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Archive for Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Examining the meth epidemic

February 14, 2006

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The "Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS) presentation "The Meth Epidemic" looks at an underreported human tragedy and criminal tidal wave that has consumed the lives of more than a million drug users in the American heartland.

Produced with the Portland newspaper "The Oregonian," "Meth" presents interviews with local reporters and police officers who have been covering the meth subculture for more than a decade. In Oregon, a shocking 85 percent of burglaries, muggings, car thefts and identity theft have been traced to the drug.

"Frontline" also follows the legal battle to control the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, key ingredients in meth, also used in common over-the-counter cold medicines. A former Drug Enforcement Administration agent describes a successful mid-1980s campaign to eliminate the pharmaceutical production of chemicals used to make the popular drug known as quaaludes. 'Ludes were all but eliminated. But when the DEA waged a similar war against pseudoephedrine, it was stymied by drug-industry lobbyists worried about losing billions in cold-medicine profits.

¢ Sir David Attenborough appears in "Jewel of the Earth" on "Nova" (7 p.m., PBS), featuring a clip of his brother Richard, who played a scientist who "went too far" in the 1993 thriller "Jurassic Park." In that movie, Richard's character concocts a theme park of prehistoric creatures after extracting DNA from an ancient mosquito encased in a piece of amber.

Amber also is the subject of "Jewel." It seems that Amber has been coveted, treasured and collected by humans from the earliest times. Amber jewelry and artifacts have been found near Stonehenge and other ancient sites.

But Sir David is most interested in amber artifacts for the bugs and other tiny critters they contain. Unlike dusty fossils, amber encases and perfectly preserves bees, mosquitoes, mites and aphids from prehistoric times. One artifact contains a honeypot ant that appears to have gotten stuck in sap 150 million years ago. And using the latest microscopes and scanning technology, scientists can assemble a wealth of clues to "reconstruct" an ancient forest or swamp and look back to the Jurassic period and beyond. A fascinating detective story.

¢ CBS has placed "Love Monkey" on hiatus and will air a repeat of "NCIS" (9 p.m.) in its place.

Other highlights

¢ Winter Olympics Coverage (7 p.m., NBC) continues.

¢ Talent and tantrums on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Our bald hero pursues the little red-haired girl in "A Charlie Brown Valentine" (7 p.m., ABC).

¢ Tensions mount during a getaway on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).

¢ A best in show emerges on the "Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show" (7 p.m., USA).

¢ A daytime fixture speaks of love on "The Dr. Phil Primetime Special" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ A burn victim's blood tests indicate hidden problems on "House" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ The State of the Union address needs work on "Commander in Chief" (8 p.m., ABC).

¢ A prep school faces a suit on "Boston Legal" (9 p.m., ABC)

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