Generation Z, Tobacco Free?

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Michael Ransom, Contributing EditorLast Modified: 11:45 p.m. DST, 8 July 2014

Butts2, Photo by Dave Hull UNITED KINGDOM -- Could the generation born after the year 2000 be the first generation in the Western world to be cigarette free? Doctors throughout the United Kingdom are hoping so.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has voted in favor of a law that would ban the sale of cigarettes to the newest generations, while grandfathering-in older age groups, who would still have legal access to the tobacco product.

The effort is extremely controversial, and would effectively signal the beginning of the end of cigarette production. The curbed cigarette consumer market would continue to age, and cigarette companies would slowly close up shop.

But, could this move have negative consequences? Many people are saying so. With any sort of prohibition, such as the alcohol prohibition in United States during the 1920s and 30s, people do not give up habits and addictions overnight in response to the legal status of the product in question.

Some groups are warning that this measure could backfire, and tobacco sales could explode on the black market. And in these underground markets, there would be no way to deny cigarette sales to minors.

Critics claim that youth smoking rates could actually increase, maybe even by drastic proportions. But this fear is not enough to change the recent strategy of the BMA. If the British Parliament agrees with this prestigious medical organization's take on nicotine addiction, then serious changes could be forthcoming.

The BMA does not recommend the prohibition without some quantitative backing. The association of doctors cite a study in which two out of every three people interviewed wished they had not begun smoking in the first place. According to the BMA, the proposed initiative could help Generation Z avoid the deadly habit, before they pick up their first cigarette.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Omani Woman Nora Al-Daher, Gambled and Lost £2m in One Night, then Refuses to Pay Casino

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Gambling Addiction, Model A.A., Photo by Gregory CinqueUNITED KINGDOM, London - There is such a thing as gambling addiction, problem gambling, or ludomania which is the urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Pathological gambling is considered by the American Psychiatric Association to be an impulse control disorder rather than an addiction. However, for the DSM 5.0, Pathological Gambling is being considered as an Addictive Disorder as opposed to an impulse-control disorder. (Wikipedia) Then, there is the question of personal responsibility. In today's modern world there are a number of means to avoid the consequences of irresponsible or downright bad behavior i.e. if one is rich enough, if one can claim mental defect, or you can simply run away.

None of these options absolve the person of responsibility, but having a disorder such as a gambling addiction could potentially mitigate the ultimate judgment in the case of someone gambling away their savings, house, and car, thus leaving them in a position whereby they are unable to meet credit obligations.

Nora Al-Daher, whose husband is the foreign minister of Oman, told the High Court that she is a gambling addict. She was testifying in a suit which she brought against the exclusive Ritz Club in London where she gambled and lost £1million, but only after she had lost an equal sum earlier that night at other casinos around the city.

It is interesting to note that according to Islamic scholars gambling, is categorically forbidden, as is drinking alcohol. So, this begs the question of how Mrs. Al-Daher was able to lose millions of pounds, a sum which 99.9% of the world's population will never realize in their lifetimes? According to court documents, "between 1999 and April 2012, The Ritz alone had received more than £20million in buys-ins from Mrs. Al-Daher, of which she lost more than £7million." (Daily Mail U.K.)

Her credit was extended by The Ritz because of her previous good payment history, and as a valued customer they wanted to accommodate the self-proclaimed addict. However, this time she wrote checks, which in the parlance of the poor, "bounced" and were not honored by her bank because of "Non-Sufficient Funds."

The idea that someone with access to that amount of money would be frivolous enough to gamble it away, and then refuse to pay the debt, disparages people of lesser means who have gambling addictions. With her extreme wealth she could have sought the best addiction treatment in a private and exclusive environment.

She could have also settled her debt and informed in advance all the casinos that she frequented and were known to extend generous credit to her, that she has a gambling addiction, and ask that they cut her off much like a bar tender is now legislated to no longer serve alcohol to a patron who is clearly intoxicated.

Instead, Mrs. Al-Daher called foul play after the fact, and used the condition to justify her not settling the debt. It is not as if she doesn't have access to the money, but it is curious that her checks bounced. Perhaps, this time her husband refused to provide her with the money to pay her debt, but in any case The Ritz should not be made the scapegoat.

Personally, I am against gambling, so this article is not written in support of these institutions that regularly fleece millions of customers each year in casinos all over the world. The fact that gambling, once illegal in many countries, has been granted the veneer of respectability under the guise that the taxes which they pay are used to better the communities in which they reside, does not confer upon them beneficence.

The logic behind the marketing scheme used to convince communities to allow these establishments to operate in their midst, is that by paying large sums in taxes to local and state governments, these funds can in turn be used by these governments to improve schools, social services, etc. However, in fact this premise is about as valid as the claims that cigarettes are safe and do not cause cancer. The fact that exorbitant taxes are paid is akin to bribery because very little of this money trickles down to the people or communities that are professed to benefit.

That said, this case has yet to be adjudicated, but in this court of opinion......she played, she lost, she has the millions, so she should pay the piper.

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Will Scotland Choose Independence?

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GLASGOW, Scotland -- The Scottish referendum on independence will take place 18 September 2014. If 40% of the population in Scotland vote in favor of separation, Scotland will be an autonomous nation once again, following 300 years of political fusion with Great Britain.

The movement is spearheaded by the opposing 'Yes Scotland' and 'Better Together' campaigns, which advocate Scottish independence and United Kingdom solidarity, respectively. The First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond is perhaps the most visible spokesman for the 'Yes Scotland' outfit. Allistair Darling is a longstanding member of the British parliament and heads the Better Together movement.

According to the 'Yes Scotland' and 'Better Together' factions, social problems in Scotland need to be addressed. But the two camps are at odds over whether these changes can take place with London in the driver's seat. According to Alex Salmond, the power dynamic between the UK and Scotland are among the most unequal in Europe.

Poverty, drug abuse and suicide affect Scots at much-higher rates than their British or Irish neighbors. Recent studies conducted throughout the Highlands find that Scottish men have a suicide rate 73% higher than males throughout the rest of the UK. The same study found that female Scots committed suicide at twice the rate of women throughout the Kingdom.

Wealth inequality has fluctuated over the past decade but remains a serious problem in Scotland. Throughout the population, one in five children are living below the poverty line. A study published by Child Poverty Action Group finds that in many Scottish communities, one in three children are currently impoverished. The 'Yes Scotland' campaign believes that with increased autonomy, Scots will be able to address problems in their communities, without relying on representatives in Westminster as middlemen.

The agriculture industry in Scotland is particularly invested in the outcome of September's referendum. Currently, Scottish farmers receive subsidies through the European Union. The EU allocates a lump sum to the UK, and stipends are generated to English and Scottish farmers from these funds.

Pro-independence farming coalitions believe that farmers in Scotland are undervalued in these calculations. They argue that an independent Scotland would receive greater allowances from the EU. Opponents of Scottish independence claim just the opposite, stating that the UK has greater lobbying power in the EU debates, and Scottish famers are wrong to think they could collect larger subsidies as a small, independent nation.

One of the largest controversies in the debate over Scotland's future is centered in massive oil reserves located in UK waters, off Scotland's coast. Alex Salmond has claimed that £1.5 trillion in natural gas deposits lie within Scotland's jurisdiction, but this figure is largely disputed. The veracity of the estimate is unclear, and both sides have much at stake with regards to the amount and ownership of the deep sea oil in question.

Scots are still widely divided on the issue of independence, but the international community is not so unsure. In recent weeks, President Barack Obama has come forward in support of UK solidarity.

In September Scotland will make its voice heard. Preliminary polls show that Scots are within reach of the votes required to pass the referendum. If Scotland splits from the UK, the dispute over Scottish identity will only intensify. Arguments over currency, citizenship and the economy are guaranteed to draw conflicting viewpoints between officials.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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ICC to Investigate Alleged British War Crimes

 New Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart Sworn in by the International Criminal Court ICC, Photo Courtesy of ICC

 New Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart Sworn in by the International Criminal Court ICC, Photo Courtesy of ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will launch a preliminary investigation of alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the years of 2003 - 2008.

The claim being analyzed is that there were 52 cases of unlawful killing and more than 170 counts of mistreatment of detained Iraqi soldiers.  Accusations include incidents of electrocution, mock executions, beatings and sexual assault.

The ICC first examined claims of abuse in 2006, but there was insufficient evidence to pursue the matter further. However, in January the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights and the law firm Public Interest Lawyers requested that ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda re-open the case because of new information. The latest update shows that the abuse was much more common, happened over a longer period of time and was more geographically widespread than originally thought.

The UK is the first western country to be under ICC scrutiny. However, the ICC will probably not launch a more formal investigation, as the allegations are now being taken care of by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, a unit the Ministry of Defense created in 2010 to investigate issues of misconduct. The ICC may only officially investigate claims if they feel that national attempts are insufficient, but it will keep a close eye on the internal proceedings to make sure correct protocol is followed.

Paedophilia Sex Ring Busted in UK

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Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 13:14 p.m. EDT, 17 January 2013

Young Girl Mannequin, Photo by NachtjägerOXFORD, England -- Over eight years, girls as young as 11-years-old were exposed to unbelievable sexual acts and behavior. They were being trafficked around the UK by male gang members out of Oxford.

The victims endured extreme physical and sexual violence, and some victims were even sold for prostitution. The men each face a total of 51 counts of charges that range from rape, forcing a child into prostitution, and trafficking. From 2004 to 2012, six of the victims were given drugs and drinks before being repeatedly raped for days at a time by multiple men.

The men targeted girls from chaotic backgrounds, who they then coerced into recruiting other girls for the sex ring. At times, members of the gang received payments for any new child prostitutes the girls brought in.

All nine of the men, ages ranging from 24 to 38, deny the charges against them. It has been stated that there are more men involved as well. The trial is expected to last eight to twelve weeks. Nine men face 19 counts of rape, seven of them with a child under the age of 13, arranging or facilitating child prostitution, trafficking within the UK, and using instruments in to induce miscarriages. The jury was told to prepare themselves for the evidence that would be brought before them in the court.

The girls were taken to guests houses as well as vacant houses, where they were abused and prevented from escaping. The men conducted perverted acts on the young girls such as biting, suffocation, burning, and scratching. The men carried and used weapons to torture the girls which included knives, baseball bats, and meat cleavers, while some men went as far as urinating on the young girls.

As previously stated, the girls involved were from chaotic backgrounds which made it easy for these men to take advantage of the girls' desire for positive male attention. Under this guise, the men initially plied the girls with gifts, and lavished attention on them which they craved, with the goal of enslaving them.

These benign gifts soon gave way to heroine, crack, cocaine, and cannabis, resulting in addiction. The addictions eventually made the girls dependent on the men in order to feed their drug addiction. The girls were often threatened with grievous bodily harm or even death if they tried to escape. To further alienate them, the men threatened to also kill their families as well.

The ring functioned like an out-call prostitution service where men would make appointments then travel from places as far as Bradford, Leeds, London and Slough to pay to have sex with the under aged females. Sometimes, the pimps delivered the girls to customers by ferry to London and Bournemouth.

One girl, who can not be named, was 12-years-old when she was targeted by the gang. Just like many of the other young girls, she was tortured and subjected to extreme physical, sexual, and psychological abuse for the next 3 years until she was able to escape at age 15.

Though it is likely that many of the men involved in the ring as well as their customers are paedophiles, it is just as certain that these men are misogynist. The men involved in this reprehensible crime were not only unbelievably cruel, but also perverted. Unfortunately, these young girls have been scarred for life, and have had their childhood irrevocably taken from them.

Innocent children should never be subjected to acts of this sort no matter what their backgrounds, country of origin or religion. Global trafficking of children for prostitution is not a new phenomenon; however, most people generally think of this as a problem unique to and more prevalent in developing nations.

They would in fact be surprised that in "America, approximately 250,000 children are trafficked each year, the average age of entering prostitution is thirteen. Many of these children entered prostitution from homelessness or as an escape from an abusive situation. The documentary 'Very Young Girls' introduces the audience to girls who have been manipulated by their pimps, beaten and raped, sold for sex and then sent to jail. (Source: Fem 2.0)

That it happens anywhere is a travesty. That it happened in the UK raises eyebrows though it shouldn't. No country or society is immune to this scourge which has earned the moniker of 'the oldest profession in the world.'

However, this assignation is only applicable to women and men who willingly chose to ply this trade, not girls or boys who are coerced, beaten, kidnapped, or otherwise forced to engage in this industry. It is incumbent upon us all to face the ugly truth of this problem and to persist in shining a light on this horrendous darkness.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe
 

Oscar Pistorius Wows 2012 London Olympics

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:05 AM EDT, 11 September 2012

Oscar Pistorius, Photo by Global Sports ForumLONDON, England – South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, also known as the ‘Blade Runner,’ races wearing carbon fiber prosthetic blades because he was born without a fibula in both legs which were amputated before he was a year old.

Pistorius is the first Paralympian to compete in the Olympics against able-bodied athletes. This double amputee inspired spectators, fellow Olympians, and Paralympians with his outstanding sports prowess at the 2012 London Olympics.

Controversy surrounding his use of the carbon fiber prosthetic blades and the potential advantage they may afford him against able-bodied runners was resolved in advance of his participation in the games though some remained unconvinced.

Pistorius, who is also known as 'the fastest man on no legs' brushed off any criticism and focused his attention on the games, and amazingly qualified for the 400 semi-finals though he did not make the finals.

On Saturday, 8 September 2012, Pistorius subsequently competed and won the final Paralympic Games track gold medal in the men's 400 meters as well as a gold medal in the 4x100 relay. This despite coming up short in his bid to defend the 100 and 200 titles he won in Beijing four years ago.

The Paralympics was the second-largest multi-sport event ever held in the United Kingdom after the 2012 Summer Olympics, and were the largest and most commercially successful Paralympics ever; 4,294 athletes from 164 National Paralympic Committees participated. The London Olympic Games contributed to significantly higher demand for tickets than ever before, breaking numerous sales records. (Source: Wikipedia)

London’s success in hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics also benefited the Paralympic sports by elevating global awareness and public enthusiasm for these inspirational games and the phenomenal participants who overcome significant life challenges to compete at the highest levels attainable by athletes from around the world.

"I'm so proud, this summer has been a dream come true and I couldn't hope for anything better. It's my 11th time on this track and I wanted to give the crowd something special that they could take home with them." (Source: Reuters)

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British Iraqi Family Executed Assassination Style

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 11:25 AM EDT, 6 September 2012

Town of Chevaline, Photo by QuinetCHEVALINE, France - A horrific fate befell the family of an Iraqi-born Briton named Saad al-Hilli who was from Surrey in southern England.

Saad, his wife, a grandmother, and two daughters were on holiday traveling through France when they were ambushed in an assassination style execution in the town of Chevaline. Reports state that Saad who was found dead at the wheel and the other victims were all shot twice in the head.

The BMW was riddled with bullets and 25 spent casings from an automatic weapon were strewn around the scene. Nearby, a possible witness was also shot dead and has been identified as French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45. The gruesome discovery was made on a road near the picturesque Annecy lake and the Swiss border.

What has propelled this story to international attention is the fact that two of the children escaped this brutal attack despite the apparent efforts to murder the entire family. Initially, authorities thought that only one child escaped, a girl of around eight who had been violently beaten on the head resulting in skull fractures. She is currently in critical condition and is undergoing a second operation in as many days.

While the authorities secured the scene to begin the investigation, the British registered vehicle was not opened nor the bodies disturbed for nearly eight hours. It was close to midnight when the forensic team entered the car whereupon they discovered amidst the bodies a girl of about four alive and unhurt. She had been hiding on the floor under the legs of the two dead women thought to be her mother and grandmother.

She was immediately rushed to hospital in the nearby city of Grenoble, where the young girl with the severe head injuries was being treated. As both girls speak English authorities believe that they are sisters. Apparently, the younger of the siblings was too scared to move, which is why she was unnoticed by police. Given the violent nature of this attack for which a motive has not been discovered, the two girls are currently under police protection.

Reuters interviewed prosecutor Eric Maillaud who told reporters in a late-night briefing that "She's clearly shocked but she's doing okay. She's not injured.”

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