George Will: Snakes on a plane for emotional support

WASHINGTON — When next you shoehorn yourself into one of America’s ever-shrinking airline seats, you might encounter a new wrinkle in the romance of air travel. You might be amused, or not, to discover a midsize — say, 7-feet long — boa constrictor named Oscar coiled contentedly, or so you hope, in the seat next to you. Oscar is an “emotional-support animal.” He belongs to the person in the seat on the other side of him, and he is a manifestation of a new item, or the metastasizing of an old item, on America’s menu of rights. Fortunately, the federal government is on the case, so you can relax and… Read More

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Doctor said walk, so East Bay man did; now 91, he’s about to hit 50,000 miles

It was 40 years this month that Robert Valentine, at the behest of his wife, went to the doctor for a check-up. “He says, ‘Bob what are you doing for exercise?’ ” Valentine recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I’m carrying my own briefcase.’ ” The doctor wasn’t amused. He advised Valentine to walk an hour each day. It must have been a whale of a sales pitch. On his 52nd birthday — Feb. 26, 1978 — Valentine began putting one foot in front of the other, dutifully recording every mile in a yearly planner. As those planners piled up in his Moraga home, so did his mileage. He staged his 25,000th… Read More

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Report: Williams’ death was followed by ‘copycat’ deaths

By Amy Ellis Nutt | Washington Post “Hanged.” The front page of the New York Daily News said it all in one word on Aug. 13, 2014. Above the capital letters, which filled nearly a third of the page, was a photo of comedian Robin Williams with a somber expression, dead at age 63. The headline, unfortunately, contravened the most basic recommendations of the World Health Organization and suicide prevention experts for how the media should cover suicide, including “toning down” accounts, to avoid inspiring similar deaths. Start your day with the news you need from the Bay Area and beyond. Sign up for our new Morning Report weekday newsletter.… Read More

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California to drug users: We’ll pay for you to test your illicit dope

By Pauline Bartolone, California Healthline Michael Marquesen first noticed about a year ago that fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid, had hit the streets of Los Angeles. People suddenly started overdosing after they shot up a new white powder that dealers promised would give them a powerful high. “In Hollywood, they’re like ‘Everybody’s dropping … everybody’s overdosing!’” said Marquesen, director of the Los Angeles Community Health Project, which provides support services for people dealing with drug addiction. The white powder was easily distinguishable from the black, tar-like heroin that is common in California, and users initially believed it was high-end heroin. But it was fentanyl — 30 to 50 times more… Read More

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