This video shows an Oakland, California police officer throwing a flash grenade into a crowd of Occupy Oakland protesters attempting to assist a fallen comrade, following yesterday morning's police raid on the Oakland encampment that the city says was for "health and safety" reasons. The specific concerns listed in an Oakland Police Department statement justifying the raid include "public drinking and intoxication" and smoking in flammable tents, as well as reported assaults and "intimidating behavior," sanitation and rat problems, graffiti, litter and vandalism. An alleged sexual assault was described by one prominent supporter of Occupy Oakland, Rachel Jackson, as "basically like the WMDs of our struggle here." The pre-dawn raid resulted in over 80 arrests. The most recent poll has 37% of Americans supporting the Occupy protests.
New research indicates that heavy drinking, and not just smoking, is associated with lung cancer. According to studies presented October 25 and 26 at the American College of Chest Physicians' annual meeting, the heavy consumption—meaning more than three drinks per day—of beer, wine or spirits was associated with a higher risk of lung cancer than drinking moderately or abstaining. "Heavy drinking has multiple harmful effects, including cardiovascular complications and increased risk for lung cancer," said Stanton Siu, MD, FCCP, who's based at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California and was the lead physician in one of the studies. "We did not see a relationship between moderate drinking and lung cancer development,” he added. “So it appears probable that most middle-aged and older moderate drinkers have coronary artery protection.” Elevated risk of lung cancer was also seen in men who smoked and ate fatty foods. For women who smoked, physical exercise, wine, vitamins and drinking black tea offered protection against lung cancer. And strangely enough, a body-mass index of greater than 30—classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as clinically obese—was found to be associated with lower rates of lung cancer.
- Medical Marijuana Advocates Protest Obama's San Francisco Visit [Huffington Post]
- Murray Trial Witness: Jackson Wanted Unorthodox Sleep Drug [LA Times]
- Two Caught "Selling Drugs" at Occupy Boston [Boston.com]
- Florida Prison Inmates Can't Smoke, But Now Correctional Officers Can [TampaBay.com]
- Video: Warren Mom Pleads Guilty to Drunk Driving with Two Kids [Detroit Free Press]
- NYPD Narcotics Officer "Gave Crack Addict Drugs for Sex" [Daily Mail]
- 8,000 "MTV" Ecstasy Pills Found in Belfast [BBC]
Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has released a cheeky smoke-fueled campaign commercial that's been described in some quarters as the "worst ad in the history of politics," and hailed by others as a brilliant piece of political theater. In the online video, Cain's weathered campaign manager, Mark Block, extols the former Pizza King's ability to "put the United back in the United States" for 40 seconds of moustachioed close-up, before taking a deep drag on his cigarette, as a burst of patriotic music (I Am America) swells and the picture cuts to an intimate view of a mischievously grinning Herman Cain. The in-your-face smoking is a strange choice, given the growing taboos against depicting tobacco use in movies and on TV, but it's certainly garnered the Cain campaign some attention. The candidate, whose conservative views and "9-9-9" tax plan are seeing him top polls of Republican voters, has a record of lobbying in Washington against cigarette taxes and smoking bans. Mark Block later responded by email to a CBS query: "Only comment is—I smoke. It's a choice. It's Block being Block." This rapidly-spreading video has already achieved far more publicity than Block and his acolytes could ever have dreamed, and will certainly appeal to libertarians tired of increasing government encroachment on their personal rights. But it will be interesting to see whether being the unwitting butt of a thousand jokes will bring the desired rewards for the Cain candidacy.
This map showing nationwide variations in pot prices, developed by geographers' collective Floating Sheep, makes fascinating viewing. The geographers' analysis, using price records from 2,397 US cities obtained from the consumer website PriceofWeed.com, found a rock-bottom price for top-quality marijuana of just $256 per ounce on average in Oregon, compared to a high of $450 in Delaware. As the darker areas of the map show, West is generally best if you're looking for a cheap score, with Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, the Rockies and Indiana among the most promising areas for bargain-hunters. On the other hand, the Northeast, the Deep South, Minnesota and Wisconsin won't be attracting migrations of cash-strapped potheads anytime soon. As Richard Florida at The Atlantic points out, Floating Sheep showed that the closer proximity of a state to a source "where the product is either grown, imported, processed, or all three," will lower prices because of reduced transportation costs and risks; the Northwest and Florida (the state) both see this effect. And states with medical marijuana programs also see lower prices because general supply is increased, while demand in the illegal part of the market is reduced. However, states' varying law enforcement efforts against marijuana show less of a clear correlation. Richard Florida—who is also director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto—and his institute colleague Charlotta Mellander analyzed two dozen other variables against the state-by-state weed prices, looking for possible correlations. Most variables tested, such as state income, unemployment, or stress levels, surprisingly showed no correlation with the price of marijuana. But prices turn out to be significantly higher in states with a larger proportion of African Americans. And they're significantly lower in states with a larger proportion of Republicans.
Baseball is just not like other sports. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are still commonplace, and the typical dugout is beginning to resemble your favorite corner tavern. As their season collapsed in September, the Boston Red Sox resorted to drinking beer in the clubhouse during games. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s vice president of operations, revealed after Sunday night’s Game 4 of the World Series that officials are considering a ban on alcohol in big-league clubhouses. “We’re supposed to be role models for youngsters,” Torre argued. “Some clubs had done it on their own. It’s something we’ll certainly look at.” Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester admitted that he and his fellow hurlers got into the habit of knocking back a few during games, according to reports in the Boston Globe. It was “the wrong thing to do,” Lester admitted—while insisting it had no connection with his team's wretched September collapse. Meanwhile, Torre’s old team, which he managed to four World Series titles, has its own problems, according to the New England Sports Network: "Jason Giambi and Roger Clemens would routinely drink beer on the dugout bench when they played for the Yankees, passing back and forth what Giambi called his 'protein shake'—code for a cup of beer," the TV network reported last week. "Rally beers are big in the clubhouse," said one insider. "Guys would drink them all the time, on the bench, in the clubhouse, in the training room. It's common.” Fan drinking is excessive but tolerated; should it be any different for the players? “Why should they ban booze?” asks John Beattie of the New England Sports Network. “There are tens of thousands of fans crushing beers just feet away, why shouldn’t players be able to wind down with a High Life or raise a few Manweisers with a teammate after three-plus hours of baseball?” Um, maybe because the kids are watching?