Britney Spears' former manager Sam Lufti has denied in court that he ever gave the pop star Adderall or helped fuel her former amphetamine addiction. The allegation was made by Spears' parents Jamie and Lynn Spears, who claim that Lufti manipulated and took advantage of the singer during the peak of her meltdown in 2007, cutting her off from family and drugging her food. Lufti filed a lawsuit in response, claiming the accusations destroyed his career and that he was also never compensated the guaranteed 15% of the pop star's gross monthly earnings, roughly $120,000 a month, as The Fix reported, for being her manager. Lufti told the judge that he has a prescription for Adderall to treat his own ADD, but never gave Spears any of his meds; he claims that she simply abused her own prescription.
Lufti also testified that the singer was a "habitual, frequent and continuous" user of drugs and alcohol, and that he actually made various attempts to save her, including bringing drug-sniffing dogs to her home and flushing a bag of white powder down the toilet. His lawyer Joseph Schleimer alleged in his opening statement last Thursday that not only did Spears OD on amphetamines the night she was strapped to a stretcher and sent to a mental hospital in January 2008, but that her infamous head-shaving incident was an attempt to rid traces of drugs from her hair follicles. Lufti has also fired back at Lynne and Jamie's accusations that he lacked the entertainment industry experience or qualifications to manage Britney, claiming he was the associate producer for a Ben Affleck project and is currently Courtney Love's co-manager. Britney is still under a conservatorship and won't be allowed to appear as a witness at the trial.
As drug cartels continue to hold sway in cities, towns and regions across Mexico, one Mexican Indian community is fighting back. Santa Maria Urapicho, a Purepecha Indian town in western Mexico, has taken the drastic measure of arming residents with pistols and rifles to combat threats from suspected members of the Los Caballeros Templarios drug gang. They even reportedly killed the gang's boss, Mauricio Cuitlahuac Hernandez, last August. A Purepecha community leader, speaking anonymously, says that because the federal and state governments have failed to intervene, Los Caballeros Templarios is now trying to gain control of the town in retaliation. "Our people have never allowed such a situation and now we are on the defensive to be on guard and avoid having anyone in this town harmed," says the leader. "We are waiting for organizations in other places to take an interest in our problems, in our situation; they could give us a hand in whatever form possible." For the time being, residents are keeping weapons in their homes and also setting up barricades in an attempt to control access to the town. Many of the Purepechas who work in other communities have also quit their jobs to stay home and help strengthen their community's defenses.
- Uruguay Plans to Legalize Marijuana Under State Monopoly [The Guardian]
- Diabetes Drug May Prove to Be a Successful Treatment for Addiction [Medical Daily]
- Pot Ballot Question Under Fire at Boston Rally [Lowell Sun]
- Missing Immigrants From Central America Sought By Caravan Of Mothers [Huffington Post]
- New Documentary Takes on the US Drug War [New York Review of Books]
- LeAnn Rimes Out of Rehab: 'I'm Starting Over' [HLN]
- Dwight Howard Has Never Been Drunk, Has Only Boozed Once [NESN]
Arkansas may seem an unlikely venue for legal medical marijuana, but a determined group called Arkansans for Compassionate Care is pushing hard for just that. They've succeeded in getting the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act—or "Issue 5"—onto the ballot for November 6. If passed, it would allow Arkansas residents with qualifying medical conditions to buy and use pot, establishing "a system for the cultivation, acquisition and distribution of marijuana...through nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries and granting those nonprofit dispensaries limited immunity." It's a long way, then, from being the most radical state marijuana policy on offer next month. But Arkansas has deep conservative roots. The latest Talk Business-Hendrix College poll shows 54% of respondents opposing Issue 5, with 38% in favor and 8% undecided. That represents a recent swing away from MMJ: a poll in late July showed a much tighter race, with 47% in favor and 46% against. So why the change? “There has been a very effective earned media effort from law enforcement and conservative groups since this measure made the ballot," says Talk Business executive editor Roby Brock.
Chris Kell, the campaign strategist for Arkansans for Compassionate Care, tells The Fix that he believes the latest poll figures are "temporary," and caused by the fact that "the opposition is very well organized, with a well-oiled propaganda machine." He denounces one recent TV commercial for the No campaign as "pretty unbelievable—full of misinformation and stereotypes" and "making out we're going to get drug dealers and full legalization." His organization plans to combat such "scare tactics" through a network of volunteers dispensing information, a new Facebook page debunking opponents' claims, a paid media campaign just kicking in, and support from public figures like Montel Williams. "The poll numbers won't reflect all this yet," Kell argues. Standing in line yesterday to cast his early vote in "a pretty conservative county," he says—and throughout 10 years' experience in Arkansas politics—"about the only people I've heard come out against it are our opponents." We'll soon know how accurate this impression was.
Aaron Paul, co-star of the new film Smashed, says he channeled his personal experience dating an addict into his role on screen. In the film, the Breaking Bad actor plays the beau of an elementary teacher, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whose battle with alcoholism ultimately leads her to get sober in AA. Paul explains his own ex-girlfriend was a "severe alcoholic," who he ended up taking to AA meetings "all the time," even giving up alcohol for a period of time to support her. "I told her I would go cold sober just to try it," he says. "I really tried to save her." He blames her addiction for ultimately destroying their relationship, saying: "alcohol is an evil substance, and it's a serious problem all over the place." Paul says the film, a hit at both the Sundance and Toronto film festivals, uses honesty—rather than scare tactics—to deliver a powerful message about addiction that he hopes will help people. "I think this would be a good film for someone who has a substance abuse problem to watch," he says. Smashed is currently playing in theaters across the US.
Kids can now light up more easily than ever, thanks to smoking simulator apps available on Android and iPhone. These simulators let users “smoke” virtually, by blowing into the microphone or on the screen, causing the glowing red image of the cigarette to “burn.” Some include a virtual ashtray that sends messages, like “Would be even better with a beer in your hand!” Another iPhone app—claiming to be “almost as addictive as smoking for real”—lets you pass cigars or cigarettes among friends in virtual smoking sessions. At least 6 million users had downloaded the Android simulators by last February. And there are now 107 pro-smoking apps available, according to a recent study from the University of Sydney, many of which target kids or teens with cartoons, games and celebrity logos. The apps also include cigarette images for phone wallpaper, rolling instructions and tobacco "shops," where users can build their own cigs. "They normalize smoking," says Barbara Loken, a consumer psychologist at the University of Minnesota. "Kids are at a stage where they’re forming their identity. The apps can provide...a way of making smoking normal among peer groups." By enhancing the appeal of cigarettes to young people, these apps provide a loophole for tobacco companies, which have long been banned from advertising in the US. Loken says games may be worse for children than billboards or magazine ads: "They increase the involvement or engagement of the participant, even more than advertisements. This may make the participant even more likely to take up smoking." The researchers are calling for more regulation.