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Bad To Worse: Cocaine In Brazil Is Filled With Lots Of Other Junk Too

Drug dealers often "cut" their pure product with other substances to increase profit margins. A seven-year-long Brazilian police study found such relatively benign substances as caffeine to some pretty awful stuff.

But what's inside? (wstryder)
But what's inside? (wstryder)
Fernando Mello

BRASÍLIA - After seven years of steady lab research, Brazilian Federal Police have unveiled the "DNA" of several illicit drugs on the market. Confiscated drugs were put under the microscope to identify the chemical makeup, with specialists now able to tell the level of purity of cocaine, crack and other drugs — and to specify what other kinds of substances have been added to them.

Cocaine, for instance, is mixed with antithermics, caffeine, anesthetics, and even vermicides typically used to kill intestinal worms. These substances may increase the health risk of a substance already considered deleterious.

Called "Pequi" (a short for "chemical profile" in Portuguese), the drug profiling project was developed in 2005. However, it was not before 2009 that the police started to send regular samples of drugs anytime a seizure of five kilograms or more was made.

Phenacetin, a forbidden antithermic and anesthetic, was found in 35% of all cocaine samples. In 11% of it there was also levamisole, a vermicide used for animals.

Now Federal Police have also begun analyzing the makeup of marijuana, ecstasy and other drugs.

In some cases, the same sample of cocaine contains more than one add-on. These products are utilized to reduce the amount of pure drug in each dose sold to the final consumer, thus raising the dealers' profit.

According to psychiatrist Dartiu Xavier, from the São Paulo-based Orientation and Care for Addicts Program, there has been insufficient studies of the consequences of such substances when mixed with cocaine. However, he says there is clearly reason for concern.

"Cocaine offers risks of heart attack, for example, and this may be increased when mixed with substances like caffeine," says Xavier.

Read the original article in Portuguese

Photo - wstryder

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How WeChat Is Helping Bhutan's Disappearing Languages Find A New Voice

Phd candidate Tashi Dema, from the University of New England, discusses how social media apps, particularly WeChat, are helping to preserve local Bhutanese languages without a written alphabet. Dema argues that preservation of these languages has far-reaching benefits for the small Himalayan country's rich culture and tradition.

A monk in red performing while a sillouhet of a monk is being illuminated by their phone.

Monk performing while a sillouheted monk is on their phone

Source: Caterina Sanders/Unsplash
Tashi Dema

THIMPHU — Dechen, 40, grew up in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Her native language was Mangdip, also known as Nyenkha, as her parents are originally from central Bhutan. She went to schools in the city, where the curriculum was predominantly taught in Dzongkha, the national language, and English.

In Dechen’s house, everyone spoke Dzongkha. She only spoke her mother tongue when she had guests from her village, who could not understand Dzongkha and during her occasional visits to her village nestled in the mountains. Her mother tongue knowledge was limited.

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However, things have now changed.

With 90% of Bhutanese people using social media and social media penetrating all remotes areas in Bhutan, Dechen’s relatives in remote villages are connected on WeChat.

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