Krokodil Is Not Invading America
In the past month, sensational headlines about the arrival of the “flesh-eating, zombie apocalypse” drug, better known as krokodil, in the United States have caused a bit of a panic on this side of the world. Headlines like “Flesh-Eating ‘Zombie’ Drug ‘Kills You From the Inside Out” and “The Most Horrifying Drug in the World Comes to the U.S.” appeared to herald a chilling new age in America’s drug wars.
But according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, they have yet to see a confirmed case of krokodil — a morphine analogue that acts similarly to heroin but with a shorter high — in the U.S. and blames the krokodil hysteria on misinformation and myths propagated by the media. “To date none of our forensic labs have analyzed an exhibit that contain desomorphine,” Rusty Payne, a DEA spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “We have nothing to indicate that it’s out there.”
On September 23, two emergency room patients were sent to the Banner Poison Control Center, a private clinic in Phoenix, Arizona. They told Dr. Frank LeVecchio, the Center’s co-medical director, that they’d developed open sores after trying a drug called krokodil. Before waiting to receive the lab test results, LeVecchio spread the word to fellow toxicologists and the media. “As far as I know, these are the first cases of [krokodil] in the United States that are reported. So we’re extremely frightened," he told CBS5 in Phoenix. "Where there is smoke there is fire, and we’re afraid there are going to be more and more cases." Soon as you know it, Reuters and CNN had picked up the story, and the rest of the world ran with it.
According to Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer at Phoenix House — a non-profit alcohol and drug rehab center — the alleged American krokodil cases are easily explained. ”We don’t have a krokodil epidemic, we have a heroin and painkiller epidemic,” he told The Daily Beast. “This is not a new problem. There are serious medical infections that come from injecting drugs.”
In Russia, krokodil has become the next best thing to heroin. Reports of its use there date back to 2003 when Russia started a major crackdown on heroin production and trafficking. Users resorted to a homemade alternative: krokodil, which is made by mixing lighter fluid, codeine, paint thinner, and eye drops, among other things. It earned its reptilian nickname by turning its users’ skin scaly, eating them from the inside, and rotting the brain and limbs before precipitating a painful death.
Thanks to The Daily Beast
New drive-in “sex boxes” open for business today in Zurich as part of the city’s attempt to curb street prostitution and protect sex workers. Each of the nine open garages—dubbed “sex boxes” by the Swiss media—are equipped with an emergency call button and a poster promoting safe sex. Additional features in the compound include bathrooms, showers, lockers, cafe tables, and laundry.
Well, I’d hate to say I’d told you so….
19% of prime time television characters are non-human while only 17% are women
A Profile of Americans’ Media Use and Political Socialization Effects: television and the Internet’s relationship to social connectedness in the USA ― Daniel German & Caitlin Lally
There are more “non-humans” on TV than women. Talk about unequal gender representation in the media.
ETA: This figure is from five years ago. Women now make up 38.9% of characters in primetime television.
And there are even less asians i’m sure. Let’s pass a law.
Rand Paul is the man
My first real job was working maintenance at a department store. I was 15 (yes, I lied about my age; you could do that back then). My job was to clean toilets, crush boxes, pick pins out of the dressing room closets, wax the floors in the china shop, vacuum the place, and shine the glass.
It was a great job. I mean, truly great. I loved it because it was a hugely important job. If I didn’t clean the bathrooms well and replenish the toilet paper and towels, customers the next day might be grossed out and never come back. I played a big role in ensuring the profitability of this store.
I especially loved my co-worker. His name was Tad. The department store would close, leaving just the two of us to have so much fun doing all this wonderful work. We would sing together, thrill to the danger of the wax machine, gross out at the mucky bathrooms, and just have that wonderful feeling that comes with having a real work partner.
You see, Tad was not a normal kid. He had some physical deformities. His face was oddly shaped and had what looked like a large stain on half of it. He couldn’t move around that well, really. I had to help him and assign tasks carefully. He was also mentally retarded. He spoke in a muffled way, and you had to be very clear about instructions.
But I tell you what, when he was happy, it made me happy. To see that big smile come across his face when I would praise the way he shined up a counter just gave me a huge lift.
One day, a poster appeared in the workroom. It was from the Department of Labor. The minimum wage was going up by 50 cents. Tad pointed the sign out to me. He said, “Look, we are getting a raise!” I was a bit suspicious. I was pretty sure that the boss was the one who set the wage, not some weird distant government thing. I didn’t quite believe it was true. Still, I was happy that he was happy.
The next day, I showed up at the usual time after school. I was getting the mop ready, running hot water in the pail and prepared to do the thing. Tad wasn’t there. I asked the boss, “Where’s Tad today?”
Well, he explained that he had hired Tad only because he was a boy he knew from church. He needed work. He knew that he would require a lot of help, which was one reason he was excited that I was able to work with him. In the end, he said, this was charity, because he knew that I could do the job by myself. It worked for us to be together so long as he could afford it, but this new minimum wage changed things. The store’s profit margins were very thin, and he had to make a hard decision.
The long and short of it: Tad had to be let go.
I was devastated. I stared at the Department of Labor sign again. Cursed thing! That sign just ruined a kid’s life. It stopped a great act of charity. And look what it did to me. I now had to work alone.
Management left, the lights dimmed, and I heard the familiar click of the doors leading to the outside. I would have to clean alone today. I did all the tasks I had to. But there was no more music, no more laughter, no more clowning around, and no more beautiful smiles. Tad was somewhere else, probably at home, confused and sad.
He died a few years later.
This is what the minimum wage means to me. So you can say that I have a vendetta. When the president announces that he is raising wages to make everyone better off, I can’t help but think of the millions of Tads that will lose that opportunity to do wonderful things in this world and with their lives.
Unsurprisingly, a Wall Street Journal opinion writer thinks poor people don’t need a raise. He says that if you factor in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), *technically* poor people are already making $9 an hour.
- When you’re poor, you can’t pay the electric company by saying, “Well, in April of next year I’ll get a sweet tax return check!” When you are poor, you need money up front, in your bank account, every two weeks. The phrase “living paycheck to paycheck” comes to mind. When you’re not poor, it’s easy to wait a few months for the government to pay you back for the money they borrowed. A few thousand bucks at tax return time? Sweet. But poor people don’t have the luxury of waiting for a once-yearly bump to their income.
- Poor people do not necessarily have access to someone who can do their taxes. If you’re rich, you can pay a high-level tax professional to comb over your receipts and help you write off $77,000 in horse expenses (remember Mitt Romney, guys? He got $77k in tax breaks for his wife’s horse. True story). That tax person can also show you how to put your money into bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands so that you don’t have to pay taxes on it at all. America!
But these tax guys charge a lot. Last year, my boss’s sister (an accountant) did my taxes for me, and at the “family and friends” rate, I still paid over $100. Poor families cannot afford $100 to *possibly* find more tax breaks they’re entitled to. I’m going to have to plead ignorance on one point: I do not know if the 1040 EZ includes the EITC, or if you have to file differently to get it. Google is pulling up lots of documentation on taxes that I can barely comprehend. (ETA: Readers have helpfully pointed out that if you file the 1040EZ with Turbotax, you can apply for the EITC. But there are a lot of exceptions - you can’t get it if anyone else lists you as a dependent, for instance. Basically, it’s not an automatic part of your tax return; it’s something you have to know about when you file your taxes.) But the point still stands that many poor people miss out on tax breaks because they don’t know about them. That was the one - ONE - advantage of Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan: it would have simplified the tax code. Right now, tax knowledge is a real ivory tower thing. Saying “But poor people already get a tax credit that increases their yearly salary” is ignorant of that fact.
- Fuck you, buddy. Just fuck you. Fuck you and your “well technically poor people are already coddled with $9 an hour salaries!” bullshit. Fuck you and your tax code shit. People deserve $9 an hour. Maybe more than that. $9 an hour per paycheck, not per year. Fuck you.
number 1 is a legitimate point, since many of the impoverished are fending off homelessness at any given time. however, it’s not anyone else’s fault but yours for not knowing about the tax code of the country that you live in. i think it’s big, dumb, monolithic and should absolutely be simplified, but that doesn’t keep me from finding out as much as i can about doing it around april. (3) the internet is a wonderful invention. use it.
(2) the author definitely wasn’t arguing that poor people are being “coddled” as you pompously said. he was arguing that an overall increase in the minimum wage would cost jobs, since a higher price for anything, including labor, decreases demand. lrn2econ
(1) Lol @ dumb liberals on tumblr thinking they know more about economics than a writer for the Wall Street Journal.
I want to respond to a few points here, so I put bolded numbers in parentheses so you know what I’m referring to.
(1) Wait wait wait. Back up. That thing you just said there? About the audacity of questioning a journalist? That is fucking scary. Do you seriously believe everything you read on the internet that’s published by a newspaper site? Do you really think journalists are never wrong? Biased? You really believe that critically examining an opinion piece (it was an opinion piece, not an article) is laughable? Do you know what the fuck media criticism is? Do you even care?
And he’s wrong - factually, actually wrong - that the EITC is the same as a pay increase for all minimum wage workers. Because the EITC doesn’t apply to people under 25, people who make a certain amount of income (even if they make minimum wage), people who are claimed as dependents, and other exceptions. So to say “we don’t need to increase the minimum wage because the EITC takes care of all poor people” is just wrong.
But really. The fact that you think people shouldn’t dare to criticize the media is frightening to me.
(2) No, the author argued that the minimum wage was already $9 an hour, so we don’t need to increase it. See also: the title of the piece. I interpreted him saying “the government already makes it so people get paid $9/hour” as “we already coddle the poor by paying them $9/hour.” Not much of a stretch. lrn2read plz.
(3) I said I googled. I couldn’t find the answer, so I asked my readers, who helpfully gave me the answer. lrn2read mebbe?
I still have yet to hear from a single conservative/libertarian/economics expert on Tumblr why increasing the minimum wage is a bad thing. I keep citing sources and studies and they keep saying “lol you don’t get economics!” K guys. Teach me. I’m waiting.
I’m sure you are well versed in economics enough to know why it does and does not work (given the laws of supply and demand). But if you must, I could advise this: http://epionline.org/study_detail.cfm?sid=137
However, given the partisan nature of this discussion, you can take it as you wish. Pick as you choose.
Remember, folks, in order to be successful in America, you have to work hard. Or work in Congress.
But by your definition, that’ll be a good thing right? Since the Federal Government can solve all our problems.
The other Pfc. B. Manning: Hacktivist Jeremy Hammond helped expose the inner workings of the surveillance state
February 19, 2013
Activist Jeremy Hammond has been held without bail since his arrest in March. He is accused of hacking into the computers of private intelligence firm Stratfor and giving million of emails to WikiLeaks. He has been called the other Pfc. B. Manning. While Manning revealed government wrongdoing, Hammond is alleged to have leaked information from a private company, helping expose the inner workings of the insidious and pervasive surveillance state.
When he was 22, Hammond was called an “electronic Robin Hood” using hacking as a means of civil disobedience. He attacked a conservative group’s web site and stole user’s credit cards with the idea of making donations to the American Civil Liberties Union. His intention was in the spirit of taking from the rich and giving to poor. He later changed his mind and didn’t use the credit cards.
If he did what he is alleged with Stratfor, it was for the public good. Documents that he is alleged to have obtained and uploaded to WikiLeaks revealed spying on activists and others for corporations and governments. Furthermore, attorney and president Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner argued that the Stratfor hacking was a clear case of entrapment targeting online activist group Anonymous and Hammond. He explained there was an informant named Sabu and the FBI gave him the computer onto which the documents were uploaded.
Hammond now has been moved to solitary confinement and has been virtually cut off from all interaction with the outside world. On Feb 14, the Jeremy Hammond Support Network posted a message on social media that heavy restrictions were put on him. The Network reported Hammond now is not allowed any commissary visits to buy stamps for letters and food, as he does not get enough to eat. Now visits are limited to his lawyer and telephone contact is restricted to his brother.
His case is another example of the expanding unchecked authoritarian power in the justice system in general. Here Hammond appears to be following similar footsteps as Manning who also was placed into solitary confinement. Nahal Zamani, Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights argued how solitary confinement is a form of torture and is “clearly cruel and unusual punishment. Indeed, the use of solitary has been condemned as torture by the international community.”
Unlike Manning, who is subject to the military ‘justice’ system, Hammond is in a civilian court, which is supposed to follow the Constitution. What happens though when one is placed into jail outside of the public eye is that prisoners are more and more being stripped of their rights and treated inhumanely. Once they are behind bars, they become incognito, losing connection to the outside world. Inside the cage is a twilight zone where laws and conventions can be bent by those who are powerful, with little oversight or accountability.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of a deeply flawed justice system combined with an increasingly corporatized prison industrial complex. Prisoners are marginalized and many are forgotten. Hammond shared his personal experience as prisoner at the Metropolitan Correctional Center during Hurricane Sandy. He wrote how because of the storm, the Correctional Center lost power. They had no hot water or heat and prisoners were left behind with no phone calls, no visits and no mail. What was revealed was a callous system that abandons the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged. Hammond noted how as was seen in the Katrina disaster of New Orleans, New Yorkers experienced that relief came not from FEMA and government agency but from grassroots community groups such as Occupy Sandy. He ended his letter saying:
“Very frightening to consider what would happen to us prisoners – already disenfranchised, silenced, marginalized and forgotten – in the event of a more devastating natural disaster. There’s a universal consensus here – ‘they’d probably leave us to die.’”
In addition to this, the US legal system is more and more used to target political dissidents, especially information activists. In November 2012, Hammond was denied bail despite his attorney convincingly arguing that he posed no flight risk and assuring that he would not have access to computers. The prosecutor insisted he is a flight risk and Judge Loretta Preska held a very hostile attitude toward Hammond and stated that the reason for bail denial was that Hammond poses “a very substantial danger to the community.” Hammond now faces indictments against him for various computer fraud crimes which could amount to 37 years to life in prison.
Ratner addressed obvious conflict of interests with judge Preska sitting on the case against Hammond. It came to light that Preska’s husband worked for a client of Stratfor, whose emails Hammond allegedly leaked. Ratner spoke of how the mere appearance of a conflict of interest is enough for her to recuse herself, according to judicial rules.
Jeremy Hammond’s case is showing how broken the rule of law has become in our time. Like Manning, Barret Brown and the late Aaron Swartz, this is another case of a high profile activist being severely targeted by having the book thrown at them with generally specious charges. The courts have become part of a rigged system that favors corporations and those politically connected to them. One thing that these activists seem to have in common is that they actually never really hurt anyone and are driven by one of the higher ideals that this country has been founded on -that of a truly informed populace, while those that are politically targeting them regularly harm and exploit innocent people.
Holding those who abuse power accountable is becoming nearly impossible with the current system. More than ever, checks and balance will only come from the people. It was in response to a public uproar that Manning was moved from Quantico where he had been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment.
This Thursday, February 21, Preska will make a decision on the defense motion to recuse herself from the case against Hammond and supporters plan to pack the courtroom to demand a fair trial. We all have to stay awake and support those who have passed the twilight gate, who are rendered invisible, marginalized from the rest of the population. A broken rule of law can be corrected through the vigilance and conscience of ordinary people; witnessing injustice and challenging it from all sides. We will be watching.
Here’s the Facebook event for the details about Thursday’s rally to support Jeremy Hammond.