It would seem obvious that you should never drink while operating heavy machinery, but the Port Authority in NYC apparently needed to address that exact issue. In light of several incidents of construction accidents at the Ground Zero site and daytime drinking among workers, the agency is cracking down on workday drinking by upping the budget for its inspector general and adding undercover investigators to the unit. More than 20 workers have already lost their credentials, and it won't stop there. “Look, vodka and steel beams and a construction site don’t mix,” says Port Authority chief Pat Foye. “We are not going to tolerate it. This has been a longtime problem in the construction industry. But this is the most complicated construction project anywhere.” In February, 40 tons of steel crashed 40 stories to the ground, followed by an incident last June where a worker was impaled on a length of steel after falling five feet. Just one day after that, glass rained down on the street after a beam crashed into windows 46 stories up. All of the incidents occurred at 4 WTC, one of the towers being built alongside 1 WTC, nicknamed "The Freedom Tower." It's unclear if the incidents were drinking related, but the Port Authority is refusing to take any chances. “There is no place at the World Trade Center for risky or irresponsible behavior of any kind,” says Bud Perrone, a spokesman for the developer, Silverstein Properties.
Word on the street is that marijuana is relaxing (unless you forget how to breathe or think the cops have bugged your cellphone)—but the paranoia-inducing drug has been found to cause anxiety in teens, according to a recent study from Australia. Published in the journal Addiction, researchers drew from results of a 15-year study (1992-2008) of 2,000 Victorian secondary students, and found that teenagers who smoked pot once a week or more for at least six months, had more than double the risk of developing an anxiety disorder for up to a decade later. The connection between anxiety and cannabis use was consistent even when researchers took other possible explanations into account—such as other drug use or pre-existing mental health problems. “Given that anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder in the Australian population…we need to investigate the findings further because it is highly possible that early cannabis use causes enduring mental health risks,'' says the study's lead author Louisa Degenhardt, adding that cannabis use during adolescence seems to have “a persistent association with anxiety disorders” continuing into adulthood. “During the teen years the parts of the brain that are involved in managing emotions are still developing rapidly and it is highly possible that heavy cannabis use at this sensitive point could have long-lasting effects,” says study co-author George Patton, of Melbourne's Murdoch Children's Research Institute. "Some of the changes were in those parts of the brain, the limbic system, involved in emotional processing and that would be the kind of area that we would think would be implicated in problems related to anxiety.”
- Mexico’s President-Elect Signals “Internationalization” of Drug War [New America Media]
- Should Sports Ban Cannabis? [Reuters]
- Baby Boomers Have Trouble Staying Away From Drugs [ABC]
- Weed-Smoking Teens More Likely to Develop Anxiety Disorders [Sydney Morning Herald]
- As Factory Jobs Disappear, So Go America's Early Morning Taverns [Business Insider]
- Britain May Crack Down on E-Cigarettes [BioScholar]
- Kristen Bell Dishes on Dax Shepard's Drug Past [Perez Hilton]
- Jessica Simpson Now Chooses Water Over Booze [Us Weekly]
There's no two ways about it: recovery is hard. Now we can add another name to the tragic list of Celebrity Rehab alumni who haven't been able to stay sober. Season One cast member and '80s B-list movie star Brigitte Nielsen went on the show in 2007 to address her alcoholism. She appeared to be one of the success stories of her season—even declaring that she'd also kicked her tobacco addiction on an "update" special. However, photos taken yesterday show the 49-year-old actress/reality star appearing drunk, disheveled and disoriented in an LA park. Nielsen clutched a bottle of vodka and stumbled around smoking cigarettes, before falling asleep on the ground. Afterwards, she reportedly walked all the way back to her home in the Hollywood Hills.
Jennifer Gimenez, who appeared as a rehab technician on Celebrity Rehab and a sober living house manager for Dr. Drew's spinoff show Sober House, tells The Fix, "It's hard to stay sober in the public eye. It's hard to stay sober, period, I hope [Nielsen] does find help and get better." She adds, "It's consistency that matters. Just because you're enthusiastic in the beginning and have a little time, that doesn't mean sobriety suddenly gets easy. It's contrary to the way you've been living and you have to learn to live on a moment-by-moment basis." Giminez says of Nielsen, "I don't know how bad her relapse is. Sometimes going into treatment to detox is important but there's also a 12-step community that's free that's available at any time. I just hope she keeps fighting the fight. Her story is not done."
Nielsen isn't the only Celebrity Rehab star to have recently relapsed since their time in the Pasadena Recovery Center. Kari Ann Peniche was accused last month by her ex-husband of exposing their baby to meth, while Joanie "Chyna" Laurer was rushed to the hospital after passing out at several public appearances last May while promoting her adult films. Of course, Grease star Jeff Conaway, former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr and activist Rodney King have all passed away since the show.
The beleaguered Mexican army is reportedly turning to high-tech spy technology in its efforts to combat the country's violent drug traffickers. Mexican newspaper El Universal recently published secret government contracts from 2011-2012, showing that a top army general purchased more than $350 million in "spy gear" that can be used to record cellphone conversations and mine data. The purchases reportedly also included a radar scanner capable of seeing through walls. With no exact details given as to how these tools could help track drug traffickers, various military sources claim they will be used for "various tasks, including political espionage." The Department of Defense denies this, saying the technologies were purchased for legal crime-fighting purposes and to help Mexico stay on top of the technological age. Adding to the intrigue, the company that's supplying the technology—listed on the contracts as "Security Tracking Devices"—is nowhere to be found, claim reporters—who followed the company's purported address to a "run-down residential area".
If the tools are really intended to bring down drug traffickers, some still worry that they could be misused, or end up in the wrong hands—especially given Mexico's history of government corruption and lack of transparency when it comes to surveillance. In recent years, the military has reportedly installed over 100 monitoring systems to intercept and monitor communications, with help from the US. And just last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized Mexico's building of its surveillance capacity. Although interception of communications legally requires judicial approval, the country's legal system is notoriously problematic and corrupt—with only one in 100 crimes reportedly ever reaching a judge. Human Rights Watch has accused the Mexican military—which has received US guidance in cracking down on drug cartels—of operating with “near total impunity.”
Kristen Johnston read from her brand new foreword to the paperback edition of her New York Times bestselling addiction memoir Guts yesterday at a beachside Malibu BBQ thrown by The Fix and Malibu Beach Sober Living's Beach House. The hardcover was released in March; the paperback will be out in January. Guests noshed on burgers (turkey burger options, of course—we were in California), fruit and chocolate chip cookies, while sipping on water, juice and caffeine—in its many forms. Johnston read sections both heartwarming and heartbreaking to a crowd including actors Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld, as well as Johnston's co-star on her TV Land series The Exes) and Meredith Scott Lynn (Legally Blonde), as well as recovery luminaries like Charlie Bentz (co-owner of Malibu Beach Sober Living's Beach House), Recovery Media Chairman Paul McCulley and Fix co-founder Joe Schrank. Afterwards, as K-Jo signed copies of Guts out on the deck, the ocean breeze wafted in on Grace Slick from the Jefferson Starship as she spoke about her sobriety and her newfound art: painting. Delicious food, creativity and an ocean view—not a bad way to celebrate recovery.