Ducks Redux

duck-profile-silhouette-27There haven’t been any more stories in the newspaper recently about removing the Forest Lake water fowl. Perhaps this because their fate hasn’t yet been decided on? Some have laid the responsibility for the small outbreak of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the area surrounding the lake at their webbed feet.

A comment on the last Franklin Stove Blog claimed that there was little likelihood of mosquitoes being infected because of the water fowl.

Please follow the link scroll down, and view the table in the the section entitled “Species Susceptibility and Competence” regarding birds that might carry the WNV. The probability of Canada geese infecting mosquitoes—NOT HUMANS—with the WNV is negligible. Your statement that “if a dead bird at Forest Lake is ever found to have died due to the WNV there might be sufficient cause to remove them,” is completely misguided! WNV infection is never a “sufficient cause” to remove the geese from Forest Lake. If one blue jay in Forest Lake is found to have died from WNV, are you going to recommend that all the blue jays in Tuscaloosa be removed? Nonsense! To suggest such an action regarding the geese shifts the focus from the true source of WNV in humans—infected mosquitoes—to removal of geese from the lake. The whole of available resources should be focused on eradicating mosquitoes, not on removing geese even if one or more of them tested positive for WNV! The mosquitoes that might have bitten the infected geese and contracted the virus from the geese should be the target, not the geese. Your statement about removing the geese that test positive for WNV only adds to the dissension and misinformation surrounding this unfortunate episode.

An apocryphal story about the origins of the Forest Lake Muscovy ducks is that Forest Lake homeowners and others would buy cute ducklings for their children on Easter and when they tired of them would release them at the lake. That geese populate the lake is attributed to the destruction of the trees that grew around the lake by the tornado that savagely whipped through T-Town in 2011. Canadian geese were then drawn to the denuded body of water. Other such small lakes which never were stripped of trees in T-Town have had no such visitation of migrating fowl.

One resident provided a great deal of information on WNV and how it is spread. I was provided with a link to a CDC article “Experimental Infection of North American Birds with the New York 1999 Strain of West Nile Virus.”

The CDC article concluded:

We have presented basic data on the course of WNV (New York 1999) infection in 25 species of birds, including viremia duration and magnitude, illness and death, persistent infection in organs, and viral shedding. We have also shown that some birds are susceptible to oral transmission and that some cage mates may become infected in the absence of mosquitoes, although the mode of this type of transmission remains unknown. An analysis of our data shows that passerine birds, charadriiform birds, and at least two species of raptors (American Kestrel and Great Horned Owl) are more competent than species evaluated from the following orders: Anseriformes, Columbiformes, Galliformes, Gruiformes, Piciformes and Psittaciformes. Indeed, many birds of the latter orders were found to be incompetent for transmission.

In other words many more species of birds than geese can be infected. The article did report that “Avian deaths were not reported in natural WNV infections until 1998 when domestic goslings in Israel were affected, as well as White storks. The 1998 goose strain is essentially identical to the New York 1999 strain that resulted in thousands of bird deaths beginning in 1999 in New York City.”

It provided a link to the PubMed article “Origin of the West Nile virus responsible for an outbreak of encephalitis in the northeastern United States” which concluded:

In late summer 1999, an outbreak of human encephalitis occurred in the northeastern United States that was concurrent with extensive mortality in crows as well as the deaths of several exotic birds at a zoological park in the same area. Complete genome sequencing of a flavivirus isolated from the brain of a dead Chilean flamingo, together with partial sequence analysis of envelope glycoprotein (E-glycoprotein) genes amplified from several other species including mosquitoes and two fatal human cases, revealed that West Nile (WN) virus circulated in natural transmission cycles and was responsible for the human disease. Antigenic mapping with E-glycoprotein-specific monoclonal antibodies and E-glycoprotein phylogenetic analysis confirmed these viruses as WN. This North American WN virus was most closely related to a WN virus isolated from a dead goose in Israel in 1998.

I was also provided with a link  to an article in the journal Avian Pathology “Outbreaks of West Nile virus in captive waterfowl in Ontario, Canada” which reported:

Information on the prevalence and outcome of WNV infection among most waterfowl species is currently limited and pertains mostly to domesticated (i.e. farmed) geese. WNV-associated mortality was first documented in waterfowl shortly before the introduction of WNV into North America, when farmed domestic geese in Israel proved highly susceptible to fatal WNV-associated neurologic disease.


The technical information on the transmission of WNV by geese seems to be derived from cases of farmed birds. The density and numbers of the geese involved was certainly not duplicated in the Forest Lake area.  Since infection debilitates geese within a short time could infected birds have flown from Canada to T-Town?

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology “Birds with visible symptoms of West Nile virus often die within a few days. Affected birds will often be fluffed out and stay low to the ground, or seem off balance and unable to stand.”

The Humane Society’s “The Problem with Canada Goose Roundups” reported:

In some communities, Canada geese are rounded up and killed because people find them to be a nuisance, particularly when goose droppings accumulate.

Federal law protects Canada geese, and nearly all bird species in the U.S. However, that only means people cannot harm birds without U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) permission. … In some cases, USFWS gives individual permits to kill geese on one property.

[This] may provide a temporary fix, but in the long run roundups just free up prime real estate for more geese to move in to. The best way to solve conflicts with Canada geese is with a multi-pronged plan that humanely reduces the goose population and changes the habitat so it is less attractive to geese.  

In some cases, USFWS gives individual permits to kill geese on one property. On and near airports, USFWS regulation gives broad permission so individual permits aren’t required. Permits do not authorize intentional cruelty, either when birds are being rounded up or at any other time.


The best way to control geese populations in an area such as Forest Lake is to provide a less inviting habitat. It would require time for trees to grow large enough to be effective. The idea of removing geese because of a problem with domesticated geese having been infected with WNV seems to many people unnecessary.

The detection of WNV infected mosquitoes in and treatment of drainage areas is the path to public safety.


There are a number of parking lots in the Forest Lake area. Stagnant catch basins provide a perfect place for mosquitoes to breed.

A dissertation by Walden University’s Andrea Simone Bowers “Sewer Overflows and the Vector Mosquito Proximity to Human West Nile Virus Infections” says that increases in West Nile infected vector mosquitoes in the Atlanta area can be “associated with close proximity to combined sewer overflow facilities.”  Bowers concludes:

How well sources of WNV disease are researched and findings contribute to the base knowledge, the more likely education can increase prevention. Investigating combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, mosquito abundance and flight range, provide significant impacts on the risk of human WNV infection.

Tera Tubbs, executive director of Tuscaloosa’s Infrastructure and Public Services department was quoted in The Tuscaloosa News as having said, “What we’re looking at moving forward is modifying and enhancing our mosquito control methods.”

Doubtlessly the drainage in parking lots in the Forest Lake area will be a prime concern of the city.


Duck, Duck, Goose

CZ Wild Mallard Ducks Male Female 1887 066-X2

There is a heated controversy in T-Town over whether West Nile Virus (WNV) was transmitted to Forest Lake residents by water fowl.

Jason Morton in the Tuscaloosa News wrote:

After reports of Forest Lake residents contracting West Nile virus, Tuscaloosa officials are looking for ways to reduce the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses citywide.

In 2017, three residents who live on or near Forest Lake were diagnosed with the virus that is typically transmitted from birds to humans via mosquitoes.

There is no definitive proof, but some suspect the infiltration of Canada geese that began arriving at the private neighborhood lake after the April 27, 2011, tornado led to the West Nile infections.

Many people in T-Town are as excited about the potential euthanasia of allegedly infected birds that swim in the lake as they would be over a National Championship win by the Crimson Tide.

“How can I tell if a sick bird has West Nile Virus?” in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Bird’s reports:

The disease is spread by mosquitoes, and can affect not only birds but humans as well, usually causing flu-like symptoms. Birds with visible symptoms of West Nile virus often die within a few days. Affected birds will often be fluffed out and stay low to the ground, or seem off balance and unable to stand.

Because West Nile virus affects birds, public health officials look for cases of sick and dead birds as an early warning that an outbreak may begin. Monitoring the disease in bird populations is an important way of tracking the disease.

Thus far no water fowl at Forest Lake have been tested to determine if there is any infection. The only two dead birds found were victims of being hit by cars.

One Tuscaloosa resident has suggested that T-Town instigate a Sentinel-Chicken-Program.  Eryn Brown in the Los Angeles Times wrote:

Chickens make perfect sentinels because they don’t get sick from West Nile virus, Kluh said, and never develop high enough levels of the virus in their blood to give the disease back to mosquitoes, which in turn might fly off and bite people or horses.


The chickens also give disease control workers a better idea of where infected mosquitoes are nesting. Because wild birds and people circulate freely, it is hard to know where they were when they were bitten. But sentinel chickens are infection-free when they arrive at their coop and remain in place. If they test positive for West Nile, vector control workers know to examine the nearby area for mosquito breeding locations.


Mobile, Alabama uses chickens for mosquito borne disease detection. The Mobile County Health Department in 2017 released this information to the media:

For almost 30 years, the Mobile County Health Department’s Vector Control has monitored sentinel chickens placed throughout the county to help detect the presence of viruses carried by mosquitoes.


In 2016, the program resulted in 11 sentinel chickens testing positive for West Nile.


Other residents have suggested that the mosquito problem may be due to lack of maintenance in the sewer drainage system in the Forest Lake area. Water that can accumulate when the storm sewers are full of trash can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes. T-Town has had at least three subdivisions that have experienced flooding.


In San Francisco, California, a crew of bicylists on the  Mosquito Abatement Courier Team inspect and treat storm drains for mosquitoes. Dots are painted on the inspected curbs.




In the Tuscaloosa News Jason Morton reported that:


Tera Tubbs, executive director of the city’s Infrastructure and Public Services department, said the city’s mosquito control measures are currently under review.


Tubbs said. “What we’re looking at moving forward is modifying and enhancing our mosquito control methods.”

Options include:

‒ More frequent or targeted spraying measures

‒ Treatment of standing water to reduce or eliminate mosquito larvae.


Perhaps the water fowl are not the culprits and should not be eliminated from Forest Lake where they have developed an iconic status? Of course if a dead bird at Forest Lake is ever found to have died due to the WNV there might be sufficient cause to remove them.


If the city plans to modify its efforts in mosquito control perhaps the first place to start would be to determine if the drainage system in the area is clogged by trash.

Racism at the Capstone?

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UPDATE: [4/16/18] The event has been cancelled. Associated Vice President for Communications, Division of Strategic Communication Monica Watts provided the following statement:

Students for America First does not currently meet the registered student organization requirements. Consistent with UA policy, the group’s registered status has been withdrawn, and its proposed event this week will not go forward. Prior to having its registered status withdrawn and becoming inactive, the group had an opportunity to comply with the requirements of a registered UA student organization, but was unable to do so. If its status changes in the future, the group will be given the opportunity to re-register, gaining the privileges of registered student organizations, including the ability to host events and speakers in campus facilities.

For any student group to host an event through UA’s student event registration process, it must be a registered student organization, which requires, among other things, having a full-time UA faculty or staff advisor. This content-neutral policy applies to all student groups, regardless of a group’s views or the substance of its proposed event. As previously stated, the University is committed to free speech, which is evident in the wide array of viewpoints our registered student organizations have recently brought to campus.


This year the University of Alabama expelled a student who had made racist posts on social media. The co-ed from New Jersey may have only represented the tip of the racist iceberg on campus though.

The fact that a registered student organization Students for America First has invited a racist to speak at The Capstone may suggest that there are students at the University that identify with racist ideas such as white nationalism.’s Ben Flanagan reported:

A speaker who identifies as a white nationalist has been invited to speak at the University of Alabama, according to university president Stuart Bell.

Bell informed faculty and students via email that a UA student organization invited the speaker, not the school. Bell did not identify the speaker or the student organization that invited the person.

“A registered student organization invited a speaker to our campus in mid-April who has been identified as a white nationalist,” Bell’s email says. “This ideology is counter to our institutional values. The University of Alabama did not invite this individual. UA stands for the equality of all people.”

University officials confirmed Jared Taylor was invited by the student organization America First to speak at UA on April 19.

Taylor is the editor of American Renaissance, an online publication which asserts: “Race and racial conflict are at the heart of some of the most serious challenges the Western World faces in the 21st century….Attempts to gloss over the significance of race or even to deny its reality only make problems worse.”

“Taylor projects himself as a courtly presenter of ideas that most would describe as crudely white supremacist — a kind of modern-day version of the refined but racist colonialist of old,” the Southern Poverty Law Center once wrote of Taylor.

The University’s administration has reportedly received complaints that the Students for America First organization has harassed undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff.  With the speaking engagement of Jared Taylor, the student organization will possibly gain even more traction on campus.

The faculty advisor for Students for America First is Associate Professor of Statistics Bruce Barrett. Barrett bans certain types of apparel and cell phones from his classes according to the Rate My Professors‘ site. One student commented: “Professor takes a big game about freedom of speech, even is the faculty advisor for a white nationalist student group on campus. However he discourages students from expressing themselves (not being able to wear certain clothing, have phones, or talk openly in class). Beware of this professor and how he’ll treat you like not another equal person.” But he has many favorable comments from students as well.

The University is engaged in recruiting a more diverse faculty. It hired its first chief diversity officer in 2017. The stated policy on diversity at The Capstone is:

The University of Alabama and the Division of Student Life are committed to creating and sustaining a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming campus community in which every student can thrive.

The University’s President has said that the student organization “followed appropriate policies and processes” in inviting Jared Taylor and that the University’s “commitment to free speech”  precludes banning such a speaker from the campus. But by allowing such a student organization to be formed the University has made its goal of promoting diversity a harder task.





Megan’s Legacy


As’s Carol Robinson reported, on the second anniversary of Megan Rondini’s death the University of Alabama settled its portion of  a lawsuit filed on behalf of the former student.

The University of Alabama has settled its portion of a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Megan Rondini, a former student who killed herself after alleging she was raped by a man from a prominent family.

A stipulation of dismissal with prejudice was filed in federal court in Birmingham. The single-page court document does not specify any financial terms or agreement, but the University released a joint statement with Rondini’s family stating that the University of Alabama will commit $400,000 in funding to facilities, services and personnel dedicated to combating sexual misconduct.

The University of Alabama released this joint statement with the Rondini family: “The University and the Rondinis share the desire to eliminate sexual misconduct and, in the event it does occur, provide support to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

A joint statement from the Rondini Family and the University of Alabama laid out measures that will be taken by the University including:

•A commitment of $250,000 to the Tuscaloosa SAFE Center, Inc. to provide facilities and services to aid and support victims of sexual assault.

•The University will also commit an additional $150,000 by the end of 2019 to continue its efforts to add personnel to its team of employees dedicated to addressing issues associated with sexual misconduct.

•Over the next five years, the University will contribute a total of $50,000 in a scholarship named after Megan Rondini. The scholarship will give preference to students focusing their studies at the University on biological sciences, veterinary studies, and/or STEM/MBA and a desire to promote gender equity in those fields.

•The University will posthumously award Megan Rondini a magna cum laude B.S. degree with an accompanying certificate from the University’s Honors College dated May 2018.

Perhaps the University will consider as one of the “issues associated with sexual misconduct” the prevailing use of alcohol by under-aged drinkers on and off campus.

The University has existing policies on alcohol use but their enforcement has been somewhat lacking.

An article by’s Kelly Poe listed three bars in Tuscaloosa as being in the top twenty five purchasers of wholesale liquor in 2016 for on-premise consumption. They all cater to University students. One of them Innisfree was where Megan Rondini was last seen in public before her alleged rape occurred.

Copper Top, Innisfree and Rounders were ranked 25th, 7th and 6th respectively.  Sales to under-aged drinkers, who are often binge drinkers, may occur at the bars, since they primarily serve University students.

Poe reported on the three bars:

•No. 25: Copper Top
The bar in downtown Tuscaloosa’s Temerson Square known for its cheap beer and pool bought $169,842 worth of liquor in 2015. About a mile away from campus, it’s a frequent stop for University of Alabama students.

•No. 7: Innisfree Irish Pub
Innisfree Irish Pub has two locations in Alabama, and unsurprising to anyone who’s ever been there, they are both on this list. The Tuscaloosa location on University Boulevard came in 7th with $255,728 worth of wholesale liquor last year.

•No. 6: Rounders Tuscaloosa
Rounders was established on the strip in Tuscaloosa in 2009. The bar is nearly 10,000 square feet and three distinct venues in one. It has three full service bars – and a lot of booze. In 2016, Rounders bought $259,087 worth of wholesale liquor.

Since alcohol is the #1 Date Rape Drug, the University of Alabama would further the legacy of Megan Rondini by making a greater effort to curb the use of alcohol by its students who are under-aged.  Measures could be taken by the University such as restricting alcohol use at Greek organizations on campus, better educating students on the risks of drinking and working with law enforcement in Tuscaloosa to insure that the city’s existing codes on under-aged drinking are better enforced.

Making the campus a healthier and safer place to live and study would be a true legacy for Megan.



Built by Bama?


In response to racist posts on social media by a University of Alabama Alpha Phi sorority member (who was expelled for her efforts), a former Alabama Football player (who now plays for the New York Giants) Landon Collins posted:

“Alpha Phi, ‘Be weary of the company you keep for they are a reflection of who you are or who you want to be.’ Harley Barber didn’t wake up this morning and decide to spew racist rhetoric for the first time in her life. Therefore, I believe I speak on behalf of my brothers and myself when I say the Bama football team does not need the support, cheers or high fives of anyone who condones this type of intolerant, hateful behavior. #BuiltByBama”

The University’s student newspaper The Crimson White Tweeted “What steps do you think should be taken to address the issue of racism on campus? Tweet us your thoughts.”

One response was: “I mean for starters, not only are the Greek systems segregated, but their houses are on completely different sides of campus. How can there be unity when their houses can’t even co-exist?”

Another: “If UA doesn’t want this image, why have petitions to remove the names of former slaveholders/racists from campus buildings gone unanswered? Landon Garland was a slaveholder & UA president. UA recently refused to rename Morgan Hall, which is dedicated to a known white supremacist.”

And another: “Just have an open and honest conversation!  As you see a little alcohol loosened lips and they expressed their sober thoughts. So there needs to be a town hall meeting situation to express why in the 21 century we still having this conversation”

There is definitely a disconnect on the University campus when it comes to the worship of star black athletes by many students who otherwise may call black students “niggers.”

There was an incident in 2016 when Greeks allegedly mistreated  black bus drivers that may typify the attitudes of some whites on campus.

A charter bus service was hired by Alpha Phi sorority to transport students to the Glory Bound Bar in Tuscaloosa for a “Phiva Las Vegas” party.  Racial slurs were reportedly screamed at a a bus driver who had said that alcohol was prohibited in the bus. The drivers of the two buses involved were allegedly called “dumb niggers.” A drink was purportedly thrown at one driver.

During the ride a group of SAE fraternity members reportedly chanted “Nigger, Nigger, Nigger” along with the music that was on the bus speaker system. Upon leaving the bus several students allegedly hit one on the drivers on the back of his head.

Although at Greek parties the most played music is rap and at football games the fans in the Greek student section rabidly cheer when a black player scores, there are only a few Greek organizations that are integrated.

Jake New posted in Slate:

“We have to remember that the Greek letter system in the United States was founded on pretty harsh and legally supported exclusionary practices,” Matthew Hughey, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut who studies the issue, said. “There’s a normal, mundane type of racism that functions every day, but it’s harder to see.”

Is racist behavior at the University largely a product of its segregated Greek system, or is it a universal trait that could be applied to many of the students who are not affiliated with the school fraternal organizations?

The student from New Jersey who had posted racist videos was expelled by the University.  How many other students who have done equally bad or even worse things have seen similar consequences?





F-Bombing the Prez

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There are cameras everywhere these days recording your every utterance. Perhaps the Alabama football running back Bo Scarbrough should have realized that college athletes truly live in a fishbowl. On the day of the Championship game he may have been reacting to the televised image of President Donald Trump standing next to Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets while mouthing the lyrics to the National Anthem when he allegedly said “Fuck Trump!” in the tunnel that led to the field at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. Sporting News posted a video of his outburst.

Scarbrough has denied saying it. Kyle Rooney posted in HotNewHipHop “Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough Denies Yelling ‘F*ck Trump'”:

Despite the video evidence, Scarbrough has since denied making the anti-trump remark and says everyone simply misheard him.

After Alabama’s 26-23 overtime victory against Georgia, the junior running back quote-tweeted the video footage, “If y’all really listen I said Georgia smh about y’all people in this world.”

Trump was undoubtedly showboating in Atlanta. He was there, as the first President since Richard Nixon to attend a college football National Championship, to further his crusade against the professional football players who had “taken a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem.

Alan Binder and Michael Shear in the New York Times reported:

The president’s appearance at the game seemed intended to emphasize his furious critique of athletes for using football games as a place for protests. Neither team’s players went onto the field on Monday until after the anthem was played, as is standard at college football games.

Charles S. Bullock III, a University of Georgia political scientist who was not planning to attend the game, said he expected that the legions of Crimson Tide and Bulldogs faithful were more focused on the pigskin than the president.

Professor Bullock said he believed the stop in Atlanta — and any cheering from the stands — would probably serve only to stroke Mr. Trump’s ego.

“This is just a sideshow,” he said, “but for him, it’s important.”

ESPN, which televised the game and has been a target of Mr. Trump’s Twitter barbs for years, said it had requested an interview with the president for its broadcast and was turned down.

Tom Schad in USA Today wrote in his article “ESPN says interview with President Trump at national title game unlikely” that:

Trump plans to attend Monday’s game between Alabama and Georgia as a guest of Nick and Jamie Ayers; Nick Ayers is Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff and a Georgia native.

Somewhere along the line Trump’s role as a spectator in a sky box morphed into his being on the field surrounded by ROTC students from Alabama and Georgia while the National Anthem was sung.

Many in the stadium according to Andrew Joseph with MSN Sports had earlier booed Trump When he arrived at the stadium:

Trump didn’t receive a warm welcome as his motorcade pulled up to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. In anticipation of the president’s arrival, a stadium entrance was locked down for over an hour. That forced fans to wait in the rain. Mercedes-Benz Stadium isn’t the easiest stadium to get into for a typical Falcons game, so it’s easy to imagine that Monday’s scene outside was especially chaotic.

Joesph posted CNN’s Andy Scholes’ Tweet:

They locked down @MBStadium for @realDonaldTrump an hour ago and myself and a thousand fans have been waiting in the rain to get in. Let’s just say there were plenty of boos when Trump arrived.

The boos, perhaps from some of the people who had been forced to stand in the rain when the thermometer was registering 40 degrees, continued when Trump was escorted on to the field for the opening ceremonies. Trump left the stadium by halftime. Obviously his purpose for being there had been served.

The professional football player Colin Kaepernic was named as a GQ ‘Man of the Year’ and was depicted on the cover of the January 15th New Yorker with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports reported that the artist who created the cover illustration Mark Ulriksen said:

What would King be doing if he were around today? This is 49er country, and my mom and I have been going back and forth — she’s upset that players have brought politics into sports, but I say, How would you feel if you had to show up at work every day and salute a country that treats black people like second-class citizens? I’m glad that Colin Kaepernick and Michael Bennett are making it political. I’m sure that if King were around today, he’d be disappointed at the slow pace of progress: two steps forward, twenty steps back. Or ten yards back, as the metaphor may be.

Colin Kaepernic was quoted by Mark Sandritter in SB Nation:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

Kaepernic has paid a heavy cost and jeapordised his career as a professional ball player because of his stance.

Many Alabama football fans are also followers of Donald Trump. To them Trump can do no wrong. They will be outraged that Bo Scarbough may have “F-bombed” the President.

Hopefully Alabama running back Scarbough will face no severe consequences if he expressed himself in a moment when he was unaware that he would be recorded or that it would be publicized. He might well have been expressing a sentiment that was widely shared by his fellow teammates.






#1 Date Rape Drug!

Photo: © Europen Parliament/P.Naj-Oleari

David Robert Grimes’ in his article “Alcohol is by far the most dangerous ‘date rape drug'” in the Guardian wrote:

Alcohol is such an integral part of our culture we frequently underestimate its potency. Among its toxic effects are memory impairment, which typically begins after just one or two drinks. Alcohol-induced blackouts are common among young, social drinkers. A study in 1999 found that 35% of trainees in a large paediatric residency programme in the US had experienced an alcohol-induced blackout. Another study in 1995 found a third of first–year medical students had experienced alcohol-induced amnesia. An investigation of 2,076 Finnish males found 35% had had at least one blackout in the previous 12 months.

Research suggests that alcohol-induced blackouts are even more common among university students. A 2002 study in the US surveyed 772 undergraduates asking them if they had ever awoken after a night of drinking unable to remember things that they did or places they had gone. Just over half of drinkers, 51%, reported blacking out and later learning that they had engaged in a range of activities they could not recall, including vandalism, unprotected sex and even driving.

Despite males in the survey drinking significantly more, men and women experienced an equal blackout rate, probably as a result of gender-specific differences in alcohol metabolism. Other investigations suggest that women may be more susceptible than men to milder forms of alcohol–induced memory impairments. In a subsequent study, 50 undergraduates who had experienced at least one blackout were interviewed. While the blackouts were deeply disconcerting to both men and women, women were far more likely (59%) to change their drinking habits after such an episode than men (25%).

It is vital to remember that sexual activity with someone who cannot give informed consent is assault, regardless of the particular agent that rendered them incapacitated, and cannot be justified. Whether their becoming intoxicated is their own fault or someone else’s is irrelevant. The mentality that an inebriated victim is somehow “asking for it” should never be accepted.

In addition to its being the number one date rape drug alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Andrew Siddons in Roll Call wrote:

The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on alcohol-related deaths come from 2006 to 2010, when each year on average there were 88,000 deaths from alcohol poisoning, traffic accidents or consumption-related chronic conditions. By comparison, drug overdose deaths are likely to be around 65,000 for 2016. The CDC estimates that in 2010, excessive drinking resulted in economic losses of $249 billion from lost workplace productivity and health care expenses.

Siddons quoted Philip J. Cook, a Duke University professor of public policy,  who addressing the impact of the 1991 excise tax on alcohol:

“What we know is that a higher tax reduces drinking. That’s perfectly clear compared to what it would be otherwise,” he said. “With reduced drinking comes reduced mortality both due to drunkenness and to chronic alcoholism.”

In a 2012 study, Cook and a colleague argued that the 1991 tax saved more than 6,000 lives in the first year it was imposed. Another 2012 study found that a hypothetical tax increase would mostly have the greatest economic effect on the heaviest drinkers, and would result in an 11.4 percent reduction in heavy drinking and a 9.2 percent reduction in drinking overall.

The University of Alabama is well aware of the consequences of drinking by under-aged students, yet it has allowed alcohol to be consumed on campus with very little enforcement of the law that prohibits such activity. And the University seems hamstrung when it comes to preventing under aged off campus drinking.

In 2013 University of Alabama student Natalie Baine lost her life while returning to campus from a football game in an accident that was fueled by drinking. More recently in 2015  a chain of events, which started when University honors student Megan Rondini was a patron of Innisfree Irish Pub, led to her suicide. Her family filed a lawsuit against the University of Alabama.

The University of Alabama has branded itself as The Capstone of Higher Education:

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.

The University of Alabama should emphasize the dangers of alcohol consumption by undergraduate students to help achieve a safe and healthy campus environment. It could do so by enforcing its own policy on campus alcohol consumption and under aged student drinking. Then it truly might be considered a capstone of higher education.