Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

‘Killer High Heels’ Have Injured 3 Million Women

November 11, 2010

The next time you wear those stilettos, better be careful. Here’s why.

A new study has suggested that more than three million women have had to seek medical attention for injuries caused by their high heels.

Half either tore a tendon or twisted an ankle, while thousands of others smashed their teeth or broke wrists by falling flat.

But 60 per cent of women said whatever agony a pair of heels caused, they would keep wearing them if they won compliments.

The poll of 3,000 women aged 18 to 65 also found a whopping 89 per cent said uncomfortable shoes have ruined a night out.

More than a third have had to be helped or even carried home because of pain from shoes that are too tight.

And 61 per cent have spent a whole evening sitting down.

But 80 per cent have bought a trendy pair despite knowing they do not fit.

Only two per cent of the women polled by Hotter Shoes never wear heels.

“Women tend to buy shoes that look good, and then worry about the pain later,” the Sun quoted spokeswoman Lisa McCarten, as saying.

“It’s incredible to imagine the pain and discomfort women endure for a pair of killer heels,” she added.

Source: ANI


Hear This! Your Cell Number Can Harm You

November 11, 2010

Hear this! Your cell number can harm youA wrong mobile number combination is capable of spelling doom. If a numerologist of repute is to be believed, three successive owners of the number 888 888 888 died in mysterious accidents.

Just as you hear out your astrologer before fixing dates for auspicious occasions such as wedding, housewarming et al, you might be better off by checking with your numerologist for your mobile number too. And by carefully choosing these significant ten digits, you can balance the excess or depletion of energies that define you. The energies may be positive or negative.

Delhi-based numerologist and tarot card reader, Dr Seema Midha helps you decode your mobile number. Here are a few priceless tips:

Avoid your birth date number
It is crucial to balance the digits from 1-9, missing from your birth date by making them part of your mobile number. The digits already featuring in your birth date more than once, should be avoided when selecting a mobile number. So, if your birth date is 2 April 1987, it would mean that the number four should not exist twice in your mobile combination.

Hear this! Your cell number can harm you

Excess of 1s: A person whose mobile number has an excess of the digit 1,will be overly talkative, to the extent of undermining his relationship with his boss and derailing his career.

Excess of 2s: Excess of number 2 will make a person expect too much from relationships, making them vulnerable to a lot of hurtful people.

Excess of 3s: Too many 3s in your mobile number will make you creative to the point of neglecting your family.
Excess of 4s: Excess of the digit four will make you an over-analytic person.

Hear this! Your cell number can harm you

Excess of 5s: If you have too many 5s in your mobile combination, you will fail to find balance in whatever field you choose as your vocation.

Excess of 6s: Six is the number of planet Venus, so excess of six brings you many opportunities, however you will find yourself unable to convert any of these.

Excess of 7s: Repetition of number seven will leave you with unstable romantic relationships.

Excess of 8s: Excess of number eights will make you too judgmental.

Excess of 9s: The only positive effects are to be found in the excess of the ‘good’ nine, which makes you an altruistic person. However this comes at the cost of neglect of self.

Hear this! Your cell number can harm you

Climb the career ladder

Selecting the right mobile number combination, can also make you a success in your chosen career. If you crave for academic achievement, include 4,9, and 2 in your number. And if seeking to enhance your creative output, make it a point to have the digits 1, 3, and 9. Those aiming for a stint politics, ensure your number features 4, 3 and 8. Seema suggests sportsmen seeking to win medals in the upcoming Commonwealth Games add 2, 7 and 6 to their numbers.

So, with a bit of number juggling, you can make everything from, health, wealth to career success, fall in line.


The Bleakest Town in The World

November 9, 2010
Siberian “Ghost” Cities Scare

Siberian Nearly-Abandoned & “Ghost” Cities Could Be the Worst Halloween Scare Ever

We’d like to call them “ghost towns”, but they are clearly not abandoned. Amazingly, people still live in them, go to work in the harshest possible conditions (paradoxically making it the richest and mightiest industrial area in Russia) and then come “home” to relax in inhuman weather, non-existing infrastructure, in dangerously dilapidated buildings…

Truly, this is an “abandoned, terrifying, ruined environment”, multiplied to the N-th degree! Judge for yourself:

(Norilsk, Siberia – images credit: Schegloff)

Just in time for Halloween: no skeletons, witches, or giant spiders – instead, something real and more terrifying – witness the life in Cherepovetz City (the name loosely translates as “City of Skulls”), the center of the Russian North-West SeveroStal industrial zone:

(image credit: Elena Chinarina)
Welcome to Norilsk – the Very Definition of Cold Hell
Norilsk is a true “Wild East” Siberian town, the quintessence of tough living, tough conditions and tough-as-nails people.

(images via 1, 2)
The average life expectancy in Norilsk is 46-48 years… Here is why (this is not a complete list, by any means):
– minus 10 degrees Celsius is considered “warm weather”
– this city is built on permafrost, so buildings deteriorate quickly and most are in crumbling conditions
– the city was originally built by prisoners (untold numbers of them died), so it is very probably haunted… (no, of course not, just kidding)
– the industrial pollution is on par with the worst towns in China – it’s officially one of the ten most polluted cities in the world
– there are no homeless people, because nobody can survive minus 56 degrees Celsius.
– they have literally 45 days of night – the depressing, miserable Arctic night
– the city often endures severe punishing winds, up to 25 meters per second
The ecology around Norilsk is so atrocious that trees can spontaneously ignite from industrial chemicals in the ground – and so only burned sticks are left:

(images credit: Schegloff)
The local forest:

The local grocery store:

People spend their lives (and murderously cold winters!) in these apartments –

(images via 1, 2)
Some apartments still stand, while others have already fallen apart, their basements plundered for concrete by locals to build garages and more shaky housing:

Santa Claus lives here?… I think not –

(image credit: Vladimir Maltsev)
Those on the bottom floors fare the worst during the brutal winter:

(images credit: Evgeny Bugaev)
Mysterious ruins:

(images via 1, 2)

This permafrost makes any building’s foundation unstable, which presents huge problems for long-term construction. In time, some areas begin to look like an earthquake disaster zone:

(image via)
Note the broken pipe leaking poisonous gases (right image):

“Welcome to Norilsk” is written in bizarre block letters, indicating the harsh realities ahead. A visitor is also greeted by strange do-it-yourself SUVs:

When winter comes, people are shuttled to work in buses… but it gets even more surreal inside:

(images by V. Makushkin, via)
Missing the bus could be a life-threatening situation:

Help does not come quickly:

This statue of Lenin points to a bright future, and a gaudy billboard proclaims a “Peace to All Children on Earth”, but… happiness is a rare commodity in this terrifying place. See more pictures of Norilsk on GoogleMaps here.

(images via 1, 2)
When the power lines fail, this town seems to become a perfect setting for a “30 Days of Night” movie sequel:

Leaving Norilsk, we finally encounter a pleasing sight: the picture of a beautiful girl on a billboard. Which only reminds us of another billboard – a travel destination from The Truman Show – another surreal town “of no escape”…

Kadykchan: The City of Broken Dreams (and a glorious Soviet past?)
Only 300 citizens remain in this city, once a powerful resource center and a thriving coal mining community. Here is how it looked during the Soviet times:

And here is how it looks today (most buildings were abandoned in 1983, but there are still people who live in this ghastly environment):

Approaching the city, the atmosphere of abandonment and decay is palpable:

(original unknown)

The Secret Ingredient That Condemns Cocaine Abusers to a Disgusting Demise

November 9, 2010

The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine

What’s a drug used to deworm livestock—a drug that can obliterate your immune system—doing in your cocaine? Nobody knows.

By Brendan Kiley

A granulocytosis can kill you, but its symptoms are frustratingly broad. Some people’s throats close up. Some people get diarrhea. Some people get skin infections, sores in their mouth or anus, or just a fever. Some people have it, don’t know it, and get better without seeing a doctor. Some people don’t see a doctor until it’s too late.

Basically, agranulocytosis is a catastrophic crash in a person’s immune system, which can turn a zit, a scratch, or even the bacteria that normally live in and around your body into a life-threatening infection. In one vividly described case from the 1920s, an otherwise healthy 40-year-old woman came down with a mysterious fever. Over the next nine days, under the care of baffled physicians, she sprouted “brownish papular eruptions” all over her face and body, necrotic abscesses on her neck and buttocks, and “a greyish-green dirty membrane” covering her mouth and throat with “scattered small greyish ulcers.” In one cubic millimeter of blood, her doctors found 4,000,000 red blood cells but only 1,000 white blood cells. Then, after a blood transfusion, she died.
The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine

Agranulocytosis is rare and typically caused by medications: Antibiotics, gold salts (to treat arthritis), and some anti­psychotic drugs can trigger the crash. But lately, doctors have been seeing more and more cocaine users with mysterious cases of agranulocytosis linked to a mysterious cutting agent called levamisole. Levamisole was discovered in 1966 and studied for its ability to rev up the effects of chemotherapy drugs and people’s immune systems. It also turned out to work wonders with intestinal worms. Levamisole is an immunomodulator, meaning it can either strengthen or weaken your immune system, depending on your genes and what other drugs you might be taking. But too many patients came down with agranulocytosis, the studies were discontinued, and the FDA withdrew its approval of the drug.

One of the last studies on levamisole use in humans was in 2001, when Iranian researchers gave the drug to a group of girls who lived in crowded, unhygienic conditions with uncontrollable lice infestations. According to the International Journal of Dermatology, a 10-day course of levamisole tablets was “completely effective”: The girls took the drugs, and the drugs poisoned the lice. (The study didn’t mention whether the drugs poisoned the girls.)

These days, levamisole is mostly used by farmers to deworm cows and pigs—and, for some reason, it’s also used by people in the cocaine trade. The DEA first reported seeing significant amounts of levamisole-tainted cocaine in 2005, with 331 samples testing positive. Then the numbers spiked: The DEA found 6,061 tainted samples in 2008 and 7,427 in 2009. One DEA brief from 2010 reports that between October 2007 and October 2009, the percentage of seized cocaine bricks containing levamisole jumped from 2 percent to 71 percent.

Which is not only sudden, but odd. Levamisole is not like other common cutting agents—sugar, baking powder, laxatives, etc.—in three important ways:

1. It’s more expensive than other cuts.

2. It makes some customers sick.

3. It’s being cut into the cocaine before it hits the United States.

This last mystery is the most puzzling. Typically, smugglers like to move the purest possible product—less volume means less chance of detection—and cut their drugs once they cross into the United States.

So what’s the incentive to use a relatively expensive cut of something that makes your customers sick and increases your smuggling risk? Even stranger: The cocaine trade, in both smuggling and production, has fragmented in recent years (more on that in a minute). If there’s no central production, how did hundreds and hundreds of independent shops come to use the same unusual cutting agent?

Nobody seems to know, including experts I spoke with on both coasts of the United States: doctors, scholars, chemists, think-tank fellows, research scientists, federal and state public-health analysts, law enforcement agencies from the Seattle Police Department to the DEA, and even people who work in and around the drug trade. Everyone has theories, but nobody has answers.

It’s a mystery.

What We Do Know

Some people are getting sick from levamisole and a few have died, but it’s impossible to pin down exact numbers. In April 2008, a lab in New Mexico reported an unexplained cluster of 11 agranulocytosis cases in cocaine users. In November 2009, public health officials in Seattle announced another 10 cases. The CDC began a surveillance program in eight states.

During levamisole’s early clinical trials for cancer and autoimmune disorders, around 10 percent of the patients developed agranulocytosis. If the nation’s cocaine supply is so thoroughly tainted, why aren’t 10 percent of cocaine users going to hospitals with unexplained infections?

“Maybe 10 percent are experiencing pressure on their neutrophils,” says Dr. Phillip Coffin of the University of Washington, who has studied drug use in New York City and Seattle. (Neutrophils are the type of white blood cell wiped out by agranulocytosis.) “But only a proportion of them are getting sick enough and using enough that they come to our attention. And an even smaller proportion of those people are coming to the attention of physicians who are aware of the cocaine-levamisole problem. There are many steps in the pathway that have left such a small number of cases being reported.”

The problem might be—and probably is—larger than we know. And, because of budget crunches, last month the CDC abandoned its surveillance program in Washington State. This is worrisome not only for people who’ve already gotten sick and are likely to get sick again (doctors at Harborview have reported seeing the same patients multiple times for agranulocytosis), but because levamisole has a cumulative effect: The more you’re exposed to it, the more likely you are to get sick, and even if you’ve had levamisole-tainted cocaine and not gotten sick doesn’t mean you won’t get sick from levamisole-tainted cocaine in the future. With the DEA reporting such a radical increase in the percentage of tainted cocaine (which more than doubled between 2008 and 2009), the number of people at risk is also increasing radically.

The Cocaine Trade

So who’s lacing the world’s cocaine with levamisole and why? “I honestly can’t tell you,” says Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. An internationally recognized scholar, Tree has spent his career studying the drug trade—if anyone (outside of a drug cartel) should know where and why levamisole is being cut into the world’s cocaine supply, it’s him.

The ubiquity of tainted cocaine could, he says, be an unintended consequence of the drug war. Centralized drug-producing operations, like the old Medellín and Cali cartels, depended more on consistency of product and long-term business relationships. But after those cartels were infiltrated and disrupted, hundreds of small shops—many of them family-operated—jumped into the void. “We can’t even count those operations, much less infiltrate and break them up,” Tree says.

Recent developments in Colombia’s guerilla wars have also destabilized business as usual. Right-wing paramilitary death squads—which are on U.S. lists of international terrorist organizations—have been fighting against Colombia’s Marxist-Leninist guerillas for years on the government’s behalf. Both the guerillas and the paramilitaries have been involved in the country’s black market, but, Tree says, “guerillas deal more with peso economy”—the trade within Colombia—”and the paramilitary death squads made a play for the coastal regions. They were cutting the guerillas off from weapons and from smuggling zones. Those dynamics have been shifting over the past few years. The death squads were officially disbanded by government but have reemerged: same people, different names.” (In 2007, the produce distributor Chiquita pled guilty to paying almost $2 million to these paramilitary death squads. U.S. congressman William Delahunt said Chiquita was only “the tip of the iceberg” of U.S. businesses getting tied up in paramilitary groups, which means those businesses are implicitly tied up with the cocaine trade.)

“As a result, there’s much less accountability within Colombia now,” Tree says. “The drug market is much more fragmented. Who are you going to complain to? Plus, you’ve got the meat grinder in Mexico”—where gangs ship South American product into North America. “Will any of these people even see each other again? Who knows? It’s shorter-term careers these days.”

Meanwhile, Peruvian shops are also stepping up production to compete with the small Colombian producers—the dynamics across the South American cocaine market are shifting rapidly and violently.

Even the old Mexican shipping networks are breaking up as turf wars make the smuggling routes less reliable and more expensive. Some gangs are making an end run around Mexico by sea—the U.S. government has begun intercepting homemade submarines, loaded with cocaine, that sail by night just beneath the surface of the water. One of the first narco-­subs was found in 2000 in Bogotá. “It had Russian blueprints and the engineers fled just before the police arrived,” Tree says. “In Bogotá—8,000 feet in the Andes and nowhere near any ocean. How corrupt can you get?”

The U.S. has only intercepted around two dozen narco-subs so far. “They’ve got no wake, no conning towers—just a snorkel sticking up for air. By day they stay idle and throw a blue tarp over themselves so they blend in with the ocean,” Tree says. “As one intelligence officer put it to me, rather frankly: ‘You try finding a log floating in the Pacific Ocean.'”

With such a fragmented drug market, accountability and quality control decline. As Tree says, who are you going to complain to?

Which leaves the question of why producers and/or smugglers are cutting their cocaine with levamisole. Why that, instead of a cheaper and more benign cut?

“That,” Tree says, “I don’t know. This is the most interdisciplinary field in the world. The people who focus on violence and the cartels don’t understand the pharmacology, and the people who understand the pharmacology don’t understand the economics and shifting forces of the cartels. Nobody has a bird’s-eye view of the whole thing.”

Working Theories

In 2004, a controversy erupted in the horse-racing world. A string of trainers with long and distinguished reputations were accused of doping their horses after aminorex, an amphetamine-like stimulant, was detected in their animals’ urine. The penalty for doping horses with aminorex is a one- to five-year suspension and a career-ending stigma. Accusations flew, the trainers protested their innocence, and scientists stepped in to investigate.

It turned out the whole thing was an accident: The horses had been injected with levamisole for deworming, which their bodies metabolized into speed. Studies in the 1970s had discovered that dogs experienced “mood elevation” after receiving doses of levamisole. And a 1998 study at Vanderbilt University showed that levamisole eased withdrawal symptoms in rats addicted to morphine.

That study caught the attention of Dr. Mike Clark, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harborview Medical Center, who also studies cocaine addiction in lab rats. “According to the study, levamisole acts on all three monoamine neurotransmitters,” he says. “That’s exactly what you’d expect from something that potentiates cocaine.” In other words, levamisole may heighten cocaine’s effects—or might be a stimulant all by itself. In the next few weeks, Dr. Clark will begin an experiment of his own to find out (among other things) whether levamisole, without any cocaine, can produce cocainelike effects in lab rats.

If he can demonstrate that levamisole makes cocaine more potent, we’ll be a step closer to understanding what it’s doing in the supply chain. Other people have other theories, including:

• Something about the chemical structure of levamisole retains the iridescent fish-scale sheen of pure cocaine, according to a chemist with ties to the cocaine trade, giving cocaine cut with levamisole the same appearance as pure cocaine.

• Levamisole is a bulking agent for crack. The process of making crack involves “washing” cocaine and filtering out impurities and cutting agents. Levamisole slips through this process, meaning you can produce more volume of crack with less pure cocaine.

• Levamisole passes the “bleach test,” a simple street test used to detect impurities in cocaine. When dropped in Clorox, pure cocaine dissolves clearly. Procaine (a common cutting agent) turns reddish brown, lidocaine turns yellowish, and other impurities float to the bottom. In a lab test conducted by ­Dr. Clark, levamisole stayed clean and clear.

If levamisole can do all of these things—pass the visual test, pass the bleach test, pass the crack-purifying process, and provide a stimulant effect either on its own or in conjunction with cocaine—it explains not only why producers use it, but why so many small South American producers have independently decided to start cutting their “pure” product. “Think of it as evolution in action,” Dr. Clark says. Like a mutated gene that is beneficial to a species and is passed on through the pressures of natural selection, levamisole has a variety of benefits that become, in essence, selective pressures.

Instead of the traditional smuggling model, where centralized producers ship pure product and cut it once it crosses the U.S. border, levamisole (theoretically) behaves enough like cocaine that producers can pass off cut kilos as 100 percent pure—even to the smugglers who may believe they’re shipping pure product to sell to American wholesalers. This theory is supported by a couple of findings, including reports of seizures in the DEA’s Microgram Bulletin. One flight from Guyana into New York’s JFK airport contained 192 churros stuffed with levamisole-tainted cocaine. And DEA agents in Bogotá came across a magazine page coated in a “protective” plastic laminate that was 21.5 percent cocaine, cut with levamisole. The research and development labs that developed this relatively sophisticated smuggling technique were at the source of production. And the source of production was cutting its “pure” product with levamisole.

A source with close ties to the DEA confirmed this, saying a recent, still-classified report has revealed that Colombian cocaine producers are putting a great deal of effort into making sure they maintain access to levamisole. “More than that,” the source says, “I cannot tell you right now.”

The Test-Your-Own Kit

Because the official research on levamisole’s effects on human beings was stopped years ago—and, apart from Dr. Clark’s pending experiments with rats, there’s been no official research on its effects when combined with cocaine—there’s still a lot we don’t know. It’s possible that agranulocytosis is only one of its health hazards.

According to a 2009 article in the Journal of Analytic Toxicology, levamisole-laced cocaine might also increase the risk of cardiac problems: “Cocaine increases sympathetic activity by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine at the postganglionic synapse. Additive, if not synergistic effects could be expected when the drugs are combined. Concerns of increased toxicity with exaggerated pressure response or development of arrhythmia could then arise when cocaine is combined with levamisole.”

Heart attack and cardiac arrest are two of the common causes of death associated with cocaine overdoses—levamisole might exacerbate those risks. It’s hard to say: Cocaine, according to the latest Seattle/King County drug trends report, released this June, is the most common illegal drug detected in deaths, but its manner of killing is less clear-cut than opiates. “Opiate overdose is pretty simple and straightforward,” explains ­Dr. Coffin. “It’s breathing. Keep them breathing and they live. Cocaine is more difficult: Is it a massive heart attack? Is it a stroke? It’s not very well defined.”

Currently, people who suffer cardiac problems associated with cocaine are not tested for the presence of levamisole, so we really have no idea what kind of damage this new cutting agent is inflicting on the nation’s cocaine users, nor the strain on already strapped public funds—every time someone without health insurance lands in the emergency room, it costs taxpayers thousands of dollars.

The fuzziness surrounding cocaine’s destructive qualities makes harm-reduction strategies more difficult for cocaine than for opiates. Nobody doubts that cocaine is destructive. “It’s toxic to heart-muscle cells,” Dr. Coffin says. “Even in its purest form, it’s among the worst recreational drugs for the cardiovascular system.” But its spectrum of harmful qualities, some of which are exacerbated by levamisole, makes it tricky to pinpoint good maintenance programs for chronic addicts. Opiate addicts, Dr. Coffin says, can live on methadone or other controlled dosing mechanisms their entire lives with no medical harm besides constipation and loss of libido. But cocaine- and amphetamine-maintenance programs haven’t shown any conclusive results, despite attempts in Colombia to prescribe coca tablets and tea to addicts.

One thing that can be done: develop an inexpensive field-test kit to try to detect levamisole. Dr. Clark has invented such a kit and—in association with The Stranger, a few folks in the local harm-reduction community, and the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance (PHRA), which runs the U-District needle exchange—hopes to begin distributing kits in a few weeks. Unfortunately, kits are technically drug paraphernalia under Washington State law, not only because the kits will contain cocaine residue, but because it is illegal for any person to possess something used to “process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance.” It’s a perfect example of how drug prohibition laws make drugs more dangerous—an unregulated market for cocaine, with no quality control, has encouraged the use of levamisole as a cutting agent. And U.S. drug laws make it illegal for users to test their cocaine for poison—if users could, they might stop buying from dealers who sell tainted cocaine, putting economic pressure on the market to be less dangerous. It’s a classically self-defeating chain of policies, but some antidrug warriors defend it on the grounds that since drugs are illegal, users get what they deserve. And if cocaine is perceived as more dangerous, perhaps fewer people will use it.

This, of course, is a cruel, stupid, and expensive way to deal with the problem. As Dr. Clark put it: “The idea of letting addicts die to make drugs scarier is reprehensible.”

It’s not quite the same in the heroin world: Because of the public outcry about the health risks of sharing needles, hypodermic syringes have a special exemption. Crack users need similar exemptions.

“If you read the paraphernalia laws, cocaine is both the forgotten drug and in some ways the most hated drug,” says Shiloh Murphy, director of PHRA, an independent nonprofit that isn’t affiliated with public-health-funded needle exchanges. He gestures behind him to a tower of cardboard boxes full of hypodermic needles. “A young person just starting to inject knows he shouldn’t share his syringes,” he says. “But a 20-year crack veteran doesn’t realize that every time he smokes and burns his lips and passes on his stem, he could be transferring the same diseases—it’s open sores to open sores.”

To combat this problem, Murphy has begun a controversial program to distribute crack stems, rubber crack “condoms,” and fresh steel wool to users. (Steel wool, which is used as a filter in crack pipes, weakens and flakes off after repeated use, sending red-hot chunks of metal into users’ throats and lungs, which leads to infections and abscesses.) Murphy got the idea for his crack program one afternoon two years ago, when he was approached by an angry crack user.

“I was sitting at the table, handing out flyers and things,” Murphy says, “and a man said to me: ‘You’re a real motherfucker, you know that? You’re sitting here with all these syringes and talking about health. I use crack and my friends are dying of HIV and hepatitis C and there’s nothing on this table for us. I guess crack users are always just left to die.’ I said, ‘You’re right. I’m sorry. Tell me what you need.’ It was an enlightening moment for me.”

“All we have to do,” he says, “is save one person from getting HIV, and we’ve become economically worth it.” PHRA’s annual budget is around $385,000. Its budget for the crack program is currently $6,000. The lifetime cost for the state to take care of an uninsured person with HIV, he says, is half a million dollars. “We’ve saved the state thousands and thousands of dollars.”

Now Murphy will be at the forefront of our combined attempt to distribute Dr. Clark’s levamisole kits to cocaine users. The kits will contain instructions for use, a fact sheet about levamisole and agranulocytosis, and a survey on a prestamped postcard about where and when the cocaine was purchased, whether it’s powder or rock cocaine, whether it tested positive for levamisole, and a few other research questions. Hopefully, that data will help us—me, Dr. Clark, PHRA, and a local harm-reduction organization called DanceSafe—develop a better understanding of how levamisole-tainted cocaine is distributed through the city and whether some neighborhoods face greater health risks than others. (Is the cocaine you can buy on the street in Georgetown, for example, more or less tainted than the cocaine at some millionaire’s house party in Bellevue?)

As for its illegality: After a meeting with ACLU lawyer Alison Holcomb, Stranger publisher Tim Keck, and me, Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes and King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided to allow us to distribute levamisole test kits—and collect data about whether people are finding levamisole—without prosecution. They notified new Seattle police chief John Diaz, who supports the program.

The levamisole test kits will be available in a few weeks—watch for updates in The Stranger and on Slog. This piece is the first in an investigative series.

This story has been updated since its original publication.


Start Pedalling

November 8, 2010

Eight reasons why cycling is good for youBy Priyanka Bhattacharya

Eight reasons why cycling is good for you

Cycling exercises the heart better than walking and offers health benefits faster than most popular form of workouts. So start pedalling.

The British Medical Association estimates that cycling offers tremendous health benefits that outweigh the risks by 20 to 1. It is one of the most fun and enjoyable ways to lose calories fast. Cycling also means that you are not stuck at one place while exercising but can run important errands as your body gets its dose of aerobic workout.

To promote the idea that cycling is fun, and an experience the RideACycle Foundation started its premier cycling tour event called Tour of Nilgiris. This annual event, which will be held this year from 16th to 24th December, trails across the beautiful Nilgiri mountains in South India. The Tour of Nilgiris conceived by two passionate cycling enthusiasts Ravi Ranjan Kumar, an engineer and Rajesh Nair, a photographer welcomes cyclists in the age group of 18 to 60.

According to the duo, the thought behind TFN is to promote cycling amongst the masses and encourages individuals to take it up as an alternate mode of transport. Here they share some health benefits of cycling on a daily basis.

Eight reasons why cycling is good for you

Reason # 1: Physical activity serves as a regulator to relieve the stress that is common in current lifestyles. It produces the balance between exertion and relaxation which is so important for the body’s inner equilibrium. Cycling is especially ideal for this process, countering stress in two ways: by satisfying the need for activity where people lack movement or exercise; and by balancing out increased strain, particularly mental and emotional.

Reason # 2: A few miles of cycling per day assure trimmer and toned muscles. This is because your upper thigh muscles, backside and calf muscles all get exercised by the pedalling motion.

Reason # 3: Pursuing cycling helps a great deal in building your stamina. It enables you to carry out your day-to-day activities more effectively.

Eight reasons why cycling is good for you

Reason # 4: This might come to you as a surprise, but cycling ensures a control in the level of blood pressure.

Reason # 5: Cycling enhances the overall fitness level of a person. It makes you breathe deeper and perspire more, thereby leading to a feeling of enhanced body temperature.

Reason # 6: Cycling minimises the risk of coronary heart disease. Essentially an aerobic exercise, it gives your heart, blood vessels and lungs a workout, thereby reducing the risk of heart problems.

Eight reasons why cycling is good for you

Reason # 7: A week of inactivity reduces the strength of the muscular system by up to 50% and can harm them long-term. This is particularly true for older people as ageing causes muscles to shrink. So start with slow cycling to build up stamina.

Reason # 8: During cycling, most of the body’s muscles are activated. The leg muscles are responsible for the pedalling movement; the abdomen and back muscles stabilise the body on the cycle and cushion external influences; and the shoulder-arm muscular system supports the body at the handlebars. All this trains and tightens up the muscular system, making it stronger and able to function efficiently.

So why wait, pick up your bicycle and pedal your way to a great healthful future.

Image credits: PeeVee

25 Supercar Wrecks

November 8, 2010

Porche Carrera GT

Porsche Carrera GT Wreck

The Ferrari 458 is So Hot Right Now

Ferrari 458 Wreck

“Now that’s a fire”

Ferrari 458 Huge Fire Wreck

“He Was Like, Literally Driving Up My Ass”

Porsche Rearend wreck

When Modifying Goes Wrong

Ferrari Novitec Fire wreck

Fired From Car Pool

Aston Martin Rapide school wreck

Guess That Car

Mercedes SLR Wreck

It’s a Mercedes McLaren SLR.

Here’s A Twofer

Bugatti Veyron Lake wreck

Really Bad Day at the Office

Audi RS8 Ring wreck

Careful, God Likes DB9s Too

Aston Martin DB9 Wreck

Oscar Worthy Material

Eddie Griffin Ferrari Wreck

Don’t Squander Precious Resources

Pagani C12S wreck

Pagani Zonda C12Ses

Pagani C12 S

Dude, Where’s My Car?

Ferrari 250GT Spyder wreck

Convertibles: Helping Make “Flipping Your Viper” 50% More Terrifying

Viper Gumball 3000 wreck

Combination of Water and Throttle Overdose Proves Deadly to Veyrons

Bugatti Veyron Wreck

Maybe You’ll Get a Refund?

McLaren F1 Wreck

Brake Competition

Ferrari 599 Audi R8 wreck

Line Drive, Down the Middle

Ferrari 360 pole wreck

Pitbull With Wheels

CSX8000 Cobra wreck

Does FedEx Insure Ferraris?

F430 Delivery Wreck

This car was being loaded for delivery, and something went seriously wrong.

F430 Delivery Wreck 2

“Relax, I’m Only Going 30mph.”

Ford GT Wreck

No Surprise

Lamborghini Miura Wreck

Note To Self: Buy Roll Cage

Porsche GT3 RS Wreck

Four 5 Hour Energy Shots

Porsche Carrera GT Wreck

For Your Intellectual Stimulation

November 7, 2010

intellectual stimulationThe Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

(This has nothing to do with the Washington Post)

Here are the winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until
you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops
bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows
little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
getting laid.

7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the
person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running

10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon : It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these
really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s
like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido : All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when
they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after
you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into
your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in
the fruit you’re eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its
yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate
meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has

3.. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4 esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only
a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been
run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies
up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by
Jewish men.

The Five Styles of Flirting

November 4, 2010

An assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, Jeffrey Hall, has identified five styles of flirting.

The five styles of flirting

Hall, who recently completed study into styles of flirting among dating adults, surveyed more than 5,100 people regarding their methods of communicating romantic interest.

Five styles of flirting identified are: physical, traditional, polite, sincere and playful.

The five styles of flirting


Physical flirting involves the expression of sexual interest in a potential partner. People who scored high in this form of flirting often develop relationships quickly, have more sexual chemistry and have a greater emotional connection to their partners.

The five styles of flirting


Traditional flirts think men should make the first move and women should not pursue men. Because they adopt a more passive role in dating, women with this style are likely to report trouble getting men’s attention and are less likely to flirt or be flattered by flirting. Traditional men often know a potential partner for a longer time before approaching them. Both genders tend to be introverted and prefer a more intimate dating scene.

The five styles of flirting


The polite style of flirting focuses on proper manners and nonsexual communication. Although they are less likely to approach a potential partner and do not find flirting flattering, they do tend to have meaningful relationships.

The five styles of flirting


Sincere flirting is based on creating emotional connections and communicating sincere interest. Although women tend to score higher in this style, it is advocated by both genders. Relationships involve strong emotional connections and sexual chemistry and are typically meaningful.

The five styles of flirting

People with playful flirting styles often flirt with little interest in a long-term romance. However, they find flirting fun and enhancing to their self-esteem. They are less likely to have important and meaningful relationships.

Hall said that for the most part, there was little difference between genders within each flirting style.

Source: ANI

Roll Out The Green Carpet For Northeast India

October 28, 2010 is an eco-friendly travel website that introduces you to stunning landscapes that remain forgotten and tucked away in India’s East and Northeast
Kerala is God’s own country, Rajasthan is the land of forts, palaces and kings, Goa has its beaches and Madhya Pradesh, its forests.

So, when it comes to planning a holiday most head to these travel magazine-feted destinations. But how many of us look towards the East or Northeast to plan a vacation?

For the intrepid traveller, India’s East and the North East offer treasures waiting to be explored. To make things easier and accessible is the information packed portal,

Specialising in eco-tourism, the portal offers surfers and potential travellers a bird’s eye view of some of the most exciting terrains in the country.

Set up by four ecologically aware people, was launched as Green Camp in 2007 as an organisation focused on creating eco-tour packages in East and North East India.

The website was initiated in 2009.It has three  sections: Explore, Discover and Resource.
The Explore section is split into East India, North East India and Outside India.

This section offers a range of fascinating stories about the landscape and culture. For instance, there is a story about the forgotten Ledo Road, which is a historic highway that starts from India, runs though Burma (Myanmar) and ends in China; there’s another piece about the Bauls of Bengal and Eight of the Wildest lakes in North East India.

All the stories are enhanced with exquisite photographs. The Discover section offers information on eco-friendly tour packages and these are as diverse as cultural tours that highlight Melas like the Pous Mela in Santiniketan or adventure tours that focus on treks or offer information on helicopter rides over the Himalayas.

The stories are offbeat and there are relevant yet quirky facts. The website is lacks of clutter. However, it would help if the portal categorised the information in a more organised manner, making it easier for surfers to find what they were looking for. 

Log on to :

Upcoming Bike Launches of 2011 in India

October 28, 2010

Motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, superbikes — here’s a detailed guide to all the new two-wheeler launches in the coming months.

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

First up, the Yamaha FZ…

Expected: Nov 2010
Estimated price: Rs 9 lakh

The next entry in the superbike segment, the Yamaha FZ comes with a 998cc, 4-stroke, forward-inclined parallel 4-cylinder, DOHC heart. With a maximum power of 148bhp @ 11000 rpm and maximum torque of 106 Nm @ 8000rpm this is one Yamaha that many have been waiting for.

BMW K1300S

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Nov 2010
Estimated price: Rs 10.2 lakh

German bike maker, BMW Motorrad is set to introduce its flagship bike, the BMW K1300S, very soon. The K1300S is the most advanced bike from BMW stable. In the international market, the bike comes loaded with a 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, in-line four-cylinder, four valves per cylinder and two-overhead camshafts. The displacement of the bike is 1293cc. The power train of the BMW K1300S produces awesome 175 hp of top power at 9,250 rpm and churns out 140 Nm of torque at 8,250 rpm. The bike can deliver a top speed of over 200 km/h with the help of a 6-speed manual transmission. Not to mention the sophisticated front 320mm and rear 265mm disc brakes complete with anti-lock braking system.

Honda Interceptor VFR800

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Nov 2010
Estimated price: Rs 8 lakh

Honda intends to launch a couple of sports and sports tourer new bikes in India. The planned bikes are Honda VFR1200R, Honda Interceptor VFR800 and Honda CBX Twister 250cc.

The Interceptor comes loaded with a liquid-cooled 90-degree V4, 4-stroke, DOHC, VTEC power plant with a higher displacement of 781cc. This advanced power train belts out a maximum power of 107bhp at 10,500 rpm and pumps out a top torque of 80 Nm at 8750 rpm. The Honda Interceptor VFR 800 incorporates 6-speed manual transmission for better use of engine power that also ensures amazing acceleration.

Hyosung ST7

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Nov 2010
Estimated price: Rs 10 lakh

The new Hyosung ST7 is expected to be equipped with a 678cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, 90 V Twin, 4 valves per cylinder and DOHC valve configuration. Expected to develop a peak power of 60bhp and 63 Nm of top torque at 7500 rpm, the bike comes loaded with a 5-speed manual transmission. The Hyosung ST7 is expected to be packed with array of advanced features that will boost performance. The dynamic and sound braking system of the new Hyosung ST7 is also very classy with a 300mm disc brake at the front and 270 mm disc brake at the rear.

Honda CBR 1000RR

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Nov 2010
Estimated price: Rs 12.5 lakh

The all new Honda CBR is loaded with very powerful and dynamic 999cc engine with a 6-speed manual transmission. The new and stylish Honda CBR is incorporated with dynamic disc brakes and advanced suspension system which absorbs maximum shock. The fuel tank capacity of the new Honda CBR is 17.7 litres with 3 litres of reserve.

Yamaha BWS

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Nov 2010
Estimated price: Rs 60,000

Yamaha BWS 125 features a 4-stroke, single cylinder, 4-valve, fuel injection SOHC power train – the same configuration which is used in Yamaha bikes the world over. The engine of the Yamaha BWS 125 pumps out a top power figure of 6.7kw at 7,500 rpm and churns out a peak torque of 9.6 Nm at 6,000 rpm. The scooter uses V-belt automatic transmission. The Yamaha BWs 125 comes loaded with front disc brake and rear drum type brake; it has front telescopic shocker and rear unit link fork. The most fascinating feature is its massive 12-inch wheels. In addition, Yamaha BWs 125 sports a 6-litre fuel tank.

Kawasaki Ninja

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Dec 2010
Estimated price: Rs 6 lakh

The power mill of the baby Ninja 250 R belts out 33Ps of power at 11,000 rpm and 22Nm of power at 8,200 rpm. Acceleration and pick-up is unmatched with excellent control. It inherits and proudly sports the cutting-edge power, technology and styling of the Ninja Super Sports models. With rider focused ergonomics, styling and a host of features such as fuel injection, liquid cooling and petal disc brakes, it is a bike that never cease to amaze.

Yamaha YZF R6

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Dec 2010
Estimated price: Rs 6 lakh

Yamaha has a number of pure sports bikes in its portfolio and some bigger displacement bikes have been launched in India including Yamaha R1, Yamaha R15 and Yamaha VMAX. The company intends to launch its most popular sports bike in India: the YZF R6. This sports bike has crossed a good number of milestones on the racing track. In fact, this is the dream sports bike for many professional bikers.

Yamaha Fazer 250cc

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Jan 2011
Estimated price: Rs 1.25 lakh

After the huge success in 150cc segment with Yamaha FZ16, FZS, Fazer and Yamaha YZF R15, reports now emerge that Yamaha Motor India will launch the Fazer in the 250cc segment. The all new Yamaha Fazer 250cc is expected to come with a 249cc, 4-stroke, air-cooled, SOHC (Single Overhead Camshaft) petrol engine with five speed manual transmission producing 20PS of maximum power and 20Nm of maximum torque.

Demak DMX R

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Feb 2011
Estimated price: Rs 60,000

Demak is soon going to start its operation in India and the company is also planning to launch two bikes – Demak DMX R and Demak Cougar. The powerful Demak DMX R is a racer bike with the appearance to match. The DMX R is expected to be loaded with a 150cc engine expected to generate a power of 14bhp.

Demak Cougar

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Feb 2011
Estimated price: Rs 1 lakh

The Demak Cougar is expected to be equipped with an engine capacity of 250cc. The 4-stroke engine is expected to generate a maximum power of 19bhp.

Hyosung GT 650R

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Mar 2011
Estimated price: Rs 4 lakh

The upcoming Hyosung GT 650R is expected to be a powerful bike which will be equipped with an engine capacity of 650cc. The powerful and dynamic engine of the Hyosung GT 650R is expected to produce a power of 80PS at 10,000rpm and churn out a maximum torque of 67Nm at 7250rpm. The engine of the GT 650R is expected to be loaded with V-twin 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC valve configuration.

KTM Duke

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Mar 2011
Estimated price: Rs 1 lakh

Bajaj Auto and Austrian bike maker KTM are coming together in India with the plan to launch a premium segment bike. Bajaj KTM is expected to produce power bikes with 125cc to 250 cc engines, starting with the KTM Duke 125. The stylish and aggressive bike is specially designed to cater to the racer crowd. The KTM Duke 125 is expected to be powered by a 2-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC valve configuration with a displacement of 124 cc which will deliver 11KW of power.

Suzuki GSXR 1000

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Mar 2011
Estimated price: Rs 5 lakh

Suzuki GSXR 1000 is a very powerful bike which is packed with a 999cc engine. The powerful and dynamic engine produces an awesome top power of 160bhp at 9,500 rpm and churns out a maximum torque of 110Nm at 8,000 rpm. The iconic super sport bike is loaded with MotoGP type brakes and suspension system.

Yamaha YZF R125

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Mar 2011
Estimated price: Rs 90,000

The Yamaha R125 which is available in the overseas market has been loaded with a 124.66cc displacement, liquid cooled, SOHC, single cylinder power plant. This compact but sporty engine is capable of delivering 15 PS (14.5bhp) of maximum power at 9,000 rpm and 12.2 Nm of peak torque at 8,000 rpm. The fuel injected machine incorporates six-speed gearbox. In view to achieve greater performance and rigidity, it is equipped with a Deltabox chassis, aluminium swing arm and five-spoke lightweight alloy wheels. The Yamaha YZF R125 possesses somewhat the same body style and stance as higher R-series bikes like Yamaha YZF R6 and iconic Yamaha YZF R1. The front face and rear view of the bike are also borrowed from the R-series bikes. One can see the copied items such as dual headlights, compact tail side view and the low front face.

Suzuki Gladius

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Mar 2011
Estimated price: Rs 7-8 lakh

With the increase in the number of super bikes on Indian roads in the “High Class” segment, buyers have the option of many varieties to choose from. And Suzuki plans to cash in on just that. The Gladius is powered by a 645cc, 2-cylinder, solid V-twin engine. The bike has a great sporty look and its powerful engine expected to generate great power and torque figures.

Honda CBR600RR

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Jun 2011
Estimated price: Rs 6 lakh

Honda CBR600RR is one of the most successful racing machines in middleweight section across world. Comfort and performance are well taken care of in the Honda CBR600RR. The bike has won numerous race titles in world racing tracks including World Super Sport and AMA Super Sport. The CBR600RR comes with a liquid-cooled, inline, four-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC engine with a displacement of 599cc. The power-packed mill of the Honda CBR600RR pumps out a wonderful 118bhp at 13,500rpm and belts out a stunning torque of 66Nm at 11,250 rpm. The ignition system is computer-controlled digital transistorized with three-dimensional mapping.

Piaggio Vespa LX

Upcoming bike launches of 2010-11

Expected: Jan 2012
Estimated price: Rs 55,000

By the end of 2012, the Piaggio will launch Piaggio Vespa LX125 in India. The Vespa LX125 is expected to be manufactured in a brand new Piaggio production plant which will produce 150,000 two-wheelers every year. The Vespa LX125 will surely be one of the most gorgeous looking scooters on the road. The all new Piaggio Vespa LX will be very stylish, compact and affordable.

Piaggio Vespa LX is expected to be launched with only one model for the Indian market i.e. Piaggio Vespa LX. The single cylinder LEADER 4-stroke engine of the Vespa is expected deliver a power of 7.65 KW at 8250 rpm and torque of 9.6 Nm at 7250 rpm. The scooter is expected to offer a mileage of around 45 km/l.

Source: India Syndicate
Photos: Company websites