One big reason restaurants in China are getting away with illegal, addictive ingredients.

Next to pizza, there is perhaps no food more universally celebrated in the U.S. than Chinese.

GIF via "Jersey Shore."

Orange beef, kung pao chicken, GENERAL TSO'S, Y'ALL... Chinese food (or, at least, what many of us consider Chinese food) is some of the most diverse, tasty, and addictive stuff on the planet, and I'd argue that it's well on its way to replacing the hot dog as our national food in America.


In China, though, there's a specific reason behind the habit-forming quality of the food: poppy seeds.

Photo by Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images.

Those little black things that you're used to enjoying on a bagel actually come from the opium poppy plant, and they can contain traces of highly addictive alkaloids found in morphine, codeine, and cocaine. Because of this, the sale of poppy seeds has been banned in several countries around the world, from Taiwan to Saudi Arabia.

Chefs at dozens of restaurants in China have been adding poppy capsules to their heavily flavored foods.

The New York Times reported last week that 36 restaurants and snack bars in China were busted for using poppy capsules in their food, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "addictively delicious." They were putting poppies in dishes like hot pot and fried chicken, and even mixing them into their sauces.

It's one of the dirtiest secrets of the Chinese food industry.

Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

The seeming complete lack of concern for customer safety displayed by the owners of these restaurants is pretty upsetting. "It's quite effective," one poppy seller told Xinhaunet. "Many small-scale hotpot restaurants frequently buy from me. It keeps the customers coming back for more."

The worst part, though, is that poppy capsule consumption can have terrible long-term effects on health. According to Zhao Lan, a doctor with the Third People's Hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan, consuming large amounts of poppy capsules can lead to ill effects from chronic intoxication to long-term nervous system damage.


Well put, Mr. Situation. Well put. GIF via "Jersey Shore."

This rampant problem goes back to one key issue facing China's food system: lack of governmental regulation.

While the penalty for using poppy capsules in food may not seem that significant (up to 15 days in prison and a fine of up to $455), this drama is a sterling example of why government regulation matters everywhere.

Here in the U.S., it's a sad truth that we know very little about the foods we put into our bodies on a daily basis (just ask Michael Pollan about that). Instead, we trust that the businesses selling them would never do anything to intentionally harm us.

But imagine if a major fast food chain could sell us whatever they considered to be "burgers," or imagine if nutrition labels suddenly became a thing of the past! It would be salmonella-infested chaos.

Government regulations do actually protect us, the little people, from being exploited by the businesses we place our trust (and cash) in.

We tend to look at political issues like regulation as black and white, but the reality of regulatory systems is far more complex. Yes, our government may be frustratingly inefficient and wasteful at times, but it can also serve as a reassuring presence in the face of injustices — you know, like it was created to do. To put it in "Game of Thrones" terms, government is basically our Castle Black, protecting us from the horrors that lie beyond The Wall.

So that Five Guys burger you had for lunch that didn't make you sick? The Chipotle burrito that didn't give you E. coli? You can thank government regulation (and the efforts of the CDC) for those. Ain't that right, Pauly D?


GIF via, you guessed it, "Jersey Shore."

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

@SubwayCreatures / Twitter

A man who uses a wheelchair fell onto the tracks in a New York City subway station on Wednesday afternoon. A CBS New York writer was at the scene of the incident and says that people rushed to save the man after they heard him "whimpering."

It's unclear why the man fell onto the tracks.

A brave rescuer risked his life by jumping on the tracks to get the man to safety knowing that the train would come barreling in at any second. The footage is even more dramatic because you can hear the station's PA system announce that the train is on its way.

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