Egypt's tourism industry fears a nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol that would likely turn travelers away in their thousands. On June 16 and 17, Egypt will hold its first presidential election since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Mohamed Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is running against Ahmed Shafik, and it's Morsi’s potential policies that are causing alarm. Extreme factions within the FJP—which has strong ties to the Islamist Muslim Botherhood—have demanded that the sale of alcohol be banned, and that beaches should segregated by sex, with revealing swimwear such as bikinis also outlawed. Naturally, such ideas have stoked strong concerns within the country’s tourism sector, and senior figures have moved to play down the possibility: “These calls are just rhetoric, an attempt to win votes,” says Omayma El Husseini, director of the Egyptian Tourist Office. “These people can say and promise what they want, but they will not deliver anything.” El Husseini adds that if such changes were enacted, they'd have ruinous effects on Egypt’s struggling economy. Tourism is vital to the country—the industry is the second highest contributor to GDP and employs at least one in ten people in Egypt. Peter Lilley, a spokesman for the Middle East and North Africa Travel Association, also doubts that such major restrictions would be imposed: “I just can’t foresee any extreme measures being introduced—they would have another revolution on their hands.”
- Brooke Mueller Returns to Rehab [Celebuzz]
She’s been in, and out, and now back to rehab: Celebuzz confirms that Brooke Mueller, the embattled ex-wife of Charlie Sheen, has returned to treatment after a "wild four-day binge" in the company of her former husband. Her rep said, “As part of her ongoing treatment and as planned, she voluntarily checked herself into a rehab facility several weeks ago.” We should have known she'd returned to treatment: she hasn’t been arrested in weeks.
- Adam Levine: “I’m Not a Sex Addict” [YourTango]
Just because Maroon 5 singer-turned-The Voice judge Adam Levine has slept with a ton of women doesn’t mean he’s a sex addict. If anything, he explains, “Maybe the reason I was promiscuous, and wanted to sleep with a lot of [women], is because I love them so much.” Sounds an excuse a lot of sex addicts would be happy to give.
Superstar Mariah Carey hasn’t spoken with her estranged sister Alison Carey in over twenty years, and their lives couldn’t be further apart. A former prostitute who is HIV-positive and spent years hooked on drugs, Alison now says she wants only to be an aunt to her niece and nephew. “I’ve had my problems over the years,” she admits, “but I want to tell Mariah I have been clean and sober for four months now and I am absolutely determined to keep my life on track.”
Katrina Darrell, better known as “Bikini Girl”—who garnered 15 minutes of fame by auditioning for American Idol back in 2009 wearing only (you guessed it) a bikini—was arrested last month for a DUI and hit-and-run. She smashed into another car and attempted to flee the scene, reportedly blowing twice the legal limit in a breathalyzer when caught. But she pleaded not guilty to her DUI on Tuesday, which has her set to return to court on June 29. Here’s hoping it goes better than her Idol audition.
Dennis Rodman, whose substance abuse and flamboyant style have attracted much media attention lately, was sentenced to 104 hours of community service in family court this week for failing to pay child support. Rodman’s manager argued earlier that the star's alcoholism damaged his professional image and made it difficult to obtain endorsements, hindering his financial prospects.
One American Indian reservation in Northern California has recently seen methamphetamine addiction almost destroy its community—and it's far from alone. The Hoopa tribe, consisting of 3,000 members living on the reservation, says that police struggle to stay on top of all the meth-related crimes in town, while their truancy rate in schools is at a whopping 60%, compared to 18% across the county. In addition, the Indian Health Service doesn't track meth use, making data—and solutions—hard to come by. But many believe that the drug use among the Hoopa and other tribes is a direct result of historical trauma. “We are a conquered people,” says Melodie George-Moore, who teaches English and Native-American literature at Hoopa High School. “Unlike any other group in the US, we are unique in that respect. That didn’t happen to any other group in this country and it continues to happen to this day…In order to understand the pressures people are living under, you have to understand how it looks from a Native perspective to be a conquered people in the US.” Meth abuse rates have hit 30% on some rural Indian reservations, while a 2006 Bureau of Indian Affairs report claims American Indians have higher rates of meth abuse than any other ethnic group, and nearly three times higher than Caucasians. Nearly 65% of all documented cases in some Indian communities involving child neglect and placement of children in foster care can be traced back to parental involvement with methamphetamine.
Men are no better at quitting smoking than women, new research suggests. Yesterday was World No Tobacco Day—a day that aims to prompt smokers of both sexes to quit. For years, a pervasive rumor has held that men have higher success rates than women when it comes to giving up. But this is definitely not the case, according to new research. A study published in Tobacco Control analyzed US, Canadian and UK data on over 102,000 smokers. The results from all three countries showed that women under the age of 50 were more likely to be successful at quitting than men—and this is especially true of women in their 20s and 30s. However for older people, this trend is reversed: men over the age of 60 seem more likely to quit successfully than older women. "Our study has found convincing evidence that men in general are not more likely to quit smoking successfully than women,” the researchers say. “The myth of female disadvantage at quitting smoking is bad, first and foremost, for women." It should be stressed that the gender-based statistical differences are relatively small; and regardless, using your sex as a reason to hold off on trying to quit is never a good idea, "It is bad for gender stereotypes in a world where inaccurate stereotypes are rife,” the researchers write. “It is time to put aside the idea that women are less successful than men at giving up smoking."
- Genes May Determine If Nicotine Gum or Patch Will Help You Quit [My Health News Daily]
- For Some, Exercise May Increase Heart Risk [New York Times]
- Is Addiction a Disease? [BBC]
International prohibition of psychedelic drugs like magic mushrooms, LSD, ecstasy and marijuana has hindered research on the brain and slowed the progress of medicine—just like George W. Bush's ban on stem cell research, according to high-profile David Nutt. "We lose sight of the fact that these drugs may well give us insights into areas of science which need to be explored and they also may give us new opportunities for treatment," he says. "Almost all the drugs which are of interest in terms of brain phenomena like consciousness, perception, mood, psychosis—drugs like psychedelics, ketamine, cannabis, magic mushrooms, MDMA—are currently illegal. So there's almost no [scientific] work in this field." These drugs are banned because most are thought to cause more harm than good, but some may have untapped benefits as well. For example, Nutt's previous study on the effects of psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) found that it suppresses brain activity linked to depression. But due to bans, Nutt has said he had to "jump through hundreds of hoops" to conduct his research—an issue that most scientists don't want to deal with.
Nutt is known for his history of going against government regulations; in 2009 he was dismissed from his position as a senior drug adviser to the UK government after complaining about drugs not being classified according to the actual level of harm they cause, and the "obscenity" of prosecuting cannabis users. His latest book, Drugs—Without The Hot Air, aims to clarify understanding of legal and illegal drugs—both recreational as well as medicinal. "If we understand drugs more, and have a more rational approach to them, we will actually end up knowing more about how to deal with drug harms," he says. "It's arbitrary whether we choose to keep alcohol legal and ban cannabis, or make tobacco legal and ban ecstasy. Those are not scientific decisions; they are political, moral and maybe even religious decisions."