After late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at a California university campus center devoted to studying marijuana, the administration at Humboldt State have invited the TV personality to speak at this year's commencement. During a November 27 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live the comedian joked about the Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research, saying their plan is to "organize lectures to study how marijuana relates to topics like economics, geography...and sociology. But they'll probably just end up playing ultimate frisbee." The video went viral on YouTube and campus leaders have responded surprisingly well. “We thought some of your lines were actually pretty funny, as did many on campus,” reads a letter to Kimmel from the University's president and student body president. “However, like many students and alumni we also felt you shortchanged Humboldt State University, portraying all of our students as pot-obsessed slackers. That is not fair and this invitation offers you a chance to grow a little and make up for it,” the letter continues. To the administration, however, the Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research is more than just a punch line. A University spokesman, Jared Petroske, tells the Los Angeles Times: “The important thing is that the institute continues to do important work ... in all facets of ways marijuana is impacting society. It may provide low-hanging fruit for comedians but this is serious work that needs to be done.”
The victims of Mexico's drug-related violence will finally be acknowledged by their government under a controversial new law enacted today by President Enrique Peña Nieto. At a ceremony where survivors held photographs of missing or slain children, parents and spouses, Peña Nieto announced that the new law will require authorities to pay for victims' medical care. It will also establish a national registry of victims and set up a possible fund for reparations. “There is today a Mexico that has been hurt by crime,” said the President, who took office last month. “With this law, the Mexican state hopes to restore hope and consolation to the victims...This law is the beginning of an entire network of protection.” Former President Felipe Calderon drew criticism from human rights groups when he vetoed the law last summer, claiming it had technical flaws and was possibly unconstitutional. During his six years in office, the government launched ongoing military attacks against the country's powerful drug cartels; an estimated 70,000 people were killed in the ensuing violence, and approximately 9,000 are missing, according to recently released government statistics. Relatives of those dead and missing have complained of being shunned by authorities, who never established a national DNA data bank and kept spotty records. Although organizations representing victims' families have applauded the new law as a crucial first step, many still remain skeptical about its long-term success. The law is "necessary to settle the debt authorities have with victims of the violence that the country is living,” said the Mexican chapter of Amnesty International. “But the approval of laws does not guarantee rights for the victims.”
Parkinson’s disease does not, as some previously suspected, cause shopping or gambling addictions, indicates a new study. Past studies have shown that people who take certain Parkinson’s medications are at a higher risk for developing impulse control problems like binge eating, shopping, sex addictions and gambling. But the new research, published in the journal Neurology, indicates that untreated Parkinson's patients don’t have any more addictions that than average person—suggesting that the meds, not the illness itself, are to blame. "It's further evidence that the increased frequency [of addictions] in Parkinson's patients is due to the treatments themselves not the illness," says Dr. Daniel Weintraub of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, the study's lead author. The researchers surveyed 168 people with untreated Parkinson's disease and 143 people who don’t suffer from the condition. Each participant was asked about shopping, sexual, food and gambling habits. Overall there was no significant difference between the two groups. Dr. Anhar Hassan of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, a movement disorders researcher who wasn't involved in the latest study, also believes that the link between addiction and Parkinson’s disease is caused by medicinal side effects. "It's our routine practice to warn patients that this is a potential side effect when we're starting them on these medications," she says. "There is a potential for these to be quite devastating.”
- Certain Eating Disorders May Predict Illicit Drug Use [PR Newswire]
- Study: Passive Smoking Increases Risk of Dementia [VOA]
- CDC Reaches Out to LGBT People in Smoking Cessation Ads [Huffington Post]
- Pot Opponents Regroup Following Washington, Colorado Votes [Huffington Post]
- Chaka Khan Bans Booze On Tour [Contactmusic]
- South Korea Battles Internet Addiction Among Teens with Horses [Times of India]
- Former Everton Man Andy Van Der Meyde on Drink, Drugs and Zebras [BBC]
Yesterday's announcement that Lance Armstrong has chosen to appear in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey—coming days after The New York Times reported that he was considering a public doping admission—is earning derision from his fellow former pros. "Only Lance would get to have his moment of truth, if that's what it will be, with Oprah Winfrey," David Millar, a British cyclist who was banned for doping in 2004 and is now a member of the athletes' commission for the World Anti-Doping Agency, tells the BBC. "It is not sitting in front of a judge...I doubt very much it will be a proper interrogation." He fears the focus will be more on Armstrong's emotions than on any wrongdoing. Matt DeCanio, an American ex-cyclist who admitted doping before campaigning against it, thinks Armstrong's decision is about money: "Oprah Winfrey appeals to the general American public who shops at Wal-Mart...and just wants to hear a feelgood story," he says. "I think he will say that he did what it took to win in the situation in which he was racing....He is basically going to do and say anything that will mean that you can still buy a candy bar with his face on it or a bicycle that he endorses." Armstrong, now 41, was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins and banned for life by the US Anti-Doping Agency last October, following charges that long-term, systematic doping and blood transfusions were behind his success. The 90-minute interview will air on Oprah's Next Chapter on OWN at 9 pm (ET) on Tuesday January 17. A press release claims it will be "no-holds-barred"—but it will also be pre-recorded.
Hip-hop and R&B legend Mary J. Blige has been a powerful force in the music industry for decades, winning nine Grammys and earning the title of "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul." But her shining triumphs masked a private struggle with alcohol and drug addiction and depression, she reveals to Los Angeles Confidential. The singer, 42, says her problems stemmed from being molested as a child. "It only happened once, but after that there was so much else in my childhood that happened," she says. "So many dark moments—which all added up and that's what sprung on the drug addiction, trying to numb it all with the drugs." Blige admits she was high on cocaine when she received her first Grammy award in 1995 for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: "When I got that Grammy I was high. Not at the Grammys I don't think. But I was drinking like a crazy person. Still sniffing cocaine going in..." She cites Whitney Houston's death from alcohol and drugs in 2011 as a factor in her motivation to get clean: "Her death is another reason I stopped. I really do think I'm done," she recalls. "I looked at how that woman could not perform anymore." Blige chose to forgo rehab, and credits her faith with helping her maintain her sobriety. "I believe that anything man himself can do for me, God can do for me in a greater way," she says. "I decided to pray and to seek God on my own. I just stayed in The Word. And it worked."