Archive for January, 2011

Golden Voice Ted Williams Quits Rehab

The homeless man with a golden voice who fascinated audiences around the world, Ted Williams, has reportedly checked out of the rehab facility where he was undergoing treatment for drugs and alcohol addiction. This happened barely two weeks after he entered.

Ted WilliamsWilliams checked himself out of the Origins Recovery Center in Texas against the advice of his treatment facilitators. Williams, who is now 53 years old, allegedly headed to the airport after getting out of the rehab facility.

Twelve days earlier, Williams taped his segments on Dr. Phil’s show and voluntarily decided to fix himself and his addictions. On these taping days, Williams was reunited with his family. He claimed to be sober despite drinking every day and had long, serious conversations with the doctor about his experiences and problems.

It was also revealed that days before he entered the treatment facility, Williams and his daughter were taken by police and detained after quarreling at a Hollywood hotel. They were released as no charges were filed.

Dr. Phil has this to say on William’s road to recovery: “If Ted is ever going to get better, he’s got to be honest with himself and admit he’s addicted to drugs and alcohol. I’ve told him it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. It might be a long journey for him, but this is a big step in the right direction.”

William’s sudden rise to fame came after a video of him showing off his golden voice was posted on the net. After millions of views, he was invited by TODAY and had several job offers. After he visited the show, his mother, Julia Williams, expressed her worries that his son might be too overwhelmed by his instant fame that it could distract him from becoming sober again.

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Is Coca Leaf a Drug or Not?

The coca leaf was utilized some 8000 years ago by the Quecha people of the Andes and their Inka ancestors. This shows that ancient people were extracting and using the medicinal properties of the coca leaf. Still, the United Nations has restricted and aims to eliminate the use of the coca plant as natural medicine by the indigenous Andean people. Why is this so?

coca leafThe main reason the UN is against the coca leaf is that the said plant has been listed alongside cocaine and opium as a dangerous controlled substance. The UN’s International Narcotics Control Board has suggested “to abolish and prohibit coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea” in Peru and in Bolivia in 2008. Peruvian Congresswoman Maria Sumire said, “The United Nations lacks respect for the indigenous people…who have used the coca leaf since forever…For indigenous people, coca is a sacred leaf that is part of their cultural identity.”

There are reports recently presented that the coca leaf and cocaine are not the same. Cocaine is to coca plant as paper is to pine tree; both are products created by humans through chemical processing. The difference between the coca leaf and processed cocaine comes in when humans “abuse the gifts that the plant has to offer.”

The coca leaf is therefore a plant in its natural form, and not the drug that most cartels and criminals produce. The leaf has medicinal properties and grows naturally. Like cannabis and other medicinal plants, it seems that the coca plant is being demonized by the West to promote dependence on drugs produced by big pharmaceutical companies.

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Montel Williams Supports Medical Marijuana Bill in Maryland

Maryland is on the verge of becoming the 16th state to have medical marijuana laws. Rep. Del Morhaim will introduce the bill to legalize medical marijuana in the Maryland General Assembly this week.

Montel WilliamsAlthough medical marijuana initiatives in the said state passed in the Senate last year, the House of Delegates failed to uphold the decision. According to reports, Judiciary Chair Joe Vallario has long been opposed of medical marijuana bills and did not allow a voting for it in the House of Delegates even though support for the bill was overwhelming.

This is why Montel Williams is campaigning for the medical marijuana initiative in Maryland. Williams is a Maryland native and has been suffering from multiple sclerosis which makes Baltimore’s John Hopkins Hospital his second home. Williams lending his star power for the bill will still be dependent on who are paying attention. There have been reports published earlier that even though the medical marijuana bill was greatly supported in Maryland with a 3:1 ratio, the bill did not push through. Will Montel’s support using his celebrity status be the deciding factor for the bill to go on its next step?

Studies have shown that medical marijuana is effective in treating diseases like cancer, HIV, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. Those in opposition, however, see medical marijuana as a problem if ever legalized. There are arguments presented that medicinal marijuana could be used as a defense in the prosecution of criminals if it will become legal. Opposed lawmakers added that there isn’t any marijuana source in the state except through illegal drug dealers.

Maryland’s version of the proposed law was carefully drafted for medical marijuana to be treated like other prescription drugs. It will only be available in pharmacies and will only be for persons with severe medical conditions who are not relieved by common prescription drugs.

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Seeking New Ways to Handle Drug Abuse Cases

A group formed by Latin American leaders and known personalities have recommended for new measures and methods in tackling cases of drug abuse. Virgin Chief Richard Branson joined the cause for consumers of illicit drugs not to be treated like criminals. The Global Commission on Drug Policies on their two-day inaugural meeting at Geneva also expressed their views on the prevalent degrading approach to drug abuse which was not doing any good both to the authorities and to the drug consumers.

drug abuseEx-politicians and other professionals, who have formed an alliance, aim to promote new ways of handling drug abuse cases which was first implemented in the Latin America. Colombia’s former president Cesar Gavina which served his term from 1994-1998 insisted that there should be new means to deal with drug producing and drug trafficking cartels. He says this of drug consumers: “You have to give up on the idea that drug consumers are criminals.”

In a report released by the United Nations, the leading cocaine-producing countries in 2009 were Colombia and Peru. An estimated 400 tons of the dangerous drugs was produced in the two countries putting them on top of the UN’s list.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Brazil’s ex-president chairs the commission. He said that drug addicts should be treated as ill patients and should be offered health care. Joining Cardoso in the commission are former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, former Norwegian minister Thorvald Stoltenberg, ex-EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana, and Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa and famous writer Carlos Fuentes.

In Mexico, violence and gang wars are on the rise with the emergence of powerful drug barons in recent years. In 2010, a record of 15,200 people died in the country all related to drug activities.

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Smoking Responsible for Poor Life Expectancy in Americans

Experts have been trying to figure out why the United States does not measure up to other countries in terms of life expectancy – despite the fact that it spends more per capita on health care, and has a population that is relatively wealthy and well-nourished. A feature by Reuters shared a report that explained why.

smokingA report from the National Research Council, which was released on Tuesday, identified smoking as the major factor behind the disparity in lifespan between Americans and citizens of other countries. The panel of experts also mentioned the following in their report: “Other factors, such as obesity, diet, exercise, and economic inequality, also have likely played a role in the current gap and divergence between the United States and other countries.”

Ranked 1st in terms of life expectancy is Japan; the United Nations said that a child born today will most probably live to be 83, on average. The United States, on the other hand, is ranked 36th, with a life expectancy of 78.3.

While it may be true that the number of Americans who smoke has declined over the years, in 1960, more than 40 percent of American adults smoked. The experts wrote further that smoking was more widespread in the United States fifty years ago, when compared to other countries; there were more Americans who were smokers, and who “smoked more intensively” during that time, according to the experts.

“The health consequences of this behavior are still playing out in today’s mortality rates,” they added.

Things are likely to improve, however, given the fact that smoking rates have dropped.

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Truck Driver Pleads Guilty to Hauling Tons of Smuggled Marijuana

Marijuana that is being smuggled into the United States, from Mexico or other Latin American sources, accounts for most of the marijuana available in the country. With authorities now working closely to stop illegal entry of drugs in the country, groups smuggling marijuana have also opened different channels to bring marijuana to their clients, including building a tunnel.

narcotics tunnel29-year-old Carlos Cunningham Jr. could be facing several years in federal prison for hauling nearly 20,000 pounds of marijuana and knowing that the drugs were being smuggled into the United States from Mexico through a narcotics tunnel.

Cunningham admitted in a San Diego court to driving multiple truckloads of marijuana from a warehouse in San Diego, near the tunnel’s exit, to the Central District of California. He also admitted being aware of the narcotics tunnel, discovered by federal agents last November 2. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 19,400 pounds of marijuana.

Authorities followed Cunningham from the San Diego warehouse to the Temecula Checkpoint along Interstate 15. At this point, he was arrested with about 19,400 pounds of marijuana. Upon searching the warehouse, an additional 28,782 pounds of marijuana were seized. On the other side of the tunnel, Mexican officials reported seizing nearly 10,000 pounds of marijuana at the tunnel’s entrance located inside a Tijuana residence.

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