The creators of the Flabongo seem to have felt the world needed a way to make binge drinking more attractive, easy and fun. The solution? A device resembling an average pink garden flamingo—with the beak sawn off and a hole cut in the bottom of its belly—that makes getting uncontrollably wasted very quickly more garish than ever, and can now be bought online. Binge drinking enthusiasts say that the Flabongo has a couple of distinct advantages over the traditional beer bong: you don't have to rummage for a hose and funnel to make one, and its hard, plastic design makes it easy to chug alone—although of course that would mean no one to hold your hair in the bathroom later. The Flabongo's makers didn't respond when asked to comment, but their product can carry up to three beers; the foolhardy reveler then holds it up high, tips it over and drinks from its beak-less mouth.
It's (naturally) proving popular with college students, who find it a novel way to bong beer. "It's just one of those things that are so... stupid or impractical that college kids need to have one," Tommy, a freshman, tells The Fix. From what he's seen, the whole drinking-from-a-flamingo thing definitely drives partiers to drink more. "It's one of those 'You have got to try this!' things," he admits, "and you can't really say no... especially when you already have a few drinks inside of you." This novelty factor is even attracting a post-college crowd: Sarah, a professional New Yorker in her 20s, tells The Fix that her blue chip company once provided Flabongos at a casual client meeting. “They got everyone really drunk really fast since everyone was chugging it in a contest fashion,” she recalls. “The danger is you get drunk really quickly, get light-headed, and don't realize you're drunk right away.” This dangerous effect is sure to be amplified for underage drinkers—and with 30% of girls between 13 and 15 reporting that they binge drink, providing a funner, pinker way to do it is unlikely to bring good news. But that's unlikely to stop those who say nothing fits the bill like chugging beer passed backwards through the digestive system of a plastic pink bird.
After a decade of controversy and bad press in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military is utilizing a very different strategy to combat drug smuggling in Honduras: small-footprint missions with limited troop numbers, partnerships with foreign military and police forces, and narrowly-defined goals. Around 90% of Colombian and Venezuelan cocaine passes through Central America to the US each year—and with a third of that (250-300 tons) coming via Honduras, the country has become the new focus in America's drug war. But this mission adheres to strict rules: US troops are not allowed to fire unless in self-defense and are barred from responding with force—even if Honduran or Drug Enforcement Administration agents are in danger. And instead of deploying millions of troops like in Iraq and Afghanistan, just 600 are responsible for all US military efforts across Central America. “The drug demand in the United States certainly exacerbates challenges placed upon our neighboring countries fighting against these organizations—and why it is so important that we partner with them in their countering efforts,” says Vice Admiral Joseph D. Kernan, the No. 2 officer at Southern Command, which is responsible for military activities in Central and South America. The sharp decrease in permanent American deployments overseas also reflects a much smaller Pentagon budget for such purposes.
Nearly three years after Michael Jackson's death, the King of Pop still can't seem to escape sordid headlines. His former bodyguard, Matt Fiddes, gave an exclusive interview to The Sun over the weekend in which he claimed that in a drug-fueled rage, Jackson ordered his brother Randy to be killed by the Nation of Islam bodyguards that were protecting him. Jackson had been in a battle with his famous brothers for years as they tried to get him to sign a $500 million deal for a Jackson Five reunion tour. Fiddes told the British tabloid that the already-reclusive singer had become paranoid to the point that he would bar family members from entering his home. “Things reached a head when Randy was trying to force his way past the bodyguards to speak to him in one of his rented homes," said Fiddes. "Michael ordered him to be shot dead. He was out of his mind on drugs and luckily Randy was okay." Fiddes also revealed several other juicy details, including Jackson's alleged brief romance with Whitney Houston and an obsession with Pamela Anderson that apparently led to an attempt to bed her in the months before his death.
At least 14 people locked in a drug and alcohol rehab center in Lima, Peru were killed when the building caught fire early Saturday morning. Officials have not yet determined the cause, but some suspect that the blaze at the Sacred Heart of Jesus clinic started when a patient set fire to his mattress. While the only known survivor jumped from the second floor, the other patients could not escape because the doors were locked and the windows were barred. This is the second such tragedy to occur in Peru this year: another rehab center, Christ is Love, was razed by fire back in January, killing 29 people who were also locked inside, motivating Peru's Health Ministry to begin work on new regulations for rehab clinics. The aunt of an 18-year-old who died in Saturday's Sacred Heart of Jesus fire, Jennifer Rugel, says that drug rehabilitation centers in Peru, as a rule, "seal their doors with locks because those interned want to escape and are there against their will." The large majority of Peru's rehab centers are unlicensed and lacking doctors. These unlicensed clinics, often run by church groups, have sprung up to answer to the approximately 100,000 addicts in need of treatment all over the country. The Sacred Heart clinic was licensed, but that an inspection last year recommended professional health care workers and improvements to prevent overcrowding.
The economic crisis might not be bad news for everyone: it could mean rags-to-riches for California marijuana, as the state's pot growers are purchasing foreclosed homes in the suburbs and turning them into grow houses. Until recently, grow houses were predominantly located in low income commercial and rural areas, but due to the housing crisis, more and more grow houses are popping up in suburban middle-class, upper-middle-class and high-end neighborhoods. “[Growers] either buy [foreclosed homes] or rent them,” said Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “They’re buying them in places like Northern California, where the real estate market’s really taken a turn for the worse.” Grow houses have been discovered in the older suburbs in Northern California, such a Vallejo, a town 25 miles north of San Francisco; and recently, more have been discovered in newer communities such Elk Grove, near the state's capitol Sacramento. More than 70 percent of all cannabis plants confiscated across the nation took place in California in 2010 (the last year stats were available) with authorities seizing 188,297 plants at 791 indoor grow houses. Because of the financial crisis, law enforcement officials say they lack the resources to prosecute grow houses—especially in California, where communities are generally tolerant of pot cultivation. “Ten years ago if there was a grow house, we’d seize all their equipment and lamps, and they would be prosecuted,” said Sgt. Jeff Bassett, with the Vallejo Police Department. “Now the chances of being caught, or of being prosecuted if you are, are substantially less than they were 10 years ago.”
An opiate-dependent baby is born every hour in the US. It's largely due to skyrocketing rates of prescription painkiller abuse, and costs up to $20 million in treatments annually, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study's author, Marie J. Hayes, Ph.D., writes in an editorial that ran alongside the study that one big problem with treating drug addiction in pregnancy is the tendency of pregnant addicts to binge-and-withdraw—even when they’re in a maintenance program on methadone or buprenorphine. This forces the developing fetus to withdraw along with the mother, putting added stress on already delicate opiate-related neurological developments including learning, memory, emotion and cognition. Hayes also notes that pregnant women addicts prescribed buprenorphine—commonly known as Subutex or Suboxone—more often drop out of studies than women prescribed methadone, which suggests that bupe might not be the best treatment for pregnant women.
Yet general practitioners and OB-GYNs continue to hand bupe out to pregnant patients in the belief that the drug—which is less tightly controlled than methadone and can be prescribed in ordinary doctors’ offices—treats addiction. “In Maine, it is a daily happening; every physician struggles with opiate addiction in their pregnant population,” Hayes tells The Fix. “But opiate addiction is not an easy thing to manage by the seat of the pants. It’s not the kind of thing that you just give the mother buprenorphine and she’s all set. Because actually the addiction is not treated by the buprenorphine; only the [physical] dependence is treated... The real problem [in treating addiction] is psychiatric. So what doctors need to know is that the patients’ first referral should be for psychotherapy and social supports. And when you say that, everybody nods, but they don’t do it—they just give them the buprenorphine and send them on their way.”