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U.N. Reports Global Cocaine, Opium Production At Heights

The report says most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia and is sold in North America

opioid epidemic
Cataldo Ambulance medics and other first responders revive a 32-year-old man who was found unresponsive and not breathing after an opioid overdose on a sidewalk in the Boston suburb of Everett, Massachusetts, Aug. 23, 2017. VOA

A U.N. report warns the global production of cocaine and opium has reached record-breaking levels as the markets for those and other illicit drugs expand.

In its World Drug Report 2018, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime finds global opium production jumped by 65 percent to 10,500 tons from 2016 to 2017, and in 2016 more than 1,400 tons of cocaine were manufactured globally, the highest level ever recorded.

The report says most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia and is sold in North America. It says Africa and Asia are emerging as trafficking and consumption hubs. It says opium is mainly produced in Afghanistan and shipped through the so-called Balkan route into Turkey and West Europe.

Director of Division for Operations of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime Miwa Kato tells VOA the growing opioid crisis, that is the non-medical use of prescription drugs, is becoming a major threat to public health and law enforcement worldwide.

“It is now accounting for three-quarters of addiction-related deaths around the world. So, it is a growing concern both in contexts like the North America context where the media attention very much is, but also in large parts of Africa and parts of Asia, where we do see similar problems,” Miwa Kato said.

Field Of poppies, Opium
Field Of poppies, Opium. Pixabay

The report finds 275 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 used illicit drugs at least once last year and nearly one-half-million drug abusers have died. Kato says the data is always very conservative and the true number of users and deaths is likely to be much higher.

The report says cannabis was the most widely consumed drug in 2016. It says it is too early to know the impact of the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis.

Also read: Fighting Cocaine Addiction! Buddhist Monastery in Thailand known for its Drug Rehabilitation Program

But the report says data from Colorado, one of the first states in the U.S. to legalize marijuana, show a rise in emergency hospital admissions from marijuana intoxication and an increase in traffic accidents and deaths. (VOA)

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SpaceX Launches 60 Mini Satellites for Cheaper Global Internet

The Falcon rocket blasted into the morning sky, marking the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX

SpaceX, Satellites, Global
FILE - A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket, with a payload of 60 satellites for SpaceX's Starlink broadband network, lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, May 23, 2019. VOA

SpaceX launched 60 mini satellites Monday, the second batch of an orbiting network meant to provide global internet coverage.

The Falcon rocket blasted into the morning sky, marking the unprecedented fourth flight of a booster for SpaceX. The compact flat-panel satellites – just 575 pounds (260 kilograms) each – will join 60 launched in May.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk wants to put thousands of these Starlink satellites in orbit, to offer high-speed internet service everywhere. He plans to start service next year in the northern U.S. and Canada, with global coverage for populated areas after 24 launches.

Last month, Musk used an orbiting Starlink satellite to send a tweet: “Whoa, it worked!!”

SpaceX, Satellites, Global
SpaceX employees work on the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will astronauts to and from the International Space Station, from American soil, as part of the agency’s commercial crew Program, in Hawthorne, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. VOA

Employees gathered at company bases on both coasts cheered when the first-stage booster landed on a floating platform in the Atlantic.

“These boosters are designed to be used 10 times. Let’s turn it around for a fifth, guys,” company’s launch commentator said.

This also marked the first time SpaceX used a previously flown nose cone. The California-based company reuses rocket parts to cut costs.

Stacked flat inside the top of the rocket, the newest satellites were going to maneuver even higher following liftoff, using krypton-powered thrusters. SpaceX said there was a potential problem with one of the 60 that could prevent it from moving beyond its initial 174 mile-high (280 kilometer-high) orbit. In that case, the faulty satellite will be commanded to re-enter and burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere.

Also Read- Macron Says Global Political System in Unprecedented Crisis

Each satellite has an autonomous system for dodging space junk. In September, however, the European Space Agency had to move one of its satellites out of the way of a Starlink satellite. SpaceX later said it corrected the problem.

SpaceX is among several companies interested in providing broadband internet coverage worldwide, especially in areas where it costs too much or is unreliable. Others include OneWeb and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.

According to Musk, Starlink revenue can help SpaceX develop rockets and spacecraft for traveling to Mars, his overriding ambition. (VOA)