State & Region Briefs

Tuesday, February 06, 2018
Study: Fentanyl testing kits could save lives, slow drug use

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Researchers at Brown and Johns Hopkins universities have recommended health agencies offer drug testing kits that can detect fentanyl in order to prevent fatal overdoses.

The Providence Journal reports authors of the Fentanyl Overdose Reduction Checking Analysis Study found that testing kits could save lives or potentially curb drug use. The study was completed over a six-month period and had components in Providence, Baltimore and Boston.

Researchers determined heroin that has been adulterated with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids contributed to the rise in overdose deaths in recent years. The study found that drug users who used the testing kits were concerned about fentanyl and wanted to protect themselves.

Researchers have compared the kits to other public health tools like needle exchanges.

Police: Men had 200 grams of fentanyl, loaded handgun

NEWBURYPORT — Police have charged two New Hampshire men they say had more than $8,000 worth of the powerful opioid fentanyl.

James Brooks, 34, of Ossipee, N.H., and 56-year-old Kenneth Lindbloom, of Tamworth, N.H., were arraigned Monday on drug and weapons charges.

Police arrested them Saturday after a woman called to say she saw them using heroin in a vehicle in a Salisbury gas station parking lot. Police say they discovered nearly 200 grams of fentanyl, crushed Xanax pills and a loaded handgun in the vehicle.

Brooks is a fugitive from justice from New Hampshire and was held without bail. Lindbloom was held on $75,000 cash bail.

A defense attorney questioned the legality of the police search of the vehicle.

Justices weigh legality of proposed ‘millionaire tax’

BOSTON — The state’s highest court is deciding the fate of a proposed ballot question that would put an additional tax on Massachusetts’ highest earners and use the money to boost education and transportation.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday heard arguments from a coalition of business groups trying to block the proposal from reaching voters in November.

The constitutional amendment would impose a 4 percent surtax on any portion of an individual’s annual income that exceeds $1 million.

The business groups argued the question would strip the Legislature of its constitutional authority to spend money as it sees fit, and ties together unrelated items.

A lawyer for the state attorney general’s office argued that lawmakers would retain discretion over the appropriation of the tax dollars.

A ruling is expected by June.

Great white shark named George stalks Everglade waters

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. — A great white shark named George has been spotted lingering off the Florida coast near the Everglades and Gulf of Mexico.

News outlets cite shark-tracking organization OCEARCH as reporting George was spotted Sunday near the edge of Everglades National Park.

George was tagged in October 2016 off the coast of Massachusetts. Since then, he’s been spotted near the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to south Florida and had traveled more than 4,500 miles by Sunday.

He was last recorded as 702 pounds and around 10 feet long. OCEARCH chief science adviser Bob Hueter said that George probably weighs closer to 1,000 pounds now.

As of late Sunday, George appeared to be making his way up Florida’s western coast toward Everglades City.

Attorneys general in several states oppose federal tips plan

CHICAGO — Attorneys general in over a dozen states oppose a federal Department of Labor proposal to let employers control the tips of some hourly employees.

The attorneys general filed comments in opposition with federal officials on Monday.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called the proposal that rescinds a 2011 rule “outrageous” and likened it to wage theft.

The plan applies to employees paid the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. In Illinois, about half a million workers could be affected.

Attorneys general in the following states and the District of Columbia oppose the plan: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont and Virginia.

MBTA: Operator used cellphone prior to trolley collision

BOSTON — Transit authorities say a trolley operator was on his cellphone prior to last year’s collision with another train in Boston that sent 16 people to the hospital.

Leroy Mattison, 42, of Malden, told investigators he was trying to delete a post he had made on Reddit at the time of the crash Dec. 29. Authorities say he also had a loaded .40-caliber handgun in a backpack on the trolley.

Court records show transit police are seeking criminal charges against Mattison that include negligence, witness intimidation and using a mobile phone while operating a public transport vehicle.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority said Monday Mattison has been fired following the police report.

Mattison has declined to comment.

From Associated Press