Kratom, a botanical dietary supplement alternative for addicts — is addictive itself

Three shaky months into recovery from heroin addiction, Dariya Pankova found something to ease her withdrawal. A local nonalcoholic bar sold a brewed beverage that soothed her brain and body much as narcotics had. A perfect solution — before it backfired.

Ms. Pankova grew addicted to the beverage itself. She drank more and more, awakened her cravings for the stronger high of heroin, and relapsed. Only during another stay in rehab did Ms. Pankova learn that the drink’s primary ingredient, a Southeast Asian leaf called kratom, affects the brain like an opiate and can be addictive, too.

“It’s preying on the weak and the broken,” said Ms. Pankova, 23, a Brooklyn native who received treatment in Delray Beach. “It’s a mind-altering substance, so people like me who are addicts and alcoholics, they think just because it’s legal, it’s fine. It’s a huge epidemic down here, and it’s causing a lot of relapses…”

Concern is particularly high in South Florida, where a rising concentration of drug-treatment providers has coincided with the sprouting of kratom bars. But kratom is now available around the country. Powdered forms of the leaf are sold at head shops and gas-station convenience stores and on the Internet. Bars have recently opened in Colorado, New York, North Carolina and other states where customers nurse brewed varieties, varying in strength, from plastic bottles that resemble those for fruit juice…

Just because a substance is “green” – and not yet illegal, doesn’t mean it isn’t addictive and harmful. Of course, a sensible drugs policy which regulated public access and distribution of any substance like this would go a long way towards providing help for addictive personalities and nudge DEA coppers and drug squads in the direction of useful employment.

That ain’t about to happen either. But, don’t kid yourself about quasi-legal green goodies always being better for your health. Just a prettier monkey on your back.

Idjits with guns continue occupation of Wildlife Refuge building

Law enforcement agencies are remaining mum about plans to end militiamen’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.

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What would coppers do if this militia was Black or Hispanic or – gasp – Muslim?

A splinter group of militia in town to support a local ranching family took over the federal office Saturday afternoon in a development that stunned the community and visiting militia.

Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward said in a statement late Saturday that “a collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution.”

Here’s a summary of key elements of this unfolding story:

The backdrop: Militiamen from several states came to Burns to protest the impending imprisonment of two Harney County ranchers. They participated in several community meetings and organized a rally and protest march that occurred without controversy on Saturday. The march lasted about an hour and involved about 300 people – a mix of militia and local residents…

The occupation: Some time after the rally, key militia leaders broke off and drove across the high desert basin south of Burns to the wildlife refuge. They said they took over the refuge headquarters, which was unoccupied for the holiday weekend. They also have blocked the access road. Indications are that this has been planned for some time. Accounts of how many militia are at the refuge range from their own claims of up to 150 to accounts from reporters at the scene that there may be no more than 15…

Who’s involved: Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, is acting as the leader, conducting a steady stream of media interviews. Other key militia leaders have joined him, including Ryan Payne, an Army veteran from Montana involved in last year’s armed standoff in Nevada with federal agents; Blaine Cooper, an Arizona militiaman who also participated in the Nevada standoff, and Jon Ritzheimer, who made headlines last year for anti-Muslim rhetoric…

Law enforcement response: During Saturday’s rally, not a police officer was visible. And so far law enforcement agencies have not approached the refuge or blocked access to the territory. The FBI is in charge because the refuge is federal property. The Harney County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police are engaged as well…

What’s next: Because the refuge is so remote and no government employees are at risk, law enforcement isn’t likely to immediately confront the militia. But law enforcement will be under great pressure to act because of the Bundys’ confrontation in Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management retreated from that confrontation and has yet to publicly act against the Bundys to collect $1 million in unpaid grazing fees. That retreat has emboldened militia members as they now face the prospect of another standoff.

And as I said up top – not likely this would be the case if armed militia composed of Black Americans, Hispanic Americans or Muslim Americans attempted occupation of a federal building. Rightwing nutballs from Trump to Cruz would have been screaming for the Air Force to nuke the wildlife refuge. Tea Party superpatriots would have enlisted in the nearest militia or Klavern to put down such an “insurrection”.

Because these are good old white boys rolling out the usual NRA blather about 2nd amendment rights — local, state and federal coppers will tippytoe around until the militia initiates whatever they choose to be the end of the confrontation. Some will want a glorious Waco conflagration. No doubt. Not especially distinct from any other jihad. I’m not certain if the rest will be satisfied with the level of free publicity our Trump-tamed Free Press is accustomed to providing.

I’d suggest staying in touch with the Oregonian or the Guardian who actually have folks on the scene.

Thanks, Ursarodinia and many others

I especially appreciate Ursa’s “We don’t have enough weirdos here in Oregon; we have to import them from Nevada?”

Krugman Op-Ed: Privilege, Pathology and Power

Wealth can be bad for your soul. That’s not just a hoary piece of folk wisdom; it’s a conclusion from serious social science, confirmed by statistical analysis and experiment. The affluent are, on average, less likely to exhibit empathy, less likely to respect norms and even laws, more likely to cheat, than those occupying lower rungs on the economic ladder…

So what happens to a nation that gives ever-growing political power to the superrich?

Modern America is a society in which a growing share of income and wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of people, and these people have huge political influence — in the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign, around half the contributions came from fewer than 200 wealthy families. The usual concern about this march toward oligarchy is that the interests and policy preferences of the very rich are quite different from those of the population at large, and that is surely the biggest problem.

But it’s also true that those empowered by money-driven politics include a disproportionate number of spoiled egomaniacs. Which brings me to the current election cycle.

The most obvious illustration of the point I’ve been making is the man now leading the Republican field. Donald Trump would probably have been a blowhard and a bully whatever his social station. But his billions have insulated him from the external checks that limit most people’s ability to act out their narcissistic tendencies; nobody has ever been in a position to tell him, “You’re fired!” And the result is the face you keep seeing on your TV.

But Mr. Trump isn’t the only awesomely self-centered billionaire playing an outsized role in the 2016 campaign…

…It’s not trivial. Oligarchy, rule by the few, also tends to become rule by the monstrously self-centered. Narcisstocracy? Jerkigarchy? Anyway, it’s an ugly spectacle, and it’s probably going to get even uglier over the course of the year ahead.

RTFA. Krugman expands the number of blivets on the target range – or, rather, the Republican Party has. From Sheldon Adelson to Paul Singer, billionaires who buy newspapers and instruct reporters to snoop on judges investigating their own criminal links, billionaires who want tax laws changed on million dollar art purchases.

Paul Krugman is always entertaining reading – even if the subjects are otherwise as exempt from oversight as a Super-Pac donors list.

Remember when Marco Rubio helped his drug-dealer brother-in-law get a real estate license?

Neither did I…


Marco Rubio’s presidential aspirations have long been dogged by vague unsubstantiated allegations that he is a “risky bet” with skeletons in his closet that could prove damaging in a high-profile election. This week, Scott Higham and Manuel Roig-Franzia of the Washington Post became the first reporters to put some meat on these bones with a story alleging that as Majority Whip of the Florida House of Representatives Rubio “used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law, a convicted cocaine trafficker who had been released from prison 20 months earlier.”

…One question, after all, is whether Rubio should have used his official position to help get his brother-in-law the legal right to sell real estate in Florida. Another question is whether a person with a cocaine conviction who wants to sell real estate in Florida should need to call in a favor from his brother-in-the-law the powerful politician in order to be able to do so legally…

…Two years after Cicilia’s release from prison he and Rubio’s sister were added to the deed of Rubio’s childhood home, where the couple now lives with the senator’s mother, Oriales Rubio. Cicilia served as the real estate broker commissioned with finding office space for Rubio’s 2010 Senate campaign, and Rubio’s PACs and campaigns have paid more than $130,000 to Cicilia’s sons Daniel and Orlando in consulting fees…

When recommending Cicilia to the board, Rubio neglected to mention that the applicant in question is married to his sister, a decision Rubio spokesperson Todd Harris defended to the Post on the curious grounds that Rubio “believed Orlando should be judged on his own merits and felt it would be highly inappropriate, and could be perceived as exerting undue pressure, if his letter stated that Orlando was a relative.”

And on and on. The sort of family ties tales all too common in politics – not just in America. Anywhere corruption involving public office-holders is “traditional” — this happens. Some countries try to deal with it, more or less successfully. Still, I don’t know if I’d vote for someone who believes this to be appropriate.