The mayor of Fukoka, Japan has mandated a dry spell for all city employees after a catalog of drunken behavior. Until next month, all 20,000 municipal personnel are banned from any public drinking: that means not one drop at restaurants, bars, public functions—and even at the homes of friends and family. The only exceptions are in their own homes and at their own weddings—drinking at someone else's wedding is still a no-no. “It is shock therapy to reform the consciousness of city officials,” says Mayor Soichiro Takashima. He says he was forced to law down the law after too many booze-fueled mishaps from his underlings. One intoxicated fireman was arrested for stealing a car, while the deputy headmaster of a municipal elementary school was arrested for driving drunk in his in February. Then a city port bureau official allegedly assaulted a taxi driver while under the influence. But the last straw for the mayor was a drunken throw down between a city childcare division employee and a former colleague—leaving one of the men hospitalized. By the time the month-long ban is over, the mayor hopes to have permanent new penalties for city workers who raise a ruckus while on the sauce. "We want to restore citizens' trust by changing this climate of drinking that has grown over the years and transforming us into a brand new city hall," he declares. "I hope each of you takes this abnormal situation seriously because this matter involves everyone."
Mexican forces have arrested a suspect for the gruesome massacre that saw 49 decapitated bodies found next to a highway in Mexico last week. Daniel de Jesus Elizondo Ramirez—aka "The Madman," a leader of the Zetas drug cartel—was arrested by Mexican soldiers in the northern state of Nuevo Leon. He reportedly threw grenades and fired at troops with a rifle as they fought to take him into custody on Sunday. The killings have been called the worst crime yet committed in the Mexican drug war, which has escalated since President Felipe Calderon came into office in 2006. None of the corpses have been identified. Graffiti was sprayed at the scene where the bodies were discovered, reading “100% Z,” and a video was posted online showing men dumping a large pile of corpses on the road that night, with a message on a blanket also apparently signed by the Zetas. The Zetas have denied responsibility—even posting a sign that read, "Just because somebody goes and dumps a truck full of bodies and leave a message (supposedly) from zetas, you are not suppose to continue with your job [?]" It continued: “Gentlemen don't be fools, those who did this want to make us responsible... We are not responsible for the 49 deaths. We accept responsibility for the ones in Jalisco and the nine hanged in Nuevo Laredo. We accept responsibility for those and the banner in Nuevo Laredo."
NYC Drinking Rate, Hospitalizations on the Rise [Huffington Post]
No Booze for Russians at Summer Olympics [USA Today]
- Massachusetts Doctor's Group Opposes Medical Marijuana [Boston Globe]
New Jersey Assembly OKs Decriminalization of Small Amounts of Pot [Asbury Park Press]
Using Drugs to Help Alcoholics Break Addiction Cycle [New York Times]
- Drug Addict Steals Meat to Feed His Habit [The Mercury]
This year's National Prevention Week, organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is here—and there are many ways to get involved. The new annual observance celebrates people and organizations who work year-round to prevent substance abuse and promote mental and emotional health, and organizations across the country are hosting events to raise awareness about their work and to show people how to get involved in preventing substance abuse in their communities. Some of the central issues to be addressed include the prevention of underage drinking, prescription drug abuse and suicide. As for the timing, spring is a crucial time for drug abuse education, since first-time marijuana, cigarette and alcohol use among youth tends to rise between April and July, partly due to graduations and outdoor events and parties, which often involve alcohol and drugs.
To get involved, check out this map to find an event in your area, and sign the prevention pledge to commit to a substance abuse-free lifestyle. You can also download the National Prevention Week Toolkit to help you plan an event in your own community. The theme of this year's National Prevention Week is: "We are the ones. How are you taking action?" It's an idea that "recognizes that small, every day actions contribute to healthier, more vibrant communities," says SAMHSA director Fran Harding. The theme was introduced last year as part of SAMHSA's PSA Video Contest; below is the winning entry: "I Am More Than Meets The Eye."
Ninety-three Iranians died of alcohol-related causes in the past year, according to official statistics—despite a strict nationwide ban on the distribution and sale of alcohol. While the death rate is slightly down on the year before, health officials are concerned about a rise in alcohol consumption in Tehran; 18 of the 86 men and seven women who died were in and around the capital. “We sometimes get reports from hospitals and doctors on the consumption of alcohol from neighborhoods in the south of Tehran which are worrying,” says Deputy Health Minister Baqer Larijani. In addition, the official stats are likely to be an underestimate in a country with such strict laws, so the real number of deaths may be significantly higher. The report doesn't specify the extent to which poisoning from homemade brews like Arak—a drink made from raisins—was to blame. But police chief Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam claims there are 200,000 alcoholics in Iran, with 60-80 million liters of alcohol smuggled into the country each year, mainly from Iraqi Kurdistan. “The extent of alcohol use in the Islamic Republic of Iran is considerable," said the World Health Organization in a report back in 2003. Alcohol smuggling into Iran is now said to be a $730 million-a-year business, despite the risks of clashes with border guards, prison or the death penalty.
The upcoming Prohibition-era drama Lawless—starring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce—is being widely interpreted as a parable for the drug war of today. “There are a lot of parallels to today, with the economic crisis, the political crisis, the war on drugs," says director John Hillcoat. "At one point we even had a montage at the beginning with what was happening now with the Mexican cartels, and that wound back to the '80s cocaine wars in Cuba and heroin in New York...until we landed on Prohibition. That was the birth of serious crime, and it feeds into everything that's going on today." Lawless is set in Franklin County, Virginia in the 1920s, and centers on a family bootlegging business that becomes threatened by rivals. It's set for released in August, and heavy violence and lots of intense gun battles are guaranteed. Prohibition is often blamed for the widespread mob violence of the '20s, so naturally reporters asked Hardy and LaBeouf for their opinions while they were promoting their movie at the Cannes Film Festival. "Next question, next question,” stonewalled LaBeouf. But Hardy was a little more forthcoming. "As the professional—in retirement," he said, "I don't want to make any political statements. There's a good argument to say 'legalize drugs' and a good argument to say [don't]...That's my stand—whatever floats your boat. Just don't get caught.”