Now that China has finally re-opened its doors to tequila, Mexican drink-makers are hoping to export lots—and lots, and lots—of tequila to the world's most populous country. This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a bilateral agreement allowing import of "pure agave" tequila into China for the first time since 2008. The country had limited import of the spirit due to legal and sanitary restrictions, allowing only lower quality "mixto" tequila containing 51% agave sugar. But Chinese health authorities changed their rules last week and determined that pure tequila has no detrimental health effects. Currently, margarita-loving Americans consume 80% of the world's tequila—even beating out Mexico. But China—with its 1.3 billion inhabitants—could present a promising new market for tequila producers, and many are hopeful that the spirit will take off. "It's a Mexican product that will conquer the preferences of Chinese consumers," says Ramon Gonzalez, director of Mexico's tequila promotion council. "The potential of this industry is that in five years, we can reach 10 million liters in exports."
Patrón—one of the world's biggest tequila makers—has already begun exploring how to cater to its new consumers by researching Chinese culture. "We hire people there to look at their customs, culture, gastronomy, to see how they pair their meals to bring out the best tasting experience," says David Rodriguez, Patrón production director based in Jalisco state. China's most popular alcoholic drinks are beer and a strong traditional Chinese spirit called baijiu, and 95% of the hard alcohol consumed in the country is produced there. Though tequila will have competition by Chinese drink-makers, Rodriguez believes the spirit has a strong chance of success because of its "western" appeal. "The Asian markets are seeking to westernize when it comes to prestigious brands, the brands consumers aspire to," he says. "I'm convinced that we're going to be very successful."
Addicts in the Swedish town of Falköping could soon be relegated to a human fishbowl—or awarded with a glass palace—depending on how you look at it. Two local Moderate Party politicians put forth the motion this week to give alcoholics and drug-addicts a glass-encased zone in the middle of the town's central square, arguing it would lessen public disturbances and allow the "down and out" to socialize. Moderate Håkan Andersson, head of the municipal opposition, said that police and security guards have been dealing with a particularly difficult group of 10-15 addicts who keep loitering outside of the GP's office and a central home for the elderly. "You know what it's like, the down-and-out can get quite rambunctious, they make a lot of noise, so people make detours to avoid them," said Andersson. Moderate Party politician Christina Jorméus, who sent in the proposal, said she imagines the space as being similar to a bus shelter that would allow addicts to congregate and not feel isolated from the rest of the community. However, Falköping's Social Democratic local government commissioner Conny Johansson opposed the idea and compared it "an updated version of a leper colony."
Nearly seven out of ten Americans take at least one prescription drug, over 50% take two, and 20% take five or more, according to a new study by the Mayo Clinic. The most common type of medication is antibiotics (17% of those studied), followed by antidepressants (13%) and painkilling opioids (also 13%). While the statistics are from the Rochester Epidemiology Project in Minnesota, study author Jennifer St. Sauver says they are comparable to elsewhere in the US, and reveal crucial insights into current medical practices. "Often when people talk about health conditions they're talking about chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes," she explains. "However, the second most common prescription was for antidepressants—that suggests mental health is a huge issue and is something we should focus on. And the third most common drugs were opioids, which is a bit concerning considering their addicting nature." Researchers found that overall, women and older adults have more prescriptions than other groups, while young and middle-aged adults are more likely to be on antidepressants and opioids. Prescription drug use has been on the rise in the US for the last decade. The number of people taking at least one drug in the past month increased from 44% in 1999-2000 to 48% in 2007-2008.
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James Gandolfini, the actor whose performances as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos from 1999-2007 changed perceptions of what was possible in a TV show, died yesterday of a heart attack while on vacation in Rome with his son Michael. He was 51 years old. Reports indicate that Michael saw his father go into cardiac arrest in their hotel room. Friends, colleagues and fans around the world have been paying tribute to the actor, whose terrifying, tortured mob boss is widely considered among the greatest ever TV characters. Sopranos co-creator David Chase called the New Jersey native "one of the greatest actors of this or any time."
Gandolfini's battles with drugs and alcohol, including some trips to rehab, surfaced after a 2002 "tell all" interview in the National Enquirer. Back then, he said his problems with cocaine and booze worsened after he married his first wife, Marcy, and that he "hit bottom" after the birth of their first child together in 1999. He declared himself clean and said he had begun his journey to sobriety three years earlier. (His spokesman Dan Klores later accused his ex-wife Marcy of leaking the story in order to get a better divorce settlement, and said substance abuse was something the actor had "taken care of," adding: "The guy has been drug-free for quite some time.") Gandolfini, who won three Emmys and a Golden Globe for his role on The Sopranos, also received a Tony nomination for a starring role in the 2009 Broadway play God of Carnage and was acclaimed for roles in films like True Romance, Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly. He is survived by his second wife, Deborah Lin, and their eight-month-old daughter, Liliana.
A man in Radomskom, Poland might not be smiling for a while. After visiting the dentist for a routine crown, his "drunken" dentist pulled out his front tooth, then kicked him out and hid from police. Polskie Radio reports that the patient suspected the dentist was drunk when he polished the tooth and gave the patient five jabs of anesthetic, but the patient didn't react until it was too late. "After a few minutes, the 28-year-old saw that his front tooth had landed in the bin, and at that moment he decided to protest,” says police spokeswoman Aneta Komorowka. After the patient requested dental records, the 50-year-old dentist booted him from the surgery room, and then barricaded himself in his office. When police broke in, they confirmed that the dentist was under the influence of alcohol. Police will determine the dentist’s exact charges once medical examiners calculate the extent of the patient’s injury.