Friday, August 29, 2008

Cocaine and Ecstasy deaths up 1,200% since records began in 1993

By Charlotte Gill

Woman sniffing cocaine

Threat: Cocaine is becoming the middle-class narcotic of choice

Death from 'middle class' drugs glamorised by celebrities are at their highest level since records began, government figures revealed today.

Party drugs Ecstasy and cocaine now claim nearly 300 lives a year, an increase of over 1,200 per cent since figures were first recorded in 1993.

The statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics, also reveal that far more men than women are dying from drug abuse and are taking them later in life, often into their 40s.

Experts believe that cocaine's 'dinner party' image is masking its true dangers.

The high number of cocaine deaths are thought to be the result of mixing the drug with alcohol which produces a potentially-deadly compound called cocaine-ethynyl.

There have been a number of high-profile deaths involving the drug in recent years.

Actress Natasha Collins, 31, died in a scalding hot bath in January after taking large amounts of cocaine, wine, vodka and sleeping tablets.

Flamboyant German aristocrat Count Gottfried von Bismarck died last July after injecting cocaine every hour during the day and night before his death.

Yesterday drug charities warned of an 'epidemic' of recreational drug deaths as young Britons emulate stars such as Kate Moss, Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse.

Clare McNeil, of drug treatment charity Addaction, said: 'Cocaine is seen as a middle-class drug associated with success and money.

'People think they can copy celebrities and do a quick line because it doesn't have the same stigma as other class As but it's actually just as destructive.

'People are often ignorant of the risks of combining alcohol with cocaine for example, which can increase the risk of liver and heart disease, strokes and epilepsy.

'The increase in deaths among men in their 30s and 40s is worrying. It suggests that more people are continuing to experiment with drugs well into adulthood.

'At one time young people would dabble then stop as they settled down but these kind of figures suggest an epidemic."

Deaths from all drugs rose by 2.7 per cent last year - the highest figure since 2002.

The figures show the total number of deaths in England and Wales from drugs poisoning in 2007 was 2,640, up 2.7 per cent from the 2,570 in 2006.

The majority of those were male - 1,914 last year compared with 1,782 in 2006.

Meanwhile, female drug poisoning deaths fell by eight per cent from 788 deaths in 2006 to 726 in 2007.

Cocaine claimed 196 lives in 2007 and Ecstasy 97, a combined total of 293.

This is a staggering 1,274 per cent increase since 1993, when just 23 people died after taking the drugs.

The highest number of drug deaths were among men aged between 30 and 39.

Deaths among 20 to 29-year-olds, which was previously the highest group, continued to increase but at a slower rate.

David Gilbert, chief executive of drugs charity D.A.R.E., called on families to become more involved in the war on drugs.

He said: 'Parents need to play a much bigger role in setting children on the straight and narrow when they are young.

'Childhood is when views of drugs are formed and it is the best time to educate people to avoid them.

'We obviously have a massive problem and the different agencies and charities need to pull together to tackle it.'

Class A drugs heroin and morphine caused 829 deaths in 2007, compared with 713 in 2006.

Methadone deaths also shot to their highest levels since 1999 with 326 deaths - an increase of 35 per cent compared with 2006.

Party towns Blackpool and Brighton top the list of black spots for drug deaths hitting 233 a year.

Blackpool topped the list with 120 people in every 100,000 being killed every year between 2000 and 2006.

The seaside town was closely followed by Brighton and Hove with 112 deaths and Camden, in London, with 83.

Deaths involving antidepressants, paracetamol and aspirin were all at their lowest levels since records began in 1993.

Original here

Narrowing World Health Disparities


On average, a black man living in Washington, D.C., does not live as long as a man in India, and he certainly doesn't live as long as a white man in his hometown. The reasons — just like the reasons that the Japanese and Swedes live longer than the Ukrainians, and why aborigines in Australia on average die 17 years earlier than non-aborigines — are almost entirely social, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) released today.

It may seem obvious, or even inevitable, that a poor person would live a shorter, sicker life than a rich one. But consider also that a "social gradient of health" exists even among the rich: the outlandishly wealthy live healthier and longer than the rich, who live better than the merely comfortable. In every country around the world, WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health found that the very best off had better health than people a few rungs below them on the socioeconomic ladder. "Even in Sweden" — a country with a strong history of social and economic equality — "if you look over the last 10 years, life expectancy has improved across the board. But it's improved more for people with high education than it has for people with low education," says Michael Marmot, chair of the Commission and a U.K.-based epidemiologist.

Education, of course, is a major social determinant of health. More highly educated people tend to make more healthful lifestyle choices and, as they also tend to be richer, have greater access to health care. The Commission's "social determinants" cover a vast territory, encompassing virtually every factor that can be changed in a person's life by applying reasonable political and economic resources. (Early on, commissioners had considered adding the words Environmental Economic, Political, and Cultural to describe the determinants in their group's official title, but then figured that would make it too unwieldy. "It can get a bit silly," Marmot says. "So we just said, Social includes all that.") But the Commission's new report highlights social factors that go well beyond having enough money to buy a doctor's care or medication, and well beyond having the know-how to use it. The world's poor tend to die prematurely and log more life-years spent ill or suffering or depressed also because they are more likely to live in dangerous neighborhoods, have limited access to clean drinking water, be forced to endure long, sometimes arduous commutes to work, labor in unsafe environments and have little representation in the governance of their local society. If you're about to lose your job, the effects of eating too many trans fats may not be high on your list of worries. "Behavior and lifestyle are determined by the circumstances in which people find themselves," Marmot says simply.

The Commission's ultimate finding, however, is that "it does not have to be this way." Differences in longevity have many causes — the poor in America, for instance, are more likely than the rich to suffer diabetes, obesity or death in a gang fight — but with the new report, WHO aims to uncover "the causes of the causes." It sets out not to cure diabetes or crack down on violence, but to pinpoint the social factors that make the more poorly likely to suffer, and this "gradient," or the degree to which different groups are unequal in health, is far steeper in the U.S. than in most other industrialized countries. One reason, according to commissioner David Satcher, a former U.S. Surgeon General, may be that the U.S. comprises a more diverse population than other places, mixing a high proportion of recent immigrants with long-time American dwellers, which makes it all the more difficult to tackle social determinants early in life. "Two," Satcher says, "[the U.S.] invests probably less in improving that social gradient. There are countries that really invest in making sure that all children have quality education regardless of the education of their parents. There are countries that invest in making sure that everybody has access to a [minimum] level of quality of [health] care. We're one of the few countries that does not do that."

The Commission brought together an international team of academics, politicians and medical experts from around the world, including two former heads of state (a president of Chile and a prime minister of Mozambique), as well as two former directors of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, for good measure, an economics Nobel laureate, the Harvard-based Amartya Sen. The team of commissioners combed through health data from around the world, and based on that evidence, drew up recommendations to narrow the inequalities of circumstance and opportunity that affect health. The suggestions are broad, only semi-concrete policies that are general enough to be applied to almost every country in the world: increase prenatal care, increase early education and provide free elementary and secondary school for all children. The report suggests cleaning up slums, supplying clean water for everyone, and giving people around the world health insurance and unemployment insurance. And it recommends doing a better job overall of measuring health disparities in the first place.

These demands are, in a word, steep. But the report authors do not feel they are unreasonable. "Health equity within a generation is achievable, it is the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it," they write. Like any persuasive call to arms, the report is peppered with success stories: Marmot cites the national pension plan in Botswana, which shows that even poor nations manage to provide income security to their elderly; and an Indian rural employment guarantee, which assures workers a minimum number of days of paid manual labor for the state, demonstrating that the poor can still give workers some measure of job security. With better organization, the report authors believe, biological problems like infectious disease can also be brought under control through social policy. Mexico has in a matter of decades consigned widespread diarrheal diseases to the history books by cleaning its water supply.

The key may just be political will. Any government official — or doctor, for that matter — who tries to improve population health has basically just two options. One is to push the frontiers constantly, improving basic health knowledge and medical technology. The other is to work with existing knowledge and technology, but to concentrate on allocating it efficiently. Almost all the WHO's recommendations fall into the latter category, and the commissioners are convinced that focusing on the social determinants of health will save both lives and cash in the long run. "We're wasting a lot of the money that we invest in health and health care," Satcher says. "All sorts of studies show that targeting the social determinants of health is more cost-effective — for everybody, not just for those at the bottom. Everybody in this country, whether they know it or not, suffers from a system that is not committed to closing that [health] gap."

That's not to say that lab breakthroughs won't bring all kinds of new health benefits in the decades to come. "But we don't need to wait for those new breakthroughs to make enormous differences," Marmot says.

Original here

My Boobs Are Not Squeeze Toys :: 8 Tips For More Action In The Bedroom

What is one food that can make a woman’s sex drive disappear?

Wedding cake.

That joke might be funny if I hadn’t heard it from so many married men that complain about the lack of sexual activity taking place in their marriage.

As much as guys might want to think that any reduction in the quantity of time between the sheets (or on the dining room table) is an evil plan concocted by their wives, often times the real answer is staring at them in the mirror.

Now I am not going to get all Cosmopolitan on you and start bashing my fellow man and placing all of the blame on you for any lack of spice in the bedroom, as your partner certainly plays a role in that as well.

But when you take a step back and look at how you have changed over the years, you might just find that there are some small changes that you can make that will have your partner crawling all over you.

The following eight tips are things that you can do right now to avoid being one of those guys that breaks out that joke about the wedding cake.

1. Stop thinking of her as your personal squeeze toy.

Guys, I know it is extremely tempting to constantly be giving your wife a squeeze here and a squeeze there; however, she will most likely not appreciate it as much as you would if she were the one squeezing you.

The path to romance rarely begins with a “drive-by” boob squeeze as you pass your wife in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the boob squeeze as much (actually more) than the next guy but if you think it is going to lead to some hot and steamy action in the bedroom, guess again.

2. Pay attention to her turn-ons.

No, I am not referring to the type of turn-on such as how she likes it when you kiss the small of her back. What I am talking about here are the every day things that might be a turn-on for your wife or partner. Often times it is things that seem so ordinary that you might not pay attention.

If you get home before your wife, rather than plop down in front of the TV, clean up the house and vacuum the carpets. When she walks in and sees you vacuuming, she may have a hard time not jumping on you right then and there.

3. Cook her dinner.

Sure, some of you guys are outstanding chefs and thrive when putting together a meal. However, many of us defer to our wives far too often when it comes to the cooking.

Once you are done with the cleaning (and any extra-curricular activities that might take place as a result) head into the kitchen and prepare a nice dinner. Throwing hot dogs on the grill with a side of potato chips doesn’t count either. Prepare a meal that includes a main entree along with one or two sides, maybe a nice salad beforehand. Bonus points if you plan ahead and bring home a nice bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner.

4. Plan a date night and surprise her.

Between the demands of work schedules, driving the kids around to their activities, and taking care of things around the house, it is easy to forget that you and your wife need to spend some time alone together. Away from everyone and everything.

Plan a complete date night for you and your wife without letting her know about. Coordinate the baby sitter to take care of the kids and enjoy a night together. About an hour (you might want to make it two depending on your wife) before you need to leave, tell her to put on something nice as you have somewhere to go.

The activities that you plan for the date night aren’t nearly as important as simply making the effort to plan some special time just for the two of you.

5. Randomly let her know that she is on your mind.

Sometimes we get so busy in our day to day activities that we take it for granted that our loved ones know how important they are to us.

Take a few minutes out of your day, maybe before you run into your next meeting, to give her a call and let her know that you were thinking about her. Tell her that you cannot wait to see her tonight so you can kiss her beautiful lips. When you hang up, she’ll know that she was on your mind and now she will be thinking about the kiss, and maybe more.

6. Admit it when you are wrong.

Have you ever argued a point even when you know that you are wrong? It is silly when you think about it, as you know that you messed up, yet you continue to hold your ground and refuse to admit your wrong-doing.

This defensive behavior builds up a wall around you and casts a negative light on your actions. When you can admit when you are wrong, your wife will appreciate the fact that you are aware that you don’t know everything. You might think this is a sign of weakness on your part, she will likely think it is an extremely attractive sign of your confidence.

7. Tease her.

Not the name-calling, hair-pulling kind of teasing - that might be coming later if you’re lucky. What you want to do here is leave her wanting more.

Pull her in close and start to give her a nice, deep kiss - then stop and walk away. She’ll be left wanting more and will be looking for an opportunity to continue where you left off.

8. Cuddle, yes, I said cuddle, after sex.

The word cuddle makes most men cringe, as they usually have one of a few things on their mind after sex: going to sleep, having something to eat, or watching SportsCenter.

Resist the temptation to indulge in one of those activities and cuddle with your wife. You will be showing her that there is nothing more important than being there with her at that moment. Check the scores in the morning over a big breakfast and you might just be given the opportunity to cuddle more and more.

Spark The Romance

Throughout all of these tips, you will hopefully have noticed that most of them are focused on adding a little romance into your relationship rather than talking specifically about sex.

As part of Darren Rowse’s Group Writing Project on Killer Titles, hopefully this post has given you something to think about and captured your attention.

After having a few kids and being married for years, it is easy to lose sight of the importance that romance has in a relationship. Give these tips a try and you will hopefully find that the path to more action in the bedroom begins with romance, not a boob squeeze!

Original here

Star Wars Landspeeder by Daniel Deutsch

Photo: Daniel Deutsch

That’s a full-size and driveable replica of Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder from Star Wars, built by Daniel Deutsch in his own garage:

We built this fiberglass replica landspeeder last spring from the ground up on a custom aluminum chassis. The electric drive system is capable of a top speed around 25 mph. The speeder is the same size as the original, and can travel several miles on a single battery charge.

Check out the “damaged” paint job on the Landspeeder. Excellent! Link - Thanks Richard Young!

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Video of 3038 Photos Shot in 3 Days of Life in Boston

posted by Scott Beale

Robbie shot 3038 photos with his Canon 5D over a period of 3 days of his life in and around Boston. He then created a video of all of the photos played at hi-speed in the order they were shot, set to the song “Dry Lips” by Lightspeed Champion.