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Drunk at Sea

9/19/12 1:05pm

Carnival Cruises in the Dock Over Booze Death

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Is Carnival to blame? Photo via

A Texas woman is suing Carnival Cruise Lines over the alcohol-related death of her husband and the company's claims that he committed suicide—saying that he wasn't suicidal, but was "conditioned" by the cruise ship to keep drinking well after he should have stopped. In her lawsuit, Michele Markham says her husband Clint Markham drank unlimited cocktails from 10:30 to 3:30 pm on the day of his death, and then two Everclear-based drinks between 4 pm and 6 pm, ignoring her requests to slow down. At around 6:30 pm, he left their room to continue drinking and, while perched up against a railing, plunged face-first into the water. There was allegedly "no immediate response from the ship," 911 calls from other passengers didn't get through to the bridge and it took 20 minutes for a rescue boat to be sent out. Clint Markham's body was never recovered. The lawsuit claims that "even though he had consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, Clint Markham had been conditioned by [Carnival] to keep partying, and to take it to the limit and beyond." Markham also alleges that Carnival called Clint's mother—also a plaintiff on the suit—to tell her that her son had killed himself and reported the same to the media. She said that her husband had no history of depression or suicidal tendencies and that no suicide note was found on the ship. A spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines declined to comment on the pending litigation. The company has recently been testing out a $50 all-you-can drink package on one of its ships.

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By McCarton Ackerman

Peace on earth

9/19/12 11:40am

Lady Gaga Gets Stoned on Stage in Amsterdam

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Gaga takes a deep breath. Photo via

Lady Gaga's famous poker face now involves a large joint protruding from her mouth. During her latest performance in Amsterdam, the singer puffed on what she described as a "wondrous" spliff on stage, telling fans she was in an "appropriate place" to talk about the "medical wonders" of marijuana. “I want you to know it has totally changed my life and I’ve really cut down on drinking," she said. "It has been a totally spiritual experience for me with my music.” She quipped that she was going to talk with President Obama about making marijuana legal around the world. And during one of multiple costume changes throughout the show, she donned a T-shirt with marijuana leaves, which she describes as "the new peace sign," adding “It’s like saying everybody needs to take a breath and it’s going to be OK.” It's unclear whether the taking of these breaths contributed to her eyebrow-raising declaration to fans at a recent show in Ireland: "I'm so happy to be back in the UK!"

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By McCarton Ackerman

Smoking, drinking and cancer

9/19/12 10:58am

Drinking, Smoking Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

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Yet another reason to cut back. Photo via

Drinking and smoking seem to be linked to earlier development of pancreatic cancer, indicates a new study. Pancreatic cancer is reportedly causing a growing number of deaths, partly because of the difficulty of early detection, and claimed the lives of Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze among many others. Doctors still aren't certain what causes it, but there's now evidence, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, that smoking and heavy drinking raises the risk of developing it sooner. “If you do have these habits, and you're going to develop pancreatic cancer, the age of presentation may be younger,” says lead researcher Dr. Michelle A. Anderson of the University of Michigan Health System. The researchers studied 811 patients in a pancreatic cancer registry. According to the American Cancer Society, the risk for developing pancreatic cancer is about one in 71 and occurs at an average age of 72. But the heavy drinkers and smokers in the study were diagnosed around a decade earlier. While the findings don't prove that smoking and drinking causes earlier cancer, the researchers did discover a “dose” effect—meaning that those who smoked over a pack a day were diagnosed younger age than those who smoked less. And those who'd refrained from heavy drinking and smoking for over 10 years had a reduced risk. Researchers hope the study will give people yet another reason to make healthier choices. As Anderson says, “That's potentially an extra decade of life.”  

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By Valerie Tejeda

Headlines

9/19/12 5:00am

Morning Roundup: September 19, 2012

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Trying to play through can be risky.
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By The Fix staff

Drug Trafficking

9/18/12 5:03pm

Hells Angels Coke Case Simmers in Canada

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Money and weapons collected during last
month's raid Photo via

One of a group of eight Hells Angels and their associates recently charged with trafficking and importing cocaine in British Columbia has been granted bail by the province's Supreme Court—but millions in cash and property thought to be the proceeds of organized crime is set to be forfeited. The charges stem from a sting operation that on August 25 swooped on the alleged participants in a deal to buy 200 kilos of cocaine—and also netted the cops $4 million in alleged drug money. James Howard—one of those arrested—must follow stringent conditions to secure his release on bail: he'll have to put up a $300,000 bond, give up his passport, live at his parents’ home and report weekly to a bail supervisor. He may not possess a cell phone, leave home between 8 pm and 6 am, or contact any of the other accused men, except in the presence of a lawyer. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had been investigating allegations that British Columbia-grown pot was being trafficked elsewhere to pay to import cocaine. The 21-month undercover probe stretched from Canada to the US, Mexico and Panama. The apparent involvement of two full-patch Hells Angels and their associates is no surprise—the gang is reputed to play a major role in smuggling drugs on either side of the Canadian border. “This represents the blueprint for a majority of Canadian-based organized crime in search of profits," says RCMP Superintendent Brian Cantera of the trafficking operation.

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By Chrisanne Grise

Drug War

9/18/12 3:51pm

Vice's Mexican Mormon War Doc Debuts Online

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Vice founder Shane Smith handling one of
countless confiscated US-made weapons.
Photo via

Part one of Vice magazine’s new seven-part documentary series, The Mexican Mormon War, dropped yesterday online. The documentary, hosted by Vice founder and CEO Shane Smith, is all about the intersection of the US government’s War on Drugs, the ultra-violent cartels and an under-the-radar third party: Mormons in Mexico, some of whom are related to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Part one of the series depicts the Vice crew traveling across the border from El Paso, Texas, to Juarez, Mexico—one of the most violent places on Earth—and giving the viewer a quick primer on the incredible firepower amassed by the cartels, mostly in the form of American-made, military-grade weapons, as well as the staggering amount of drugs that get shipped north. “The market for the drugs is America, the market for the weapons is here in Mexico, and they [cross over],” explains Smith. At the close of the series’ first part, Smith travels 200 miles south of Juarez, toward a Mormon settlement that has become the target of kidnappings and narco-violence—and has begun to fight back.

Here’s the full part one (viewers be warned—the video shows graphic footage of dead bodies, both cartel victims and rival gang members):

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By Hunter R. Slaton

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