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10/23/14 5:30pm

Audio of Drunken Palin Family Brawl Released



Radar Online has obtained exclusive police audio of the Palin family brawl that took place on September 6 in Wasilla, Alaska. The audio features the Palin women—the former governor of Alaska and her two daughters Bristol, 23 and Willow, 20—frantically unloading their side of the story to police in the immediate aftermath of the brawl.

According to Radar Online, on the night of the fight Todd Palin accompanied his children Willow, Bristol, and Track, 25 to a friend’s birthday party. The trouble started when the host of the party, Korey Klingenmeyer, heard Bristol start ranting that she wanted to get physically violent with another guest. When Klingenmeyer tried to intercept and told Bristol that she needed to leave if she was going to start a fight, she began repeatedly punching him in the face using both hands.

One police report stated that Klingenmeyer “grabbed Bristol’s arm and held her back, pushing her down while holding her hand as she was attempting to strike him.” At that point, Bristol’s brother Track and another male joined in, throwing punches to defend her.

The birthday boy, Matthew McKenna, admitted that the situation was the result of “one big misunderstanding and a fight among friends due to too much alcohol and people talking trash."

“I’m friends with Todd and Sarah,” he told police. “That’s why they’re here. And a bunch of people are drunk and stupid.”

The police reports also noted officers could smell alcohol on Bristol’s breath. No charges have been filed against any of the brawl's participants.

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By Victoria Kim

celebrity deaths

10/23/14 3:30pm

Actress Elizabeth Peña's Death Caused By Alcohol Abuse



Actress Elizabeth Peña, who played the mother of Ritchie Valens' first born in the hit biopic La Bamba, died of complications due to alcohol abuse, according to a report by TMZ.

Peña, 55, died on Oct. 14 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. As reported by People magazine, her death certificate said that she had "cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol, as well as cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiogenic shock and acute gastrointestinal bleeding," according to the Los Angeles County Coroner.

At the time of Peña's death, her manager, Gina Rugolo, said that the New Jersey-born actress died of natural causes following a brief illness. But the coroner's report painted a much grimmer picture of the actress, whose struggles with alcohol were not well known.

"My family is heartbroken," said her nephew Mario-Francisco Robles in a written tribute to his aunt in the Latino Review the day after her death. "There's now a void that will never be filled. All we can do now is remember your sharp sense of humor, your endless hunger for life, and your never ending pursuit of happiness."

Peña first rose to prominence in Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), before achieving stardom as the first girlfriend of Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) in La Bamba (1987). She went on to starring roles in notable films like Jacob's Ladder (1990), Lone Star (1996), and Rush Hour (1998).

She is survived by her husband, Hans Rolla, and two children.

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By Shawn Dwyer

racial profiling

10/23/14 1:00pm

Racially Biased Pot Arrests Remain Same Under De Blasio


Same as the old boss? Shutterstock

A report released this week by the Drug Policy Alliance has revealed that despite a campaign promise to curb marijuana possession arrests, not much has changed under the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In fact, slightly more marijuana arrests were made in March through August of this year than in the same six months in 2013 under de Blasio’s predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Over this six-month period, 15,324 marijuana arrests were made under de Blasio in 2014, an increase from 14,847 marijuana arrests under Bloomberg in 2013.

Included in the report is an extensive analysis of marijuana arrest and income data, using data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Overall, “low income and middle class communities of color face dramatically higher rates of marijuana possession arrests than do white communities of every class bracket.”

In 2013, de Blasio called the New York Police Department’s systematic profiling of black and Latino men for marijuana possession “unjust and wrong.”

“Low-level marijuana possession arrests have disastrous consequences for individuals and their families. These arrests limit one’s ability to qualify for student financial aid and undermine one’s ability to find stable housing and good jobs. What’s more, recent studies demonstrate clear racial bias in arrests for low-level possession,” candidate de Blasio said in 2013. The NYPD’s practice of stop-and-frisk was a prominent subject during the mayoral race and de Blasio’s opposition to it propelled him to victory.

But the report confirms that despite de Blasio’s promise to end stop-and-frisk and curb marijuana arrests, the practice persists in New York City. In the first eight months of this year, 86% of the people arrested for marijuana possession were black and Latino. The NYPD continues to arrest blacks at seven times the rate of whites, and Latinos at almost four times the rate of whites. Most marijuana arrests are of young men of color, even though, the DPA notes, young white men use marijuana at higher rates.

The controversy behind stop-and-frisk and the resulting high rate of marijuana arrests, other than the clear practice of racial profiling, is that most people arrested for marijuana possession were not smoking it, but were instead searched (often illegally) or coerced by police to reveal marijuana that was hidden in their clothing, vehicle, or personal effects.

Under the Marijuana Reform Act of 1977, possessing up to 25 grams of marijuana is a citable offense similar to a traffic violation and is punishable by a fine up to $100. It is when marijuana is burning or is in public view that it becomes a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to three months in jail.

In 2011, former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued a directive reminding NYPD officers that “the public display of marihuana must be an activity undertaken of the subject’s own volition” and that the charge is not legally appropriate “if the marihuana recovered was disclosed to public view at an officer’s discretion.” Looking at the current data, it seems that Kelly’s memo was a mere formality, as it has not translated to even a modest decrease in low-level marijuana arrests.

“This is not a problem of training or supervision or rogue squads or bad apples. It’s a systemic problem, a form of institutional racism created and administered by people at the highest levels of law enforcement and government,” read an article published in The Nation in 2013, which was cited in the report.

The mayor offered to change what he himself called a policy of “disastrous consequences,” but since he took office on January 1, nothing has changed.

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By Victoria Kim

recovering celebrities

10/23/14 10:30am

Macy Gray Says Drug Use Contributed To Career Decline



Macy Gray rose to fame in 2000 with her triple-platinum debut album and No. 1 single “I Try,” but her career has dwindled since then to an appearance on Oprah: Where Are They Now? But in the latest episode of the OWN series, Gray claims that her drug use was partially responsible for her career downfall.

The Ohio native said that seemingly instant fame and wealth became too much to handle and she behaved like “a massive asshole. I probably made a lot of people upset.” To help cope with the stress, she eventually turned to drugs, and eventually became hooked on hash and ecstasy.

"My drug use started as a result of being on tour," she told Winfrey. "My crew was from England. All they did was smoke hash all day, and they knew where to get the good ecstasy. So, you start playing with stuff, and then, suddenly, it's like a crutch."

Gray also said that her seemingly eccentric behavior, which included wearing sunglasses during interviews and not answering questions, was due to her drug use causing her to fall asleep. But the singer said her rock bottom moment came in the form of vanity and she quit using drugs cold turkey.

"I looked in the mirror one day, and I had bags [under my eyes] and my skin was doing weird stuff," she recalls. "That really scared me, so, I swear to God, I quit. I quit that day, just because of my looks."

The singer is currently plugging her new album released earlier this month, The Way. Although she isn’t playing the theaters and arenas she used to at the height of her success, Gray said she doesn’t regret going down the path she did.

"I just kind of took [my success] for granted and assumed that it would be like that for the rest of my life. I pissed a lot of people off and I think I stopped working as hard as I used to," she said. “Things had to happen the way they had to for me to be what I can be now. For me to get off drugs, for me to just stop being an idiot...I had to go through all of that stuff."

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By McCarton Ackerman


10/23/14 8:30am

After $7.6 Billion, U.S. Drug War In Afghanistan A Stunning Failure



The drug war in Afghanistan has proven to be a massive failure, as Afghan farmers produced record numbers of opium crops last year despite the U.S. spending $7.6 billion to fight them.

A new report released this week by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction shows that Afghan farmers produced a record 209,000 hectares of opium poppies last year, up from 193,000 hectares in 2007. Much of the rise in this production has to do with areas once declared “poppy-free” by the U.N. now producing mass amounts of it. Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan was once given this title by the U.N. in 2008, but their opium poppy production increased fourfold between 2012-13.

"The recent record-high level of poppy cultivation calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts,” concluded the report. "Given the severity of the opium problem and its potential to undermine U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, I strongly suggest that your departments consider the trends in opium cultivation and the effectiveness of past counternarcotics efforts when planning future initiatives."

Although the State Department called the findings “disappointing,” they were unwilling to accept responsibility for the new figures. Michael Lumpkin, assistant secretary of defense, wrote to the inspector general, blamed the failure to stamp out opium poppy production on a lack of support from the Afghan government. He said that "poverty, corruption, the terrorism nexus to the narcotics trade, and access to alternative livelihood opportunities that provide an equal or greater profit than poppy cultivation are all contributors to the Afghan drug problem."

Afghanistan is responsible for 90% of the world’s opium, while also struggling with their own drug abuse problems. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of Afghans using heroin and other opiates doubled to 1.6 million. With less than 28,000 beds in treatment centers throughout the country, desperate families have turned to extreme measures. At the 300-year-old Mia Ali Baba shrine in Jalalabad, patients are chained with other inmates in a small cell for up to 40 days at a time and without any form of real medical treatment.

In addition to living in squalid conditions without windows and no access to showers, talking is forbidden and men may only go outside, use a proper toilet, or pray if the staff deems that their health has improved.

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By McCarton Ackerman


10/23/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Oct. 23, 2014



By Shawn Dwyer


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