Enemy HQ Surrenders
WESTERVILLE, OH — The town that once served as the national headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League has finally gone wet.
After nearly 150 years of languishing as a dry county, the citizens of Westerville, Ohio, once known as “Dry Capital of the World,” have voted 4-1 to approve three liquor licenses for local restaurants.
The Anti-Saloon League, a once powerful organization that helped bring about National Prohibition in 1920, still maintains a museum in the quiet suburb of Columbus.
While some residents expressed disappointment, most agreed it was time for a change. “If the temperance movement was here today,” one resident noted, “they would be considered terrorists.”
It was once common for temperance members to firebomb and smash up saloons with axes.
DUI Not a Violent Crime, Says Supreme Court
WASHINGTON D.C. — A drunk driving accident is not a “crime of violence, ” the Supreme Court has ruled.
In an 11-page opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the court ruled unanimously in favor of Josue Leocal, a Haitian man fighting deportation in Florida after pleading guilty to a felony charge of drunk driving.
While the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DUI offense was a “crime of violence,” the Supreme Court disagreed. It said the plain meaning of the statute suggests that the felony offense must require intent in causing harm — not mere negligence as in Leocal’s case — before immigrants are subject to the drastic consequence of deportation.
Herbal Tea Drinkers Now Subject to DUIs
SAN FRANCISCO — California prosecutors are cracking down on kava-drinking motorists who are driving under the influence of the herbal tea.
Following their first successful conviction in June, San Mateo County prosecutors have filed three other cases, said San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Chris Feasel.
Kava, while not considered as a drug by federal health officials, is classified by the US Food and Drug Administration as a nutritional supplement that can be used to relieve anxiety.
Motorists under the influence of Kava had a “thousand-yard stare,” Feasel said. “They’re drooling on themselves sometimes, their motor function is so bad,” he added.
He said that police had pulled over kava-addled motorists who were swerving, veering into other lanes and drifting onto the road’s shoulder.
“Kava basically has the opposite effect of alcohol,” Feasel said. “Kava affects your motor skills before it affects your mental abilities.”
The June conviction is believed to be only the second successful one in the country, following a 1996 case in Utah.
“We’re cracking down on DUI drivers,” Feasel said. “Whether it’s driving under the influence of kava, or a good merlot or Advil, you’re going to be prosecuted.”
Frequent Drinking Cuts Heart Attack Risk
BOSTON — Two alcoholic drinks a day, be it wine, whisky or beer, can reduce the risk of heart attacks by a third, a new study shows.
The 12-year study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the frequency of drinking was the key to lowering the risk of heart disease, rather than the amount, the type of alcohol, or whether or not it was drunk with food.
Identifying the frequency of use as a key factor was a surprise, says lead researcher Kenneth Mukamal of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston.
The study compared nearly 40,000 male health professionals aged 40 to 75. Men who drank three or four times a week cut their risk of a heart attack by 32 percent, compared to men drinking less than once a week. But those who had a tipple just once or twice a week cut their risk by only 16 per cent. The researchers also found that half a glass was as effective as two.
The alcohol may help to keep the blood thinned, speculates Mukamal. The frequency of drinking may be important because alcohol breaks down relatively quickly in the body and its effects on red blood cells are short-lived, he adds.
Mukamal’s idea is supported by earlier work showing that people with a gene that makes them metabolise alcohol slowly seem to benefit the most from moderate drinking. Alcohol also helps raise the levels of good cholesterol in the blood.
Plastered Pachyderms Still Terrorizing India
GAUHATI, INDIA — Wild elephant herds have been terrorizing India’s remote northeast, killing people, flattening houses and guzzling local rice beer supplies, prompting villagers to retaliate against the pachyderms with firecrackers and bonfires.
With an estimated 5,000 elephants, Assam state has the largest concentration of wild Asiatic elephants in India, said M.C. Malakar, Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden.
The big herds, faced with shrinking forest cover and human encroachment of their corridors, venture into human settlements looking for food and beer, and often attack those who try to stop them.
Rice beer is a major attraction. Workers in tea plantations in Assam make rice beer at home and store it in drums.
“There are many instances of wild elephants guzzling the brew and returning for more,” a local official said.
Wild elephants have killed at least 22 people so far this year in the state, wildlife authorities say. A rapidly shrinking habitat is the main reason for elephants killing more than 600 people in the past 15 years, the authorities say.
Phone Company Fights Drunk Dialing
CANBERRA — An Australian phone company is offering customers the chance to blacklist numbers before heading out for a night on the town so they can reduce the risk of making any embarrassing, incoherent late-night calls.
A survey of 409 people by Virgin Mobile, a joint venture of The Virgin Group and Optus, found 95 percent made drunk calls.
Of those calls, 30 percent were to ex-partners, 19 percent to current partners, and 36 percent to other people, including their bosses.
The company also found that 55 percent of those polled would grab for their phone first the next morning to check who they had drunkenly dialed, compared with just eight percent who went for the headache pills first.
Booze Beats Metabolic Syndrome
NEW YORK — Metabolic syndrome—the cluster of symptoms such as obesity and high blood pressure that can lead to diabetes and heart disease—seems to be less frequent among people who consume alcohol, a new study suggests.
Dr. Matthew S. Freiberg of Boston Medical Center and colleagues analyzed data for 8125 subjects in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The participants were evaluated for their alcohol consumption and for each component of the metabolic syndrome—that is, having a large waist, high blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, high triglyceride levels and low “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
Overall, 60 percent of the subjects were current drinkers, defined as having at least one alcoholic drink per month. The percentages were higher for men (66 percent) than for women (50 percent), the team reports in the medical journal Diabetes Care.
Overall, the researchers found that current drinkers had a 43 percent lower likelihood of having the metabolic syndrome than did non-drinkers.
After taking into account “age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, tobacco use, physical activity, and diet,” the investigators calculated that participants who consumed 1-19 drinks of alcohol per month had a reduction in risk of 35 percent, and those who took more than 20 drinks a month had a 66 percent lower risk of the metabolic syndrome.
Alcohol consumption seemed to improve three components of the metabolic syndrome in particular: low HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, and high waist circumference.