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Alleged ‘Flakka face-eater’ is the media’s new ‘bath-salts zombie’

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Four years after the media frenzy erupted around the notorious Miami “bath salts zombie” (who was not actually on bath salts), eerily similar reports—out of, you guessed it, Florida—have surfaced.

This article was originally published by The Influence, a news site that covers the full spectrum of human relationships with drugs. Follow The Influence on Facebook or Twitter.

This time, the suspected flesh-eater was reportedly high on flakka, a Novel Psychoactive Substance (NPS) in the cathinone stimulant class.

While toxicology results revealed that the 2012 “zombie” was not actually high on the NPS dubbed “bath salts,” which had been widely blamed for his crime, the media does not appear to have learned a lesson.

In this year’s brutal iteration, a couple was stabbed to death in a double homicide. When Martin County sheriffs arrived, their alleged attacker—a 19-year-old Florida State University student named Austin Harrouff—was reportedly pulling the skin off of one of his victim’s faces with his teeth.

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Headlines like “FSU Student Allegedly Ate Victims Face While High on Flakka” have since proliferated, with reports linking the crime to flakka without any evidence but a sheriff’s speculation. It was a cop’s incorrect hunch that caused the 2012 bath-salts-zombie headlines, too.

CBS News Miami quotes Sheriff William Snyder:

“When we see a case like this, when someone is biting off pieces of somebody’s face, could it be flakka, the answer is it absolutely could be flakka case, we don’t know…It will be some time before we get any kind of toxicology report, but I would not be surprised, though, if we end up finding out that is the case.”

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It’s pretty unconvincing stuff. And while it is possible that the alleged murderer was under the influence of some substance, if 2012 taught us anything, it’s that a sheriff’s gut is hardly hard evidence.

This article was originally published by The Influence, a news site that covers the full spectrum of human relationships with drugs. Follow The Influence on Facebook or Twitter.


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BUSTED: CNN’s panel of women defending Trump’s racism were literally the ‘Trumpettes’

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CNN aired a panel that featured “Republican women” defending President Trump’s racist tweets, but failed to mention that they were actually part of a pro-Trump group whose members the network had interviewed in the past.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

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Ben Carson is Donald Trump’s faulty human shield against accusations of racism

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Ben Carson is back in the news — after another long absence — because Donald Trump has once again been accused of racism.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

The secretary of Housing and Urban Development is the only African-American member of the president’s Cabinet, and is often trotted out to clean up after Trump makes a mess too obviously problematic for the media to ignore. While Trump has tried to spin his recent racist attacks on four progressive freshman congresswomen as a strategic maneuver meant to manipulate Democratic infighting to his advantage, Carson's re-emergence from his stupor should be a clear indication that the president’s team recognizes the damage that can be caused by his unforced errors.

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An illegal trend could be emerging after Trump let Kellyanne Conway off the hook for breaking federal law

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Federal workplaces are supposed to be free of politics, but a Trump administration appointee used a government forum Wednesday to express support for the president’s reelection.

At a conference on religious freedom hosted by the State Department, an official told the crowd of several hundred people that “hopefully he will be reelected,” referring to President Donald Trump.

It’s illegal for federal employees to engage in political activities while they are on the job.

“It’s a violation of the Hatch Act for a federal official, to say in her official capacity, to hope that the president will be reelected,” said Kathleen Clark, an expert on legal ethics at the Washington University in St. Louis.

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