June 2007


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WHAT’S ON TAP?

A shocking 43% of deaths in working-age Russian men result from drinking alcohol not meant for human consumption, such as cologne and cleaning agents, according to a new study.

The findings help explain why Russian men have the lowest life expectancy among industrialised nations, at just 59 years, say the researchers.

David Leon at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and colleagues travelled to western Russia, where they interviewed the housemates and family members of 1750 men, aged 25-54, who died in the industrial city of Izhevsk.

They also interviewed 1750 similarly aged men in the same city. The aim was to find out how much both groups of men drank, and what types of alcohol they consumed.

Extreme binges

Leon’s group classified men as having a “hazardous pattern of drinking” if they had a hangover more than twice a week, engaged in a bout of extreme binge drinking known as zapoї – resulting in drunkenness that lasts at least two days – or if they consumed non-beverage alcohols, such as eau de cologne at least once a year.

Many Russian men who fall on hard times start drinking non-beverage alcohols because they are cheaper and have a high alcohol content, Leon says.

For example, a 100 millilitre bottle of 190-proof eau de cologne might cost about 15 rubles, roughly equivalent to 29 pence ($0.60). By comparison, the smallest volume bottle of 80-proof vodka on sale is 0.75 litres, and costs about 70 rubles, about £1.40 ($2.70).

The consumption of non-beverage alcohol products is widespread, the researchers say. Even 8% of the men in the control group drank them, they found.

Economic hardship

An analysis of the Izhevsk survey suggests that Russian men who drink non-beverage alcohol have a five-times greater risk of alcohol-related death (such as liver cirrhosis and alcohol poisoning) than those who do not consume these products.

Moreover, men who drank only non-beverage alcohols had up to a 20-times greater risk of death. And the researchers think these numbers represent underestimates, since the study did not include men who lived alone or on the streets.

Non-beverage alcohols are particularly dangerous because of their high-alcohol concentration, which can strip the airways that deliver oxygen to the lungs, Leon explains.

Economic hardship following the dissolution of the Soviet Union has contributed to problem drinking in Russia, says David Cutler at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, who has studied the impact of alcoholism in the country.

“For a lot of people in Russia the bottom just fell out,” he says. “And they don’t have a social safety net.”

Alcohol is linked to 72% of murders and 42% of suicides in Russia, according to 2005 figures.

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Live Manta Birth

UN-BREAKING NEWS?

Are you following the story about the guy who had a sports drink, went to bed for the night and woke up with a “woody?” So, maybe no “big deal,” but somehow he managed to maintain the thing for two years, and now he’s suing the beverage manufacturer. I dunno, for me, there’s just some things which are tough enough to discuss with your kids or doctor, let alone going postal in public. Like, “Daddy, what’s a Dick for?” Answer: “Exactly!” Or; “Doc, what is Priapism?” Answer: “You’ll know if you have it.” And; “Well, what are the symptoms?” Answer: “You’ll know if you have it.” I reckon I’m the “fuddy-dud,” when confronted with “hard” issues, but am coming to “grasp” the whole thing in a worldly perspective.

IN NEW YORK – Christopher Woods (irony) charges he got too much of a “boost” — from an energy drink called Boost Plus. (more irony)

He is suing the maker of the health drink Boost Plus, claiming the vitamin-enriched beverage gave him an erection that would not go away, and caused him to be hospitalized. The lawsuit said Woods, 29, drank the nutrition beverage, which is made by the Novartis pharmaceutical company, on June 5, 2004. Woods’ court papers said he woke up the next morning “with an erection that would not subside,” and sought treatment for the condition. (mixed blessings) According to court documents, Woods had surgery to relieve the condition known as severe priapism. He was implanted with a Winter shunt, which moves blood from one area to another. The lawsuit, filed late Monday, said Woods had problems that required a hospital visit and medical procedures to close blood vessels on his penis. Woods’ lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. A spokeswoman for the drug company said the company did not comment on pending litigation. Novartis’ Boost Plus Web site describes the drink as “a great tasting, high calorie, nutritionally complete oral supplement for people who require extra energy and protein in a limited volume.” This is hardly false advertising, and if I were counsel for the defendant, I’d argue Caveat Emptor.

Your Question:

Dear Experts,

I know this is a stupid question, but what exactly is a boner? There are a lot of things my friends talk about, but I don’t know what they mean!!!!

Nikki

The Answer:

Dear Nikki,

A “boner” is a slang term that refers to a man’s erection. When boys and men become sexually excited — by sexual thoughts, wet dreams, or sex play with themselves or another person — their penises fill with blood and get hard and erect. Sometimes boys and young men get erections for no reason at all. These “spontaneous erections” can be embarrassing, but are perfectly normal. Hope this information helps! Take care,

teenwire.com® Editors

This fresco is painted in the entrance-way of a wealthy ancient Pompeian home. Yes, he does have an untouched-up huge “shlong.” Here is why this is culture rather than meriting a “Mature Content” sticker. Priapus, whence “Priapism” got its name, was an ancient, but minor, god of fertility for the Romans. His over-sized manhood represents abundance, fertility, and good fortune. This picture depicts his member being weighed in scales against bags of gold. The man who owned this house was displaying his piety, rather than potency, by saying something like; “look, we are rich, but this is nothing without being balanced by good fortune.” That takes the gold – probably introduced the notion of theft to the nefarious Neapolitans.

Contrary to what you might have thought, “Pay-to-Play” was not coined in Vegas.

If you have these in your garden, let ’em be. They are good for it. Hence; “Priapus” in the name. These snakes have a reputation for being feisty when cornered, and are quick to flee when threatened, which proves evolution is a myth, considering John Wayne Bobbitt.

I’m no Pliny “the Younger,” rich Pompeian, and cannot afford to decorate my home in their magnificence, so, I hope the neighbors appreciate my “pop-art” creation displaying “piety.”

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Here’s some cool stuff to do. For you MySpacers, go to the Instant Karma space and add yourself. While you’re there, make friends and listen to music with some of the best artists in the world. Then, starting tomorrow, June 6 at 8:30 AM EST, check out the Amnesty International satellite keeping photographic tabs on Darfur. Pass the word. These people need the help!

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“Amnesty International USA’s unprecedented Eyes on Darfur project leverages the power of high-resolution satellite imagery to provide unimpeachable evidence of the atrocities being committed in Darfur – enabling action by private citizens, policy makers and international courts. Eyes on Darfur also breaks new ground in protecting human rights by allowing people around the world to literally “watch over” and protect twelve intact, but highly vulnerable, villages using commercially available satellite imagery. ”

~ AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

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“OPEN WIDER, PLEASE…”

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If all of this is true, I have a new outlook about flossing and keeping dental appointments. One of China’s “players” behind the growing world food scare is Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration. Xiaoyu was indicted in China in 2005 on charges of taking bribes from the very industries he was charged with regulating, and news service Al Jazeera is reporting he was sentenced to death last week for his role. Talk about decay!

Pet food, catfish, toothpaste, and now the word on the streets of China’s cities is that bananas from the southern island of Hainan can cause Sars. Remember when you used to look for tarantulas in the grocery bag? Oh yeah, and add “Magician” brand instant noodles that will poison you because they use oil extracted from human corpses provided by funeral homes.

China is in the grip of a food safety scare, and although it has generated a number of bizarre rumours circulating in frantic text messages, the issue poses a serious potential threat to international trade.

Late last year, Hong Kong government chemists detected in salted duck eggs the Sudan II industrial dye, which was fed to the birds to make the yolk in their eggs extraordinarily red, a color Chinese consumers see as a sign of high quality.

The Chinese government has pledged to get to the bottom of the scandal – and introducing standardised practices when it comes to food safety has become a major issue.

In Beijing, the city authorities have also announced plans to better monitor food products entering the capital after several food safety scandals emerged. Such is the mood there that some people are now saying that bad food, rather than lobbying about controversial issues such as Tibet, could be the main risk to the Olympic Games in the city next year – a very big deal for a society enjoying the tidings of capitalism, not without it’s share of “dirty pool.”

Billions of pounds worth of counterfeit and substandard goods, from snack bars to fake liquor and medicines, to face creams, are produced every year in China.

Counterfeiting often extends to branded foods and you have to read the labels carefully in shops to make sure that you are getting the right food. Alcoholic drinks are particularly prone to copying and it is important to check to see if your beer or your breakfast cereal is the real thing.

China revealed in 2004, in one of its most highly publicized health scandals, that 13 babies had died from malnutrition in the eastern province of Anhui after being fed fake baby milk powder. But the problem is going global, spreading way beyond China’s borders.

Chinese-made food products which are exported are being examined for toxins after safety breaches involving poisons in dog food and toothpaste, following reports of tainted products arriving in the Dominican Republic and Panama.

The Dominican Republic authorities said they had removed 10,000 tubes of the Chinese toothpaste brands Excel and Mr Cool from shelves after learning they contained diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze and brake fluid.

During talks this week between Washington and Beijing, the United States said food quality from China was a “top concern” and called on Beijing to improve food safety standards. The Americans want China to make food regulation more transparent, and to allow their audit teams to travel to China to examine the food factories and farms.

The Chinese government has launched investigations into the use of melamine – a non-food-related, industrial additive that found its way into the food chain and caused at least 16 pets to die in the US – and the companies exporting toothpaste containing the lethal chemical.

Meanwhile, the company which makes instant noodles under the “Magician” brand has had to take out newspaper advertisements to publicise the findings of scientific research showing that their products were not made from human body oils.

The manufacturers believe their competitors started the rumour, but everyone is suffering as sales of instant noodles, which are to Chinese cuisine what fish and chips are to British food, are dropping sharply.

A mass outbreak of food poisoning could be extremely damaging for the image of the Olympic Games, which begin in August next year. One scenario being thought through is if a team of top athletes came down with Beijing Belly just before a race.

To avoid that nightmare, the city is planning to increase rewards for uncovering unlawful production methods from 10,000 yuan (£660) to 50,000 yuan, the Beijing News reported.

Wang Weicheng, a Beijing city official, said that the city would “set up a supervision system to analyze food additives, and intensify management of the approval system and record-keeping of food additive enterprises”. A system to trace food and food products to their origins would also be put in place and it would also strictly monitor the use of fertilizer and pesticides.

“Goods from companies that don’t meet production standards will be firmly kept out of the market,” the media report said.

The Sars banana rumour is possibly the most bizarre element to the food-safety scare, as there had never been a case of humans contracting viruses from plants, the Agriculture Ministry said. “It is purely a rumour and it is impossible for bananas to contain Sars-like viruses,” it added. “The spreaders of the false information either have inadequate relevant scientific knowledge or have ulterior motives.”

BEYOND BRAIN TUMORS AND CELL PHONES…

Information about the current scandal over Chinese food safety standards has largely been facilitated by new technologies, as consumers use text messages on their mobile phones and blog entries to communicate their concerns and advice.

In the US, pet-owners ran blogs which highlighted and commented on various media reports, official statements and gossip.

David Goldstein’s blog HorsesAss.org exposed the fact that melamine-laced pet food was recycled as feed for domestic pork.

Bloggers dug up and posted documents, such as the Food and Drug Administration’s letter advising that pregnant investigators not examine human foods that the FDA has said repeatedly are safe.

Mr Goldstein reported how tests conducted at a US FDA laboratory on behalf of the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services had detected melamine in at least one sample of imported Chinese catfish.

And while officials are downplaying the health hazard, this latest finding suggests that the human food supply is much more widely contaminated than previously acknowledged.

In China, blogs played a big role but in many cases it was SMS text messages on mobile phones which got the headlines out about food safety issues. This was particularly true in two of the biggest examples of food safety hysteria in recent days, namely that bananas from the southern Chinese island of Hainan can cause SARS. Or that Magician brand instant noodles cause poisoning because they use oil extracted from human corpses provided by funeral homes.

Mobile phone penetration is extremely high, while China has more than 137 million Internet users and more than 20 million of them are bloggers.

The government has been struggling to find a way to control their output without completely choking the positive uses of the Internet on areas such as trade.

“ANCIENT” CHINESE IRONY…

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On January 4, 1979, the first post-Cultural Revolution newspaper advertisement in China appeared in the Tianjin Daily for – toothpaste. The brand advertised is Lantian or “Blue Sky,” which is still produced in Tianjin, China by the Lantian Group and is among those reported to avoid. Of course, China has tight reigns on print media, but good luck with the Internet. There’s no stopping the Tooth Fairy.

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IN THE; “ARE YOU SMOKIN’ CRACK” DEPARTMENT…

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We don’t really know much about this Andrew Speaker, the dood who flew all over the planet a week or so ago, spreading fear and pestilence. “Tuberculosis Andy.” We do know, however, he is a member of the popular Internet social hooking site “Meet Up;” Subversive Sub-Chapter: ATLANTA GREAT DANES.

One of the busy-body members shot this email to the group today:

Hi All-

Someone was smoking at the Brook Run Meetup today. I just wanted to make everyone aware that there is a no smoking policy at this dog park (and at Sweat Mountain and Waggy World too). The only dog park where smoking is allowed is Piedmont.

Please be considerate of others, both dogs and people, for whom second hand smoke, even in a park setting, is a health hazard.

If anyone wants to review the policies at these parks, here are the links:

Brook Run Park Dunwoody http://www.jawitp.com/

Sweat Mountain Park Marietta http://prca.cobbcountyga.gov/DogPark.htm

Waggy World Alpharetta http://alpharetta.ga.us/index.php?p=331

Thank you.
Janet

My dog, “Baezkid,” is a Great Dane “wannabe,” (I’ve got the AKA papers) and applied for membership to the Atlanta Society, but so far, has been snubbed. I try to make it up to him by us walking behind the group, but lately, he’s just listless.

Oh well, I’m tired too. No “Sweat.” Maybe I’ll just sit for a smoke and read up on the “Waggy-World” rules here.

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Janet, You Rock ~ Go “Gurl Frend”

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WHERE IN THE WORLD WASN’T ANDREW SPEAKER?

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Son of a “B___!” Talk about a made for TV conspiracy movie, or an intriguing marketing idea to quickly build up business for a law firm, I give you Andrew Speaker; the “Typhoid Mary” of 2007. Your mind could go wild with this one, but it really doesn’t have to. Here’s the set-up:

A handsome, well-to-do and gregarious young couple gets married stateside jetting bon voyage by the well-wishers attending their reception, off to enjoy a storybook honeymoon in the Greek Isles. The day had finally come, following one postponement after another. Typical of “on-the-rise” young professionals, finding time for the wedding had been tough, especially for the groom, a star law school graduate on the cusp of developing an equally stellar professional practice alongside his father. Putting the wedding on hold again was out of the question – but Andrew had a secret. The viral young lawyer was carrying a particularly virulent strain of Tuberculosis, or TB. Not fearing the worst, thanks to encouragement by his doctor, he can’t let this get in the way. Heck, he feels great, being in the best shape of his life, and a little TB wasn’t even interfering with his daily jogs. After all, one-third of the world carries the TB bacteria without problems, and is walking around doing just fine. Right? No, the wedding was definitely a “go.”

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Andrew Speaker giving the winning opening argument for the University of Georgia law team at the ABA National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition in 2003.

Now, our story and the “secret” gets complicated. A classic,“What did you know, and when did you know it?” You see, Andrew’s “little case” of TB carries a bad prognosis; likely death, as it is a multi-drug resistant strain, and there are no known effective vaccines for the world’s adult population.

This is the point where your questioning mind and imagination have a head-on collision with the facts. Terrorists? Spies? Brain-washed doctors and border guards? Hollywood, book deals, or big pay-offs? Who knows, but for now maybe the answer lies in a combination of stupidity, selfishness and really bad communication. Some consolation, as either way, exploring questions leads to one serious answer; dead is dead. Not a lot of thrill in this potential ending.

Our patient was identified today as Andrew Speaker, a 31-year-old personal injury lawyer who returned last week from his wedding and honeymoon trip through Italy, the Greek isles and other spots in Europe. His new father-in-law, Robert C. Cooksey, is a long-time CDC microbiologist whose specialty is TB and other bacteria. Huh? Is that your jaw on the floor? A personal injury lawyer running around the world with a highly communicable disease? Don’t those guys kinda specialize in cases involving reckless endangerment? And, whoa, the father-in-law is, what?

Now you question, outside of the sanity of Andrew Speaker and Robert Cooksey, where were the doctors, the CDC, Homeland Security, the WHO, the CIA, FBI, airline security, and whoever else is supposed to be protecting us from this type of pandemic? TB, regardless of the strains severity, doesn’t just sort of come on like a stress headache. At least Andrew and his doctor were long well aware he had TB, and there was time to react. Although only discovered today, and poorly constructed as events are still falling into place, consider Andrew’s travel schedule, as we think we know:

He flew to Paris on May 12 aboard Air France Flight 385, also listed as Delta Air Lines codeshare Flight 8517. He and his bride then took four more flights within Europe, flying from Paris to Athens on May 14; from Athens to Thira Island on May 16; from Mykonos Island to Athens on May 21; and from Athens to Rome also on May 21. On May 24, Andrew flew from Rome to Prague on Czech Air Flight 0727. From Prague, the couple left for Montreal that day aboard Czech Air Flight 0104. From Montreal, they grabbed a rental car and headed across the border back into the United States. Notwithstanding the frequent-flier miles he racked-up (hope he lives to use them), imagine how many people were in contact, then changing planes and contacting others throughout the world.

Somebody has got a lot of explaining to do, to say the least. But you were warned. Well, sort of. Missed it? I did too, but I’m talking about the ABC TV movie; “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu In America.” The movie follows an outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu virus from its origins in a Hong Kong market through its mutation into a pandemic virus that becomes easily transmittable from human to human and spreads rapidly around the world. Interesting plot. Apparently, ABC must have done its homework well, as the United States Government dedicated web pages to it via PandemicFlu.Gov and AvianFlu.Gov, stating:

“The Department of Health and Human Services prepared a Viewer’s Guide and some anticipated Questions and Answers to provide factual information for viewers of the movie.” Of interesting note, in addition to English, translations of the content are available in Spanish, Chinese and Tieng Viet. This to me, alone, is spooky. While fingers start pointing and we pray for Andrew Speaker’s health over the next who knows how long, take a minute to read the site’s information. You will learn what to do, where to go, and even what groceries to stock-up on when a pandemic strikes. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to print a copy to put with your other emergency stuff. The link is HERE.

Phillipines Tuberculosis Animated Short

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