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addiction & religion

10/09/14 10:30am

CNN Special Examines Addiction In LDS Church



A new CNN special took a close look at the surprising amount of drug abuse that has infiltrated the close-knit LDS Church.

The latest episode of the documentary series This Is Life with Lisa Ling, “Unholy Addiction,” examines whether the Mormon religion is indirectly responsible for the growing drug problem throughout Utah. The state currently has more prescription drug overdose deaths than almost any other state in the U.S.

But after speaking with numerous people in the Mormon community and being granted exclusive access to leaders within the LDS Church, Ling concluded that religion and drug abuse within the state are separate. The documentary also takes great effort to not criticize the church.

"There is a perception, I think, that Mormonism is a very strict religion and that there is this pressure to be perfect and live these sort of perfect lives," she said. "But what everybody told me is it’s not the religion that puts that pressure on people, it’s totally self-imposed…I really have to take my hat off to people in the church for giving us this kind of access and opening themselves up.”

Although the pressure might be self-imposed, the CNN special does hint that the traditional, family-values culture many Utah natives find themselves in could contribute to the issue. “There’s that pressure to be perfect,” acknowledged Kathy, who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on rehab for herself and her daughter, Shannon. “And since we don’t drink, there’s always the pills, which we don’t talk about…I became addicted within a few weeks.”

Shannon’s addiction to prescription pills ultimately progressed into a heroin addiction, resulting in a DUI arrest and losing custody of her daughter. "I didn’t fit in the box of being, like, this housewife,” she said. “Everybody else in church gets married and has five kids by the time they’re 30. They’re not telling you to do that, but how do you feel when you go to church and you’re the only one who doesn’t?"

Last August, the LDS Church became the subject of online ridicule when they released a video dedicated to tackling pornography addiction. They use a 12-step program for pornography addicts that is based on the program used by Alcoholics Anonymous, but seem to disregard the fact that pornography addiction is not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which does not consider it to be a mental health problem.

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By McCarton Ackerman


10/09/14 8:30am

Woman Sues DEA For Creating Fake Facebook Account Under Her Name



A potentially precedent-setting case is pending in court after a woman sued the DEA for creating a fake Facebook account under her name.

Sondra Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 and pleaded guilty the following February to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine base. She was sentenced to time served and given a period of home confinement. However, she is now suing for $250,000 in damages after discovering that DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen created a fake Facebook account in the hopes of tricking her friends and acquaintances into spilling drug information that could be incriminating.

The fake page included real photos of Arquiett and even added status updates written under her name. The Justice Department initially justified the DEA’s actions by claiming that even though she didn’t consent to the account, she "implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in...ongoing criminal investigations." However, Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon confirmed in a statement earlier this week that the incident is being reviewed and that the case is currently pending.

"If I'm cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement says, 'Can I search your phone?'…my expectation is that they will search the phone for evidence of a crime, not that they will take things off my phone and use it in another context,” said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization. “It’s [laughable].”

Arquiett’s damages are based on invasion of privacy and the “fear and emotional distress” she suffered as a result since Sinnigen interacted with “dangerous individuals he was investigating.”

At a bare minimum, the DEA’s policies appear to violate Facebook’s terms of use policies. The social media site states that users “will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission."

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By McCarton Ackerman


10/09/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Oct. 9, 2014


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By Shawn Dwyer

botched raid

10/08/14 7:30pm

Police Shoot and Kill Georgia Man in Raid Over Non-Existent Meth


David Hooks. Photo via

The Laurens County, Ga. sheriff’s department has become the latest to make headlines for a botched raid that resulted in the death of an East Dublin resident.

On September 24, around 11 p.m., deputies raided the home of David Hooks, 59, after obtaining a search warrant based on a tip from known meth addict Rodney Garrett.

Garrett told authorities he had found 20 grams of methamphetamine inside a plastic bag he stole from a vehicle at the Hooks’ residence, according to Georgia station WMAZ. Garrett said that when he discovered meth instead of cash inside the bag, he turned himself into the police because the drugs made him fear for his safety.

Based on this information, authorities applied for a warrant to search Hooks’ home. Deputy Magistrate Faith Snell issued the search warrant, but Hooks’ lawyer Mitchell Shook has maintained that it was invalid, as it did not comport with the requirements of the Georgia state constitution nor the U.S. Constitution, as well as the fact that the word of a thief should not be the basis of a search warrant.

When the deputies arrived at the Hooks residence, the authorities claim they told him they were officers with a search warrant. However, according to a statement by Shooks, officers raided the home without identifying themselves, arriving without lights or sirens.

According to Shook, authorities broke down the back door of the family’s home and entered, firing more than 16 times. Hooks was hit multiple times and died soon after. Laurens County Sheriff Bill Herrell defended the police’s decision to shoot, claiming Hooks aggressively brandished a gun at the SWAT team that broke in his back door.

Hooks’ wife Teresa was the first to see the authorities lurking around the house. As the home had been burglarized just two nights earlier, she believed the thieves had returned. Hooks armed himself to protect his home and family, not knowing that the men on the other side of the door were police officers.

Not one item of contraband was found after the search was conducted by Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents, which lasted some 44 hours, according to Shook.

These botched police raids happen all too often, resulting in innocent lives lost in the name of fighting the war on drugs. Vice writer Lucy Steigerwald, who covered this story, put it succinctly: “The [Hooks] raid can serve as a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the war on drugs: a door busted down on what, in hindsight at least, was flimsy evidence; a search warrant that was seemingly signed off on and executed in a hurry; an operation that was unnecessarily militaristic.”

From the time seven-year-old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed by police in a raid in Detroit, to when authorities in Berwyn Heights, Md. raided their own mayor’s home, shooting and killing his two dogs and holding the mayor and his mother-in-law at gunpoint over a package of marijuana, the tragic story of David Hooks becomes one of countless botched raids that happen all over the U.S.

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By Victoria Kim

gaming addiction

10/08/14 5:30pm

Video Game Scholarship Proves Gaming Addiction Can Pay Off


League of Legends at Staples Center. Photo via

Video games have come a long way since 8-bit consoles. Competitive gaming, or esports, has evolved into a professional sport. Professional gamers earn six-figure incomes and compete for millions of dollars in prizes before thousands of spectators. In South Korea, where esports is especially popular, the best gamers are treated like royalty.

Modern-day gaming demands a heightened mental agility. Many games require team strategy, predicting opponents’ moves, and a fast reaction time. Now, the most dedicated gamers can be rewarded for the countless hours spent honing these skills in the form of thousands of dollars in scholarships.

Robert Morris University, a small private university in Chicago, is the first in the country to recognize gaming as a varsity sport under its athletic department. The scholarships, which are just for “League of Legends” players, cover up to half of tuition and half of room and board, valued at $19,000 per student annually.

The school’s “League of Legends” program, which was announced in June, has attracted students like Youngbin Chung, who attends Robert Morris on a nearly $15,000 annual scholarship. He is one of 35 students who are channeling their obsessions for video games into an eduction.

The school's gaming team, the Robert Morris Eagles, practice together in a state of the art classroom fitted with $100,000 worth of gaming necessities. Their ultimate goal is making it to the League of Legends North American Collegiate Championship. The prize is $30,000 in scholarships for each member of the team that wins first place. But first, the Eagles must face teams from two leagues that include gamers from Harvard and MIT. 

About 27 million people play League of Legends each day, according to developer Riot Games. Last year’s 2013 League of Legends World Championship sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which has a capacity to fit 12,000 people, while its virtual audience hit over 32 million viewers who watched the tournament online.

This year’s world championship will take place on Oct. 19 in Seoul. The event, hosted in the 45,000-seat stadium that South Korea built for the 2002 World Cup, is expected to sell out.

The mastermind behind Robert Morris' varsity esports program, Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher, is well aware of the massive esports trend. “It’s coming; it’s coming big time,” he told the Lansing State Journal.

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By Victoria Kim

coffee addiction

10/08/14 3:30pm

Is Caffeine Addiction In Your DNA?



Long blamed for jittery nerves and poor sleeping habits, coffee has in recent years been cited as beneficial for a number of health issues, from breast cancer and diabetes to even a lower risk of death.

Exactly how coffee affects people in a positive manner, and others in a negative way, has long been a source of debate in the science community. But a new study, conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has found a direct link between caffeine and genetics.

More than 120,000 regular coffee drinkers of European and African-American origins were involved in a genome-wide meta-analysis, which identified two variants that mapped to genes involved in caffeine metabolism. Another pair identified near different genes may potentially influence the rewarding effects of caffeine, while two additional variants, involved with processing fats and sugars into the bloodstream, had previously not been linked with the metabolic or neurological effects of coffee.

The research shed new light on why caffeine affects individuals in different ways and how those effects influence coffee consumption. A single cup of coffee may provide enough stimulation for one person, while others may require two or more to feel the same effect. The latter amount may cause the single-cup-a-day person to feel more nervous, anxious, or even experience gastrointestinal distress, which would prevent them from consuming larger amounts in the future.

How this information is linked to the potentially beneficial aspects of coffee and caffeine is the subject of further research, according to Marilyn Cornelius, a research associate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who led the study.

“The next question is who is benefiting most from coffee,” she said. “If, for example, caffeine is protective, individuals might have very similar physiological exposure to caffeine. But if coffee has other potentially protective constituents, those levels are going to be higher if you drink more cups, so they might actually benefit from non-caffeine components of coffee. It’s a bit complex.”

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By Paul Gaita


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