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Mon, 27 Jan 2020
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Over nine years - more than 100 billion pain pills saturated the nation

© John Moore/Getty Images
From 2006 through 2014, more than 100 billion doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone were distributed nationwide, according to federal drug data.
Newly disclosed federal drug data shows that more than 100 billion doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone were shipped nationwide from 2006 through 2014 — 24 billion more doses of the highly addictive pain pills than previously known to the public.

The data, which traces the path of every pain pill shipped in the United States, shows the extent to which opioids flooded the country as deaths from the epidemic continued to climb over nine years.

The Washington Post and the company that owns the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia first obtained the data, collected by the Drug Enforcement Administration, from 2006 through 2012 after waging a year-long legal fight. In July, The Post reported that the data revealed that the nation's drug companies had manufactured and distributed more than 76 billion pain pills.

Comment: Fatal addiction: Chris Hedges reports on America's opioid crisis


"Security incident"? Flights diverted as RAF demands 'unplanned' closure of airspace for operational mission


Dozens of flights including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic services to Heathrow are diverted or delayed as RAF demands 'unplanned' closure of airspace for operational mission
Dozens of flights bound for Heathrow were diverted or delayed this morning after an RAF plane demanded an 'unplanned' use of airspace.

At least four Heathrow-bound British Airways flights and one Virgin Atlantic aircraft were forced to land at other airports such as Gatwick, Stansted and Luton.

Meanwhile, many other flights were delayed as a result of planes being 'stacked' above Greater London as they waited for airspace to clear.

The closure of airspace - which began at around 9am on Friday - lasted for approximately 20 minutes.

Comment: Landing at a different airport is quite the inconvenience for travellers, one wonders just exactly what this "sortie" entailed?

See also: Sonic boom wakes thousands of residents, shakes houses, as RAF jets scramble to intercept unresponsive aircraft near London


Glassdoor is broken: Anonymous reviews are a double-edged sword

glassdoor app
Public reviews serve an essential purpose in holding governments and institutions, stores and restaurants, and teachers and employers accountable. I fully and enthusiastically support transparency, including for private companies like my own. The problem is that literally anyone can lob a reputational bomb online, and it can be as devastating (and career-threatening) as any other kind of exploitive or maliciously opportunistic behavior, including those of unsavory leaders who deserve exposure.

Amida Technology Solutions, of which I was a co-founder and where I still serve as CEO, is a 50-person data-management software company, based in Washington D.C. that specializes in health information. I started Amida on my kitchen table in 2013 with two members of the inaugural class of Presidential Innovation Fellows, and raised money from first-tier investors three years later. We grew by 50 percent in 2018 and faster still in 2019. The coming year looks promising. Anyone who has ever started a company from scratch, or made an early-stage investment, would find our nascent success unusual, if not remarkable.

Inevitably, over the years I've occasionally had to make tough decisions about letting people go. In every instance there were detailed discussions about what's missing and how to do better, delivered in a spirit of "hey, we're not on a good path here." But no matter how it is packaged, letting people go sucks. It is rough on the employer (because there are often personal relationships involved, and because the position needs to be re-filled) and it is, tautologically, terrible for the employee. And because these discussions need to be private and discreet, such decisions can be a shock to the rest of the team. In such a situation, a well-intentioned website like Glassdoor — a platform on which employees can post anonymous reviews of their present or former companies and employers — can become a repository for bitterness, resentment, and frustration.

Wedding Rings

'Setting sail for Valinor': Christopher Tolkien, son of 'Lord of the Rings' author, dies at 95 as fans honor his literary legacy

one ring rule them all
© Reuters / Ho New
Middle-earth just lost its best defender. Christopher Tolkien, son of 'Lord of the Rings' author JRR Tolkien and guardian of his works, has passed away aged 95, prompting a rush of condolences and emotional tributes from admirers.

The renowned author and editor's passing was announced on Thursday by the Tolkien Society, one of many institutions established in his father's honor. He is survived by three sons and his wife Baillie.

"All of us in the Tolkien Society will share in the sadness at the news of Christopher Tolkien's death," said the society's chair, Shaun Gunner. "Millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us 'The Silmarillion,' 'The Children of Hurin,' 'The History of Middle-earth' series and many others."

"We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed."

Comment: See also:

No Entry

Facebook censors explainer clip recalling when western media liked Soleimani - and demonetizes popular account for sharing it

Qasem Soleimani
© Global Look Press /Xinhua /Ahmad Halabisaz
A poster of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, killed in a US strike, is seen on a street in Tehran, Iran, on Jan. 3, 2020.
Facebook is doubling down on censorship of anything less than villification of slain Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, deleting a clip showing his history of fighting terrorism - and demonetizing the account posting it.

The social media behemoth didn't just remove independent journalist Dan Cohen's 'In the Now' segment, "How 'good guy' Soleimani became US media's 'bad guy," from the show's page on Tuesday - it demonetized In the Now entirely, citing the typical unspecified violations of "community standards." The move comes amid an alarming escalation in the platform's crackdown on political speech that runs contrary to US foreign policy, a wave of censorship that has not been limited to Facebook.

Comment: See also:


Protests over citizenship law: Indian Liberal Elites like democracy if they agree with the results

Anti-CAA liberal protestor
© Reuters / Francis Mascarenhas
Protests in India over a controversial citizenship amendment law have curiously exposed the duplicity of liberals when it comes to their commitment to democracy.

Left-backed student unions and Muslim groups have been up in arms over a law that they perceive to be "anti-Muslim." Backing up this protest movement, liberal Indians have revealed their cards.

For the youth to resist the charms of "revolution" — to be angry without a cause and bask in the romance and idealism of protests is fine. Such a phenomenon is common across the world — and examples abound in India's own past. Pragmatism is usually a post-facto realization for the young.

As British conservative thinker, polymath and philosopher Roger Scruton said of the 1968 student agitation in Paris, an event that shaped his political thinking: "What I saw was an unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans" uttering "ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook."

Black Cat

Vetting fail: 'Fake officer' lied his way into Swedish military intel & NATO, hid forged credentials for decade

Military patrol Sweden
© Reuters / TT News Agency / File
Military patrol in Sweden
A Swedish man with no official training faked his way into the top ranks of Swedish military intelligence, helming sensitive projects before he was posted to NATO and later the Coast Guard. How did this happen?

The Swedish Armed Forces - and now NATO, which only learned of the deception this week - are furious, demanding to know how the man was able to slip through the cracks even after he was discovered and booted from his high-ranking Coast Guard post in January 2019 - only to reemerge at the helm of Sweden's UN mission to Mali.

The faker first bluffed his way into a supervisory role in the military in Kosovo and Afghanistan, forging a diploma from the Signal Troops Officers' College in Enköping with a fake colonel's signature, Dagens Nyheter revealed on Monday.


Epstein trafficked girls as recently as 2018 - some as young as 11, according to lawsuit by Virgin Islands AG

epstein virgin islands ag
Jeffrey Epstein trafficked and sexually abused girls as young as eleven years old, as recently as 2018, according to a new lawsuit filed against the late pedophile's estate by Virgin Islands Attorney General Denise N. George.

The lawsuit claims that girls as young as 11 and 12 were brought to his private estate in the Virgin Islands, known as Little Saint James (or simply 'pedo island') - where former President Bill Clinton and other high-profile guests reportedly vacationed, according to several Epstein accusers. Epstein kept a computerized database to track the availability and movements of his victims, according to the New York Times.

"Epstein clearly used the Virgin Islands and his residence in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Little Saint James as a way to be able to conceal and to be able to expand his activity here," said George.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Denise N. George, the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, broadened the dimensions of the wrongdoing in which Mr. Epstein was said to have engaged. He had been charged by Manhattan prosecutors in July with sexually exploiting dozens of women and girls in New York and Florida, but they did not point to any actions beyond 2005.

In August, Mr. Epstein hanged himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was being held awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Prison guards had not checked on him for hours on the night he died, and the circumstances surrounding his death are now the subject of at least three federal investigations. -New York Times
The new accusations draw from both independent investigations by George's office as well as court documents from cases across the country, and allege that Epstein ran a decades-long sex trafficking scheme which had a "primary nexus in the Virgin Islands," according to the report.

Mr. Potato

Twitter melts down over Vince Vaughn speaking with President Trump, providing fertile ground for mockery

vince vaughn and trump
© Image via Twitter @bubbaprog screenshot
Actor Vince Vaughn caught flak from liberals on social media Monday after he was seen talking with President Donald Trump at the 2020 college football national championship game in New Orleans.

"I'm very sorry to have to share this video with you. All of it, every part of it," Timothy Burke wrote on Twitter, posting a video of the interaction between Vaughn and Trump that has since went viral.

Snakes in Suits

James Bond will stay male, but woke critics won't stay quiet

James Bond
© Reuters / Carlo Allegri
James Bond actor Daniel Craig appears at a promotional event in New York
As Daniel Craig's time at the helm of the venerable James Bond franchise nears an end, producer Barbara Broccoli has said that his replacement will remain a man. Fans were relieved, but critics are still out for blood.

Daniel Craig dusts off his tuxedo for one last outing as the womanizing MI6 agent when 'No Time to Die' hits theaters in April. Ahead of the movie's release, senior producer Barbara Broccoli put some rumors about the future of the franchise to rest.

Bond, she told Variety magazine, "can be of any colour, but he is male."

"I believe we should be creating new characters for women - strong female characters; I'm not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it," she continued. "I think women are far more interesting than that."