- Vermont Marijuana Decriminalization Signed Into Law [Huffington Post]
- Event Planner Sought to Keep Booze Charges Off IRS Officials' Bills [BuzzFeed]
- Marijuana Venture Capital Fund Launches as Ganjapreneurs Go Mainstream [Huffington Post]
- Fla. Cargo Pilot Charged with Flying Drunk [ABC News]
- Ex-President of Mexico Says He'd Farm Marijuana if it Were Legal [MSN]
- En Route to Rehab, Woman Disrupts Flight [Smoking Gun]
- Farrah Abraham Pleads Guilty in DUI Case; No Alcohol for 6 Months [Hollywood Life]
- Small Child Drinks Coffee Every Morning, Is Probably Always High [Gawker]
Norman Pudney, a South African clown of 30 years' standing, has won a defamation case against FHM (For Him Magazine) for using his picture to demonstrate that clowns resemble meth-addicted cross dressers. The court ruled in favor of Pudney—also known as Puddles the Clown—and made FHM award him $6,000 in damages for “intentionally and maliciously” using Pudney's photo for their unfavorable comparison. FHM incurred the indignant tears of the clown when they printed his photo back in 2007, in an article that said clowns look like “grown men with a long-term tik (slang for meth) habits, dressed like transvestites from hell.” Pudney, fighting in the name of a “profession that is meant to be well-received,” finally won the case after a five-year battle. “It wasn't about the money for me but it was about protecting the industry and artists in the future,” he says. “I believed in what I was fighting for. It has been an interesting and challenging experience.”
Actor Samuel L. Jackson has done his own take on Breaking Bad's “I am the one who knocks” monologue as part of an Internet fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association. The Pulp Fiction star asked for donations to the cause and promised to read any 300 words that Reddit users voted for. The winner was an original speech about Jackson abandoning Hollywood for life as a vigilante. He said he'd do a second reading if donations hit $100,000, which they did, and was next assigned the famous monologue (below) of tortured protagonist Walter White, from the popular AMC meth drama. Bryan Cranston, the actor who actually played White in Breaking Bad, has said his portrayal of addiction on the show was inspired by witnessing alcohol abuse in his family. And Jackson himself, more than two decades sober, personally knows what addiction is like. Whose depiction is better?
Samuel L Jackson:
Staff Seargeant Robert Bales, the US soldier who killed 16 civilians last year in Afghanistan, pleaded guilty to premeditated murder and other charges in a deal that will spare him the death penalty. A life sentence is almost inevitable in the case, but it remains unclear whether he will have the possibility of parole. Drug and alcohol-related offenses were among the charges against Bales, who admitted to taking illegal steroids to improve muscle tone and recovery time from missions. He says the steroids increased his "irritability and anger." A corporal testified during a hearing last fall that he drank whiskey with Bales and another soldier in the hours before the attacks. "As far as why [I did it], I've asked that question a million times since then. There is not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things that I did," he told the judge when pressed for an explanation. His lawyer, John Henry Browne, attempted to prove in trial last month that special operations troops at a small military outpost in Afghanistan "pumped" him with alcohol and steroid-like drugs in order to make parole a possibility in the sentencing. Browne argued that the Army made an egregious error in assigning Bales to a fourth combat tour despite visible evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury suffered during combat in Iraq. "[Bales was] a broken man," said Browne. "We broke him. He never should have been there." He also said last year that "steroid use is going to be an issue in this case, especially where Sgt. Bales got steroids and how he got steroids."
Animals like mice and rats have long been used in scientific experiments on how alcohol and other substances affect our brains and behaviors. But a team at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) has come up with a new method for experimenting on animals that could reduce the number of live animals needed for research: robotic fish. Researchers introduced a "biomimetic robot" designed to replicate the color pattern and tail beat motion of a fertile female zebrafish into a tank full of real-live zebrafish. Zebrafish are highly social by nature, and have patterned behaviors in interacting with members of the opposite sex, making them ideal candidates for testing how a substance—like alcohol—affects behavior. With 0% ethanol (main ingredient of alcohol) in the water, the male fish hung out pretty close to the robot lady fish, but as scientists increased the dosage to 0.25% and 1% the males consistently meandered further and further away from the imitation female. While it's not exactly a mirror on how humans behave when given booze, the experiment demonstrates that the use of the robot fish can yield consistent results. Next up, the scientists plan to put a robotic predator in the tank to see how an increasingly drunk zebra fish will react to a life-threatening enemy.
Members of Parliament in economically-troubled Spain will no longer get a cheaper deal on happy hour cocktails. In response to public outrage, discounted liquor—part paid for by public funds—will be taken off the menu at bars and restaurants at the Spanish Parliament, a commission has ruled unanimously. Beer, wine, and coffee will continue to be sold at a discount. The scandal emerged last week when it was reported that prices at the Parliament's nine restaurants were as low as half of what neighboring establishments charge. Politicians could enjoy a gin and tonic for €3.45 ($4.54) which is half of its cost at a regular bar. Spain's suffering economy has forced the government to raise taxes and cut public spending on schools and hospitals to stabilize the budget, and the recent liquor scandal has only added more fuel to Spaniards' discontent with the government. "There's no money for school lunches, but there is for gin," wrote Maite Estrada Salvador in a letter to El Pais last week. Spanish politicians are considered one of the country's "four worst problems," along with the economy, unemployment, and general corruption and fraud, according to a recent poll. Another survey shows their disapproval rating at 93%. "[This scandal] makes citizens upset, and they are right, so the leadership has decided to change it," says Alfonso Alonso, leader of the ruling People's Party in Parliament.