Kristen Gwynne

Guess What Potentially Devastating Drug Americans Are More Concerned About Than Heroin

Heroin may be the drug attracting front-page New York Times storiesprimetime television investigations, and attention from US presidential candidates, but alcohol is the drug that worries Americans most, a recent AP-NORC survey found.

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Five Super Tuesday States With Serious Drug Problems

This week is Super Tuesday, the biggest event of the 2016 presidential primary elections, with 13 states and one territory voting on which candidates to send to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Large-scale losers will stand little chance of progressing, given the breadth of demographics and cultures that these states represent. This year, the burning issues of opioid overdose and marijuana legalization have forced presidential candidates to repeatedly comment, however foolishly, on drug policy—something they typically prefer to avoid.

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There Goes That Stereotype: Native Americans Drink Less Than Whites, Says New Study

The stereotype of the Native American alcoholic dates all the way back to colonialism, but a new study may help to debunk that myth. Most Native Americans actually abstain from alcohol, and those who do drink are on average lighter drinkers than whites, finds the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Drug Dependence.

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4 Things You Need to Know About Molly

Thanks to a string of name-checks by pop stars like Miley Cyrus, Madonna and Kanye West, as well as several tragic deaths at music festivals, ”molly”—aka MDMA—has rarely been far from the headlines in recent years.

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You Wouldn't Believe the Reason This Man Is About to be Executed

Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip may be running out of time before Wednesday, when he is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection, but the attorneys fighting tooth-and-nail to convince Governor Mary Fallin to grant him a 60-day stay of execution announced this week that they have uncovered new information adding doubt to his already widely contested conviction.

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The Love of My Life Died from Suicide and I'm Trying to Share His Music

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I could map out my teenage years and entire adult life by the moments spent with Keith. I first met him in middle school, when he was a shy, curly-haired skateboarder in a Nirvana T-shirt. When we were in eighth grade I learned he had a crush on me. We first kissed when we were in high school. We officially became boyfriend and girlfriend in my college dorm room. He was the artist, a musician, but he was always my muse.
We’d been off and on in the seven years since my sophomore year of college, partly because I could never find anybody whose love for me felt nearly as deep. We had been living together for six months, when in March of this year we had a terrible, late-evening argument. That night, Keith died “from suicide.”
The night suicide took Keith, we had gotten into an awful fight I’ll regret for the rest of my life, because he was the love of my life. I was still angry when I asked him to turn off the light in the hallway, and when he walked out of the room and did not come back right away, I assumed he stepped outside for a cigarette or a walk, maybe even into the living room to write in his journal. But after peeking through my bedroom window to the stoop out front 15 minutes after he had walked away, I realized his shoes were still in the house. He hadn’t gone for a walk, so I went looking for him inside.
That’s when I found him, in the early hours of March 7th, hanging by the neck from the landing above the stairs in our apartment. He stayed alive, his eyes bloodshot and half-open, for about 12 hours after I had cut him down. I knew, though, as soon as the paramedics told me his pupils were not reacting to light, that he wouldn’t survive. I had learned the brain’s failure to modulate pupils is a death sentence from reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which I read after another tragedy in 2013.
Had I gone looking for Keith sooner I could have rescued him. I know this because the paramedics, nurses and doctors all asked how long he’d gone without oxygen. I wonder if, during his last moments alive, Keith changed his mind. Did he take his final breath hoping that I would come and find him? Keith struggled with addiction and depression for years and I did everything I could to save him. And yet, I feel like I failed him at the moment he needed me most.

Read the rest of "Sharing My Boyfriend’s Songs After His Suicide" at Modern LossReprinted with the permission of Modern Loss and the author. Find out how to help someone affected by suicide.  

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You Can Have Your Kids Taken Away for Smoking Legal Pot

The following story first appeared on RH Reality Check. 

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Police Assault Teen So Violently During Search That His Testicles Burst

On January 7 in Philadelphia, 16-year-old Darrin Manning was on his way to play in a basketball game when police approached him and his teammates. Startled, the teens scattered. A police van picked them up soon enough. 

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The Real Story From the Real Piper of Orange is the New Black

Weeds creator Jenji Kohan’s new Netflix series Orange Is the New Black became an instant hit this summer, due at least in part to the show’s unique premise: A dramatic comedy set inside a female minimum security prison. Orange brings incarcerated women into America’s living rooms, where viewers embrace the characters as people with strengths and flaws—a stunning difference from the portrayal of prisoners in shows like Lock Up.

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An End to NYPD's Racist Stop-and-Frisk? What You Need to Know About the Landmark Ruling

On Monday, a decade-long battle to curb the New York Police Department’s racial profiling of young, black and Latino men reached a historic turning point. Federal judge Shira Scheindlin ruled that New York City has routinely and systematically violated the Constitution by unlawfully stopping, and often frisking, young men of color.

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Oprah Denied Service While Shopping for "Very Expensive" Handbag in Zurich

Even Black women as powerful and recognizable as Oprah Winfrey are subject to racism, though it may be a different sort of discrimination than what less high-profile people of color experience. The female entrepeneur recently received some "racist 'Pretty Woman' treatment" while shopping for purses at a boutique in Zurich. While Oprah was browsing a $38,000 crocodile Tom Ford handbag, a salesperson told the powerhouse how "very expensive" it was and refused to let her see it. Of course, the bag is grossly expensive, but if a boutique is selling it, employees must expect someone has the means to buy it. But not Oprah, apparently.

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In Switzerland, Marijuana Use Helps Keep Prisons Calm and Safe

A recent study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy estimates that 50 to 80 percent of inmates in Swiss prisons use marijuana. Prison staff told researchers they found marijuana to be a relatively safe drug and that cracking down on consumption would have more negative effects than positive ones.

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Kirsten Gillibrand Speaks out Against Rape in the MIlitary on the Daily Show

New York State Senator Kirsten Gillibrand appeared on the Daily Show last night to explain to John Oliver why she is sponsoring legislation to remove rape and sexual assault investiagtions in the military from the chain of command. An estimated 26,000 members of the US military were victims of sexual assault last year, and less than three percent were ever prosecuted. As Gillibrand notes in the segment, more than half of victims are men.

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Hero Firefighter's Widow Denied Health Benefits Because He Was Considered Part-Time

Juliann Ashcraft’s twenty-nine-year-old husband Andrew was one of 19 firefighters killed more than a month ago while attempting to control a massive blaze -- the deadliest wildfire in 80 years -- in Yarnell, AZ. 

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Colorado Rapper Filming Video About SWAT Raids When Flashbang Grenade Goes Off

"Bring the motherfucking SWAT team," Fort Collins, CO teen rapper Josh Jackson said into his computer, filming a video for his song "police are trying to murder me as I write this."  

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Two-Year-Old Taken from Parents Because They Smoked Pot is Murdered in Foster Care

Two-year-old Alexandria Hill was placed in foster care after her parents were caught smoking marijuana in their home while she slept. Authorities charged them with "neglectful supervision," and just months away from getting their baby back, the loving parents learned they would never see their young child again. Placed in a foster home to protect her from them, Alexandria was brutally killed. 

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Daily Show's Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee Eviscerate White Privilege

Last night on the Daily Show, Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee led a segment about "The R Word" -- you guessed it, race -- tackling how "terrifying" it is for many to talk about white privilege racism in Ameria. So, Williams and Bee got together two panels -- one black, and one white -- to hash it all out. Hilariously, they revealed the stunning differences between white and Black Americans when it comes to perceptions of racism, as well as how each group's experiences (and privilege or lack-thereof) affect their understanding of racism's severity.

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4 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Crack, America's Most Vilified Drug

It's no secret that crack cocaine carries a stigma. While casual pot-smoking and cocaine use are tolerated in college dorms and clubs, crack cocaine is often considered to be on a different level -- a "hard" drug, like heroin. Few well-off people would casually do, or suggest trying crack cocaine, and if they did, they'd likely get a litany of concerned responses from friends.

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Does Climate Change Contribute to Human Violence?

Newly published research released Thursday by the University of California-Berkeley and Princeton University suggests climate change may be related to violence. Scientists who analyzed 60 previous studies from regions across the world found "similar patterns of conflict around the world that were linked to changes in climatic, such as increased drought or higher than average annual temperature."

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O'Reilly's Advice to Solve All Problems in Black Communities: Peer Pressure

Bill O’Reilly has not run out of advice for the African American community. In fact, on Thursday, he offered his white-male expertise on how to prevent unintended pregnancy among Black women. Characteristically refusing to acknowledge how racial oppresion affects Black communities, O'Reilly reverted to the claim that "White people do not force black people to have babies out of wedlock. That's a personal decision."  

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Stephen Colbert Shows how Sexual Abuser Mayor Bob Filner Is the Real Victim

Last night on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert was interrupted by sirens signaling an "Oppressed White Male Alert" for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Filner is accused of sexual harassment by eight different women to whom he did incredibly disgusting things, including nonconsentual face-slobbering and fondling.  

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WATCH: Retired Police Captain Destroys Every Drug War Myth

Retired police captain Peter Christ learned firsthand that the prohibition is far more damaging to the public good than drugs themselves. Now an advocate for legalization, Christ spoke to WGRZ's 2Sides to explain why he supports legalization. He eviscerated several drug war myths along the way, including the idea that prohibition will remove the drug supply, and that the drug war is "winnable." Rather than have gangsters run the market place, he thinks a "licensed, regulated marketplace where we can set age limits and distribution points to control the purity of drugs is a better system." 

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Weinergate Gets Even Uglier as Top Campaign Aide Calls Former Intern a "Slutbag"

Anthony Weiner's campaign for the New York City Mayor took another turn for the worst on Tuesday, when his communications director called a former Weiner intern a "slutbag," among other vulgar insults. Olivia Nuzzi, accused "slutbag" and writer at NSFWCORP,  claimed many Weiner campaign staffers were in it to make connections to a Hillary Clinton Presidential run in 2016, via Weiner's wife Huma Abedin. 

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John Oliver: 'Halliburton Can Eat a Bag of D*cks'

Last night on the Daily Show, John "Judge Johnny" Oliver issued a mock ruling on "Halliburton vs. any sense of humanity," for the company's destruction of evidence in the wake of the BP oil spill. 

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UC Davis "Pepper Spray Cop" Seeks Worker's Comp for Psychiatric Injury

Former UC Davis police officer and notorious "pepper spray cop" John Pike is seeking worker's compensation for "psychiatric injuries" he claims to have sustained while nonchalantly shooting the chemical weapon directly into the faces of seated, peaceful protesters in November 2011. Pike's claim is scheduled for a mandatory settlement hearing on August 13th, which could lead to trial or another hearing, The Enterprise reported

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Surveillance Video Catches Police Informant Planting Crack On Business Owner

The Black male owner of a head-shop selling so-called "tobacco" products in Scotia, New York seems to have been the victim of a police informant's set-up. Surveillance video from Dapp City Smoke Shop shows an unnamed white man in a leather jacket pull what appears to be crack cocaine out of his pocket and place it on the counter. The paid, confidential informant for the Schenectady County Sheriff's Office then photographs the drugs as "evidence."  

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John Oliver: Monopoly Game Removed 'Go to Jail' Option to Reflect America's Financial System

Hasbro's classic board game Monopoly has eliminated its jail space,  freeing up time for young players more interested in what the company is calling "snack toys." Interestingly, Monopoly's doing away with "jail" can also be interpreted as a statement on the state of the American economy. As John Oliver hilariously pointed out last night on the Daily Show, "The game designed to teach children how capitalism works has removed the 'go to jail option' to reflect the financial system they're going to grow up in, presumably replacing it with a 'get bailed out by congress and then go directly to the cayman islands option.'"

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Feds Raid WA Medical Pot Dispensaries: Could More Regulation Save the Coming Legal Market?

On Wednesday, federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided several marijuana dispensaries in Washington's Puget Sound region. It's tempting to interpret the crackdown as a threat to state-sanctioned legalization for adults older than 21. Nonetheless, activists and experts on the ground tell AlterNet that while it's too early to make a judgement, it appears likely that the dispensaries targeted may have been violating state, not just federal, law. Moreover, strict regulations embedded in Washington's more sweeping legalization model (and absent from its medical policy) may protect the state from federal intervention once the pot shops open up. 

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While North Carolina Invites Guns to Bars and Playgrounds, Proposed Voting Restrictions Target Minorities

The North Carlina legislature is close to making it legal to carry a gun almost anywhere, including in bars and restaurants. The GOP-backed bill passed by the House and Senate Tuesday allows concealed carry where alcohol is served (unless the establishment decides to prohibit it), as well as on playgrounds. Public schools and universities are also gun-friendly, so long as the weapon is locked in a parked car.  Even funeral processions are fair game for concealed carry under the new legislation, which now awaits Governor Pat McCroy's signature. 

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