When a student of New York's prestigious Poly Prep Country Day School threw a raucous party at his home in Breezy Point, Queens, on Saturday, it was his parents who ended up getting hauled away in handcuffs. Cops arrived at the scene to find "numerous minors" drinking with adults; two teens were hospitalized for alcohol abuse, and Anthony and Claire E. Reyes—aged 56 and 46—were arrested and charged with 10 counts each of endangering a child under 17. The arrests have sent shockwaves through the tight-knit, affluent communities of Rockaway Peninsula, where letting teens drink under supervision is fairly common. “The way [parents] operate is, ‘I’d rather they drink in front of me,’” says Mike Schramm, editor of The Rockaway Point News. “It’s against the law, of course, but I have a 7-year-old daughter and I don’t know if when she’s 16, 17, I’d want her drinking out in the dark on the beach.” Some Breezy Point residents, preferring to remain anonymous, call this a “stupid mentality” that is “teaching kids the wrong lessons," and leaving kids' safety in the hands of the community's private security forces. Many parents in New York's private school community have also expressed support for the Reyes' arrests, hoping that they serve as a warning to parents who let their kids drink at home. But other local residents are surprised: one neighbor said the party "sounded like innocent fun," while another adds,"It was just a party. They’re wonderful people. The kids go to Poly Prep, a beautiful school.”
The Korea Customs Service reports seizing thousands of smuggled drug capsules, so-called "stamina boosters," that are believed to contain powdered flesh from dead babies. The capsules are thought to have been made in northeastern China from babies whose bodies were chopped up and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, customs officials say. Consumers believe the unbelievable ingredient can cure disease, but the capsules also contain bacteria and other harmful ingredients. The detained smugglers told customs officials that they didn't know the ingredients or manufacturing process of the pills—and no one has yet been punished. Customs officials also refuse to say where the dead babies came from or who made the capsules, citing possible diplomatic friction with Beijing. Both Chinese officials and South Korean customs have been investigating the production of drugs made from dead fetuses or newborns since last year, and 17,450 suspected capsules from 35 different smuggling attempts have been discovered since August. But Chinese University of Medicine professor Zhu Qingwen has an alternative theory on what the pills actually contain: "The ‘flesh of dead babies’ that South Korea claims to have found is very likely to be placenta, which is human tissue as well," he says. Placenta has long been used as traditional medicine, believed to promote male "vitality."
Underage drinkers have an easy time purchasing alcohol online, according to a new study published by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recruited eight young adults—aged 18-20—to participate in a study to test whether they could buy booze online without complications. For purposes of the study, the participants were told to lie about their age when filling out the online order forms, but to admit they were not 21 if they were asked by the delivery person. Around 100 orders were placed online through different websites and deliveries were made by UPS or FedEx. By law, the US Postal Service will not accept shipments of alcohol. The results show that only 28% of orders were denied after the participant's age was revealed, and 45 of the 100 orders were successfully made and received.
“With just a few clicks on their computer or smartphone, kids can order alcohol delivered to their home,” says lead author of the study Rebecca Williams, Ph.D., research associate at UNC’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. “We were amazed at how easy it was for minors to buy alcohol online. Using their real ID and a prepaid Visa card, they could place an order for alcohol in just a few minutes and often have it delivered to their door in a matter of days without anyone ever trying to verify their age.” The researchers partly blame the delivery service providers who failed to check ID’s with 36% of the alcohol purchases being left at the door. “Some packages were left at the door, or handed to recipients after checking an underage identification or simply asking if the person receiving the package was 21. UPS procedures are put in place to reduce the risk that any minors would have access to illegal alcohol,” she says. “If UPS is involved in deliveries containing alcohol, the delivery person would need to secure an adult signature.”
- How Our Prescription Drug Obsession Is Killing Kids [Forbes]
- Alleged Cocaine Kingpin Surrenders to US [Turkish Press]
- Alcohol More Harmful for Women [India Daily News]
- Monthly Pot Use Up 80% Among Teens [WFAA]
- "Wired to Run": Aerobic Exercise Creates Cannabinoids in the Brain [NPR]
- Want To Quit Smoking? Try Acupuncture or Hypnosis [Reuters]
- Two Dolphins Killed by Heroin Substitute After Rave [Daily Mail]
- Police: Drunk Dad Was in Passenger Seat as 10-Year-Old Son Drove [KATU]
Vodka companies have many times used sex to sell the stuff at varying degrees of tastelessness, but a new brand's sales are apparently being boosted by gang violence. Southeast Red Vodka, distilled and bottled by Colorado-based Neradi3 LLC, comes in a frosted glass bottle that maps San Diego's notorious gangs on its label—all in red, a color associated with an infamous gang in the region. Locals are calling the liquor an attempt to cash in on the area's gang violence tasteless at best—and a “disaster waiting to happen” at worst. Mario Lewis, a leader of the community group 100 Strong, calls it “disgraceful” to “portray a community in gang-banging terms.” And at $20 for the 80-proof liquor, it's been flying off the shelves. San Diego accounted for the most gang-related killings in the US in the last year, and branding like this is unlikely to help alleviate the city's gang problem. Matthew T. Hall, a San Diego-based journalist, called the company hoping to get some answers for locals angry about an outsider profiteering from their region's violence problem. “If you are from southeastern San Diego, that's one thing,” he says. “If you grew up here and have pride in your neighborhood, maybe that's what this is about.” But he met with resistance from Southeast Red Vodka's spokesman: “You ain't getting no information... and I'd hate to have to sue you too. Because I really don't want to be in your article.”
Competing with the primarily Corona- and Tecate-fueled Cinco de Mayo festivities in New York this Saturday was the Big Apple edition of the annual Global Cannabis March, which shambled its way from Washington Square Park, NYC’s ancestral and spiritual home of pot-smoking, to Union Square, fast becoming an Occupy Wall Street hotspot. Legalize-it luminaries in attendance included rappers Immortal Technique and King David, Yippie “Pie Man” Aron King, John Lennon musician pal David Peel (of David Peel & The Lower East Side band fame, whose 1968 debut album was the classic—and obviously pro-pot—Have a Marijuana) and Joanne Naughton, who spoke on behalf of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Naughton spend 20 years in the NYPD, working undercover in narcotics and retiring as a lieutenant before becoming a Legal Aid Society lawyer. For much of her career, according to her LEAP bio, Naughton believed that the drug war was the right way to combat US drug problems. But, she said, “It slowly dawned on me that if the drug laws were working, we wouldn’t be continually hearing about these big drug busts." More pictures from the march can be seen here.