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11:26am

Lena Dunham Humorously Bares Her Dark Past in New Memoir

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As the star and creator of the hit HBO series, Girls, Lena Dunham has gone against the grain of Hollywood with numerous nude scenes. Despite not having the prototypical Hollywood figure, the young woman with an everyday body has bared all to show that normal can be sexy.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’, her new memoir published by Random House, reveals her motivations by providing a candid and humorous account of her battles with eating disorders, a dark history of sexual abuse as a child, and ongoing difficulties with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Often called the voice of her generation, Dunham was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. After completing the third season of Girls, she landed a $3.5 million book deal for the memoir. With a candor that is often shocking and never demur, the revelations in the book verge on being uncomfortable for the reader.

After winning a Golden Globe in 2013 for writing, directing, and acting,  Dunham explained that showing off her so-called flawed body in the repeated nude scenes helped her become more accepting of her own imperfections.

A self-professed couch potato with a deep dislike of Los Angeles gym culture, Dunham, has been harshly criticized for not being stick-thin like the anorexic appearing models in fashion magazines and many of her Hollywood contemporaries. In the memoir, Dunham, 28, explained how she ended the war and made peace with her physical appearance.

“I think I radicalized my relationship to my own body in order to accept it. To make my body a prop in my work gave it a value I didn’t feel it had before…People called me fat and hideous, and I lived. And now I keep living,” she wrote.

Despite her huge pop culture success, Dunham has remained accessible to young women because of her acceptance of her normative looks and a amusing take on what she calls her dysfunctional sex life. Believing secrecy is destructive, she felt she had to reveal her battle with eating disorders in public, even though, as she wrote,  “My food intake was a hard thing to share publicly.”

By revealing her own ongoing challenges and past difficulties in Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’, Dunham could provide relief and hope to many young American women. Such young women struggle with the demands of a fashion culture presenting beautiful archetypes to strive for that are virtually impossible to actually reach.

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By John Lavitt

pot growing

8:30am

Numerous Marijuana Grow Operations Raided In Colorado

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Marijuana might be legal for medical and recreational use in Colorado, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency and Denver cops from raiding numerous marijuana grow operations throughout the city.

The Denver Police Department tweeted no details about the raids, while Denver’s DEA group supervisor, James Gothe, only referred it to as “a large and successful investigation.” An anonymous source at the DEA also reported that the grow operations were committing violations of state marijuana law. Local news reporter Tak Landrock reported that marijuana plants, money, and cars were seized at six locations throughout Denver.

The U.S. Justice Department laid out several key priorities last year in their vow to enforce federal laws against marijuana trading in Colorado and Washington. Among them were preventing marijuana distribution to minors, violence and the use of firearms in growing and distributing the drug, and transporting marijuana from states where it is legal into other states. The anonymous DEA source claims these grow operations fell within several of the key priorities of the Justice Department on this issue.

Transporting marijuana across state lines continues to be a major issue for law enforcement officials since Colorado weed has shown up in more than 40 states. Postal interceptions of marijuana from Colorado also increased from 15 in all of 2010 to 209 in the first five months of 2013, while the total amount of Colorado marijuana seized while en route to other states increased 400% from 2005 to 2012.

But the Justice Department priority of preventing driving while under stoned appears to have been completed successfully. Traffic fatalities in the state are down from last year and are at near-historic lows post-marijuana legalization.

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

7:00am

Morning Roundup: Oct. 30, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

internet gambling

10/30/14 7:30pm

N.J. Internet Gambling Addiction Is Subject of Rutgers Study

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Since becoming legal in November 2013, internet gambling in the state of New Jersey has generated a considerable amount of discussion and a windfall of more than $102 million in increased tax revenues—a significant amount, though also noticeably less than the $200 million predicted by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury and Gov. Chris Christie.

Now, a new study by Rutgers University will attempt to measure the impact of Internet gambling on addictive behaviors. The three-year, $1.2 million study, funded by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement and health department, will allow researchers from the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers’ School of Social Work to “identify what type of person chooses this very private form of gambling, who develops problems, and how those problems are different from other forms of gambling,” said Lia Nower, professor and director of the Center.

The survey will initially interview 1,500 adult New Jersey residents by phone, and an additional 2,000 residents via the Internet about their gambling behavior and Internet gambling. The Center will then provide four yearly reports to Governor Christie based on statistical analysis of betting behaviors.

Internet gambling in New Jersey was launched as a means of aiding the state’s faltering casino industry, which has been in decline since 2006. Four casinos in Atlantic City, including the Trump Plaza, have closed this year. Internet gambling is also legal in Delaware and New Jersey, though neither state has launched any studies to determine the impact of the decision, positive or otherwise, of increased access to betting on its constitutes.

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By Paul Gaita

eating disorders

10/30/14 5:30pm

British Teen Petitions Government to Tackle 'Thinspiration' Blogs

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A British teen is on a mission to protect young people from websites promoting “thinspiration." Alice Taylor, 18, of Oxford, has petitioned the UK Department of Education and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to raise awareness about “thinspiration” or “thinspo” sites online that promote eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

“Thinspiration can include pictures of size zero (or smaller) models, anorexia suffers, and ‘before and after’ scenarios,” Taylor said in her petition. “Rather than offering support for recovery…these sites encourage people to restrict their diet to a dangerous extent.”

Some of these sites offer advice on how to stave off hunger and burn extra calories like eating ice and chewing gum. In Taylor’s experience, she learned how to trick friends and family by wearing dresses to look bigger and eating just before check-ups. “Thinspo diets recommend a few hundred calories per day, plus fasting entirely on certain days of the week,” Taylor explained.

Last year, she was diagnosed with anorexia. At her lowest point, Taylor weighed about 88 pounds. Ultimately, she left school to focus on her recovery. She is now attending regular therapy sessions and is resuming her studies, retaking her A-Levels. Her petition’s objectives include raising awareness about the dangers of eating disorders among children through teaching in schools and outright banning these sites.

“If children were encouraged to steer clear of blogs that normalize what is a very serious and damaging mental illness, I would hope that the number of cases per year of anorexia would decrease,” Taylor said.

The Oxford teen believes addressing the issue with children before they are influenced by the media’s representation of body image is an important step toward preventing the development of eating disorders. “The current state of our culture expects young people to idolize thin models and celebrities, and to expect criticism and humiliation of anyone who does not conform,” she said. “Whilst it is a somewhat arduous task to dismantle the celebrity culture, I believe a positive option is to target children before they become influenced by the media and peer pressure to become thin.”

A simple Google search produces an abundance of sites promoting thinspiration, many of them powered by the micro-blogging platform, Tumblr. “Young people who are prone to disordered eating are generally plagued with insecurity and feeling very isolated, so this world of pro-ana (pro-anorexia) provides a community and a sense of belonging, and validates their experiences,” said Claire Mysko, an advisor to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). “But unfortunately, it does so in a way that promotes incredibly unhealthy and dangerous behavior.”

Unhealthy thinking is perpetuated by this online community through these sites, Taylor said. “Mantras that encourage unhealthy thinking habits include, ‘It’s not a disease, it’s a lifestyle,’ and ‘I believe that I am the most vile, worthless, and useless person ever to have existed on this planet and I am totally unworthy of anyone’s time and attention.'”

These sites are harmful and should be avoided, Taylor warned. “Just as children are encouraged to avoid anyone who might be wanting to harm them online, we should be encouraging them to avoid groups that could lead to extreme health complications, and potentially death.”

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By Victoria Kim

date rape drug

10/30/14 3:30pm

Fraternity Suspended After Date-Rape Drug Accusations

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A fraternity at Brown University has been suspended after two students claimed they were given alcoholic drinks containing a date-rape drug at a party on Oct. 17. One of the students claimed she was sexually assaulted later that night.

Both students reported feeling symptoms consistent with consuming common date-rape drugs like Rohypnol, GHB, and ketamine: “a rapid onset of intoxication out of proportion to what they may have had to drink, and reported memory loss for a significant period of time,” according to an email sent to the Brown community Friday by vice president for campus life and student services Margaret Klawunn, and executive vice president for planning and policy Russell Carey.

School officials are investigating the allegations and are reviewing the university’s policies for alcohol services at campus events. The Brown chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has been suspended by the school for hosting an unregistered event with alcohol present. In a letter to the campus newspaper The Brown Daily Herald, which was published on Tuesday, the fraternity said they were “shocked by the circumstances of the allegations.”

“Sexual assault and the use of illegal date-rape drugs number among the most heinous of crimes,” they said in the letter. “We are confident that in no way did any member of Phi Kappa Psi engage in or perpetrate such atrocious and criminal behavior.”

The university warned that those found responsible for sexual assault or the use of date-rape drugs would be expelled and could face criminal prosecution. Brown is one of 85 colleges in the United States that is under investigation by the federal Department of Education on its handling of sexual assault cases.

In February, two Brown football players were accused of raping a Providence College student in a campus dorm room. After a grand jury refused to indict the accused students, the alleged victim’s lawyer promised to take legal action.

And in April, a Brown student claimed she had been sexually assaulted and choked by another student, who denied the allegations, claiming he believed the sex was consensual. The accused student was given a one-year suspension, a punishment too lenient for the victim’s liking. She has since filed a federal complaint against the school in response.

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By Victoria Kim

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Scott Phillips: You Are What You—

Last February, my oldest friend died of a heroin overdose at the age of 49. He beat me to recovery, and he beat me to death. He also gave a final, drug-alogue interview on my radio show 20 hours before he died.

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