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4/18/14 3:31pm

Back From the Abyss: The Autobiography of a Low-Bottom Alky

It was 1982. I was 32 years old. I had just taken a job as the editorial director of a newsletter publishing company. I needed to hire a freelance writer immediately. 

Kieran Doherty appeared in my office. He was older than the other candidates by more than 20 years. 

“I’m ready to work,” he said as soon as he sat down.

I looked at his resume. Lots of experience as a reporter and newspaper columnist.

“Why are you interested in doing this,” I asked. “It seems like a step down.”

“I need a job,” he said.

He was a great hire… for six months. Then he didn’t show up on Monday… or Tuesday… or the rest of the week.

Several months later, out of the blue, he walked into my office, sat down, and said, “Remember me?”

“Where the hell have you been?” I asked.

“I will tell you the truth,” he said. “But you won’t like it.”

“Try me,” I said.

And that’s how I was introduced to the amazing life story that Kieran eventually turned into a riveting book, full of wit, bravado, and Irish charm.

In Back From the Abyss: The Autobiography of a Low-Bottom Alky, he takes the reader on the wild ride that was his life. Surviving a childhood as tough as Frank McCourt’s in Angela’s Ashes, we watch him change from altar boy to rebel… then throw away a promising career in the theater. We follow him through his almost unbelievable adventures in the military… through four marriages and countless lovers… through the alcohol-fueled crimes that ultimately landed him in prison. 

And along the way, we get a feel for the internal pain, the constant struggle of the “low-bottom” alky to make it from one day to the next.

To get the entire story, click here.

– Mark Morgan Ford

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By Sponsored Post

changing times

4/18/14 3:30pm

Eric Holder Optimistic, Cautious About Legal Marijuana

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Attorney General Eric Holder continues to maintain a veneer of optimism – with considerable reserve – in regard to marijuana legalization efforts across the country.

Speaking at a federal courthouse in Charleston, S.C. last week, the Obama administration’s top law enforcement figure stated that he was “cautiously optimistic” about efforts in both Colorado and Washington to legalize and regulate marijuana use. Last August, Holder allowed both states to have their ballot-approved laws go into effect, while also outlining guidelines for federal prosecutors to curb efforts to pursue small-time drug possession charges and allow marijuana businesses greater access to banking services.

The states were also told to follow a set of eight guidelines regarding the distribution or sale of marijuana to minors or states where marijuana remains illegal, among other priorities, or face prosecution through the Justice Department. “As I indicated to both [of the states’] governors, we will be monitoring the progress of those efforts [to maintain the guidelines]," Holder said. "And if we conclude that they are not being done in an appropriate way, we reserve our right to file lawsuits."

Holder expressed a similar level of caution when asked about the impact of Colorado and Washington’s legalization efforts on other states and districts. Already, Holder’s home base of Washington, D.C., has taken the steps to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and a number of states, including Florida, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan have either implemented similar laws or have submitted them for votes.

“I think a lot of states are going to be looking to see what happens in Washington [and] Colorado before those decisions are made in substantial parts of the country,” Holder said. “I think there might have been a burst of feeling that what happened [in those states] was going to be soon replicated across the country. I’m not sure that is necessarily the case.”

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By Paul Gaita

a new cure

4/18/14 1:00pm

High Price of Breakthrough Hepatitis C Drug Expected to Decline

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A new breed of hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment has arrived, giving hope to the estimated 185 million people who are infected worldwide. But it’s yet unclear how it will be affordable to the general population at its current $1,000-a-pill price tag.

With the advent of the breakthrough HCV drug, which works by targeting the protein that makes the virus and stopping it from replicating, scientists writing in the New England Journal of Medicine declared that “it may now be possible to imagine the global eradication of [chronic hepatitis C].”

Traditional therapy of HCV involves up to a year of treatment with multiple drugs, including the injected immune-system modulator, interferon. Side effects include fatigue, nausea, and even depression. The new breed of HCV treatment is a game changer. It has been shown to boost cure rates and reduce the duration of treatment, with fewer side effects. In a study by University of Texas Health Science Center researchers, the leading new HCV drug Sovaldi cured 96 percent of patients of HCV after 24 weeks. Older drugs cure about 75 percent of those treated and take 24 to 48 weeks of treatment.

This is good news for the hundreds of millions of people around the world, including an estimated three million Americans who are infected with HCV. But the new drug’s hefty price tag is a turn-off for the majority of those hepatitis C positive who reside in low- and middle-income countries.

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a “concerted effort” to reduce the price of HCV medicines in their new guidelines for treating HCV. Sovaldi, which is made by California-based Gilead Sciences, debuted last December at $1,000 a pill, or $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment. The drug’s unattainably high price spurred Democrats in the House Energy & Commerce Committee to write to Gilead, asking for an explanation of the company’s pricing methodology.

But like what happened with HIV drugs, the price of these HCV drugs are expected to decrease over time, once factors like price competition and pressure from non-governmental agencies kick in. “We’ve been here before,” head of the global hepatitis program at WHO Stefan Wiktor said. “Competition and generic production really are the keys to reductions in prices,” he said.

The WHO guidelines confirm this trend. “The experience with HIV, where the price of antiretrovirals was reduced by nearly a hundred fold through the introduction of generic drugs, has shown that the key to achieving low prices for medicines is to use a multipronged approach."

Similar versions of Sovaldi — all-oral treatment regimens with the same high cure rate — are expected to be released over the next two years, which should also drive down the cost of the drugs. “We are going to go from a monopoly to seven or eight players,” said ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum. “In my mind that is what will drive pricing down.”

And a generic version of sofosbuvir, of which Sovaldi is a brand name, may be in the works as well. Its maker, Gilead, is in negotiations with several Indian manufacturers to produce a generic version of the drug, according to executive vice president of corporate and medical affairs Gregg Alton. In March, the company confirmed that it will supply Sovaldi in Egypt at a reduced price of $900 for a 12-week course, or about one percent of the American price. Egypt has the world’s highest prevalence of HCV due to the use of contaminated needles in the 1970s.

For now, millions of people will have to wait. Pressure from non-governmental agencies, academics, and patients worked to drive down the price of antiretroviral drugs. In their guidelines, the WHO urged these entities to take action once more. "National governments, international agencies, donors, civil-society organizations, and the pharmaceutical industry will need to work together to help assure that hepatitis C treatment is affordable and accessible for all those who need treatment," the guidelines said.

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By Victoria Kim

dealing death

4/18/14 10:30am

Death Penalty Could Be Issued In Drug Conspiracy Case

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Federal officials have indicted 27 people in Wisconsin for a multi-year drug ring, and three of those currently in custody could face the death penalty for their crimes.

Eighteen suspects were arrested on Wednesday, with another three already in custody and six others still at large, for a drug conspiracy case that took place in southeastern Wisconsin. Homicide, money laundering, and selling drugs that included crack cocaine, heroin, and more than 650 pounds of powder cocaine are among the charges against those who were indicted.

Kevin R. Arms, 40, the alleged head of the operation, is one of the three men who could receive the death penalty because of federal homicide charges. His 21-year-old son, Kevin C. Arms, is accused of money laundering after buying houses and boats, among other luxury items, with money made from selling drugs. Several other family members are also facing similar charges.

"The criminal conduct of the 27 people charged by the grand jury has now come to an end, a decisive end," said U.S. Attorney James L. Santelle. "The neighborhoods that have long been victimized by the destructive trafficking in illegal drugs, their use of firearms, their use of dirty money to purchase assets can now begin working toward a restoration they want and deserve." Arms and two other defendants from Atlanta are the only ones of those indicted who are not from Milwaukee.

Investigators have been looking into Arms since 2011 after first discovering his operation. He had reportedly been funneling the drug money into two companies he had created, True Boss Entertainment and Arms Investments. The luxury items he and his family allegedly purchased with the illegal funds have been seized and federal officials also seized a money judgement for $3 million.

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By McCarton Ackerman

serious charges

4/18/14 8:30am

'X-Men' Director Accused Of Drugging, Raping Teenage Boy

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Bryan Singer, best known as the director of several films in the X-Men film franchise and The Unusual Suspects, has been accused of drugging and raping a teenage boy multiple times in the late 1990s.

A lawsuit filed on Wednesday in U.S. Court in Hawaii claims that Singer, whose latest film X-Men: Days of Future Past is scheduled to be released in just a few weeks, sexually assaulted Michael Egan as a teenager at house parties in both Hawaii and in California. Singer allegedly used drugs and alcohol to force oral and anal sex on Egan while promising film roles in exchange. Egan, who was 17 at the time of the alleged assaults, is seeking unspecified damages and a jury trial.

Marc Collins-Rector, a former entertainment business executive and registered sex offender, is listed in the suit as the initiator for the meetings between the two, which took place at “notorious parties” in Encino, Calif. in 1998. The teenager was also flown to Hawaii twice for week-long trips where the sexual abuse also took place. The lawsuit also claims that Egan was paid $1,500 per week by Collins-Rector's former entertainment company and sent on private jets to “attractive locations,” despite not having a designated role within the business.

He was also allegedly threatened by Singer and other men to keep quiet, telling him that they "controlled Hollywood and would destroy his hopes and dreams of an acting career if he did not keep them happy.” Collins-Rector was not available for comment, but an attorney for Singer denied the “absurd and defamatory” accusations.

"It is obvious that this case was filed in an attempt to get publicity at the time when Bryan's new movie is about to open in a few weeks," wrote attorney Marty Singer in a statement. Egan’s attorney, Jeff Herman, has also filed sex abuse lawsuits against Kevin Clash, the former voice of Elmo, and the Roman Catholic Church.

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

4/18/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: April 18, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

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