Riley Sheahan is going to have a lot of explaining to do at his next hockey practice. The Detroit Red Wings prospect was nabbed driving with a blood alcohol content of .30—nearly quadruple the legal limit. But it's his choice of outfit that's garnering the most attention. When he was pulled over for driving the wrong way, Grand Rapids cops reported him as being "super drunk," carrying teammate Brendan Smith's Michigan driver's license, and wearing a purple Teletubby costume. Smith wasn't at the scene of the crime, but the 23-year-old admitted he had been letting 20-year-old Sheahan use his ID to get into bars. The team's assistant general manager Jim Nill says Sheahan is "getting help right now and will continue to get help." The penalty under Michigan's new "super drunk" charge of driving with a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher is 180 days in jail; since Sheahan is Canadian, deportation is also a possibility. The Teletubby outfit has been identified as that of Tinky Winky.
Tobacco companies are still choking on the "Smoking Kills" warnings they've been forced to place on cigarette packaging, but it's about to get worse for them. US District Judge Gladys Kessler has ordered tobacco firms to pay for a public campaign that lays out "past deception" over smoking risks. A series of humiliating "corrective statements" must be made by the companies over a period of up to two years; each statement must be prefaced by the admission that the tobacco companies "deliberately deceived the American public about the health effects of smoking." One statement says: "Smoking kills, on average, 1,200 Americans. Every day." Another reads: "Defendant tobacco companies intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive." The campaign was first ordered by Kessler in 2006 after she determined that tobacco companies hid the risk of smoking for decades—but a legal battle over the details ensued. Tobacco firms objected in particular to the use of the word "deceived" in the statements. They claim the ruling amounts to "forced public confessions." But Kessler wrote that all of the corrective statements were based on findings of fact made by the court. The firms may appeal and are currently studying the ruling. The Justice Department is set to meet the companies next month to discuss how to run the statements on cigarette packs, websites, on TV or in newspapers. "Requiring the tobacco companies to finally tell the truth is a small price to pay for the devastating consequences of their wrongdoing," says Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Utah boasts the country's lowest percentage of underage drinkers, a new survey confirms; not incidentally, it's also home to the highest percentage of Mormons. An estimated 63% of Utahns are reportedly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making Utah the most religiously homogeneous state—and the religion prohibits drinking. Based on data compiled by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2010, only 14.3% of Utah residents aged 12-20 had drunk alcohol in the prior month—a rate far below the national underage average of 26.6%. Of those Utah minors who did drink, only 3% said they'd bought the liquor themselves. Tennessee, where many counties remain "dry," has the second lowest drinking rate in the country. Ranking highest was Vermont, the state of Bill W.'s birth: a whopping 37% of minors there reported alcohol consumption over the past month. “Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up,” says Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of SAMHSA, which released the survey. “Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual assault, injury, and even death.”
- US Navy Restricts Alcohol For All Servicemen in Wake of Okinawa Incidents [Japan Daily Press]
- First Legal Challenge to Marijuana Amendment in Colorado [Examiner]
- Russia "Alarmed" Over Record Afghan Heroin Bust [RT]
- Utah Has Lowest Rate of Underage Drinking [Daily Herald]
- Why Cancer Patients Keep Smoking [Everyday Health]
- TN Fights Infant Drug Addictions Without Criminalizing Mothers [The Tennessean]
- Photographing the Mexican Drug War [New York Times]
- Brad Pitt Speaks Out Against Equating Gay Marriage With Legalizing Pot [MTV]
Drinking at the holiday office party can ruin your life—maybe forever, maybe just for the following morning. But most people do it anyways. A new study (as well as at least one episode of every sitcom ever aired) suggests that boozing with co-workers has a negative impact on employee health and work habits; according to the recent online survey of over 2,000 adults conducted by Caron Treatment Centers, 64% of Americans have called in sick or know someone else who has missed a day at work because of a hangover after a holiday party. As for those who have managed to crawl in the next day, almost half were hungover, or knew someone else who was. Most of these groggy employees say they had trouble being productive: 61% arrived late or left early, 54% said they “mentally checked-out” and 46% had trouble completing work-related tasks. December is of course an especially boozy time of year, with 75% of adults saying they drink to excess during the holidays. “Alcohol is often center stage at holiday parties,” Dr. Harris Stratyner, vice president of Caron Treatment Centers, tells The Fix. “People don’t feel like they can enjoy themselves and socialize without it, and unfortunately, there are some people who discover that one or two drinks is just not enough.”
Remaining sober around co-workers during off-hours may sound like a recipe for extreme awkwardness, but Stratyner suggests a sober office party is actually a seasonal gift for all involved. “The people in charge of the organization should perhaps consider not having alcohol,” he says, noting that a company may be liable if a drunk driver gets in an accident while leaving an office party. And if alcohol is available at a party, he advises individuals to monitor their own intake. “People need to take responsibility, that’s the key word,” he says. “If people know that they have a problem drinking, they need to take responsibility and not drink if alcohol is available at a party.“ He also claims that staying sober at an event (and consequently, being more productive the day after) could help your career—and even save your job. “These days, with the way the economy is, you’d have to be out of your mind to get drunk at an office party or even take the chance of getting inebriated because it’s so competitive,” he warns. “Don’t drink at office parties. It’s an hour or two out of your life, and if you can’t go without having a drink at an office party, you need to call a treatment center."
The loss of a pretty face in Mexico has grabbed press attention, providing one more stark reminder of the ugliness of the nation's ongoing drug war. Maria Susana Flores Gamez, a Mexican beauty queen who had even represented her country abroad, was killed this weekend during a confrontation between soldiers and a group of drug traffickers in an armored vehicle. The 22-year-old had allegedly been traveling with the traffickers, who initiated the skirmish, resulting in the death of Gamez, her boyfriend, two soldiers and one more civilian. The group she was involved with are thought to be linked with Orso Iván Gastélum (aka El Cholo Iván or El Cholo Vago) a notorious leader of the Sinaloa cartel—one of the two most powerful organized crime gangs in the country. In a beauty pageant this past February, Gamez was voted the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa (a state in Northwestern Mexico that has been ravaged by cartel violence). In 2009, she was named Model of the Year, and in May, she represented Mexico at the Miss Oriental Tourism International pageant, held in China. The drug war in Mexico has claimed an estimated 60,000 lives in the past six years.