” among the clubbing community and young professionals, experts said.

“There are new drugs emerging all the time, particularly a group of substances known as “legal highs”. The health risks associated with excessive use of club drugs are underestimated by many people and little is known about the potential problems of the newer drugs,” Bowden-Jones said.

“There are people who are running into major difficulty and are not aware of what dangers might be,” he said.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) recorded 41 new drug compounds in 2010 and 20 new compounds in the first four months of 2011.

“We are seeing a whole plethora of different compounds that are being misused and are to a certain extent replacing more traditional drugs like heroin and crack cocaine,” toxicologist at St George’s Hospital Medical School, John Ramsey, said.

“The problem is knowing what to do about them. The way forward is evidence-based research but that is difficult when these compounds have never undergone pharmaceutical testing,” he said.

The result is a lack of understanding about the drugs, and existing drug services that focus on alcohol, crack cocaine and heroin abuse are failing to cater for club drug addicts, according to Bowden-Jones.

“Many people experiencing club drug problems do not see current treatment services as well equipped to help them. As a result they do not seek treatment,” he said.

The Club Drug Clinic, the first British funded team specialising in the treatment of club drug abuse, will be the “first step” in addressing the “knowledge gap” surrounding this area of drug addiction among healthcare professionals, he said.

(Created by Paul Casciato)

Dublin: Vetran Campaigner Launches New Anti-Drugs Blog

26 Sep

A new anti-drugs website was launched in Dublin today by the well known veteran anti-drugs campaigner J. P. Anderson.

Containing almost 7,000 articles, all of the articles published on the previous blog are available on the home page.

Titled: People’s Free Press Ireland: Newsline.

The new look blog is to be found at:

It replaces http/lostchildreninthewilderness, which had received 255,000 views over the past 12 months

Oughterard, Co Galway: Garda Probe After Body Of Publican Is Discovered Inside Pub: UPDATED

25 Sep


A POST MORTEM will be carried out today on the body of a publican found dead in his pub.

Detectives are investigating the suspicious death of publican and teacher John Kenny discovered in his licensed premises Kenny’s on Main Street in Oughterard, Co Galway.

It is understood his arms were tied behind his back when he was discovered at about 6pm yesterday by family members.

The scene was sealed off overnight for a forensic examination.

The State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, is expected to carry out a post mortem examination today.

Mr Kenny, a separated father-of-one in his mid 50s, has also worked as a teacher at the Presentation Athenry, where he taught German, history and religion.

Independent Councillor Thomas Welby said Mr Kenny was a popular man who kept himself to himself.

“He was a lovely man, a very nice guy,” he said. “It’s a real tragedy for his family.

“Everybody is shocked by it, the whole village is numbed.”

Last night, businessman Pat McDonagh, who is a member of the board of management at Presentation College, said that everyone associated with the school would be shocked at the tragic news.

It is terrible news. It is a big shock and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Kenny’s family at this difficult time,” he said.

The son of a former garda, Mr Kenny has brothers and sisters living in the Oughterard area. His family pub was only open for business on an occasional basis — mostly at weekends and was open on Saturday night.

Supt Tony O’Donnell, who is leading the investigation, would only confirm that gardai were treating the death as suspicious.

He appealed to anyone who was in the pub on Saturday to contact gardai at 091 538000.

– Sarah Stack and Brian McDonald

Irish Independent


GARDAÍ in Co Galway were last night preparing to launch a murder investigation after the body of a teacher was found in his family’s pub.

Investigating officers sealed off Kenny’s Bar in Oughterard following the discovery of John Kenny’s body yesterday by family members.

The pub had not been opened during the day.

The state pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy, is due to carry out a preliminary post-mortem today in an effort to find out how Mr Kenny died.

Mr Kenny, whose family has run the pub in the busy angling town of Oughterard, on the shores of Lough Corrib for years, also worked as a teacher in Presentation College in Athenry.

Mr Kenny, who was in his 50s, is the son of a former garda. He has one daughter and a number of siblings who live in the area.

The pub opened on an occasional basis in the town, which is about 35km west of Galway city.

Gardaí sealed off the premises after Mr Kenny’s body was discovered there at about 6pm yesterday. A spokesman confirmed they are treating the death as “suspicious”.

Independent Galway county councillor Thomas Welby, who knew Mr Kenny well, said the community was stunned by his death.

“He was born and reared here, he was well-known in the locality, and so this is a very big shock to the community,” said Mr Welby.

Gardaí have appealed for anyone who was in the pub over the weekend to contact them on 091 538000.


Gardaí have launched an investigation in into the death of a publican whose body was found in a licenced premises in Oughterard in Co Galway this evening.

They say they are treating the death as ‘suspicious’

The man’s body was found in the pub by family members shortly before 6pm. The pub had not been opened during the day.

Gardaí immediately sealed off the area and have arranged for the State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy to carry out a post mortem examination tomorrow morning

Gardaí say they are not prepared for operational reasons to release any details of the injuries the man sustained but Supt Tony O Donnell, who is heading up the investigation, said they are now treating the death as ‘suspicious’.

He is appealing to anybody who was in the pub last night to contact Gardaí in Oughterard or in Galway city if they have any information that could help them with their enquiries.

Keywords:  dr marie cassidy

The body of a man has been discovered in a pub in Co Galway.

Gardai were called to the premises in Oughterard when the man, aged in his 50s, was found at about 6pm on Sunday.

The body of a man has been discovered in a pub in Co Galway

The area has been sealed off for a technical examination and the offices of the State Pathologist has been notified.

It is understood the victim owns the pub.

A Garda spokesman said the body remains at scene