1. A BITTER PILL. Heroin is everywhere. It’s also cheap. Overdoses are rampant and on the rise. Experts warn that the most likely gateway drug to heroin addiction is often prescription painkillers. In just a few weeks, a new and highly powerful opioid painkiller is set to hit the market. Zohydro contains 10 times more hydrocodone than Vicodin. A single pill could kill a child. And the fact that it comes in an easily-crushable pill makes it easy to snort. In December, attorneys general from 29 states asked the FDA to reconsider its decision to approve the drug. The company that manufactures Zohydro is making the case that it will offer significant benefits to those suffering from chronic pain. But others argue the potential benefits simply aren’t worth the risks: “It will kill people as soon as it’s released.”
2. DIGGING UP THE PAST. Around here, news of things being dug up generally centers around the unfortunate people who happened to have crossed paths with Whitey Bulger in years past. But a mass grave discovered by construction workers in Chile revealed a surprise of a very different nature. They found a giant whale graveyard. And archaeologists in Austria uncovered the “almost complete” remains of a gladiator school. If you’ve always imagined gladiator school to be some kind of ancient version of overnight camp, you were wrong. Think more along the lines of a maximum security prison. What will archaeologists dig up on us? And what will they conclude as a result of what they find? Probably something along these lines.
3. SAME SEX, DIFFERENT STATE. This afternoon, a federal judge struck down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is mulling a decision on whether to sign a bill that would give businesses the right to refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers, provided the business owners were doing so based on their religious beliefs. Is the bill oppressive or does it offer expanded freedom? Both? There is even a question as to whether Arizona businesses can already refuse to serve gay and lesbian customers under the laws currently in place. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but many who once backed the controversial legislation are now backing away. What the law could mean for Arizona’s future – including its plan to host next year’s Super Bowl —remains to be seen. For now, the ball is in Brewer’s court. If the bill does become law, what I’d like to know is this: Is the gaydar of Arizona business owners really accurate enough to make this work? According to the University of Arizona, it may well be.
4. BE CAREFUL OUT THERE. Results from a new study indicate that kids are getting less and less obese. No one understands why, exactly, but, nice work, kids! Back in November, the FDA took the first step toward a potential ban on partially hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats. The ban will save “thousands of lives every year.” Are you working in an open office right now? Feel a cold coming on? Your company’s modern office layout could be making you sick. After a minor injury, a PBS TV correspondent developed a rare condition. The result? He lost half of an arm. But it isn’t stopping him from blogging about it. A 10 year-old boy in California bought a pet rat, then died after contracting “rat-bite fever.” His family is now suing Petco.
5. ALSO ... Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. This incredible photo shows Syrian refugees waiting on line for food. Astronauts from NASA captured what it really looks like for an entire country to be isolated from the rest of the world. Here’s North Korea at night, as viewed from space. What band is the favorite of Massachusetts residents? Neil Young. How about Maine? R.E.M. (Really, R.E.M. That’s not a joke.) The favorite bands of every state, in a single map. San Francisco remains a city divided between those who love technology and all its grandor and those who definitely do not. A woman was attacked after donning Google Glass to a punk bar. She says it was a hate crime. Why are the little gold figurines at the Academy Awards called Oscars? Is it all because the statuette resembled someone’s Uncle Oscar? Doesn’t snow swimming sound fun? It isn’t.