Even before he took office, President Biden made a big splash with his sweeping immigration reform proposal. While headlines focus on a path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants, it’s important to note the plan’s lackluster efforts on curbing illegal immigration. And while the proposal doesn’t expand the wall on the southern border, Biden hopes to curb illegal immigration by utilizing better technology and infrastructure on the border. Seemingly lost in the proposal is any change in punishments for illegal immigrants who commit other crimes or any way to crack down on the sanctuary jurisdictions that enable them.
Consider the path of destruction caused by just one man who illegally crossed the border and was not deported despite his serious crimes.
In 2007, 16-year-old Tessa Tranchant’s future was alight with promise. Starting at age five, Tessa earned accolades around the country for her skill in Irish dance. In passing years, she became passionate about riding English horses, enjoyed playing guitar, sang the musical score from Rent with gusto, and was an especially accomplished surfer. The all-American teenager seemed destined to fulfill the dreams of her Hispanic, Irish, and European immigrant forebearers.
But on March 30, 2007, as Tessa and her friend, Alison Kunhardt, waited for a traffic light to turn green, a careless drunk driver, who had entered the country illegally years prior, forever snuffed out both girls’ ambitions.
A ticking time bomb
The record of illegal immigrant Alfredo Ramos’s first six years in the United States is full of purposeful omissions.
In a 2017 prison interview, Ramos claimed that he wanted to come clean about his illegal past. He admitted, through a translator, that he breached the U.S. border in a four-day voyage by foot across the desert from the Mexican state of Sonora to Mesa, Arizona.
From the moment his feet touched U.S. soil around 2001, Ramos’s every movement was calculated to evade detection. For years, he succeeded.
In Mesa, he acquired a vehicle. On someone’s advice, possibly from an older brother also residing illegally in the country, Ramos drove to North Carolina, where an organization he has never named sold him the false documents that he would need to work in the U.S.
According to transcripts from Ramos’s manslaughter trial, the illegal immigrant first lived in Florida before moving to Virginia, where a series of police interactions should have put him on federal authorities’ radar.
Between October 2006 and March 30, 2007, the 22-year-old Ramos accumulated three alcohol-related misdemeanor convictions: public drunkenness in Chesapeake, Virginia; a DUI again in Chesapeake, where his blood alcohol concentration level was 0.14%; and public intoxication in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Ramos was also convicted of identity theft and a seat belt violation in early 2007. Additionally, he was charged in Chesapeake for driving without a license and having no insurance, but the charges were withdrawn.
In the first incident, on October 29, 2006, a Chesapeake police officer discovered Ramos passed out in the passenger seat of his vehicle, which was parked in a driving lane in a restaurant parking lot. It took the officer nearly five minutes to rouse Ramos, who stumbled out of the vehicle, unzipped his fly, moved to the rear of his car, and began to urinate. After being called to an emergency, the officer returned and charged Ramos with public intoxication.
Just two weeks later, on Nov. 13, 2006, Ramos veered over a double yellow line on a two-lane road. His car headed straight toward the vehicle of a Chesapeake police officer, who utilized a small section of shoulder to swerve and recover before pursuing Ramos. When Ramos finally stopped, he blew a 0.14% BAC, almost double the legal limit of 0.08%. He was charged with a DUI.
On Jan. 19, 2007, citizens called 911 to report Ramos’s erratic driving as he careened over curbs, heading toward heavily trafficked Virginia Beach Boulevard. After Ramos popped both of his front tires, a citizen stopped his vehicle by pulling the keys from his ignition, though Ramos continued attempting to accelerate. While waiting for officers from the Virginia Beach Police Department to arrive, Ramos told the citizen to let him go because he “would not do it again, and he lived right up the street.” When officers arrived, they charged Ramos with public drunkenness.
Ramos’s record was lengthy and included clear warnings that he was a ticking time bomb. But since his record technically included only misdemeanors, a Virginia Beach Police Department “sanctuary policy” enacted in 2005 prohibited the authorities from even asking Ramos about his immigration status.
In February 2007, when Ramos came before a judge to answer to his DUI charge, he was given a 90-day suspended sentence and a $250 fine, was ordered to participate in an alcohol awareness program, and his fake Florida license was suspended. Not being legally licensed had not stopped Ramos from driving before his trial,and the suspension of his fake license had no effect on his behavior.
Ramos, the ticking time bomb, ticked ever closer to an explosion.
According to court documents, Ramos initially denied having consumed alcohol on March 30, 2007. Later, he admitted he had two beers. Finally, he settled on admitting to having four to five beers. As the translator said in his 2017 jailhouse interview, “At that time, he was aware that he was that drunk, but he was much younger, and he felt invincible.”
Ramos sped down Virginia Beach Boulevard at more than 65 mph, at least 20 mph above the posted speed limit. His BAC level hovered at 0.24% — or three times the legal limit.
Ramos was less than two miles away from his residence when he slammed his 1998 Mitsubishi into a 1994 Plymouth Duster stopped at a traffic light. On hearing the explosive crash, residents nearby thought a bomb had gone off.
Inside the Plymouth, Tessa Tranchant and Alison were on their way home from the movies. They had just stopped at a convenience store to buy a pack of gum. As Tessa’s father, Ray, said: “They were just sitting at the light, strapped in their seat belts. They were just doing what they were supposed to be doing.”
GettyAn aircraft on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport.
Sierra Nicole McClinton is a 25-year-old Universal City, Texas, woman who caused a United Airlines flight to be diverted after she stripped off her pants and got into an altercation with flight attendants, according to officials. The flight was a CommutAir flight operating as United Express from Jacksonville, Florida, heading to Houston, Texas, on Thursday, according to The New York Post.
One passenger on the flight posted about the incident on Instagram, writing, “Most interesting flight of my life. The lady in handcuffs threw up on herself mid flight, took her pants off, tried to fight another passenger, then swung on the flight attendant. So we had to have an emergency landing.”https://527c1fe161bc5e525f3b891f2cf83917.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
The Houston-bound plane was forced to divert to Mobile, Alabama, where it made an emergency landing and law enforcement met the plane and the unruly passenger at the gate.
McClinton Was Intoxicated & Became Belligerent During the Flight & Is Now Facing Charges, Officials Say
Mobile Airport Authority PoliceSierra Nicole McClinton
The incident appeared to have started when McClinton threw up on herself and proceeded to remove her pants, according to one witness’s Instagram post. At that point, she got into a dispute with another passenger and became belligerent with flight attendants.
The Mobile Airport Authority Police Department met the aircraft at the gate and arrested McClinton, WALA reported. Police told the outlet that the passenger got into an “altercation” with someone else on the plane and flight attendants stepped in to assist. According to the outlet, McClinton was detained by a passenger and a flight attendant while the plane landed in Mobile.
When McClinton disembarked from the plane, she was wearing only her underwear and a t-shirt and “appeared intoxicated,” police told WALA. The outlet wrote that McClinton was swearing and not cooperating with law enforcement. She was charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
A CommutAir spokesperson told Fox News in a statement, “CommutAir flight 4332, operating as United Express from Jacksonville to Houston, diverted to Mobile when a passenger became disruptive. The aircraft landed safely in Mobile where law enforcement officials met the aircraft at the gate. The flight continued on to Houston shortly after.”
Officials Recently Announced That a July Texas-Bound Flight Was Diverted to New Mexico After a Woman Died of COVID-19 Mid-Flight
Recently, officials in Dallas County announced that a woman in her 30s died of COVID-19 on a flight to Texas from Las Vegas. In that case, a woman became unresponsive mid-flight and the pilot diverted the aircraft to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Emergency services responded to the passenger but she was declared dead on the scene.https://527c1fe161bc5e525f3b891f2cf83917.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Dallas County officials stated that the woman had underlying health conditions and was having trouble breathing during the flight, but it’s unclear if the woman knew that she had COVID-19. Although the Garland, Texas, woman died in New Mexico on a flight from Las Vegas, her death was added to Texas’ tally of COVID-19 cases.
Stephanie N. Beair, 37, of 229 Ludlow Road, Bellefontaine, was charged with illegal conveyance of drugs into a detention facility, along with a probation violation, as a result of a traffic stop in the city of Bellefontaine Wednesday evening.
Deputies of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office conducted the stop with a vehicle that had only one functional headlight in the area of south Main Street near Water Street about 9:50 p.m.
Beair was a passenger in the vehicle. Deputies detected a faint odor of marijuana on her clothing, and deployed K9 Thor for a free air sniff. The canine alerted on the vehicle. Officers of the Bellefontaine Police Department also arrived on the scene, and a probable cause search of the vehicle was conducted.
While nothing illegal was found inside the vehicle, a second female passenger allegedly dropped an item on the ground, which that passenger said was methamphetamine. She turned the item over to authorities and she was released from the scene, with further charges pending. The substance will be sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for testing.
Beair was placed under arrest for a probation violation. At the Logan County Jail, she admitted to corrections staff before she entered the jail’s body scanner that she had placed methamphetamine in a body cavity. The suspected meth was recovered and submitted as evidence.
Motorist faces OVI, resisting arrest charges
Patty A. Vickers, 55, of Bloomville, was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and resisting arrest relating to a non-injury accident about 10:10 p.m. Thursday.
Deputies responded to the area of County Road 56 and Township Road 219 on a report of a Ford F150 in the ditch.
While speaking with Vickers at the scene, she told deputies that a friend had been driving the vehicle and had left to call for assistance. Vickers also said she had not been drinking. Deputies noticed an empty and cold can of beer in the vehicle.
The defendant also reportedly displayed signs of intoxication. She refused to submit to field sobriety tests and also would not exit the vehicle. She had be removed from the vehicle by deputies and was placed under arrest.
The defendant had a large dog in the vehicle, and the Logan County dog warden also responded to assist with the canine.
At the jail, Vickers became uncooperative and was placed in the restraint chair. Deputies note that she has six previous OVI convictions and as a result, may face a felony OVI charge. She also was cited for driving under non-compliance suspension, failure to control and open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
• Stephanie M. Pettigew, 57, of Lima, was charged with OVI and was issued summonses for three counts of child endangering related to a traffic stop about 9:20 p.m. Thursday in Huntsville.
Deputies observed her fail to use her turn signal while turning onto Wishart Street and also stopping in the roadway and initiated the stop on Sharon Street near Lima Street.
Deputies said the driver, Pettigew, showed signs of intoxication and she submitted to field sobriety tests. She said she had one beer several hours ago.
Wauters admitted she’d been drinking, but that she ‘wasn’t drunk’ during the botched operation
A Belgian anaesthetist went on trial in the southwestern French city of Pau on Thursday, accused of causing the death of a British woman during a Caesarian section six years ago under the influence of alcohol.
Helga Wauters, 51, is charged with manslaughter for the death of Xynthia Hawke, who was some days overdue when admitted to the maternity ward on September 26, 2014.
She was 28.
“I recognise now that my addiction was incompatible with my job,” Wauters told the court, adding that “I will regret this death my entire life.”
Wauters had performed an epidural on Hawke earlier in the day, but during the birth complications appeared, requiring an emergency C-section.
When she returned to the room after being called back in, Wauters had alcohol on her breath, according to witnesses.
According to investigators Wauters, who was less than two weeks into the job, intubated the oesophagus instead of the trachea.
Hawke died four days later from cardiac arrest. Her baby survived.
Wauters admitted during the investigation that she had started her day drinking vodka with water, “like every day” for 10 years, and that she had had a “glass of rose” wine with friends before being called back in.
She claimed, however, to have been in possession of “70 percent of her faculties” and that she was “not drunk”, investigators said.
Instead she blamed the operating team for the operation going wrong, as well as a respirator she said had been faulty.
Just after she was taken into custody, the alcohol content in her blood was found to be 2.38 grams per litre, which typically corresponds to close to 10 glasses of wine, and is more than four times the permitted level when driving in France.
Hawke’s parents and her sister travelled from Britain to attend the trial, with her partner and a dozen friends also present.
“It’s going to be hard for them,” said family lawyer, Philippe Courtois.
“They are going to hear things that they didn’t know, or preferred not to know, about what emerged during the investigation,” he said.
Hawke’s father, Fraser Hawke, said: “We will be strong.”
As the coronavirus outbreak swept the country, President Trump for months promised high-tech solutions just over the horizon: thousands of new ventilators, miracle drugs and vaccines developed at “warp speed.”
He has shown decidedly less enthusiasm for simpler steps such as mask wearing and social distancing. That has frustrated public health officials, who are now pleading with Americans to make a few small changes in their behaviors to help control the widening pandemic.
But if the president’s disdain for masks may be extreme, his impulse to look for the latest and greatest medical intervention reflects a strong tradition in American healthcare that has long put a premium on new drugs, bigger medical systems and more technology, often at the expense of public health initiatives that other nations have shown to be more effective at lower cost.
“We are much more willing to put money toward treating something than preventing it,” said Dr. Richard Besser, the former acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now heads the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
It is a mindset that helps explain the nation’s more than $3.6-trillion annual healthcare tab, by far the highest in the world.
It also accounts for some of America’s struggles with the current pandemic, which is exploding across the country, threatening to claim tens of thousands of additional lives, even as it fades in Europe and other wealthy nations.
Similarly, the long-standing American resistance to public health measures hampers efforts to restrain diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses that are driving hundreds of billions of dollars of medical spending.
“Public health is a quintessential public action,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, which studies health systems in the U.S. and abroad. “It must be done by people working together on behalf of themselves and others. In a fiercely independent culture, that is very hard to undertake.”
America spends more than $237 billion a year on medical care for people with diabetes, for example, much of it to control a disease that can be prevented or managed with simple interventions like eating more healthful foods.
Just the tab for prescription drugs to control the disease topped $85 billion in 2017, according to research by the American Diabetes Assn.
By contrast, efforts by public health advocates, nutrition experts, pediatricians and others to strengthen dietary standards or create more incentives for healthful eating have run into persistent barriers, stymieing such initiatives for decades.
“There has long been this double standard when it comes to public health,” said John Auerbach, president of the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health. “If there is a new medicine, there is just an assumption that it will get paid for, no matter the cost. But every public health policy requires a cost-benefit analysis that must show it not only improves health but saves money.”
Even the structure of the American healthcare system tends to favor high-cost interventions such as surgery and treatment by specialists like endocrinologists, orthopedists and cardiologists, rather than primary-care physicians who traditionally helped patients maintain their health and prevent disease.
Nationally, the U.S. devotes on average only about 5% to 7% of total healthcare spending to primary care, even though there is growing evidence that places that have stronger primary care systems have healthier populations and lower overall healthcare costs.
Other wealthy nations invest up to twice as much on primary-care services and have substantially lower overall healthcare spending.
The U.S. spent more than $10,000 per person on healthcare in 2018, more than double what major European nations such as France, Britain and the Netherlands spend, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The roots of these imbalances run deep in American healthcare, dating back to efforts by physicians in the early 20th century to maintain control of medical care against a rising public health movement championed by government reformers.
As healthcare in America became big business, creating what the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980 called a “medical industrial complex,” drugmakers, medical systems, dialysis companies and others dependent on high medical spending expanded their influence.
And while medical spending in the U.S. rocketed upward, wariness of government helped check any parallel expansion in public health.
“Americans have been much more comfortable allowing money to flow to the private sector rather than go to the public sector,” said Blumenthal of the Commonwealth Fund.
Since the 2008-09 recession, the Trust for America’s Public Health has estimated that nearly 60,000 state and local public health jobs have been lost as investment in public health flagged.
Meanwhile, even small efforts to tackle public health challenges like removing sodas and junk food from school vending machines have proved to be monumental tasks requiring years of advocacy.
Auerbach, who was Boston health commissioner before taking the helm at the Trust for America’s Health, called the push to limit smoking in restaurants in the 1990s “one of the most difficult fights I’ve been involved in in 30 years in public health.” Today, the reduction in smoking stands as one of the great public health success stories in the U.S.
Even victories have sometimes proved ephemeral, however.
Although the Obama administration in 2012 issued rules setting standards for less salt and more whole grains in school meals, the Trump administration has been working since 2017 to roll back the rules under pressure from the food industry.
“It’s just ridiculous,” said Colin Schwartz, deputy director of federal affairs at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, which spent years pushing for the food standards. “The evidence is clear that strong standards reduce obesity and set kids up for better health long-term, but they are obviously not looking long-term.”
Today, there is growing consensus among experts and healthcare leaders that combating chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease — and controlling costs — will require even more robust public health interventions.
These include new efforts to tackle underlying causes of poor health, such as poverty, inadequate housing and education and poor childcare, areas where the U.S. has also under-invested over the years.
“We need to go upstream,” said George Halvorson, the former chief executive of Kaiser Permanente who now chairs First 5 California, an ambitious state effort to improve early childhood education and development.
Besser, the former acting CDC director, warned that the country’s inability to address these issues and build an adequate safety net is also now complicating the effort to control the coronavirus.
“We don’t have the social contract we need,” he noted. “It’s much harder to be successful in America because we don’t believe everyone deserves things such as health insurance, jobs that pay a living wage and sick leave. These things are not available to tens of millions of people of America. … and so, it’s harder for people to do the right thing.” https://news.yahoo.com/not-just-coronavirus-america-repeatedly-225550997.html
A New York Mills man is charged with impaired driving, after he was involved in two accidents on the same day.Posted: Aug 18, 2020 6:12 PMPosted By: WKTV
NEW YORK MILLS, N.Y. – A New York Mills man is charged with impaired driving, after he was involved in two accidents on the same day.
Police say Merritt Bremer, 27, was traveling north on Clinton Street in a Toyota FJ Cruiser, around 7:40 a.m. on Tuesday. Bremer went through a red light, and hit a vehicle driven by Shane Jeffers, of Newport, who was turning left onto Burrstone Road from Main Street. Jeffers and his passenger were treated for minor injuries.
Bremer left the scene of the accident and went home, where an officer later found him.
A few hours later, police were called to the same area of the initial crash, for a one-car accident.
Police say Bremer crashed into a guard rail around 1 p.m., while driving a BMW north on Clinton Street. He was taken to the hospital to be evaluated.
Bremer was charged with driving while ability impaired, and issued tickets for passing a steady red signal, failure to keep right, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and an uninspected vehicle.
The Ohio Supreme Court has denied the request to reinstate the law license of former Scioto County Common Pleas Judge William T. Marshall.
Marshall, who applied for reinstatement for his license Feb. 21, 2020, was denied Monday by the court after the judge was suspended for six months due to inappropriate conduct.
According to the complaint, in September 2016, Marshall’s then 17-year-old daughter, identified in court records as A.M., was stopped in Scioto County by Patrol Sergeant David Stuart. A.M. immediately identified herself as the daughter of “Judge Marshall.” During the stop, she called her father and handed Stuart the phone. Stuart informed Marshall, he stopped his daughter for speeding and that she was 14 mph over the speed limit and was driving with expired tags. Marshall disputed that the tags were expired. Stuart issued A.M. a speeding ticket and gave her a warning for the expired tags.
According to the complaint filed, the traffic case was assigned to a juvenile court magistrate. Shortly after the assignment, Marshall attempted to discuss his daughter’s ticket with an assistant county prosecutor, who was in his courtroom on an unrelated matter. Marshall told the prosecutor that he did not like Stuart.
Three months after the case, the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel filed a complaint with the Board of Professional Conduct charging Marshall with misconduct arising from his conduct in his daughter’s traffic case. The parties entered a “consent-to-discipline” agreement and stipulated that Marshall violated several judicial-conduct rules, including failing to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary, abusing the prestige of judicial office, and exhibiting bias or prejudice in the performance of his judicial duties.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommended that Marshall be suspended for six months and noted that he had retired from the bench. The Supreme Court adopted the board’s recommendation.
Marshall was ordered to immediately cease and desist from the practice of law in any form and was forbidden to appear on behalf of another before any court, judge, commission, board, administrative agency or other public authority.
In January 2013, according to court documents, Marshall hit an embankment and overturned his vehicle. He pleaded guilty two months later to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The trial court sentenced him to 90 days in jail, with 87 days suspended, and probation, plus a $550 fine and court costs.
The Office of the Disciplinary Counsel, which filed the charges in the case, and Judge Marshall agreed that his conduct damaged public confidence in the judiciary’s integrity, violating judicial conduct rules. They also agreed to certain facts and the proposed sanction of a public reprimand.
The reprimand consisted of court documents stating Marshall was not following judiciary rules and misrepresenting the judiciary system.
Santa Rosa firefighters work at the scene of a fatal accident involving a tree-trimming truck and a blue Honda Civic at the intersection of Hwy 12 and Oakmont Drive in Santa Rosa on Thursday, April 2, 2020. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)
A doctor at Santa Rosa Community Health was identified as the man killed Thursday when a tree-trimming truck whose driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs ran a red light and crashed into his car.
Dr. Harry Gee, 69, was remembered by his colleagues as a kind, dedicated man. Known by his coworkers as “Jeff,” he joined the Vista Campus of Santa Rosa Community Health in January because he wanted to help the medically underserved, said Dr. Marie Mulligan, the campus’s medical director.
“He was kind — committed to providing excellent, caring care to his patients,” Mulligan said. “He will be missed.”
Before his death, Gee was in the process of moving to Sonoma County from Daly City with his wife, Mulligan said.
“We were all looking forward to going wine tasting with him and his wife once they made the move,” Mulligan said. “We didn’t get the chance to get to know him as well as we were hoping.”
Gee died Thursday morning after his car was struck on the left side by the tree-trimming truck whose driver, according to the CHP, ran a red light on Highway 12 at Oakmont Drive.
The truck driver — 29-year-old Tanner Robinson, an employee of Santa Rosa-based Atlas Tree service — was booked into the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and causing injury while driving under the influence. Robinson previously faced two other DUI charges, one of which was reduced to a lesser charge in a plea deal, said CHP spokesman David deRutte.
Atlas Tree said in a statement that Robinson had been with the company for more than two years and had no driving violations or collisions while driving company vehicles. The statement said that Robinson’s crew members “did not notice any signs that he was not fit for duty prior to the incident.”
Driver of tree-trimming truck suspected of DUI in fatal Santa Rosa crash
Atlas Tree President Rich Kingsborough also said in the statement that the company’s thoughts go out to Gee’s family: “I can’t imagine the pain they are suffering.”
Gee had more than 35 years of experience as a family practitioner in and around San Francisco and Daly City, according to an internal staff email. He completed his residency at San Francisco General Hospital, and spent years training medical students and young physicians for the Dartmouth and Georgetown Medical Schools, and as a volunteer faculty member for UCSF’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.
At the Vista Campus, Gee primarily cared for adults and patients with complex medical conditions. He had an “open, caring approach” with his patients, Mulligan said.
“He took care of their medical conditions and he was curious about their lives and what was important to them,” she said.
Mulligan described Gee as friendly and well liked by his coworkers. She fondly recalled how colleagues would often stumble upon Gee “jamming” to music at his desk — he loved music of all genres, including rap.
When she informed their coworkers of his death Thursday, they were all shocked and heartbroken.
Alcohol is one of most dangerous drugs that exists but the alcohol lobby has succeeded in burying the true health harms
In the U.S., approximately 88,000 people die a year from alcohol-related causes, including more than 4,300 underage youth
Alcohol is linked to cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, rectum, colon and breast and possibly pancreas and lung cancers
Alcohol is linked to violence including sexual assault and child abuse
Alcohol beverage makers form partnerships with public health and government agencies to make their products appear less harmful
Alcohol is an accepted part of almost all societies. It is so engrained in socializing and entertainment, easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive that few think twice about taking a drink or two. Certainly, we know about alcoholism and recognize alcoholics, especially when they are on “skid row,” but we don’t usually think of alcohol as a dangerous drug. But perhaps we should.
Scientific reports reveal that alcohol may be among the most dangerous drugs, illegal or legal, that exist. In the U.S., approximately 88,000 people die a year from alcohol-related causes — including more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth1 — and in 2014, alcohol caused 9,967 driving fatalities in the U.S.2 Worldwide, 5.9% of deaths are attributable to alcohol.3
Why is alcohol not demonized the way tobacco is? There are at least two reasons, say public health experts. One is that the alcohol lobby has bought favorable media coverage through donations and partnerships with public health groups and even government agencies. The other reason is that illegal drugs usually receive the brunt of bad publicity even when the legal drug, alcohol, may do more damage.
Alcohol Is More Harmful Than Many Realize
While most people are aware of drunk driving fatalities and the possible effects of excessive alcohol consumption on the liver, there are other serious consequences from drinking alcohol that are less well publicized. For example, alcohol is strongly linked to mouth cancers and cancers of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, rectum, colon and breast. It is even linked to cancers of the pancreas and lung.4
The carcinogenic effect of alcohol “is unmistakably proportional to the daily/weekly dosage,” according to research published in the Hungarian journal Magyar Onkologia.5 Alcohol, or ethanol as it is called in the medical profession, metabolizes into the known carcinogen acetaldehyde, which exerts negative actions:6
“Among other things chronic alcohol consumption promotes the production of endogen hormones, affects the insulin-like growth factor-1, alters several biological pathways, raises oxidative stress, and damages the genes. Even modest daily alcohol intake will increase the risk of breast cancer.”
“One human tissue study, 19 animal studies … and 10 cell line studies indicate that ethanol and acetaldehyde may alter metabolic pathways and cell structures that increase the risk of developing colon cancer. Exposure of human colonic biopsies to acetaldehyde suggests that acetaldehyde disrupts epithelial tight junctions.
Among 19 animal studies the mechanisms considered included: Mucosal damage after ethanol consumption. Increased degradation of folate. Stimulation of rectal carcinogenesis. Increased cell proliferation. Increased effect of carcinogens.”
Alcohol Can Contribute to Breast Cancer
The most common cancer in U.S. women is breast cancer and it is the second biggest cause of their cancer deaths. There is a strong correlation between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and breast cancer, according to a study published in the journal Alcohol:8
“Results of most epidemiologic studies, as well as of most experimental studies in animals, have shown that alcohol intake is associated with increased breast cancer risk.
Alcohol consumption may cause breast cancer through different mechanisms, including through mutagenesis by acetaldehyde, through perturbation of estrogen metabolism and response, and by inducing oxidative damage and/or by affecting folate and one-carbon metabolism pathways … Acetaldehyde is a known, although weak, mutagen.”
Because of the oxidative damage alcohol causes and its effects on the insulin-like growth factor-1 and genes, “Even modest daily alcohol intake will increase the risk of breast cancer,” concludes the journal Magyar Onkologia.9 The heightened breast cancer risk likely comes from alcohol’s increase of estrogen, suggests research in Evidence Report/Technology Assessment:10
“Increased estrogen levels may increase the risk of breast cancer through increases in cell proliferation and alterations in estrogen receptors. Human studies have also suggested a connection with prolactin and with biomarkers of oxidative stress.
Of 15 animal studies, six reported increased mammary tumorigenesis … Other animal studies reported conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde in mammary tissue as having a significant effect on the progression of tumor development.”
Alcohol Is Often Linked to Violence
“Rape culture” and rapes on U.S. campuses are increasingly reported but their link to alcohol consumption is not always included. Social researchers do not think that alcohol, in and of itself, makes people violent or rapists but rather that it boosts the behavior in those with violent tendencies.11 According to research in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs:12
“College men’s alcohol consumption is positively associated with sexual aggression perpetration … In the present study … heavy episodic drinking (HED) [was] … hypothesized to contribute to sexual aggression perpetration via more frequent attendance at drinking venues (parties, bars).
College men who more frequently attended drinking ‘hot spots’ were more likely to perpetrate subsequent sexual aggression, supporting a growing body of evidence on the importance of drinking venues in college sexual assault.”
Children also experience violence as the result of alcohol consumption, a study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect found:13
“This study is a detailed examination of the association between parental alcohol abuse … and multiple forms of childhood abuse, neglect, and other household dysfunction, known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) …
Compared to persons who grew up with no parental alcohol abuse, the adjusted odds ratio for each category of ACE was approximately 2 to 13 times higher if either the mother, father, or both parents abused alcohol … exposure to parental alcohol abuse is highly associated with experiencing adverse childhood experiences.“
Alcohol is also correlated with depressive effects in its users and problems in their daily lives, such as trouble in interpersonal relationships including marriage.14
Alcoholic Beverage Makers Have Spun a Good Image
As I mentioned before, alcohol has not been demonized like tobacco and street drugs. In fact, you do not have to look too far to see reports that alcohol is even healthful and that moderate drinkers live longer than non-drinkers. How has alcohol’s positive image been created and maintained?
Two years after launching its Global Smart Drinking Goals campaign in 2015,15 Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer brewer,16 debuted its Ab Inbev Foundation.17 “Built around the idea that partnerships can play an important role in reducing the harmful use of alcohol,” it “works through a collaborative model, with our staff, the City Pilot Steering Committees, and our partners,” says the brewer.18
But, according to a commentary in the British journal The Lancet, the Ab Inbev Foundation is no different in intent and hypocrisy than Philip Morris International’s Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.19
You could even add the hypocrisy of Juul Labs claiming to “transition the world’s billion adult smokers away from combustible cigarettes, eliminate their use, and combat underage usage of our products” while hooking children on vaping.20 The Ab Inbev Foundation betrays unabashed conflicts of interest says the Lancet:21
“In fact, the foundation attracts senior UN and former US government officials to its board and funds and engages in policy making processes. Despite obvious conflicts of interest, the Anheuser-Busch InBev Foundation sponsors a US National Academies of Science forum on global violence prevention.”
For example, a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention in 2011 was Amie Gianino who was identified as “Senior Global Director, Beer & Better World, Anheuser-Busch InBev.”22 Why is the alcohol industry considered a valid government presenter on these topics?
Anheuser-Busch InBev is not the only alcohol giant pretending to be concerned with global health while selling health-destroying products. The Carlsberg Foundation, one of the world’s leading brewery groups,23 created UNLEASH for young people working on “solutions to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”24 It also works with government groups, says the Lancet commentary.25
More Deception From Alcohol Beverage Manufacturers
How have alcohol beverage makers been able to minimize the considerable cancer links to their products? According to Drug and Alcohol Review:26
“Three main industry strategies were identified: (i) denial/omission: denying, omitting or disputing the evidence that alcohol consumption increases cancer risk; (ii) distortion: mentioning cancer, but misrepresenting the risk; and (iii) distraction: focusing discussion away from the independent effects of alcohol on common cancers …
These activities have parallels with those of the tobacco industry. This finding is important because the industry is involved in developing alcohol policy in many countries, and in disseminating health information to the public, including schoolchildren.”
At least one partnership between government and the alcohol industry was flagged as a conflict of interest. In 2018, Heineken, the world’s second biggest brewer, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced a partnership to tackle infectious diseases in Africa. But, according to a Lancet editorial:27
“The proposed partnership is a clear conflict of interest, offering the alcohol industry — already keen to tap into emerging markets such as in Africa — an opportunity to divert attention from the harms of its products, while also lending it an air of responsibility with policy makers and attracting further visibility and brand recognition.”
Other public health groups such as the NCD (noncommunicable disease) Alliance concurred.28
“‘We have made it clear from the outset that we believe that the Global Fund´s partnership with an alcohol company such as Heineken is incompatible on the grounds of public health,’ said Katie Dain, CEO of the NCD Alliance.
‘It is unacceptable that a company whose core business is based on promoting products and choices that are of detriment to people´s health and wellbeing, should be seen as a viable partner by an organization like the Global Fund that is charged with bettering the health of so many millions of people around the world.'”
The partnership was suspended in 2018, not due to public health concerns but, rather, amid allegations that Heineken’s use of female beer promoters was sexually exploitative and unhealthy.29
Other Alcohol Conflicts of Interest Exist
Public health organizations have seen the value in taxing tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverages because of the clear harm they do. Yet alcohol taxes and control strategies lag behind, says the Lancet. For example:30
“Bloomberg Philanthropies, a worldwide leader in tobacco control, convened a high-level task force with former heads of state and finance ministers to consider fiscal policies for health.
The philanthropic organization recognized that alcohol taxes were underused, and, if implemented, could indirectly save up to 22 million lives over the next 50 years. Yet, Bloomberg Philanthropies has not devoted resources to alcohol control programs.”
Moreover, some research-based charities like the U.K.-based Wellcome Trust actually invest in alcohol beverage makers, says the Lancet commentary.31
“The Wellcome Trust, which announced a major commitment of £200 million to transform research and treatment for mental health, has also invested £171 million in Anheuser-Busch InBev as of 2017.
No global health charity has allocated substantial resources or prioritized investment in alcohol control, despite the fact that this neglected issue needs leadership.”