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New England in brief

State may track OxyContin overdoses

May 18, 2009
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BOSTON
Lawmakers are weighing a series of bills designed to give Massachusetts a more comprehensive tally of OxyContin and heroin overdoses. The state has struggled in recent years to get a handle on the problem as the number of overdoses has crept steadily upward. Tomorrow, the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Health holds a public hearing on a series of bills targeting drug overdoses. One would require every doctor treating someone suffering from an overdose to file a report with the state Department of Public Health detailing the type of drug used and the patient's age, race, gender, and hometown, while keeping identities private. A goal of the legislation is to look for trends so the state can better combat overdoses. (AP)

Alleged Craigslist killer due back in court
The former Boston University medical student accused of killing a 25-year-old New York City masseuse he met through Craigslist will be back in court Thursday for a pretrial hearing. Philip Markoff is scheduled to appear in Boston Municipal Court in the fatal shooting of Julissa Brisman and the armed robbery of another woman four days earlier, both at posh Boston hotels. Police say both women had advertised erotic services on Craigslist. Markoff, 23, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. (AP)

Tufts tailors degree to community workers
A graduate program at Tufts University is linking longtime organizers and community activists with younger students to help them learn from one another. The Tufts Neighborhood Fellows program was created by professor James Jennings, who saw a need for more students in his public policy classes who could share their real-world experience. The Neighborhood Fellows enter Tufts' masters of public policy program and get their $38,000 tuition waived. (AP)

AMHERST
Gay marriages pumped $111m into state
A study says the more than 12,000 same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts since 2004 have injected more than $111 million into the state's economy. The report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law says a typical same-sex couple spent about $7,400 on their wedding, with one in 10 couples spending more than $20,000. A second study by the same group found that young, highly educated people in same-sex relationships were 2.5 times more likely to move to Massachusetts after 2004 than before gay marriage became legal. Yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of Massachusetts recording its first same-sex marriage licenses. M.V. Lee Badgett, a University of Massachusetts researcher and a study co-author, said the law has helped businesses in tough economic times. (AP)

TAUNTON
Bullet kills car passenger on Route 24
A 27-year-old Taunton man died early yesterday after being shot while riding in a car on Route 24 between Taunton and Fall River, State Police said. Troy Pina was in the passenger seat of a 2006 black Chrysler 300 heading south about 1:45 a.m. when he was struck by a shot fired from another car. He was pronounced dead at St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River. Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter asked anyone who might have been in the area to contact State Police, who are investigating the attack as a homicide. Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Sutter's office, said the shooting was not a case of road rage, but he declined to comment further. No arrests were made.

CHELSEA
Errant newspapers make mess on street
Bundles of The Boston Globe were scattered across a street in Chelsea yesterday morning, according to police. Police received a call at 11:30 a.m. about a large number of bundles strewn about Maverick Street and on top of cars. A half hour later, police called the Globe's delivery department for assistance. However, the Globe said no one was available to help out, so neighbors cleaned up the newspapers themselves. Police do not know how the bundles ended up on the street. "I wouldn't call it an illegal dumping," said Sergeant David Betz. "There were no fines." Robert Powers, a Globe spokesman, said in a statement, "Our circulation department is looking into what happened in this situation, and regrets any disruption to the neighborhood."