National briefing

4,000 overdose deaths in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A newspaper survey of Ohio county coroners has found more than 4,000 people died from drug overdoses last year in a state among the hardest hit by a heroin and opioid epidemic.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday that the state’s 4,149 unintentional fatal overdoses in 2016 are a 36 percent increase from the previous year when just over 3,000 deaths were reported.

Citing an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation that used statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the newspaper said Ohio led the nation in the total number of fatal overdoses in 2014 and 2015.

The increase is being attributed to heroin and the powerful synthetic opioids fentanyl and carfentanil. Last year’s total is expected to go higher as coroners tabulate final numbers. The newspaper reported that coroners in six smaller counties did not provide overdose numbers.

Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, far outpaced the rest of the state with 666 deaths in 2016 with the majority of those deaths blamed on fentanyl use.

Fla. mulls ‘stand your ground’

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Lucy McBath is afraid many more people will die if Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill making it harder to prosecute when people claim they commit violence in self-defense.

She already lost her son, an unarmed black teenager, when a white man angry over loud music and claiming self-defense fired 10 times at an SUV filled with teenagers.

The measure before Scott would effectively require a trial-before-a-trial whenever someone invokes self-defense, making prosecutors prove the suspect doesn’t deserve immunity.

Scott hasn’t revealed his intentions, but he’s a National Rifle Association supporter, and this is an NRA priority.

“If it passes in Florida, then they take that same legislation and they push it on the legislative floors across the country,” said McBath, whose 17-year-old son Jordan Davis was killed by Michael Dunn outside a Jacksonville convenience store in 2012.

Many states have long invoked “the castle doctrine,” allowing people to use even deadly force to defend themselves in their own homes.

Florida changed that in 2005, so that even outside a home, a person has no duty to retreat and can “stand his or her ground” anywhere they are legally allowed to be. Other states followed suit, and “stand your ground” defenses became much more common in pre-trial immunity hearings and during trials.

Muslims thankful for support

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Muslims in Portland, Oregon, thanked the community for its support and said they were raising money for the families of two men who were killed and others involved when someone targeted young women with an anti-Muslim rant on a light-rail train.

“I am very thankful as a Muslim, I am very thankful as a Portlander … that we stand together here as one,” Muhammad A. Najieb, an imam at the Muslim Community Center, said Saturday.

He said the two young women “could have been the victims, but three heroes jumped in and supported them.”

Najieb said a fundraising page launched by his group for the families of the dead men, a surviving victim and the two young women had raised $50,000 in its first hours.