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The Reporter Who Exposed the Opioid Crisis Has a New Book, but No Job

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Thirty years ago, I worked with Eric Eyre at the Escondido Times-Advocate, in Southern California, a small daily newspaper that is no more. We were both in our twenties, but were no matched pair. Eyre swore off leather and meat. I wore cowboy boots and ate at the Hamburger Tree. A vegan and a faux cowboy, we became fast friends.

Many young reporters, then and now, aspired to the New York Times. Eyre told me that his dream paper was the Post-Tribune in Gary, Indiana. He figured that he could make a bigger difference at a smaller paper. He had a thing for the underdog, which is something every reporter says and most mean, but few have meant it more than Eyre.

He didn’t land in Gary. Instead, he got a job in West Virginia, where, since 1998, he has worked for the Charleston Gazette, now the Gazette-Mail. It is the state’s biggest newspaper, but that doesn’t mean it’s big. Circulation peaked, in the nineteen-fifties, at eighty-six thousand. It’s not half that now. What is big is its reputation for fight. The paper’s unofficial motto is “Sustained Outrage,” and, in West Virginia, there is plenty to be outraged about. Underdogs are everywhere.

At the Gazette-Mail, Eyre’s career has been the stuff of quiet legend. Feature films get made about the work of reporters at the Washington Post (“All the President’s Men”), the New York Times (“The Killing Fields”), and the Boston Globe (“Spotlight”). About the work of Eyre and his paper, there is a twenty-four-minute documentary, which I suspect you have not seen.

For years, I have nursed a hope: that, someday, Eyre would write a book on what it is to do big work in a small newsroom, and what it is we’ll lose if those newsrooms are no more. Now that day has come. This week, Scribner is publishing “Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight Against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic.” The book is a story of pills sold and lives lost. Years ago, painkillers began flooding West Virginia. In six years, from 2007 to 2012, seventeen hundred and twenty-eight people died from an overdose of oxycodone or hydrocodone alone.

As reporters will, Eyre began to poke around. He wanted to know about the pills, how many there were, where they were coming from. This set up a showdown. On one side, you’ve got three pharmaceutical giants, each making billions of dollars distributing painkillers. On the Fortune 500 list, one comes in at No. 6. Another is No. 12. The third is No. 14. The companies can dispatch lobbyists and lawyers in waves. They’re backed up by the Drug Enforcement Administration, a federal agency that shows little energy for policing these powerful distributors but lots of energy for resisting the release of public records. Reporters say that D.E.A. stands for Don’t Even Ask.

On the other side stands Eyre, in his khakis, working for a family-owned paper on the brink of bankruptcy. He works in a capitol press room with broken chairs, missing ceiling tiles, and two rat traps. His laptop is a six-year-old Acer. His desktop is so old that a large file could make it crash. A law professor represents Eyre and his paper for free, which is good, because that’s about all the paper can afford.

Some reporters (I know, because I’m one of them) get to spend months on a single investigation. Twice I’ve spent years. Eyre did his investigating while writing two hundred and fifty stories a year. He worked while in constant danger of losing his job, because of cuts occasioned by a merger (the Gazette and Daily Mail becoming the Gazette-Mail) or bankruptcy (the Gazette-Mail finally went over that brink) and sale. He worked while losing his health. In 2016, Eyre was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder with no cure. As a tremor stemming from the disease worsened, he found it harder to type.

But he continued to do what reporters do. He went through banker’s boxes of faxes and counted, by hand, two thousand four hundred and twenty-eight suspicious order reports from one distributor and almost double that from another. He received a critical document in a manila envelope hand-delivered to his home mailbox, the source unknown. He dropped numbers into a spreadsheet and set to sorting and ranking, because even a six-year-old Acer could handle Excel.

He demanded the unsealing of records, wrote “the story of a lifetime,” won a Pulitzer, and, most important of all, cracked open a public-health crisis that rocked not only West Virginia but the country as a whole. He revealed the numbers that the pharmaceutical industry fought so hard to keep secret. In those six years in which seventeen hundred and twenty-eight West Virginians overdosed and died, drug wholesalers dumped seven hundred and eighty million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the state, about four hundred and thirty-three per person.

Every crisis reminds communities anew of journalism’s importance. We’re seeing that now, as the spread of the coronavirus yokes us to the news. Eyre served his community in a time of need. With his new book, he took the death of a coal miner, William (Bull) Preece, found dead in a trailer in Mud Lick amid a residue of crushed pills, and told the how and the why. His reporting led to restrictions on prescriptions, greater tracking, more transparency. He shamed an industry and saved lives. Working at a small newspaper, Eyre made a big difference.

I wish the story would end there. But Eyre’s work is part of the deeper, darker narrative of local journalism. When Eyre and I worked at the Times-Advocate, in Escondido, we competed with the Blade-Citizen in Oceanside and the San Diego Union and the San Diego Tribune. Then the Times-Advocate merged with the Blade-Citizen, and the Union merged with the Tribune, and the Union-Tribune, the bigger of the joined papers, swallowed up the smaller of the joined papers. Four daily papers became one. (Hell, even the Hamburger Tree closed.) With hundreds of newspapers going under, scholars write of the “expanding news desert.” The small paper has become the Old West. Even our long-ago stories can be hard to find. Search Eyre’s name in the Union-Tribune archives and the result is “No Documents Found.”

Today, the pandemic is only hastening the decline of community papers, from the Monterey County Weekly to the Portland Mercury to the Riverfront Times. Readership soars, and advertising collapses. The Gazette-Mail is not the paper it was even a year ago. Ken Ward, Jr., an investigative reporter who has led the way nationally on covering coal companies, recently left the newsroom. Last week, the paper laid off two reporters and a photographer. Meanwhile, Eyre’s Parkinson’s keeps getting worse. On Tuesday night, he sent me a note. He said that he had just submitted his resignation letter. In order to stay at home, as we’ve been told to do, he made arrangements to mail in his key card. The same day his book came out, Eyre left the paper.

Originally posted 2020-04-03 17:40:50.

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Mark Wahlberg Is Getting ‘in Even Better Shape’ in Quarantine! Learn His Workout Secrets

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Mark Wahlberg is known for his extreme dedication to staying fit. In 2018, the A-list action star revealed his brutal workout schedule, which includes two grueling daily sweat sessions (the first one begins at 3:40 a.m.!). So it’s not that surprising to hear the father of four has no intention of gaining the “quarantine 15” while on lockdown with his model wife of 10 years, Rhea Durham, 41, and their kids, Ella, 16, Michael, 14, Brendan, 11, and Grace, 10.

Mark, 48, says he plans to emerge from self-isolation even more ripped than he was before! The entire Wahlberg crew has been doing F45 workouts (Mark is an investor in the fitness studio chain, which specializes in 45-minute high-intensity interval training classes). “My wife and I are doing them four to five days a week at home, and I even get the kids to jump in and grind it out with us,” says the Instant Family star and co-creator of the all-natural supplement line Performance Inspired. “Our goal is to come out of the lockdown in even better shape.” Here, Mark talks to In Touch about hunkering down during the coronavirus crisis, how he stays motivated and the projects he’s super excited to launch when things get back to normal.

How is your family doing?

This coronavirus crisis is not easy for anybody. But as parents, we’re excited to spend time with our children with fewer distractions, and we’re working on learning new things together, being creative and reading more. And we’re really focused on our fitness.

How do you stay so motivated?

Some days it’s hard to get going, but fitness and working hard is a habit for me. I’m always pushing myself and the people around me to be better at everything we do and get involved in.

Tell us about Performance Inspired…

I created PI with To Dowd from GNC because I am committed to the health and wellness space, and I wanted a really clean, all-natural line of products I could trust.

Is there a specific PI product you’d recommend for women to try now?

Women are looking for help with energy, diet, recovery and getting the most from their workouts. Our Collagen Pills, CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) and Diet & Energy protein are big sellers.

Broadimage/Shutterstock

You’ve done many different workouts. What do you love about F45?

The variety. The workouts do not get boring. And hitting your muscle groups from different angles and shocking the muscles help get you into amazing shape.

Can anyone do it?

It’s for people of any fitness level. You can follow along at your own pace or fitness level, and the instructors are amazing motivators. Rhea is now also addicted. It’s really life-changing!

Any other projects?

Right now while my movie career is on hold, we’re working hard to support Wahlburgers [the burger chain owned by Mark and his brothers Paul and Donnie] and F45.

So not much downtime!

I’m also working on launching an apparel line, Municipal, and a new show called Wahl Street for HBO Max that should be out this year. So I continue to be really busy!

Originally posted 2020-05-04 11:53:38.

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‘Days of Our Lives’ Comings & Goings: Crazed Abigail out – Claire & Vivian Return

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Days of our Lives comings and goings confirm Abigail DiMera (Kate Mansi) exits Salem soon but not before causing a whole lot of trouble. Plus, two wild women return to the scene on the NBC sudser in the coming days. Check out the latest DOOL casting news now.

Days of our Lives Comings & Goings: Kate Mansi Out as Abigail DiMera (For Now)

DOOL recaps remind that someone’s poisoning Abigail DiMera. So, she’s hallucinating local villains and terrified. Soon, Abigail does some foul deeds of her own. It seems that Abigail attacks Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow) before running away on Days of our Lives.

Meanwhile, Abigail DiMera’s husband, Chad DiMera (Billy Flynn), is worried sick about his wife. Of course, he’s certain Gabi Hernandez (Camila Banus) poisoned her. However, it wasn’t Gabi that dosed Abigail DiMera, say Days of our Lives spoilers. Instead, someone else messes with Abigail.

The big question is, who would do this? Remember, Days of our Lives recaps had Stefano DiMera promise he’d be back before they pulled the microchip out of Steve Johnson’s (Stephen Nichols) brain. So, maybe it’s her dead father-in-law messing with Abigail DiMera from beyond the grave.

Days of our Lives: Abigail DiMera (Kate Mansi)

Two Bad Girls Back in the Mix – DOOL Casting News

Days of our Lives casting activity also indicates that Vivian Alamain, played by role originator Louise Sorel, is back soon. Of course, her return should help explain what we see now with Jake Lambert (Brandon Barash), Stefan’s lookalike. Watch for her soon.

In other Days of our Lives spoilers, kooky Claire Brady’s (Olivia Rose Keegan) also scheduled for a return arc. With Abigail DiMera going off the rails, maybe these two will spend time chatting at the psychiatric ward.

No doubt, these two returns mean insane action on Days of our Lives. Comings and goings always welcome the return of crazy eyes Claire to do something wicked. But, Vivian’s comeback is a bit more mysterious since her son Stefan’s supposedly dead.

Days of our Lives Comings &; Goings: Zoey Burge (Kelly Thiebaud)

Days of our Lives Comings &; Goings: Zoey Burge (Kelly Thiebaud)

A Tale of Two Zoes on Days of our Lives

Also, watch for a swap in the face of Zoe Burge on DOOL. Casting news says that Kelly Thiebaud was in and out of the role rapidly. She had to leave due to a scheduling conflict. So, watch for Alyshia Ochse to pop up soon as the daughter of Orpheus (George DelHoyo).

Other Days of our Lives ins and outs include Chloe Lane (Nadia Bjorlin) heading back to Salem soon. Plus, it’s a countdown for the exit of Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) and Will Horton (Chandler Massey). But that’s September when we see them exit the NBC soap. For now, watch to see Abigail DiMera go – but she’s not out for good.

Get your latest Days of our Lives casting updates often at Soap Dirt.

Originally posted 2020-05-04 11:52:37.

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Kim Kardashian & Kanye West Are Still ‘On Different Pages’ During Quarantine!

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There are ebbs and flows to every relationship, but lately, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West just can’t seem to get on the same page.

The coronavirus quarantine has forced the power couple to perform a juggling act between their respective careers and shared childcare duties at home, and anyone in this position knows that sometimes, one of those balls is going to drop!

Related: John Legend Reveals Current Status Of His Friendship With Kanye West

A source speaking to Us Weekly noted how the 39-year-old reality TV starlet and 42-year-old rapper try their best to accommodate one another, but the pair’s opposite schedules have them at odds:

“Sometimes they are on different pages. She gets up early and works out and he is up late.”

The early bird gets the worm! Kimmie’s proactive mentality has helped her personally excel during this period while Yeezy is reportedly still trying to find his own groove:

“Kim is working out nonstop and doing her thing. Kanye is having a harder time because he does not have a regimented routine like Kim.”

These two clearly march to the beat of their own drum! But considering how chaotic the last few months have been under safer-at-home orders in California, it might benefit the performer to have some more structure in his personal routine to make life a little easier for himself and everyone else around him.

Despite this, the insider says the couple “are doing well” overall during the health crisis. The Jesus Is King artist has tried to lighten his wife’s daily workload by “making sure Kim has some time to herself and to unwind,” the confidant explained.

Are these two doing their best to parent like a team? / (c) Kim Kardashian West/Instagram

This last bit is a hopeful departure from what we’ve been hearing about the parents-of-four lately. Things got so bad at one point between them they decided on “staying at opposite ends” of their mansion just to cool off.

Related: Kim & Kanye Threaten Their Old Bodyguard With $10 Million Lawsuit!

A different source previously told the outlet that tension had a lot to do with ‘Ye’s “super controlling” behavior and reluctance to help with North, Saint, Chicago, and Psalm:

“Kim feels like she needs some space from Kanye. She is trying to be a great mom, focus on law school and her work commitments and it’s hard to do all of this without Kanye helping as much as he can.”

SMH. Do better!

In addition to focusing on law school, it would appear Kim has also recently devoted her efforts to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The KUWTK star and business mogul has offered to pay the medical expenses for a young woman who was injured by police rubber bullets while peacefully protesting George Floyd‘s death in Louisville, Kentucky over the weekend.

It sounds like this momma is busy using her platform for good while Kanye… waits by the phone for a text from his pal Donald Trump? Who knows where his loyalty lies anymore. Anyway, we hope these two can continue to hold down the fort at home and figure out their differences sooner rather than later!

[Image via Sheri Determan/WENN]

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