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Why Small-Town America Is Drowning in Drugs

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In his best-selling - and uncannily prophetic - 2009 book, Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, author Nick Reding compared crystal meth to a "sociocultural cancer." The easy-to-make stimulant can spread with the speed and destructiveness of a disease, but curiously, it can take many years to take hold, like a cell mutation triggered by decades of bad decisions. The subject of Reding's book was a struggling town in Northern Iowa called Oelwein, home to a population of 6,415. A once-wholesome community, Oelwein had fallen on hard times during the past decade, when the collapse of its industries - including many family-run farms - threatened its citizens livelihoods as well as their way of life. In classic post-traumatic stress mode, Oelwein fell victim to the crank epidemic, becoming a midwestern focal point for speed dealers.

Reding spent years reporting and writing Methland, which struck a chord in a nation experiencing a painful recession. He pointed out how economic problems had spurred towns like Oelwein to become unlikely centers of the drug trade. A sizable percentage of the town's citizens ended up becoming addicted to meth or pills. Others were engaged in manufacturing or transporting illegal drugs.

To mark the recent paperback release of his book, Fix columnist Jeff Deeney talked to Reding about the current state of Oelwein and similar towns across America. Deeney works as a drug counselor in inner-city Philadelphia, where he regularly witnesses what life is like for the dealers and addicts who remain invisible to most of us. Like Reding, he has witnessed first-hand the toll that America's declining economy has taken on the underclass, who have increasingly come to view drugs not just as an escape but also as a rare avenue of opportunity. The two writers talked recently.

Attention

US: New 'Doomsday Preppers' Show Highlights Extreme Survivalists

House of Containers
© National Geographic Channel / Sharp Entertainment
Floresville, Texas: Paul Range and Gloria Haswell have constructed a house entirely out of used shipping containers.

It's better to be safe than sorry, which is why FEMA guidelines recommend stockpiling your pantry with three days worth of food in case of a natural disaster. Meanwhile, Paul Range and Gloria Haswell have enough in store to feed 22 people for 15 years - as well as enough guns, bullets and bug-out vehicles to wage a small war. The couple occupies nine steel shipping containers arranged in a castle formation outside Floresville, Texas. A system of windmills and solar panels powers the compound, and human body waste is used to generate methane, which serves as their cooking fuel.

It's all because they are worried Earth's magnetic poles might switch.

Range and Haswell are among those profiled in Doomsday Preppers, a weekly TV documentary premiering on the National Geographic Channel tomorrow (Feb. 7) at 9 p.m., with a bonus episode at 10 p.m. following the premiere. The show takes viewers on a shocking tour of modern-day apocalypse paranoia, from Range, Haswell and their steel fortress to a Californian who has trained himself to survive off garden weeds in preparation for a major earthquake.

While the show may highlight a few of America's most extreme cases, apocalypticism - fear of the end of the world as we know it - is at a historic high point, according to Lorenzo DiTommasso, chairman and associate professor of religion at Concordia University in Montreal. The phenomenon has experienced peaks and valleys throughout history. Right now, "we're in a peak, and have been for the last 40 years," DiTommasso said.

Info

Spanking Linked to More Aggression in Kids

Mother & Child
© MyHealthNewsDaily

Spanking or slapping your child has long-term, harmful effects on their development, according to a new review of 20 years of research.

Over the past two decades, research has increasingly found links between such "everyday" types of physical punishment and higher levels of child aggression, according to the review. In fact, no studies have found this type of child discipline to predict a positive long-term effect.

"I think it's important for parents to understand that although physical punishment might get a child to do something in the immediate situation, there are many side effects that can develop over the long term," said co-author Joan Durrant, a child clinical psychologist at Family Social Sciences at the University of Manitoba in Canada.

"For example, the more often a child sees a parent respond to conflict or frustration with slapping or spanking, the more likely that child will do the same when confronting their own conflicts," Durrant said.

The review is published today (Feb. 6) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Heart - Black

US: North Carolina: Woman Tasered in Front of Daughter After Cutting McDonalds Drive-Thru Line

North Carolina deputies say they used a Taser on a woman in front of her 3-year-old daughter after she cut the McDonalds drive-thru line and refused to move when she was denied service.

Employees at the McDonalds in Hope Mills, N.C., refused to serve Evangeline Lucca and told her to go to the back of the line. Lucca, 37, refused to move, and blocked the drive-thru for 20 minutes before police arrived on the scene, authorities said.

When deputies arrived, Lucca was "defiant," "would not get off McDonalds property," and was "threatening the deputies," according to Debbie Tanna, a public information officer for the Cumberland County Sherriff's Office.

Customer Anthony Rich, who was in the parking lot during the incident, told the Fay Observer that Lucca was Tasered twice.

"Two or three officers entered the car with her and started trying to forcibly drag her out of the car, and that's when you could hear the clicking sound of the Taser one time," Rich told the Fay Observer. "They pulled on her a couple of times, and then they Tased her again, and when they Tased her the second time, she just flopped out of the car like a fish."

Heart - Black

US: Fire Kills Husband of Missing Utah Woman, 2 Boys

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© AP Photo
Graham, Washington - Josh Powell's note was simple and short, a farewell to the world after two years of being scrutinized in the media, hammered by police and questioned by judges, prosecutors and social workers, living his life under a microscope since the day his wife vanished.

"I'm sorry, goodbye," Powell wrote in an email to his attorney just minutes before authorities say he set fire to his home, killing himself and his two young sons days after he was denied custody and ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation.

The Sunday blaze at Powell's home brought yet another twist in the very public scandal that began when Susan Powell vanished in 2009. The case had since spiraled into a salacious saga of finger-pointing and accusations of sex and lies - and now the unthinkable loss of two young lives caught in the crossfire.

A social worker brought the two boys to Josh Powell's home Sunday for what was to be a supervised visit. They rushed toward the home, leaving the social worker behind. By the time she got to the door, Powell had let his sons in but locked her out, Graham Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Franz told The Associated Press.

The social worker called her supervisors to report that she could smell gas. Moments later, the home burst into flames, igniting an inferno that neighbors said rattled their houses.

Vader

Hysteria in Canada: Muslim Man Arrested as Terrorist for Sending Innocent Text Message

cellphone Canada flag
© n/a
Montreal - A casual text message to work colleagues encouraging them to ''blow away'' the competition at a trade show allegedly plunged a Muslim man into a terrorism probe.

Telecommunications sales manager Saad Allami says the innocent message, aimed at pumping up his staff, has had devastating consequences on his life.

The Quebec man says he was arrested by provincial police while picking up his seven-year-old son at school. A team of police officers stormed into his home, telling his wife she was married to a terrorist. And his work colleagues were detained for hours at the U.S. border because of their connection to him.

Those are the allegations Allami makes in a lawsuit filed last month.

The Moroccan native is seeking $100,000 from the Quebec provincial police force, one of its sergeants, and the provincial government. The six-figure sum is being sought for unlawful detention, unlawful arrest, loss of income and damage to his reputation.

Stormtrooper

Egyptian football protests: death toll reaches 11

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© Suhaib Salem/Reuters
A wounded Egyptian protester is carried during clashes with security forces in Cairo.
Ten protesters and one security officer killed in Cairo and Suez in aftermath of deadly football violence

At least 11 people have been killed in clashes with Egyptian security forces amid ongoing fallout from the 74 deaths at a football match in Port Said earlier this week.

Five people were killed when hundreds of demonstrators in Cairo clashed with police near the interior ministry on Saturday morning. The protesters are demanding an end to military rule and retribution for those killed in the riots after Wednesday's match.

Abdolheliem Mahmoud, a doctor at a field hospital in Tahrir Square, said Saturday's victims died birdshot to the head or chest during overnight clashes. Another protester was in critical condition.

Demonstrators claimed that police fired rounds of teargas into the crowds and field hospitals were set up in streets near the interior ministry to help hundreds of cases of suffocation.

Attention

Crime soars in Brazil's Bahia state as police strike

Brazil soldiers
© Reuters
Army soldiers on patrol in Salvador on 5 February 2012 Soldiers are trying to stem the wave of violence in Salvador
The Brazilian government has deployed the army in the northeastern state of Bahia where a police strike has sparked a wave of violence.

Official figures suggest the murder rate has more than doubled in the state capital, Salvador, since police stopped work there on Tuesday.

The number of assaults and thefts has also risen compared to previous weeks.

Bizarro Earth

Is Obama's Peace Prize About To Be Confiscated? Nobel Peace Prize Jury Under Investigation

Obama's Peace Prize
© Odd Andersen
Nobel Peace Prize officials were facing a formal inquiry over accusations they have drifted away from the prize's original selection criteria by choosing such winners as President Barack Obama, as the nomination deadline for the 2012 awards closed Wednesday.

The investigation comes after persistent complaints by a Norwegian peace researcher that the original purpose of the prize was to diminish the role of military power in international relations.

If the Stockholm County Administrative Board, which supervises foundations in Sweden's capital, finds that prize founder Alfred Nobel's will is not being honored, it has the authority to suspend award decisions going back three years - though that would be unlikely and unprecedented, said Mikael Wiman, a legal expert working for the county.

Obama won in 2009, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won in 2010, and last year the award was split between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.

V

Rallies Held in America Against Iran War

anti-Iran war rally
© CBS News
Anti-war activists across the United States and Canada have held rallies to protest at US and Israeli warmongering policies against Iran, Press TV reports.

The demonstrations were staged on Saturday in 60 cities across the US, including Washington DC, New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. In Canada, protests were held in Calgary and Vancouver.

The protests were organized by a coalition of about 60 pacifist and human rights groups.

The demonstrators censured any possible military action against Iran, saying that any such measure could result in dire consequences including escalated war in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

The activists also demanded an end to sanctions against Tehran, referring to the embargoes as a war against the Iranian people.