A London art gallery has decided to drop ecstasy—"Ecstasy of Art" that is—upon realizing that some of the exhibit's artwork contained thousands of real tablets of MDMA. The weeklong showcase was set to open with a private viewing today at Art Republic Gallery, but was canceled at the last minute after the gallery consulted with lawyers and decided to avoid the potential legal ramifications of having illegal drugs on site. "We were under the understanding that they were fake," says the gallery's director, Lawrence Alkin, "[The artist] said this week that they're not fake. We spoke to our solicitors and we can't have anything illegal in our gallery." The exhibition involved two artworks created with over 12,000 multi-colored ecstasy tablets: "Love & Death", a six-foot high skull and crossbones, and "Taste the Rainbow", priced at $150,000 and $114,000. The artist, Chemical X, is perhaps best known for designing the Ministry of Sound logo over 20 years ago, and has worked with rapper Snoop Lion and popular brands including Vans, PlayStation, MTV, and Disney. His spokesman, Marc Woodhouse, says he understands the gallery's decision, but defends the use of real ecstasy, explaining that the purpose of the work was to challenge people's perception of the drug. Says Woodhouse: "These need to be viewed as works of art as they stop being drugs from the point at which [they] are permanently sealed into the pieces." The artist is now seeking a new venue to house the exhibition in London, Bristol or Amsterdam.
Equine Assisted Therapy has been used to treat addiction for years, and horses are increasingly being incorporated into treatment by eating disorder programs across the country. Under the supervision of a mental health professional, and often in conjunction with evidence-based approaches such as CBT and DBT, working with horses can help patients feel more comfortable with their bodies, as well as help them hone life skills. "Anxiety, emotional regulation, trust, and body image are all core issues in eating disorder clients," Mark Hobbins, executive vice president of Center for Discovery, an eating disorders treatment center in Bellevue, Washington, tells The Fix. "Working with large animals requires physical movement and body awareness, and provides an opportunity for clients to find empowerment and enjoy an experience in their bodies." At patients are taught to care for the horses by feeding, grooming, and cleaning them. Hobbins explains that these kinds of "experiential therapies" can help "provide insight into subconscious experiences and help clients step away from thinking and step into feeling."
Horses are also "great teachers of assertive communication and setting boundaries," Cheryl Musick, an Advanced Certified EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) group specialist at Rosewood Ranch Eating Disorder Treatment Center tells us. "People must learn to be assertive to lead the horse around, [or else they] will be dragged around by it." Musick has been working in horse therapy for years and is "in awe" of what it can accomplish, such as helping patients overcome fear in the face of a "thousand-pound animal." According to Musick, "Equine therapy helps clients address fear [around past] trauma, or even [of] a plate of food. It allows them to dig deeper and realize that it's not frightening at all." Although working with the creatures can be scary at first, the horses ultimately inject a large dose of levity into the healing process. When the animals hear the "call of nature" and clients react with disgust, Musik will jokingly ask them, "Are you jealous?" (Eating disorders often impact the digestive system's "organic" processes). She says her patients will respond with laughter—sometimes the best medicine.
Researchers at UC Berkeley may have come up with a less damaging use for tobacco. In a video (below), Peggy Lemaux, a UC Berkeley researcher in plant and microbial biology, says her team has been looking for alternative fuel sources and "tobacco was to us a perfect one because its not something people eat, and the infrastructure for growing it, harvesting it, producing it was all there." She says that the use of tobacco for cigarettes is decreasing in the United States, and across the world, and tobacco growers are "excited there might be an alternative use to tobacco that might be looked at in a more positive way than using it for cigarettes." Researchers have already developed an extraction method, and envision that tobacco could be used to make airplane fuel, automobile fuel, and diesel fuel. As an additional bonus, diminishing the domestic tobacco supply would likely lead to a rise in cigarettes prices, which is historically linked to reduced smoking rates.
Mexico's army has taken control of the southwestern state of Michoacan, one of the most drug war-ravaged regions of the country. President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced that an army general, Alberto Reyes Vaca, will take over as the state's public security chief, overseeing military and police forces in an effort to tame violence in the region. According to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, Vaca will have the power to control and coordinate state and federal police, as well as federal troops deployed in Michoacan. "There will be no public security secretary in any part of the republic who will have as much power as he has," said Chong in a radio interview. Michoacan has long been a hotbed of drug cartel violence; in recent months, "self-defense" groups, usually made up of armed masked men, have declared they are protecting their rural communities from the drug cartels. Residents in the city of La Ruana say that the Knights of Templar cartel has taken control of the area by cutting off supplies of food, gas, and medicines. And a month ago, in nearby Apatzingan, 10 farmers were killed by armed men, and residents say the government was doing little to help. Since taking office last year, Peña Nieto has vowed to shift away from the aggressive tactics of his predecessor Felipe Calderon; escalating violence resulted in more than 63,000 drug war deaths in Mexico under Calderon's leadership.
A Brooklyn Papa John's pizza deliveryman was arrested Wednesday and accused of selling more than $45,000 in cocaine hidden in pizza boxes on his delivery route. Ramon Rodriguez was arrested following his last sale, also the largest, of a kilo of cocaine worth $27,500 to an NYPD undercover agent. Rodriguez sold cocaine to undercover police on 21 occasions since 2011, according to the NYPD and the city's special narcotics prosecutor's office. On his last delivery, Rodriguez, dressed in his Papa John's uniform, passed the kilo of cocaine to the undercover agent in a bag along with a box of pizza and a chicken nuggets box. He has been charged with multiple counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, and is expected to be arraigned today in Manhattan Criminal Court. Rodriguez's arrest came unexpected to his coworkers. "He was the best driver I got," says the manager of the Sunset Park Papa John's, Mohammad Ali. "He was clean, never high." This is not the first time Papa John's has gotten involved in a drug controversy. In 2011, a Colorado deliveryman for the company called the police on one customer for smoking marijuana, knowing a child lived in the house. The police arrived to find the customer was a medical marijuana patient and left without filing charges.
A bizarre new report has surfaced, claiming that Toronto's conservative mayor Rob Ford smoked crack cocaine, and the act was caught on a video that is being sold for six figures to the highest bidder. The anonymous owner of the tape originally told Gawker it was filmed within the last six months and also provided a photo of Ford standing next to Anthony Smith, a 21-year-old college student who was killed two months ago in a gang shooting outside a Toronto nightclub. Gawker reporter John Cook, who traveled to Toronto to observe the video, says that it shows the mayor, "red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath," lighting up a crack pipe and inhaling. The owner of the tape is reportedly hoping to sell it for at least $100,000, which Gawker refused to pay. Cook claims that CNN contacted Ford's office about the tape and his attorney Dennis Morris fired off a cease-and-desist letter to Gawker. "Mayor Ford denies [this] took place, and if such posting occurs, it is false and defamatory, and you will be held legally accountable," wrote Morris, "In reference to the photo you wish to publish, Mayor Ford has his photo taken daily, sometimes with others."
The Toronto Star reports that two of their reporters have seen the video three times, claiming that it is currently "being shopped around by a group of Somali men involved in the drug trade." They say the video was shot on a smartphone by the man who supplied crack cocaine to the mayor. In the video, Ford reportedly says "I'm fucking right wing," and also utters homophobic and racist slurs. Morris has responded by telling the Star that by viewing a video it is "impossible to tell" what a person is doing. “How can you indicate what the person is actually doing or smoking?” he said. The mayor sparked controversy earlier this week when he sprinted out of a council meeting and slapped "Ford for Mayor" refrigerator magnets on dozens of cars in the parking lot.