Alcohol marketers go to extreme lengths to reach kids, new research suggests, and their ads are more likely to violate industry standards in magazines that have younger readers. Researchers at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) at Johns Hopkins University examined 1,261 common ads for alcoholic drinks in 11 magazines with sizable youth readerships (at least 15%). They found these ads more likely to showcase "irresponsible drinking" behaviors, such as boozing on or near bodies of water, underage drinking, overconsumption and addiction. And nearly one in five of the ads contained sexual connotations or objectification. "The bottom line here is that youth are getting hit repeatedly by ads for spirits and beer in magazines geared towards their age demographic," says CAMY director and study co-author David Jernigan. "As at least 14 studies have found that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing, the more likely they are to drink, or if already drinking, to drink more, this report should serve as a wake-up call to parents and everyone else concerned about the health of young people." This isn't the first time the billion-dollar booze industry has come under fire for targeting young people. But despite pressure to adhere to self-enforced standards—or raise them—it seems no adjustments have been made. Alcohol is responsible for 4,700 deaths per year among under-21s, says CAMY, and is associated with the three leading causes of death in this age-group: vehicle accidents, homicide and suicide.
A former dot-com millionaire is charged with selling prescription painkillers to an undercover police officer. Jennifer Sultan—a co-founder of Live Online, a live-streaming website that sold for $70 million back in 2000—was allegedly part of a five-member crime ring. She's also accused of attempting to sell a .357 Magnum to the group's alleged ringleader. A decade ago, Sultan and her boyfriend enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle, owning a $3.1 million loft in New York City and renting an 11-bedroom house in the Hamptons. But when the stock market collapsed in the early 2000s, Sultan lost much of her money, and despite subsequent attempts to start several other businesses, she never found the same level of success. It was during these tribulations that Sultan developed an addiction to pain meds—she was originally prescribed them for back pain that came from playing sports as a child and from a more recent fall in her apartment, according to her lawyer. Although Sultan told a judge she was trying to start a new acupuncture business back in January, she was actually getting involved in drug dealing. In February, a narcotics detective discovered Sultan’s Craigslist ad for prescription painkillers, and arranged a meeting with her. According to her indictment, Sultan sold pills to an undercover officer five times between February and June. A separate investigation into the crime ring discovered a text from Sultan to the purported ringleader, saying she wanted to sell him a .357 Magnum handgun for $850. Now bankrupt, Sultan is unable to raise the $85,000 for her own bail. If convicted, she faces 15 years to life in prison.
The long tentacles of Mexico's drug cartels seem to reach even into the country's Supreme Court: a court official has been arrested and arraigned for being in the pay of the Mexico's most powerful drug-trafficking outfit. Juan Carlos de la Barrera Vite was apparently the inside man for Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman and took orders from Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, who was arrested last December and allegedly ran Sinaloa's operations across Durango state and the southern part of Chihuahua state. Barrera Vite primarily worked as a clerk in the Supreme Court, but began performing administrative duties in the personnel area in recent years for Justice Sergio Valls. He allegedly handed over confidential information, but the Supreme Court is insisting that Valls "did not have nor does he have any links to the acts alleged against the said person" and "at no time did sensitive information from the judicial body or its work get compromised." Guzman escaped from a Mexican maximum-security prison in 2001 and has managed to defy arrest since then. As Mexico's most wanted man, he also made the Forbes list of the world's richest people with an estimated net worth of around $1 billion.
Remember Fatboy Slim? His notoriously low-budget dance troupe video for "Praise You" ruled MTV in 1999, but he struggled with alcoholism in subsequent years. However, the British DJ—aka Norman Cook—has been sober for the last three years and has just marked his recovery in the best way possible: by performing at last night's closing ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics on top of a giant, glowing octopus. "I gave up drinking three years ago and I've run the Brighton Marathon," he says. "Everything you do is a lot easier to deal with when you go to bed after a show rather than party for two days"—and that includes performing in front of the whole world. Although he still continues to make music and tour, he's no longer actively on a record label, which gives him complete creative control over his work—and he seems to prefer it that way. "As you get older, you realize you don't have to do any of that stuff," he says. "My career now is buoyant, but manageable. Basically, I do what I want."
Most schools have rules about cell phone use, but that hardly stops students from going to the bathroom to send texts, or checking Facebook under their desks. Teachers often try to combat this by taking away phones during class time. But Dr. Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills, has a different and startling suggestion: give in. Rosen—the author of iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us—thinks teachers should let kids use their phones for one minute, every 15 minutes—like a nicotine patch for people trying to quit smoking cigarettes. He claims that banning phones in class will just make kids focus on all the texts and posts they could be missing, but that letting them check periodically will help keep them calm. “They’re building up a bunch of chemicals in the brain that cause anxiety, and the act of looking at their phone is totally designed to reduce that anxiety,’” he tells The Fix. “It’s a stimulus to your brain saying, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t get anxious. You’ll get to check in shortly.’” He worked with a French teacher to test out the program, and found it to be a great success. “[The teacher] said the students were magically way more productive and they felt like they were being respected,” he says.
Not everyone buys Rosen’s theory, of course. Shawn Cerra, a principal in Coral Springs, Florida, is completely against the idea of cell phone breaks for his students. “If they see something that’s upsetting or disturbing or something of interest, it would be hard pressed for them to put the phone down and listen to World War II,” he argues. And many online commenters agree that educators shouldn't cave to students’ obsessions. “School needs to be serious and focused," writes one. "There's time for entertainment and socializing during lunch and recess breaks, after school, and on weekends...after homework and chores are finished!”
But Rosen accepts that learning to focus is essential: “You know that’s absolutely true, we are catering to our students' obsessions,” he admits when we ask him. “However, what I would say is that the goal here is learning. Do you want to have a group of distracted students or do you want to try to optimize the learning environment?” Studies have shown that students generally only focus for about five to ten minutes at a time before taking a mental break anyway; so Rosen says allowing them all to break at the same time would mean they can pay more attention later. “We have created this bitchin’ technology that’s so exciting and so interesting that we’re compelled to use it,” he says. “Now we’ve got to make sure these kids are given the best learning environment, not what we as old adults think is the best learning environment.”
- Mexican Supreme Court Official Arrested for Links to Drug Cartel [Fox News Latino]
- Jamaican Sprinters Should Expect More Drugs Tests [Reuters]
- Boston’s Homeless Court helps Addicts Get a Fresh Start [Boston Globe]
- Price, Purity and Availability Fuel Drug Use in NM [SFGate]
- Man Shot in Times Square Had Marijuana Arrest History [The Times and Democrat]
- Russell Brand: Methadone is a Bad Way to Treat Heroin Addicts [Daily Mail]
- Hope Solo Stays Sober After Winning Olympic Gold Medal [US Magazine]