Politics and Alcohol, a volatile mix
Our Top Story Tonight! (their news, our
December 8, 2002 (USA Today) - Bandera, Texas - A jury in Bandera, Texas, gave a life-in-prison sentence to a man who fatally shot a friend he accused of drinking the last beer in his refrigerator. "There was only two beers left, so I took one, and told Willie not to take my last beer," Steven Brasher, 42, said in a taped statement that was played during his trial. Testimony showed Brasher shot Willie Lawson, 39, in the head Nov. 5, 2001, after the two began arguing over the missing beer. Brasher said it was an accident.
Friends in High Places
December 8, 2002 (USA Today) - Beckley, West Virginia - A judge ruled that Raleigh County Magistrate Mark Whitely can retain his driver's license despite a drunken driving charge. The DMV had revoked his license for one year because he refused to submit to a secondary sobriety test when arrested. The state Supreme Court suspended him for about four months without pay.
Crack OKAY, but Smoke a Cigarette and You're Fired
November 10, 2002 (USA Today) - Springfield, Massachusetts - A firefighter arrested on drug charges has been fired for smoking. John Marrero, 25, is the first firefighter in the state fired under a law prohibiting firefighters and police officers from smoking when on or off duty. He was smoking when he was arrested in July, allegedly with crack cocaine and the painkiller Oxycontin.
Act Stupid, Get Dead, Sue the Bar
November 4, 2002 (News of the Wierd) - Josephine Bailey filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in August, two years after her 22-year-old son staggered out of Rick's Pub in Hurricane, W.Va., after a night of drinking and, according to police, collapsed under an idling 18-wheeler across the street, shortly after which he was run over and killed when the driver pulled away without noticing him. Ms. Bailey, who is suing Rick's owner and the trucking company, had said earlier that she couldn't believe her son would do such a foolish thing: "He'd never put himself in that kind of predicament." [Charleston Daily Mail, 8-10-02]
Consumer Alert - Arizona to Criminalize Walking Under the (Mexican) Influence
April 18, 2002 (Arizona House) - The Arizona House of Representatives has approved a bill that would make it illegal for anyone under age 21 to have alcohol in their system. Arizona law currently prohibits underage drivers from having alcohol in their system, but doesn't stop teens from drinking legally in Mexico and walking back across the border. Under the legislation, violators could face up to four months in jail and a $750 fine.
Consumer Alert - Beer Tax Roll-back Needs Your Support
March 29, 2001 (U.S. House of Representatives) - H.R. 1305 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the tax on beer to its pre-1991 level. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. REPEAL OF 1990 TAX INCREASE ON BEER. (a) IN GENERAL- Paragraph (1) of section 5051(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to imposition and rate of tax on beer) is amended by striking `$18' and inserting `$9'. (b) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.
Note: This consumer legislation is opposed by numerous anti-alcohol extremist groups and their paid lobbyists: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD 214-744-6233, x4567 ) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI 202-332-9110, x338 ) were joined by the National Association of Governors Highway Safety Representatives (NAGHSR 202-789-0942 ) and reportedly the Consumer Federation of America (CFA)! A majority of Representatives have cosponsored this bill, call your elected representatives with your views today.
Anti-Alcohol Fanatics Lose one with the Bureaucrats
June 1, 2002 (U.S. Federal Trade Commission) - A complaint to the feds by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) wined that the booze industry (CSPI pejorative) was targeting minors with advertising for its alcopops (CSPI pejorative). In their denial, the feds rejected the claim as groundless and also told the CSPI that their research methodology was faulty. No doubt a rare occurrence for an extremist advocacy group that offers pseudo-science to mask their underlying irrational positions. Check the facts at www.ftc.gov/os/closings/staff/cpsiresponse.htm and check the propaganda at www.cspinet.org/booze/
Blame the Alcohol, not the Moron
October 13, 2002 (News of the Weird/Albuquerque Journal) - Albuquerque, New Mexico - Darcy Ornelas, 31, was arrested in July after a car crash that killed her 4-year-old son. According to police, Ornelas had several drinks at a party but refused advice not to drive home. She fastened her own seatbelt but not the kid's, and then, in her Nissan 300 ZX, she became involved in a road race to prevent a Mustang from passing her, continuing to speed up and cut in front to frustrate that driver. After the fatal crash into a utility pole, Ornelas implied (according to police) that she had been concerned about being upstaged by another sports car.
Responsible Bar Employee Injured by State Worker
October 10, 2002 (USA Today) - Mineral Wells, West Virginia - Matheu Bianco, a state Department of Transportation employee, was charged with striking a bar employee with a DOT truck and dragging him a quarter mile. Bianco, 24, was released on $5,000 bail and suspended pending an investigation, officials said. Yancy Ney, 22, was trying to stop Bianco from driving because he appeared intoxicated, officials said. Ney was admitted to a hospital.
Iowa Councilwoman Threatens Town's Fire Protection over Beer
October 12, 2002 (USA Today) - Elgin, Iowa - Fire Chief Ron Hills and 21 members of the volunteer fire department say they will quit unless a councilwoman who complained about beer in the fire station resigns by Oct. 23. Jean Roach contacted the city's insurance company over concerns about social drinking at the station. The insurer said the city could lose its coverage. That prompted the City Council to ban beer from the fire station. Hill said Roach is trying to run the town. Roach said she won't step down.
Steal This Beer - 24 Will Get You 5 to 10
October 12, 2002 (WAFF) - Huntsville, Alabama - On the night of September 25th, two men walked into a convenience store with one intention to rob it at gunpoint. It's our Crime of the Week. The suspects were caught on surveillance video as they walked into the Redstone Food Mart on Patton Drive around 8:00 that night. The video shows one of them grabbing three 12-packs of beer and he then walks out the door. The clerk approaches the other man. He scrounges in his pocket for $5 and walks out. The clerk follows him out the door, and that's when she says he pulled out a gun. Frightened, she runs back into the store, grabs a pen, and jots down part of their license number. After that, she calls police. Investigator Tony Jones with Huntsville Police said, "This was 8:00 at night... very busy, being right next to the Arsenal... somebody had to have seen something." The men left in a white Cadillac with a 44 county tag. According to witnesses, two women with blonde hair were inside the car. Unless those women cooperate with police, they, too, could end up in trouble. And it was all for some free booze.
ABC Thwarts Virginia King Cobra Crime Spree
October 10, 2002 (Roanoke Times) - Roanoke, Virginia Sunnyside Market, a convenience store in Roanoke's Old Southwest neighborhood, can continue to sell beer and wine under certain restrictions, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ruled Friday. The ABC board suspended the store's alcoholic beverage license for 30 days, but the store can reduce the suspension to 10 days if it pays a $2,500 fine. Also, the store can no longer sell beer in single containers and all alcohol must be sold in clear plastic bags. The restrictions appear aimed at people who drink single beers in paper bags to avoid open-container laws. ABC hearing officer Michael Oglesby ruled the store sold alcohol to drunken customers and disturbed the neighborhood's peace. But he said the store was not a hangout for drug addicts, drunks and chronic criminals and has not hurt neighborhood property values. The store had no prior alcohol violations during the owners' 20 years of ownership, he said. William and Virginia Leffel, the store's owners and managers, said they were unaware of the ABC decision and declined to comment. Their attorney, David Lawrence, could not be reached for comment. Several neighborhood supporters and opponents of the store also said they were unaware of the decision and had no comment, or they could not be reached to comment. The market's supporters and opponents testified at two ABC hearings this summer. The ABC board brought nine charges against the store, including selling alcohol to intoxicated people, selling to a minor and allowing drunks to loiter on the property. Three charges were dismissed as criminal charges in Roanoke General District Court. Since the first hearing in July, William Leffel said the store stopped selling three brands of beer after an ABC agent suggested it could reduce crime - King Cobra, Magnum 45 and Steel. He also testified that he planned to move a video camera from inside to outside the store. Roanoke police officers and ABC agents said they targeted the store because of a high concentration of alcohol-related arrests in the area and because of citizen complaints that the store's alcohol sales led to public drunkenness and disturbances. But other residents said alcohol-related crime in the neighborhood stems from socio-economic problems, not the store's beer and wine sales.
Bureaucrats Threaten Standard Beer Bottles
October 10, 2002 (Ananova ) - Worcester, England - Trading standards bosses, who forced British shopkeepers to go metric, are threatening to prosecute an Austrian theme bar which sells beer in litres. Austrian Andrea Schultz started a bierkeller in Worcester two months ago, selling beer from her home country in earthenware one-litre jars. But trading standards officers have warned she faces prosecution because beer in Britain must be sold by the pint. Ms Schultz, who runs the Cardinal's Hat bar, is threatening to challenge the order in the courts. She told The Sun: "We had a visit from trading standards and I was stunned when I then got a letter. I've been told I'm breaking the law. It's crazy." She believes the beer, which is imported from Salzburg, tastes better in the traditional flutes because the tops are "not so wide and keep in the flavour". She has won support from the Metric Martyrs, a group fighting the introduction of Euro measures on British food. They include Sunderland greengrocer Steve Thoburn, 38, who was given a six-month conditional discharge for selling bananas by the pound last year. Mr Thoburn said: "It was barmy to stop me and it's just as crazy saying that Andrea can't sell Austrian beer by the litre. Again it's a case of bureaucrats trying to slap their rules on traders." Trading standards spokesman John Dell said : "Free flowing beer must be sold by the pint and that measure is here to stay. The only other items which are allowed to be sold in pints are milk and orange juice which is delivered to the doorstep."
Will Trade Hostages for Beer
October 9, 2002 (Ananova) - South Africa - A thirsty South African demanded a bottle of beer as a ransom after claiming he was holding three people hostage. The man told police he had a gun, was holed up in a house with a teenage girl and her parents and would only release them if they gave him a beer. After a six hour stand off police broke into a house to find that the gun was just a toy and that there was no one in the house besides the man who just wanted a drink, reports IOL. Police spokesman Ntobeng Phala said: "We called in the tactical intervention group, then the serious and violent crime unit and later our hostage negotiators from the province, but the guy refused to budge, even after we brought him the bottle of beer that he demanded."
Return of Drunken Voting?
October 9, 2002 (Jackson Sun) - Milan, Tennessee - Aldermen are considering a change in the city's beer ordinance that would make it OK to sell beer on election day. Tavern owner Thomas Darnell asked the board at its September meeting to consider changing the law that he believes is outdated. Mayor George Killebrew said the law was put in during prohibition but that most cities have taken it out. "That law is so old," said Darnell, who operates Darnell's Tavern, a family-owned business started in 1943. "It goes back to the saloon days when you could buy a vote for a half pint of whiskey. I heard my grandfather talk about that" happening in the 1920s and the 1930s. The city first discovered the law eight years ago when a convenience store's home office informed employees they could not sell beer on election day, Darnell said. City officials did some digging and found the law that was enforced for a little while after that, he added. It's recently been enforced after city officials put it in the beer ordinance last May, Darnell said. The board was set to take action on the revision Tuesday but tabled it because of other revisions that might need to be made to the beer ordinance.
Bottled Water Threatens Bud Light Sales
October 7, 2002 (Salt Lake Tribune) - Salt Lake City, Utah - Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch has dropped its challenge to the "Utah Beer" copyright registered by two Park City women for their fledgling bottled water company. We wrote in August about Joan Guetschow and Trisha Stumpf, world-class athletes turned entrepreneurs, applying for the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. Guetschow, a U.S. Olympian in the biathlon in 1992, and Stumpf, a two-time U.S. skeleton champion, gave the moniker to their spring-water bottling company to poke a little fun at Utah's image and get some attention. The beer giant was not amused and filed a protest against the name, apparently objecting to a water product being called "beer." After a little negative publicity on the matter, however, Anheuser-Busch has let the protest period lapse. Utah Beer is alive and well and gets to keep its name.
A Beer Worth Confessing For
October 5, 2002 (The Cincinnati Enquirer) - Reading, Ohio - Relatives of the former Reading mayor who was murdered in April met Friday with police to find out if investigators made a mistake that allowed the killer to escape a death sentence. "I understand that the police were doing their best at the time and may have got caught up in the emotion of getting all the evidence they needed in order to get an aggravated murder charge. But, again, I guess mistakes were made no matter what," said John George, a son-in-law of former Mayor Frank Carnevale and his ex-wife Rita Bushman. Police obtained a confession from their main suspect, Robert Cordell, 42, by enticing him with an open beer. He was never actually allowed to drink the beer, said Reading Police Lt. Scott Snow. A defense lawyer for Mr. Cordell disagreed, the Associated Press reported. "I heard the tapes and, in my opinion, they gave him the beer," Will Welsh said. "It was psychological. He was an alcoholic." Mr. Cordell pleaded guilty Tuesday to strangling his former sister-in-law, Kathleen Cordell, 40, with whom he lived, and going next door to fatally shoot Mr. Carnevale, 72, and Ms. Bushman, in their home. He also pleaded guilty to aggravated arson and aggravated robbery. Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said he spoke with the family himself and let them know there were "issues in the case that could present problems" but if they had wanted to proceed to trial prosecutors would have. With the family's permission, prosecutors agreed to drop the capital death classification against Mr. Cordell, in favor of 81 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 63 years. The beer was "a prop, a ploy," Lt. Snow said. "We as police officers are allowed to be deceptive to people as long as we don't promise them things that could benefit their cases - like leniency. ... But I can lie about things that would not have benefited him, like the beer."
Idaho Beer-Free Zones Require 300 Feet
October 4, 2002 (Idaho Statesman) - Jerome, Idaho - Because two restaurants are within 300 feet of an elementary school, they will go without beer and wine licenses, city officials decided. After Trio Cafe´s license renewal was tentatively approved in June, the question of its proximity to Washington Elementary School was raised. Jerome Administrator Travis Rothweiler told the City Council on Tuesday that staff erred when they originally measured the distance between Trio Cafe´s front door and Washington Elementary´s front door. With the revised measurements, Trio is 265.75 feet from Washington Elementary´s property line; El Paraiso Mexican Restaurant is 132.30 feet away, within the state´s mandated 300-foot buffer zone, Rothweiler said. Rothweiler said he asked the state for clarification of laws on alcoholic beverages sold near schools and churches. Councilman Rob Lundgren, the only council member who voted to approve the licenses, said the law distinguishes between hard liquor by the drink and beer and wine. "Alcoholic drink sales near a school is prohibited unless the city council approves it," he said. "I want to help two young men who are trying to make a living."
New Jersey Clergy Mimic Taliban Opposition of Freedom to Drink
September 13, 2002 (USA Today) - Willingboro, New Jersey - Voters will decide whether to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in their historically dry Burlington County community. Advocates say a yes vote in the November referendum will help attract restaurants and other new businesses. Clergy members are leading the opposition. Willingboro is one of 43 New Jersey municipalities where liquor sales are banned.
Special Olympics Associated with Extremism
September 13, 2002 (USA Today) - Kellogg, Idaho - The Special Olympics rejected a donation from a group that raised money by driving golf carts from bar to bar, drinking along the way. Special Olympics officials declined the donation because they didn't want to be associated with drinking and driving.
Ohio Health Departments lack Jurisdiction over Unhealthy Secondhand Smoke
September 13, 2002 (USA Today) - Popery, Ohio - Miens County health board members rescinded a ban on smoking in public buildings even though they disagree with a Ohio Supreme Court ruling last month that local health boards don't have the authority to enact such bans. Since November, smoking had been banned in enclosed public areas such as bars and restaurants.
Personal Responsibility the Law in Louisiana
August 12, 2002 (USA Today) - Baton Rouge, Louisiana - If customers are so drunk at a gambling table that they lose the farm, it's their own fault, a legislative committee decided. The committee rejected a proposed rule of the Louisiana gambling board requiring casinos to stop drunks from gambling. "We don't have the right to control people's lives," Rep. Arthur Morrell said.
More Alcohol-Related Injuries?
August 15, 2002 (USA Today) - Columbus, Ohio - A police report cleared firefighters of any responsibility for an accident July 15 in which their 35-ton ladder truck plowed into a tavern and injured nine people. The report said the truck's brakes were faulty and the firefighters couldn't stop it. Maintenance records on the 10-year-old truck showed a history of brake problems.
Oregon Dry Spell to End?
August 1, 2002 (USA Today) - Monmouth, Oregon - Residents will vote in November on whether to remain Oregon's only dry town. Petition gatherers turned in 692 signatures, well above the 515 needed to vote on whether businesses can sell beer and wine, said county officials. No hard liquor is sold here.
More Alcohol-Related Crime
July 21, 2002 (News of the Weird) - Eldorado, Arkansas - Two men in their early 20s were arrested in El Dorado, Ark., in April for riding their horses into a Wal-Mart and around the store for a few minutes. Police said alcohol was involved.
Court Overrules Texas ABC, Consumers Win One
July 19, 2002 (USA Today) - Houston, Texas - A federal judge struck down a state ban on the direct import of out-of-state wine. Texas requires out-of-state alcoholic beverage makers to rely on in-state distributors. Three Houston wine collectors sued the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in 1999 because they couldn't order wines from out-of-state companies via the Internet. The state can appeal.
No Constitutional Rights when Beer is Involved
July 11, 2002 (USA Today) - Madison, Wisconsin - The state Supreme Court said police can require suspected drunken drivers to take a blood test without a warrant. Jay Krajewski, 30, had appealed a decision overturning a lower court's ruling that the test violated his right against unreasonable search and seizure. Krajewski had volunteered to take a breath test because he said he had a fear of needles. His arrest in May 1999 was his fifth offense of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Hot Beer Search Cool with Friends in High Places
July 11, 2002 (USA Today) - Crowley, Louisiana - A grand jury declined to indict the mayor of Church Point on a complaint of improperly entering a woman's home in a search of stolen beer. Anna Handy said that Mayor Roger Boudreaux searched her home last month without permission, looking for beer stolen from a convenience store. Boudreaux said he had consent, the District Attorney's office said.
Overachievers in U.S. War on Drugs
July 11, 2002 (USA Today) - Dallas, Texas - Two confidential informants who worked with city police in a series of drug busts in which the evidence turned out to be gypsum powder have pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave. Jose Ruiz-Serrano and Reyes Rodriguez will be sentenced in September, officials said.
Common Sense Outweighs Anti-Drug/Alcohol Extremism
June 27, 2002 (USA Today) - Dublin, Ohio - The city's board of education repealed its 2-year-old random drug and alcohol-testing program for student athletes. It said that less than 1% tested positive. The board said the savings will pay for an additional drug and alcohol counselor to work in the middle schools. Joseph Franz, the program's administrator, opposed the decision. He said testing is necessary.
Liquor Consumers Easy Prey for South Dakota Spend-Mongers
June 24, 2002 (USA Today) - Sioux Falls, South Dakota - Some county leaders say they might ask the 2003 Legislature to raise the state's per-drink tax on liquor by a nickel. Dick Howard of the state Association of County Commissions said the move would raise about $18 million for law enforcement, the courts and treatment programs. Those areas cost counties about $60 million last year and amount to about 30% of county budgets, he said.
Court Educates School Officials on Student Rights
June 19, 2002 (USA Today) - Middletown, Rhode Island - Alicia Moriarty, a Middletown High School senior, got a court order allowing her to attend her graduation. School officials had banned her from attending because they said she drank before her prom.
Consumer Competition for Beer Down Under
June 18, 2002 (Reuters) - PERTH, Australia - Better, more efficient growing techniques are slashing marijuana prices in Australia and pushing up consumption. Prices of the weed have fallen in real terms by almost 40 per cent over the past 10 years, according to a survey by the Economic Research Centre at the University of Western Australia. Marijuana remains illegal here, but smoking or possessing small amounts has been decriminalized in most Australian states. "Even though marijuana is an illegal substance in Australia it seems that the application of modern production techniques, particularly hydroponic techniques, has led to a substantial increase in supply," said Professor Ken Clements who led the research. "This, in turn, has led to the sharp fall in price we have recorded," he told Reuters on Tuesday. According to the research, an ounce of marijuana leaf in Sydney in 1990 would have cost A$438 (US$244). In 1999, the date of the research, the price had fallen to A$275. Perth had the cheapest marijuana in 1999 with an ounce costing A$250, but was one of the few places to record an increase. An ounce costs A$210 in 1990. The falling price of marijuana sparked a 15 per cent rise in consumption, the survey found. "Australians are widely recognized as big beer drinkers but what we've found is that they are also among the biggest marijuana consumers in the world," Clements said.
Share a Keg, go to Jail in Michigan, USA
June 13, 2002 (USA Today) - Chester Township, Michigan - An arrest warrant was issued for a township trustee who admitted serving alcohol to high school students at his daughter's after-prom party. Stephen Krull faces six counts of furnishing alcohol to minors. If convicted, he would serve up to 30 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine. Krull acknowledged buying a keg of beer, police said.
Beer Leads to Barking
June 13, 2002 (USA Today) - Oslo, Norway - A court in Oslo, Norway, ruled that barking in public is legal, even for human beings. It acquitted Trond Hansen, 57, in May. Police charged Hansen with disturbing the peace, public drunkenness and child neglect after he was reported barking while walking home with two of his seven children after a party. He said he was trying to distract them after they quarreled and one started crying. The court found no evidence of drunkenness, neglect or illegal barking.
Buy a Kid a Beer, Loose Your Drivers License
June 13, 2002 (USA Today) - Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey - Thirty-two seashore towns will participate in a Cops in shops program to deter underage drinking this summer. Under the program, police officers work undercover in liquor stores, posing as store employees or waiting outside to arrest adults who buy alcohol for juveniles. Violators face minimum fines of $500 and the loss of their driver's license for six months.
Open a Container, go to Jail in Davis, California, USA
June 8, 2002 (USA Today) - Davis, California - Davis became the state's latest university town to ban open containers of alcohol in public. Booze won't be allowed in parks or on city streets without a permit, under an ordnance to be formally adopted this month. Residents said they're weary of rowdy parties spilling into the streets.
New Legal Fiction - Graduating Under the Influence
June 5, 2002 (USA Today) - Frederick, Maryland - A judge refused to reverse the suspensions of two high school seniors suspected of being drunk at the graduation rehearsal. His decision in effect barred them from their commencement. An alcohol breath test showed the students didn't meet the state's definition of "under the influence" for driving purposes.
Montana Charm: Unreasonable Speed Limits & Repeat Drunks
June 5, 2002 (USA Today) - Great Falls, Montana - David Hill, released from prison less than a week ago, was back behind bars, charged with at least his 11th drunken driving offense. Police say Hill, 44, was arrested at a convenience store where authorities said he had stopped to buy alcohol. He was released last week after serving six years of a 10-year sentence for a felony DUI conviction.
DARE to Abuse the Public's Trust
June 2, 2002 (USA Today) - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - A police program that fights youth drug and alcohol abuse was ordered to return thousands of dollars to the state after an audit showed the agency mismanaged funds. The Pennsylvania DARE Officers Association will have to return about $205,000 in unspent money. The association disputes the audit findings.
NY Liquor Control Authorities Prove Not World-Class
May 27, 2002 (New York Times) - New York, New York - ... A few thousand Irish, worried about missing matches that take place during the workday, signed a petition urging the government to run the country on Japanese time during the (World Cup) tournament. Britain's High Court, meanwhile suspended a law last month that would have forbidden pubs to serve alcohol during morning games.
Fans in New York who like to have a pint with their soccer will not be so lucky. Earlier this year, lawyers representing a number of city bars asked the state Liquor Authority to allow drinks to be served between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., an exception it had made only for New Year's Eve. The authority said no....
Mobile Phones More Dangerous than DUI
May 25, 2002 (Motorcycle Cruiser) - London, England - A new study released by the Transport Research Lab in the U.K. reveals that talking on a mobile phone while driving is more dangerous that driving while being over the legal alcohol limit. Test results showed that drivers' reaction times were 30% slower when talking on a hand-held mobile unit compared to driving drunk. Drivers were also less likely to maintain a constant speed and keep a safe distance from the car ahead of them.
DC Regulators show "Uncivilized" Side
May 20, 2002 (USA Today) - Washington, D.C. - City government regulators sent a letter to 155 art galleries saying they're prohibited from serving wine without a license. It said violators could "face criminal penalties which could result in imprisonment and/or a monetary fine." The art community says the warning is ridiculous because wine is served at art openings in every major city.
Politicians Cover Up Loss of to Thirsty Thief
May 10, 2002 (Asahi Shimbun) - Asahi, Japan - It took officials of the mighty Ministry of Finance a month to inform police about a missing master key, during which time a thief with an apparent thirst for beer broke into an office. The master key opens hundreds of offices in the ministry. It went missing April 6. But ministry officials did not bother telling police about the loss until Wednesday. In fact, only a handful of people knew it was missing. ``The staff in charge obviously felt the key would resurface soon. All the locks will be changed immediately,'' a ministry official said. But it is apparently too late for at least one office. Ministry officials discovered on April 24 that 260,000 yen and beer coupons were taken from a safe inside a locked office on the fourth floor. The key in question was last seen by janitors on April 6, when they used four master keys to clean the building. The four keys were returned, but one disappeared that night. The ministry did not contact police about the missing key or the theft until after an opposition lawmaker raised the issue during a Lower House meeting Tuesday.
Anti-Drug Bureaucrats "Outraged" over Free Beer
May 7, 2002 (Herald Sun) - Melbourne, Australia - Brewing giant Lion Nathan is giving away free slabs of Tooheys beer to university students in a bid to capture more of Melbourne's young drinkers. Under the guise of a club called BeerMonsters, the brewer is supplying private parties and university club functions with free booze in a bid to lure students away from popular Victorian brands. Paid representatives recruited from campuses spend about 15 hours a week peddling Tooheys' products to fellow students. "The BeerMonsters are here to help promote partying and having a good time," the club's website boasts. Students pay a $10 fee to join the BeerMonsters and become "Citizens of the Keg". Members, who fill in a detailed market research survey, are eligible for special offers and can apply to have BeerMonsters representatives attend their party with free alcohol. The Herald Sun believes Lion Nathan approached university student organisations late last year looking for promoters. Lion Nathan corporate affairs director Gabriel McDowell said BeerMonsters was a small part of Lion Nathan's campaign to test brands and increase awareness among 18 to 25-year-olds. "The amount of beer supplied for events is in line with the alcohol consumption guidelines of the National Health and Medical Research Council," he said. Party hosts sign an undertaking that they and their guests are over 18 years of age. Australian Drug Foundation chief executive Bill Stronach said the campaign was outrageous. "It's totally irresponsible promotion of alcohol. Young males in that age group are the most likely to drink irresponsibly and kill other people in the process," he said. Mr Stronach said BeerMonsters was proof the liquor industry's voluntary code of practice on alcohol advertising did not work and called for tighter controls on marketing of alcohol to young people. National Union of Students president Moksha Watts questioned how the practice could be allowed. "This is just creating money for them (Lion Nathan) and a whole range of costs and burdens on young people," she said. "It leaves the responsibility to intoxicated students to control themselves."
Fido Says - Guilty
May 12, 2002 (News of the Wierd) - Ottawa, Ontario - Christopher Laurin, 15, was suspended from school for two days in March and ordered to drug counseling when a police dog perked up while sniffing Laurin's locker, even though no traces of drugs of any kind were found in any of Laurin's belongings. The police claim that its dogs can detect lingering smells on clothing, but Laurin's parents were incredulous that their son could be disciplined for having something that didn't exist (and merely on the "say-so" of a dog).
May 5, 2002 (News of the Wierd) - Kennewick, Washington - The managing director of South Africa's Milk Producers Organization demanded that the country's Advertising Standards Authority condemn a beer ad that "discriminates against milk" by implying that it is "dull and boring." (In the ad, three demure milk-drinkers at a cricket match become envious of rowdy beer-drinkers and eventually join them.)
Opposition to Beverage Choice is News for USA Today
April 14, 2002 (USA Today) - Little Rock, Arkansas - A proposed state amendment to allow alcohol sales at stores and restaurants in all Arkansas counties would give the state power over what should remain a local issue, opponents said. Of Arkansas' 75 counties, 43 are dry, but private clubs serve alcoholic beverages in some dry counties. The group sponsoring the amendment has until July 5 to collect the 76,000 signatures needed to put the measure on the November ballot.
Gimme a Beer or I Waste this Taxi
April 13, 2002 (Reuters) - Beijing, China - A jobless drunk in China's rustbelt city of Shenyang threatened to blow himself up in a taxi in a stand-off with police unless they gave him something to drink, state media said on Friday. A raucous Fan Yingjun, 37, chugged bottles of sorghum-based Chinese liquor and washed it back with beer given him by police after he told the taxi driver he had a bomb and threatened to detonate it, the Shenyang-based Huashang Morning Post said. Police in the northeastern industrial capital, reeling from painful economic reforms that has put millions of workers at state-owned factories out of work, eventually ended the 140-minute stand-off in a surprise attack with police dogs, the paper said. Its Web site showed pictures of a wincing Fan wrestled to his knees and arm pinned behind his back by police after they dragged him from the back seat of the taxi. Police discovered Fan had no explosives, it said.
When Kegs are Outlawed...
April 11, 2002 (KC Star) - Topeka, Kansas - Gov. Bill Graves on Wednesday signed legislation designed to keep beer kegs out of the hands of underage drinkers. The measure would require retailers to attach an identification tag to each keg sold. Should a keg be found at a place where underage people were drinking, it could be traced back to the buyer. The idea is to prevent someone 21 or older from buying beer for underage friends. Sen. Jim Barnett, an Emporia Republican, had been pushing the legislation since he was elected to the Senate two years age.
Drinking Can Clean You Out
April 7, 2002 (USA Today) - Athens, Alabama - A 49-year-old woman said she passed out while drinking with a woman she hired to clean her home and woke up minus $280 she had stashed in her bra. Police said the woman offered an acquaintance $7 to mop her floor. The acquaintance asked for a fifth of vodka as payment instead, and the two then started drinking.
Bladder Break Proves Bad Luck
March 31, 2002 (News of the Weird) - Tampa Tribune-Knight Ridder - Tampa, Florida - Carl Franklin, 30, was reportedly inebriated and about to urinate by a fence when Tallahassee, Fla., police called out to him. Startled, and intending to run, but needing to zip up quickly and yet still handle the cigarette in his hand, he stuffed the smoke in his pocket and took off running. A few seconds later, officers noticed that Franklin's pants were on fire, which did not slow him immediately, but he did fall down when enough of the waistband burned that the trousers came down.
Beer Alters Depth Perception
March 24, 2002 (News of the Weird) - Sunday Times - Perth, Australia - Paul Andrew Jackson was awarded about $31,000 (U.S.) in March in his lawsuit against the provincial Roads and Traffic Authority after hurting his back at a bicycle bridge near Wollongong, Australia. Jackson, a 35-year-old surfer, had stepped over a guardrail in the dark to relieve himself but underestimated the drop-off (after a self-reported six-beer night), falling 40 feet down and momentarily knocking himself unconscious.
Florida Exorcises Satan-sponsored DUI
February 18, 2002 (News of the Weird) - Inglis, FL - In November, Mayor Carolyn Risher of Inglis, Fla. (pop. 1,400) issued an official proclamation (and embedded copies in posts at four entrance points to the city) declaring her town to be a Satan-free zone. She said she was concerned with kids dressing "Goth," as well as DUI drivers and child molesters: "We are taking everything back that the devil ever stole from us." (In January, the Town Council ruled Risher's action was unofficial.)
Drink Lion Nathan and Surf when in New Zealand
December 19, 2001 (www.realdevelopments.net/) - Auckland, New Zealand - Gone are the days when you could only check your e-mail over a coffee in an untidy Internet café ; Lion Red, in conjunction with Real Developments, today announced its CYB@R program that will trial 21 Internet stations across selected bar outlets. People can now surf the web and e-mail their friends, whilst relaxing and enjoying a cold Lion Red. CYB@R incorporates Lion Red branded terminals, high speed Internet connection, ETT's sophisticated Patloc Pin operated software and Real Developments technology. As part of the launch Lion Red and Real Developments will be conducting both on premise, online promotions and competitions. The stations will be branded Lion Red and will inform drinkers about upcoming promotions and will allow them to interact with the brand.
Tax-and Spend Politicians in Hawaii Assault Beer Drinkers
December 21, 2001 (Star Bulletin) - Honolulu, Hawaii - Gov. Ben Cayetano has proposed doubling the state liquor tax next year to help offset the revenue shortfall in the second year of the current state budget. "It is significant," the governor said. "Anyone who buys or consumes alcohol will be impacted. From our standpoint, alcohol is a luxury, and if we had to raise money anywhere, that is a good place to do it." If approved by the Legislature next spring, the tax would add just less than 9 cents to a bottle of beer, $1.20 to a fifth of hard liquor and 53 cents to a quart of wine. The increased tax would also generate an additional $38 million to $40 million into state coffers, helping offset mandatory state payments to the Employees' Retirement System, said Cayetano, who approved his proposed financial plan for the state yesterday. The alcohol tax -- one of the state's two "sin taxes" along with the levy on tobacco products -- generated about $37.8 million in fiscal year 2001. It raised $39 million in fiscal year 2000. The tax last was raised on July 1, 1998. Because of the state Council on Revenues' projected $315 million tax revenue shortfall over the next two years, Cayetano said the state was considering delaying mandatory payments to the retirement system because it could not afford it. But that extension would not be necessary if the Legislature approves the liquor tax increase, he said. State Tax Director Marie Okamura said the liquor tax is a gallonage tax imposed on dealers and certain others who sell or use liquor. It is based on a formula that includes the amount of liquor as well as the percentage of alcohol in a product. Different rates are imposed on different types of alcohol, such as draft beer, regular beer and wine. An annual liquor tax permit also is required. Okamura said one reason for the proposed tax increase was the success in raising the tobacco tax, now one of the highest in the country, to help curb smoking. "Alcohol does create a lot of problems for the community," she said. Cayetano said his administration has taken a strong stand against alcohol abuse. Although the state cannot prohibit people from drinking, alcohol does have tremendous social implications on the rest of society, he said. "There's no question that it's probably second to drugs in terms of the health care cost that it generates," Cayetano said. "It causes accidents, and so if people want to consume alcohol, they still may do so, but we're going to try to make it a little more expensive." Patrick McCain, president of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, said the liquor tax increase will further hurt an already struggling tourism industry. McCain said the tax increase will penalize job creation in the state while it makes it more expensive for tourists and residents. He suggested legislators focus on cutting the budget and not raising taxes. "I would hope that the government would try to help the private sector, but I don't know if that's part of the plan," McCain said. "They just keep adding one burden after another. Smoking ban, minimum wage increase, grease traps -- where do they think the jobs come from?" Meanwhile, the state Legislature's respective money committees will hold a series of state hearings starting Thursday to get public input on the state budget before the session begins in mid-January. State Budget Director Neal Miyahira is expected to present the governor's financial plan in detail while lawmakers field testimony and questions from the public. The hearings begin at 7 p.m. and are set for Dec. 27 in Honolulu, Jan. 3 on Hawaii, Jan. 7 on Kauai, and Jan. 9 on Maui. Specific locations will be announced later. Other options floated by the governor to balance the budget include an across-the-board cut for all state departments, including the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii, at 1 percent in fiscal year 2001-2002, and 2 percent for fiscal year 2002-2003. Cayetano also wants to transfer the remaining $213 million balance in the Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund to the state general fund, and authorize $900 million in general obligation bonds for construction projects to stimulate the economy. The state's November revenue projections predicted state tax collections will shrink by 0.7 percent next year, or about $158 million compared with last year. Lawmakers felt the public should get early input on how to make up the shortfall. "The governor is considering a number of alternatives in the state's updated financial plan -- across-the-board spending restrictions, possible debt restructuring, tapping some special funds, increases in capital improvement projects to bring more construction projects on line faster -- and the Legislature will be assessing both short- and long-term impacts of these proposals," said Brian Taniguchi (D, Manoa), Senate Ways and Means chairman.
Customers Avoid Utah Olymics due to Insulting Alcohol Laws
February 5, 2002 (Ananova) - Salt Lake City, Utah - Thousands of hotel beds unsold as Olympic countdown begins. Winter Olympics organisers say thousands of hotel beds and hundreds of tickets remain unsold. More than 120,000 hotel beds are still available in Salt Lake City where the games are taking place while tickets are still available for many of the events. But winter sports fans have been warned that the £220 million security effort will mean they can expect to shiver for hours in sub-zero temperatures as they queue to be searched and will only be able to take in two events in any one day. Organisers estimate it will take three to four hours to get between events in the city, and longer to go to sports such as the downhill skiing which are taking place out of town. Hotel owners had expected a bonanza as fans flocked to the games, and many had held back beds for last-minute bookings, expecting them to be full by now. Strict drinking rules in Utah may also be contributing to the games' failure to be a sell-out. Residents of the state are overwhelmingly Mormon and drink an average of just eight pints of beer a year. Bars are banned from selling anything but watered-down beer which has a maximum of 3.2% alcohol, and drinkers wanting anything stronger have to join "private clubs" at a cost of five dollars (£3.50). Restaurants serve drink, but only to people buying food - and until last year, could not even put alcoholic drinks on the menu, meaning wine lists were banned. And people are not allowed to bring alcohol across Utah's state borders, as its sale is controlled and taxed at 78.l%. George Van Komen, chairman of Utah's Alcohol Policy Coalition, told broadcaster MSNBC: "Many people associate revelry and partying with alcohol, but that's simply not necessary. Drinks may not be as available as freely as some people might like. But it's a compromise we feel is important to keep drinks away from our young people and to keep the public safe." To get round the restrictions, diplomats from Germany, Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Switzerland have set up temporary consulates which can sell alcohol tax-free.
Anti-alcohol School Fanatics Harass Students
February 7, 2002 (Union Leader) - New Hampshire - ILIANA ARZOLA . . . suspended for having a malt soft drink. A mother of a Central High School student is contemplating legal action after her daughter was suspended from school for having a non-alcoholic soft drink. Officials suspended Iliana Arzola, a freshman, for one class day on Monday after one of her instructors found her with a bottle of Malta Goya, a non-alcoholic beverage made from barley and hops. They later rescinded the suspension, but Maria Arzola, Iliana's mother, is not happy about how her daughter was treated. "They were out of hand," Maria Arzola, of Manchester, said yesterday. "They violated my daughter's civil rights." Malta Goya is a malt beverage popular in Puerto Rico and many Latin American countries. Its distributor, the New Jersey-based Goya Foods Co., describes the drink as a "rich, non-alcoholic soft drink brewed from the finest barley and hops." It is available in 7- and 12-ounce glass bottles and can be purchased off the shelf at grocery stores without identification. Almost black in color, it tastes vaguely like root beer. After Iliana was sent to the school's administration office, Assistant Principal Rita Davis issued her a one-day suspension and 10 hours in the school's Student Assistance Program, a support program for students found with alcohol. Iliana spent Tuesday out of class and returned to school yesterday. Officials rescinded the suspension late Tuesday afternoon and expunged it from Iliana's record. Also suspended on Tuesday for having a bottle of Malta Goya was Jose Pena, Iliana's cousin. However, Pena said his suspension was rescinded the same day. In a letter to Mrs. Arzola, Goya officials told her the drink is different than a non-alcoholic beer. Non-alcoholic beer is fermented, and the process that removes alcohol from it leaves trace amounts. However, Goya officials said Malta Goya is not fermented, meaning no alcohol is produced. But because malt beverages are federally regulated, officials said, all of them must be labeled as having an alcohol content of less than 0.5 percent by volume. School officials withdrew the suspension after contacting the State Liquor Commission. They found the state panel does not regulate Malta Goya as an alcoholic beverage. They also said yesterday they hoped withdrawing their action would end the brouhaha. "We've learned from this. I think by rescinding this suspension we can move forward," said Daniel French, Central's principal. French said the school would develop a policy on non-alcoholic, so-called "look-alike" beverages. The district already bans student possession of alcoholic beverages. However, Mrs. Arzola said she felt officials didn't listen to what her daughter had said. She said her daughter was crying and felt "they treated her like an alcoholic." And she pointed out that despite the suspension's reversal, Iliana still missed a day of class. "The point is, they should have never done this," she said. While Mrs. Arzola said she had not retained counsel, she was considering filing a civil rights suit against the school district. "Most attorneys I've consulted with agree there's a case here," she said.
Incompetent Politicians Bring Prohibition to New Zealand
January 14, 2002 (BEERWeekTM) - Wellington, New Zealand - Drinking in public, even carrying alcohol outside the home or workplace, is now illegal, according to press reports coming out of the country. The government had planned to pass a law that would let councils enforce liquor bans at New Years trouble spots, but one misplaced word has now effectively brought in prohibition. Rowdy New Year drunks were Winston Peter's target but his alcohol ban now covers the country. Parliament has made it illegal to even carry alcohol in a public place. The law was meant to cover places where councils had banned drinking. But a one word error in the bill means any public place is now off limits The law means that as soon as someone steps outside the carpark a police officer can ask them to hand over any alcohol they are carrying, tip it down the drain, or fine the offender $500 if they refuses to do so. But Peters did not mean to make it a dry Christmas and he is blaming the government printers for the mistake. Parliamentary rules have meant that the government needs unanimous support to change the offending word. But the law was being rushed through as a trade off for New Zealand first supporting the government's party-hopping laws and the opposition says that is dirty dealing and it will not help fix up. "This government is dependent on Winston Peters for support and they're finding out what that means," Bill English the leader of the opposition says. "It's a very badly drafted piece of legislation which stresses you shouldn't do things under urgency," says Ken Shirley ACT Party Whip. The new police powers are discretionary which means that it is unlikely the police will nab anyone for carting beer out of the supermarket. But the opposition is making the most of the threat of a long dry summer.
Indian Fanatics Bring Prohibition
January 12, 2002 (Wine and Dine) - New Delhi, India - A ban on drinking alcohol at weddings, parties and public functions has been imposed from the Ist April in New Delhi. Bars and shops will continue to sell booze but the price has risen considerably. This is said to be the first step in the introduction of total prohibition. The reason is that the BJP, which run the Indian capital's government, want to win over women voters! The neighbouring state of Haryana imposed prohibition in July last year a few weeks after the party was returned on an anti-alcohol ticket. Women forced the governments of Manipur and Andra Pradesh to introduce prohibition. Militant Women on their nightly patrols stripped and tied the culprits on donkeys and paraded the poor chap through the streets. In the meantime taxes in both state have risen 400% to cover the loss from duty on drink. Will there be Curry shine, St Valentine's Day Massacre and a total underground movement of speak easies etc.?
Greedy Politicians Ignore Case of L.A. Beers
January 12, 2002 (Brakspear Press Release) - Henley on Thames, England - As the next Budget approaches, Henley on Thames brewer Brakspear is once again tilting at the beer duty windmill. Having failed to move Chancellor Gordon Brown earlier in the year, the traditional and independent brewer is not about to give up its campaigning. Brakspear 2.5, low in alcohol but strong in flavour beer, is in the front line of the battle to kick-start the idea of more flexible beer duty bands. Brakspear 2.5, which has received customer, industry and press praise for its taste and value, is also seen by the company as providing the beginnings of a whole new beer category in Britain. Jim Burrows, Managing Director for Brakspear says: "We believe passionately in the case for slashing duty on lower alcohol beers. "We once again call on the Chancellor to support the case we are making for a lower duty band for this category of beer-something that does happen in other countries. "We believe there are serious benefits for the rural pub as well as in the drink-drive debate with a lower alcohol beer which, if it had a lower duty banding, could be provided at a value price." The company originally launched Brakspear 2.5, in draught form following a suggestion by the then Shadow Chancellor Michael Portillo that lower strength beers should have a reduced duty rate. The beer was then used to try and persuade current Chancellor Gordon Brown of the merits of a revised duty rate and was offered at a low duty price during the last Budget period. Brakspear then moved the beer into 500 ml bottles to widen availability and keep up the pressure for a reduced tax rate. Brakspear 2.5 is not brewed as a stronger beer with alcohol taken out, but fully brewed with real, whole hops and traditional malts and a unique double fermentation method. Bottled 2.5 is available to the On Trade and Brakspear pubs but has also just been extended into the Off Trade and has potential in export markets too. The beer is supported by the Drink Driver Education campaign and, the company believes, offers a realistic, new alternative for beer drinkers.
Thank You for Flying Southwest (and Going Crazy)
January 10, 2002 (AP) - Los Angeles, California - A passenger who allegedly punched a flight attendant and opened the rear door of a Southwest Airlines jet was charged Tuesday with interfering with a flight crew. After a brief court appearance, David Boone was returned to jail. He was in the process of being freed Tuesday night on a $350,000 bond and $50,000 cash his father promised the judge he would post. According to an FBI (news - web sites) affidavit, Boone, 36, told a fellow passenger Monday that everyone on the plane was ``doomed'' before leaping over a row of seats and heading for the emergency door. .. In California, authorities said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Boone stood up on the Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas flight as the Boeing 737 was pulling away from the terminal with 142 people aboard. ``He approached the rear of the aircraft with a shoe in his hand and as a flight attendant tried to prevent him from opening the rear door, he hit her in the head with his fist,'' FBI spokesman Matthew McLaughlin said. The attendant suffered minor injuries. No one else was hurt. Boone then allegedly opened the door but surrendered when two male passengers moved to subdue him. He was believed to have been drinking. The shoe contained no trace of explosives, authorities said. Last month, Richard Reid, 28, allegedly tried to blow up an American Airlines Paris-to-Miami flight with explosives hidden in his shoes. He was overpowered by flight attendants and passengers. Authorities said Boone will be allowed to return to New Orleans until his preliminary hearing, set for Jan. 28. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.
Man Brings "Down" Airliner by Peeing
January 5, 2002 (Reuters) - Miami, Florida - An airline passenger who allegedly urinated on a row of seats and threatened to bring down his Argentina-bound flight in a fireball was indicted in Miami on charges of interfering with a flight crew and making threats on a commercial aircraft, prosecutors say. The United Airlines flight from New York to Buenos Aires was diverted to Miami International Airport on Christmas Day because of the man's behavior, said U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis. The suspect, Rodrigo Deambrosio, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on the charges, Lewis said Friday. He said Deambrosio, a waiter from New York, became unruly two hours after the flight left New York's Kennedy airport, cursing at the crew and refusing to return to his seat. Told the plane would land unless he behaved, Deambrosio urinated in the row of seats where he had been sitting, Lewis said in a news release. Flight attendants stood guard over him as the plane turned toward Miami. Deambrosio allegedly told them he could not wait to be thrown off the plane because he had placed something aboard that would prevent it from ever reaching Buenos Aires, Lewis said. "Deambrosio stated that he had ways of putting things on planes because he is a waiter in New York and he knows how the catering service works for the airlines," the prosecutor said. "Deambrosio then stated that everyone on the plane was going to die in a fireball. ... After landing at Miami International Airport, Deambrosio stated again that the passengers and flight crew would die." He was arrested after the plane landed safely in Miami and told the crew that he had consumed alcohol, prescription sleeping tablets and cocaine before boarding, Lewis said.
Patriots Rush in, Where Drinkers Fear to Tread
December 20, 2001 (Reuters NZ) - Auckland, New Zealand - Drinking in public, even carrying alcohol outside the home or workplace, is now illegal. The government had planned to pass a law which would let councils to enforce liquor bans at New Years trouble spots, but one misplaced word has now effectively brought in prohibition. Rowdy New Year drunks were Winston Peter's target but his alcohol ban now covers the country. Parliament has made it illegal to even carry alcohol in a public place. The law was meant to cover places where councils had banned drinking. But a one word error in the bill means any public place is now off limits The law means that as soon as someone steps outside the carpark a police officer can ask them to hand over any alcohol they are carrying, tip it down the drain, or fine the offender $500 if they refuses to do so. But Peters did not mean to make it a dry Christmas and he is blaming the government printers for the mistake. Parliamentary rules have meant that the government needs unanimous support to change the offending word. But the law was being rushed through as a trade off for New Zealand first supporting the government's party-hopping laws and the opposition says that is dirty dealing and it will not help fix up. "This government is dependent on Winston Peters for support and they're finding out what that means," Bill English the leader of the opposition says. "It's a very badly drafted piece of legislation which stresses you shouldn't do things under urgency," says Ken Shirley ACT Party Whip. The new police powers are discretionary which means that it is unlikely the police will nab anyone for carting beer out of the supermarket. But the opposition is making the most of the threat of a long dry summer.