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5/28/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 28, 2012

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The man-bites-man story has some crying
"zombie." Photo via

By Bryan Le

Recovery Community

5/25/12 5:20pm

Drug-Court Motorcycle Relay Rolls Into DC

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Attorney General Eric Holder at All Rise
America's closing event. Photo via

Yesterday marked the end of the 24-day, 3,000-mile All Rise America! National Motorcyle Relay for Recovery in Washington, DC, a cross-country trip organized by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) to raise awareness of drug courts, which divert addicts from prison to treatment. The ride included a rotating cast of military veterans, law-enforcement professionals and court staff.

US Attorney General Eric Holder—just a day after he delivered the commencement address to Harvard Law School’s class of 2012—attended All Rise America’s closing event at the DC Superior Courthouse. “I am speaking now to a group of graduates who are just as important,” Holder said, to about 30 individuals who had had successfully completed DC’s drug-court program. “You all have the capacity to change not only your lives but this community and this nation as well.”

During the graduation, Holder was presented with the All Rise Gavel, which had been handed off 30 times during the motorcyle relay—in cities from Flagstaff, Ariz., to Nashville—as a symbol of what can be accomplished when justice and treatment professionals work together to get addicted people the help that they need. Drug courts “are an essential part of our larger national strategy for ensuring public safety, protecting the American people from crime and violence, and giving better outcomes for those involved with the criminal justice system,” said the attorney general. “This administration, and my boss, President Obama, remain deeply committed to expanding them.”

To learn more about drug courts, visit the NADCP’s website.

West Huddleston is CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

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By West Huddleston

anti smoking

5/25/12 4:11pm

Indonesian Child Smokers Spark Lawsuit

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Indonesia has the world's highest percentage
of child smokers. Photo via

Anti-smoking advocates in Indonesia plan to file a class action lawsuit this month, using cases of child smokers to back their claims. The suit, filed against the tobacco companies and the Indonesian government, argues that half-hearted regulation has left children perilously vulnerable to the risks of smoking. According to Arist Merdeka Sirait, head of the National Commission for Child Protection, "There are ... kids who have fallen victim to the impact of cigarette companies and smoking. They are addicted. In the context of people's rights, the society has been disadvantaged by the tobacco industry." But anti-smoking activists face an uphill battle in a country where there is a seemingly insatiable appetite for cigarettes, which the tobacco industry relies on to compensate for declining sales elsewhere. The Indonesian government gives tax incentives for the manufacture of hand-rolled cigarettes because it provides a key source of employment in east Java, where the local firms congregate. Currently, one in three Indonesians smoke, and tobacco products are the number two household expense, after rice, according to the statistics bureau. Cigarette firms are expected to contribute $8.45 billion in tax revenue in 2012, according to the finance ministry. Government authorities are loath to tighten regulations and risk losing funding. Tutus Abaci, a member of Indonesia's National Commission on Tobacco Control, says: "Every time you want to make a regulation, it is very difficult because on every level of the bureaucracy they have been bought by the cigarette industry."

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By Sarah Beller

party crashers

5/25/12 3:01pm

Cows Crash Party, Drink All the Beer

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These cows were hell-bent on getting tipsy.
Photo via

A party in Boxford, Massachusetts went a little sour when it was crashed by the worst types imaginable—the type of party-goers who reek, physically intimidate guests and steal everyone's drinks—cows. About a dozen young adults were having a backyard get-together when six cows wandered in from the road, amusing some of the guests and causing others to scream. But when it became apparent the cows weren't just passing through, the partygoers abandoned their picnic table and beers, not wanting to start any beef with the bovines. This didn't end the festivities though, since the cows seemed determined to milk the party for all it's worth—knocking over cups and slurping beer and leftover drinks. One cow even tipped over the recycle bin and drank the cocktail that spilled out. “They seemed to prefer the Bud Light,” observed Lt. James Riter. By the time police arrived on the scene, the cows had left the party, but Riter found “evidence” confirming they had been there—the kind you wouldn't want to step in. He tracked them down to the front yard of the house where the cows' owner came to claim them, and together they were able to nudge the cows back to their field. Whether the cows tipped themselves after the party remains unknown.

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By Bryan Le

Race and drugs

5/25/12 1:50pm

Newark Mayor: "NJ Drug Policy Targets Black Men"

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Cory Booker takes a stand. Photo via

New Jersey has a great line in outspoken politicians right now. Newark mayor Cory Booker—who first made national headlines this year for rescuing a neighbor's daughter from their burning home—has come out and said that the drug policies in his state unfairly target black men. His comment was made in response to a proposed state bill to make possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana punishable by a $150 fine instead of jail time. When there was uncharacteristically no response from New Jersey's high-profile Governor Chris Christie—who advocates mandatory rehab for nonviolent offenders—Booker took to his Twitter page to sound off. "In NJ blacks are about 15% of population but over 60% of prison population and DRUGS fuels much of the incarceration," he wrote to one of his followers. "So yes we need to radically change the conversation from INCARCERATION to what will really end this national nightmare." And while Booker doesn't advocate the legalization of all drugs, he supports medical marijuana. "I fear legalizing it all would lead 2 more addiction," he tweeted to another follower. "Last thing I want is giving more power 2 govt. But I'm with you on medical marijuana. And NJ should do more to make it real for those who need it." According to Republican State Senator Christopher "Kip" Bateman, it costs about $343 million a year to house the Garden State’s 7,000 nonviolent drug offenders.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Celebrity Roundup

5/25/12 12:52pm

Celebrity Roundup: May 25, 2012

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Lucky to survive the show Photo via

The long-running medical drama House saw its titular doctor, played by British actor Hugh Laurie, taking an extraordinary amount of drugs; the show continued down that path with its final episode, which aired this week. The finale featured Dr. House strung out on heroin in a burning building, yet somehow managing to escape to fake his own death—a storyline which, we hate to say, kinda strains plausibility.

Troubled star of MTV’s Teen Mom Amber Portwood has had a spectacular number of legal foibles over the last several years, from domestic violence charges to drug infractions—and now, she says, she’s had enough with the drug court system that's meant to help keep her out of jail. In court Thursday, she told the judge that she hasn’t been staying clean, calling herself a “bad girl”—and that she’d prefer a prison sentence to her court-mandated abstinence. We’ll see how she feels after a few days in the pokey.

Teen dreamboat Lane Garrison has been in the headlines lately for domestic violence accusations lobbied against him by his girlfriend, Ashley Mattingly, which saw him charged with battery for the incident. This follows his 2007 arrest for vehicular manslaughter and DUI, when he had cocaine in his system and a BAC level at twice the legal limit. Now, his lawyers have committed that Harrison will attend AA while he’s out on bail awaiting trial later this summer.

The ultra-strong anesthetic Propofol entered common parlance when it played a significant role in the death of Michael Jackson—and now, it’s set to get a lot more use in the state of Missouri, where the Department of Corrections has announced its intention to switch over to the use of propofol as the sole drug used in lethal injections. The drug's deadly credentials are certainly well-established.

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By Sam Lansky

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