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Archive for January 9th, 2017

Two New Drugs Targeted in Opioid Epidemic Battle

Kratom leaf

Kratom leaf

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The fight against the opioid epidemic has targeted two new recreational drugs being used on the streets as substitutes for heroin and fentanyl. Both U-4700 and Kratom have been on DEA’s radar screen, as well as US Poison Control Centers, in the last few months because of their increased use in 2016, their potential for abuse and health dangers.

U-4700, a synthetic opioid, is known on the streets as “44,” and “pink” and until recently has been easily available on the internet. It has been reported that it contributed to the death of rock star Prince last summer. It was originally developed for use in the 1970s as an analgesic, but it has many times the strength of morphine.

Last month DEA classified it under Schedule I as presenting an imminent hazard to the public safety.

Kratom, known on the streets as “Ketum,” thang” and other names, is actually an herb that has been used as a recreational drug for several years. Poison Center calls about overdoses have greatly increased this past year. The drug continues to be freely available on the internet and has no age restrictions on purchasing.

However, Kratom has increasingly been found in combinations with opioids in cases of overdoses, and it can independently produce symptoms such as tachycardia, nausea, and hypertension.

DEA’s journey toward its regulation in the last few months presents an interesting study in the agency’s frustrations over getting drugs that are contributing to the opioid epidemic off the streets. DEA originally announced its intention to classify it under Schedule I, but physicians and scientists complained to Congressmen that it has legitimate medical value. These members urged DEA to delay the ban for a period of public comment, which is presently under way. DEA placed it on the Drugs of Concern List and is continuing to consider its appropriate classification.

This report relied on articles from Medscape Internal Medicine (12/9/16), Forbes (8/22/16), and the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (12/16).

Parker: Two New Drugs Targeted in Opioid Epidemic Battle

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. 

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

The fight against the opioid epidemic has targeted two new recreational drugs being used on the streets as substitutes for heroin and fentanyl. Both U-4700 and Kratom have been on DEA’s radar screen, as well as US Poison Control Centers, in the last few months because of their increased use in 2016, their potential for abuse and health dangers.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

U-4700, a synthetic opioid, is known on the streets as “44,” and “pink” and until recently has been easily available on the internet. It has been reported that it contributed to the death of rock star Prince last summer. It was originally developed for use in the 1970s as an analgesic, but it has many times the strength of morphine.

Last month DEA classified it under Schedule I as presenting an imminent hazard to the public safety.

Kratom, known on the streets as “Ketum,” thang” and other names, is actually an herb that has been used as a recreational drug for several years. Poison Center calls about overdoses have greatly increased this past year. The drug continues to be freely available on the internet and has no age restrictions on purchasing.

However, Kratom has increasingly been found in combinations with opioids in cases of overdoses, and it can independently produce symptoms such as tachycardia, nausea, and hypertension.

DEA’s journey toward its regulation in the last few months presents an interesting study in the agency’s frustrations over getting drugs that are contributing to the opioid epidemic off the streets. DEA originally announced its intention to classify it under Schedule I, but physicians and scientists complained to Congressmen that it has legitimate medical value. These members urged DEA to delay the ban for a period of public comment, which is presently under way. DEA placed it on the Drugs of Concern List and is continuing to consider its appropriate classification.

This report relied on articles from Medscape Internal Medicine (12/9/16), Forbes (8/22/16), and the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (12/16).

FBI Arrests Volkswagen Executive Over Diesel Emissions Scandal

Oliver Schmidt

Oliver Schmidt

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Volkswagen executive has been arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. over diesel emissions, the New York Times reports

Oliver Schmidt is expected to be arraigned on Monday in Miami. The case is out of Detroit.

Schmidt, who led the automaker’s regulatory compliance office in the U.S. from 2014 to March 2015, is accused of fabricating data that suggested excess emissions were caused by technical problems, not cheating.

A Volkswagen spokeswoman said the automaker “continues to cooperate with the Department of Justice” but that “it would not be appropriate to comment on any ongoing investigations or to discuss personnel matters.”

FBI Agent Who Interrogated Saddam Hussein Leads Florida Airport Shooting Probe

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

FBI Agent George Piro interviewed on 60 Minutes in 2008

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI agent who is in charge of the investigation into the Florida airport shooting was known for interrogating Saddam Hussein alone for months.

George Piro, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Miami field office, is leading the investigation into the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that killed five people, the Associated Press reports.

Esteban Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran, is facing the death penalty if convicted.

Piro pledged to fight for the families and victims.

“I want to ensure these families that law enforcement is working tirelessly in order to ensure justice is served,” he said.

Pro became an FBI agent in 1999 and is a native of Beirut, Lebanon. He is fluent in Arabic and Assyrian.

FBI Spent Year-Plus Investigating Muhammad Ali-Sonny Liston Fight

Muhammad Ali in 1966

Muhammad Ali in 1966

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Soon after boxing great Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston in a 1965 championship fight, the FBI launched an investigation into rumors that the fight was fixed.

The investigation lasted more than a year and found no evidence to substantiate the allegations, according to newly released documents by the FBI.  

Two days after the fight, the FBI sent an internal memo about dedicating resources to investigate the rumors:

As you know, the Liston-Clay (Muhammad Ali) fight has received wide publicity by all forms of news media. Included in the publicity have been what appear to be unsubstantiated allegations by sports writers and persons long associated with the fight game that this fight was “fixed.”

Since we have received no information or allegations indicating improprieties in connection with this fight, no open investigation is being conducted. It is felt, however, that appropriate confidential informants and sources located in logical offices should be discreetly contacted for information on this matter.

Despite a lack of evidence, J. Edgar Hoover’s office insisted that the investigation continue into one of boxing’s most storied fights. Ali defeated heavyweight champion Liston from what some believed was a “phantom punch” that couldn’t have possibly knocked out Liston.

The FBI chased rumor after rumor until closing the investigation about 13 months after it began.

Ali was the subject of constant FBI scrutiny because of his ties to the Nation of Islam.

More Private Prisons Likely if Jeff Sessions Becomes Attorney General

Jeff Sessions

Jeff Sessions

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department’s decision last summer to stop contracting with for-private prisons may be changed if the Senate confirms Sen. Jeff Sessions as the next attorney general.

President-elect Donald Trump spoke highly of private prisons, and Sessions has close ties to the industry, Mother Jones reports. 

Studies have shown that private prisons are less humane and more violent than government-run jails.

Trump’s victory increased the value of shares of the largest private prison corporations.

“I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons,” Trump said last spring. “It seems to work a lot better.”

Over the past two decades, Sessions has spoken favorably of private prisons. When he was attorney general of Alabama, Sessions gave the green light to private prisons in his state.

Trump’s Plan to Build a Wall at Mexican Border Would Skirt Federal Laws

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

By Robert J. Uram
San Francisco Chronicle

Now that the Trump transition team has signaled to congressional Republicans that the president-elect wants to seek a budget appropriation to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and have Mexico reimburse the cost later, it’s time to think about how he might do that. As president, Donald Trump may propose that Congress give him new authority to set aside laws to expedite construction. Congress set such an ill-advised precedent when it authorized wall construction more than a decade ago. The possibility of a similar request now should concern us all.

In 2005, Congress passed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Hidden away in this enormous appropriations bill was a section of the REAL ID Act of 2005, which gave the secretary of Homeland Security the unlimited right to waive “all legal requirements” he or she deems necessary to expedite the installation of border controls in areas of high illegal entry.

That included environmental protections laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act. These are, perhaps, logical waivers to expedite construction of border facilities.

There is, however, nothing in the law that would have prevented setting aside other less germane laws. The secretary could have waived the Freedom of Information Act to allow the project to be built in secret — he or she is only limited by his or her imagination. Not only can federal laws be waived, but all state, local and “other laws” derived from or related to the subject of the federal laws also can be waived. All that was required was publication of the waiver in the Federal Register.

And, as it happened, the Department of Homeland Security exercised its waiver rights five times to build nearly 700 miles of border protection. Literally dozens of laws have been waived, including many environmental laws and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

But that is only half the story.

To read more click here. 

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