PERVOCALYPSE: Dustin Hoffman Accused of Exposing Himself to a Minor, Assaulting Two Women

Cori Thomas was in high school when she says Dustin Hoffman exposed himself to her in a hotel room.

“He came out of the bathroom with a towel at first wrapped around him, which he dropped. He was standing there naked. I think I almost collapsed, actually. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man. I was mortified.”

Speaking to Variety, the women described predatory incidents involving Hoffman that fit into a pattern of alleged behavior that has emerged in the wake of previous sexual-misconduct claims against the now 80-year-old actor.

“I didn’t know what to do. And he milked it. He milked the fact that he was naked. He stood there. He took his time.”

— Cori Thomas

Representatives for Hoffman did not make him available to provide comment for this story. In a letter to Variety’s owner Penske Media Corp., Hoffman’s attorney Mark A. Neubauer of Carlton Fields Jordan Burt called the accusations against the actor “defamatory falsehoods.”

Thomas was 16 years old and a high-school classmate of Hoffman’s daughter Karina at the United Nations International School in New York when she met the actor in 1980. An aspiring actor, she had spent a Sunday afternoon with Karina and Hoffman walking in Manhattan — visiting the Drama Bookshop, where, she said, Hoffman bought her a copy of Edward Albee’s “The Zoo Story,” and eating dinner at Jim McMullin’s on the Upper East Side, where she had veal piccata for the first time. They also visited the San Remo on Central Park West, where Hoffman, in the midst of a divorce from his first wife, Anne Byrne, was buying an apartment. Hoffman showed Thomas and Karina the apartment, which was being renovated while Hoffman stayed at a hotel near the house that he and Byrne had shared.

Photo by Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock. Actor Dustin Hoffman poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Meyerowitz Stories' during the London Film Festival

Photo by Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock. Actor Dustin Hoffman poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ during the London Film Festival

“This was at first one of the greatest days of my life,” she said. “One of my idols was spending time with me and talking with me respectfully.”

[Read the full story here, at Variety]

Thomas’ parents — her father was the U.N. ambassador from Liberia — were supposed to pick her up at the restaurant. But, according to Thomas, Hoffman suggested that the three of them wait at the hotel where he was staying and leave a note for Thomas’ parents with the maitre d’ saying they had gone to the hotel. After the three arrived at Hoffman’s hotel room, “Either Karina or Dustin suggested that [Karina] should go home” to Hoffman and Byrne’s house nearby, Thomas said, “because it was a school night and she had homework. So she left, and I was left in the hotel room with him alone.”

Shortly after Karina departed, according to Thomas, Hoffman went to the restroom. She heard the shower turn on. “I was just sitting there waiting for my parents,” Thomas said.

After several minutes, “He came out of the bathroom with a towel at first wrapped around him, which he dropped,” Thomas said. “He was standing there naked. I think I almost collapsed, actually. It was the first time I had ever seen a naked man. I was mortified. I didn’t know what to do. And he milked it. He milked the fact that he was naked. He stood there. He took his time.” Read the rest of this entry »


Dustin Hoffman: Film Is in Worst State Ever


Ruled Accidental: Hoffman Died From Toxic Overdose of Drugs, Medical Examiner Reports

hoffman-hatched-screenActor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a toxic mix of drugs including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine, the medical examiner’s office has determined.

The medical examiner also ruled Hoffman’s death an accident.

[Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer]

The 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor died Feb. 2 at his West Village home of an apparent heroin overdose.

[See also: Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’]

Hoffman was found with a syringe in his arm and dozens of packets of heroin in his apartment.

[See also: Glamour JunkiesThe Culture of Heroin Addiction by Kevin D. Williamson]

Hoffman spoke candidly over the years about past struggles with drug addiction. After 23 years sober, the versatile actor reportedly checked himself into rehab for 10 days last year after relapsing in 2012.

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NBC New York

Read the rest of this entry »


Gillespie: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Heroin Problem Does Not Constitute a Crisis

A copy of a New York Times Magazine with a photo of movie actor Philip Seymour Hoffman on the cover in a memorial in front of his apartment building in New York City, on Feb. 3, 2014. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

 Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Nick Gillespie  writes:  The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has given rise to a massive outpouring of grief and sadness by his fans and admirers. It has also given rise to an equally massive outpouring of patently false and exaggerated stories about the increase in heroin use and the need to do something — anything! — about it. This is not just misguided but dangerous: High-profile drug deaths in the past have lead to major public policy mistakes — think mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines — that can take decades to correct.

[See also Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer]

Even before the inconclusive results of Hoffman’s autopsy were made public, news outlets such as MSNBC were already running stories about “America’s Heroin Problem,” “the rapidly growing crisis of heroin,” and quoting “law enforcementofficials [who] believe the spike in heroin use is driven by addicts becoming priced out of more expensive prescription opiate-based pain killers.”

Hoffman-Heroin-scene-2007

[See also VIDEO: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s (Extended) Drug Scene from Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”]

hoffman-streetsYet as my colleague at Reason, Jacob Sullum, was quick to document, the government statistics that track heroin use show absolutely no increase in regular use of the drug. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (the latest available), 0.1 percent of Americans ages 12 and older reported using the drug in the past month. That’s exactly the same percentage that used in 2002 and there has been no significant fluctuation in the intervening decade. The Monitoring the Future Study, which tracks behavior of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, shows annual use of heroin declining across the board from a decade ago.

[Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’]

Much of the confusion stems from journalists and their sources using raw numbers without controlling for population growth or mistaking lifetime use for anything approaching a habit (both errors are on display in this “Journalist’s Resource” put out by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy).

Read the rest of this entry »


Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer

1306017445490.cachedThose who sold heroin to Philip Seymour Hoffman are morally culpable for his death. But they shouldn’t be legally culpable

ace-of-spadesAlan M. Dershowitz  writes:  Whenever a celebrity dies of a self-administered drug, particularly heroin, efforts are made to locate and prosecute those who provided the drug.  As I wrote back in the 1980’s, following the overdose death of comedian John Belushi and the prosecution of Cathy Smith, the woman who provided him the drugs, “That issue [holding the supplier criminally responsible for the death] seems to capture public attention primarily when famous people overdose.  The tragic deaths of basketball player Len Bias and the late Robert Kennedy’s son David generated demands for prosecution of the suppliers.  The daily street deaths of dozens of faceless addicts rarely even provoke an investigation.”

 [Professor Dershowitz’s latest book: Taking the Stand:  My Life in the Law at Amazon]

Now the stakes have gotten higher as some states have applied the “felony-murder” law to such deaths, while others have enacted specific statues turning the criminal act of providing drugs into a homicide if death results.

“But there is no acceptable moral distinction between two dealers who sell the same product, in the same way, to the same people—and one of their customers, for reasons unrelated to anything the dealers did, happens to die”

It is easy to understand why the public demands homicide prosecutions against drug providers whose product caused the death of a beloved celebrity like Philip Seymour Hoffman.  A person lies dead; someone must bear responsibility for his death. It is easy to scapegoat the drug provider.  But is it fair to single out the provider whose heroin happened to have killed a celebrity (or anyone else)?

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Philip Seymour Hoffman’s (Extended) Drug Scene from Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)

Long version, 6 ms 5s. This is the Philip Seymour Hoffman heroin scene from Sidney Lumet‘s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007) It featues Andy Hansen, an accountant, played by Hoffman, snorting coke at his desk at work between meetings. Next scene, making a drug buy in clandestine apartment in a Manhattan high rise…

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Then being injected, by the dealer, in a quiet bedroom. It’s an erie depiction of a sad, troubled character, retreating to an exclusive, private, white-collar drug den, high above the city, in the middle of the afternoon.

Hoffman-Heroin-scene-2007

Film story summary from Internet Movie Database:

When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.

The short version — 2 ms 24s —  is here.

Pundit Planet Media – YouTube

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[VIDEO] Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Creepy Drug Scene from Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)

The film’s title is taken from an Irish blessing:

“…May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead…”

Short version, 2 ms 24s. This is the Philip Seymour Hoffman heroin scene from Sidney Lumet‘s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007) It featues Andy Hansen, an accountant, played by Hoffman, making a drug buy in clandestine apartment in a Manhattan high rise. Then being injected, by the dealer, in a quiet bedroom. It’s an erie depiction of a troubled, defeated character, retreating to an exclusive, private, white-collar drug den, high above the city, in the middle of the afternoon…

Hoffman-Heroin-scene-2007

Film story summary from Internet Movie Database:

When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.

The longer version — 6 ms 55 s —  is here.

Pundit Planet Media – YouTube

Read the rest of this entry »


’60 Minutes’ to Air 2006 Interview with Dead Celebrity Philip Seymour Hoffman

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The re-edited story will air on “60 Minutes” Feb. 9 on CBS

For VarietyFrancesca Bacardi  reports:  In the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, “60 Minutes” will rebroadcast a 2006 interview conducted by Steve Kroft in which Hoffman discusses his problems with drug addiction. It will be re-edited to include previously un-broadcast material, including more from the actor about the rehabilitation he underwent as a young man that he credited with saving his life.

Read the rest of this entry »


New York’s Friendly Neighborhood Smack Vendors: Suspected Heroin Dealers Busted in Hoffman Death Probe

Max Rosenblum, 22, Juliana Luchkiw, 22, and Robert Aaron Vineberg (not pictured) were arrested during the investigation into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death.

Max Rosenblum, 22, Juliana Luchkiw, 22, and Robert Aaron Vineberg (not pictured) were arrested during the investigation into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death.

Seth Gottfried reports:  Cops raided a Manhattan drug den Tuesday night and arrested suspected dealers who may have been the ones who sold heroin to actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, sources said.

Authorities entered the Mott Street building and at around 7:30 p.m. and nabbed four people after getting a tip that the “Capote” star was sold heroin there a couple of months ago.

Read the rest of this entry »


Source: 4 Being Questioned about Drugs in Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Apartment

CNN-heroin

New York (CNN)Shimon Prokupecz reports:  New York police have taken in for questioning four people who are believed to be connected to the drugs found in late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s apartment, a New York law enforcement official told CNN Tuesday night…

[See also: Glamour JunkiesThe Culture of Heroin Addiction by Kevin D. Williamson]

Read the rest of this entry »


Tabloid: Did Philip Seymour Hoffman Buy Stash of Tainted Heroin?

Screen capture from CBS News

Screen capture from CBS News

Headline from Mail Online Philip Seymour Hoffman split from partner Mimi O’Donnell in troubled last months. The article includes this sidebar:

“…Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman was discovered dead on the bathroom floor of his 4th floor apartment literally surrounded by heroin and its attached paraphernalia.

[See also: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’? punditfromanotherplanet.com]

hoffman-streetsSome of the empty heroin envelopes were branded with an Ace of Spades log – other with an Ace of Hearts.

The Ace of Spades heroin has been spreading across the country – on July 7, 2011 12 people in Wichita, Kansas, were indicted on heroin trafficking charges – that centered on selling the drugs into New York City.

The majority of the trafficking was to Brooklyn and Queens – from where it would be distributed to Manhattan and into Long Island.

Ace of Spades heroin reared its head again on January 16 when authorities arrested Kendall Sistrunk, 49, with transporting heroin from New York to Stamford, Connecticut. Read the rest of this entry »


50 Bags of Heroin: More Details Emerge on Drug Death of Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

ace-of-spadesWashington Times‘ Jessica Chasmar  reports:  More details are surfacing about the apparent drug overdose of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead inside his New York City apartment on Sunday, police said.

[See also: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’]

Mr. Hoffman, a 46-year-old New York native, won an Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of American author Truman Capote in “Capote.” He starred in many other notable films, including “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Master,” and the “Hunger Games” franchise.

Investigators found more than 50 glassine-type bags containing what is believed to be heroin in his apartment, along with several bottles of prescription drugs and more than 20 used syringes in a plastic cup, sources told CNN.

Mr. Hoffman reportedly had suffered from drug addiction for years. After 23 years sober, he admitted in interviews that he relapsed and developed an addiction to heroin. He checked into a rehabilitation facility last year.

Law enforcement officials said the actor’s body was discovered in the bathroom of his Greenwich Village apartment by an assistant and a friend, who called 911. Mr. Hoffman’s family called his death “tragic and sudden.”

hofffman“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone,” his family said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers.”

Mr. Hoffman was not blessed with matinee-idol looks but his meticulous craft made him one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, able to straddle both the multiplex and the film festival audiences. He won raves for both franchise tentpoles such as the third “Mission: Impossible” film and a career-long collaboration with director Paul Thomas Anderson in such films as “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t just a great actor in great roles. He was a great actor in crap roles. He took dead material and gave it life. Probably the best example is his turn as the baddie in [Mission: Impossible III]. As written, it’s an utterly empty, generic villain character.

Read the rest of this entry »


Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’

hoffman-drudge

Photo: Graham MacIndoe

Was this the brand? Photo: Graham MacIndoe

Emphasis mine…from New York Post:

…Cops found five empty glassine envelopes in a garbage can, two more under the bed and one on a table in the apartment, where Hoffman — who has repeatedly struggled with substance abuse — was living recently, sources said.

[See also: [VIDEO] Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Heroin-inecting Scene from “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)]

Cops also found a charred spoon in the kitchen sink, sources say.

“He was shooting up in the bathroom,” a law-enforcement source said.

The envelopes were marked “Ace of Spades,” which sources said is a brand of heroin that hasn’t been seen on the streets since around 2008 in Brooklyn.

 [See Glamour Junkies: The Culture of Heroin Addiction]

There was no note, and Hoffman’s death is believed to be accidental…

I’m pretty sure Ace of Spades HQ has no connection to the brand. But I had a mental image of an envelope with that logo on it (shown below) as the last thing the actor saw before he perished, of an overdose.

ace-banner

Speaking of Ace

Ace of Spades HQ has a discussion archived here.

Does the MacInoe photo, shown here represent the Brooklyn heroin baggie type similar to the one found in Hoffman’s Greenwich Village apartment? It’s unclear, but certainly possible. The photographer was also a consumer (addict) he has an interesting photo essay here:

“The images in this series are of heroin baggies collected years ago during a period of addiction. I became intrigued by the typography and design of the glassine envelopes used to package dope, stamped with references to popular culture like Twilight, Crooklyn and New Jack City. Dealers branded and marketed their product like entrepreneurs in any business, pairing names like Dead Medicine with a skull and crossbones to appeal to risk-takers, or an airplane labeled First Class to give the illusion of grandeur…

Read the rest of this entry »


The Evolution of the Japanese Ego: Part I 

under-the-wave-off-kanagawa

Michael Hoffman writes: When Adam and Eve defied God, creator and master of the universe, and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, what did they learn? To say “I.”

They learned that they were “naked” — they were selves, egos. As such, there was no place for them in paradise. Their expulsion was “the fall of man,” narrated in the biblical Book of Genesis.

This seems a long way from Japan. It is. Japanese myth records no “fall,” no defiance of the undefiable, no primeval descent into selfhood. The Japanese ego evolved very differently from the Western one.

This is the introductory installment of a four-part series examining what the Japanese mean when they say “I.”

A peculiarity of the Japanese language gives it many first-person pronouns, varying with circumstances, rank, age and gender, but comparatively few occasions to use them. Japanese often leaves sentence subjects
unspoken. You can speak of yourself without emphasizing and reinforcing, as Western languages force you to do, your “I-ness.”

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Japanese tradition denigrates not only selfishness but selfhood. To Buddhism it was a delusion; to Confucianism, an object of “self-cultivation” whose ultimate object is self-denying, society-dedicated “benevolence.” Bushido, the “way of the warrior,” was especially hard on the self. “The way of the warrior is death,” declared the grim 18th-century military treatise known as the “Hagakure.” “This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death.” The self that instinctively protests51e9jgsshl-_sl250_ its death sentence must be rigorously suppressed: “Every day without fail one should consider oneself as dead.”

[Check out Michael Hoffman’s book, “In The Land of the Kami: A Journey Into The Hearts of Japan at Amazon.com]

The first “I” in Japanese literature is identifiable but not nameable — her name is unknown. A noblewoman and poetess, she lived in 10th-century Kyoto and left posterity a diary — the “Kagero Nikki” (“Gossamer Diary”). It’s a brilliant portrait of a soul in torment. Her “I” is her suffering; her suffering forces her into the black hole of selfhood. Hers is no plea for individualism; if anything she pleads for release from it. She would be anyone other than herself, if only she could. Other people were like other people; only she was different, condemned to the morbid isolation of selfhood by an insufficiently attentive husband and the perversity (which she admits) of her own feelings. Sharing a husband was gall to her. Polygamy among the aristocracy was the norm. Other noblewomen resigned themselves to it, more or less graciously. Why couldn’t she? Why did she alone torture herself over slights and neglect that others shrugged off? Because she was she. She wanted a husband “30 days and 30 nights a month,” and, knowing she demanded the impossible, refused to settle for less. “If only the Buddha would let me be reborn in Enlightenment,” she prays. In other words: If only the Buddha would release me from the agony of selfhood. It never happens.

gossamer

Between the long peace of her time and the long peace of the Edo Period (1603-1868) stand 500 years of war — civil war, mostly — in which bushido prevailed. Life was nothing, death everything, the self a mere sacrifice to be laid on the altar of loyalty. Read the rest of this entry »


Steal This Election

abbie-hoff

Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger writes that Abbie Hoffman wrote ‘Steal This Book.’ Democrats are doing the 2016 update.

Daniel Henninger writes: A serious person might ask: Why did John Podesta, the Democratic Party, and various of its media affiliates head into the fever swamps after Donald Trump won the election?

“Something in the post-1968 Democratic genetic code is always on the brink of tipping into anarchy. Most American voters become uncomfortable when they see an Abbie Hoffman or Michael Moore cavorting in the streets with the country’s politics. Almost always, voters make Democrats pay a price for conducting politics by extra-political means.”

We knew months ago that the Trump phenomenon could drive women mad and make grown men weep, but how to explain the adoption of a Tom Clancy conspiracy, to wit: Vladimir Putin, using hacker slaves in a Kremlin basement, stole the election for Mr. Trump? Therefore let’s sequester the 538 folks from the Electoral College in a safe house for a CIA briefing before they vote to validate the results of the 2016 election.

hoffman-finger

“For Democrats of that generation—which is the Podesta and Hillary and Bernie generation—Abbie Hoffman was their Michael Moore. Abbie summed up his view of politics with a book titled, “Steal This Book.” Many did.”

Several explanations press into view, the simplest being . . . embarrassment.

[Read more here, at WSJ]

Mr. Podesta and his associates lost the election, or at least the one that has been deciding U.S. presidential results since George Washington carried the Electoral College vote in 1789. (Gen. Washington got 69 votes, John Adams 34.)

michael-moore

“Now Michael Moore is exhorting thousands of bereaved and angry Democrats to descend on Washington next month to ‘disrupt the Inauguration.’ All I can say is: Do it!”

This year’s loss happened in large part because the Hillary campaign ignored Bill Clinton’s advice to pursue the blue-collar vote that won him the presidency. The Clinton campaign thought Barack Obama’s “coalition of the ascendant” would win a third straight time. Staring out across the U.S. political map today, they look now like the coalition of the descendant.

abbie

Why this? Why are the Democrats resorting to the goofball gambit of asking Electoral College electors to steal the election for Hillary Clinton? The answer is because that’s how this wing of the Democratic Party does politics.

Little surprise that the people responsible for this debacle are filling the skies with Putin-elected-Trump flak to divert eyes from why they lost states they should have won.

sartre7

“The progressive Democratic demonstrators that filled Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower after they lost is the same party wing that rioted in 1968 in Chicago outside their own party’s convention.”

Another, more plausible explanation would be the belief among Democrats that the Trump victory is a temporary political bubble.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

Mr. Trump won by gaining the support of les deplorables who formerly voted Democrat or who had stopped voting altogether after losing faith in the system. That is a thin, volatile presidential base.

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“If Mr. Trump consolidates his election support with material progress, Republicans could have a governing coalition for many election cycles. One of the election’s most intriguing footnotes is that Mr. Trump increased support among blacks and Hispanics over the 2012 result by 2% each. That wasn’t supposed to happen.”

If President Trump doesn’t deliver prosperity that satisfies these new voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, they’ll abandon the Trump Republicans. Then, like Silly Putty, the Democrats’ Blue Wall of electoral-vote states will reform in 2020. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Krauthammer: Democrats Defying Trump on Sanctuary Cities Is a ‘Mistaken Bet’ 

Charles Krauthammer identified the issue of sanctuary cities as a scandal even before Donald Trump took issue with them, and he said that Democrats would be foolish to defy federal authority to defend them.

sanctuary-cities-map

Jessica Vaughan reports: Sanctuary jurisdictions remain a significant public safety problem throughout the country. About 300 jurisdictions have been identified by ICE as having a policy that is non-cooperative and obstructs immigration enforcement (as of September 2015). The number of cities has remained relatively unchanged since our last update in January 2016, as some new sanctuary jurisdictions have been added and few jurisdictions have reversed their sanctuary policies.

Over the 19-month period from January 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015, more than 17,000 detainers were rejected by these jurisdictions. Of these, about 11,800 detainers, or 68 percent, were issued for individuals with a prior criminal history.

According to ICE statistics, since the Obama administration implemented the new Priority Enforcement Program in July 2015 restricting ICE use of detainers, the number of rejected detainers has declined. However, the number of detainers issued by ICE also has declined in 2016, so it is not clear if the new policies are a factor. It is apparent that most of the sanctuary policies remain in place, raising concerns that the Priority Enforcement Program has failed as a response to the sanctuary problem, and has simply resulted in fewer criminal aliens being deported.

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General recently found that some of the sanctuary jurisdictions appear to be violating federal law, and may face debarment from certain federal funding or other consequences.

The sanctuary jurisdictions are listed below. Read the rest of this entry »


Open ‘Safe Places’ in Seattle, King County for Heroin Use, Task Force Says

seattle-heroin

A task force is recommending the creation of sites in King County to provide medical supervision for people using illegal drugs like heroin, which would be the first in the U.S.

Vernal Coleman reports: The task force formed to help fight a heroin epidemic in the Seattle area has recommended the opening of public, supervised sites where addicts can use heroin.

The sites, supported by both King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, would be the first of their kind in the country.

“If it’s a strategy that saves lives … then regardless of the political discomfort I think it is something we have to move forward,” Constantine said during a Thursday news conference.

Murray said he would support establishing the sites if it can be done “in a way that reduces the negative impacts” on neighborhoods.

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The recommendations released Thursday call for a pilot program to establish two “community health-engagement locations” in targeted areas where users can inject heroin under medical supervision as an alternative to public restrooms, alleys and homeless encampments like The Jungle.

[Read the full story here, at The Seattle Times]

The committee called for putting one site in Seattle, and another outside of the city in an area where a high number of heroin overdoses have been recorded.

“One of the driving ideas behind this is creating a safe space where we can get people the medical, prevention and treatment services already provided elsewhere,” said Brad Finegood, committee co-chairman and assistant director of the King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘Bridge Of Spies’ Trailer 

A dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events, DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 Pictures’ “Bridge of Spies” tells the story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible task to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. Screenwriters Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen have woven this remarkable experience in Donovan’s life into a story inspired by true events that captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life.

Directed by three-time Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg, “Bridge of Spies” stars: two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks as James Donovan; three-time Tony Award® winner Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel, a KGB agent defended by Donovan; Scott Shepherd as CIA operative Hoffman; Academy Award nominee Amy Ryan as James’ wife, Mary; Sebastian Koch as East German lawyer Vogel; and Academy Award nominee Alan Alda as Thomas Watters, a partner at Donovan’s law firm. The film is produced by Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger with Adam Somner, Daniel Lupi, Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by Matt Charman and three-time Academy Award winners Ethan Coen & Joel Coen. “Bridge of Spies” will be released in theaters on October 16, 2015.


Increased Marijuana, Heroin Use Contribute to Highest Reported Illicit Drug Use in More Than a Decade

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CHEVY CHASE, MD – Findings from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), released today, reveal the percentage of Americans aged 12 or older who used an illicit drug in 2014 was higher than in every year between 2002 and 2013, driven primarily by increases in marijuana use, sustained rates of nonmedical pain reliever use, and increases in heroin use.

“With now one in ten Americans reporting illicit drug use, it’s clear that we have much more to do to prevent drug use and treat the disease of addiction,” said Jeffrey Goldsmith, MD, President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). “As more and more states legalize marijuana and the opioid epidemic rages on, we must prioritize evidence-based prevention for our youth and access to high-quality treatment for all who struggle with a substance use disorder.”

Screen capture from CBS News

Screen capture from CBS News

Despite the overall increase in illicit drug use, illicit use among adolescents aged 12 to 17 and young adults aged 18 to 25 appeared to stabilize, with increases mainly seen among adults older than 25. The rise in overall marijuana use may reflect the increase in use by adults aged 26 and older and, to a lesser extent, increases in use among young adults aged 18 to 25; the percentage of adolescents aged 12 to 17 who were current marijuana users was similar to the percentages in most years between 2003 and 2013. Similarly, the rise in heroin use may reflect increases in use primarily among adults older than 25.

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Alternatively, the data revealed declines in adolescent alcohol, tobacco and nonmedical prescription drug use. The percent of adolescents aged 12 to 20 who were current alcohol users and the percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 who were binge or heavy alcohol users were lower in 2014 than in any year between 2002 and 2012. From 2002 to 2014, the percentage of adolescents who were past month tobacco users declined roughly by half, and percentage of young adults who were current users of a tobacco product in 2014 was lower than the percentages in 2002 to 2013. Read the rest of this entry »


First Head Transplant Patient Valery Spiridonov Schedules Surgery for 2017

head-in-glass

A man set to become the world’s first head transplant patient has scheduled the procedure for December 2017.

“When I realized that I could participate in something really big and important, I had no doubt left in my mind and started to work in this direction.”

Valery Spiridonov, 30, was diagnosed with a genetic muscle-wasting condition called Werdnig-Hoffmann disease, and volunteered for the procedure despite the risks involved, Central European News (CEN) reported.

Russian computer scientist Valery Spiridonov, suffering from Werdnig Hoffman’s disease, has volunteered for the world’s first head-to-body transplant. VLADIMIR SMIRNOV/TASS/CORBIS

“The only thing I feel is the sense of pleasant impatience, like I have been preparing for something important all my life and it is starting to happen.”

— Spiridonov, a Russian computer scientist

“When I realized that I could participate in something really big and important, I had no doubt left in my mind and started to work in this direction,” Spiridonov, a Russian computer scientist, told CEN. Read the rest of this entry »


Psychedelics: Ready for a Medical Comeback 

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In Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and the United States, researchers with no evident countercultural tendencies are conducting research that is finding psychedelic drugs a valuable adjunct to psychotherapy in treating addiction, post-traumatic stress and the depression or anxiety that often comes with terminal illness.

Melissa Healy reports: New research on the use of psychedelic drugs as treatment for a range of mental disorders appears to be throwing open doors of perception long closed within the medical community, says a new analysis in the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal.

“Experimental therapeutic uses of psychedelic drugs have been tightly controlled, requiring extensive screening of prospective patients, close monitoring during medication use, and extended follow-up.”

For several decades, the North American medical establishment has classified psychedelic drugs — including lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) — as drugs of abuse with little to no medical purpose or means of safe use.

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“But for all of that, when psychedelics such as MDMA have been tested in conjunction with psychotherapy for PTSD, or psilocybin for alcohol dependence, ‘relatively time-limited interventions’ have been shown to have enduring benefits.”

That, four researchers argue, is changing.

[Also see – LSD, Reconsidered for Therapy]

[More – Psychedelics: Poised for a Comeback]

In Switzerland, Canada, Brazil, Peru, Mexico and the United States, researchers with no evident countercultural tendencies are conducting research that is finding psychedelic drugs a valuable adjunct to psychotherapy in treating addiction, post-traumatic stress and the depression or anxiety that often comes with terminal illness.

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“It’s been a cautious road, but one that’s data-driven. A big factor is really that enough time has passed for the sensationalism to kind of simmer down and for sober heads to say, ‘Hold on, let’s look at the evidence.'”

While most are small-scale pilot studies, larger trials are planned — and “more and more people are becoming interested and even jumping into the field to start trials themselves,” said senior author Matthew W. Johnson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Read the rest of this entry »


Washington State University’s Stalinist Thought Control: Professors Threaten Bad Grades for Saying Forbidden Words

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UPDATE: University Thwarts Prof’s Attempt to Punish Students for Referring to Men and Women as ‘Male’ and ‘Female’

Read Kat Timpf’s article at NRO.

Illegal Alien,’ ‘Male,’ ‘Female,’ Strictly Forbidden?

  • Washington State students risk a failing grade in one course if they use any common descriptors professor considers “oppressive and hateful language.”
  • In another class, students will lose one point every time they use the words “illegal alien” or “illegals” rather than the preferred terms of “‘undocumented’ migrants/immigrants/persons.”

Peter Hasson reports: Professors at Washington State University have explicitly told students their grades will suffer if they use terms such as “illegal alien,” “male,” or “female.”

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Welcome to Propaganda University

“According to her syllabus, students will lose one point every time they use the words ‘illegal alien’ or ‘illegals’ rather than the preferred terms of ‘undocumented’ migrants/immigrants/persons.’ “

Multiple professors at Washington State University have explicitly told students their grades will suffer if they use terms such as “illegal alien,” “male,” and “female,” or if they fail to “defer” to non-white students.

“Several other WSU professors require their students to ‘acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist’ or that ‘we do not live in a post-racial world.’”

According to the syllabus for Selena Lester Breikss’ “Women & Popular Culture” class, students risk a failing grade if they use any common descriptors that Breikss considers “oppressive and hateful language.”

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“Throughout the course, Fowler says, students will ‘come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions.'”

[Read the full story here, at campusreform.org]

The punishment for repeatedly using the banned words, Breikss warns, includes “but [is] not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and— in extreme cases— failure for the semester.”

“Streamas—who previously generated controversy by calling a student a ‘white shitbag’ and declared that WSU should stand for ‘White Supremacist University’—also demands that students ‘understand and consider the rage of people who are victims of systematic injustice.’”

Breikss is not the only WSU faculty member implementing such policies.

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“The socio-legal production of migrant illegality works to systematically dehumanize and exploit these brown bodies for their labor.”

Much like in Selena Breikss’s classroom, students taking Professor Rebecca Fowler’s “Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” course will see their grades suffer if they use the term “illegal alien” in their assigned writing. Read the rest of this entry »


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 Official Trailer: ‘We March Together’

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, with Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland.

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With the nation of Panem in a full scale war, Katniss confronts President Snow [Donald Sutherland] in the final showdown. Teamed with a group of her closest friends – including Gale [Liam Hemsworth], Finnick [Sam Claflin], and Peeta [Josh Hutcherson] – Katniss goes off on a mission with the unit from District 13 as they risk their lives to liberate the citizens of Panem, and stage an assassination attempt on President Snow who has become increasingly obsessed with destroying her. The mortal traps, enemies, and moral choices that await Katniss will challenge her more than any arena she faced in The Hunger Games.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong and features an acclaimed cast including Academy Award®-winner Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Academy Award®-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone with Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland reprising their original roles from The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The impressive lineup is joined by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 co-stars Academy Award®-winner Julianne Moore, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer, Wes Chatham, Elden Henson and Evan Ross.

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[VIDEO] Universal Studios Releases First Trailer for Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs Biopic

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Universal Studios has just released the first trailer for the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic. The trailer gives us our first on-screen look at star Michael Fassbender as the Apple co-founder, along with Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Kate Winslet as Mac engineer Joanna Hoffman, and Jeff Daniels as John Sculley….(read more)

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Sorkin Movie Quotes Steve Jobs: ‘If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it will have been worth it to those who survive’

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Mike Beasley reports on Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming Steve Jobs biopic:

While we haven’t gotten many details about the Aaron Sorkin-penned screenplay based on Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, we have previously learned that it will focus on three separate days in the life of the Apple co-founder, with each 30-minute act taking place just before a major product announcement. We also know that Michael Fassbender will star alongside Seth RogenMichael Stuhlbarg, Kate Winslet, Perla Haney-Jardine, and Jeff Daniels.

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Today we got our hands on a copy of the screenplay (or at least a February 2014 draft of it) which reveals what many already may have already suspected based on previous reports: the three products Jobs will unveil during the biopic are the original Macintosh, the NeXT Cube, and the iMac.

[The movie hits theaters on October 9th]

The film opens with the launch of the Macintosh and a key scene in which Andy Hertzfeld and Joanna Hoffman attempt to convince Steve Jobs to cut the iconic “Hello, I am Macintosh” moment from the computer’s demo due to a voice synthesizer problem. “The first rule of a launch is nothing can crash,” Hoffman says.

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That’s followed up by a humorous moment in which Jobs tries to convince his team to turn off the exit signs above the doors to totally darken the room during the event. He even offers to pay whatever fines the fire marshal imposes. “If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it will have been worth it to those who survive,” Jobs quips. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Mad Men’: The Uncensored, Epic, Never-Told Story Behind AMC’s Critical Darling

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In 2001, Matthew Weiner writes his first Mad Men script, which goes nowhere until 2005, when AMC decides to shop for its first original scripted series.

Matthew Weiner (creator) I finished the script and sent it to my agents. They didn’t read it for three or four months. (They’re not my agents anymore.) I was advised not to send it anywhere because that was at a time when there were big overall deals for comedy writers. People would pay for the anticipation of what your project would be, and actually having one was going to hurt you. I kept trying to get into HBO, but I never got a meeting. And I met with FX, which Kevin Reilly was running at that time. He talked to me about making it into a half‑hour. Then people started talking to me about a feature. It was my manager’s assistant who gave AMC the script. That’s who they were pawned off on.

Rob Sorcher (former executive vp programming and production, AMC) I’d relocated to the East Coast, and I’m working at this network, AMC, that has a collection of shit-ass movies. It’s like the lesser TCM, and I’m supposed to turn it into something. [What the network needed was] a show for cable operator retention. You want something that can’t be replicated elsewhere — like a Sopranos — because if you have a signature show, then you won’t be dropped [by cable operators]. So your strategy becomes: Let’s go for quality. But we have no money. So I hire Christina Wayne, who’s never done a thing in her life in terms of an executive.

Christina Wayne (former senior vp scripted programming, AMC) Years earlier, I’d wanted to option Revolutionary Road [Richard Yates‘ novel about suburbia in the 1960s]. But I was a nobody screenwriter, and [Yates’ estate] held out for bigger fish, which they got with Sam Mendes. So when I read [the Mad Men script], it resonated with me. This was a way to do Revolutionary Road, week in, week out. When we had lunch with Matt for the first time, I gave him the book. He called me after and said, “Thank God I’d never read this because I never would have written Mad Men.”

Weiner [My agents] were like, “You’re going to be coming off The Sopranos. I know you love this project, but don’t go [to AMC]. It’s really low status, no money, and even if they do it, they’ve never made a show before, and you don’t want to be their first one.”

Sorcher Every possible reason on paper why this should not work was cited: It’s super slow, it’s [about] advertising, everybody smokes, everybody’s unlikable and it’s period. We couldn’t sell it.

Jeremy Elice (former vp original programming, AMC) We sent it out looking for potential partners and got some nice responses, but generally speaking it was, “Yeah, not for us,” and “Who the f— is AMC?”

Wayne So we self-financed the whole thing ourselves. The pilot cost $3.3 million, and we did it in New York in the downtime when Sopranos was [on hiatus]. We used all of their crew.

JANUARY JONES AS … PEGGY?
Casting for the pilot begins in 2006. Weiner and AMC agree on hiring unknown actors.

Weiner There were famous people who came in to read. The guys from That ’70s Show came in — not Ashton, but the other guys. I’m still impressed by Danny Masterson. But at a certain point, it was working against them. My theory was that The Sopranos casting was great because you didn’t know who any of those people were.

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Jon Hamm (Don Draper) Some people went in once and got cast; there was a little more reticence with me. I was on the bottom of everyone’s list. The one person who was an early champion of mine was Matthew.

Weiner Back in [2006], there were no handsome leading men. It was not the style. Not that Jim Gandolfini‘s not handsome, but he’s not Jon Hamm. There are moments in time when it’s Dustin Hoffman and moments in time when it’s Robert Redford. It was a Dustin Hoffman era. People like me or Seth Rogen got the girl, and people likeBradley Cooper were standing on the side of the street being like, “Come on!”

Wayne Matt sent us two actors: Jon Hamm and Mariska Hargitay‘s husband,Peter Hermann. The quality of the that we were using sucked, and you couldn’t see how good-looking Jon Hamm was. We were like, “Really, this is who you think?” And Matt said, “Absolutely.” He’d been in the room, and he felt something with Jon. We had him come in again. We had to be sold, so we flew Jon to New York and took him for a drink at the Gansevoort hotel. He was nervous, but I knew that he had star potential. I whispered in his ear before he left, “You got the job.”

Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) I was the first person to audition for Peggy. Matt showed us all our audition tapes at a gathering, and it’s hilarious because I don’t look anything like Peggy [in the tape]. I’m 23, blond, tan. I look like I just walked off of the beach.

John Slattery (Roger Sterling) I went in to read for Don; they wanted me to play Roger. Matt Weiner claims I was in a bad mood the whole [pilot]. I had a couple of scenes, but I wasn’t as emotionally invested as some of the people because there wasn’t that much of Roger in evidence yet. Being a selfish actor, I didn’t necessarily see the full potential in the beginning.

Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway) I was up for another pilot, and I chose Mad Men. The [agency I was with] was like, “It’s on AMC, it’s a period piece, it’s never going to go. Are you crazy? You’re not going to make money for us …” I thought it was a little impatient of them. So I moved on.

January Jones (Betty Draper) I came in for Peggy twice. Matt said, “Well, there’s another role, but I don’t really know what’s going to happen with her.” He didn’t have any scenes for me, so he quickly wrote a couple.

Weiner It had been years since I wrote anything in the pilot. And all of sudden, I need a scene by tomorrow for a character who only has three lines.

Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell) I only auditioned for Pete. My agents aren’t delusional enough to think that I’m a Don Draper.

Alison Brie (Trudy Campbell) I looked up a picture of Vincent Kartheiser and was like, “Oh my God. We kind of look like brother and sister. I could totally be his 1960s wife.” Couples kind of looked alike then.

Weiner Alison Brie was a big lesson because we couldn’t afford to make her a series regular. And we gambled [Community] wouldn’t happen. We were wrong.

DonDraperCoke

HOW DICK BECAME DON
Weiner shoots the pilot on location in New York in 2006, but AMC struggles initially to line up financing.

Sorcher Matt had an extremely clear vision for the show. We had only one or two notes that were key.

Wayne We said to Matt, “OK, this is a great show about advertising, but what are people going to talk about week in, week out? What’s the bigger story for Don?” He went off, and a few months later he came back and pitched the entire Dick Whitman/Don Draper story. We were mesmerized. Read the rest of this entry »


Art Auction Records Shattered in London

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London, United Kingdom – It took a breathtaking span of 26 hours in London for more records to fall in the thriving global art market.

Works by Gerhard Richter, Lucio Fontana, and Cy Twombly were among those that set the pace at the post-war and contemporary art sales hosted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

The highest priced lot took place on Tuesday when Richter’s Abstraktes Bild surprised the packed auction room on Bond Street with aggressive phone bids coming in at 2 million British pound increments ($3.1m).

The final sale price of 30.4 million pounds ($46.8m) established a new auction record by a living European artist.

Gallery technicians hanging a picture by Gerhard Richter at Sotheby's

The anonymous bidder, reported to be an American, was represented by Sotheby’s worldwide co-head of contemporary art, Cheyenne Westphal.

“I think I can genuinely say it went to someone who truly wanted this painting, and he was set on buying it tonight,” Westphal said, noting Richter also happened to be her favourite artist.

A sister painting of the large abstract work was sold by

Eric Clapton in 2012 for a then-record of 21 million pounds ($32m).

The artwork, which measures 3 x 2.5 metres draped with jagged lines of reds and greens, was last sold on auction at Sotheby’s in 1999 for $607,500, generating a return of 32.4 percent annually.

“Richter is not hot all of a sudden, he has always been sought after,” said Arianne Levene Piper, founder of the New Art World consultancy

“There are plenty of ultra-high net worth collectors who are willing to pay for top works.

This explains why a great painting by a great artist will sell for high prices at auction.”

Works by another European artist, Francis Bacon, failed to make headlines this auction season, despite drumming up a buzz prior to the sales. Read the rest of this entry »


Research into Psychedelics, Shut Down for Decades, is Now Yielding Exciting Results

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The Trip Treatment

Michael Pollan writes: On an April Monday in 2010, Patrick Mettes, a fifty-four-year-old television news director being treated for a cancer of the bile ducts, read an article on the front page of the Times that would change his death. His diagnosis had come three years earlier, shortly after his wife, Lisa, noticed that the whites of his eyes had turned yellow. By 2010, the cancer had spread to Patrick’s lungs and he was buckling under the weight of a debilitating chemotherapy regimen and the growing fear that he might not survive. The article, headlined “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning in Again,” mentioned clinical trials at several universities, including N.Y.U., in which psilocybin—the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms—was being administered to cancer patients in an effort to relieve their anxiety and “existential distress.” One of the researchers was quoted as saying that, under the influence of the hallucinogen, “individuals transcend their primary identification with their bodies and experience ego-free states . . . and return with a new perspective and profound acceptance.” Patrick had never taken a psychedelic drug, but he immediately wanted to volunteer. Lisa was against the idea. “I didn’t want there to be an easy way out,” she recently told me. “I wanted him to fight.”

“I felt a little like an archeologist unearthing a completely buried body of knowledge. Some of the best minds in psychiatry had seriously studied these compounds in therapeutic models, with government funding.”

— Anthony Bossis

Patrick made the call anyway and, after filling out some forms and answering a long list of questions, was accepted into the trial. Since hallucinogens can sometimes bring to the surface latent psychological problems, researchers try to weed out volunteers at high risk by asking questions about drug use and whether there is a family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. After the screening, Mettes was assigned to a therapist named Anthony Bossis, a bearded, bearish psychologist in his mid-fifties, with a specialty in palliative care. Bossis is a co-principal investigator for the N.Y.U. trial.

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After four meetings with Bossis, Mettes was scheduled for two dosings—one of them an “active” placebo (in this case, a high dose of niacin, which can produce a tingling sensation), and the other a pill containing the psilocybin. Both sessions, Mettes was told, would take place in a room decorated to look more like a living room than like a medical office, with a comfortable couch, landscape paintings on the wall, and, on the shelves, books of art and mythology, along with various aboriginal and spiritual tchotchkes, including a Buddha and a glazed ceramic mushroom. During each session, which would last the better part of a day, Mettes would lie on the couch wearing an eye mask and listening through headphones to a carefully curated playlist—Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Pat Metheny, Ravi Shankar. Bossis and a second therapist would be there throughout, saying little but being available to help should he run into any trouble.

“I thought the first ten or twenty people were plants—that they must be faking it. They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet,’ or ‘I had an encounter with my cancer, this black cloud of smoke.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.”

I met Bossis last year in the N.Y.U. treatment room, along with his colleague Stephen Ross, an associate professor of psychiatry at N.Y.U.’s medical school, who directs the ongoing psilocybin trials. Ross, who is in his forties, was dressed in a suit and could pass for a banker. He is also the director of the substance-abuse division at Bellevue, and he told me that he had known little about psychedelics—drugs that produce radical changes in consciousness, including hallucinations—until a colleague happened to mention that, in the nineteen-sixties, LSD had been used successfully to treat alcoholics. Ross did some research and was astounded at what he found.

“I felt a little like an archeologist unearthing a completely buried body of knowledge,” he said. Beginning in the nineteen-fifties, psychedelics had been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including alcoholism and end-of-life anxiety. The American Psychiatric Association held meetings centered on LSD. “Some of the best minds in psychiatry had seriously studied these compounds in therapeutic models, with government funding,” Ross said.

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Between 1953 and 1973, the federal government spent four million dollars to fund a hundred and sixteen studies of LSD, involving more than seventeen hundred subjects. (These figures don’t include classified research.) Through the mid-nineteen-sixties, psilocybin and LSD were legal and remarkably easy to obtain. Sandoz, the Swiss chemical company where, in 1938, Albert Hofmann first synthesized LSD, gave away large quantities of Delysid—LSD—to any researcher who requested it, in the hope that someone would discover a marketable application. Psychedelics were tested on alcoholics, people struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressives, autistic children, schizophrenics, terminal cancer patients, and convicts, as well as on perfectly healthy artists and scientists (to study creativity) and divinity students (to study spirituality). The results reported were frequently positive. But many of the studies were, by modern standards, poorly designed and seldom well controlled, if at all. When there were controls, it was difficult to blind the researchers—that is, hide from them which volunteers had taken the actual drug. (This remains a problem.)

By the mid-nineteen-sixties, LSD had escaped from the laboratory and swept through the counterculture. In 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act and put most psychedelics on Schedule 1, prohibiting their use for any purpose. Research soon came to a halt, and what had been learned was all but erased from the field of psychiatry. “By the time I got to medical school, no one even talked about it,” Ross said.

“People don’t realize how few tools we have in psychiatry to address existential distress. Xanax isn’t the answer. So how can we not explore this, if it can recalibrate how we die?”

The clinical trials at N.Y.U.—a second one, using psilocybin to treat alcohol addiction, is now getting under way—are part of a renaissance of psychedelic research taking place at several universities in the United States, including Johns Hopkins, the Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center, and the University of New Mexico, as well as at Imperial College, in London, and the University of Zurich. As the drug war subsides, scientists are eager to reconsider the therapeutic potential of these drugs, beginning with psilocybin. (Last month The Lancet, the United Kingdom’s most prominent medical journal, published a guest editorial in support of such research.) The effects of psilocybin resemble those of LSD, but, as one researcher explained, “it carries none of the political and cultural baggage of those three letters.” LSD is also stronger and longer-lasting in its effects, and is considered more likely to produce adverse reactions. Researchers are using or planning to use psilocybin not only to treat anxiety, addiction (to smoking and alcohol), and depression but also to study the neurobiology of mystical experience, which the drug, at high doses, can reliably occasion. Forty years after the Nixon Administration effectively shut down most psychedelic research, the government is gingerly allowing a small number of scientists to resume working with these powerful and still somewhat mysterious molecules.

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Albert Hofmann

“Thirty minutes after my taking the mushrooms, the exterior world began to undergo a strange transformation. Everything assumed a Mexican character.”

— Albert Hofmann

As I chatted with Tony Bossis and Stephen Ross in the treatment room at N.Y.U., their excitement about the results was evident. According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months. The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review, but the researchers expect to publish later this year.

“I thought the first ten or twenty people were plants—that they must be faking it,” Ross told me. “They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet,’ or ‘I had an encounter with my cancer, this black cloud of smoke.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.”

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Aldous Huxley. Huxley proposed a research project involving the “administration of LSD to terminal cancer cases, in the hope that it would make dying a more spiritual, less strictly physiological process.” Huxley had his wife inject him with the drug on his deathbed; he died at sixty-nine, of laryngeal cancer, on November 22, 1963.

I was surprised to hear such unguarded enthusiasm from a scientist, and a substance-abuse specialist, about a street drug that, since 1970, has been classified by the government as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. But the support for renewed research on psychedelics is widespread among medical experts. “I’m personally biased in favor of these type of studies,” Thomas R. Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (N.I.M.H.) and a neuroscientist, told me. “If it proves useful to people who are really suffering, we should look at it. Just because it is a psychedelic doesn’t disqualify it in our eyes.” Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (nida), emphasized that “it is important to remind people that experimenting with drugs of abuse outside a research setting can produce serious harms.”

Many researchers I spoke with described their findings with excitement, some using words like “mind-blowing.” Bossis said, “People don’t realize how few tools we have in psychiatry to address existential distress. Xanax isn’t the answer. So how can we not explore this, if it can recalibrate how we die?”

Herbert D. Kleber, a psychiatrist and the director of the substance-abuse division at the Columbia University–N.Y. State Psychiatric Institute, who is one of the nation’s leading experts on drug abuse, struck a cautionary note. “The whole area of research is fascinating,” he said. “But it’s important to remember that the sample sizes are small.” He also stressed the risk of adverse effects and the importance of “having guides in the room, since you can have a good experience or a frightful one.” But he added, referring to the N.Y.U. and Johns Hopkins research, “These studies are being carried out by very well trained and dedicated therapists who know what they’re doing. The question is, is it ready for prime time?”

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The idea of giving a psychedelic drug to the dying was conceived by a novelist: Aldous Huxley. In 1953, Humphry Osmond, an English psychiatrist, introduced Huxley to mescaline, an experience he chronicled in “The Doors of Perception,” in 1954. (Osmond coined the word “psychedelic,” which means “mind-manifesting,” in a 1957 letter to Huxley.) Huxley proposed a research project involving the “administration of LSD to terminal cancer cases, in the hope that it would make dying a more spiritual, less strictly physiological process.” Huxley had his wife inject him with the drug on his deathbed; he died at sixty-nine, of laryngeal cancer, on November 22, 1963.

Psilocybin mushrooms first came to the attention of Western medicine (and popular culture) in a fifteen-page 1957 Life article by an amateur mycologist—and a vice-president of J. P. Morgan in New York—named R. Gordon Wasson. In 1955, after years spent chasing down reports of the clandestine use of magic mushrooms among indigenous Mexicans, Wasson was introduced to them by María Sabina, a curandera—a healer, or shaman—in southern Mexico. Wasson’s awed first-person account of his psychedelic journey during a nocturnal mushroom ceremony inspired several scientists, including Timothy Leary, a well-regarded psychologist doing personality research at Harvard, to take up the study of psilocybin. After trying magic mushrooms in Cuernavaca, in 1960, Leary conceived the Harvard Psilocybin Project, to study the therapeutic potential of hallucinogens. His involvement with LSD came a few years later. Read the rest of this entry »


Critic’s Notebook: Todd McCarthy Reflects on the Film Career of Mike Nichols

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Todd McCarthy writes: Mike Nichols is such a great talker, my first desire after reading The Hollywood Reporter’s current skipping-stone account of his theatrical directing career is to buy his own 20-disc recording of the autobiography he unfortunately hasn’t written yet.

My second desire is to see Death of a Salesman before it closes.

My third is to know: Who is Mike Nichols?

As Meryl Streep attests, he always is “the smartest and most brilliant person in the room.” I spent a couple of hours with him many years ago, a memorable encounter that directly led to my first job in Hollywood — as assistant to his former partner, Elaine May. At the time, Nichols was preparing to direct the film version of The Last Tycoon, a project that eventually passed to his self-proclaimed idol, Elia Kazan, while Nichols moved on to The Fortune. This sequence of events didn’t work out well for either of them; it was the end for Kazan, and Nichols didn’t direct another dramatic feature for nearly a decade.

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Nichols’ best films, in order:

ANGELS IN AMERICA (2003) Nichols’ distinct talents for stage and screen merge perfectly in this superlative adaptation of one of the great American epic plays. Jeffrey Wright and Al Pacino are out of this world in it.

CARNAL KNOWLEDGE (1971) With a terrific Jules Feiffer script (originally written as a play) and a bold visual style, this bracing study of men’s attitudes toward women is probably the director’s most probing, self-revelatory film.

THE GRADUATE (1967) Still funny and sharp-edged after all these years, it’s one of the great zeitgeist films of the ‘60s or any other era, caricatured, perhaps, but with truth and insight to support it. Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft are simply sensational.

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) Richard Burton remains the standout in Nichols’ vibrant and vital adaptation of one of the seminal American plays, with Haskell Wexler’s mobile, unflattering black-and-white cinematography still a marvel.

WORKING GIRL (1988) This key female empowerment comedy is sheer enjoyment, plain and simple, with Nichols displaying his great skill with actors by making everyone in the variously talented cast look equally good.

And therein lies the first mystery. Why did this golden boy, who had conquered improv, recording, cabaret and Broadway by his early 30s, won an Oscar for his second film and batted .750 in his first four times up to the plate — with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge all going for extra bases while Catch-22 was a deep fly out to left — suddenly flatline, lose “The Knack” (also the title of a play he successfully directed in the early 1960s) and retreat to Broadway? Read the rest of this entry »


Rod Liddle: The Top 10 Most Fatuous Phrases in the English Language

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Rod_Liddle-40x63Rod Liddle writes: Below are a bunch of the clichés, lies, evasions, obfuscations, PC euphemisms and disingenuous balls words and phrases which, in recent years, have annoyed me the most. There are countless others, but these are the ones which for one reason or other stick in my craw. And of course we begin with:

1. Battling my demons 

It was demons who held down that actress/pop singer/reality TV star and rammed four kilos of charlie up her left nostril leaving her with the IQ of an aspidistra and, alas, sans septum. It was demons who injected Philip Seymour Hoffman with skag. The same creatures regularly waylay the former footballer Paul Gascoigne and siphon several rosenbach-the-headache-george-cruikshank-detaillitres of vodka down his throat. And it was demons, a whole bunch of them, who grappled with Brooks Newmark’s penis and ensured it was transmitted digitally to the fictitious woman of his choice. This was my original Fatuous Phrase of the Week, an utterly ubiquitous cliché which serves only to absolve people from responsibility.

2. Vulnerable

It’s official — the most abused word in the English language these days. Today, as used by the whining liberal left, it means anyone who isn’t an able-bodied middle-aged white heterosexual male in full possession of his mental faculties. In other words, about 70 per cent of the population. It is frequently used as a euphemism for educationally retarded, or what we used to call ‘backward’; when you hear on the news that someone was ‘vulnerable’, you have to work out for yourself why. It’s not tyranny-clicheusually hard.

[You’re on the wrong side of history if you haven’t read Jonah Goldberg‘s book, “The Tyranny of Cliches, but you can order it from Amazon]

[The complete text of ‘s article is here, at The Spectator]

3. Diversity 

Something brilliant, to be championed. We all love diversity, don’t we? As used by the left it means ‘lots of ethnic angels-fighting-demons-paintings-wallpaper-pictures-of-angels-fighting-demons-wallpaper-hd-e1405873872626minorities’. Quite often it is deployed to mean precisely the opposite of its original meaning. As in ‘the area is very diverse’, referring to a place populated exclusively by Bangladeshis.

4. Denier

A horrible and recent confection of, again, the liberal left. You can be a ‘climate change denier’, which means you might doubt that global warming will cause quite the catastrophic circumstances — annihilation of all living creatures, earth burned to a crust, polar bears howling in agony — dreamed up by the maddest, gibbering eco-warriors. You can be a ‘sexual abuse denier’, which means you have one or two doubts about Operation Yewtree. The term was appropriated from the Holocaust, of course: the implication being that to deny that absolutely all 1970s celebrities were busy molesting kiddies is on a par with denying that Nazi Germany murdered six million Jewish people. Nice. Read the rest of this entry »


Psychedelics: Poised for a Comeback

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In an interview with The Daily Beast, author Tom Shroder explains why psychedelics are so important to veterans, and the roadblocks researchers face getting it to them.

Abby Haglage writes: LSD, an illicit drug with a serious stigma, was once the darling of the psychotherapy world.Synthesized by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann in 1938, the two decades following its birth were populated with study after study showing positive effects. With its ability to reduce defensiveness, help users relive early experiences, and make unconscious material accessible, it proved tremendously successful in therapy.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, nearing retirement, is reportedly using LSD regularly. Pictured here is one of Reid's drug-inspired pause to study his own hand during a floor speech

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, nearing retirement, is rumored to be using LSD regularly. Seen here is one of Reid’s characteristic pauses to observe chem trails from his undulating hand during a floor speech

In a plethora of studies from the 1950s, researchers found the drug, and other psychedelics in its family, to be successful in treating victims of psychosomatic illnesses ranging from depression to addiction. With fear and hesitation stripped away, psychologists could help their patients dive headfirst into a painful memory, feeling, or thought, and work through it. For some, it sped up a process of awakening that may have taken years. For others, it opened a door that mayacid test book never have been found otherwise.

[Check out Tom Shroder‘s book “Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal” at Amazon.com]

But with the widespread recreational use of LSD beginning the 1960s, came both fear from both the general public and the government. After 1970 (when LSD was put on the schedule 1 substance list) it wasn’t technically illegal to do research with psychedelics but rather virtually impossible, given the professional and regulatory hurdles.

More than 40 years later, the criminalization of Hofmann’s drug still persists. The means and approval to research the psychedelic on humans is few and far between. The freedom of sufferers who may benefit to access it is all but nonexistent.

Nowhere are the negative effects of psychedelics’ fate more pronounced than in the story of America’s veterans. Of the many illnesses for which the psychedelic-assisted therapy showed promise, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was one of the most profound.

[Also see – LSD, Reconsidered for Therapy]
[More – New Drugs May Help Heal Old Psychological Traumas]

An estimated 500,000 Iraq-Afghanistan military veterans are suffering from PTSD, an excruciating illness that is believed to fuel the estimated 20 suicides that result from that demographic per day. In FDA sanctioned studies using MDMA-assisted therapy to treat veterans with PTSD, the success rate has been astounding. Why has no one noticed? Read the rest of this entry »


Murder and the Masterpiece: Did an Artwork Solve a Decades-old NYC Crime?

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Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Collection’ & the Case of the Four Boys

Andrew Scott Cooper writes: Murderous deeds have inspired artists like Caravaggio, Jacques-Louis David and Paul Cézanne to produce some of their best-known works. But has there ever been a case of an artwork helping solve a real-life murder mystery?

In their confession statements, the four boys admitted to a litany of other offenses and unsolved crimes that had panicked their neighborhood over the summer: punching and kicking to death a second man, Reinhold Ulrickson, on a Brooklyn street corner 10 days earlier; pouring gasoline over a third man and setting him alight; horsewhipping two young women in rauschenberg_talla public park late at night; and assaulting numerous others who had the misfortune to encounter them. Prosecutors expressed shock and bewilderment.

[Check out Andrew Scott Cooper’s book  “The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East” at Amazon]

“I can’t understand what would make boys do such terrible things,” said the Kings County District Attorney. “They apparently had no reason except the thrill they got.

Robert Rauschenberg

”Sixty years ago this month, on August 16, 1954, four Jewish teenagers dubbed the Kill-for-Thrills gang were accused of slaying black factory worker Willard Menter under the Williamsburg Bridge. According to police accounts, Brooklyn youths Jack Koslow, 18, Melvin Mittman, 17, Jerome Lieberman, 17, and Robert Trachtenberg, 15, confessed to beating and kicking their victim, burning his feet with lit cigarettes, and then dragging him to the end of South Fifth Street where he was beaten again to the point of unconsciousness, thrown in the river and left to drown.

The so-called “Nights of Horror” crime spree and the story of four good boys gone bad shattered the complacency of an American summer. Overnight, Koslow, Mr. Mittman, Lieberman and Trachtenberg earned notoriety as the human face of juvenile delinquency. Articles on the boys and their exploits appeared in mainstream news publications like Time, Newsweek, Look and The New York Times, which splashed the case on its front page. So great was the media frenzy that by the end of the year Hollywood gossip queen Hedda Hopper suggested the boys were the inspiration for James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.

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The sensational murder was front-page news.

Read the rest of this entry »


Death of Peaches Geldof: Heroin

Vogue's Fashion's Night Out - London

(AFP) Heroin use played a role in the death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of Live Aid founder Bob Geldof, an inquest in Britain heard on Thursday.

[See also: Peaches Geldof: Recent heroin use played role in her death, inquest hears – metro.co.uk]

The 25-year-old model and journalist, who had two young children, was found dead at her home on April 7. Her mother Paula Yates died of a heroin overdose in 2000. Read the rest of this entry »


Wicked, Wicked Heroin

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Addiction is a matter of persistence, not fate

Theodore Dalrymple  writes:  For five centuries before the Enlightenment, animals were sometimes put on trial in Europe. Pigs were the most frequent defendants, followed by rats, but even insects were not immune. Edward Payson Evans’s classic The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, published in 1906, begins:

It is said that Bartholomew Chessenée, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century (born at Issy-l’Evêque in 1480), made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some rats, which had been put on trial before the ecclesiastical court of Autun on the charge of feloniously having eaten up and wantonly destroyed the barley crop of that province.

But the prosecution of animals was rational compared with an article published on February 11 in the New York Times. At least animals are animate; and my dog had a lively sense of guilt.

“…of course, we are not told, though evidence suggests that the average heroin addict takes heroin intermittently rather than regularly for 18 months before becoming addicted…”

The American “newspaper of record,” however, apparently believes that inanimate substances have wills and even moral purposes of their own. Perhaps one day it will hold an auto-da-fe of the worst-offending substances.

[Order Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Our Culture, What’s Left Of It” from Amazon]

The article, by Deborah Sontag, told the story of a 21-year-old woman, Alysa Ivy, who died in the small town of Hudson, Wisconsin, from using heroin. In recent years, more and more people in America, mostly young and white, have been dying in this way—most recently, the acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Why? According to the Times, the cunning and charm of heroin is to blame.

Read the rest of this entry »


George Will: Is Ukraine the Cold War’s Final Episode?

 (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

George Will writes:  One hundred years ago this coming Aug. 4, the day Britain declared war on Germanysocialists in the German Reichstag voted for credits to finance the war. Marxists — including Lenin, who that day was in what now is Poland — were scandalized. Marx had preached that the proletariat has no fatherland, only a transnational class loyalty to proletarians everywhere. “In 1918,” wrote Louis Fischer, Lenin’s best biographer, “patriotism and nationalism, born of the ‘subjectivism’ Lenin so disliked, were ideological crimes in Soviet Russia.”

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These are history-shaping virtues in Ukraine today. Because the nation-state is the necessary framework for durable political liberty, nationalism is a necessary, although insufficient, impulse sustaining liberty. Marx, whose prophesies were perversely predictive because they were almost invariably wrong, predicted the end of nationalism. Economic forces, he said, determine political, cultural and psychological realities. So capitalism, with its borders-leaping cosmopolitanism, would dilute to the point of disappearance all emotional attachments to nations. Ukraine’s ferment is an emphatic, albeit redundant, refutation of Marxism.ukraine-kiev-protests-clashes

The political elites who cobbled together the European Union hoped that the pooling of national sovereignties would extinguish the nationalism that, they think, ruined Europe’s 20th century. They considered the resulting “democracy deficit” — the transfer of national parliaments’ prerogatives to Brussels bureaucrats — a price well worth paying for tranquillity.

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Now comes turbulent Ukraine, incandescent with nationalism and eager to preserve its sovereignty by a closer relationship with the European Union.

Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, is resisting the popular desire for constitutionally limited government and for a national existence more independent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence. Yanukovych wants to trade Ukraine’s aspirations for Putin’s billions.

Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Ukraine President: Truce Reached, Will Negotiate with Opposition

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Tribune wire reports – Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said on Wednesday he had agreed a “truce” with opposition leaders, after street violence in which at least 26 people were killed, and a start to negotiations to end further bloodshed.

KIEV, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 19: Berkut riot police hang a Ukrainian flag from a street light on Independence Square on February 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between anti-government protesters and police as the Ukrainian parliament is meant to take up the question of whether to revert to the country's 2004 constitution. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

KIEV, UKRAINE – FEBRUARY 19: Berkut riot police hang a Ukrainian flag from a street light on Independence Square on February 19, 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine. After several weeks of calm, violence has again flared between anti-government protesters and police as the Ukrainian parliament is meant to take up the question of whether to revert to the country’s 2004 constitution. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

A statement on the presidential website said that during talks with the three main opposition leaders, Yanukovich had agreed firstly a truce and secondly “the start to negotiations with the aim of ending bloodshed, and stabilising the situation in the state in the interests of social peace.”

The statement, issued on the eve of a visit by the foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France, appeared to indicate that riot police who on Tuesday night advanced on to Kiev’s Independence Square would not take further immediate steps to break up the encampment of protesters.

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A Closer Look at Legalizing Heroin

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Addicts need medical support like heroin maintenance, which is illegal in the U.S. thanks to the war on drugs.

Valerie Vande Panne  writes;  A great entertainer overdosed on heroin two weeks ago. He was found dead, a needle hanging from his arm. Dozens of empty drug baggies were found strewn around his apartment.He was considered a fantastic actor. Influential. Powerful. Insightful. Potent. Everyone, by this time, knows this man’s name. It’s been plastered across the media landscape not just in the United States, but worldwide: Philip Seymour Hoffman.In the days since, there’s been all kinds of chatter about the evils of heroin or the need for better drug education. But there hasn’t been much talk about the painful, obvious, cold, hard truth: Heroin should be regulated—and not only because science says so, but because, (and again, let’s be honest) look around.

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Every Moment Was True

Over at City JournalMatthew Hennessey has a thoughtful essay

Philip Seymour Hoffman, R.I.P.

Philip Seymour Hoffmann as Robert Gelbart in A Late Quartet.

Philip Seymour Hoffmann as Robert Gelbart in A Late Quartet.

Matthew Hennessey  writes: Why is that when a talented and beloved actor dies, the tributes that pour forth always seem to make qualifying references to his or her “generation”? When news raced around the Internet yesterday that Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman had died of an apparent heroin-overdose at the age of 46, there it was again: He was one of the best actors . . . of his generation. It’s hardly fair to the artist—and nearly everyone seems to agree that Hoffman was an artist of rare ability—to imply that he was only one of the better ones to pop up in the last ten or 15 years. Hoffman was much better than that.

[See more of punditfromanotherplanet’s Philip Seymour Hoffman coverage here]

Philip Seymour Hoffman was orders of magnitude more talented than the other actors of his generation, who, like the well-known actors of most generations, tend to opt for the obvious over the obscure and a big paycheck over a big challenge. Most actors desire more than anything the respect that comes from making brave choices. But few have the horse sense to distinguish between a brave choice and a boring one. Fewer still have the commitment necessary to deliver on those choices. And almost none have the chops to pull off what Hoffman did in his too-short career. It’s no exaggeration to say that he was one of the greatest film actors of the last 50 years or more.

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The Culture of Heroin Addiction

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Over at NRO, reflecting on Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s deadly overdose, Kevin D. Williamson explores the shallow romanticism of opiate culture:

Glamour Junkies

… Every few years I read about how heroin is making a comeback or about how there’s a new surge of heroin addiction, but I am skeptical. Heroin never makes a comeback, because heroin never goes away…

“The belief that there exists some kind of deep and invisible connection between artistic creativity and addiction (or mental illness) is one of the most destructive and most stupid of our contemporary myths.”

hoff-narrow-drker...taking heroin is, at least in part, an act of cultural affiliation. Connoisseurs of the poppy will go on and on about Great Junkies in History — William S. Burroughs, Sid and Nancy, Billie Holiday — though all in all I’d say that heroin addicts are less tedious on the subject of heroin than potheads are on the subject of pot. They do seem to have a particular fascination with the jargon of heroin, as though every conversation is taking place in 1970…

[See also: 50 Bags of Heroin: More Details Emerge on Drug Death of Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman]

I always have a sneaking suspicioun that I could talk people out of deciding to become junkies if only I could get them to read a couple of good books composed with such literary skill as to illuminate the fact that Burroughs was a poseur and a hack. The belief that there exists some kind of deep and invisible connection between artistic creativity and addiction (or mental illness) is one of the most destructive and most stupid of our contemporary myths. I’d blame Thomas De Quincey, author of the 19th-century tell-all Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, if I thought anybody still read him.

Read the rest of this entry »


Directors Guild Announces TV Nominations

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 reports: Bryan Cranston has received two nominations in the Directors Guild of America’s TV nominations for “Breaking Bad” and for “Modern Family.” The winners will be announced Jan. 25.

MOVIES FOR TELEVISION AND MINI-SERIES

The nominees for the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television and Mini-Series for 2013 are (in alphabetical order):

STEPHEN FREARS
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (HBO)

Mr. Frears’s Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Managers: Scott Ferguson, Erica Kay
• First Assistant Director: Michael Steele
• Second Assistant Director: Nancy Herrmann
• Second Second Assistant Director: Ellen Parnett

This is Mr. Frears’s third DGA Award nomination. He was previously nominated in this category for Fail Safe in 2000 and for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The Queen in 2006.

DAVID MAMET
Phil Spector (HBO)

Mr. Mamet’s Directorial Team:
• Unit Production Manager: Lee R. Mayes
• First Assistant Director: Michael Hausman
• Second Assistant Director: Erica Fishman
• Second Second Assistant Director: Catherine Feeny
• Additional Second Second Assistant Director: Eddie Griffith

This is Mr. Mamet’s first DGA Award nomination.

Read the rest of this entry »