Heroin laced with powerful prescription drug fentanyl causing fatal overdoses

POINT PLEASANT, N.J. (AP) -- On an icy night last month, a man entered a grocery store here, walked past the displays of cake mix and paper towels, and went into the bathroom, where he injected himself with heroin.

Hours later, the man was found dead in the bathroom with a needle still in his arm, authorities said. They believe the man was one of more than 80 across the country who have died in recent weeks after injecting heroin laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate.

As the number of people who use, and fatally overdose on, heroin has skyrocketed in recent years, authorities are seeing the return of an alarming development: heroin that, often unbeknownst to the user, is spiked with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a narcotic that is typically administered to people in chronic pain, including end-stage cancer patients. It is also used as an anesthetic. It is considered 80 times more powerful than morphine and can kill by inhibiting breathing.

"The dealers push this as being a super high, which it is, but it’s also lethal," said Ellen Unterwald, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the Temple University School of Medicine. Users typically don’t know how much fentanyl is mixed in, and she said just a small amount can be fatal because the drug is so potent.

Prisoners nationwide using smuggled cellphones to plot escapes, commit crimes -- even Facebook

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- They’re hidden in babies’ diapers, ramen noodle soup packages, footballs, soda cans and even body cavities.

Not drugs or weapons, but cellphones. They’re becoming a growing problem in prisons across the country as they are used to make threats, plan escapes and for inmates to continue to make money from illegal activity even while behind bars.

"You can pick states all across the country and you’ll see everything from hits being ordered on individuals to criminal enterprises being run from inside institutions with cellphones," said Michael Crews, head of Florida’s Department of Corrections.

When two murderers serving life sentences escaped from Florida Panhandle prison last fall, a search of their cells turned up a cellphone used to help plan the getaway, drawing attention to the burgeoning problem. It was just one of 4,200 cellphones confiscated by prison officials last year, or 11 per day.

"The scary part is, if we found 4,200, we know that’s not all of them," Crews said.

Kerry mocks those who deny climate change, compares them to people insisting the Earth is flat

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called climate change perhaps the world’s "most fearsome" destructive weapon and mocked those who deny its existence or question its causes, comparing them to people who insist the Earth is flat.

In a speech to Indonesian students, civic leaders and government officials, Kerry tore into climate change skeptics. He accused them of using shoddy science and scientists to delay steps needed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases at the risk of imperiling the planet.

A day earlier, the U.S. and China announced an agreement to cooperate more closely on combating climate change. American officials hope that will help encourage others, including developing countries like Indonesia and India, to follow suit.

China and the United States are the biggest sources of emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause the atmosphere to trap solar heat and alter the climate. Scientists say such changes are leading to drought, wildfires, rising sea levels, melting polar ice, plant and animal extinctions and other extreme conditions.

Also in the Jakarta speech, Kerry said everyone and every country must take responsibility for the problem and act immediately.

Trial in Florida raises questions about self-defense and race just 7 months after Zimmerman

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- A verdict in the city of Jacksonville is again raising the issue of self-defense and race in Florida, just seven months after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Michael Dunn, a white 47-year-old software developer, could face 60 years in prison following his conviction Saturday on multiple counts of attempted murder for shooting into a carful of teenagers outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012. Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old, was killed in the shooting, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charge against Dunn. A mistrial was declared on that count.

The verdict is a far cry from one delivered in the Zimmerman case, when he was acquitted in July in the shooting death of 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, about 125 miles south of Jacksonville.

Like Zimmerman, Dunn said he felt his life was in danger when he fired the shots. But the verdict suggested the jury struggled to see it that way.

Following an argument over loud music coming from the car that Davis was in, Dunn said he shot at the car with his 9 mm handgun -- he said he was afraid and thought he saw a shotgun in the car.

South Korean tourists killed in bus bombing in Egypt; militant campaign against tourism feared

CAIRO (AP) -- An explosion tore through a bus filled with South Korean sightseers in the Sinai Peninsula on Sunday, killing at least four people and raising fears that Islamic militants have renewed a bloody campaign to wreck Egypt’s tourism industry.

The bombing near the tip of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba was the first attack against tourists in Sinai in nearly a decade.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the blast bore the hallmarks of attacks blamed on the al-Qaida-linked militant groups that have been battling government forces in Sinai’s restive north for years.

At least three South Korean tourists were killed and 12 seriously wounded, according to Egyptian security officials. The Egyptian bus driver was also among the dead, the officials said.

"I am deeply saddened by the incident," Tourism Minister Hesham Zazou told state TV. The Egyptian presidency called the attack a "despicable act of cowardice" and vowed to bring the culprits to justice.

’12 Years a Slave’ named best picture at British Academy Film Awards; ‘Gravity’ wins 6 prizes

LONDON (AP) -- The force of "Gravity" was strong at the British Academy Film Awards on Sunday -- but it was unflinching drama "12 Years a Slave" that took the top prize.

Steve McQueen’s visceral, violent story of a free back man kidnapped into servitude in the 19th-century U.S. South was named best picture. Its star, Chiwetel Ejiofor, took the male acting trophy.

Ejiofor thanked McQueen, a visual artist who turned to filmmaking with "Hunger" and "Shame," for bringing the story to the screen.

Holding the trophy, the British actor told McQueen: "This is yours. I’m going to keep it -- that’s the kind of guy I am -- but it’s yours."

McQueen reminded the ceremony’s black-tie audience that, in some parts of the world, slavery is not a thing of the past.

Big, runaway snowball slams into college dorm

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Two math majors at Reed College lost control of a massive snowball that rolled into a dorm, knocking in part of a bedroom wall.

There were no injuries, but college spokesman Kevin Myers said Friday it will cost $2,000 to $3,000 to repair the building.

The incident happened last Saturday night following a rare trio of snowstorms in Portland.

Students started building the giant snowball on a campus quad near the dorm. Urged by a crowd, the math majors tried to make the snowball as big as possible by rolling it down the sidewalk that goes past the dorm.

"And the ball just got away from them," Myers said.

After escaping their control, the boulder-sized snowball rolled about 15 yards before slamming into Unit (hash)7. Three students heard the smack and discovered the fractured bedroom wall. The student whose dorm was damaged has not had to move.

Nobody weighed the snowball, but a maintenance worker who sliced it up for removal estimated it to weigh 800 pounds or more, Myers said.

The students responsible for the runaway snowball reported the incident and won’t be disciplined. Myers said they didn’t intend to cause damage and feel awful about what happened. He declined to release their names and said he didn’t know their class years.

Reed Magazine was first to report about the snowball.

"It was not the talk of campus until the story came out," Myers said. "The people that were there knew about it, but now it has kind of taken us by storm."