Outside the Bubble 2/26/2015

‘Bad batch’ of Molly plagues Wesleyan University, hospitalizes 12

 

A total of 12 people from Wesleyan University—10 students and two guests—were hospitalized over this past weekend. Of the students, 11 were admitted after taking a “bad batch” of Molly.

Wesleyan University President Michael S. Roth released a statement urging members of the Wesleyan community to avoid taking substances that could put their lives in danger, writing, “One mistake can change your life forever.” (CNN, “11 at Wesleyan University hospitalized after taking Molly,” 02.23.15)

The intended use of Molly, which is the “pure” powder form of the psychoactive drug MDMA, is to bring the user into a state of intense euphoria. When under the influence of MDMA, one experiences an accelerated heart rate and heightened blood pressure, due to the increased serotonin transmitted to the brain. Discussions surrounding Molly usage on college campus had been relatively low, because according to studies only 2.5 percent of college students used ecstasy (the pill form of MDMA) on a monthly basis in 2000, and that number dropped to 0.6 percent in 2006; however, college campus have been talking more about the risky effects of Molly usage after a spike in the number of student deaths brought about by overdose in 2013 (The Washington Post, “A dozen hospitalized after apparently overdosing on Molly at Wesleyan University,” 02.23.15).

Furthermore, when students consume Molly they typically have no idea of other substances the drug is laced with by the distributor, according to Chief of Toxicology at Hartford Hospital Dr. Mark Neavyn. He stated, “When we see these people in the emergency department and they claim to have taken Molly, we don’t pay attention to that word anymore. It’s so commonly not MDMA, we just start from square one and say it’s some sort of drug abuse” (ABC News, “Wesleyan Presidents to Students: Turn in the Drug Dealers,” 02.23.15).

According to Chief of the Middletown Police Department William McKenna, acquiring information on the batch of Molly is top priority for the investigations. McKenna commented, “This information is critical in ensuring the recovery of those students affected” (Rolling Stone, “Wesleyan Students Hospitalized Following ‘Bad Batch’ of Molly,” 02.23.15).

In addressing the severity of the incident, Roth requested that any student who knows the distributors turn them in. He said, “If you are aware of people distributing these substances, please let someone know before more people are hurt…Take a stand to protect your fellow students” (CNN, “11 at Wesleyan University hospitalized after taking Molly,” 02.23.15).

As of Monday, Feb. 23, four of the students admitted over the weekend after ingesting the Molly remain hospitalized. Two of them are in serious condition, and the other two are in critical condition.

 

— Chris Gonzalez, Humor & Satire Editor

 

U.S. Justice Department closes Trayvon Martin investigation

 

Just short of the three-year anniversary of the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin, the United States Justice Department has closed its investigation into whether or not Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was committing a hate crime. Three law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that Zimmerman was not expected to face charges.

The Department began its investigation shortly after the national furor that arose following the criminal case of Zimmerman. In that case, Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges in July 2013 after he claimed self-defense. The case brought to light the controversial “Stand Your Ground” policy enacted by the state of Florida. Despite national outrage, the government announced on Tuesday that there was insufficient evidence to convict Zimmerman of a hate crime. (The Washington Post, “George Zimmerman won’t face civil rights charges in Trayvon Martin’s death,” 02.24.15)

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. explained some of the reasoning behind the decision. “Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface,” he said.

Holder continued, “We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

The Justice Department asserted that it had interviewed 75 witness and reviewed all the material gathered by the State of Florida. They also examined evidence relating to Mr. Zimmerman’s encounters with law enforcement following his acquittal. Nothing that the department gathered, however, was enough to prove that George Zimmerman, who identifies as Latino, killed Trayvon Martin because of Martin’s race. (The New York Times, “Justice Dept. Won’t Charge George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin Killing,” 02.24.15)

Among the many responses to this government decision came words from Martin’s family. In a released statement, Martin’s family said, “We remain poised to do everything in our power to help eradicate senseless violence in our communities, because we don’t want any other parent to experience the unexplainable loss we have endured.”

They went on, saying, “We will never, ever forget what happened to our son, Trayvon, and will honor his memory by working tirelessly to make the world a better place.”

Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has had a number of police altercations.

In November 2013, police charged him with domestic violence after he allegedly threatened his girlfriend with a shotgun and destroyed her possessions. Last month, police arrested him and charged him with assault against an ex-girlfriend. In all cases, the charges were later dropped. (Al Jazeera America, “Zimmerman will not face civil rights charges in Trayvon Martin killing,” 02.24.15)

 

Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline bill

 

On Tuesday, Feb. 24 President Obama vetoed legislation that would open the door for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill was only on his desk for a few hours before it was struck down.

Without much fanfare or discussion, Obama vetoed legislation to authorize construction of a 1,179-mile pipeline that would carry 800,000 barrels of heavy petroleum a day from oil sands in Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

In exercising veto power for only the third time since his election in 2008, Obama accused lawmakers of seeking to circumvent the administration’s approval process for the pipeline by cutting short consideration of important issues for the country.

Some saw Obama’s recent action as evidence of a likely increase in veto actions in the future. While in the past, Obama has had the support of a Democratic-controlled senate, that is not longer the case.

“He’s looking at this as showing he still can be king of the hill, because we don’t have the votes to override,” Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a vocal opponent of Obama’s climate change agenda, said in an interview. “If he vetoed this, he’s going to veto many others that are out there.” (Al Jazeera America, “Defying GOP, Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline bill,” 02.24.15)

In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Obama urged lawmakers to move past the pipeline debate, calling for passage of a comprehensive infrastructure plan that would go far beyond the pipeline and address issues that concerned many supporters of the pipeline. “Let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,” he said. (The New York Times, “Obama Vetoes Bill Pushing Pipeline Approval,” 02.24.15)

“The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously,” Obama said in a brief notice delivered to the Senate. “But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people.” (Al Jazeera America) Democratic Rep. Steve Israel of New York, said the White House and congressional Democrats are working under new circumstances in which they must offer compelling reasons why the president is invoking this veto power more often.

“You don’t want him to be the president of no. You do want him to be the president of the middle class,” Israel said in a phone interview. “Every veto is a reminder to the American people that he’s sticking up for them, while the Republicans are trying to stick it to them.”

(The Washington Post, “Obama’s Keystone veto is only his third in six years. It won’t be his last,” 02.24.15)

 

— Noble Ingram, Senior Editor

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