Bath salts dangers underscored
L.A. County health officials warn against using the drug, which has been linked to a number of bizarre incidents and arrests nationwide.
by Wesley Lowery
Los Angeles County health officials warned Tuesday against the use of bath salts — the designer drug involved in a series of bizarre incidents and arrests — just one week after a new study charted a skyrocketing number of calls to U.S. poison control centers about the drug.
The relatively new drug has been known to provoke hallucinations, paranoia and uncontrollable violent outbursts, officials said.
"Bath salts are very dangerous and, in many cases, we don't really know what's going into this drug," L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Jonathan Fielding said in an interview after issuing the warning.
In July, President Obama signed a federal ban on the drug's three active ingredients and halted smoke shops and gas stations from selling bath salts. The drug remains available, however, online and through the black market.
U.S. poison control centers have seen a drastic increase in calls related to bath salts during the last three years — zooming upward from zero in 2009 to 6,138 calls last year, according an analysis of American Assn. of Poison Control statistics presented at the American Osteopathic Assn. conference last week.
Bath salts — also known on the street as white lightning, white rush and Hurricane Charlie — have been linked to a series of bizarre violent crimes across the country.
In June, a 20-year-old Glendale man was charged with burglary and assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly striking a woman in the head with a shovel in what police believe was a bath-salt-induced rage. Authorities are also investigating whether bath salts were involved in the slaying of an 81-year-old Los Feliz woman, allegedly at the hands of former "Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis.
In a taped conversation with a Glendale police officer, Deutsche Bank executive Brian C. Mulligan admitted to using bath salts as many as 20 times and expressed concern that he was being followed by a helicopter.
Mulligan is currently suing the Los Angeles Police Department for $50 million after a later altercation with police in which he was allegedly beaten. He claims LAPD officers restrained and brutally beat him, while the police union says his memories were skewed by the drug.
Bath salt usage has "certainly increased from nothing to now, where it seems to be a national problem, and L.A. is no exception," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.
From the White House
Staying Safe Online
by Michael Daniel
We depend on the Internet and digital tools for many aspects of our daily lives. This fundamental reliance is why our digital infrastructure is a strategic national asset, and why today I joined leaders from the Department of Homeland Security
, members of Congress, and leaders from across New York and financial world to support National Cyber Security Awareness Month
(NCSAM) and the Stop.Think.Connect
This month, we recognize the role we all play in ensuring our information and communications infrastructure is interoperable, secure, reliable, and open to all. NCSAM reminds us that being safer and more secure online is a shared responsibility. That's why, during the month of October we pay special attention to “Achieving Cybersecurity Together.”
While increased connectivity has enormous benefits, it has also increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk. Many of our lives depend on technology, which makes cybersecurity one of our country's most important national security priorities. Our economy and critical infrastructure depend upon the Internet, as nearly all public and private sector entities conduct business and store critical data on Internet-connected networks.
Emerging cyber threats require engagement from the entire American community. This morning, I met with public and private leaders from the financial sector – individuals in the vanguard for securing our online banking systems, financial transactions and e-commerce. This afternoon, I'll engage with the U.S. Secret Service's Electronic Crimes Task Force to examine law enforcement's coordinated efforts to combat cybercrime. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, from government and law enforcement to the private sector and members of the public, working together to create a safe, secure, and resilient cyber environment.
We know it only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others. It's our goal to make basic cybersecurity practices as reflexive as putting on a seatbelt – using antivirus software, being careful which websites you visit, not opening emails or attachments that look suspicious. These basic measures can improve both our individual and our collective safety online.
At the White House, we are committed to achieving these shared goals, and we encourage you to take a few basic steps to be more secure:
- Set strong passwords, and don't share them with anyone.
- Keep a clean machine – install regular updates to your operating system, browser, and other critical software applications.
- Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety.
- Carefully choose the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.
- Be cautious about what you receive or read online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Please help us continue to spread the word about how to stay safe online.
For more information on NCSAM 2012 or the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign, visit www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month or www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
Michael Daniel is Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator
After entering the FBI-SOS website, students “travel” to their grade-specific island, which includes either seven or eight learning portals to visit. These areas address topics such as the protection of personal information, password strength, cell phone safety, social networking, and online gaming safety. The videos also include real-life stories of kids who have faced cyber bullies and online predators.
Child ID App
The Safe Online Surfing (SOS) website is the second tool the FBI has launched over the past year to help protect kids. The other—the FBI Child ID app—provides an easy way for parents to use their smartphones to store pictures and information on their kids in case they go missing.
|From the FBI
Safe Online Surfing -- New Cyber Safety Website for Teachers, Students
With school back in session, one topic that's on many class curriculums around the nation is cyber safety. After all, it's a hyper-connected world—with texting, social networking, e-mail, online gaming, chat, music downloading, web surfing, and other forms of wired and wireless communication now a regular part of children's lives.
The FBI has a new program that can help. Today, as part of its longstanding crime prevention and public outreach efforts, the FBI is announcing a free web-based initiative designed to help teachers educate students about cyber safety.
It's called the FBI-SOS (Safe Online Surfing) Internet Challenge —and it was developed with the assistance of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and with the input of teachers and schools.
FBI-SOS is available through a newly revamped website at https://sos.fbi.gov. The site features six grade-specific “islands”—for third- through eighth-grade students—highlighting various aspects of cyber security through games, videos, and other interactive features. Each island has either seven or eight areas to explore—with a specific cyber safety lesson—and its own central character and visual theme. For example, fourth grade features Ice Island, complete with falling snow and penguins.
To encourage participation and enhance learning, FBI-SOS includes both testing for students and competition among schools. Each grade level has its own exam, which can only be taken after teachers have signed up their respective classes and all activities on the island have been completed by each student. And once all the exams for a class are graded (done electronically by the FBI), schools appear on a leader board in three categories based on the number of total participants. During each rating period, top scoring schools in each category nationwide are awarded an FBI-SOS trophy and, when possible, receive a visit from a local FBI agent. All public, private, and home schools are eligible to participate.
For teachers and schools, FBI-SOS provides virtually everything they need to teach good cyber citizenship:
- A free, ready-made curriculum that meets state and federal Internet safety mandates (see sidebar for topics covered);
- Age-appropriate content for each of the six grade levels;
- A printable teacher's guide that spells out how teachers can sign up their classes and use the site; and
- Detailed rules and instructions for students.
Can anyone visit the website? Absolutely. Kids of all ages—and even adults—can explore the site, play the games, watch the videos, and learn all about cyber safety. However, the exam can only be taken by third- to eighth-grade students whose classes have been registered by their teachers.
An important note: the FBI is not collecting student names, ages, or other identifying information through the website. Students are identified only by number when taking the exams; their teachers alone know which number matches which student. And teachers only need to provide their name, school, and e-mail address when signing up. The e-mail address is needed to verify the teacher's identity for registration purposes.
“FBI-SOS is a fun, free, and effective way to teach kids how to use the Internet safely and responsibly,” says Scott McMillion, head of the unit that manages the program in the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division. “We encourage teachers to check out the site and sign up their classes during the school year.”
Visit the site at https://sos.fbi.gov