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CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Three women who vanished as teenagers about a decade ago were discovered alive in a house in Cleveland, and the home’s owner and his two brothers were arrested, police said on Tuesday.
Authorities were alerted to their whereabouts on Monday evening by a frantic emergency call from one of them, Amanda Berry, moments after she was freed from the house by a neighbor who said he heard screaming and came to her aid.
“Help me! I’m Amanda Berry. … I’ve been kidnapped and I’ve been missing for 10 years and I’m here. I’m free now,” Berry, now 27, can be heard telling a 911 operator in a recording of the call released by police.
Police descended upon the house within minutes to find Berry along with Gina DeJesus, who vanished in 2004, and Michelle Knight, who went missing in 2002 at age 20 and is now 32, police said at a news conference on Tuesday.
They also discovered a 6-year-old girl believed to be Berry’s daughter, police said.
Berry had last been seen leaving her job at a fast-food restaurant the day before her 17th birthday in April 2003, and DeJesus, now 23, was last seen walking home from school.
The three women were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where they were reunited with family and friends, and released on Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.
The owner of the house, Ariel Castro, 52, a school bus driver was arrested, as were his brothers Pedro, 54, and another brother, Onil, age 50, police said.
“We believe we have the people responsible,” Cleveland Deputy Police Chief Ed Tomba said at the news conference.
The house is close to where each woman was last seen, and police believe they were in the home for the entire time they were missing.
“The nightmare is over. These three young ladies have provided us with the ultimate definition of survival and perseverance,” said FBI Special Agent Steve Anthony.
“Yes, law enforcement professionals do cry,” he said.
The neighbor told police he helped Berry kick out the bottom of a screen door that was locked.
“The real hero is Amanda,” Tomba said.
FBI and other law enforcement were searching the house, police said. Tomba said police were also interested in investigating other properties.
During her 911 call, Berry gave the name of a man she said had abducted her. She said he had left the house and urged police to come quickly. She indicated that she knew her disappearance had been widely reported in the media.
All three women were from the west-side section of Cleveland where they ultimately resurfaced.
There was no word on the fate of a fourth missing girl, Ashley Summers, who disappeared from the same vicinity in July of 2007 aged 14 and who police investigated as possibly linked to the Berry and DeJesus cases, according to the Charley Project website, which documents more than 9,000 missing-persons cases.
MOTHER KEPT SEARCHING
The disappearance of Knight did not attract the local media attention of the suspected abductions of Berry and DeJesus. Her grandmother, Deborah Knight, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper that some family members had concluded, based in part on suggestions by police and social workers at the time, that she had run away.
But her mother Barbara Knight, who now lives in Florida, told the newspaper she never believed her daughter would have vanished without a trace on her own and that she kept searching long after police gave up looking for her.
A woman who lived on the same street but asked not to be identified said Castro lived alone in the house. She said he drove her two daughters to school and would drop them off in front of her house.
“I’m totally in shock. He seems like a normal guy. He was a gentleman. We all call him Mr. C,” she said.
A man who helped to look for DeJesus, Pastor Angel Arroyo, said he and her family members had handed out flyers in the neighborhood where she was found.
“We didn’t search hard enough. She was right under our nose the whole time,” Arroyo said.
A mood of jubilation pervaded the city as word spread that the women had been found alive, especially in the blue-collar, heavily Latino neighborhood where dozens of residents clustered near the house from which they were rescued.
A Puerto Rican flag hung from the porch of the modest, two-story dwelling, cordoned off with crime-scene tape.
City Councilwoman Dona Brady, a friend of the Berry family, told Reuters that Berry’s grief-stricken mother had not survived to see her daughter rescued. “She literally died of a broken heart,” Brady said, adding that the mother died aged 47.
A cousin of DeJesus, Sheila Figaro, told CNN that the girl’s mother, Nancy, “never gave up faith knowing that her daughter would one day be found.” “What a phenomenal Mother’s Day gift she gets this Mother’s Day,” she said.
The discovery of the three women was reminiscent of the case of Jaycee Dugard, who was snatched from her northern California home at age 11 by a convicted sex offender, Phillip Garrido, and kept in captivity for 18 years before being rescued in 2009.
During that time she was repeatedly raped by her abductor and gave birth to two girls fathered by him.
(Writing by Steve Gorman and Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Grant McCool)
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Grand Rapids residents are already enjoying lessened penalties for marijuana possession in their city, which went into effect May 1.
According to MLive.com, a 28-year-old man was cited for possession just three hours after the city ordinance went into effect. Dude now faces a $ 25 fine, and police likely took his stash from him. Sucks, but at least he’s not in jail.
The city law was officially approved by nearly 60 percent of voters back in November, but was challenged in court by Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth who clearly doesn’t like the will of the people. The law was upheld, though and police have been told to write civil offenses for minor marijuana possession and use cases.
According to an executive order from the city manager’s office, possession of up to 2.5 ounces should not result in misdemeanor charges or jail time.
A circuit judge is still considering the legality of the town ordinance but allowed the city to move forward with the measure in the meantime. He is expected to deliver an opinion soon. Cannabis activists say the judge will likely side in favor of decriminalization.
“This is a huge step,” marijuana activist Nicholas Monroe told Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday night, according to MLive.com. “It is common-sense policy. It’s necessary. You’re upholding the democratic process.”
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On Sunday, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter notified dispatch of a high-speed boat cooking it north just 90 miles west of San Nicholas Island, which is just over 100 kilometers southwest of Los Angeles.
A Coast Guard ship in the area straight lined it to the scene. But by that time the smuggler had ditched his load and hightailed it out of there, leaving more than 6,500 pounds of seeded, compressed pot floating on the waves in the pacific. In total, 245 bales of pot wrapped in plastic were recovered.
According to our sister blog at the LA Weekly, the Coast Guard says they don’t estimate the value of marijuana anymore because too many variables come into play, including quality. According to PriceofWeed.com, though, the value could have been as high as $ 1 million.
Which brings us to the burning question: who the fuck would be buying all of this crap bud on the pacific coast? California-grown herb is among the best in the world, and there’s plenty of it to go around. The same is true for Washington and Oregon – two states with large cannabis growing populations themselves.
Over the last few months, bales of shitty, schwaggy marijuana have been turning up on California beaches abandoned by the smugglers that brought it up from (likely) Mexico. Officials can’t point to any reasons for the rash in discoveries lately, other than saying their efforts to eradicate smuggling are working. We here at Toke blame El Nino.
Coast Guard officials place the blame in the Sinaloa cartel, who they say are “exploiting” sea routes to move their crap weed up north.
Remember friends, if you’re going to smoke – smoke local.
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Earlier this week, a group of Vermont democrats, independents and progressives introduced House Bill 499, which would legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use and cultivation in the state, as well as allowing for recreational cannabis stores to open up in the Green Mountain State.
According to the language of HB 499, adults 21 and up would be able to possess up to two ounces of herb and could grow up to three plants. Anything over those limits would remain criminal offenses as defined by current laws. Adults and children under 21 caught with marijuana would face the same penalties as they would with alcohol possession. If passed, the bill would create a state-regulated marijuana industry headed up by the Department of Liquor Control. It also calls for a $ 50 excise tax per every ounce sold. Industrial hemp would also be regulated and licensed and Vermont farmers could grow it, despite what federal regulations say.
By our count, this is the third marijuana reform bill introduced this session. Senate Bill 48 was introduced in January and would decriminalize up to an ounce of marijuana as well as paraphernalia, making possession of both a civil penalty with a fine of no more than $ 100. House Bill 200 was introduced in February would decriminalize up to two ounce of marijuana as well as cultivation of up to nine cannabis plants, though only two can be in flower at any time. People caught with those amounts or less would face a civil penalty of no more than $ 100.
The legislature is also considering a fourth bill – House Bill 500 – which would expand the existing medical marijuana code in Vermont by increasing the number of patients private caregivers can have from three to five, increase the number of patients each dispensary is allowed to serve and would add anxiety, insomnia and post-traumatic stress – a move that is huge for veterans rights groups that have pushed for similar rulings in other medical states. Patient plant counts would be increased from HB 500 is currently in the House Committee of Human Services.
The authors of HB 499 say it will help end an “alarming racial disparity” in the state of Vermont, where blacks are arrested at four times the rate of whites for marijuana crimes. As it is now, possession of less than two ounces is a misdemeanor charge with up to six months in jail and $ 500 in fines for offenders. Paraphernalia possession is a misdemeanor charge with a $ 1,000 in fiens and up to a year in jail.
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FRIDAY Jan. 25, 2013 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration late Friday approved three new medications to help people battle type 2 diabetes.
All three drugs contain a new active ingredient, alogliptin, either alone or in combination with other, previously approved medications. The newly approved drugs include Nesina (alogliptin), Kazano (alogliptin plus metformin) and Oseni (alogliptin plus pioglitazone), the FDA said in a news release.
“Controlling blood sugar levels is very important in the overall treatment and care of diabetes,” Dr. Mary Parks, director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the statement. “Alogliptin helps stimulate the release of insulin after a meal, which leads to better blood sugar control.”
More than 24 million people in the United States are currently affected by type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked with obesity. In the type 2 form of the disease, people gradually develop resistance to insulin or fail to produce enough of the hormone, resulting in rising blood sugar levels. That can lead to other health problems, such as heart disease, vision problems and neural or kidney dysfunction.
The FDA urges that the new medications be used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise to help bring diabetes under control. All of the drugs underwent study either as stand-alone products or used alongside standard diabetes medications such as sulfonyureas or insulin.
In the case of Nesina, the drug showed safety and effectiveness across 14 clinical trials, involving more than 8,500 patients, according to the FDA. The most common side effects included stuffy or runny nose, headache, and upper respiratory tract infections.
Kazano’s safety and effectiveness were tested in four clinical trials involving more than 2,500 patients. Side effects included those seen with Nesina, as well as diarrhea, high blood pressure and back pain, the FDA said. The agency is also requesting that a “boxed warning” be included on Kazano’s labeling, highlighting the potential risk of lactic acidosis (lactic acid buildup in the blood), which can occur in products containing metformin.
Oseni was studied in four clinical trials involving more than 1,500 patients, the FDA noted. Side effects were similar to those seen with Nesina, as well as back pain. Oseni’s labeling will also carry a boxed warning, this time cautioning users about the risk for heart failure that accompanies drugs containing pioglitazone.
The drugs will also be subject to what are known as “post-marketing studies,” aimed at spotting any emerging risks. For example, studies looking at heart and liver issues are mandated for Nesina, while studies focused on potential liver and pancreas problems are mandated for both Kazano and Oseni, the FDA said.
All three drugs are distributed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., of Deerfield, Ill.
Find out more about type 2 diabetes at the American Diabetes Association.
Posted: January 2013