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11 Oct


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London: Beat The Burglars and Say Safe At Home:

10 Oct

Barely a day goes past without another news headline proclaiming someone viciously attacked, robbed or worse in their own home.

The past year has seen domestic burglaries rise 14 per cent, while recent figures for England and Wales revealed a householder is attacked by a violent burglar every 30 minutes.

But the crime statistics needn’t make you feel like a victim-in-waiting in your own front room. 

 There are some easy steps you can take to make your house a safer place to be. 

To mark this year’s National Personal Safety Day (October 10) the Suzy Lamplugh Trust – set up following the disappearance of the 25-year-old estate agent in 1986 – has launched a campaign to get more people taking simple safety precautions.

So what can you do to minimize the risks at home?

Protect against bogus callers

Install a door chain and outside lighting – and never answer the door before you’ve checked through a spy-hole or window if you know the caller. If not, put the chain on before opening the door and ask for ID.

Don’t be rushed into accepting their claims – keep them waiting even if that means calling the company they say they work for to check.  And once you have let the caller in, never leave them alone while you go into a different room. Thieves often work in pairs so don’t open the front door to a stranger without locking your back door first.

Keep doors and windows locked
Invest in good door and window locks. Check all locks before leaving the house and keep front and back doors and accessible windows locked to outsiders even when you are in.
It may sound extreme, but the Lamplugh Trust advises avoiding opening doors and windows wide even in summer. The Trust insists: “It’s safer to open a lot of windows a little way (and locking them to prevent them being opened further) than it is to open one or two windows far enough for someone to climb through.”

Pretend you’re in when you’re not
If you’re out, try to make your house look like someone is in. That means cancelling the milk to avoid bottles piling up, asking a neighbour to collect post and leaving a light on or installing an automatic light on/light off system – and even a system that switches radios on and off. Other tips from the Metropolitan Police include: encourage a neighbour to park on your drive, draw the curtains if you will be out after dark and install a burglar alarm or a dummy alarm box as a deterrent.

Keep hedges trimmed
Along with security lighting it is a good idea to keep hedges and bushes trimmed to allow clear views and avoid having places where someone could hide. But it is also advisable to have a secure boundary around your back garden, which is high or awkward enough to make scaling it difficult.

Get crunchy gravel

Crunchy gravel on driveways and paths will make any approach noisier – a useful warning for householders and a deterrent for intruders.
Check in with friends and family
If you live alone, try to ensure someone always knows where you are and that you are OK. Even a quick text to let a friend know you’re home and safe after a night out is enough.

Don’t get comfortable in your own street
Stay alert when approaching your home, until you are safely indoors. Have your keys to hand so you are not fumbling on the doorstep and think of safe places you could go if you felt threatened, whether that be a shop, friend’s house or a pub.

Carry a personal safety alarm
These devices, costing as little as £5, can shock or disorientate an attacker, giving you vital seconds to get away. Pick one with the shrillest, loudest siren possible.

Don’t  shout about it
Avoid broadcasting – whether on sites such as Facebook or when you’re out or at work – that you live alone or will be alone in the house at a certain time. Similarly, don’t boast about your upcoming holidays to anyone you don’t know well.

Keep keys hidden
Never leave a spare key concealed anywhere near the front door – as the Met Police note: “Burglars know all the hiding places.” Also never store keys near the front door to avoid letterbox burglaries, and never label your house keys in case you lose them.


Lamezia Terme, Italy: Pope Denounces ‘ndrangheta mob’ As “Inhuman Mafia”

9 Oct

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives with his popemobile to celebrate …

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives with his popemobile to celebrate a mass in Lamezia Terme, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

LAMEZIA TERME, Italy (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday denounced the “inhuman” mafia that plagues southern Italy and urged residents there to respond to the region‘s suffering by caring for one another and the common good.

Benedict made the comments while celebrating an open-air Mass in Lamezia Terme, in Calabria in the “toe” of boot-shaped Italy.

The region is home to the ‘ndrangheta mob, which is today considered more powerful than the Sicilian Mafia and is one of the world’s biggest cocaine traffickers. Calabria is also one of the poorest regions in Italy, with a 27 percent unemployment rate.

Benedict noted the region is seismic — “not just geologically but from the structural, behavioral and social point of view” — and said high unemployment and Calabria’s “often inhuman criminality wounds the fabric of society.”

He praised Calabrians for their ability to live with such problems and a near-constant state of emergency and urged them to continue responding to the ills afflicting the region with faith and Christian values.

“Force yourselves to grow in the ability to collaborate with one another, care for one another and all the public good,” he said.

It was Benedict’s first visit to the region and police estimated about 40,000 people had turned out under cold, dark skies for the Mass.

The city’s mayor, Gianni Speranza, welcomed Benedict but didn’t gloss over the region’s ills. “Welcome to Lamezia Terme, your holiness, a land of suffering,” he said.

He said the region’s young people needed a sign of hope that they can live without the mob and fear. “Enough with the mafia!” he added.

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives to celebrate a mass in Lamezia Terme, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011. At right is Lamezia Bishop, Luigi Cantafora. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful as he arrives to celebrate a mass in Lamezia …

London: Police Appeal To Public In Hunt For “Dangerous” Most Wanted Men

5 Oct

Murderers, rapists and robbers are among more than a dozen “dangerous” men wanted abroad and thought to be hiding in the UK.

One suspect is wanted for three murders, while two are brothers who police believe raped a young girl.

Another one of the 14 men being hunted as part of Operation Sunfire is said to have cut the throat of his victim with a beer bottle.

Police Hunt 'Dangerous' Men Hiding In UK

Det Sgt Pete Rance, of Scotland Yard’s extradition squad, said: “We are hoping the public’s vigilance can help us trace these men.

“They are dangerous and not to be approached.

 “If you spot them or believe you know where they are living, working or frequenting, then I urge you to call Crimestoppers so we can find and arrest them.

“The countries where these crimes happened want these men back to face justice for these offences and it is in the interests of London to help find them.”

Among those being sought is 41-year-old Ndrieim Sadushi, who is suspected of committing three murders and an attempted murder in Albania in 1997.

Polish brothers Wojciech and Dariusz Glowacki, aged 29 and 33 respectively, are wanted for the rape of a young girl – and are thought to be living in London.

And Adrian Vasilescu, 31, is wanted in Romania for an attack in which he allegedly cut his victim’s throat using a beer bottle.

Police say he may be living in or around the Manor Park area of the capital.

Details and images of all 14 of those wanted can be found at:

 In Ireland:


Washington: Prescription Drug Abuse By Elderly & Disabled A Problem: (GAO)

5 Oct

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prescription drug abuse by elderly and disabled beneficiaries of Medicare cost the U.S. program nearly $150 million in 2008, highlighting an area where the government can seek to save health costs.

 According to a government report released on Tuesday, some of these patients went to at least five doctors to get multiple prescriptions of drugs that are often abused.

In all, 170,000 people enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program went “doctor shopping” for drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, powerful painkillers that can lead to addiction, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Those 170,000 who possibly abused the system were 1.8 percent of the patients who had prescriptions for these commonly abused drugs.

The study began in 2010, using data from 2008, the latest year then available. Medicare enrolled about 43 million people in 2008.

In one example, one individual received prescriptions from 87 different doctors during that year. Senator Scott Brown, a Republican from Massachusetts, dubbed it “taxpayer-funded drug dealing” at a hearing about the issue on Tuesday.

Brown said oxycodone could sell for over $5,000 in some areas of the country.

“Medicare Part D beneficiaries are abusing powerful drugs to fill their own addictions or to sell them on the street,” said Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat and chairman of a subcommittee on federal financial management. “The controls … put in place haven’t done the trick.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notified doctors about patients who could be abusing prescription drugs. Jonathan Blum, director of CMS’s Center for Medicare, said his agency’s fraud division was receiving a growing number of complaints about the issue.

Fighting Medicare fraud has gained renewed urgency in recent months as a committee of Republicans and Democrats seeks ways to cut the nation’s ballooning budget deficit ahead of a November deadline.

“Everyone always has an angle to screw the government out of taxpayer money,” Brown said. “We’re just doing things so inefficiently, it’s mind-boggling.”

The GAO and others called on CMS to take more stringent steps to prevent Medicare fraud, such as limiting patients to one doctor and one pharmacy to better monitor abuse.

However, Blum said some patients with cancer, multiple-sclerosis or other diseases with complex treatments, or those without primary care physicians, may need to see several doctors.

“Some beneficiaries are bouncing around from emergency room to emergency room,” Blum said at the hearing. “We have a very uncoordinated healthcare system today that we are working hard to reform.”

“There is a balance between stopping behavior that is clearly fraudulent and illegal, and ensuring that beneficiaries have access to medication,” he said.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; editing by Michele Gershberg and Gerald E. McCormick)

Indianapolis: Cocaine Abusers More Likely To Develop Glaucoma: Study

3 Oct

(HealthDay News) — People who use cocaine are 45 percent more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the eye disease, according to a new study.

The study authors said the cocaine abusers who developed the condition were nearly 20 years younger than glaucoma patients who did not do drugs. They suggested that the findings could help doctors develop new treatments for the disease, which is currently the second most common cause of blindness in the United States.

“The association of illegal drug use with open-angle glaucoma requires further study, but if the relationship is confirmed, this understanding could lead to new strategies to prevent vision loss,” the study’s first author, Dustin French, a research scientist with the Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Indianapolis, said in a news release.

In conducting the study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Glaucoma, the researchers examined information on 5.3 million men and women seen in Department of Veterans Affairs’ outpatient clinics over the course of one year.

The study found about 1.5 percent of those patients had glaucoma. Over this same time frame, about 3.3 percent of all those seen in the outpatient clinics had used cocaine.

Although the study doesn’t prove that using cocaine causes glaucoma, the researchers concluded there is significantly higher risk for the eye condition among those with a history of drug abuse — particularly since people are usually in their teens or 20s when they start using illegal drugs.

The study’s authors noted more research is needed to explore the long-term effects of cocaine use on the development of glaucoma.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on glaucoma

Dublin: Homeless People Afflicted By Addiction and Ill Health: Report

3 Oct

Report highlights ill health suffered by homeless people

DEPRESSION, dental decay and the threat to health from alcohol and drug use feature heavily among homeless people, almost half of whom suffer from both physical and mental ill health, according to a report.

To add to their tragedy, members of the homeless community are plagued by a range of conditions, including hepatitis, arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure.

Nor are they faring well mentally: the survey shows out of 600 people surveyed by Simon Communities of Ireland, more than one third suffer from depression, while schizophrenia, panic attacks, bipolar disorder and social anxiety disorders feature in up to 10%.

Among the other alarming findings of the National Health Snapshot study, published today to mark the start of Simon Week, are:

* 50% used alcohol, of whom 44% reported health complications as a result.

* 31% used drugs (more than half intravenously) causing abscesses, hepatitis C and B, vein collapse, overdose and deep vein thrombosis.

* More than three quarters using drugs used one or more types of drugs (polydrug use), with heroin the most popular (58%), followed by cannabis, prescribed methadone, unprescribed benzodiazepines and headshop drugs.

* 12% had a diagnosed intellectual disability, most commonly attention deficit disorder and autism.

* 19% self-harmed, almost one quarter expressed suicidal thoughts and 17% attempted suicide in the previous six months.

Niamh Randall, Simon’s national research and policy manager, said the results showed an ongoing need for targeted interventions for the homeless as well as better access to mainstream services.

“For instance in Cork, we have a multidisciplinary team which can address a multitude of needs at the same time.

“Or in Dublin, we have Safetynet, a primary care network where GPs come to the hostels and provide primary care intervention on site, which, when you are homeless, provides a point of contact for people who might not necessarily show up at a surgery.”

Ms Randall said there had been no decrease in the 5,000 people using Simon’s services in the past couple of years and the challenge was to maintain services in the face of decreased funding from the Department of Health.

The stark findings of today’s report come hot on the heels of two reports published last week which found Dublin Simon recorded a 26% increase on last year in the number of people sleeping rough during the early summer months and Merchants Quay Ireland said it was providing 1,100 extra meals every week for mainly homeless and financially desperate people, up 26% on last year.

* The Simon National Conference, Health and Homelessness — Making the Link, takes place today at the Radisson BLU Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin.