DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Random Traffic Stops

November 6- The Associated Press reports: Governments may have to consider legislation to reduce the salt, fat, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients in manufactured foods, according to a new report by the World Health Organization.

The recommendation is in this year's annual World Health Report, which for the first time tries to rank the major threats to health worldwide and examine ways to reduce them.

The report examines the 20 biggest risks to human health and their impact on disease, disability and death. It estimates that if these threats were tackled, at least an extra decade of healthy life could be achieved in even the poorest countries, and people in the richest nations could gain another five years of healthy life.

The report, one of largest research projects ever undertaken by the UN health agency, also concluded that alcohol is responsible for far more deaths and disease than previously thought. Malnutrition is still the worst health problem, accounting for one in 14 deaths globally.

The top 10 health hazards worldwide, in terms of how much disease and death they cause, are, in order of danger: underweight, unsafe sex, high blood pressure, tobacco, alcohol, contaminated water, sanitation and hygiene, iron deficiency, indoor pollution, high cholesterol and obesity.

November 11- The St. Petersburg Times reports: Barely three years after the United States declared victory in the war on drugs in Peru, the illegal crops are making a comeback.

While some U.S. officials say it's too early to sound the alarm bells, Peruvian and international experts are concerned by signs of increased cultivation of coca, the raw material of cocaine.

Colombian drug traffickers also have introduced poppy plants, used to make heroin, which have rarely been seen before in Peru.

November 12- WebMD reports: Strong words of warning for those who smoke pot: British researchers have found that smoking pure cannabis harms your lungs as much as tobacco does.

Smoking three cannabis joints a day causes the same damage to the lining of the airways as 20 cigarettes. In fact, the tar from a joint contains 50% more cancer-causing substances than tobacco, says the report, published by the British Lung Foundation.

"These statistics will come as a surprise to many people, especially those who choose to smoke cannabis rather than tobacco in the belief that it is 'safer' for them," says Mark Britton, MD, chairman of the British Lung Foundation.

November 12- The Detroit Free Press reports: Federal agents will begin randomly stopping traffic today, looking for illegal immigrants, terrorists and drug or weapon smugglers.

Cars will be stopped at unannounced, rotating checkpoints within Michigan, including metro Detroit. U.S. Border Patrol agents at the checkpoints will ask passengers their citizenship and will have leeway to ask a host of follow-up questions.

The effort is part of President George W. Bush's attempt to increase security along the northern border, said Immigration and Naturalization spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar. According to an obscure but long-standing federal law, the government can conduct searches and surveillance within 25 miles of any international border.

The practice of internal checkpoints is common in Texas and California, states along the southwest border. Michigan is among the first of the northern border states to be included in the program.

November 13- The Houston Chronicle reports: A Danish-born Houston-area resident accused in a drugs-for-weapons deal involving Colombian terrorists is a former informant who believed the U.S. government backed the operation, his attorney said Tuesday.

The attorney, Erik Sunde, insists that client Uwe Jensen had limited participation with his boss, Carlos Ali Romero Varela, to broker a deal last year between an FBI informant and Colombian terrorists. The deal involved trading cocaine for $25 million worth of anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons.

Jensen, 66, a naturalized American, insists that the FBI informant told him the U.S. government had given the deal its tacit approval, Sunde said. The claim, he added, indicates Jensen had no criminal intent.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson kcnelson@premier1.net

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