Secondhand smoke can be fatal for newborns, according to a University of Sydney study that found exposure to cigarette smoke significantly increases probability of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Of the 67 babies that died of SIDS in the study's research group, an overwhelming 81% of them had been exposed to cigarette smoke. "We found any smoke exposure in the home resulted in a greater number of cells dying in the brain stem which controls heart rate, respiration and sleep and arousal," says researcher Dr. Rita Machaalani. According to the study, not only do babies living in a home with a smoker have a three-fold risk for SIDS, but babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy are five times more likely to die of the condition. "I don't know how tobacco companies sleep straight in bed," says Ros Richardson, from the organization SIDS and Kids. "The most outstanding risk factor is tobacco smoke and it's one of the hardest ones to shake."
For technology addicts, digital communications may eclipse face-to-face human contact entirely, according to new research from UK digital marketing company DNX. The study of 1,000 British adults found 16% to be "digitally dominant"—meaning they communicate mainly via texting or the internet. And about 19% of this group—3% of the overall total—are so dependent on technology that they may go 48 hours or more without any spoken interaction at all. These "techno addicts" are four times less likely to buy food from a store, preferring to order meals online or from a vending machine. They're also more likely to use an ATM over a teller, for example, and to utilize other forms of digital customer service in place of human interaction wherever possible. "The digital revolution has given us all immense choice in the way we deal with situations from financial transactions to purchasing goods" says Drew Nicholson of DNX, "but it should not be used to replace the art of conversation and human contact. There are a significant minority who are using the far-reaching benefits of digital as a substitute for real personal engagement."
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel publicly lampooned Obama’s medical marijuana crackdown while addressing the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday night. "What is with the marijuana crackdown?" he asked. "Seriously, what is the concern? We will deplete the nation's Funyun supply?" he said. "Pot smokers vote too... Sometimes a week after the election, but they vote." The 44-year-old talk show host then asked the crowd, which included the likes of George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon, and Kate Hudson, "I would like everyone in this room to raise your hand if you've never smoked pot.” Few hands went up, and Kimmel responded, "Marijuana is something that real people care about.” He also took a swipe at Rush Limbaugh, calling him a "slut" and suggesting that the right-wing motormouth's notorious application of the S-word to a woman earlier this year was the result of "too much Percocet." President Obama recently clarified his role in the federal crackdown on Californian MMJ in an interview with Rolling Stone: "What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana—and the reason is, because it's against federal law."
Being in the US secret service might not be such a wild romp anymore, with tightened restrictions banning service members from drinking shortly before duty, visiting strip clubs, and other on-the-job shenanigans. The ban has been issued two weeks after reports surfaced that military personnel and Secret Service members were drinking heavily and bringing prostitutes back to their hotel rooms while on duty in Colombia. On Friday, the new rules of conduct were issued and became effective immediately, stating: "Foreign nationals, excluding hotel staff and official counterparts, are prohibited in your hotel room. Alcohol may only be consumed in moderate amounts while off-duty on a TDY (temporary duty) assignment, and alcohol use is prohibited within 10 hours of reporting or duty.” (According to the old set of rules, secret service members were allowed to drink up until only four hours before reporting for duty.) In addition, booze is not to be consumed at the hotel where POTUS—or other protected individual—is staying. Secret service agents will also receive an ethics briefing before leaving for their assignments. According to reports, twelve military members and twelve Secret Service agents were involved in the Columbia incident, with eight members already leaving the agency, three being cleared with serious misconduct, and one losing his security clearance.
- Anti-Alcohol Meds Underprescribed Owing to Lack of Physician Access [Medscape]
- Study: Secondhand Smoke Permeates Many Apartment Buildings [US News]
- Medical Marijuana Becomes Key Issue in Oregon Race [KVAL.com]
- French Journalist "Abducted" in Farc Raid in Colombia [BBC]
- British Prime Minister's Former Lover Kicked Drugs Then Became a Nun [Daily Mirror]
- Will Alcohol Bans Stop German Party Trains? [ABC]
Samuel L. Jackson's films have grossed $8 billion over the years, with the many blockbuster hits on his resume including Pulp Fiction, Jurassic Park and the Star Wars trilogy. And the 64-year-old actor recently declared that getting sober 20 years ago significantly enhanced his acting abilities, leading to the pinnacle performances of his career. Jackson, who lost his father to alcoholism, says his drug use began in the late Seventies when he performed in NYC's acclaimed Negro Ensemble Company. "I fancied myself as Oliver Reed...I drank and I used drugs," says Jackson. I liked the feeling of not being cognizant of what was going on around me. I was working the whole time. I rehearsed and performed on drugs. I went on stage and watched people’s eyes roll across stage and I’d go, ‘Oh, I have a line, OK got to focus on the play now.’” The turning point came when his wife Latanya and daughter Zoe came home to find him passed out drunk on the kitchen floor with cocaine he had cooked himself. “When I looked up, LaTanya and Zoe were standing there," he recalls. "The cocaine was cooked but I’d never smoked it. That was the first time LaTanya realised I was doing something that was greater than just smoking weed and drinking.” Jackson checked into rehab immediately after that. And two weeks after finishing treatment, he filmed his breakout performance as a crack addict in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever. And while Jackson hasn't relapsed since, he admits that he still gets plenty of offers. “I hang out with people who smoke weed on the golf course, I’ve been in rooms with big plates of cocaine. When I was drinking nobody offered me fucking Cristal, now I’ve got bottles of it in my house that people keep giving me." But still, "My wife doesn’t worry about me opening those bottles.”