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mobile madness

2/11/14 3:30pm

Flappy Bird Creator Pulls Game For Being Too Addictive

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The popular app game Flappy Bird has been removed from Apple's App Store and Google Play on Sunday by creator Dong Nguyen over fears that players are becoming too addicted.

Though the game was making $50,000 a day in advertising revenue, Nguyen pulled the game off both Android and Apple's top game lists. “Flappy Bird has unexpected effects,” said Nguyen. “It causes addiction (in) people. I think it is an unexpected problem...and I have to remove it.”

In the game, players must keep a bird aloft by tapping the screen, allowing the bird to rise and fall in time to avoid green pipes extending from the top and bottom of the screen. Players heard about its challenging difficulty and downloaded the game in droves - Nguyen estimated that Flappy Bird has been downloaded roughly 50 million times.

But between addicted players, accusations of rigging the mobile game market to inflate his game's popularity, and allegations of ripping off Super Mario's art style, Nguyen made the call to take his lucrative game down. “I can call Flappy Bird is a success of mine,” Nguyen says on Twitter. “But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.” He says he will continue making mobile games, but anyone looking forward to Flappy Birds' return is out of luck: “I keep my word.”

Watch a report including someone trying to sell an iPhone with the now-unobtainable Flappy Bird for $100,000:

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By Bryan Le

celebrity overdose

2/11/14 1:00pm

Julia Roberts' Half-Sister Dies Of Reported Drug Overdose

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Nancy Motes in 2011. Photo via

Nancy Motes, perhaps best known as the estranged half-sister of actress Julia Roberts, was found dead in a bathtub last Sunday after a reported drug overdose. She was 37 years old.

Motes’ body was found in Los Angeles by her fiance, John Dilbeck, whom she was set to marry in May. While an overdose was initially suspected, investigators need to conduct tests to conclude if her death was indeed caused by drugs. Craig Harvey, chief of coroner investigations for Los Angeles County, confirmed that “there were prescription and nonprescription drugs found at the scene. The role the drugs may or may not have played is not yet known.”

In the weeks leading up to her death, Motes slammed her estranged sister several times on Twitter. “Just so you all know America’s Sweetheart is a BITCH! Do you want to be a fan of someone so cruel?” she tweeted last month. “She’s not even that good of an actress. Happy you totally Fucked with me?” She also tweeted last October that “it’s a shame when you get more support from strangers than you do from your family. I can’t wait to officially belong to another family?”

She had been open about her rocky relationship with her famous actress sister and accused Roberts of tormenting her about her weight. Weighing 300 pounds at one point, Motes revealed last summer she had gotten gastric bypass surgery in the hopes it would help repair their relationship. “When I was in high school and she was an adult, she would just let me know that I was definitely overweight,” she said. “It just makes me feel incredibly hurt and very sad.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

the drug war

2/11/14 10:30am

White House Drug Official Slammed For Refusing To Say If Pot Is More Addictive Than Meth

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You can't handle the truth! Photo via

In a recent public hearing, the vague comments regarding the dangers of marijuana use from the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have set off one politician. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) had asked Michael Botticelli if pot was more dangerous and addictive than cocaine or meth, but the deputy director refused to directly answer the question. Botticelli acknowledged that “there’s relative toxicity related to those drugs,” but declined to say which was more harmful because he felt “the conversation minimizes the harm.”

The response was more than insufficient for Blumenauer. “Being unable to answer something clearly and definitively when there is unquestioned evidence to the contrary, is why young people don’t believe the propaganda, why they think it’s benign,” he said. “If a professional like you can’t answer clearly that meth is more dangerous than marijuana — which every kid on the street knows, which every parent knows — if you can’t answer that, maybe that’s why we’re failing to educate people about the dangers. How do you expect high school kids to take you seriously?”

Botticelli attempted to defuse the situation and explained that he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, but Blumenauer literally threw his hands up in frustration. “I asked what was more dangerous; you couldn’t answer it. And I just want to say that you, sir, represent what’s part of the problem,” he said. “I’d respectfully suggest that you and the department take a step back if you’re concerned that somehow people think marijuana is benign, part of the reason is that drug professionals can’t communicate in ways the rest of America does.”

Watch Blumenauer lay into Botticelli at the hearing:

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By McCarton Ackerman

recovering celebs

2/11/14 8:30am

Cher's Son Opens Up About Beating Heroin Addiction

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Allman and Cher in 2002.
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Cher’s son, Elijah Blue Allman, sparked controversy last week for declaring that his former heroin use “kind of saved my life.” Allman, 37, now works as a musician and has been sober since 2008 after kicking his drug addiction.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, Allman said his drug use began at age 11 with pot and ecstasy and was done as a means of escape. “I (was) just looking to escape all the things in my past and, that's when you turn to those kind of drugs, you know heroin and opiates,” he said. "(Heroin) kind of saved me … If I didn't have that at that point, I don't know what I would have done … You may jump off a bridge. If you can only just go through that time period and live through it and then get help."

But after his comments about his heroin use raised eyebrows, particularly so close to the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Allman took to Twitter and clarified his statements. "In the way that people say 'cancer saved me' or 'losing my sight helped me see,' it can take something malevolent to self-improve," he tweeted. "People we've all lost along the way have been devastating...I'm an enormous appreciator of Phil Hoffman's talent."

Allman also revealed that he had tried to get clean prior to succeeding in 2008, but nearly died from an overdose during one such attempt. “I did have some close calls and some moments of really feeling at the edge of mortality,” he said. “I always kind of kept it a little bit safe, but you never can do that. Even though you think that in your mind, of course the wrong things can happen.”

Now married to Marieangela King as of last September, Allman said he is currently estranged from his famous mother. Cher’s other son, Chaz Bono, was addicted to painkillers, alcohol, and cigarettes before quitting all those vices in 2004. He also spoke out last year about his battle with food addiction.

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

2/11/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: February 11, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

News

2/10/14 7:30pm

Scientists Reveal How The Drug Trade Is Destroying The Rainforest

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In a frightening report published in the journal Science, top researchers revealed how the cocaine trade has become a serious hazard to the ecology of the world's rainforest through deforestation.

The combination of building landing strips in vulnerable areas with the scooping up of rainforest land for ranching operations and palm oil plantations has resulted in entrenched threats to the rain forest. In Central America, where both palm oil plantations and ranching are destroying ecologically important lands, narco-traffickers bribe local officials to look the other way, making law enforcement ineffective. The result is a stripping-down of the rainforest to make way for bare grazing lands and cheap palm oil facilities.

Kendra McSweeney, lead author of the new paper, described the severity of the situation. "There are profound ecological impacts in trafficking corridors," she said. "We wondered who had the money and impunity to do that, and when we looked into it we found that the answer was narco-traffickers…The flow of drugs through the region resulted in ecological devastation."

In their paper, McSweeney and her fellow scientists noted that forest loss at the hands of the drug traffickers provoked UNESCO to list Honduras's Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve as a "World Heritage in Danger" in 2011. The violent presence of the drug trade, however, has inhibited any real conservation work; both the United Nations and international development agencies have pulled workers from the region because of the growing danger caused by the narco-traffickers' presence.

Frustrated by political impotence, McSweeney said, "Conservation groups have spent tremendous amounts of money on protecting Central American biodiversity, and it's being undone…Natural scientists have for a long time felt that drug policy has nothing to do with them, but we need them to join the conversation.”

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By John Lavitt

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