Marijuana has long been associated with short-term memory loss, but this is ridiculous: a pot-smoking mother has been arrested for leaving her five-week-old baby on the roof of her car and driving away after smoking pot. As her journey continued, 19-year-old Catalina Clouser didn’t even notice when her baby—still in his car seat—fell off the top of her car and landed in the middle of an intersection. It was the Arizona teen's neighbors who noticed the car seat in the roadway and found the baby was inside, miraculously unharmed. "We were both rolling our eyes in astonishment that someone could forget their baby," says Leilani Gerlach, who lives across from the intersection. "The car seat was turned to the side so anyone passing by wouldn't be able to tell there was an actual baby inside. Thank God they stopped." According to officials, the woman had been smoking marijuana with her boyfriend and friends at a nearby park. After leaving the park around midnight, she forgot that she put her sleeping baby on the roof of her car. “[She] had gotten into her car, set the baby seat on top of the car and forgot that the child was up there. It does not appear that immediately she realized what happened," says Officer James Holmes with the Phoenix Police Department. "We believe that whatever she was under the influence of was the deciding factor in what did happen to this child and we're extremely happy that for the baby this turned out well and the baby is going to be OK." The child has been taken into protective custody, while Clouser is charged with a DUI and child abuse.
- In California, Furious Fight Over Raising Cigarette Tax [New York Times]
- Drug Cartels Suspected in Five Deaths in Arizona Desert [LA Times]
- Bolivia Dismantles 250 Cocaine Labs [Fox News]
- Efforts to Ban Synthetic Marijuana Prove to Be Difficult [USA Today]
- Justin Blackmon's Blood Alcohol Was Three Times Limit [NFL.com]
- Pot-Smoking Mother Drives Off With Baby on Roof [Huffington Post]
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you've heard the horrific story of the “Miami Cannibal,” Rudy Eugine, who chewed the face from poor Ronald Poppo before being shot by police. Speculation has centered on the idea that the killer was crazed on the designer drug “bath salts,” which police are erroneously comparing to a “potent form of LSD." These claims have been widely repeated in reports on the attack—without any proof as yet that the killer had taken the drug. Still, framing the attack like this has had a predictable effect: namely, countless outraged editorials decrying the use of the drug and calling for bans. “If anyone needs more proof that drugs are dangerous,” says one typical article, “the report of the naked Miami face-eating man is enough to scare anyone clean and sober.” And then there's the president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Armando Aguilar, who has already moved from "suspecting" that bath salts are involved, to apparently being sure of it. “I have a message for whoever is selling it out there,” Aguilar says. “You can be arrested for murder if you are selling this [new] LSD to people, unsuspecting people on the street and somebody ends up dying as a result you will be charged with murder.”
Now “drugs” are again being blamed in the recent New Jersey case of a man who disemboweled himself and threw his own intestines at the cops. Expect to see more of this; “bath salts” are apparently the new drug bogeyman, so they're unlikely to escape the blame for much in the next few months. Nothing sells like a good drug scare—remember crack babies? But as Professor David Nutt recently pointed out in The Guardian, such hysteria helps no one—least of all addicts—and the truth is often a far cry from the picture painted by politicians and the popular press.
Alcohol and illicit drugs account for about one in eight accidental drug poisonings of infants and toddlers in the US, according to registry data from 31 toxicology centers. Sixteen percent of confirmed poisonings were from cardiac drugs, 15% from psychotropic drugs and 13% from recreational drugs and alcohol—and ER visits for poisoning by children aged five and under rose 30% from 2001 to 2008. "Infant and toddler poisonings pose a unique public health concern," says Dr. Yaron Finkelstein, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the University of Toronto. "They involve among the most helpless and vulnerable populations in our society, partly because of their inability to protect themselves from environmental hazards, or communicate the circumstances of their injury." The report comes on the heels of several well-publicized infant and toddler poisoning stories. Just a few weeks ago, the pretrial began for several members of one Ohio family over the death of a 17-month-old baby from methamphetamine poisoning. The real numbers of such poisonings may be significantly higher than reported, as the National Poison Data System (NPDS), run by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, relies mainly on volunteered information. "The NPDS system probably underestimates the true magnitude of the problems," says Finkelstein, "since less than 20% of poisoned children who actually present to the emergency department have contacted the regional poison control center."
There could just be one good thing about going to sleep drunk: bed bugs will be less likely to bite you. While the common bed bug has driven more than one human crazy with its blood-lust, it turns its nose up at blood with a high alcohol content, according to new research from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln—a preference that may well benefit the bugs, but not so much sober people. The study shows that the higher the blood alcohol concentration, the less blood the bugs consume; as a result, they also lay fewer eggs. But before you start binging to prevent an infestation, keep in mind that while the bugs feed less, they do still feed and lay eggs—95% of which will still hatch. And it only takes a few to create a problem. "I'm not going to suggest someone should consume alcohol to control bed bugs," Ralph Narain, a Ph.D. candidate who conducted the work as part of his dissertation, hastily states. Dini Miller, an entomologist and bed bug expert from Virginia Tech, agrees: "I don't know what sort of implications it has ultimately, because unfortunately they still produce enough eggs to cause an infestation. So while they feed less, still, we're not going to experience less of a problem. But it's very interesting to know."
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.”