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Celebrity Exhaustion

5/23/12 4:28pm

Ray J's Hospital Stay for "Exhaustion" Ends

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Why do celebrities get so exhausted?
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Going to the hospital for being really, really tired is catching. Celebrities like Rihanna have long used the "exhaustion" card to justify their emergency room visits, and now singer/reality star Ray J can be added to the list. The 31-year-old was released from a Las Vegas hospital earlier this morning, after being admitted on Monday for "exhaustion and jet lag" following the Billboard Music Awards. A friend entered Ray J's hotel room the morning after the show, found him "extremely disoriented" and unable to get out of bed, and called paramedics. But Ray J's rep said that the singer truly was exhausted after a 32-hour flight from China—where he performed a concert—and a four-hour drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas the next day to attend the awards show. The rep said that doctors gave Ray J the all-clear after he underwent a variety of tests “to make sure that he did not have a blood clot in his lungs, which is potentially a deadly condition that can occur following a long haul plane flight." Ray J dated Whitney Houston on-and-off for several years after her 2007 divorce from Bobby Brown and has reportedly been struggling to cope with the death of the music legend. But the Houston family hasn't taken kindly to the singer, feeling he was a bad influence on her. Houston's sister-in-law even reportedly threatened to call security after finding out she would be sitting next to him at the awards show.

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By McCarton Ackerman

welfare and addiction

5/23/12 3:22pm

UK Addicts Must Get Treatment or Lose Benefits

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Jobless addicts in the UK face tougher choices.
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British law is controversially set to demand that addicts receiving public assistance submit to treatment, or risk losing their unemployment benefits. Under a tougher new regime, reflecting the coalition government's austerity policy during the ongoing Euro crisis, those claiming Britain's relatively-generous unemployment pay will have to sign a contract agreeing to look for work while receiving public help. And local unemployment staff will be able report suspected addicts—if they refuse the addiction treatment offered, they'll lose their benefits. The reforms are due to take effect in October 2013. But many addiction organizations strongly oppose the plan, saying it discriminates against addicts. "In no other area of health would we see such an approach being taken," argues Niamh Eastwood, chief executive of the charity Release. "But again and again successive governments seek to stigmatize further those with addiction, who are often vulnerable and marginalized individuals." Others fear that the reform will make people hesitate to seek help, or that the loss of public support will cause addicts to spiral deeper into dependency. A group of charity bosses agrees that referrals to treatment can benefit addicts who may not otherwise have that lifeline, but that taking away their financial stability can be counterproductive. "Incentives are only part of the story," says Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern. "The real answer is to make sure that high quality treatment services are fully funded and available all over the country." 

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By Fionna Agomuoh

effects of caffeine

5/23/12 2:40pm

"Dangerous" Energy Drinks Attacked

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Just say no? Photo via

Dr. Kaayla Daniel, a certified clinical nutritionist seen on the Dr. Oz Show and NPR, has issued a strong warning of the dangers of caffeine-heavy energy drinks. She points out that energy drinks negatively impact our mental health, and have even been linked to deaths. “We have no way of knowing how much caffeine is in these drinks," says Daniel. "The labels don’t include this info.” The fact that energy drinks are marketed as supplements, rather than food, gives manufacturers a loophole to pump the drinks with caffeine, she claims: anything from “100 to a whopping 430 mg per 12 ounces,” compared with the 35 mg typically found in a can of Coke. Energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster and Full Throttle are heavily marketed towards college students, who use them to study harder—or party longer. But mixing alcohol (a "downer") with energy drinks ("uppers") isn't safe, warns Daniel. She explains that the combination creates a “'push-pull'” effect on the body that can lead to heart arrhythmias and potential heart failure. And caffeine alone can cause clinically recognized intoxication, with an unpleasant range of symptoms including anxiety, arrhythmias in extreme cases, and stomach upsets. Daniel adds that energy drinks are “definitely not a case of Mother Nature’s traditional wisdom, but rather of Father Technology’s profit making and experimentation.” She's unsurprised about recent news stories linking teen suicides to energy drinks: "Caffeine intoxication keeps the body in 'fight or flight' mode. This can leave people feeling very frightened and threatened. People taking in too much caffeine feel the physical symptoms of increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and panic akin to an outside 'emergency.'” Finally, Daniel warns that energy drinks may prompt further drug abuse, calling caffeine out as a potential “gateway drug.” 

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By Reina Berger

Drunk driving

5/23/12 1:36pm

Drunk Driver Takes Zebra and Parrot for Joyride

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Reiter has numerous exotic animals on his
farm. Photos via and via

Cops may momentarily have questioned their own sobriety when they found 55-year-old Jerald Reiter outside the Doghouse Lounge in Iowa on Sunday night, trying to drive off with a zebra and a macaw in the front of his pick up. But Reiter keeps Pee Wee and Izzy, as they're known to their friends, as household pets, and likes to take them wherever he goes. After downing three mixed drinks with his dinner, “I said, ‘Let’s go for a ride. I ain’t been away from the farm for almost two months because I’ve been planting corn and everything else,’” Reiter tells the Des Moines Register. “So I opened the door, the zebra jumps in, the macaw loves to go for a ride, so we went for a ride.” Their destination was a bar where Reiter believed that animals were allowed, because he thought he'd previously seen dogs in there. But surprisingly, Reiter and his mini menagerie were turned away—despite its name, the Doghouse denies being open to animals. Police were called due to concerns for the creatures' welfare, and Reiter was breathalyzed and found to be at nearly double the legal limit. Still, he's keen to stress that he hasn't been found to have mistreated his beloved pets in any way. He adds, “We almost got Izzy riding on the back of Pee Wee so we can, you know, take them to the parades.”

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By Will Godfrey

legalization of marijuana

5/23/12 12:21pm

Support for Legal Pot Hits New High

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Support continues to grow. Photo via

A hefty 56% of Americans now support legalizing marijuana and believe it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco, according to a new nationwide Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters. Only 36% of the voters asked in the new poll opposed the concept, and 8% were undecided. Public support for the legalization has been building steadily in recent years; as a 2009 poll found 44% of Americans in favor, and another poll last October showed a then-record high support of 50%. "Polling now consistently shows that more voters support legalizing and regulating marijuana than support continuing a failed prohibition approach, yet far too many politicians continue to act as if marijuana policy reform is some dangerous third rail they dare not touch." says Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop who is the executive director of advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "If the trends in public opinion continue in the direction they are going," he adds, "the day is not far away when supporting a prohibition system that causes so much crime, violence and corruption is going to be seen as a serious political liability for those seeking support from younger and independent voters."

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By Chrisanne Grise

Celebrity rehab

5/23/12 10:57am

"The Situation" Opens Up on Rehab Stint

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A sober summer ahead. Photo via

Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino has opened up for the first time about his stint in rehab and his new-found sobriety. The 29-year-old tells MTV News, "Ever since I've been out, I'm not gonna lie...it's not easy. But at the same time, where I'm at right now, I'm at a good place. But it took a little bit to get there." Back in March, the reality TV star checked himself into rehab at Cirque Lodge in Utah. "In the beginning, for sure, when I was [at the facility] in Utah, I'd wake up and just be extremely disappointed with myself," he says. "Like, 'I can't believe I got here. How did I get here?'" Though Sorrentino has partied hard on many episodes of Jersey Shore, he insists he was addicted only to painkillers—not to alcohol, cocaine, or marijuana. He also states that he never mixed alcohol with painkillers. "You hear stories all the time, you know, of celebrities and people just not even waking up," he says. "That could have been me." The Situation considers himself lucky that his addiction didn’t spiral totally out of control, and admits to feeling many different emotions while in treatment; "I'm not gonna lie, it feels like you're not gonna recover," he says of his early days of sobriety. "It feels like an impossible deed...day-by-day it gets better."

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