The pandemic was a terrible year for drug overdoses in the U.S., new data show, with the single highest increase ever recorded. This other epidemic saw 93,000 deaths in 2020, an almost 30% increase on the previous year. Opioids, particularly illegal fentanyl, were the main culprit, but methamphetamine and cocaine-related deaths also increased. “It’s the worst overdose crisis in the history of the United States, and we’re not making progress,” Stanford professor and drug policy expert Keith Humphreys said. The White House has declared the opioid epidemic an “urgent priority” and President Joe Biden has proposed investing $41 billion in national drug program agencies (Sources: Washington Post, NYT)
What do you think? Has opioid addiction affected you or someone close to you? Tell us here.
2. More Details Emerge in Murky Haiti Assassination
A pastor/doctor, a mortgage broker, a security equipment salesman — not the usual suspects. But this is the odd group of men who allegedly plotted the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, concocting the scheme during meetups in Florida and the Dominican Republic. Haitian officials say the doctor wanted to take over the country after Moïse’s death. But participants in the talks said there was no talk of assassination, only plans for what they’d do when the president stepped down. Meanwhile, the head of security at the presidential palace has been taken into custody while more alleged suspects remain on the run.(Sources: NYT, Washington Post)
3. Could the South African Riots Be an Insurrection Attempt?
The riots that have brought parts of South Africa to a halt the past week were not spontaneous, but planned by political instigators trying to spur an insurrection after last week’s arrest of former President Jacob Zuma. That’s according to a top South Africa government official and multiple unnamed sources. Zuma’s former spymaster Thulani Dlomo is believed to be one of the instigators. The South Africa government has now called for 25,000 troops to be deployed to Zuma’s heartland KwaZulu-Natal and the economic center of Gauteng. Meanwhile, there were long queues for food and fuel today, as areas continued to be rocked by violence and looting. (Sources: Daily Maverick, AFP)
Despite a slower growth rate than the first quarter of 2021, China announced yesterday that its gross domestic product grew by 7.9% this quarter. That’s compared to the same period last year, as the world’s second biggest economy continues to rebound after the pandemic. In the first three months of the year, GDP jumped by 18.3% year-over-year. Industrial output and retail sales both increased this quarter and exports did better than expected in June. The good numbers will likely appeal to U.S. companies, and economists expect an overall growth rate of 8% or more this year. (Sources: WSJ, CNN)
5. Also Important …
A new book by Washington Post journalists details how then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley feared former President Donald Trump might attempt a coupafter last year’s vote. A St. Louis police officer has been sentenced to four years in jail for beating up a Black undercover police officer at a protest. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pay what is likely to be her final visit to the White House tomorrow.
Coronavirus Update: Thousands of people protested in France yesterday over new coronavirus restrictions that require a vaccine pass for public places. A new study has found that long COVID has some 200 symptoms including brain fog, hallucinations and tinnitus.
You may know him as Ron Artest, or Metta World Peace, the Lakers’ final-winning three point shooter. However you know him, Metta Sandiford-Artest joins The Carlos Watson Show today to open up about his tumultuous career in the NBA, his struggles with mental health and alcohol, and the coaches who helped him find himself. Hear why this memorable player sees Kawhi Leonard as the player he could have been and who he names as his top five starters.
Crushing your goals is as easy as pressing “start” on the microwave with nutritious heat-and-eat meals from Factor. Eat smart with 23 dietitian-approved, chef-made options — including keto, paleo, plant-based and more — delivered each week. Factor meals are fully prepared but never frozen, so every bite tastes as good as it makes you feel.
Who amongst us has never stepped in dog excrement and wished they could make the owner pay for not cleaning up? Well now Israelis can. Authorities in Tel Aviv are setting up a dog DNA database so they can trace dog poo left on the street back to the owner, who’ll get a fine in the mail. Tel Aviv officials explained the measure “was approved as part of the municipality’s persistent fight against the phenomenon of dog feces not being collected by their owners across the city.” In 2020 city hall received 6,766 complaints about dog poo left in public places. (Sources: The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post)
2. Full of Hot Air: Bolsonaro Hospitalized for Hiccups
Maybe he should drink a glass of water upside down, or hold his breath? Brazil’s populist President Jair Bolsonaro is in hospital after having hiccups for 10 straight days. Doctors for Bolsonaro say he has an intestinal obstruction and might need surgery. The 66-year-old — who once told a female member of Congress he wasn’t going to rape her because she was “very ugly” and said he’d rather his son die in an accident that come out as gay — was stabbed in the gut while campaigning for the presidency in 2018. Bolsonaro tweeted from hospital that he’d be “back soon, God willing.” (Sources: BBC, CNN,inews)
3. Bad Moon Rising: Nasa Warns of Decade of Flooding for US
The western U.S. has just seen record heat, and now NASA is warning floods will be next, starting in the 2030s. This is because there’ll be a moon “wobble,” which affects the moon’s gravitational pull and — combined with rising sea levels and climate change — will bring high-tide coastal floods across the U.S. It will be a decade of “dramatic increases,” NASA noted in a new study, and will hit low-lying coastal areas. “The higher seas, amplified by the lunar cycle, will cause a leap in flood numbers on almost all U.S. mainland coastlines, Hawaii, and Guam,” NASA said.(Sources: Axios, New Zealand Herald, Study)
4. In Small Victory, Britney Spears Allowed Own Lawyer
Britney Spears was victorious yesterday after a judge ruled she could appoint her own lawyer in her case to remove her father as her conservator. An angry Spears spoke by phone at the Los Angeles hearing, demanding an investigation and restraining order against her father, Jamie Spears, who has been her guardian for years and has limited her ability to control her own affairs. “If the court doesn’t see this as abuse ... I don’t know what is,” she said. Her chosen lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, said he would file a petition to have her father removed “as soon as possible.” (Sources: AFP, NPR)
5. Loose Lips Sink Ships: Russia Warns Olympians to Clam Up
Do you support Black Lives Matter? No comment. That’s what Russia’s Olympians have been told to say when fielding any political questions from the press while at the Games in Tokyo this month. Other banned topics include Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, sexual harassment in sport and the Russian doping scandal. Aside from “no comment,” the athletes can also give the tailor-made response: “The Olympics should not become a platform for any actions and gestures.” The 335 athletes on the roster approved by the Russian Olympic Committee have also been warned to watch what they post on social media. (Sources: Moscow Times, Washington Post)
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