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Issue: "Gore strikes out," Dec. 9, 2000
  • Robert Downey Jr. is in trouble again. Police arrested the actor for alleged drug possession less than four months after they released him from prison. He had received a three-year sentence for violating his probation by missing scheduled drug tests. Investigators found him in a hotel room at the Merv Griffin Resort in Palm Springs with cocaine and methamphetamine. Mr. Downey has one of Hollywood's saddest histories, dating back to 1996 when police pulled him over for speeding and found cocaine, heroin, and a pistol in his vehicle. A month later, he was arrested for leaving a recovery center. After leaving prison the actor had a recurring role on the hit TV show Ally McBeal.
  • Euthanasia will be legal in the Netherlands starting next year. The country last week became the first to formally allow euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Under the new law passed by the Dutch parliament, patients can leave a written request for doctors to use their own discretion when they become too physically or mentally ill to decide for themselves. No other country has attempted to legalize euthanasia, though Switzerland, Colombia, and Belgium tolerate the practice.
  • Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ruled that a 16-year-old girl with diabetes who died as her family prayed for her wasn't mature enough to reject doctors on her own. Shannon Nixon's parents, who belong to a faith-healing group called Faith Tabernacle, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 1997. The girl was not treated with insulin, which could have saved her, and was not taken to a doctor. Authorities say that at least nine Pennsylvania children of Faith Tabernacle churchgoers have died of treatable illnesses since 1983.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court last week ruled that random drug checkpoints are unconstitutional. A 6-3 ruling found that Indianapolis' use of drug-sniffing dogs to check all cars pulled over at roadblocks was an unreasonable search. The ruling does not affect other kinds of police roadblocks, such as border checks and drunken-driving checkpoints. Lawyers for Indianapolis conceded that the roadblocks erected there in 1998 detained far more innocent motorists than criminals. The ACLU sued, claiming police had no right to use the roadblocks without a good reason to suspect particular motorists.

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