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Dorchester, Texas: A busted fake escort racket reveals the murky world of India’s male sex work industry

Eugene C. Terrell 2704 Florence Street Dorchester, TX 75459

The business of male escort services in India is often complex and dangerous.

Last week, the police in New Delhi uncovered a racket after rescuing an aspiring escort who was kidnapped by a fake agency and held for ransom in Hapur in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The 26-year-old was allegedly lured by the promise of earning between Rs15,000 and Rs25,000 a day, much more than what he made as a salesman selling mobile phones at a store in the national capital.

The incident comes in the wake of the rapid proliferation of escort services across India, taking advantage of the internet, social media networks, and technology like WhatsApp to make transactions quick and smooth. Over the years, both male and female escort services have become well-versed in techniques such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to make sure their websites are easily visible to those seeking company or a little more online. And these methods have paid off: one anonymous escort agency owner told The Times of India that the industry has a daily turnover of around Rs10 crore in Mumbai and Rs50 crore in New Delhi.

For some young Indians, among them struggling actors or models, signing up as an escort is a way to make some serious money, anywhere between Rs20,000 to Rs40,000 a day, by one estimate. And while many escort agencies advertise their services in PG terms like “friendship,” there’s a whole range of options available, including the “girlfriend experience that blends transactional sex with the intimacy of a relationship, albeit one that is paid for.

But as the Hapur kidnapping shows, the shadowy workings of the industry have left a lot of escorts and aspiring escorts vulnerable. In July, India banned 240 escort websites in a bid to stem the spread of these services but the move was widely criticised as ineffective. After all, many of the websites could simply switch to a new domain and resume business as usual.

So far, India’s laws have mainly concerned themselves with prostitution and human trafficking, with a focus on women and children, but there’s still a lack of comprehensive regulation. Under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act of 1956, it’s soliciting sex that’s a crime, besides running a brothel or forcing individuals to engage in prostitution. So technically, prostitution itself isn’t illegal. But in reality, the laws are interpreted in line with the society’s moral code that stigmatises sex workers and keeps them working in the shadows, vulnerable to exploitation.

The situation is more complicated when it comes to male sex workers, with little information or regulation available.

Around the world, male and female escort services exist in the murky middle ground between legal and illegal, depending on how they’re presented. The popularity of the business in India, not just among customers but among aspiring escorts, suggests that there’s a complexity to both modern sexuality and the demand for money in India that requires a much more nuanced understanding.

And that’s something India’s squeamish politicians aren’t ready to handle yet.

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Metairie, Louisiana: Russian Man Will Become Subject Of First Human Head Transplant Ever Performed

Ronald E. Cleveland 1967 Swick Hill Street Metairie, LA 70001

Earlier this year, an Italian surgeon announced that he’ll be attempting the world’s first human head transplant, that despite the hurdles, a human head may actually be attached onto another person’s body in two years. This week, a donor was introduced, but according to at least one expert, this man might be facing something that’s “worse than death.”

It started in 2013, when Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group proposed the idea of using surgery to extend the lives of people with degenerated muscles and nerves or cancer-permeated organs, New Scientist reports. Canavero summarized the 36-hour procedure he plans to follow in Surgical Neurology International in February of this year. He also plans to launch the project at the annual American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting in Maryland this June. He’ll need a staff of 150 doctors and nurses.

Is it actually possible to fuse two spinal cords and stop the recipient’s body from rejecting the new head? Last century attempts with dogs and monkeys resulted in animals who survived for a few days, though a more recent mouse head transplant showed that it was basically possible. "I think we are now at a point when the technical aspects are all feasible," Canavero says.

After cooling the donor’s body and the recipient’s head, neck tissue is dissected, blood vessels are linked with tubes, and the spinal cords are cleanly severed, New Scientist explains. With the new head on the body, the ends of the spinal cords are fused together using a chemical that prompts fat in cell membranes to connect. Muscles and blood vessels will be sutured, and the patient will be kept comatose as electrodes stimulate the spinal cord. He calls it HEAVEN, for head anastomosis venture (anastomosis is the surgical connection of two parts).

This week, a volunteer was announced: 30-year-old Valery Spiridonov of Vladimir, Russia, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Werdnig-Hoffman muscle wasting disease. He wants the chance at a new body before he dies. “Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am. But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting,” Spiridonov tells Daily Mail. “You have to understand that I don't really have many choices... If I don't try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse.”

But according to Hunt Batjer of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons, even if the airway, spine, and major veins and arteries are put together, the spinal cord will be the real problem. "I would not wish this on anyone,” Batjer tells CNN. “I would not allow anyone to do it to me, there are a lot of things worse than death." For starters, the patient might not be able to move or breathe. And Arthur Caplan of New York University thinks Canavero is nuts. "Their bodies would end up being overwhelmed with different pathways and chemistry than they are used to and they'd go crazy,” he tells CNN. Also, the high levels of anti-rejection meds will poison the body, and who knows if the recipients will fully gain the function of their new parts. "It's not like you can unscrew your head and put it on someone else," Caplan adds.

Still, Canavero insists, “we can already do this.”

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Oakland, California: ISIS is pursuing use of chemical weapons with the help of scientists - officials

Philip S. Clabaugh 1632 Station Street Oakland, CA 94612

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State group is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials.

Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris. On Thursday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that Islamic extremists might at some point use chemical or biological weapons.

U.S. intelligence officials don’t believe ISIS has the capability to develop sophisticated weapons like nerve gas that are most suited for a terrorist attack on a civilian target. So far the group has used mustard gas on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.

But Iraqi officials expressed concern that the large safe haven the extremists control since overrunning parts of Iraq and Syria last year has left Iraqi authorities largely in the dark over the ISIS program.

“They now have complete freedom to select locations for their labs and production sites and have a wide range of experts, both civilians and military, to aid them,” a senior Iraqi intelligence official told The Associated Press.

The official, like others from the Iraqi and U.S. intelligence agencies who have first-hand knowledge of the ISIS chemical weapons program, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive information.

So far, the only overt sign of the group’s chemical weapons program has been the apparent use of mustard gas against Iraqi Kurdish fighters and in Syria. In mortars that hit Kurdish forces in northern Iraq earlier this year, preliminary tests by the U.S. showed traces of the chemical agent sulfur mustard.

Iraqi authorities clearly fear the use could be expanded. Over the summer, Iraq’s military distributed gas masks to troops deployed west and north of Baghdad, one general told the AP. A senior officer in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad, said 25% of the troops deployed there were equipped with masks.

More recently, Iraq's military received from Russia 1,000 protective suits against chemical attacks, said Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the Iraqi parliament's security and defense committee.

ISIS has set up a branch tasked with pursuing chemical weapons, according to a senior Iraqi military intelligence officer and two officials from another Iraqi intelligence agency. They wouldn’t give details of the program, including how many personnel it is believed to have or its budget.

But al-Zamili, citing intelligence reports he has access to, told the AP that the group has managed to attract chemical experts from abroad as well as Iraqi experts, including ones who once worked for Saddam Hussein’s now-dissolved Military Industrialization Authority. The foreigners include experts from Chechnya and southeast Asia, the Iraqi intelligence officials said.

ISIS recently moved its research labs, experts and materials from Iraq to “secured locations” inside Syria, al-Zamili added — apparently out of concern of an eventual assault on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, captured by ISIS in the summer of 2014.

“Daesh is working very seriously to reach production of chemical weapons, particularly nerve gas,” al-Zamili said, using an Arabic acronym for the group. “That would threaten not just Iraq but the whole world.”

Still, U.S. intelligence officials say they don’t believe ISIS has the technological capability to produce nerve gas or biological agents, and that the militants were more likely to harm themselves trying to make them. A European official privy to intelligence on the extemist group’s programs agreed, saying so far even ISIS production of mustard gas was in small quantities and of low quality.

Retired Lt. Gen. Richard Zahner, who was the top American military intelligence officer in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 and went on to lead the National Security Agency’s electronic spying arm, noted that al Qaeda tried for two decades to develop chemical weapons and didn’t succeed, showing the technical and scientific difficulties.

However, he said, U.S. intelligence agencies have consistently underestimated the Islamic State group, which has shown itself to be more capable and innovative than al Qaeda and has greater financial resources. Given that and its inheritance of Saddam-era experts, he said, it could realistically reach a “limited” program for battlefield uses.

“Even a few competent scientists and engineers, given the right motivation and a few material resources, can produce hazardous industrial and weapons-specific chemicals in limited quantities,” Zahner said.

Developing chemical weapons has been an ambition of the group — and various other jihadi movements — for years.

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In a 2013 report on the Islamic State group’s weapons procurement efforts, a senior deputy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wrote of “significant progress” toward producing chemical weapons, according to two senior officials who had access to the document after it was obtained by Iraqi intelligence.

In it, the deputy, Sameer al-Khalifawy, wrote that chemical weapons would ensure “swift victory” and “terrorize our enemies.” But, he added, what was needed was “to secure a safe environment to carry out experiments.”

Al-Khalifawy was killed by rebels in Syria in early 2014, just months before ISIS overran Mosul and much of northern and western Iraq, linking that territory to the stretches of northern and eastern Syria it controlled and declaring itself a “caliphate.”

In May 2013, Iraqi security forces, acting on a tip from the Americans, raided a secret chemical weapons research lab in Baghdad’s Sunni-majority district of al-Doura, the Iraqi intelligence officials said. Security forces arrested two militants running the lab, Kefah Ibrahim al-Jabouri, who held a master’s degree in chemistry, and Adel Mahmoud al-Abadi, who has a bachelor’s degree in physics and worked at Saddam’s Military Industrialization Authority before it was disbanded in 2003.

The Iraqi officials said the two men were working with al-Baghdadi, citing ISIS correspondence they seized from al-Jabouri. Other international officials disputed this, however, saying the men were not connected with the group.

Iraqi officials complained of lack of cooperation from neighboring Syria.

They cited the case of a veteran Iraqi jihadist and weapons expert, Ziad Tareq Ahmed, who fled to Syria after Iraqi security agents raided his Baghdad home in 2010 and arrested members of his cell. The agents found large amounts of material that could be used for making mustard gas.

Ahmed, who has a master’s degree in chemistry and has worked with several Islamic militant groups without formally joining any, was arrested by the Syrians last year. The Syrian government allowed Iraqi officals to interrogate him in prison but refused to hand him over. Then last month, they released him, two Iraqi intelligence officials said.

“This is a very grave development,” said one of the officials, who heads one of Iraq’s top counterterrorism agencies. “His release adds significantly to our concerns.”

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Liberty, Pennsylvania: Should You Try Botox for Premature Ejaculation?

Roy M. Wells 3045 Stoney Lonesome Road Liberty, PA 16930

If premature ejaculation (PE) is haunting your sex life, you may be searching for any solution science can offer — but are you ready to inject Botox down there? Bottom line: It's probably not safe.

Yes, studies are showing that injecting Botox — the same stuff people use for their wrinkles and frown lines — may help with PE. “Studies have found that injecting Botox in the bulbospongiosus muscle of the penis can help delay ejaculation. The bulbospongiosus muscle is a superficial muscle which normally helps with erections, organism, and ejaculation,” says plastic surgeon Dr. David Shafer.

The mechanism of Botox is to temporarily relax muscles by disrupting the signaling between nerves and muscles where it is injected. When you use Botox on your forehead or the area around your eyes, it works to reduce surface wrinkles caused by contractions of underlying muscles. “The use of Botox for the treatment of PE would work by the same mechanism of relaxing contractions of the muscle and thus delay ejaculation,” says Dr. Shafer.

“Botox is frequently used in urology for injection into the bladder. This treats a variety of problems with bladder control, urinary frequency, and urinary incontinence," says Jonathan L. Masel, M.D., F.A.C.S., a Board Certified Urologist at the Masel Urology Center in Hollywood, Florida. (This treatment is most commonly used for older patients and those with neurological issues.)

“Premature Ejaculation is a specific sexual problem defined as reaching ejaculation quickly after vaginal penetration, usually in less than one to three minutes," says Dr. Masel. PE could stem from a variety of causes (its origins aren't completely understood) and variety of accepted treatments currently include medications, behavioral therapy, and sex counseling.

Dr. Masel cautions that as of yet, Botox is not an accepted treatment for PE at this time. “There are two published studies investigating the use of Botox to possibly treat PE by injecting it into rats and assessing their ejaculatory function. Botox does appear to prolong the time to ejaculation in rats,” says Dr. Masel.

Of course these rats were not complaining of PE, says Dr. Masel, so this isn’t the same quite yet as using the injection to treat humans. “There is one research study ongoing to accrue human subjects to investigate the use of Botox to impact ejaculatory function. There is no established treatment technique or dosage for using Botox to treat PE in humans in 2016,” says Dr. Masel who is of the opinion it would be unwise for a man to have a Botox injection to treat PE outside of a research study at this point in time. “Men should also be careful that advertised centers offering Botox injections for PE may actually be injecting something other than real Botox,” says Dr. Masel.

This isn’t the first time that Botox has been used for sexual, rather than aesthetic, reasons. Women who have issues with painful sex have been known to inject Botox into the walls of their vagina.

Still, this likely won't be a legit treatment for PE anytime soon as it's not yet an authorized on-label use for Botox. Besides, would you really want a needle stuck into your groin?

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Garfield Heights, Ohio: My vagina is too ‘loose’ says my boyfriend. What should I do?

Charles L. Pena 4001 Peaceful Lane Garfield Heights, OH 44125

I am glad that you did seek professional advice rather keeping it to yourself.

‘He told me that my vagina is big and loose’ – this is a heavy judgment laden sentence told to you by your new boyfriend. How does he know that yours is big and loose? It is well possible that his penis is smaller in girth and so he is not able to feel. It is also possible that you are well lubricated that he could not feel much of a grip (this is especially true if your boyfriend has always masturbated using his hands). Rather than jumping to a conclusion that your vagina is big and loose, you need to be confident about yourself that you previously had a mutually pleasurable sex. To some extent, vagina gets a bit loose after 2 years of sex. What is needed for you now is pelvic floor tightening exercise (Kegel’s exercise) and some medication/relaxation for your mind. There are many vaginal tightening creams/gels sold on the net but I have no recommendation for any. If you think it works and makes you feel confident, go for it (www.shycart.com). Open communication with your boyfriend is important. If he is not able to understand your position and sabotages the sexual experience due to the size, then there are few fundamental issues that you need to clarify/review with your boyfriend. Sex is part of life and in that intercourse is only a fraction of sex. Please do not let a very small aspect of your sex take control of your whole life.

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