DRUG WAR BRIEFS: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

November 9 - The San Jose Mercury News reports: Despite objections from former first lady Betty Ford and drug-treatment authorities, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of John Walters as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Rejecting concerns by Ford and others that Walters had shown contempt for drug treatment, the panel, on a 14-5 vote, sent the nomination to the full Senate for anticipated confirmation, giving the president the final member of his Cabinet 10 months after taking office.

November 9 - The Newark Star-Ledger reports: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the illegal and controversial drug Ecstasy in a study to treat victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition affecting some survivors of the World Trade Center attack.

The approval, the first for therapeutic use of a drug that has been illegal since 1985, was both hailed as a breakthrough by those who believe it can help those suffering from PTSD and mental disorders, and denounced by other scientists and doctors who feel Ecstasy could exacerbate the condition and give a false sense of security to millions who use the drug recreationally.

November 10 - Associated Press reports: Ken Kesey, whose LSD-fueled bus ride became a symbol of the psychedelic 1960s after he won fame as a novelist with "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," died Saturday morning. He was 66.

Kesey died two weeks after cancer surgery at Sacred Heart Medical Center to remove 40 percent of his liver.

"We're all going to miss him," said Eileen Babbs, a family friend. "He's gone too soon."

After studying writing at Stanford University, Kesey burst onto the literary scene in 1962 with "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," followed quickly with "Sometimes a Great Notion" in 1964, then went 28 years before publishing his third major novel.

In 1964, he rode across the country in an old school bus named Furthur driven by Neal Casady, hero of Jack Kerouac's beat generation classic, "On The Road."

The bus was filled with pals who called themselves the Merry Pranksters and sought enlightenment through the psychedelic drug LSD. The odyssey was immortalized in Tom Wolfe's 1968 account, "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."

November 10 - The Austin American-Statesman reports: Maria Flores had just gone to bed when the smoke bomb shattered a window of her Southeast Austin home.

By the time she reached the front door, Flores said, the Austin SWAT team had kicked it in -- guns drawn and aimed at her head. Officers shoved her to the ground, bound her hands and ransacked her house, searching for kilos of cocaine and the violent criminals who trafficked the narcotic.

But the SWAT team had the wrong house. Next door, the intended targets of the raid were watching and, police say, ditching their drugs.

Now, almost six months since the May 16 raid, the Police Department has publicly called the incident "a horrible mistake."

"Unfortunately we can't take it back," Assistant Police Chief Jim Fealy said. "We violated that woman's privacy and needlessly by mistake." Fealy said the mistake occurred because of "sloppy police work."

Flores' house at 1501 Tall Shadows Drive is nearly identical to the intended target of the raid, the house at 1503 Tall Shadows Drive.

"We were talking about a fairly substantial amount of dope and some certified bad folks," he said. "We got the people, but we missed the dope.

"Unfortunately, we hit the wrong one," Fealy said. "We know it's an unforgivable mistake."

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at kcnelson@premier1.net.

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