British singer Robbie Williams is no stranger to controversy, but this time it's in the form of an online poker site that he recently launched. Thousands of fans were sent email invitations encouraging them to join Robbie Williams Poker. Although no money will be at stake during the games, players will have to pay for certain tournaments in the form of a buy-in. They'll mainly compete to win merchandise, concert tickets and a chance to meet the Take That singer himself. "Robbie Williams of all people should be sensitive to the problem of addiction," says British Member of Parliament Tessa Munt. "The problem is escalation and... young people are hugely susceptible to this sort of advertising." Williams—who has sold 70 million albums worldwide and is the highest-selling British solo artist in history—has been in rehab for drug and alcohol issues on several occasions, and has been open about his struggles with addiction.
In an effort to stamp out fetal alcohol syndrome, the legislature of the South African province of Gauteng—which includes the country’s capital Pretoria and its largest city, Johannesburg—released a draft bill for public comment yesterday that would bar pregnant women from buying booze. And that’s not all: According to the legislation, “A [liquor] licensee must not sell, supply or give liquor to (a) a minor; (b) a person who is dressed in a school uniform; (c) a person who appears to be intoxicated; or (d) a pregnant woman.” This lumping of moms-to-be into the same category as kids, drunks and school-uniform fetishists has predictably raised the ire of feminists and—perhaps unpredictably—of alcohol-safety advocates too. A blogger for New York–based mom blog The Stir writes: “To imply that pregnant women can't be trusted to make decisions for themselves and their babies is contemptible.” And the director of the South African Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use adds, ““While the intentions behind the legislation are good, it presents a difficulty for the seller: How do they know if a woman is pregnant?” That’s potentially an even more nerve-wracking judgment call than whether or not to give up your subway seat to a maybe-mom-to-be.
Texas cops arrested country singer Randy Travis for public drunkenness early yesterday morning. Responding to reports of a suspicious vehicle around 1:30 am, they found the six-time Grammy-winner drunk in his truck outside a baptist church in the small town of Sanger in northern Texas. The officer who arrested Travis described him as cooperative but smelling of booze. His extremely slurred speech also made him difficult to understand. Because Travis' truck wasn't running, he avoided a drunk driving rap and was instead released with a misdemeanor charge a few hours later. Famed for country hits like “Forever and Ever, Amen” and “No Holdin' Back,” the 52-year-old star has sold over 25 million records. He also had a recurring role on TV series Touched by an Angel. “I apologize for what resulted following an evening of celebrating the Super Bowl,” he says. “I’m committed to being responsible and accountable, and apologize for my actions.”
Florida's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ramped up its fight on prescription painkiller abuse by raiding two CVS pharmacies in Sanford Saturday—the first time it's successfully gone after a major chain. Mark Trouville, special agent for the DEA's Miami bureau, says that the two pharmacies ordered three million doses of the painkiller oxycodone; the national average is 69,000 per pharmacy. These two CVS stores reportedly missed or ignored numerous red flags on filled scrips, including misspelled drug names, fake telephone numbers and irregular dosing instructions. In some instances, four or five people dropped off identical prescriptions from the same doctor at the same time, paid for by just one person. CVS says it's cooperating with DEA officials; the company informed several Florida physicians last fall that it would no longer fill the prescriptions they write for controlled narcotics, based on DEA tips. "CVS is unwavering in its compliance with and support of the measures taken by federal and state law enforcement officials to prevent drug abuse and keep controlled substances out of the wrong hands," states CVS Caremark Corporation. According to Trouville, seven people in Florida die every day as a result of prescription drug abuse.
A former teenage intern at the White House is spilling imitate details about drug use and sex with President John F. Kennedy in a new book that hits stores today. Mimi Alford—now a retired church administrator—was just 19 years-old when she first met Kennedy. Her book, Once Upon a Secret, spends 208 pages focusing on their romantic liaisons, and the author claims their sexual encounters all occurred under the influence of narcotics. The 69-year-old also describes attending a “drug-fueled” Hollywood party at Bing Crosby’s home with the president. "I was sitting next to him in the living room when a handful of yellow capsules—most likely amyl nitrate, commonly known as poppers—was offered up by one of the guests," she writes. "The President asked me if I wanted to try the drug, which stimulated the heart but also purportedly enhanced sex. I said no, but he just went ahead and popped the capsule and held it under my nose." The book ends as Alford recalls the last time she met JFK, at the Carlyle Hotel in New York just a week before he was shot in Dallas in November 1963.
- Casey Anthony: I'm Sober, Drug Free, Out Of Work [Wesh Orlando]
- Ukraine blames "alcohol abuse" for winter death toll [AFP]
- Tennessee Legislators May Be Drug Tested [The Expositor]
- Merck to File Insomnia Drug Application [Wall Street Journal]
- Ukraine Seizes $7.5 Million of Cocaine Hidden in Pineapples [Bloomberg]
- Sony Pictures Classics to Buy Sundance Hit 'Smashed' [Reuters]