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5/09/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 9, 2013

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Laurie Dhue would "sleep in a fetal position"
at work. Photo via

By Victoria Kim

gaming addiction

5/08/13 5:02pm

Angry Birds Addict Uses Game to Propose to Girlfriend

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Don't get any ideas, fellas. Photo via

A man from Sydney, Australia, is so hooked on Angry Birds, he proposed to his girlfriend with a custom-made game. Thirty-year-old Ben Levi's obsession with the mobile phone game had become a point of contention in his relationship with Melissa Swift, 24, as he was constantly playing it. “We'd be out... with friends like civilized people and you've got Angry Birds going on under the table,” says Swift. So she wasn't surprised when the couple were out at lunch and he invited her to play at the table. But she was surprised when the game—a custom version that Levi had commissioned from the game's creators, Rovio—ended with the message: “Marry Me Mel -Ben.” Swift said "yes," and her opinion of the game has since changed. “It took Angry Birds to finally get him to propose...I love them," she says, "Nothing else would motivate him, but Angry Birds did it, so I'm forever grateful.” Levi "joked" that he's considering an Angry Birds-themed wedding. Check out the video of the proposal:

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By Bryan Le

drug laws

5/08/13 4:11pm

New Task Force Takes On Unfair Drug Laws

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Overcrowding in a California Prison.
Photo via

Today, a bi-partisan group of ten members from the House of Representatives formed the Over-Criminalization Task Force of 2013 to investigate the excesses of federal criminal law. A huge part of the investigation will focus on drug laws, like federal pot policy, according to the Drug Policy Alliance. Currently, only Congress can remove federal criminal penalties for marijuana—even for individuals who are in compliance with state laws that differ from federal ones, like the laws in Colorado or Washington legalizing weed for recreational. The Task Force will also explore the drug sentencing policies of the last three decades that have contributed to the staggering rate of incarceration for drug-related offenses. “This Task Force is a step in the right direction and could propose recommendations to significantly alleviate mass incarceration and racial disparities in the federal system,” says Jasmine L. Tyler, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. Nearly a quarter of the world’s inmates are in the US, even though Americans make up only 5% of the world population. And the incarceration rate for African Americans is six times that of the national incarceration average. The Task Force may also investigate conspiracy laws from the late 1980s, whereby the mandatory sentences first created for high-level drug traffickers have been applied to those charged with smaller-scale drug trafficking conspiracies. “The establishment of this Task Force is long overdue for the drug policy reform movement,” says Tyler. “It is past time for Congress to re-examine marijuana laws, conspiracy laws, mandatory minimum sentencing, and the appropriate role and use of the federal government’s resources.”

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By Sarah Beller

booze benefits

5/08/13 3:03pm

Could Champagne Improve Your Memory?

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Could a glass a day keep memory loss at
bay? Photo via

Too much champagne can make you forget who you kissed on New Year's Eve, but in small doses, it may actually improve your memory. Researchers at Reading University have presented new evidence suggesting that regular, moderate consumption of the bubbly beverage can help fight brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. The ingredient responsible for these benefits is phenolic acid—a compound found in champagne at a higher level than red or white wine—that increases the number of proteins in the brain important to effective memory storage, which is normally depleted with age. “Dementia probably starts in the 40s and goes on to the 80s," says Jeremy Spencer, a biochemistry professor at Reading. "It is a gradual decline and so the earlier people take these beneficial compounds in champagne, the better.” After putting small quantities of champagne in rats' food daily for a six week period, the research team observed a dramatic improvement in the creatures' spatial memory during a maze experiment. "After rats consumed champagne regularly, there was a 200% increase of proteins important for determining effective memory," says Spencer, who confirmed that they want to test humans next. "This occurred in rats after just six weeks. We think it would take about three years in humans."

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By Victoria Kim

fix event

5/08/13 2:40pm

Tomorrow: The Fix Hosts David Sheff in Newport Beach

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Join David Sheff on May 9!

The Fix is proudly hosting an exclusive and exciting event next week: a reading, discussion and book-signing with David Sheff, concerning his important new book Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy. It will take place on Thursday, May 9, from 7–9 pm, at the Regency Historic Lido Theatre in Newport Beach, California. 

Fix readers are likely to know about the author already: His first book, Beautiful Boy, an account of his efforts to save his son, Nic Sheff, from an addiction to meth, was a #1 New York Times bestseller. (Regular Fix readers will also be familiar with Nic, who in sobriety has been a regular contributor to our site.)

In Beautiful Boy, Sheff Sr.—a leading figure in the addiction and recovery world, who has appeared in Time magazine's annual list of the world's 100 most influential people—unforgettably related one family's harrowing struggle. In Clean, he applies extensive research and reporting to the whole country, looking critically at what is being done badly and well in US addiction treatment and policy today.

Space for this free event is limited! RSVP now by email to: polly@thefix.com.

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By The Fix staff

drunk driving

5/08/13 12:55pm

Recovering Drunk Moonlights as DUI-Buster

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Brad is watching. Photo via

A suburban father and recovering alcoholic in Appleton, Wisconsin has taken matters to his own hands in the fight against drunk driving, patrolling the streets at night under the alias "OWI Hunter." “Getting drunk, it's a personal choice, but getting behind the wheel, nobody has a right to do,” says Brad, a former drunk driver himself, who now devotes his free time to keeping intoxicated drivers off the roads. “I look for people who might be stumbling getting into cars,” says Brad, who waits outside bars in his minivan on weekend nights. “Kind of a second set of ears and eyes for police.” When he spots a potential drunk driver, he follows them to confirm their shaky driving, before calling 911. He's tallied 42 arrests in the 18 months of his work. Drunk driving is a particularly pervasive problem in boozy Wisconsin: 26% of residents admitted to driving while intoxicated in a 2009 study, and state courts handed out 44,000 DUI convictions last year. Many volunteers pitch in to help Appleton police, but Brad is “certainly unusual,” says local police captain Todd Freeman. Local authorities laid down a few ground rules and asked Brad to follow traffic laws, but they've given him the green light. "It's not something that we'd advertise welcoming other people to do that," says Freeman, "but I think Brad's unique approach and his way of being positive throughout helped his cause.” Check out the OWI Hunter's handiwork on his Facebook and YouTube.

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By Bryan Le

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