Big Brother Star Gordon Sloan Dies After An Overdose On Heroin

It is understood that the New Zealand-born Gordon Sloan, who starred in the first series of the Channel 10 reality hit in 2001, died yesterday in a hospital in Beijing, the Chinese capital after taking an overdose of heroin.

According to a source close to Sloan, the former reality star's parents had travelled from their home in New Zealand after their son was admitted to hospital in a coma on September 1.

It is understood the devastated couple opted to turn off the life support that had been keeping their 34-year-old son alive.

While the exact cause of death is yet to be determined, sources said Sloan was believed to have overdosed on heroin.

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed a New Zealand-born Australian citizen from Victoria died in Beijing yesterday.

Ben Williams, who won the series in which Sloan featured, described his mate's death as "an absolute tragedy".

"He was a very colourful person and definitely lived life to the max," he said. "It's an absolute tragedy."

Big Brother circles were told about Sloan's hospitalisation on Wednesday, but Williams said his death was "still a terrible shock".

"For his family and immediate circle of friends, it's the worse thing they'll go through," he said.

"But while it's still a shock, we should celebrate his life and the good things he did."

Another Big Brother 2001 star, Pete Timbs, said he had caught up with Sloan in a Sydney bar in June, and had found him to be "as loud and obnoxious as he always was".

"Which was one good thing about Gordon - you always knew where you stood with him," he said.

"He stood up for what he believed in, whether it was right or wrong."

Apart from his stint on Big Brother, Sloan also made the headlines in 2003 when he joined a group of Australians who travelled to Iraq as "human shields" ahead of the war.

Big Brother 2005 runner-up Tim Brunero interviewed Sloan for his website two months ago.

"He was really relaxed and comfortable talking about politics and his time on Big Brother," he said.

"He wasn't in the least bit unhappy.

"He was a pretty out-there character who threw himself into life."

Channel 10 issued a statement offering their condolences. "TEN are very saddened by the news of Gordon's death," it read. "Our thoughts are with his family during this time."

Big Brother host Gretel Killeen is believed to be holidaying overseas and was unable to be contacted yesterday.

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American Pop Star Prince Dragging YouTube To Court

THE American pop star Prince plans to sue YouTube and other websites for unauthorised use of his music.

Trying to "reclaim his art on the internet", the man behind such hits as Purple Rain, 1999 and When Doves Cry said on Thursday that YouTube could not argue that it had no control over the videos that users posted on its site.

YouTube was clearly able to filter porn and pedophile material but appeared to choose not to filter out the unauthorised music and film content that is core to its business success, a statement on his behalf said.

YouTube responded by saying it was working with artists to help them manage their music on the site.

"Most content owners understand that we respect copyrights," said YouTube's chief counsel, Zahavah Levine.

"We work every day to help them manage their content, and we are developing state-of-the-art tools to let them do that even better."

Prince also plans legal action against eBay and Pirate Bay, a site accused by Hollywood and the music industry as being a big source of music and film piracy.

The legal action is the latest attempt by the music industry to wrest back control over content in an age where file sharing, mobile phones and video sites make enforcing copyright increasingly difficult.

But it is believed to be rare for an individual artist of Prince's stature to take on popular websites, while some up-and-coming performers actually encourage online file-sharing to create a fan base and buzz around a record.

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Chicago Police Department Vs Prostitutes, Who Is Winning?

The Chicago Police Department has a weapon against prostitution: a website that regularly posts the names, addresses and photos of those arrested for trying to purchase such services. I've inspected the site and can report that none of the alleged offenders bears any resemblance to Richard Gere. But then, they probably weren't expecting Julia Roberts.

Mayor Richard Daley announced the tool in 2005, with some harsh words for anyone thinking of paying for sex. "In Chicago, if you solicit a prostitute, you will be arrested, and when you are arrested, people will know," he declared.

It requires a leap of faith to think that a guy who is not deterred by the risk of being arrested and fined and losing his car will be deterred by the fear of being publicly shamed. But the city has to resort to futile measures because those are the only ones available.

Fighting prostitution with cops on the street is like going into the woods with a fly swatter in the hope of eradicating the mosquito population. In 2004, Chicago police arrested 3,204 alleged prostitutes, or about eight a day. Judging from online sites and phone-book listings for escort services and massage parlors, that is a tiny fraction of all the mercenary coupling that takes place every day. Even Mayor Daley admits there may be as many as 25,000 women involved in prostitution in Chicago, to say nothing of the suburbs.

The police admit that existing policies don't do much more than move the trade from one spot to another. As Supt. Philip Cline told the Chicago Sun-Times, "If we put on a lot of police pressure, it's going to move a couple blocks." He admitted that existing enforcement efforts apparently don't work, "because it's still happening out there."

Yes, it is, and it always will be. The trade brings together two of the most unstoppable forces in American life: lust and avarice. But that combination is potent just about everywhere. There is a prostitution problem in Iran, for heaven's sake. If mullahs ruling an Islamic theocracy can't stamp out these transactions, the Chicago police aren't about to.

What they can do is waste a lot of manpower that could be deployed against truly dangerous criminals. Each prostitution arrest takes a cop off the street for two to three hours. And for what? Most of those arrested are soon free and doing business again.

Mayor Daley has his reasons for the crackdown. Not only is the business a blight on neighborhoods, he asserts, but women involved in it "spend their lives surrounded by criminals and drugs and sexually transmitted diseases. It's a terrible life."

All of that may be true. But the mayor is confusing the effects of prostitution with the effects of laws against prostitution. Streetwalkers don't stand outside in Chicago in January, annoying law-abiding residents, because they like fresh air. Prostitutes work on the street because fixed sites are particularly vulnerable to the cops. In a legal environment, more of them would gravitate to places with walls and roofs.

As for criminals, hookers tend to be surrounded by felonious confederates because what they do is illegal. The enterprise attracts violent people because violence is often useful in a business that can't expect protection from the cops. The retail liquor trade used to be that way too, during Prohibition. Since repeal, it's been about as dangerous as the dairy industry.

Sexually transmitted diseases are another occupational hazard that existing laws do more to cause than to cure. If prostitution were legalized, the authorities could enforce health regulations in the interest of provider as well as patron. In a black market, the only controls on risky behavior are self-imposed.

Politicians may think prostitution is a grim, degrading life. But prostitutes may think the same of politics. At any rate, arresting practitioners doesn't exactly improve their lives. And if they see it as the best of the available options, eliminating it merely forces them into choices they see as worse.

Legalizing prostitution would not be a moral endorsement of paid sex, any more than the First Amendment is a moral endorsement of supermarket tabloids. It would just be a recognition of the right of adults to make their own choices about sins of the flesh -- and of the eternal futility of trying to stop them.

Before he continues his crackdown, Mayor Daley might reflect on the wisdom of one mayor of New Orleans. "You can make prostitution illegal in Louisiana," he said, "but you can't make it unpopular."

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