They call it "Sin City" for a reason. Law enforcement officials claim that Mexican drug cartels are now working to establish a direct foothold in Vegas and are using it as a stepping stone to sell mass quantities of drugs to the East. Although the majority of drugs entering the US still come through Phoenix or Southern California, there has been a marked increase in drugs coming through Vegas. Kent Bitsko, executive director of a Nevada-based interagency drug task force, says within the last 18 months there were five instances of direct contact between the region's drug traffickers and Mexican cartels—indicating a step rise in the last several years of cartel-related drug activity. “The only time we will say cartel involvement is when they have the ability to call directly to Mexico and arrange their narcotics to come up here,” he said. Last year, task forces seized more than $66 million in drugs in Southern Nevada—more than double the amount seized in 2010, according to authorities. Most of the confiscated drugs consisted of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and meth. “We’ve done search warrants on homes and found (more than) 100 pounds of meth,” said Lt. Laz Chavez of Metro Police's narcotics section. “There’s no way that much can be sold just in Las Vegas.” Vegas police hope to avoid any cartel violence from occurring in their city, with Bitsko claiming that other US cities, including Phoenix and San Diego, have seen a recent increase in cartel-related kidnappings. “We just want to do whatever we can to keep that from happening,” said Chavez.
The Swiss reputation for sparkling cleanliness is being challenged by a new report that shows the cities of Bern, Geneva, Lucerne and Zurich are amongst the highest for cocaine use in Europe. Published in Science of the Total Environment, the findings were based on tests of the sewage water of 15 million people in 19 European cities. The quantity of cocaine in Swiss city sewers was found to be amongst the highest in all of Europe—even climbing up to four times higher during events such as the Zurich Street Parade and music festivals. The research also found that Europeans consume approximately 356 kilos of cocaine every day—or 10-15% of the global production—according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. "The amounts of cocaine...were in the same range as those European cities with the highest consumption," said Christoph Ort of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. Swiss cities consume, on average, 1.5 grams per day per 1,000 people. Barcelona, London, Milan and Paris aren't far behind, however, with residents of these cities registering average use of 0.5-1 gram of the drug, followed by Scandinavian cities like Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki. The research also indicated that the drug is used most widely in central and western Europe, as opposed to eastern and northern regions.
It would seem obvious that you should never drink while operating heavy machinery, but the Port Authority in NYC apparently needed to address that exact issue. In light of several incidents of construction accidents at the Ground Zero site and daytime drinking among workers, the agency is cracking down on workday drinking by upping the budget for its inspector general and adding undercover investigators to the unit. More than 20 workers have already lost their credentials, and it won't stop there. “Look, vodka and steel beams and a construction site don’t mix,” says Port Authority chief Pat Foye. “We are not going to tolerate it. This has been a longtime problem in the construction industry. But this is the most complicated construction project anywhere.” In February, 40 tons of steel crashed 40 stories to the ground, followed by an incident last June where a worker was impaled on a length of steel after falling five feet. Just one day after that, glass rained down on the street after a beam crashed into windows 46 stories up. All of the incidents occurred at 4 WTC, one of the towers being built alongside 1 WTC, nicknamed "The Freedom Tower." It's unclear if the incidents were drinking related, but the Port Authority is refusing to take any chances. “There is no place at the World Trade Center for risky or irresponsible behavior of any kind,” says Bud Perrone, a spokesman for the developer, Silverstein Properties.
Word on the street is that marijuana is relaxing (unless you forget how to breathe or think the cops have bugged your cellphone)—but the paranoia-inducing drug has been found to cause anxiety in teens, according to a recent study from Australia. Published in the journal Addiction, researchers drew from results of a 15-year study (1992-2008) of 2,000 Victorian secondary students, and found that teenagers who smoked pot once a week or more for at least six months, had more than double the risk of developing an anxiety disorder for up to a decade later. The connection between anxiety and cannabis use was consistent even when researchers took other possible explanations into account—such as other drug use or pre-existing mental health problems. “Given that anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder in the Australian population…we need to investigate the findings further because it is highly possible that early cannabis use causes enduring mental health risks,'' says the study's lead author Louisa Degenhardt, adding that cannabis use during adolescence seems to have “a persistent association with anxiety disorders” continuing into adulthood. “During the teen years the parts of the brain that are involved in managing emotions are still developing rapidly and it is highly possible that heavy cannabis use at this sensitive point could have long-lasting effects,” says study co-author George Patton, of Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute. "Some of the changes were in those parts of the brain, the limbic system, involved in emotional processing and that would be the kind of area that we would think would be implicated in problems related to anxiety.”
- Mexico’s President-Elect Signals “Internationalization” of Drug War [New America Media]
- Should Sports Ban Cannabis? [Reuters]
- Baby Boomers Have Trouble Staying Away From Drugs [ABC]
- Weed-Smoking Teens More Likely to Develop Anxiety Disorders [Sydney Morning Herald]
- As Factory Jobs Disappear, So Go America's Early Morning Taverns [Business Insider]
- Britain May Crack Down on E-Cigarettes [BioScholar]
- Kristen Bell Dishes on Dax Shepard's Drug Past [Perez Hilton]
- Jessica Simpson Now Chooses Water Over Booze [Us Weekly]
There's no two ways about it: recovery is hard. Now we can add another name to the tragic list of Celebrity Rehab alumni who haven't been able to stay sober. Season One cast member and '80s B-list movie star Brigitte Nielsen went on the show in 2007 to address her alcoholism. She appeared to be one of the success stories of her season—even declaring that she'd also kicked her tobacco addiction on an "update" special. However, photos taken yesterday show the 49-year-old actress/reality star appearing drunk, disheveled and disoriented in an LA park. Nielsen clutched a bottle of vodka and stumbled around smoking cigarettes, before falling asleep on the ground. Afterwards, she reportedly walked all the way back to her home in the Hollywood Hills.
Jennifer Gimenez, who appeared as a rehab technician on Celebrity Rehab and a sober living house manager for Dr. Drew's spinoff show Sober House, tells The Fix, "It's hard to stay sober in the public eye. It's hard to stay sober, period, I hope [Nielsen] does find help and get better." She adds, "It's consistency that matters. Just because you're enthusiastic in the beginning and have a little time, that doesn't mean sobriety suddenly gets easy. It's contrary to the way you've been living and you have to learn to live on a moment-by-moment basis." Giminez says of Nielsen, "I don't know how bad her relapse is. Sometimes going into treatment to detox is important but there's also a 12-step community that's free that's available at any time. I just hope she keeps fighting the fight. Her story is not done."
Nielsen isn't the only Celebrity Rehab star to have recently relapsed since their time in the Pasadena Recovery Center. Kari Ann Peniche was accused last month by her ex-husband of exposing their baby to meth, while Joanie "Chyna" Laurer was rushed to the hospital after passing out at several public appearances last May while promoting her adult films. Of course, Grease star Jeff Conaway, former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr and activist Rodney King have all passed away since the show.