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  1. #16576

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Are any of you here familiar with Richmond, VA?
    Roger forever

  2. #16577

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Not intimately, but I've been there a few times.....depends on what you want to know(?). GH

  3. #16578
    Everyday Warrior MJ2004's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Used to live in Newport News, about one hour from Richmond. Humid. Very hot and humid. And lots of huge spiders everywhere. That's about the extent of my recollection of the area.

  4. #16579
    Awards Showcase

    James7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Blog Entries

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    I live about 2 hours drive away.
    I disapprove of this message

  5. #16580

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    Trump administration to revoke California’s authority to set stricter auto emissions standards
    By Washington Post Staff
    September 17, 2019 at 2:57 p.m. EDT

    The move sets up a massive legal fight between the federal government and the nation’s most populous state, which for decades has exercised authority to put in place more stringent fuel economy standards. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have vowed to adopt California’s standards if they diverge from the federal government, as have several major automakers.
    This is a developing story. It will be updated.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  6. #16581

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    (Republican) Pennsylvania state senator, charged with possession of child pornography, resigns

    Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer (R) in 2017. (Marc Levy/AP)

    Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer has resigned after being charged with possession of child pornography on Tuesday night. Authorities said they discovered images of child pornography on his cellphone.

    The Patriot-News reported that the charges against Folmer (R), 63, include sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility.

    The married grandfather of seven was charged as the result of a tip that the blogging site Tumblr had found that a user had uploaded an image of child pornography using its application, officials said. They said the tip led investigators to Folmer’s home in Lebanon, Pa., where they executed a search warrant and found child pornography images on his cellphone.

    Folmer told authorities that he received child pornography images through his Tumblr blog and that he was experiencing “some personal problems,” according to the Patriot-News’s review of charging documents.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R) announced Folmer’s retirement.

    “We are sickened and disturbed by the charges brought against Mike Folmer yesterday,” the Senate leaders said in a statement, according to the Patriot-News. “We have reviewed the criminal complaint and spoke with Mike Folmer early this morning to insist on his resignation from the Senate. We are in receipt of his letter of resignation and the 48th Senatorial District seat is now vacant.”

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) announced the charges Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, Folmer’s name had already been removed from the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee’s website and his colleagues on both sides of the aisle were condemning his alleged actions and calling for him to resign.


    Folmer did not respond to messages seeking comment Wednesday morning.

    The state senator was first elected in 2006, when he defeated Sen. David Brightbill in the GOP primary — a win that was spurred by anger over 2005 legislative pay raises, according to the Patriot-News.

    Folmer became known as “Marijuana Mike” for his role in pushing the governor’s medical marijuana legislation, which was signed in 2016.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  7. #16582

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    More on Folmer from his local paper:

    Pa. Sen. Folmer resigns day after being charged with possession of child pornography
    Updated 1:41 PM; Today 12:16 PM

    Folmer, who carried a copy of the constitution in his pocket, was elected to the Senate by pulling off a major upset victory in the 2006 Republican primary.

    Campaigning as “Citizen Mike” on a shoestring budget that capitalized on the anti-incumbency voter hostility over a double-digit pay hike lawmakers approved for themselves and other state officials in 2005 and subsequently repealed, the one-time tire salesman handily beat then-Senate Majority Leader David Brightbill to win the Republican nomination. He then went on to win that November and easily won re-election the last three times he ran.

    According to his Senate bio, he also won a seat on Lebanon City Council in 1986 as a Democrat and later, changed his registration to Republican.

    Folmer is married, the father of two adult children, and has seven grandchildren.

    Neither publication put the fact that he's a Republican in their headline(s).
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  8. #16583

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    ‘The face of the opioid epidemic’: How a college dropout became a fentanyl kingpin.

    By Deanna PaulSeptember 18 at 7:00 AM

    Aaron Shamo could be considered the face of the opioid epidemic.

    A prosecutor uttered those words during the closing argument at the 29-year-old’s trial last month. After three weeks of testimony, a Salt Lake City jury deliberated for two days before finding Shamo guilty of running a national drug-trafficking operation and distributing fentanyl-laced counterfeit pills in all 50 states.

    His legal troubles began three years earlier, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, when federal agents wearing oxygen tanks and protective suits raided his home and two nearby stash houses. The November 2016 drug bust proved to be one of the largest in the state’s history, resulting in a seizure of more than 74,000 fentanyl pills and $1.2 million stuffed in a sock drawer and a safe.

    According to a story published by the Associated Press and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Shamo’s trial detailed the ease with which fentanyl, a synthetic opioid chemically similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent, is bought and distributed across the globe.

    Shamo built a multimillion-dollar opioid ring and operated what he called “his empire” from a basement in suburban Utah, using a handful of friends, Internet access and a mailbox.

    The group began by selling Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat attention-deficit disorder, but soon moved on to more serious drugs. According to prosecutors, Shamo, an Eagle Scout and college dropout, “established himself as the CEO of a nationwide drug distribution network” and became a “drug dealer to other drug dealers.”

    They bought fentanyl powder from an online marketplace and received the order by mail in packages shipped from China, one of the main global sources of the drug. (The other is Mexican cartels.)

    Shamo and his co-workers also bought pill presses and used them to manufacture fake tablets of Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, and what prosecutors called “poison” painkillers — shaped and stamped like legitimate pharmaceutical drugs. Then they resold the pills on the dark-net marketplace and distributed them via U.S. mail.

    “Evidence showed Shamo received messages from customers that they were getting sick,” the Utah U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement after the verdict. His response was to send more pills to the complaining customers.

    “There was no shortage of fake pain pills,” the statement said. “Co-defendants in the case, who were responsible for packaging and shipping, used a vacuum to clean up pills from the floor because they believed it was not worth their time to pick them up because of the volume of pills they were manufacturing.”

    In a criminal case, federal law enforcement considers an undercover purchase of 100 pills of Oxycodone to be substantial. Shamo, prosecutors said, sold at least half a million pills over about two years.

    From left, Drew Crandall, Aaron Shamo and Sean Gygi. Prosecutors said Shamo built a multimillion-dollar fentanyl trafficking empire from his computer with help from Crandall and Gygi. (AP)

    Shamo’s verdict arrived weeks before OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, reached a tentative deal with 24 states and thousands of local governments that, if finalized, would be the first wide-ranging settlement to hold a drug company accountable over its role in the opioid crisis, which has taken more than 200,000 lives through overdoses since 1999, according to federal statistics. The negotiated terms required the Sacklers to relinquish control of Purdue Pharma but admit to no wrongdoing.

    The widespread abuse of fentanyl, which began in 2013, has become the deadliest drug epidemic in American history.

    The Washington Post previously reported: “From 2013 through 2017, more than 67,000 people died of synthetic-opioid-related overdoses, the majority of them from fentanyl. In 2018, another 31,473 Americans died, according to the latest available figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

    The most common distribution method for fentanyl is the U.S. Postal Service, a fact the Treasury Department acknowledged in an August statement announcing sanctions against three Chinese nationals accused of trafficking fentanyl.

    That, according to the Associated Press, is how federal authorities’ attention turned to Shamo. By then, though, he had produced nearly half a million potentially lethal pills and earned millions of dollars in cash and cryptocurrencies selling them on the dark web

    “It’s safe to say that this individual is responsible for hundreds of thousands, more likely millions, of counterfeit tablets going across the continental United States,” DEA Special Agent Brian Besser said at the time of Shamo’s arrest.

    “These counterfeit pills have fentanyl being put into them, and there is no control mechanism, there is no regulation method. So one person may get a pill out of a counterfeit batch and take it and use it,” he said. “The second person may take the pill and die almost immediately.” Because some of the drugs were marketed as less powerful narcotics, like Oxycodone, they posed an extra danger to users unprepared to ingest fentanyl.

    Although prosecutors alleged connections between Shamo and several overdoses, he was charged in connection with only one — a 21-year-old man in California.

    The jury convicted Shamo of 12 counts, including continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the single count accusing Shamo of causing another person’s death.

    “The opioid epidemic is something we all read and hear about every day, and [Shamo] was very much a part of it — he was dealing opioids,” attorney Greg Skordas, who represented Shamo, told The Washington Post on Tuesday. At trial, the defense tried to avoid the mandatory life sentence by arguing that Shamo was not the leader of the drug ring, but one of several participating members.

    Skordas continued, “He was 26 years old when he was arrested, and he will never walk out of prison. The prospect of spending the rest of your life there seems incredibly disproportionate.”

    Shamo is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 3.

    Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the number of states that have agreed to the settlement deal with Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  9. #16584

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    From the Deseret News:

    Editor's note: The illicit drug trade is undergoing a seismic shift, with Utah in the middle of the deadly trade of the opioid fentanyl. This is the first in an ongoing series about this modern-day plague.

    It was two days before Thanksgiving, and outside his split-level home in Cottonwood Heights it looked like the first big storm of winter was on its way. It was a little unusual for a 26-year-old to be able to afford to live in a neighborhood like this, where houses went for half a million dollars and the neighbor across the street had a koi pond and a big cream-colored boat, but there was nothing about Shamo that gave anyone pause. An Eagle Scout, he’d been a deacon in the Mormon church as a kid, passing the sacrament on Sundays. But these days he didn’t go to church much.

    Neighbors noticed he slept in and seemed to go to bed late, but that wasn’t really weird either, even for a 26-year-old. They’d see him pulling out of his driveway in his black BMW, or wearing a tank top to show off his ripped physique. Shamo would wave, maybe say hi, but he mostly kept to himself.

    A photo of Aaron Shamo's home in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Parker Atkinson, Deseret News

    The DEA believed Shamo ran a global operation based largely on a synthetic opioid known as fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin and linked to overdose deaths across the country. If they were right, he represented the rise of a new kind of drug dealer and an alarming shift in the way Americans were getting illicit narcotics.

    Traditionally, drug trafficking organizations had operated like sophisticated corporations, employing hundreds, if not thousands of people to move loads of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine from the fields and super labs of the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Michoacan to the street corners of Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. It was a complex and efficiently organized logistics system that relied on everything from tractor-trailers with hidden compartments to fishing boats that unloaded on remote beaches along the northern coast of California.

    But now, just as it had done with countless other industries, the internet was disrupting the drug game. Darknet dealers didn’t need anything other than a laptop, a rudimentary understanding of the internet and a mailing address. Shamo, it seemed, had perfected this new method of drug distribution.

    Shamo certainly didn’t look the part of a stereotypical drug dealer. Clean-cut and fastidious about his diet, he loved working out and reading motivational books, like "The Secret," learning how to “manifest” his goals. Always smiling, he punctuated nearly every sentence with a little laugh.

    He knew that when people met him, saw the Beemer and the gleaming white smile, they might dismiss him as a guy who’d dropped out of Utah Valley University, interested mostly in girls, partying and making a lot of money.

    But if Shamo had to describe himself, he’d say he was a “closet nerd.” That’s what he told girls when they met him, just so they wouldn’t freak out when they walked into his apartment and saw what looked like an IT closet in his bedroom, with stacks of servers and black cords snaking across the carpet.

    Back then, when Shamo was in college, he’d started something called Bitcoin mining. When people asked how he made money, he told them he traded in Bitcoins, the online currency. Most people didn’t know what Bitcoins were and so the questions usually stopped there.

    Two men in chemical suits exit the residence as local and federal agencies respond to a fentanyl making lab bust in Cottonwood Heights on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) (Photo: Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

    A modern plague

    Six months later, on May 31 of this year, U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber gathered in downtown Salt Lake City with agents from the DEA and Homeland Security to announce the dismantling of an international drug ring.

    For months, Huber had been talking about the rising rate of opioid overdoses in Utah, and how the illicit drug trade was undergoing a seismic shift. Drug Enforcement Administration agents had once given his office cases built on meth busts and marijuana seizures, but now the cartels had moved on to something more profitable, lethal and much easier to ship: heroin. Using the same distribution routes they had established to traffic meth, they were now flooding Salt Lake City’s streets and suburbs with black tar heroin processed in Sinaloa.

    Today, though, Huber was standing before the press to announce a new front in the drug war: a multimillion dollar drug trafficking ring comprised of a handful of 20-somethings living in the Salt Lake suburbs. The head of that ring, he said, was Aaron Shamo.

    A year before, the DEA had warned Huber they were beginning to seize a new opioid called fentanyl in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, it had been developed in the 1960s to treat extreme cancer pain, but now drug dealers were lacing it into pills designed to look like prescription strength oxycodone.

    Some users craved the more potent high. Others, thinking they were taking a dosage of oxycodone their body could handle, overdosed and died. The DEA warned Huber that it was just a matter of time before fentanyl got to Salt Lake City. To Huber, Shamo represented its arrival.

    ...For the past decade, Utah has consistently ranked in the top 10 for opioid–related drug overdoses. Two years ago, Utah ranked fourth. Last year the state had the seventh-highest opioid overdose death rate per capita in the nation. (Opioids are a class of drug that includes heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and pain relievers available by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine).

    “There’s a certain undercurrent in Utah where illicit conventional drugs, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, we don’t want to talk about that,” said Brian Bessser, who heads the DEA’s Salt Lake office. “That’s bad, that’s dirty and we don’t do that. But drugs that come in a bottle, that’s a different story, they’re from my doctor, that’s private, leave me alone.”

    Besser said the opioid epidemic affects all strata of society. He’s heard about accountants and lawyers and high school lacrosse players who overdosed on heroin or pain pills. He knows a single mom from American Fork, now in recovery, who would leave her LDS sacrament meeting to drive up to a spot near Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake City known as “The Block” to score a baggie of heroin. Heroin is so ubiquitous on The Block it usually only took her 10 minutes to score, and she usually made these transactions in plain daylight.

    What began as an addiction epidemic fueled by the proliferation of prescription pain pills is now morphing into an overdose epidemic, said Maia Szalavitz, author of "Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction."

    And it could get worse. In Ohio, one of the states hardest hit by the heroin epidemic, counties are seeing an alarming rise in overdoses tied to fentanyl and analogues like carfentanil, historically used to tranquilize elephants, but now laced into pills for addicts seeking an even more powerful high. Carfentanil was blamed for a spike of 78 overdoses in Cincinnati over two days last summer.

    So far, the fentanyl scourge hasn’t hit Western states with the same force it's impacted places like Ohio. That could be because of the historical divide in the nation’s heroin market. Powdered heroin is generally found east of the Mississippi. Black tar heroin is found in the West.

    That’s significant because the bulk of drug trafficking is still controlled by cartels, and if they shift from black tar to powdered heroin, fentanyl (also a powder) will most likely come along with it. That means that heroin addicts buy on the street will in all likelihood be cut with fentanyl because of its potency.

    What’s driving the spread of fentanyl is largely economics, Huber said. Because of its strength, a dealer can order one kilo from a clandestine lab in China for $3,500, cut it into pills with the same coloration and markings as the oxycodone pill and sell it on the street for $30 a pill. One kilo of fentanyl can produce close to 1 million pills, Huber said, and depending on the market, those pills can generate a profit of $6 million to $20 million.

    “Those profit margins are irresistible if you’ve checked your moral agency,” Huber said. “The problem is we’re not talking about science here. I’m talking about Beavis and Butthead making pills.”

    “Because he’s making it in his bathroom or wherever else, grinding up the fentanyl in a coffee grinder while he watches the 'Price is Right,' he can’t figure out how much fentanyl is going in each pill,” Besser said. “So if you’re the unlucky sap that got the pill that happens to be hot, the moment you take that you’re going to die.”

    When the DEA raided Shamo’s Cottonwood Heights home and a stash house in South Jordan last November, they found a pill press, $1.2 million in cash and 95,000 pills that could have been sold for as much as $2.2 million, according to court records.

    Shamo has pleaded not guilty, but if convicted, he would be one the biggest darknet drug dealers ever successfully prosecuted in U.S. The allegations against him document the way technology is fundamentally altering the drug game, and how hard it is becoming for law enforcement to stop the flow of illicit narcotics.

    It’s also the story of small decisions and big consequences, and the choices a kid who grew up in a devout Mormon family in the suburbs of Phoenix made that led him to a prison cell, facing a possible life sentence.

    “I’d want people to know I’m not like, a guy in a cartel, or some Pablo Escobar,” Shamo said earlier this month from the Weber County Jail in a series of interviews with the Deseret News. “My parents would say I’m a good kid.”
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

    ― Frank Zappa

  10. #16585

    Re: National, Regional and Local News

    You'll never solve or even mitigate your drug addition problems from enforcement side. There will always be another Shamo. The key question is why so many people choose to use and how to lower that number. Demand needs to be reduced...
    Roger forever

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