Details are still emerging about the killing of 16 civilians, nine of them children, in southern Afghanistan in the early hours of Sunday morning, but it seems that alcohol may have played a role in the slaughter. Though American military sources claim the slayings were carried out by an unhinged soldier, local witnesseses insist that several US soldiers were involved. Agha Lala, a neighbor of the house in which 11 of the victims were murdered, told Reuters, "They were all drunk and shooting all over the place. [The victims'] bodies were riddled with bullets." Other neighbors described the soldiers as laughing and drunk. But a Pentagon spokesman says there is "every indication" that a single individual was responsible for the "tragic" killings— a 38-year-old sergeant who is married with two children. Reports cited by the BBC suggest that he was either drunk or suffering from a nervous breakdown. Coming at a particularly fragile moment in U.S-Afghan relations, the attack could hardly be more incendiary, but the involvement of a sole smashed gun-man would surely be less harmful than confirmation that a group was involved. In any case, US forces are braced for retaliation. The Taliban has promised revenge, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings as an "inhuman" and demanded rapid justice.
Do you feel spent and tired at the end of your day? Are professional and social obligations keeping you away from activities that really fulfill you? Join The Fix, Social Workout and Hyde Yoga and take a mini-vacation from your daily grind. Starting on Wednesday, March 14, we challenge you to live entirely sober for 14 days AND to devote at least 30 minutes to personal time— which means unplugging all your devices and computers, turning off your TV, and indulging in a solitary activity that brings you real pleasure. Pick up your old trumpet, try out a new recipe, or kick back with a great new book. The key to this experiment is to allow no interruptions—this time is reserved just for you! Our pals at Social Workout will help you track your progress and put you in touch with other motivated people. And as a reward for sticking it out, you'll receive a $25 coupon from Hyde Yoga for purchases over $50. If you’re looking for further inspiration, check out Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's new book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, which explains why taking some time for yourself is essential for long-term happiness. Sign Up For The Fix's Recovery Challenge Here.
Spending excess hours on the web is linked to substance abuse in teens by a new study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Teens with obsessive internet tendencies are more likely to use drugs, found researchers in Greece, and if their internet use increases, their chances of substance abuse increase too. Internet junkies are also found to have personality traits typically including nonconformity, aggressiveness, recklessness and impulsiveness. “Not only did we find that specific personality attributes were important in both substance abuse and Internet addiction, but that Internet addiction remained an important predictor of substance abuse,” says study co-author Georgios Floros, of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The study followed 1,271 students between the ages of 14 and 19. Internet addiction is hotly-debated, with some medical professionals pushing its inclusion in 2013 edition of the psychiatrists’ "bible,” the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It's about more than just the total hours spent online. “A lot has to do with that kid’s relationship to the Internet,” cautions Dr. Megan Moreno, a pediatric and adolescent medicine specialist at UW Health in Madison. “Do they feel the day is horrible if they can’t get online? If they’re offline, are they constantly thinking about going online? Are they substituting things that they can do offline and only doing them online?”
- $27 Billion Tobacco Lawsuit Starts in Canada [Toronto Sun]
- Recovering Addicts Rally to Stop Heroin Deaths in Missouri [KSDK]
- How Oklahoma Tops the Charts for Painkiller Addiction [Oklahoma Watch]
- Operation "March Mayhem" Produces Drug Seizures and 301 Arrests in Florida [Huffington Post]
- Parents Finding Solace in Heroin Deaths [STLToday.com]
- British Columbia Court Mulls Constitutional Challenge to Marijuana Cookies [Calgary Herald]
- Texas Man Arrested After Baby Found Drunk on Vodka [Brownsville Herald]
- Apparently Drunk Michael Madsen Arrested After Trying to Take Son's Pot Away [LAist]
The Surgeon General's Office declares that teen smoking is an American epidemic, with one in five high school-aged youths smoking cigarettes. The first report issued on teen smoking since 1994 states that large numbers of teenagers—an estimated 3,800—take up this deadly habit every single day. "Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and three million high school students smoke," reports Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. "We don't want our children to start something now that they won't be able to change later in life." Even though the number of teens smoking is down on past decades, the rate of decline is slowing. Nine out of 10 current smokers started before they hit 18, and around 99% of all new tobacco use happens by the age of 26. The report also denounces tobacco companies for attempting to market to youth by making smoking seem attractive and cool. "This report highlights the urgent need to employ proven methods nationwide that prevent young people from smoking and encourage all smokers to quit,” says John Seffrin, Chief Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “This includes passage of smoke-free laws, increases in tobacco excise taxes and fully funded tobacco prevention programs."
A proposed amendment to Illinois' "Good Samaritan" law threatens to undermine its original purpose, critics say. The current law was signed on February 6 and is due to go into effect in June; it grants limited immunity from prosecution to those who call 911 about drug overdoses—like several laws either proposed or passed in other states. Its aim is to encourage people to seek emergency medical aid without fear of legal repercussions; it was passed in the face of a growing heroin problem in Illinois. But now Illinois representative Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) is lobbying to add a new clause, to decree compulsory drug treatment for the both the OD victim and the 911 caller. Refusal means prosecution. Critics say the proposal would effectively nullify the law by once again invoking the fear of legal sanctions for 911 callers. “Drug users witnessing an overdose should not have to make a choice between entering treatment or not calling 911 during the crucial moments,” says Illinois resident Karen Hanneman, who fought to get the current law passed. Durkin's justification for his amendment is based on getting more people in need into substance abuse treatment. But his proposal offers treatment not as an option, but as an ultimatum. Director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy Kathleen Kane-Willis sees both sides. “Would we like treatment on demand for folks who are treated for overdose? Absolutely. That would be great," she says. "The problem is, making the immunity dependent on treatment has an impact on people who can't afford it… That one statement might make someone not call. It really waters the immunity down.”