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Everyone’s agreed: Stopping heroin will take a unified effort

Twenty-one pounds of heroin
Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Twenty-one pounds of heroin, worth $288,000, seized at the Port of Naco in Arizona.

In the Duluth News Tribune’s continuing series on the increase of heroin use in Northern Minnesota, Tom Olsen and John Lundy write that only a comprehensive community response will work to fight the highly addictive drug. “This is a community problem that really takes a community response from all agencies,” said Dennis Cummings, executive director of Duluth Bethel. Ideas covered in the story: Law enforcement needs to focus on catching and incarcerating pushers while treatment programs should be targeted at users. Treatment with methadone and the new drug Narcan can bring some help, and needle exchanges can keep users from sharing diseases. The formation of OARS — the Opioid Abuse Response and Strategies work group – should help. Officials from the government, medicine, addiction services, social services and law enforcement will work to provide a cohesive response to the problem.

When Bobby Bird Jr., heard about the “Siouxper drunk” T-shirts worn in Grand Forks, he felt he had to respond, writes Chuck Haley of the Forum News Service. The Michigan man, who has no ties to Grand Forks or the University of North Dakota, produced shirts that say “Siouxper sober” with a design similar to the earlier, offensive shirt. “We’ve just seen this blatant racism,” Bird said. “These stereotypes, it’s kind of mind-blowing.” Bird doesn’t drink alcohol or use drugs; his fiancé, Amanda, has been sober for 12 years; and his colleague who designed the “Siouxper sober” shirts, Cody Bigjohn, has been sober for more than 10 years, he said. “We’re trying to make a statement,” he said. “We want a different life for our children.” The T-shirts are being sold by Bird’s record company for American Indian artists, PowWow Jamz.

In a normal school year, finding an empty bullet casing on a school yard wouldn’t have been a big deal. But this year has hardly been normal for the Waseca School District, writes Dan Nienaber of the Mankato Free Press. “After evidence was found in March that someone had detonated small explosives on a Waseca elementary school playground, parents were told the incidents were being blown out of proportion by local media. That message changed after police found a large amount of explosive material in a storage shed April 29. John David LaDue was allegedly using the shed to make bombs for an attack at the school. Police also reported LaDue admitted to practicing by detonating the items found at the playground.” So when officials learned of the empty shell casing on school property, Superintendent Tom Lee fired off a message to parents informing them of the discovery. "Normally we wouldn't have reported on it," Lee said Monday. "But in light of what has happened, we decided it was best to let parents know."

Was your Monday boring? In Baxter, a black bear decided to take a stroll through near Southdale Park, causing a bit of a stir, writes Jennifer Stockinger of the Brainerd Dispatch. After neighbors sent messages to police about the bear, police tried to herd the bear into a swamp across from Highland Scenic Road. The bear didn’t cooperate. Ultimately, it climbed a tree and took a nap. Pete Mohs, who lives on Brentwood Drive, said the bear came down the tree, walked toward the house and disappeared. “He took his time,” said Mohs. “He didn’t seem mad or anything.”

Frank Bartocci is approaching 600 completed marathons, writes Paul Christian of the Rochester Post-Bulletin. It all started when his son Matt came down with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that affects the digestive and respiratory systems. "What I wanted was to be a role model for Matthew,'' Bartocci said. "My neighbor just got done doing it (marathon) and I said, 'Gee, I want to do that.' " Cristian writes: “So that’s what he does. He ran marathons last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The first three were at an event called 3 Days at the Fair. The fourth was the Shires of Vermont Marathon, between Bennington and Manchester. His next race will be Sunday's Med City Marathon in Rochester. After a couple more marathons, he will race in the Heartland Series — five marathons in five days in Niles, Mich., on June 4, followed by Anderson, Ind.; Bloomington, Ill.; Clinton, Iowa and on June 8, Monroe, Wis. "No rest for the weary,'' he said.

E. coli bacteria has been found in water at Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne, writes Julie Buntjer of the Worthington Daily Globe. Blue Mounds State Park Manager Chris Ingebretsen hopes an upcoming test will sound the all-clear from E. coli. Campers are urged not to drink, cook with or use the water to wash dishes. Showering with the water is OK, although not advised for young children who could potentially swallow it. “We chlorinated the system following Minnesota Department of Health guidelines,” Ingebretsen said. At this point, he added, it isn’t known if the E. coli bacteria is in the well itself or the water system’s pipes. E. coli was also found in the park last winter on a faucet that has never been for public use. Following treatment, follow-up testing was negative for the bacteria.

With state bonding money in hand, Duluth leaders are ready to start on their list of fix-up projects, writes Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune. “A state bonding bill promises to deliver money for all three projects the city had set as priorities, including $6.95 million to renovate the historic NorShor Theatre; $3.4 million to install a new waterline enabling Spirit Mountain to draw water for its snow-making operations from St. Louis Bay; and $2.3 million for new lights, artificial turf and brickwork repairs at Wade Stadium. … The city also succeeded in its quest to obtain the authorization it needs to reinstate a half-percent tax on local lodging, food and beverage sales. That tax expired in the fall of 2012.”

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Comments (1)

heroin and big pharma

Let's face it, heroin has been around for A LONG TIME. Why is this heroin issue popping up now? Because of the pushing and overprescription of dangerous opioid painkillers: they're more addictive and have a closer effective dose to the overdose. So while big pharma has pushed these substitutes, such as percocet and oxycontin, for naturally derived narcotic painkillers, such as codeine and morphine, their abuse and ready availability has caused a huge addiction problem. Where ya gonna go when you need a fix and can't get your pills?

Meanwhile, there's a huge worldwide shortage of morphine, because you can't patent it. Thus, big pharma can't rake in profits hand over fist from producing it like they can from their trouble making snake oils that are causing the addiction problem. And we're using the US military to fight a war on poppy farmers worldwide, notably in Afghanistan, instead of buying everything they can grow in order to supply the world with cheap, effective pain relief.

And now we're subsidizing law-enforcement efforts to counter the negative effects of the snake oil salesmen instead of going after the root cause of the addiction epidemic.