In the wake of a spate of painkiller-inspired robberies and shootings at pharmacies in Long Island, NY, one store has turned itself into a fortress, employing some of the most high-tech and extreme measures yet seen. Numerous security cameras and doors, ID verification through drivers' licenses and a guard packing a Glock 9 millimeter are just some of the tactics that Linden Care in Syosset is using to protect staff and customers. In case that's not enough, they'll also be introducing bulletproof glass next week. "We're carrying the medications that nobody wants to carry," says store co-owner Marc Wiener— meaning addictive pain pills like OxyContin. He says of the new security regime, "We're able to go home at night knowing we're doing the right thing for ourselves and for our patients." Local police are getting involved in the effort to protect pharmacies as well. Nassau County Police Chief Steven Skrynecki says risk assessments from counter-terrorism teams are now available to help pharmacists secure their stores.
Bronx singer Jamar Rogers is taking his shot at music stardom on NBC’s The Voice. The 29-year-old struggled with addiction to crystal meth; he's been sober for six years, but sadly contracted HIV through his past drug use. “I really do believe I’m the comeback kid,” said Rogers, just before taking the stage to perform the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" well enough to get judge Cee Lo Green to take him on to his team. This isn’t the first time Rogers has been seen on TV; three years ago he auditioned for American Idol. The producers there knew of his past drug use, but not of his HIV diagnosis. "I did talk to them about the drug use. I was very candid...But I was not in a comfortable place to talk about being HIV-positive. I was worried that the producers would find out, and I hadn't come to terms with it myself,” said Rogers. “I had to finally just stand up and face the music. And one of the ways I did that was by volunteering at some amazing organizations in New York that dealt with people who were living with HIV, and I began to see other human faces for it, and it began to change my own prejudices." Since his audition aired Monday night, the singer has been overwhelmed by supportive messages from fans. “I can't believe I was scared for so long,” he says. “Because people...are so supportive, man, and I just can't believe it. I can't believe how cool people are being."
- South Dakota Lawmakers Reject Welfare Drug Tests [WSLS]
- Alcohol Abuse Higher Among Students: Study [HealthNews]
- Demi Moore NOT Rehabbing at Cirque Lodge [TMZ]
- Texas Rangers Hire Assistant to Support Josh Hamilton [ESPN]
- Whiskey Charts Course From Drink to Biofuel [TG Daily]
Smoking has long been known to wreck hearts and lungs, but a recent study shows shows the habit also clouds our minds. Researchers from University College London measured the cognitive abilities of over 7,000 people (mostly men), testing them three times over ten years. They found that men who smoke may suffer cognitive decline comparable to the brain aging ten years. Alarmingly, the decline can begin as early as 45 years old—meaning a smoking man of 45 could have the brain of a 55-year-old. And the more you smoke, the faster the decline. Even after crunching the numbers to compensate for factors like heart disease, stroke and natural cognitive decline the correlation remains strong. But all is not lost: the study also found that men who quit smoking actually had better cognitive abilities on average than their peers who never smoked at all. That's probably because people who quit smoking also tend to switch to generally healthier lifestyles, helping to keep their minds sharp.
British singer Robbie Williams is no stranger to controversy, but this time it's in the form of an online poker site that he recently launched. Thousands of fans were sent email invitations encouraging them to join Robbie Williams Poker. Although no money will be at stake during the games, players will have to pay for certain tournaments in the form of a buy-in. They'll mainly compete to win merchandise, concert tickets and a chance to meet the Take That singer himself. "Robbie Williams of all people should be sensitive to the problem of addiction," says British Member of Parliament Tessa Munt. "The problem is escalation and... young people are hugely susceptible to this sort of advertising." Williams—who has sold 70 million albums worldwide and is the highest-selling British solo artist in history—has been in rehab for drug and alcohol issues on several occasions, and has been open about his struggles with addiction.
In an effort to stamp out fetal alcohol syndrome, the legislature of the South African province of Gauteng—which includes the country’s capital Pretoria and its largest city, Johannesburg—released a draft bill for public comment yesterday that would bar pregnant women from buying booze. And that’s not all: According to the legislation, “A [liquor] licensee must not sell, supply or give liquor to (a) a minor; (b) a person who is dressed in a school uniform; (c) a person who appears to be intoxicated; or (d) a pregnant woman.” This lumping of moms-to-be into the same category as kids, drunks and school-uniform fetishists has predictably raised the ire of feminists and—perhaps unpredictably—of alcohol-safety advocates too. A blogger for New York–based mom blog The Stir writes: “To imply that pregnant women can't be trusted to make decisions for themselves and their babies is contemptible.” And the director of the South African Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use adds, ““While the intentions behind the legislation are good, it presents a difficulty for the seller: How do they know if a woman is pregnant?” That’s potentially an even more nerve-wracking judgment call than whether or not to give up your subway seat to a maybe-mom-to-be.