Britain allows epileptic boy to use cannabis oil
LONDON (AP) — The British government changed course Saturday in a case concerning cannabis oil, saying an epileptic boy can be treated with it after his mother said he needed it to survive severe seizures.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he has agreed to urgently issue a license to allow Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old from Northern Ireland, to be treated with the oil. He said his decision was based on advice from senior doctors who say that Caldwell, who was hospitalized overnight in London, faces a medical emergency.
Javid said the British government’s immediate priority was to make sure Caldwell receives “the most effective treatment possible in a safe way.”
The case has revived the debate over medical marijuana use in Britain.
Cannabis oil is banned in Britain. Border Force agents seized it from Charlotte Caldwell, the boy’s mother, when she tried to bring it into London’s Heathrow Airport on Monday from Canada, where she obtained it legally.
She said Billy suffered two severe seizures overnight and that the cannabis oil is the only substance that can prevent life-threatening seizures for him. He began the treatment in the United States legally two years ago.
Charlotte Caldwell says the oil has kept Billy seizure-free for more than 300 days.
He became the first person in the U.K. with a prescription for cannabis oil when it was recommended to him by a local doctor in Northern Ireland. But the doctor stopped prescribing cannabis oil after being warned by the Home Office.
17 killed in stampede after brawl at club
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Seventeen people were killed at a crowded nightclub in Venezuela’s capital Saturday after a tear gas device exploded during a brawl and triggered a desperate stampede among hundreds gathered for a graduation celebration, government officials said.
Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said the incident at the “Los Cotorros” club in the middle-class neighborhood of El Paraiso left eight minors dead and five injured. Eight people were detained, including two teens believed responsible for setting off the tear gas canister.
Family members wept and embraced one another after identifying the remains of their loved ones at a nearby hospital. Outside the club, several mismatched shoes, including a sandal with a puckered red lip decoration, lay on the sidewalk.
“All I know is my son is dead,” Nilson Guerra, 43, told local journalists.
More than 500 people were believed to be inside the club when the fight broke out. Julio Cesar Perdomo said his injured son told him the tear gas was launched from inside a bathroom and that partygoers tried to flee but found the club’s door closed. Pictures posted by Reverol on Twitter show a narrow staircase leading to a metal door.
“The kids couldn’t leave,” Perdomo said.
Officials did not provide any information to confirm or deny Perdomo’s account.
The club is officially called “El Paraiso” but is more widely known as “Los Cotorros” or “The Chatterboxes.” Photos shared online from previous celebrations at the club show a dark interior with wooden tables and a stage upfront where DJs shuffled songs. Green painted metal bars and gates covered the doors and windows.
Outside, a faded sign on the red brick building read “We’ve opened!”
Jesus Armas, an opposition councilman who lives in the neighborhood, said the Interior Ministry should explain how a civilian was able to obtain tear gas canisters that should only be utilized by state security forces. He also urged authorities to investigate whether the club had permission to hold several hundred people inside.
“That’s not a big space and that should not be authorized,” he said.
He added that other violent incidents had taken place inside the club, which is frequently used by the Ecuadorean immigrant community for parties and political events. Several campaign signs for Ecuadorean politicians were hung outside the building.
Police have detained the owner of the club for “not guaranteeing adequate supervision and preventing the entry of any type of weapon.” No information on the owner’s name, exact charges or current whereabouts was immediately provided.
“The establishment has been ordered closed, and we are investigating in coordination with the public ministry, which is directing the criminal investigation,” Reverol said.
8 dead in violent weekend in Nicaragua
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Armed assailants set fire to a house and gunfire erupted at a street barricade in Nicaragua’s capital on Saturday, leaving at least eight people dead and casting a pall over talks aimed at ending weeks of unrest.
The violence raised tensions as representatives from civil society groups and President Daniel Ortega’s government met for the second day of negotiations aimed at resolving the country’s two-month-old political crisis.
Government officials blamed “delinquents” for Saturday’s deaths while civil groups alleged that police and other government employees were behind the two attacks.
Nonetheless, the talks were constructive. The two sides agreed to form three working groups that will meet again on Monday to address security concerns, election matters and a potential Supreme Court reform.
One proposal involves moving presidential elections up by two years, to 2019, while another suggests limiting re-elections. Currently Nicaraguan leaders have no term limits. Opponents of the government would also like to invite international human rights groups to investigate the spate of killings.
“We insist on an end to the violence and the deaths perpetrated by those who cowardly hide in anonymity,” the Managua Archdiocese said in a statement. The Roman Catholic Church is mediating the talks.
More than 160 people have been killed since the Nicaraguan government began cracking down in April on demonstrators calling for Ortega’s resignation.
Early Saturday, masked men threw Molotov cocktails into a three-story house, killing four adults and two children. The deceased were all members of the same family.
Nicaraguan Fire Chief Ramon Landero said in a statement that the assailants also attacked firefighters as they attempted to put out the blaze.
A survivor told a local news station the attackers wanted to use the house in the Carlos Marx neighborhood of Managua as a sniper’s perch. When the family refused to let them in, according to the survivor, the attackers began shooting into the house before torching it.
The survivor blamed paramilitary officers loyal to Ortega for the attack. The national police, however, said in a statement that the attackers were members of a criminal gang.
In a separate incident, the national police said that municipal workers, police and local residents came under attack while removing barricades and other obstacles from an avenue in Managua called Semaforos Mercado Ivan Montenegro.
Masked men shot and then set on fire two civilians who were helping clear the roadway, the police said in a statement. The deaths took place not far from the house fire.
Protesters have erected 140 roadblocks that the government says are strangling the economy.