Not to be outdone by the host of celebrities responding online to the death of Amy Winehouse, rookie Republican Congressman Billy Long chipped in with a dubious Twitter contribution yesterday, comparing the spending habits of Congress with the habits of the late British singer: "No one could reach #AmyWinehouse before it was too late. Can anyone reach Washington before it's too late? Both addicted - same fate???"
Not literally, one hopes. The representative for Missouri's 7th congressional district, a former auctioneer, is well-acquainted with controversy. He has advocated a "crying towel" for those unfortunate enough to lack health insurance and previously used his Twitter handle to mock the necessity for tornado drills. He represents Joplin, Missouri, which suffered a major tornado in May. The US risks defaulting on its debts if Congress doesn't agree to raise the debt ceiling by August 2, with Republicans pushing to slash spending.
Meanwhile, Amy Winehouse's autopsy proved inconclusive, as family and fans mourned.
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The same neural networks in the brain that regulate hunger for salt also control drug addiction, claims a study published this month that could have major implications for future treatment. "Salt appetite uses pathways that also have been taken advantage of by cocaine and opiate addiction," said Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology at Duke and a lead author of the study. "That helps us understand why the lust to gratify salt appetite has such a powerful influence on human behavior." Or as Texas Biomed geneticist Laura Almasy put it, "What this paper suggests is that the mechanism for why it feels good is that cocaine and opioids are hitting the pathways that were laid down to help us regulate salt intake." There's good reason for us to have a pre-programmed salt craving. Salt is necessary to maintain healthy fluid levels and helps muscle and nerve function. It's also used as a natural preservative (think beef jerky).
Experts say our ingrained desire for salt helps explain why it's so hard to overcome certain drug addictions. "Our findings imply that abstinence-aimed therapies are up against reward systems that have evolved over hundreds of millions of years, thus conferring a powerful survival advantage," said Liedtke. As that time-scale suggests, the natural urge for salt pre-dates human existence—animals share it and most of the team's experiments were carried out on rats. Herbivores, unable to derive salt from meat, are willing to go to particular lengths: One herd of elephants observed in Kenya has learned to march a mile into a pitch-dark cave just to reach a salt lick, a single-mindedness not unfamiliar to drug addicts.
The city of Conroe, Texas, is no stranger to serial drunk-driving felons—and doesn't skimp on retribution for the worst offenders. Gliddon William Davis, a 73-year-old from the city, is one pensioner with a long rap sheet. Davis was convicted last week by a Montgomery County jury for his latest DUI episode back in 2009—his 8th in total. He was sentenced to 55 years of prison time, meaning he will, minus a miracle, die behind bars. But the dubious honor of most DUIs in Conroe goes to James Steven Corley, who has racked up a whopping 16 of them. He received his last in March, leaving him with an astonishing 100-year prison term.
In the Internet age, grief is an emotion that can be expressed as instantly and publicly as any other. In the wake of Amy Winehouse's death on Saturday, celebrities lined up to react.
On Twitter, Kelly Osborne, a friend of the addicted singer, was emotional: "i cant even breath right my now i'm crying so hard i just lost 1 of my best friends. i love you forever Amy & will never forget the real you!"
R&B star Usher could see some consolation: "I'm so sad to hear the horrible news of Amy Winehouse's death. I'm so happy I knew you Amy...Rest Well. Gone Too Soon...we'll miss you!!"
But fellow-singer Kelly Clarkson saw more reason for regret: "What a waste of a gifted person. What a shame she saw no hope and continued living her life in that manor [sic]. I have been that low emotionally and mentally and that is overwhelming."
Comedian and actor Russell Brand posted a long tribute on his website, recalling how he first got to know Winehouse in London and his first impressions of her on stage: "I heard the rolling, wondrous resonance of a female vocal... and then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius." He also reflected on "the now glaringly obvious fact that Winehouse and I shared an affliction, the disease of addiction."
Celebrity Rehab's Dr Drew Pinsky took a lesson from the event, tweeting: "SO sad, another lost to addiction. A reminder this is often a fatal condition. Recovery is possible,"—adding, a touch unnecessarily, "but sadly not for Amy Winehouse"
Meanwhile, the Winehouse family issued a statement as Amy's father, Mitch, flew back to London from New York, where he was playing jazz: "Our family has been left bereft by the loss of Amy, a wonderful daughter, sister, niece. She leaves a gaping hole in our lives. We are coming together to remember her and we would appreciate some privacy and space at this terrible time."
A new UK study portrays Internet addiction as a modern day rival to smoking or alcoholism. As part of the research project, titled "Digital Selves," over 1000 participants were challenged to go one full day without using technology. Like many addicts, large numbers of Internet users found it "inconceivable" to remain tech-free for a day, with "a significant number" cheating by using televisions or mobile phones. One participant admitted the situation felt “like having my hand chopped off.” The study found that 40% of respondents felt "lonely" when not digitally engaged, while 53% of Brits felt "upset" when deprived of an Internet connection. Unsurprisingly younger people, with their reliance on social media, found the experiment more taxing than their elders. However, like drinkers discovering sobriety, not all the participants found the deprivation a negative experience, with 23% reporting that it made them feel "free." Happily, anyone suffering from Internet addiction these days can find help through a number of online resources...