Etta James, the legendary African-American soul, blues, gospel and R&B singer—and a recovering heroin addict who in 1988 checked into Betty Ford—has died aged 73 in Riverside, California, from leukemia complications. The multiple-Grammy-winning artist was most famous for her much-covered 1960 hit "At Last" [below]. As she related in her 1995 memoir, Rage to Survive, James struggled mightily with various addictions—most vexingly, overeating. "It's taken me most of my life to come to terms with the white powder addictions—heroin and cocaine," she wrote. "For years now, I've also put down other habits, like cigarettes and booze. But food...started earliest and lasted longest. For me, food is the killer." James was born in LA on January 25, 1938, to a 14-year-old mother, and an absentee, mystery father. She was later taken in and raised by Lula and Jesse Rogers, whom James described as "a good man who liked his liquor." James wrote: "He'd get drunk and disappear. At one point he went away for a long time, came home, and never drank again."
Janusz Palikot—the leader of a new party in Poland, "Palikot's Movement," which seeks to decriminalize "soft" drugs—publicly threatened to spark a joint in parliament, to protest opposition to his draft proposal for reform. “We’re trying to get into room 143 to burn some grass,” he told reporters. But at the last minute, heeding stern warnings from Parliamentary Speaker Ewa Kopacz, 47-year-old Palikot chickened out, and burned incense containing a tiny amount of marijuana instead. Palikot is a maverick businessman whose previous interests include a vodka company; his self-named party won 10% of the vote in Poland's October elections. Prosecutors have opened an investigation against him, seeking criminal charges for “promoting or advertising” drugs, with a possible one-year sentence.
- Sober Kelly Osbourne Denies Claims of Relapse [RadarOnline]
Reality star and occasional chanteuse Kelly Osbourne sobered up in 2009 after a trip to rehab. But she may have fallen off the wagon, with several sources reporting that she’s begun drinking again, causing her to get “so wasted” and “unsteady on her feet.” Osbourne calls the claims “bullshit.” She tweeted: “Trust me I’ve worked to hard to go and fuck my life up agin you ass holes!” [sic].
Josh Radnor, the comedic actor best known for playing intrepid architect Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother, is set to release a memoir called One Big Blissful Thing, about taking the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca in the Amazon rainforest. The synopsis describes it as "Eat, Pray, Love for the McSweeney’s set."
The Bachelorette heartthrob Kasey Kahl didn’t find love on the show—and things aren’t looking up with his recent arrest in Fresno, California, for being drunk and disorderly at Club Habanos. The good news? The cops found his mugshot impossibly dashing—according to Kahl's representative.
- Bruno Mars Gets Cocaine Charges Dismissed [E! Online]
Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars was popped for cocaine possession back in September 2010. But after pleading guilty, completing 200 hours of community service, paying a hefty fine, and going through drug counseling, the charges have been wiped from his record. If only we could do the same to all those American Idol covers of his songs.
Occasional Jersey Shore star "The Unit" (real name: Jonathan Manfre) has been getting a lot of media mileage out of his arrest for ketamine possession. But at least the guy says that sobriety has taken his life “from good to great.” And he’s doing it for the kids: “I know that I am looked upon to be a role model for the young people out there,” he explains. Sobriety and shredded abs—maybe we can have it all!
Washington’s war on drugs is switching just a little of its focus from the Mexican border to the Canadian one. Marijuana and ecstasy, in particular, move easily across the the 4,000-mile border, which mostly cuts through wilderness and rural land. Indian tribes in Canada are said to play a key role in the smuggling, using their autonomy to collaborate with organized gangs like the Italian Mob and Hell’s Angels. Now officials at the American National Center Of Drug Control Policy have penned a strategy to combat Canadian smuggling: increasing ties with Canadian and Tribal law enforcement, sharing intelligence, and improving joint cross-border operations, undercover operations and electronic eavesdropping. New York state alone shares a 445-mile, lightly-monitored border with Canada, posing a big problem for law enforcement. "I pushed so hard for this strategy to be finalized because we must immediately stop the flow of drugs from Canada into New York, and it's going to take an international effort on both sides of the border,” says NY Senator Charles Schumer, an advocate of the new approach. The drug war will now be waged on two domestic fronts.
We may associate the practice of "huffing" common chemicals such as cleaning products with foolhardy kids, but new research shows that nearly half of the those admitted for treatment for inhalant abuse are over 18 years old. The study—carried out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—records that 52% of people seeking care for abusing inhalants are aged 18-29, while 32% are 30-44, and as many as 16% were 45 and older. Inhaling chemicals may be an easy way to get a quick high, but inhaling these vapors can cause permanent lung and brain damage. Abusing inhalants often evolves into a potentially fatal addiction. In the past year, 1.1 million adults huffed chemicals, which means the practice is more popular than using drugs such as crack, LSD, and heroin.
- Mexico's Drug War Bloodies Areas Thought Safe [New York Times]
- New Drug Combo Shows Promise In Treating Hep C [USA Today]
- NJ Prescription Drug Tracking Program Initiated [NJ.com]
- Utah Family Suing County Jail After Overdose Death [Daily Herald]
- Ex-Ohio State Quarterback Busted For Violation Probation, Testing Positive For Coke [Wall Street Journal]
- California Supreme Court Review Lower Court MMJ Rulings [Mercury News]
- Lacrosse Players Most Likely College Athletes To Use Drugs [Bloomberg News]