An Alabama pastor drew plenty of attention to his church with a series of Sunday sermons in which he admitted to drug abuse and sex with other church members.
Juan McFarland, who had been operating as pastor at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery since 1990, kicked off a sermon on Sept. 14 with confessions that he had adulterous encounters with congregates on church grounds, stole church funds to go on business trips, received an AIDS diagnosis in 2008, and abused illegal drugs. Two other equally scandalous sermons followed before the deacons unanimously voted to remove him from his position. It’s still unclear whether McFarland is still serving as moderator of the 34-church Alabama Middle District Missionary Baptist Association.
“Who does this to people?” asked one church member. “I know a young lady who is a member of the church who says she has slept with him…and she [is] running out now trying to find out if there is anything wrong with her.”
This isn’t the first drug scandal to come from a church pastor, however. Connecticut native Kevin Wallin earned the unflattering title of “Monsignor Meth” after selling large quantities of the drug out of his home for years. He served as the pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for nine years before resigning due to “personal issues” in 2011. His priesthood powers were indefinitely revoked after his arrest the following year. Wallin is still awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty, but faces anywhere from 11 to 14 years in prison on the charges.
Chad McCluskey, 44, was sentenced earlier this year to five years in prison after pleading guilty to drug conspiracy charges connected to Wallin’s business. His girlfriend, Kristen Laschober, pleaded guilty to the same charges and is awaiting sentencing. McCluskey blamed his own drug addiction for his actions and said he never intended to either become a drug dealer or have their business become so out of hand.
China is continuing its widespread crackdown on drug use by targeting the country’s film and television industry, banning movies and TV shows featuring actors who have reportedly used illegal substances.
The new regulations made by the socialist country stem from President Xi Jingping’s order last June to “strike hard” against illegal drugs. Government officials have claimed that the drug use of some Chinese celebrities creating a “detrimental influence on the development of young people” which has “corrupted the social atmosphere.” Forty performing arts organizations throughout Beijing have since signed agreements with municipal police to not hire any performers “involved with drugs.”
Nine celebrities were detained for various drug offenses earlier this year, including reality TV star Li Daimo, who was sentenced to nine months in prison for reportedly hosting crystal meth parties at his apartment. Actor Gao Hu was detained earlier this month for possession of marijuana and methamphetamines, while Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee, was arrested last month after he was found smoking marijuana in his Beijing apartment and allegedly using his home as a “shelter” for others to do drugs.
Administrative detention for a maximum of 15 days is the standard sentence for first-time offenders. However, those who are deemed addicts by police can then be forced to undergo compulsory rehab for up to three years. The conditions in these compulsory treatment centers have been reported as being worse than prison; a Health and Human Rights investigation from last year found that people were routinely subject to “torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” that included forced labor, beatings, and solitary confinement.
It’s unclear how many Chinese citizens are in these facilities, but nearly 400,000 people were sentenced for drug offenses in the first months of this year. Approximately 9,000 of those people were sentenced to either death or at least five years behind bars.
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- Man Arrested After Cocaine Falls Out Of Pocket [AZ Central]
- Man With New England Patriots Skull Tattoo Busted For Synthetic Weed [Deadspin]
- British Man Caught Buggering Teddy Bear After Crashing From Speed High [Gawker]
- Two Minors Arrested For Trying To Bail Out Buddy While Drunk [WTHR]
- Georgia Couple Accused Of Giving Toddler Booze And Cocaine [Daily Mail]
The experimental drug ZMapp has been used to treat several Ebola-infected patients, and the key to its success lies in the use of tobacco plants.
Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, the company that developed the ZMapp vaccine, injects the leaves of tobacco plants with the genes that create the necessary antibodies to neutralize the Ebola virus. The tobacco plants in turn assimilate the genes and begin manufacturing the antibody. The leaf material is harvested once the plants begin turning yellow, a sign they are about to die from infection.
While this process is more effective than using antibodies harvested from mice, it is still time consuming and costly. It costs up to $100,000 to treat a single patient and takes approximately 78 tobacco plants and up to 10 days to harvest just one dose of the Ebola-curing antibodies. And as the Ebola virus continues to spread through West Africa, Mapp Biopharmaceuticals is finding themselves in short supply.
Yuri Gleba with Icon Genetics is working with Mapp Biopharmaceuticals to streamline the laborious process and hopes to lower the amount of required tobacco plants. “If everything is properly optimized, those plants can be full of that antibody,” said Gleba.
Aside from the painstaking harvesting process, lack of government funding is also to blame for the insufficient ZMapp supply. “They’re right now manufacturing additional lots,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dir., National Institutes of Health. “It probably won’t be ready now until maybe a month-and-a-half to two months.”
Other drug companies like Chimerix Inc., Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and BioCryst are researching different experimental antiviral drugs to treat Ebola, and the World Health Organization has also approved blood transfusions from an Ebola survivor.
As the federal government slowly works towards regulating the use and taxation of electronic cigarettes, many states have enacted their own laws that could make putting future restrictions on the devices more difficult.
In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it planned to take authority over of e-cigarettes, but it wasn’t until last April that they proposed their first set of regulations. State lawmakers have filled the void by placing age restrictions on the purchase of e-cigarettes, but experts are concerned about state legislation that prevents taxes on the nicotine devices.
While most lawmakers agree e-cigarettes should not be in the hands of children, there is dispute over how the nicotine devices should be classified. Currently, 31 states have declared e-cigarettes as “alternative nicotine,” but lawmakers say this definition could hinder future taxation on the products, especially if research later determines they are unhealthy.
Members of Congress, state leaders, and public health groups have also expressed concern over the way e-cigarettes are currently marketed. The FDA has shared a similar sentiment, but said their proposal wouldn’t ban television advertisements. “Part of what is driving those elected officials are public health concerns that we share about any aspect of the marketing of this emerging technology that is appealing to the kids,” said Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.
The FDA realizes they have been slow to act on the rising use of e-cigarettes, but says they plan to implement their recent proposal as quickly as possible. “It took us too long to get the proposed rule out and we don’t intend a repeat of that as we go from proposed to final,” said Zeller.
Alcohol and drug abuse rates among adults aged 65 years or older have more than doubled in the last decade, and are expected to reach even higher numbers in the years to come.
This statistic is part of a growing number of reports on this alarming trend, which affects about 17% of the 35 million seniors in the United States. While alcohol is the substance most frequently abused by this demographic, a 2013 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that illicit drug use among adults between the ages of 50 and 64 rose from 2.7% in 2002 to 6% in 2013.
While the changes wrought upon the body by aging have a significant impact on the physical impact of alcohol and drugs on seniors, other studies have shown that retirement may have the most far-ranging effect on incipient or latent substance abuse. More specifically, it is “the conditions leading to retirement, and the economic and social nature of the retirement itself,” that may lead many seniors into greater drug and alcohol use, as Peter A. Bamberger and Samuel B. Bacharach found in studies conducted for their book Retirement and the Hidden Epidemic.
“In retirement, there can be depression, divorce, death of a spouse, moving from a big residence into a small residence,” said substance abuse counselor Steven Wollman. Seniors may turn to substance abuse as a means of curbing feelings of loneliness, anxiety, or plain boredom.
“For anyone who’s an addict, [that’s] the No. 1 trigger.” The medical community’s inability or lack of time to properly diagnose chemical dependency may also be a contributing factor, as well as the similarity between many normal signs of aging, like memory loss or confusion, and symptoms of substance impairment.
As the SAMHSA report “Substance Abuse Among Older Adults” noted, a collaborative effort between clinicians, family members, and social service providers to “be on the lookout for signs of problems” might represent the first line of defense against this growing problem.