Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Australian Woman Kills Boyfriend Who Stopped Her From Playing Springsteen"


An Australian woman stabbed her de facto husband to death after he stopped her playing her favorite Bruce Springsteen CD.

Karen Lee Cooper told arresting police: "I couldn't even play Bruce Springsteen on my stereo -- can you believe that? Can you believe that?"

She later again told police: "I mean, who doesn't like Bruce Springsteen? I'm 49 years old and I want to play my own music."

In the Supreme Court in Brisbane Thursday, Cooper, 50, was jailed for eight years.

She pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Kevin Lee Watson on July 8, 2006.

She was originally charged with murder but the court accepted a manslaughter plea on the basis she had no intention to kill.

The court heard Cooper stabbed Watson through the aorta after they had been drinking at their Cedar Grove home, south of Brisbane.

"20 Biggest Record Company Screw-Ups of All Time"

from - by Jon Dolan, Josh Eells, Fred Goodman

From turning down the Beatles to stomping Napster— the most ill-advised, foolhardy and downright idiotic decisions ever made by The Man.

They Never Even Recouped Their Aqua Net Expenses
#20 As grunge dawns, one label bets on hair metal
In 1989, with hair metal reaching its zenith, the A&R department at MCA Records finally decided to get in on the act—by tossing a rumored $1 million at L.A. band Pretty Boy Floyd, who at the time had played only eight shows. The band's debut, Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz, peaked at No. 130 on the Billboard charts, and the Floyd blew another mil or so of MCA's money before the label finally dropped them in 1991 … right around the time the suits blew a chance to sign a fledgling Seattle outfit called Nirvana.
Unintended consequence Around 1992, the Sunset Strip pizza-delivery scene gets a fresh infusion of talent.

The Vinyl Solution
#19 The industry kills the single—and begins its own slow demise
In the early '80s, the music industry began to phase out vinyl singles in favor of cassettes and later, CDs. Then, since it costs the same to manufacture a CD single as a full album, they ditched the format almost altogether. But they forgot that singles were how fans got into the music-buying habit before they had enough money to spend on albums. The end result? Kids who expect music for free. "Greed to force consumers to buy an album [resulted] in the loss of an entire generation of record consumers," says Billboard charts expert Joel Whitburn. "People who could only afford to buy their favorite hit of the week were told it wasn't available as a single. Instead, they stopped going to record shops and turned their attention to illegally downloading songs."
Unintended consequence The Eagles still top the album charts.

Come Back, Kid
#18 BMG dumps Clive Davis, begs him to return
In 2000, when company retirement policy deemed Clive Davis too old to run Arista, the label he'd founded 25 years earlier, he was pushed out the door in favor of Antonio "L.A." Reid. After loud public complaints from artists including Whitney Houston and Carlos Santana, parent company BMG was shamed into giving Davis a nice going-away present—his own label, J Records, along with a $150 million bankroll. Ironically, while J spawned hits from Alicia Keys, Luther Vandross and Rod Stewart, Arista reportedly chalked up hundreds of millions in losses. In 2002, BMG forked over another $50 million to buy J, then two years later ousted Reid and hired a new CEO of BMG North America: an ambitious young turk named Clive Davis
Unintended consequence Rod Stewart's
The Great American Songbook, Volumes I-IV

Dim Bulb
#17 Thomas Edison disses jazz, industry standards
America's most famous inventor, and the creator of the phonograph, also had his own record label: National Phonograph Company, later Edison Records. Naturally, it was the biggest one around at first but made two fatal errors. One was that Edison Records worked only on Edison's players, while other manufacturers' conformed to the industry standard and worked interchangeably. The other was that Edison let his personal taste govern Edison releases—and he hated jazz: "I always play jazz records backwards," he sniffed. "They sound better that way." So after releasing the world's first jazz recording—Collins and Harlan's "That Funny Jas Band From Dixieland"—the company spurned the craze in favor of waltzes and foxtrots. Edison Records folded in October 1929.
Unintended consequence Edison adds "tin-eared A&R" to his list of inventions.

Double Jeopardy
#16 Warner pays for Wilco record twice
When Wilco handed over their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to Reprise in June 2001, acting label boss David Kahne—best known for producing Sugar Ray albums—reportedly thought it was "so bad it would kill Wilco's career." The band refused to make changes, so Reprise handed them their walking papers—and the masters to the album. A few months later, Wilco signed with Nonesuch, which, like Reprise, was a subsidiary of AOL Time Warner, meaning that after shelling out roughly $300,000 to make YHF in the first place, the corporation was now paying for it again. The record remains Wilco's best seller to date.
Unintended consequence Jeff Tweedy's poetry collection is published in 2004.

Money For Nothing
#15 MCA's teen-pop calamity
How sure was MCA that slinky Irish teen Carly Hennessy was going to be a gargantuan pop star? So sure that in 1999 they staked the former Denny's sausage spokesmodel with a $100,000 advance, $5,000 a month in living expenses and an apartment in Marina Del Rey, California, spending roughly $2.2 million in all on her 2001 debut, Ultimate High. How wrong were they? In its first three months in stores, Ultimate High sold a whopping 378 copies, putting the label's investment somewhere in the order of $5,820 per copy sold. Last seen, Hennessy had resurfaced—still looking for her big break—on season seven of American Idol.
Unintended consequence "Sausage spokesmodel" proves a less embarrassing resumé entry than expected.

Always Read The Fine … Oh, Never Mind
#14 Stax Records unintentionally gives away the store
Soul fans can credit Memphis's Stax Records for classic hits by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Booker T & the M.G.'s—but the real winner was Atlantic. In 1960, Atlantic partner Jerry Wexler liked one of Stax's first releases enough to pay label president Jim Stewart $1,000 to lease it, and Atlantic soon contracted to market and distribute all Stax releases. Seven years later, with Stax reeling from Redding's death, Stewart finally took a close look at the Atlantic contract and discovered he'd been bamboozled: Contrary to industry practice, Atlantic became the owner of any Stax release it handled. Stax had signed away its catalogue and future.
Unintended consequence Bob Dole flips "Soul Man" into "Dole Man" during his '96 presidential campaign.

The Last Of The Mega-Deals
#13 One label's big spending single-handedly ends "alt-rock" boom
In 1996, Warner Bros. signed R.E.M. to a five-album contract for a reported $80 million. It was the most costly record deal in history and elicited one of the lowest returns. Warner needed R.E.M. to sell at least 3 million copies of all five records to come out in the black, but sleepy folk-rock albums like 1998's Up moved a fifth of that. The execs went further into the hole by allowing R.E.M. to keep the masters of all their Warner releases, forfeiting future revenues generated by the band's popular '80s and early-'90s discs. No one knows how much the label lost—but the debacle brought to a close an era in which acts known for their "integrity" could score huge paydays.
Unintended consequence Warner executives still hoping "Daysleeper" makes it on to The Hills soundtrack.

Axl Grease

#12 Geffen pumps millions into (the nonexistent) Chinese Democracy
Ten years ago, Guns N' Roses still looked like a good investment—they'd gone platinum 32 times. So in 1998, Geffen Records could be forgiven for paying Axl Rose a million bucks to complete GNR's fifth album, promising a million more if he delivered it soon. (Rose had already spent four years working on the LP, losing every original bandmate in the process.) Beset by perfectionism, lack of focus and plain-old nuttiness, Rose never got that bonus million. But his label kept spending: In 2001, monthly expenses totaled $244,000. Four producers and a gazillion guitar overdubs later, the album is no closer to release. And Geffen's in the red for $13 million.
Unintended consequence A frustrated Rose gets into a well-publicized fistfight
with … Tommy Hilfiger!

Just Be Yourself—Or Else
#11 Geffen sues Neil Young for making "unrepresentative" music
At the dawn of the '80s, David Geffen signed Neil Young to his new record label, promising that "commercial" considerations would never get in the way of art. Young took this to heart, wandering so far off the reservation with albums like 1983's synth-driven Trans that Geffen filed a $3 million breach-of-contract suit: effectively charging the folk-rock icon with not making "Neil Young" records. Young filed a $21 million countersuit before settling out of court, but remained somewhat bemused by Geffen's judgment: "He didn't seem to comprehend how … uh, diverse my musical career had become," Young said.
Unintended consequence Young's Happy House and Tejano albums remain on the shelf.

Youth Movement
#10 Columbia Records loses Alicia Keys, drops 50 Cent
Columbia had a way with young talent in the late '90s and early '00s. First, after plunking down a reported $400,000 to sign Alicia Keys, they turned her over to high-priced producers who tried to transform her into Whitney Houston. Frustrated, she bolted—and signed with J Records, where she has sold more than 20 million albums to date. Around the same time, another languishing Columbia prospect, 50 Cent, recorded "How to Rob" in a desperate attempt to get his label to notice him. But when he was shot nine times in 2000, skittish execs dumped him—and then watched as he became an unstoppable one-man money factory at Interscope.
Unintended consequence Fedoras and bullet­proof vests become essential urban-fashion accessories.

Spy Game
#9 "Digital-rights management" backfires even more badly than usual
In a 2005 effort to combat digital piracy, Sony BMG packaged millions of CDs with copy-protection software that automatically installed a "rootkit" on users' PCs, which, in addition to preventing consumers from making more than three copies of their legally purchased CD, also made them vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Sony BMG initially downplayed the problem, but after the Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory, the label recalled more than 4 million CDs. Sony was accused of spying on its customers' listening habits and was forced to pay several million dollars to settle class-action lawsuits that alleged violations of spyware laws and deceptive trade practices.
Unintended consequence Radiohead offer up In Rainbows for a bargain pay-what-you-like price.

Rap Attack
#8 Warner junks Interscope
When anti-rap crusaders wanted to deliver a body blow to hip-hop, they took aim at the Warner Music Group, because its corporate parent, Time Warner, was American-owned and publicly traded. When Ice-T's "Cop Killer" became too hot to handle, Warner Music dropped him, but the label still enjoyed huge rap hits—particularly through Death Row Records, partially owned by their Interscope label. But when Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole attacked Warner Music in his stump speech, Time Warner panicked, ordering the sale of Interscope to rival Universal. Universal soon became the biggest record company in the world—in large measure due to Interscope hits by Tupac, Dr. Dre and Eminem. Warner Music went on a long slide and was finally sold in 2004.
Unintended consequence Time Warner shareholders never have to worry about who killed Tupac.

Something's Happening, But You Don't Know What It Is
#7 Music publisher gives away Bob Dylan
In the early 1960s Leeds/Duchess was a legendary music-publishing company but far from the hippest: It knew Tin Pan Alley but couldn't find a Greenwich Village coffeehouse with a compass. Yet when Columbia signed Bob Dylan in 1961, they steered him to Leeds, where he happily signed a publishing deal with a $1,000 advance. The following year, Dylan's new manager, Albert Grossman, got out of the deal with the disinterested publisher simply by repaying the $1,000. Dylan's new publisher, the savvier M. Witmark & Sons, received 237 songs—many of them future standards worth tens of millions of dollars—in just the first three years.
Unintended consequence The receptionists at Leeds/Duchess never have to field calls asking what "All Along the Watchtower" is really about.

Nothing Exceeds Like Excess
#6 Casablanca rides strong sales straight to the poorhouse
No record label represents the coked-up inanity of the late '70s like disco-driven behemoth Casablanca. In 1978, the label simultaneously shipped a million copies of four solo albums by each member of their biggest rock act, Kiss, so they could justifiably claim the records "shipped platinum." The albums sold well—but not that well. Record stores returned hundreds of thousands
of unsold copies, inspiring comedian Robert Klein to joke that Casablanca's releases "shipped gold and returned platinum." The label continued to lose millions a year throughout the late '70s, until part-owner PolyGram Records bought out founder Neil Bogart for $15 million in 1980.
Unintended consequence Hey, man—400,000 extra surfaces to snort drugs from!

Whoa, Mama
#5 The RIAA sues a struggling single mom for digital piracy
n In the court of public opinion, it's hard to find a more sympathetic defendant than a single mother of two, earning $36,000 a year. So what in the name of common decency was the Recording Industry Association of America thinking when it went after 30-year-old Jammie Thomas from Brainerd, Minnesota? The RIAA accused Thomas of using the P2P service Kazaa to illegally share mp3 files of 24 songs, including Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" and Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills." Thomas pleaded not guilty, blaming the shared files on mistaken identity, but last October a jury disagreed and fined her $222,000. That breaks down to a whopping $9,250 per song—more than six times her annual salary. At press time, Thomas was planning an appeal.
Unintended consequence The nation's toddlers and fluffy kittens rush to erase their hard drives.

Pay (Somebody Else) To Play
#4 Indie promoters take the major labels to the cleaners
After the payola scandals of the '50s, the government barred record labels from paying radio stations to play records. The solution: set up middlemen to do the dirty work! "Independent promoters" represented the labels' interests to radio programmers, creating a massive cash flow of corruption. Even a mid-size hit could cost $700,000 in promo expenses—cash, vacations, drugs and other illicit rewards for mustachioed DJs—and labels ended up paying to get airplay for huge artists the stations would have spun anyway. A lot of coked-up DJs got nice tans, while the labels spent unnecessary millions and covered their balance sheets in bloody red.
Unintended consequence Colombian GDP spikes each time Mariah Carey releases a single.

Detroit At a Discount
#3 Motown sells for a pittance
In 1988 Berry Gordy Jr., reportedly losing millions of dollars on the label he had founded decades earlier, sold Motown and its incomparable back catalogue to MCA and investment company Boston Ventures for $60 million. How bad was that price? The next year, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss sold their A&M Records to PolyGram for roughly $500 million. In 1990, David Geffen got about $700 million for Geffen Records and in '92, Richard Branson unloaded Virgin Records to EMI for $960 million. And five years after buying Motown, Boston Ventures cashed out, selling the label to PolyGram for $325 million—a return of more than 500 percent.
Unintended consequence The Motown Atlantic airline, and Berry's career as a trans-global balloonist, have yet to materialize.

Tomorrow Never Knows
#2 Decca Records A&R exec tells Fab Four, "No, thanks"
Dick Rowe was not the only record-label executive who passed on the Beatles in the early '60s, but he was the only one who brushed off their manager, Brian Epstein, with the astute prediction that: "Groups with guitars are on their way out." Epstein begged Rowe to reconsider, so Rowe hopped a train to Liverpool to check out the band live. When he arrived at the Cavern, he found a mob of kids trying to force their way into the club in the pouring rain. Annoyed, he smoked a cigarette, went home and signed Brian Poole and the Tremeloes instead.
Unintended consequence The Monkees

#1 Major labels squash Napster
Shawn Fanning's file-sharing service attracted tens of millions of users, but instead of trying to find a way to capitalize on it, the Recording Industry Association of America rejected Napster's billion-dollar settlement offer and sued it out of existence in 2001. Napster's users didn't just disappear. They scattered to hundreds of alternative systems—and new technology has stayed three steps ahead of the music business ever since. The labels' campaign to stop their music from being acquired for free across the Internet has been like trying to cork a hurricane—upward of a billion files are swapped every month on peer-to-peer networks. Since Napster closed, "there's been no decline in the rate of online piracy," says Eric Garland of media analysts BigChampagne, who logged users of son-of-Napster peer-to-peer networks more than doubling between 2002 and 2007. And that figure doubles again if you count BitTorrent.
Unintended consequence Your grandmother deciding to trade up from that dial-up connection

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Gilligan's Mary Ann likes Mary Jane"

DRIGGS, Idaho (AP) —- Perhaps they should have called her Mary Jane.

A surprise birthday party for Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island," ended with a nearly three-hour tour of the Teton County sheriff's office and jail when the 69-year-old was caught with marijuana in her vehicle while driving home.

Wells is now serving six months' unsupervised probation for the crime. She was sentenced Feb. 29 to five days in jail, fined $410.50 and placed on probation after pleading guilty to one count of reckless driving.

The guilty plea came as part of an agreement with prosecutors in which three misdemeanor counts — driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance — were dropped.

The case began the night of Oct. 18, when Teton County sheriff's Deputy Joseph Gutierrez arrested Wells as she was driving home from a surprise birthday party. She posted $4,000 bond and was arraigned on the charges the following day, pleading not guilty. A trial on the matter was scheduled for March 13, but was canceled because of the plea agreement.

According to the sheriff's office report, Gutierrez pulled Wells over after noticing her swerve across the fog lines and center lines of State Highway 33 and repeatedly speed up and slow down.

"I exited my patrol vehicle and immediately was able to smell a strong odor of burning marijuana," Gutierrez wrote in his report. "As I approached the vehicle I noticed all four window (sic) of the vehicle were lowered and the female driver was not wearing a jacket."

When Gutierrez asked why he could smell marijuana, Wells reportedly told him that she'd just given a ride to three hitchhikers and had dropped them off when they began smoking something. When Gutierrez searched the car, he found three half-smoked joints in the ashtray and console, according to the report. A second search after Wells' arrest netted a fourth half-smoked joint and two small cases used to store marijuana, Gutierrez said.

After Wells failed a field sobriety test, she was handcuffed and taken to the sheriff's office.

Wells' attorney, Ron Swafford, of Idaho Falls, told the Post Register that a friend of Wells' voluntarily testified that he'd left a small amount of marijuana in the vehicle after having used the vehicle that day, and that Wells was unaware of it.

Swafford said several witnesses were prepared to testify that Wells had very little to drink at the party and was not intoxicated when she left. He said she was swerving on the road because she was trying to find the heater controls in her new car.

Wells is the founder of the Idaho Film and Television Institute in Driggs and the organizer of the region's annual family movie festival called the Spud Fest.

photo courtesy of AP/Teton County Sheriff's Department

"Retro Video : Flying Lizards - Money (That's What I Want)"

Here's one of my favorite cult classics from the 80's. It's The Flying Lizards with their brilliant Beatles' cover of "Money" (That's What I Want) - The song was actually first recorded by Barrett Strong in 1959 and released on Berry Gordy's Tamla Records. Mr. Strong wrote the song as well.

The Lizards version was released here in the United States in 1979 on Virgin Records. This remake was so ahead of it's time that to this day it sounds futuristic. It's been licensed recently in films, and adverts worldwide. This track peaked @ number 5 on the UK Pop Chart, and made it to number 34 here in The States.

With deadpan, monotone vocals from Ms. Deborah Evans-Stickland and the music bed being crafted by Experimental-Pop producer David Cunningham, this track stood out like a purple throbbing thumb in 1979. Still does to this day in fact.

Since The Flying Lizards project David has been quite busy working on some real avant-garde projects, while vocalist Deborah Evans-Stickland has been a Psychotherapist for some years now, working in London's West End.

There's just something about this chune that sets it apart from any other song you've ever heard. Perhaps it all comes down to the sum of all it's parts.

I want MONEY! - Ace:)

"Billy Crystal to sign contract with the New York Yankees"

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Billy Crystal will get to "look mahvelous" in pinstripes.

The actor will sign a one-day, minor league contract with the New York Yankees and play in Thursday's exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Crystal, an avid Yankees fan, will work out with the team on Wednesday and will wear uniform No. 60 for the game - to be played one day before his 60th birthday. The Yankees said Monday they have the approval of baseball commissioner Bud Selig.

"I've been waiting 50 years for this call," Crystal said in a statement released by the team. "I'm overwhelmed by the generosity of the Yankees and commissioner Selig. I know this'll be tougher than the Broadway Softball League, but I'm looking forward to helping the younger players, which by the way is all of them. Oops, I have to go, Scott Boras is on the phone."

Crystal, according to the Yankees hit .348 and was captain during his senior year at Long Beach High School in New York. He directed and produced "61*," a move about Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and the 1961 Yankees.

"The Yankees are excited to welcome the newest member of our team known for his humor and wit as well as his undying love for the Yankees," chief operating officer Lonn Trost said.

"Happy Birthday Thora Birch"

Happy 26th Birthday to actress Thora Birch! Star of one of my favorite movies EVER - "Ghost World"

Here's a bit of what has on Ms. Birch: - Ace:)

Thora Birch (born March 11, 1982) is an American actress. She was one of the leading child actors of the 1990s, starring in movies such as Patriot Games (1992), Hocus Pocus (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Now and Then (1995), and Alaska (1996). Since this she has moved on to more mature roles, with notable performances in films such as American Beauty (1999), and the acclaimed cult film Ghost World (2001).

Personal life

Birch was born in Los Angeles, California, the eldest child of Jack Birch and Carol Connors. Both her parents (who have managed her career and remain her managers up to the present day) were former adult film actors and both appeared in the Adult Film, Deep Throat. Birch is of Jewish, Nordic, and Italian descent. The family's original surname was "Biersch", coming from her German Jewish ancestors. The name 'Thora' is a feminized form of the name Thor, the God of the Sky and of Thunder in Norse mythology. Birch lives in Southern California. She is a vegan and holds a blue belt in karate.

"Shelby Lynne channels Dusty Springfield on new album"


Shelby Lynne loves vinyl records. She savors the ritual, waiting for the moment to flip a 12-inch disc to its second side and the conversations that spring up as the needle floats on the grooves.

"It's a different experience. You have to almost commit to puttin' on a record. There's no fast-forward," Lynne said in a recent telephone interview from her home in Rancho Mirage. "It's fun to get together and listen to records, drink wine and talk. It really causes more talk about the musical experience you're on, you know?"

Her love of vinyl isn't surprising considering her latest record, "Just a Little Lovin,' " reworks nine Dusty Springfield classics.

She'll be playing some of those tracks and others from her 20-year career, which has touched on everything from country to rock to jazz to pop, at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio at the Empire Polo Field on May 2.

Growing up in Alabama, Lynne says music has been one of the constant threads for her over the years.

"My whole life is a musical memory," she said in her twangy speaking voice. "It's just what I do."

When she was 20, Lynne packed up and went to Nashville, and for the past 10 years she has lived in the Coachella Valley.

"I love the desert," she said.

Lynne said her Stagecoach performance would be her first time attending the country-music festival or its alternative-music cousin, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which takes place at the Polo Field the weekend prior, because of her touring schedule.

She won't be able to attend the full three days because of her tour to support the new album.

Lynne got the idea for cutting some of Springfield's tracks courtesy of fellow Coachella Valley resident Barry Manilow.

The pair met at the Grammys a few years ago and became friends. Three years ago, he e-mailed Lynne, asking if she had ever considered covering the Dusty Springfield songbook.

"She's one of those great singers who can tear your heart out," Lynne said.

Lynne let the idea percolate before ending up in the studio in January 2007 with producer Phil Ramone. The recording was made inside the Capitol Records building in Los Angeles, where she sang into a microphone Frank Sinatra used.

"That's what they told me. They may have told me that just to get me to sing," she said, laughing.

Lynne said she really kept the songs simple and didn't go into the studio with arrangements.

"We got together as a band and found a key and a good-feeling groove there and put it down," she said.

The musician doesn't like to overdo things, noting that the studio can be a wonderful thing or a place that offers so many attitudes that a record can become perfect. That isn't what Lynne is after, similar to her love for the scratches and imperfections on a vinyl record.

"My idea of perfect is a little ragged around the edges," she said.

Monday, March 10, 2008

"Drink up!"

(AP) Study Finds Over the Counter Drugs in Drinking Water in 24 Major U.S. Regions

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas — from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, Ky.

Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major California suppliers said the public "doesn't know how to interpret the information" and might be unduly alarmed.

How do the drugs get into the water?

People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.

And while researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals, recent studies — which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general public — have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.

"We recognize it is a growing concern and we're taking it very seriously," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Members of the AP National Investigative Team reviewed hundreds of scientific reports, analyzed federal drinking water databases, visited environmental study sites and treatment plants and interviewed more than 230 officials, academics and scientists. They also surveyed the nation's 50 largest cities and a dozen other major water providers, as well as smaller community water providers in all 50 states.

Here are some of the key test results obtained by the AP:

_Officials in Philadelphia said testing there discovered 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems. Sixty-three pharmaceuticals or byproducts were found in the city's watersheds.

_Anti-epileptic and anti-anxiety medications were detected in a portion of the treated drinking water for 18.5 million people in Southern California.

_Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed a Passaic Valley Water Commission drinking water treatment plant, which serves 850,000 people in Northern New Jersey, and found a metabolized angina medicine and the mood-stabilizing carbamazepine in drinking water.

_A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco's drinking water.

_The drinking water for Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas tested positive for six pharmaceuticals.

_Three medications, including an antibiotic, were found in drinking water supplied to Tucson, Ariz.

The situation is undoubtedly worse than suggested by the positive test results in the major population centers documented by the AP.

The federal government doesn't require any testing and hasn't set safety limits for drugs in water. Of the 62 major water providers contacted, the drinking water for only 28 was tested. Among the 34 that haven't: Houston, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Phoenix, Boston and New York City's Department of Environmental Protection, which delivers water to 9 million people.

Some providers screen only for one or two pharmaceuticals, leaving open the possibility that others are present.

The AP's investigation also indicates that watersheds, the natural sources of most of the nation's water supply, also are contaminated. Tests were conducted in the watersheds of 35 of the 62 major providers surveyed by the AP, and pharmaceuticals were detected in 28.

Yet officials in six of those 28 metropolitan areas said they did not go on to test their drinking water — Fairfax, Va.; Montgomery County in Maryland; Omaha, Neb.; Oklahoma City; Santa Clara, Calif., and New York City.

The New York state health department and the USGS tested the source of the city's water, upstate. They found trace concentrations of heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer.

City water officials declined repeated requests for an interview. In a statement, they insisted that "New York City's drinking water continues to meet all federal and state regulations regarding drinking water quality in the watershed and the distribution system" — regulations that do not address trace pharmaceuticals.

In several cases, officials at municipal or regional water providers told the AP that pharmaceuticals had not been detected, but the AP obtained the results of tests conducted by independent researchers that showed otherwise. For example, water department officials in New Orleans said their water had not been tested for pharmaceuticals, but a Tulane University researcher and his students have published a study that found the pain reliever naproxen, the sex hormone estrone and the anti-cholesterol drug byproduct clofibric acid in treated drinking water.

Of the 28 major metropolitan areas where tests were performed on drinking water supplies, only Albuquerque; Austin, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Va.; said tests were negative. The drinking water in Dallas has been tested, but officials are awaiting results. Arlington, Texas, acknowledged that traces of a pharmaceutical were detected in its drinking water but cited post-9/11 security concerns in refusing to identify the drug.

The AP also contacted 52 small water providers — one in each state, and two each in Missouri and Texas — that serve communities with populations around 25,000. All but one said their drinking water had not been screened for pharmaceuticals; officials in Emporia, Kan., refused to answer AP's questions, also citing post-9/11 issues.

Rural consumers who draw water from their own wells aren't in the clear either, experts say.

The Stroud Water Research Center, in Avondale, Pa., has measured water samples from New York City's upstate watershed for caffeine, a common contaminant that scientists often look for as a possible signal for the presence of other pharmaceuticals. Though more caffeine was detected at suburban sites, researcher Anthony Aufdenkampe was struck by the relatively high levels even in less populated areas.

He suspects it escapes from failed septic tanks, maybe with other drugs. "Septic systems are essentially small treatment plants that are essentially unmanaged and therefore tend to fail," Aufdenkampe said.

Even users of bottled water and home filtration systems don't necessarily avoid exposure. Bottlers, some of which simply repackage tap water, do not typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals, according to the industry's main trade group. The same goes for the makers of home filtration systems.

Contamination is not confined to the United States. More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams throughout the world. Studies have detected pharmaceuticals in waters throughout Asia, Australia, Canada and Europe — even in Swiss lakes and the North Sea.

For example, in Canada, a study of 20 Ontario drinking water treatment plants by a national research institute found nine different drugs in water samples. Japanese health officials in December called for human health impact studies after detecting prescription drugs in drinking water at seven different sites.

In the United States, the problem isn't confined to surface waters. Pharmaceuticals also permeate aquifers deep underground, source of 40 percent of the nation's water supply. Federal scientists who drew water in 24 states from aquifers near contaminant sources such as landfills and animal feed lots found minuscule levels of hormones, antibiotics and other drugs.

Perhaps it's because Americans have been taking drugs — and flushing them unmetabolized or unused — in growing amounts. Over the past five years, the number of U.S. prescriptions rose 12 percent to a record 3.7 billion, while nonprescription drug purchases held steady around 3.3 billion, according to IMS Health and The Nielsen Co.

"People think that if they take a medication, their body absorbs it and it disappears, but of course that's not the case," said EPA scientist Christian Daughton, one of the first to draw attention to the issue of pharmaceuticals in water in the United States.

Some drugs, including widely used cholesterol fighters, tranquilizers and anti-epileptic medications, resist modern drinking water and wastewater treatment processes. Plus, the EPA says there are no sewage treatment systems specifically engineered to remove pharmaceuticals.

One technology, reverse osmosis, removes virtually all pharmaceutical contaminants but is very expensive for large-scale use and leaves several gallons of polluted water for every one that is made drinkable.

Another issue: There's evidence that adding chlorine, a common process in conventional drinking water treatment plants, makes some pharmaceuticals more toxic.

Human waste isn't the only source of contamination. Cattle, for example, are given ear implants that provide a slow release of trenbolone, an anabolic steroid used by some bodybuilders, which causes cattle to bulk up. But not all the trenbolone circulating in a steer is metabolized. A German study showed 10 percent of the steroid passed right through the animals.

Water sampled downstream of a Nebraska feedlot had steroid levels four times as high as the water taken upstream. Male fathead minnows living in that downstream area had low testosterone levels and small heads.

Other veterinary drugs also play a role. Pets are now treated for arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, dementia, and even obesity — sometimes with the same drugs as humans. The inflation-adjusted value of veterinary drugs rose by 8 percent, to $5.2 billion, over the past five years, according to an analysis of data from the Animal Health Institute.

Ask the pharmaceutical industry whether the contamination of water supplies is a problem, and officials will tell you no. "Based on what we now know, I would say we find there's little or no risk from pharmaceuticals in the environment to human health," said microbiologist Thomas White, a consultant for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

But at a conference last summer, Mary Buzby — director of environmental technology for drug maker Merck & Co. Inc. — said: "There's no doubt about it, pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that they're at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic organisms."

Recent laboratory research has found that small amounts of medication have affected human embryonic kidney cells, human blood cells and human breast cancer cells. The cancer cells proliferated too quickly; the kidney cells grew too slowly; and the blood cells showed biological activity associated with inflammation.

Also, pharmaceuticals in waterways are damaging wildlife across the nation and around the globe, research shows. Notably, male fish are being feminized, creating egg yolk proteins, a process usually restricted to females. Pharmaceuticals also are affecting sentinel species at the foundation of the pyramid of life — such as earth worms in the wild and zooplankton in the laboratory, studies show.

Some scientists stress that the research is extremely limited, and there are too many unknowns. They say, though, that the documented health problems in wildlife are disconcerting.

"It brings a question to people's minds that if the fish were affected ... might there be a potential problem for humans?" EPA research biologist Vickie Wilson told the AP. "It could be that the fish are just exquisitely sensitive because of their physiology or something. We haven't gotten far enough along."

With limited research funds, said Shane Snyder, research and development project manager at the Southern Nevada Water Authority, a greater emphasis should be put on studying the effects of drugs in water.

"I think it's a shame that so much money is going into monitoring to figure out if these things are out there, and so little is being spent on human health," said Snyder. "They need to just accept that these things are everywhere — every chemical and pharmaceutical could be there. It's time for the EPA to step up to the plate and make a statement about the need to study effects, both human and environmental."

To the degree that the EPA is focused on the issue, it appears to be looking at detection. Grumbles acknowledged that just late last year the agency developed three new methods to "detect and quantify pharmaceuticals" in wastewater. "We realize that we have a limited amount of data on the concentrations," he said. "We're going to be able to learn a lot more."

While Grumbles said the EPA had analyzed 287 pharmaceuticals for possible inclusion on a draft list of candidates for regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act, he said only one, nitroglycerin, was on the list. Nitroglycerin can be used as a drug for heart problems, but the key reason it's being considered is its widespread use in making explosives.

So much is unknown. Many independent scientists are skeptical that trace concentrations will ultimately prove to be harmful to humans. Confidence about human safety is based largely on studies that poison lab animals with much higher amounts.

There's growing concern in the scientific community, meanwhile, that certain drugs — or combinations of drugs — may harm humans over decades because water, unlike most specific foods, is consumed in sizable amounts every day.

Our bodies may shrug off a relatively big one-time dose, yet suffer from a smaller amount delivered continuously over a half century, perhaps subtly stirring allergies or nerve damage. Pregnant women, the elderly and the very ill might be more sensitive.

Many concerns about chronic low-level exposure focus on certain drug classes: chemotherapy that can act as a powerful poison; hormones that can hamper reproduction or development; medicines for depression and epilepsy that can damage the brain or change behavior; antibiotics that can allow human germs to mutate into more dangerous forms; pain relievers and blood-pressure diuretics.

For several decades, federal environmental officials and nonprofit watchdog environmental groups have focused on regulated contaminants — pesticides, lead, PCBs — which are present in higher concentrations and clearly pose a health risk.

However, some experts say medications may pose a unique danger because, unlike most pollutants, they were crafted to act on the human body.

"These are chemicals that are designed to have very specific effects at very low concentrations. That's what pharmaceuticals do. So when they get out to the environment, it should not be a shock to people that they have effects," says zoologist John Sumpter at Brunel University in London, who has studied trace hormones, heart medicine and other drugs.

And while drugs are tested to be safe for humans, the timeframe is usually over a matter of months, not a lifetime. Pharmaceuticals also can produce side effects and interact with other drugs at normal medical doses. That's why — aside from therapeutic doses of fluoride injected into potable water supplies — pharmaceuticals are prescribed to people who need them, not delivered to everyone in their drinking water.

"We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking water, and that can't be good," says Dr. David Carpenter, who directs the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany.

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