Day: June 5, 2017

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This US county has seen more deaths so far this year than in 2016 – Ohio police officers on the frontline fighting opioid crisis


Last year, one Rust Belt county in southwestern Ohio saw 349 accidental deaths from opioid overdose – and things are getting worse.

Bodies are arriving at a dizzying, unyielding pace to the coroner’s office, showing the scale of the scourge that has hit Ohio harder than any other state in the nation.

No one in Montgomery County needs to rely on federal data to measure the viciousness of the opioid epidemic. As of June 1, the county had tallied 360 drug overdose deaths.

“At this pace, we expect about 800 overdose deaths by the end of 2017,” Ken Betz, director of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, said.

The county has been hit with so many overdose deaths that it even had to build an extension to its morgue last year to accommodate the soaring number of bodies.

The opioid epidemic has claimed lives across the entire socioeconomic spectrum in Ohio, which last year had more fatal drug overdoses than any other state, according to a county-by-county analysis by the Columbus Dispatch.

On Tuesday, the coroner’s office confirmed that an overdose of the synthetic opioid carfentanil – which is 10,000 more powerful than morphine — and cocaine had caused the March deaths of a Spirit Airlines pilot, Brian Hayle, 36, and his wife, Courtney, 34. The couple was found in their home by their four children.

Statewide, more than 4,000 people died from drug overdoses last year. And in 2015, Ohio had the highest number of prescription opioid overdose deaths — 1,800 — of any state in the nation, according to the latest figures in an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Ohio state officials filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the pharmaceutical industry over the opioid epidemic, accusing several drug companies of making a concerted effort to mislead doctors and patients about the dangers of addiction to painkillers and possible overdose.

If Montgomery County’s opioid death march continues unabated, the area will surpass Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, and have the highest rate of overdose deaths in Ohio.

“The problem is getting worse every day,” said Montgomery Sheriff Phil Plummer, who has been so overwhelmed by the toll the epidemic has taken on his county that he personally has launched a multi-pronged fight against it. “We don’t have enough police resources to combat it. We work very hard, it’s changed our jobs.”

The world of opioids has gotten more encompassing and brazen, with Mexican cartels in Ohio not even bothering to mask their role or dodge authorities as they recruit local youth into their illicit trade, enticing them with money, among other things.

The epidemic, indeed, has produced “home-grown” gangs, ensnaring local youths and young adults and using them to supply neighborhoods with increasingly deadly drugs, Plummer said.

The sheriff and his officers have become social workers of a sort, Plummer said, while also bringing the full force of the law down on criminals who sustain and constantly seek to broaden the addiction to opioids and other drugs.

The sheriff and his officers are now driving people who have addictions to treatments centers. They are visiting their homes to try to rally family members to help address a relative’s addiction, and they are even hitting neighborhoods every Friday to go after dealers and to spread the word about the lethal consequences of opioids.

The problem is getting worse every day. We don’t have enough police resources to combat it. We work very hard, it’s changed our jobs.

– Montgomery County (Ohio) Sheriff Phil Plummer

On Thursday, they started what will be weekly visits to churches to raise awareness about opioids and the dangerous substances that are being mixed into them.

“We’re trying to be proactive,” Plummer said. “People say to us: ‘We didn’t know, we don’t understand’ the scope of the crisis.”

“I don’t know, with everything that’s out there, how some people still don’t know” about the epidemic.

The grip of the addiction is so intense that addicts are more and more brazen in where and when they smuggle and use the narcotics.

“They’re overdosing in the jails and in courtrooms,” Plummer said, adding that the demand for treatment is in such excess to the openings at facilities, that his jails have also become detox facilities. 

Meanwhile, drug dealers and cartels always look for ways to get ahead of efforts by Plummer — and others like him across the country – and often switch to other substances and methods for getting new buyers and getting them addicted, the sheriff said.

Consider this: People working for the cartels are now going to places such as gas stations and boldly approaching people to give them “samples” or “testers,” Plummer said, which are gel caps containing fentanyl or heroin (or both).

They provide these sample bags with, remarkably, business cards so that people can contact them if they want more.

“They’re even doing car-to-car” drug deals, Plummer said, so that if they suspect police are approaching, they can just “take off in their car.”

We’ve done so much, but the numbers are going the other way. I don’t see the improvement.

– William Denihan, Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board

William Denihan, the outgoing chief executive officer of the Cuyahoga County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, called the opioid epidemic a “tsunami.”

“We’ve done so much, but the numbers are going the other way,” Denihan said. “I don’t see the improvement.”

In Montgomery County, Plummer can relate.

“The frustration part,” he said, given all that he and his officers are doing to address the issue from myriad angles, “is that things are just getting worse.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/Liz_Llorente

 



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Ballet dancer becomes NYC subway hero


Not all heroes wear tights—but New York City man Gray Davis does, in his job as a dancer with the American Ballet Theater.

Davis, 31, sprang into action after a homeless man was pushed onto subway tracks on Saturday night, jumping onto the tracks and lifting the unconscious 58-year-old man to safety before swinging himself back up, the AP reports.

More from Newser

Police say a 23-year-old woman who fled the scene on foot was arrested in connection with the assault at the 72nd Street Broadway-Seventh Avenue station.

Davis, who was not dancing that night due to a herniated disk injury, was on his way home with wife and fellow dancer Cassandra Trenary after her performance in The Golden Cockerel.

TRACTORS ROLL THROUGH TOWN TO HELP VETERANS STRUGGLING WITH PTSD

When the man was pushed onto the tracks after an argument, “at first I waited for somebody else to jump down there,” Davis tells the New York Times. “People were screaming to get help. But nobody jumped down. So I jumped down.”

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HUGE, deep hole found on Mars


A depression huge and deep on Mars has left astronomers baffled.

It was discovered by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (NRO), which has been studying the Martian surface for 11 years. The vast pit, estimated to be hundreds of feet across and surrounded by frozen carbon dioxide, is located on the south pole of Mars— sticking out among the Swiss cheese terrain of Earth’s closest neighbor.

According to NASA, “the depressions are thought to be caused by sublimation, which is when a material goes directly from a solid to a gas phase.”

According to Science Alert, there are many ways such holes are formed on Mars, which is colder than Earth— meteorites leave craters; lava tubes collapse and produce deep pits; floods from long ago hollow out grand canyons; and volcanos melts ice fashioning funnels.

The depression was discovered by the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, which allows NASA to see Martian objects larger than 3 feet from about 125 to 250 miles above.

The camera takes repeated images throughout Mars’ seasons to monitor the terrain’s changes.

 



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California homeless veterans move into apartment built from recycled shipping containers


An apartment complex built entirely of recycled shipping containers in California is providing shelter for homeless veterans.

Potter’s Lane, located in Midway City, Calif., was built by the American Family Housing, a nonprofit organization that provides shelter and assistance to those in need, according to its website.

Potter’s Lane is the first multi-family structure to be built entirely from recovered shipping containers – but it will not be the last. In November, Los Angeles residents voted and approved a $1.2 billion bond to construct shelters for the homeless, according to the Los Angeles Times. There are plans to build more sustainable complexes.

PROBE ONGOING AFTER HEDGEHOGS DUMPED IN CALIFORNIA TRASH CAN

The $1,200 per month rent is largely subsidized, Steven Forry, American Family Housing’s chief development officer, told CBS News.

Sixteen studio apartments were built from 48 recycled shipping containers. The complex, which took six months to complete, was purposely made small so the residents can connect with one another.

“When you’re dealing with people who have been homeless and you warehouse them in 300 units, you are not creating a safety net for people, you are not creating a human connection with people,” Forry said. “The concept here is called housing first. Find a home for them like we found here and then you surround them with social services.”

WAZE EXPANDING CARPOOL SERVICE TO ALL OF CALIFORNIA

Marine veteran Dale Dollar has been living on the street for 14 years. He now lives at Potter’s Lane along with 15 others, most of whom served their country, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s quite a place. You know you come in when you’ve been sleeping in a tent on the dirt and rocks for years and have to fight to keep your stuff and you end up in a place as beautiful as this?” Dollar said. “Oh, I’ve been blessed more than I should have been. It’s wonderful.”



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Venezuela crisis forces women to sell sex in Colombia, fuels slavery risk


As a humanitarian and political crisis in neighboring Venezuela deepens, a growing number of Venezuelan women are working in bars and brothels across Colombia.

“I didn’t do this in Venezuela. I never ever imagined I’d be doing this in Colombia,” said Maria, who declined to give her real name, to Reuters.

She charges $17 for 15-minutes of sex, and the money earned is spent on buying medicine for her mother who has cancer.

UNITED AIRLINES LATEST CARRIER TO END FLIGHTS TO VENEZUELA

For the past year, she has traveled back and forth from Bogota to Venezuela’s capital Caracas every 90 days, before her tourist visa expires, carrying medicine, food and soap.

“I’m ashamed I have to do this. It’s a secret,” said Maria, 26, who has told her family she is a traveling salesperson.

Venezuelan migrants are often lured by false promises of well-paid work in Colombia’s restaurants and bars or as domestic workers.

But then they find they are forced to work long hours with little or no pay, are not free to leave the bar they work in, and may be trapped by debts owed to the agents who brought them across the border.

According to Asmubuli, a Colombian sex workers association, currently there are around 4,500 Venezuelan sex workers in the country.

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION SLAMS GOLDMAN SACHS FOR $2.8 BILLION BOND PURCHASE

Fidelia Suarez, head of the sex workers association, cited the case of 11 Venezuelan women trapped in a dingy bar in Colombia’s northern city of Bucaramanga. At first, she said, the women were allowed to come and go as they pleased, but in February the bar owner seized their documents, withheld their wages, and prevented them from leaving the bar.

“That’s slavery,” said Suarez, who has visited the bar. “They are enslaved there, under the conditions and rules decided by the owner, which aren’t legal.”

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia in the past year, as triple-digit inflation, a collapsed health system and weeks of violent protests engulfs oil-rich Venezuela.

VENEZUELA’S MADURO ANNOUNCES REFERENDUM, TRIES TO QUELL UNREST

As prostitution is legal in Colombia it makes it difficult for society to see sex workers as victims of trafficking, and a blurry line often exists between those who voluntarily engage in adult prostitution and those coerced into sex work.

It’s not just women who say they have no option but to sell their bodies for sex, but young Venezuelan men too.

Dorian, 25, started working in Bogota’s Lourdes Park about two weeks ago.

“It’s disappointing. I’m disappointed in myself,” said Dorian, a business studies university graduate unable to find a job and with no money to pay for rent and food.

He left Venezuela six months ago, after a close friend was shot dead by gang members on his way home from a party.

“It could have been me. I knew then that I had to flee, that I was in danger,” said Dorian, dressed in tight white trousers.

“The economic instability, the insecurity in Venezuela, it all becomes unbearable.”

Reuters contributed to this report.



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Galaxy Note 8 coming soon?


Samsung’s next flagship will be the Galaxy Note 8, and that’s hardly a secret. The Korean smartphone maker confirmed that it’s not killing the Note line despite what happened last year, and we’ve already seen a bunch of reports detailing some of the Galaxy Note 8’s new features. But the newest rumor may bring the best news of all, because it seems to indicate the phone could hit stores even sooner than we expected.

According to Galaxy Club’s sources, the Galaxy Note 8 will feature an Infinity display similar to the gorgeous screen on the Galaxy S8. If there’s one “confirmed” feature of the Galaxy Note 8, it’s the screen. After all, the Infinity display is the Galaxy S8’s best feature.

The report also says the Galaxy Note 8 will be tested running Android 7.1.1. That’s an important detail because it indicates that the phone will not launch with Android O out of the box. That could imply that Samsung won’t have access to the final version of Android O in time for the Galaxy Note 8’s launch. It’s unlikely for Samsung to run Nougat on the Galaxy Note 8 during testing and then launch it running Android O.

If the report is accurate, it means Samsung doesn’t plan to delay the Galaxy Note 8’s launch for too long. Some earlier reports said the Galaxy Note 8 may be unveiled later than the expected late August or early September timeframe because Samsung wants to take extra care that it doesn’t repeat any of its mistakes from last year with the Note 7.

Android O, meanwhile, should debut at some point in the third quarter of the year, just ahead of the Pixel 2’s arrival.



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HANK JR. RETURNS Country star to rejoin 'Monday Night Football'


Hank Williams Jr. is coming back to “Monday Night Football” six years after ESPN dropped the country singer for his comments about President Barack Obama.

ESPN says a new version of Williams’ longtime “MNF” theme and its “Are you ready for some football?” catchphrase will debut before the first regular-season Monday night game — a Sept. 11 matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.

The network says in a statement that it’s bringing back what it calls “most iconic music video in sports television history” because fans missed it.

ESPN dropped Williams in 2011 after he compared Obama golfing with then-House Speaker John Boehner to Adolf Hitler golfing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

ESPN executive Stephanie Druley told USA Today Network-Tennessee that she’s not concerned about any backlash over Williams’ return.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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FACE OF HATE Radical cleric tied to UK terror attacks


A jailed British hate preacher who has become ISIS’ rock star radicalizer in the U.K. has been linked to one of the suspected jihadis behind Saturday’s van and knife attack in London — but it’s only the latest example of the Islamist leader’s tentacles touching ISIS plots in England.

Anjem Choudary, 50, was sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison in September for his vocal support of ISIS and had been a visible Islamist activist in England since at least 2002. He has called the 9/11 hijackers “magnificent martyrs,” declined to condemn terror attacks on British soil and predicted Britain will become a Muslim country within 30 years.

He’s also been – at least – an inspiration for several of the terror attacks that have plagued England in recent months.

“If you look at jihad as a skill, Choudary is very good at it,” said Ryan Mauro, Shillman Fellow for the anti-Islamist Clarion Project. “He is as likeable as you can be and still be a jihadist.”

Though police haven’t released the names of any member of the trio involved in the weekend’s ISIS-claimed attack, multiple media outlets have reported one of the suspects was featured in a year-old British television documentary, “Jihadis Next Door.” In the film, the man is seen praying near an ISIS flag with Mohammed Shamsuddin, an associate of Choudary.

“Anyone who is seen praying with one of Choudary’s close associates should be assumed to be a radical, because his circle isn’t large,” Mauro told Fox News. “His message is, his few supporters shows how devout he is.”

Khalid Masood, who killed four people in London in March during a van and knife attack, showed an interest in Choudary’s teachings and his group, al Muhajiroun, The Times of London reported.

“He cites Islamic scripture left and right, so he’s very good at answering tough questions in a way that doesn’t sound mean-hearted or crazy, so it’s as appealing a way to present violent jihad as you can get,” Mauro said. “He’s also very good at promoting groups like ISIS without giving you the one-sentence soundbite that allows you to incriminate him.”

Salman Abedi, who blew himself up outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last month, was reportedly controlled by the same ISIS cell responsible for the November 2015 Paris attacks – an assault Choudary once praised as “inevitable.”

Even from his current perch behind bars, the charismatic Choudary remains a dangerous influence in Britain, Mauro said.

“Whenever there is a jihadist attack in the U.K., if you were going to ask me to place a bet if they were a fan of his content, I would bet ‘yes,’” Mauro said.

“His influence is here to stay, even if he were to die tomorrow.”



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BACKING COSBY 'Huxtable' daughter comes to trial with TV dad


Bill Cosby arrived at the suburban Philadelphia courthouse for the start of his sexual assault trial Monday.

The 79-year-old Cosby showed up at the Montgomery County courthouse at about 8:40 a.m. amid a large media presence.

Arriving with the disgraced comedian were his defense attorneys and his former “Cosby Show” castmate Keshia Knight Pullman who played his daughter Rudy.

Cosby’s life and legacy are on the line when his accuser takes the stand in the only criminal case to emerge from the dozens of sexual assault allegations lodged against the actor. The former college basketball manager says Cosby drugged and assaulted her in 2004.

This is the only criminal case to emerge from the dozens of sexual assault allegations lodged against him.

Cosby says he had a romantic relationship with her. She will tell her story in public for the first time when she testifies.

Those involved in the case worry about duplicating the media frenzy that dominated O.J. Simpson’s murder trial.

Cameras are banned in Pennsylvania courtrooms. The jury will be sequestered for the estimated two-week trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.

Tamara Gitt is a Fox News Channel Field Producer based in New York. Follow her on twitter: @tamaragitt. 



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2020 VISION Obama-tied group's census contract raises questions


Concerns are being raised on Capitol Hill about whether partisan politics could impact the 2020 Census and swing congressional redistricting in favor of Democrats.

Fox News has learned that last summer, a pro-Democratic analytics firm that describes itself as “a platform for hope and change” was included as a subcontractor in a $415 million advertising contract for the 2020 Census.

The data firm, Civis Analytics, was founded by the chief analytics officer on former President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

Since congressional redistricting, which occurs every 10 years, is based on the results of the national Census, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is now asking the secretary of the Department of Commerce to ensure that the Census will be conducted in a nonpartisan fashion — and that redistricting will not be impacted. 

READ THE LETTER

“In 2016, the Bureau awarded an advertising contract that included a subcontractor with close ties to the partisan politics that reportedly ‘spun out of’ the reelection campaign of President Obama,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a letter obtained by Fox News.

Johnson went on to say, “This partisan lineage raises concern in light of a Democratic initiative to use the results of the 2020 Census to draw district lines in a manner favorable to Democratic candidates.”

Johnson was referring to a group led by former Attorney General Eric Holder that is focused on using the redistricting process to boost Democrats in office.

It’s unclear how much of the $415 million contract — which was awarded to Young & Rubicam Inc. – that Civis Analytics will receive as a subcontractor or exactly what work the firm will perform on the Census. 

Civis Analytics has not responded to a request for comment. In a brief statement, the Commerce Department said: “We are aware of concerns regarding Civis and are looking into the matter.” 

Johnson specifically asked what “protections exist” to ensure contractors and subcontractors cannot “misdirect communications and advertising strategies” for the effort, or “use Census data in future business.”

Johnson is asking for Ross to provide in-depth answers by June 19. 

Will Carr joined Fox News Channel (FNC) as a Los Angeles-based correspondent in June 2013.



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