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NYC to Experiment Responding to Some Calls With Mental Health Workers Instead of Police

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new program that will send mental health and crisis workers instead of police on emergency mental health calls.

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On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new pilot program that will send mental health and crisis workers instead of police on emergency mental health calls. 

The program is expected to begin in February and will be composed of new mental health teams from the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services unit and will target two “high-need” neighborhoods, according to Reuters.

“For the first time in our city’s history, health responders will be the default responders for a person in crisis, making sure those struggling with mental illness receive the help they need,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The statement went on to say that the professionals on call for mental health crises would be equipped to handle suicide attempts, drug abuse, and physical problems that are often indicators of mental health problems, all situations that police would typically respond to.

The mental health responders will be accompanied by a police officer if there is a weapon involved or “imminent risk of harm,” the statement said.

Even the most simple police encounters can be very stressful, which often makes it difficult to communicate properly. This tends to escalate the situation, considering that most police demand nothing short of complete obedience, even if they are dealing with someone who is not a suspect in a crime.

This can be scary for most people, but for someone who suffers from a mental illness and may already have challenges with communication, these types of encounters can be especially terrifying. Sadly, police across the country have repeatedly proven that they do not have the proper attitude or social skills to deal with mentally ill people. This is extremely obvious when police are called to do a “welfare check” on someone who is struggling with mental illness, only to shoot and kill the person because they didn’t “follow orders” to the officer’s liking.

A 2017 report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics used self-report survey data from inmates and found that at least 37% of prisoners and 44% of jail inmates had a history of mental health problems. A large portion of these people were convicted of nonviolent drug crimes or offenses associated with homelessness or poverty.

Studies have shown that people who suffer from mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than the average person. According to the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness.

Some US cities have already begun experimenting with sending mental health professionals out to deal with certain issues, most notably, Eugene, Oregon, which has been operational for the past 30 years. The program, called, Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS), began in Oregon, but is now currently operational in at least 8 US cities. It was estimated that the city of Eugene diverted 17% of 130,000 calls through the CAHOOTS program in 2017 alone. The program is also running in Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, Denver, Vancouver, and Portland.

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Mexico Senate Votes in Landslide To Legalize World’s Largest Cannabis Market

Elias Marat

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Mexico is hurtling toward legalizing cannabis for a variety of uses, opening up the Latin American country to becoming the largest legal marijuana in the world.

Just days prior to the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., Mexico’s Senate approved a bill that would put an end to prohibition measures in a landslide vote of 82 to 18, with seven abstentions.

Lawmakers in the ruling Morena party have been working hard to seal the approval of the landmark cannabis legalization bill before the current congressional session draws to a close in December. Morena, alongside its allies, holds majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The bill is designed to “improve living conditions” and “contribute to the reduction of crime linked to drug trafficking,” according to its text.

The move would amount to a huge U-turn after decades of anti-drug policies led to the explosive growth of transnational cartels – and ferocious local cartel wars – in Mexico. In recent years, violence related to drug cartels has claimed upwards of 10,000 lives.

Advocates of legalization in Mexico have long argued that legalizing the plant would allow the country to advance alternative drug policies, halt the criminalization of drug users and refocus its security efforts to better address public health.

The demands of advocates came significantly closer to being realized in 2018, when the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that recreational marijuana should be permitted. One year prior, legislators voted to legalize the plant for medical purposes.

While Mexico has a long and storied history of cannabis usage, the consumption of the plant is still not as culturally accepted on a widespread level as in the United States. However, the creation of legal commercial markets for the sale and purchase of the plan will likely displace the large systems of illicit cultivation in the country.

Socially conservative Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known by his initials AMLO, has largely shied away from vocally supporting the legalization of the plant. However, Lopez Obrador has long endorsed the need to radically reform the country’s laws to put an end to rampant drug violence in Mexico, where drug cartels still hold sway over the illicit trade of narcotics.

But while the president hasn’t been an outspoken champion of legalization efforts, members of his center-left party such as Senate leader Ricardo Monreal and senior cabinet members like Interior Minister Olga Sanchez have been clear in their calls to open the doors to legalizing and regulating the recreational usage of cannabis.

Under the proposed measures, Mexico would place strict controls on ownership and the supply chain used for domestic production and international commerce of cannabis. The trade surrounding the industry would also have to comply with various forms of financial source verification, ensuring that the business doesn’t fall into the hands of criminal syndicates, writes Forbes.

Under the bill, adults over 18 will be allowed to cultivate and possess up to 28 grams of cannabis for personal use. Possession of up to 200 grams would also be decriminalized.

Individuals would be allowed to grow up to 20 plants provided their annual yield isn’t in excess of 480 grams. Medical patients would be able to grow over 20 plants, if necessary. Public consumption of cannabis would also be allowed in all spaces besides those marked as “100 percent smoke-free.”

Cannabis sales would also be subject to a 12 percent tax, with revenue going toward drug abuse programs. The new laws and regulations would be enforced and overseen by the Mexican Institute of Regulation and Control of Cannabis.

Advocates have also expressed caution about moving forward while taking into account social equity concerns and safeguards to prevent transnational corporations from monopolizing the massive, burgeoning weed market in the North American country.

The success of these efforts would make Mexico the largest country in the world, by population, to legalize cannabis. With a population exceeding 125 million people, Mexico would quickly become the largest consumer market for cannabis products, marking a huge step forward in bringing the international cannabis marketplace out of the shadows.

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Italian Police Use Lamborghini for Urgent 300-Mile Kidney Delivery in Just Two Hours

Elias Marat

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While Lamborghinis are typically thought of as luxury sports cars that are only affordable to the wealthy, in their home country of Italy they have long been a part of the Italian police fleet.

And while these dreamy cars may seem a bit excessive, the car was perfectly suited for a specialized task that your typical “black and white” is hardly cut out for: delivering a donor kidney overs 300 miles away in only two hours.

Earlier this month, the Italian national police posted a video on Twitter showing a police-issued Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 being deployed on a life-or-death mission to transport the vital organ from the Policlinico Universitario hospital in the Northern Italian city Padua to the Gemelli hospital in Rome.

During the journey, the Lambo soared over a distance of 500 kilometers – or about 310 miles – in just about two hours. At an average speed of 143 miles, the specialty cop car managed to trim a typically six-hour ride down to one-third of its usual time.

Thanks to the Huracán having a mighty 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive – hence its designation, LP 610-4 – the officers had no trouble meeting the moment with urgency and resolve.

And given that satellite images of the starting point in the journey don’t indicate any helipad or accessible flat area close by, the Lambo seemed like a perfectly logical option.

In the video, the baby blue Lamborghini can be seen being loaded with the fragile donated organ.

The Lamborghini Huracán de la Polizia is a highly specialized vehicle that is prepared for these types of emergency medical transport tasks, and is equipped with a small refrigerated front trunk for this purpose. It also has a defibrillator in case someone requires a life-saving electric shock while suffering cardiac arrest.

Additionally, officers who pilot the vehicle are given specific training on the race track so they can master the vehicle, which – as can be seen in this case – isn’t always used to pursue criminals.

The Huracán is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds and can reach maximum speeds of about 202 mph, according to Jalopnik.

The car, which also carries out routine patrol tasks, is also fitted out with the typical gear you’ll find in a police car, including lights, a siren, a police computer, and dash cameras.

In the tweet, the Italian Police humbly claim: “‘To save a life you don’t need superpowers,’ – solidarity, technology and efficiency also help.”

However, it remains arguable whether one could claim that a Lamborghini Huracán isn’t a superpower in its own right.

It’s not the only Lamborghini in the national police fleet, either. According to The Drive, the Huracán LP 610-4 was added to the force in 2017 as a replacement for a Lamborghini Gallardo that was decommissioned.

The car, which was the second Huracán used by Italian police, was even delivered to the police personally by Lamborghini’s CEO Stefano Domenicali.

“The new Lamborghini Huracán stands for Italian super sports car excellence and we are proud to provide it to the Italian State Police,” outgoing CEO Stephan Winklemann announced prior to the delivery.

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Skateboarding Viral Star Nathan ‘Doggface’ Apodaca Buys New Home For His Family in Cash

Elias Marat

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For many of us, 2020 has been one of the roughest and most disruptive years of our lives.

That definitely isn’t the case for Nathan Apodaca, also known as Doggface, whose fortunes saw a sharp turnaround earlier this year when a TikTok video of him skating to work while drinking cranberry juice and lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 classic “Dreams” went viral.

And now, the charismatic viral video star can finally call himself a homeowner.

Apodaca, 37, had been living in a mobile home before purchasing the home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. The home has five bedrooms and three bathrooms, and was purchased entirely with $320,000 in cash, reports TMZ.

The viral sensation, who is of Mexican and Northern Arapaho Native American descent, had long been a staple on social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, where he could be seen dancing, skating, and pop-locking to old-school tunes while wearing a big smile on his face.

His positive attitude and optimism never wavered even when he was living in an RV without running water that was parked outside his brother’s home. Apodaca earned his living working as a manual laborer at a potato warehouse, where he was employed alongside his father.

“We’ve been working ever since the pandemic, getting potatoes out to whoever needs them,” Apodaca told Los Angeles Times.

In late September, however, Doggface broke beyond his dedicated fanbase on Instagram pages like Foos Gone Wild and reached mainstream fame when his car broke down on the way to work and he decided to film himself happily lip-syncing to the Fleetwood Mac hit while sipping Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice straight from the bottle.

The video immediately went viral and spread across the internet, gaining 11.5 million likes on TikTok and innumerable likes and comments in all other corners of the internet.

The video even spiked interest in Fleetwood Mac, with streams of “Dreams” quickly catapulting the song to the top of iTunes charts as new generations got hooked on the song.

Soon enough, even Fleetwood Mac band members Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks released their own versions of the viral video.

When people discovered the details behind the video, and Apodaca’s working-class struggles, donations began pouring in from various quarters – including from Ocean Spray, which rewarded him with a brand-new pickup truck.

He also got some much-needed work on his recognizable smile, receiving new sets of veneers on his top and bottom rows of teeth while on a trip to L.A. earlier this month.

Apodaca has also appeared alongside a range of celebrities, including Cheech and Chong and Snoop Dogg – the cousin of late hip-hop artist Nate Dogg, who inspired the name “Dogg Face.”

Since going viral, Apodaca also has a following of more than 3 million fans on Instagram and 5.8 million on TikTok.

He’s also raking in money after purchasing an embroidery machine to sell shirts and beanies from his online store, including ones that feature the nickname, “Doggface,” and some of his catchphrases like “DOWN FOO!” and “420 SOULJAZ.”

However, his most special moment came this month after he proposed to his girlfriend Estela Chavez in Las Vegas while on a trip to Nobu Hotel in Caesar’s Palace.

The new family will bring together the couple, as well as Doggface’s daughters Angelica and Makyla – who turned him on to dancing on TikTok and Instagram.

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