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Booze NewsPETA Rediscovers Its Backbone
STATE COLLEGE, PA—Got controversy?
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has revived its anti-milk “Got Beer?’’ campaign, placing advertisements in college newspapers urging students to abandon the dairy in favor of the brewery. PETA brewed up a nationwide firestorm last year by pointing out that beer has more nutrients than milk and is generally better for you.

PETA first came up with the slogan—a spoof of the popular “Got Milk?’’ campaign—two years ago, but backed down like a whipped cur after being roundly criticized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other groups.

PETA tried playing kissy-face with MADD, but forgiveness apparently isn’t in the Mothers’ charter. The groups exchanged an increasingly nasty series of letters, culminating with MADD turning down a cash donation from the animal rights group. Stung, PETA said the hell with it and cranked the pro-beer campaign back up, targeting the ten colleges the Princeton Review fingered as the nation’s top party schools.

Beer, PETA points out, is fat and cholesterol-free and contains no hormones or antibiotics, while milk is loaded with fat, contains 20 mg of cholesterol in every 8 ounce glass, and is loaded with the pesticides and antibiotics fed to cows, including a bovine growth hormone that can make men grow breasts. They claim the consumption of dairy foods is also linked to diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.
“Unless you drink the stuff on your way up Mount Everest,” a PETA official added, “beer won’t give you a stroke.” PETA even offered free keychain bottle openers to any student who asked for one.

The campaign was such a hit with college students that PETA’s anti-dairy Web site, MilkSucks.com, received 41,000 visitors in just 36 hours, and more than 1,500 new students joined the group’s College Activist Network.
PETA’s College Action Campaign coordinator Morgan Leyh counsels, “Colleges have been busy banning kegs from campus. But we say, ‘Ditch the dairy, not the beer.’” Find out more at MilkSucks.com.


Beer On Tap in Belgium’s School Cafeterias
BRUSSELS—School officials in Belgium have begun serving students low alcohol beer at lunchtime, believing beer to be a far healthier beverage than sugary soda. A Flemish beer-lovers’ club asked schools to put “children’s beer” on the school lunch menu and the officials listened. At least two schools agreed, and one has launched a pilot program; more schools are expected to follow suit when the new school year begins in September. A spokesperson for the beer club, citing the risk of obesity and even cancer in children from unhealthy drinks, pointed out that beer is a healthier beverage because it contains less sugar.


Alcopops Under Attack
HOLLYWOOD—Last week the neo-prohibitionist group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) adopted the latest in a long line of unreasonable positions against adult beverages. CSPI’s George Hacker took to the cable TV airwaves, arguing that a new class of alcoholic drinks, commonly known as “alcopops” or “malternatives,” are being marketed to underage drinkers on television. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal has joined with CSPI, asking the feds to tighten regulations on these TV ads.

We’ve heard this song and dance before. CSPI made similar claims just last year, based on a “study” of teen drinking habits which USA Today said involved just two small focus groups and one telephone survey. This time around, CSPI didn’t even bother asking the under-21 crowd whether or not they drank “alcopop” products. Their survey only measured teens’ TV viewing habits after 9 pm. The liquor industry’s own policies won’t allow ads for these products on the air during earlier viewing hours.

The current vintage of CSPI’s anti-alcohol campaign is also different for another very important reason. Recently the Federal Trade Commission ruled unequivocally that these alcoholic beverages “aren’t being marketed to minors.” The FTC also “did not find that the products are placed with nonalcoholic beverages in retail outlets,” another long-time CSPI claim. Reading from this June decision on Crossfire last month, CNN’s Robert Novak told George Hacker that “the federal government says you haven’t got a leg to stand on.”

When asked point-blank at a news conference if CSPI’s long-term goals include a complete prohibition on TV alcohol ads, Hacker demurred, saying that “too many political, economic and legal hurdles” exist. But barely two months ago, CSPI’s Marla Schlaffer sent out an “action alert” to the organization’s 800,000 newsletter subscribers, urging them to put pressure on their members of Congress. The email was titled “Call for a Congressional Hearing on All Television Alcohol Advertising.” The General Board of the United Methodist Church recently followed suit, urging its members to “help stop all television alcohol advertising.”

Typical of so-called public interest advocates, CSPI’s cultural alarm over “alcopops” ignored a crucial bit of information: teen alcohol use between August 2001 and June 2002 was the lowest in 15 years. The annual Pride Survey, considered the official White House measurement since 1998, called its most recent overall data “the best report on adolescent behaviors in over a decade.”


Ayatollah Capone
TEHRAN—Since alcohol was banned in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution, it has made an astonishing comeback. Though alcohol is illegal and possessing it is punishable by a series of cruelties, over the past year the amount of hooch available on the black market has dramatically risen. The ayatollahs and authorities appear to be fighting a losing battle against a seemingly tidal wave of Russian vodka, Belgian beer, Mexican tequila and Scottish scotch.

So much of the hard stuff is available that rumors are circulating that the mullahs are actively involved in the bootlegging. Another promising sign is last year previously banned medicinal alcohol has gone back on sale in pharmacies. People have been buying so much, however, that it’s usually out of stock. It is popular, says one source, because “being government approved you know the quality is okay and you have less of a hangover.” The stuff the mullahs are sneaking in, apparently, is not always the real McCoy.


Beer Goggles No Myth
GLASGOW—Scientists in Scotland have discovered proof the so-called “beer goggles” effect is a real excuse for waking up next to someone you’d rather not speak about right now, thank you very much. They discovered that men and women who have consumed a moderate amount of alcohol find the faces of the opposite sex 25% more attractive than their sober counterparts. The study also revealed there is no difference in the beer goggles effect between men and women.

Students at Glasgow University were shown color photographs of 120 male and female students aged 18 to 26. Participants were asked to rate their aesthetic properties on a scale of between one (highly unattractive) to seven (highly attractive.)
Half of the students had drunk up to four units of alcohol, the equivalent of just two pints of beer. The 40 who had been drinking rated the people in the photographs as broadly more attractive than those not drinking.

“Everyone`s heard of the beer goggles effect but we wanted to measure once and for all whether a moderate amount of alcohol increases the judgment of facial attractiveness,” said Prof. Barry Jones of Glasgow University psychology department.

“The increase in perceived attractiveness appeared to be the same for the ugly people as the pretty people,” he said. “Attractiveness provides a very important signal of mate quality, it shows you have good genes and a healthy body.”

He added that the beer goggles phenomenon is caused by alcohol stimulating the nucleus accumbent, the part of the brain used to determine facial attractiveness.