Last month, krokodil, a highly addictive drug that eats through human skin, made its first known appearance in the United States, with two casesreported in Arizona. Now, use of krokodil—which has been nicknamed the "zombie drug"—has spread to the Midwest. The Herald-Newsreports that five people have been treated for symptoms associated with krokodil use at the Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Illinois, which is located about 40 miles from the Windy City.
Dr. Abhin Singla, director of addiction services at the Joliet hospital, told CBS 2 that one of the patients was a 25-year-old longterm heroin user who started using krokodil about a month ago. Singla notes, "When she came in, she had the destruction that occurs because of this drug, over 70 percent of her lower body."
As we reported last month, krokodil, which is Russian slang for Desomorphine, has a similar effect to heroin, but it is significantly cheaper and easier to make. Its main ingredients are codeine, iodine, red phosphorous, paint thinner, gasoline, and hydrochloric acid. It's far more addictive and deadly; krokodil users tend to only live two or three years. When the drug is injected into the skin, it often causes gangrene, forcing the skin to rot away, and causes speech problems and erratic muscle movements. Singla told the Beacon-News, "If you want to kill yourself, (using) this is the way to do it." (For gruesome and totally NSFW images of the health effects of krokodil, go here.)
Singla told the Herald-News that the krokodil users believed that they were getting heroin and were given the other drug instead. Most said they obtained the drug in Chicago—not Joliet. Three of the patients were "middle-class white women in their early to mid-20s" and the other two were men, one 22 and the other 32, with arm wounds, according to the paper. The 25-year-old remains in intensive care, and "two others have left the hospital against medical advice because they were afraid of prosecution." Krokodil is a new synthetic drug, so it is not yet a controlled substance, according to a DEA spokesperson.
Until this fall, the drug had never been seen before in the United States. However, the drug has been prevalent in Russia. In the first few months of 2011 alone, the Russia's Federal Drug Control Service confiscated 65 million doses of the drug.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is not currently investigating the reported emergence of krokodil in the US. "We have not received any sort of specimen in any of our labs," DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden tells Mother Jones. But, she adds, "we're keeping an eye out on the trends across the country, and if and when we need to get involved, we certainly will."
Perhaps you've heard that if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling by October 17 the United States will face an unprecedented financial default. The way some Republicans talk about the consequences of passing that threshold, you might think that hitting that limit might not be all that bad (Florida's Ted Yoho, in fact, thinks it would be beneficial). But sober-minded economists are describing the ramifications of a default with terms usually reserved Roland Emmerich flicks—like "apocalypse." The full economic fallout of defaulting are unknown. "It's a little like asking how many people will be killed if there's another terrorist attack," says Isabel Sawhill, a budget expert at the Brookings Institution. But we do know that as early as October 22 the US government will run out of money to pay its bills and federal spending will have to be cut by about 32 percent, according to an estimate by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). That's when Americans of all stripes would start feeling the pain in many different ways. Here are 16 of them:
1. Social Security payments will be delayed, possibly cut. According to President Obama, in the event of a default the US government will have no choice but to delay Social Security checks. The government owes $12 billion in Social Security payments on October 23 and an additional $25 billion on November 1. At some point between October 22 and November 1, the BPC predicts that the US government will have exhausted its borrowing power and will either have to start severely delaying its bills or sort through the millions of different payments it makes each month—on everything from national parks to the FBI—to figure out which ones to stop paying. That's when Social Security could see sustained cuts.
2. Federal employees will be screwed…even more. Furloughed federal employees haven't been paid since the government shutdown began on October 1. Congress is unlikely to end the shutdown without raising the debt limit, meaning furloughed staffers would be unlikely to receive paychecks anytime soon.
Many college students consider it an accomplishment if they beat their hangovers and make it to class on time. But last year, Nelson Kanuk, a freshman at at the University of Alaska–Fairbanks, sued his state for failing to reduce carbon emissions or slow climate change. Last week, the Alaska Supreme Court agreed to hear Kanuk's appeal, becoming the first high court in the country to take up such a case. (You can view the full hearing, which took place in a high school auditorium, here.)
Kanuk hails from a remote Yup'ik Eskimo village called Kipnuk, which is accessible primarily via river. Due to melting permafrost, the riverbank that protects Kanuk's family's house from floods softened, and some 13 feet of their front yard was swallowed up by the rushing water. The family has since been forced to move about 100 miles away.
"[My village] is not really connected to the outside world, but I was always interested in what's going on all around us, I was curious in climate change and how it was affecting us," Kanuk says in a video put out by the environmental group helping with the lawsuit, Our Children's Trust. "I didn't realize how bad it was. When I finally understood what climate change was, I thought, what can I do to help?"
Kanuk's legal argument hinges on what's called the "public trust doctrine" which holds that there are natural resources (like lakes, or places where the states issues hunting permits) that can't be subject to private ownership, and as a consequence, states have a responsibility to protect them so that they can be enjoyed by future generations. Kanuk and his six co-plaintiffs claim that the atmosphere falls under this doctrine, and although the air hasn't been "threatened" before, "throughout history, law has evolved as courts respond to unforeseen, often urgent, circumstances."
Kanuk isn't the first person to bring a climate change lawsuit against a state—or even the first teenager. Lawsuits are also pending in 12 other states, including Montana, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Arizona, New Mexico, Washington, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and also in federal court. The environmental group working with Kanuk, Our Children's Trust, has been helping teens bring many of these lawsuits, and in Kansas, the plaintiff was only 14. But so far, only a trial court in Texas has backed the plaintiffs and the case is now facing appeal, according to Alaska Public Media. A decision in Kanuk's case is expected in a few months.
With the government shutdown entering its second week, it's widely believed that the House has enough Republican votes to pass a government spending bill with no strings attached, if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were to actually bring this measure to the floor. But even if Panda Cam gets turned back on again (with the rest of the in-hibernation government), the country will still run out of money to pay its bills on October 17, unless Congress agrees to raise the debt ceiling. The consequences of failing to raise the debt limit are far graver than shutting down the government, potentially causing a default that could lead to a global financial catastrophe and another recession. Mother Jones surveyed the House Republican caucus, emailing the offices of over 200 lawmakers and digging through public statements, to gauge which lawmakers would support a bill to raise the debt ceiling without any unrelated demands. Here's the full list of every Republican we found who was publicly favorable to the idea:
1. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.)
In an interview with E&E Publishing on October 4, Whitfield said, "For myself, I'd just like a clean debt ceiling. I'm working with Democrats in the Senate, and I don't want to get tied up in a big argument about the debt ceiling and everything else." Whitfield is the chief backer of a plan that would erode the Environmental Protection Agency's power to regulate emissions, and he was specifically talking about leaving the climate change debate out of debt ceiling negotiations (right now, the GOP's draft debt ceiling bill contains a host of energy-related demands). Elana Schor, the reporter who interviewed Whitfield, said he made this comment within the context of discussing environmental riders, but she believes he was referring to an entirely clean bill. Mother Jones contacted Whitfield's office to confirm that he was indeed in favor of boosting the debt ceiling without trying to extract concessions from the Obama administration. His office did not respond.
Memo to first ladies: If you express a remotely controversial opinion, don't bother attempting to defend your remarks. Your husband can do that for you.
Governor Rick Perry's (R-Texas) views on women's reproductive rights are crystal clear: He's shuttered family planning clinics across the Lone Star State, championed abstinence education, and blamed rising teen pregnancy rates on the fact that America is ignoring the Boy Scouts. But last weekend, Anita Perry, who worked as a nurse before becoming the First Lady of Texas, said that abortion "could be a woman's right." Given her husband's efforts to destroy every last abortion clinic in Texas, news of her quote spread like wildfire. But before pundits' ink could dry, the governor made sure to shut that whole thing down.
“From time to time we’ll stick the wrong word in the wrong place, and you pounce upon it,” Perry said to the press yesterday during an appearance in New Jersey with Republican US Senate candidate Steve Lonegan. Anita Perry has not made any further public comment about her remarks—although they didn't seem to leave much room for interpretation:
In the interview she said, "it's really difficult for me...I see it as a woman's right, if they want to do it, that's their decision, they have to live with that decision." In response to a follow-up question from a Texas Tribune reporter—"are you saying that you believe abortion is a women's right, to make that choice?" Anita Perry said, "Yeah, that could be a women's right. Just like it's a man's right if he wants to have some kind of procedure. But I don't agree with it, and that's not my view." In the past, Anita Perry has done fundraisingfor a group called the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, which supports abortion rights. The Washington Post pointed out that Rick Perry pushed for his controversial (among social conservatives) executive order requiring HPV vaccines after his wife made a speech on the subject.
Perry will retire at the end of his third term. State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrat famous for staging a marathon filibuster against Texas Republicans' restrictive abortion bill, is expected to run, probably against Greg Abbott, the Republican state attorney general. Abbott, who opposes abortion, has not said whether he would make an exception for rape or incest, but noted that "we just don't discriminate against a child because of their beginnings."