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9/16/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Sept. 16, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

blurred lines

9/15/14 7:30pm

Robin Thicke Admits Drug Abuse in ‘Blurred Lines’ Deposition

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Artist Robin Thicke, who is best known for his controversial hit song “Blurred Lines,” admitted to alcohol and drug abuse in a recent deposition.

Thicke and Pharrell Williams, who produced “Blurred Lines,” were deposed by Marvin Gaye’s children because of the song’s likeness to the 1977 recording of “Got To Give It Up.” During his sworn testimony in a Los Angeles federal court Monday, Thicke said he not only lied about his authorship of the song, but also that he was high during its creation.

When asked about the details of his involvement with “Blurred Lines,” Thicke confessed he was physically present, but that he didn’t have much creative input on the project. 

“To be honest, that’s the only part where – I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted – I – I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit.”

According to Thicke, he was simply “lucky enough to be in the room” when Williams wrote the song. Thicke’s self-admitted jealousy later drove him to take credit for the track and in subsequent interviews he repeated the false origin story.

But Thicke had trouble recalling past media comments, saying he “had a drug and alcohol problem for a year” and that he “didn’t do a sober interview.” Thicke also disclosed he was drunk and high on Norco during an interview with Oprah.

“Thicke, for his part, now claims he made all of his statements while drunk or on drugs, none of them true, and he mentioned Marvin Gaye only to sell records,” stated the counter-claimants’ court papers. “He also actually testified that he is not an honest person. This complete contempt for the judicial system, and their obligations to tell the truth, can best be summed up by Thicke’s ultimate admission, while under oath, that he ‘[does not] give a f**k’ about this litigation.”

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By Brent McCluskey

film festival

9/15/14 5:30pm

The Reel Recovery Film Festival Returns to New York City

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From September 26 to October 2 at the historic Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village, the Reel Recovery Film Festival returns to New York City for a third consecutive year. The festival showcases films that look into the human side of addiction and recovery, highlighting both the horrors faced by the addict and the wonders experienced through the process of achieving sobriety.

Showing over 43 films from five different countries, the festival will offer an eclectic array of features, documentaries, and shorts while providing a unique platform for filmmakers to connect to a New York audience.

“I’m thrilled to showcase daring new films by talented filmmakers," festival director Leonard Buschel told The Fix. "For many of them, this is their breakout career moment. The films selected all reflect the vast diversity of experiences, crises, losses and loves of people undergoing such profound personal transformation. For many of the filmmakers, this will be the first time their films have been shown to an audience that includes industry professionals.”

Events at this year’s festival include a celebration of the life and work of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hosted by Robert Downey, Sr., the Tribute Day aims to pay respect by emphasizing the scope and breadth of Hoffman’s talents.

In addition, there will be a panel discussion entitled Chasing The Muse…Stone Cold Sober, led by Susan Cheever and featuring Bill Clegg, Joey Pantoliano, and Steve Geng. Sponsored by Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and Writers Guild of America East, the panel will investigate through the revelation of their own experiences the challenges of remaining a creative entity once sobriety is achieved.

The proceeds from the Reel Recovery Film Festival support the non-profit foundation Writers In Treatment that Buschel co-founded in 2008. As expressed on their website, Writers In Treatment helps men and women suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, and other self-destructive behaviors get treatment for their disease.

The Reel Recovery Film Festival is a perfect example of one of the cultural events produced by Writers In Treatment that celebrates sobriety while reducing the stigma of addiction. By connecting culture to recovery, Leonard Buschel provides a truly valuable service.

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By John Lavitt

up in smoke

9/15/14 3:30pm

Gov. Christ Christie Says: Smoke Up, New Jersey

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Still thinks he can be president. Shutterstock

Late last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill outlawing smoking in public parks and limiting the habit at state beaches. Christie waved his veto pen despite the measure clearing both chambers of the state legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.

"While I appreciate the sponsors' concerns regarding the health risks posed by smoking and secondhand smoke, I am not persuaded that a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all State ban on smoking in public parks and beaches is advisable at this time," said Christie in a statement.

Proposed back in February, the bill passed in late June with a 64-8 vote in the Assembly and a 30-3 vote in the Senate. In his veto, Christie argued that local municipalities should have more control, rather than the state issuing a blanket ban.

"Too often, policy-makers at more centralized levels of government encroach into areas of public policy previously reserved for more localized governing bodies," he continued in his statement. "I do not believe that the state should substitute its judgment for that of our local elected officials or upset the careful balancing of interests that informs the decision-making process at the local level."

Naturally, Christie's opponents pounced on the governor following his executive action, including one of the bill's sponsors, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, who sharply criticized the move.

"This is extremely unfortunate from both a public health perspective and from an environmental perspective," Huttle said in a statement after the veto was announced. "I would have hoped the governor would have joined the overwhelming majority of the legislature who supported this bill by standing up for the public's best interests."

Currently, over 200 towns in the state have already banned smoking in public parks, while more than a dozen have banned cigarettes at the beach.

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By Shawn Dwyer

PEDs in high school

9/15/14 1:00pm

Steroids Now More Common with Long Island High School Athletes

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In high schools across Long Island, steroid use among athletes and young weightlifters is actually increasing, with performance-enhancing drugs being used now more than ever to bulk up and improve athletic performance.

According to law-enforcement officials and treatment experts, the steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are illegally bought and sold in a drug market based around gyms and athletic centers. Despite a rash of reports linking anabolic steroids and synthetic human growth hormone to numerous health problems, the drugs continue to be popular with young athletes looking for that one-of-a-kind edge. Steroids especially are promoted as a quick and easy way to recover from workout-related injuries. Despite physical trainers warning against their use, steroids remain the first choice for many young people in rehabilitation.

A recent study showing teenage use of HGH increased 120% from 2012 to 2013, highlighting the national scope of the problem. The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) sampled 3,705 high-school-age teens nationally, finding that the percentage that used HGH at least once without a prescription increased from five in 2012 to 11 in 2013. The study also found one in five teens thought it easy to get steroids and had at least one friend who used them.

With a sharp rise of Internet sales on the deep web and the resulting fall in prices, competitive spirits have taken over and drowned out the inner voice of reason and healthy logic. As opposed to having the opposite effect, widely publicized use by professional athletes has surprisingly reduced the stigma of the drugs. As a result, 17- to 25-year-old men, particularly in suburban enclaves where there is more disposable income, are using more performance-enhancing drugs.

"People can't turn a blind eye to this kind of abuse," said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice. "Steroids should not be socially acceptable."

Performance-enhancing drugs like steroids and HGH (human growth hormone) result in serious health problems, including liver damage, severe acne, shrunken testicles, and premature baldness. Mental problems associated with steroid use include anger management issues described as "roid rage."

"We're seeing a lot more steroid users come through our anger-management program," said Steven Chassman, clinical director at the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "We're seeing people who have amassed a host of different charges, including assault, and we strongly recommend they get treatment.”

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By John Lavitt

online drug deals

9/15/14 10:30am

Drug Dealers Devise New Methods for Instagram Deals

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After widespread reports of law enforcement officials arresting brazen drug dealers who advertised their services on Instagram, dealers are reportedly finding new ways to avoid leaving footprints with their transactions over the Internet.

A source with direct knowledge of Instagram’s drug trade explained to website Venture Beat how they are managing to beat the posting restrictions that Instagram has for their service. Using programs including Ubuntu, VirtualBox, and a standard VPN, dealers are now using burner Instagram accounts on a burner “phone” connected to the Internet. This method is used in conjunction with untraceable prepaid debit cards, virtual currency including Bitcoins, and Google Voice.

Instagram has blocked several hashtags from appearing in searches last year after news outlets began reporting that dealers were posting photos of illicit drugs with less-than-subtle hashtags including #weed4sale. The FBI also began cracking down on this form of dealing; last March, they seized hundreds of pounds of weed and arresting 350 drug dealers across the country who geotagged their drug warehouses in Instagram posts.

Facebook, which purchased Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, only addressed this matter in the “What Not To Do” section of their community guidelines. They declined to say how many, if any, of their full-time staff members directly handle this issue.

A report from drugabuse.com found that 82% of Instagram drug dealers sell marijuana, making it the most commonly sold and purchased drug by far on the website. Fifty-eight percent of dealers offered codeine syrup or codeine cocktails, while 20% of dealers peddled MDMA and another 13% offered painkillers. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 34% of these drug peddlers showed their face over the Internet to potential customers. Many others also listed their phone numbers.

Approximately 50% of Instagram dealers used Kik to conduct their business, while others used online prepaid cards such as Vanilla or Greendot.

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By McCarton Ackerman

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