Monday, December 19, 2016

Last Call For The Opioid Option

So, turns out that in the midst of the miserable red state opioid epidemic that has cost thousands of lives and ruined tens of thousands more in states like West Virginia that there's no better drug pushers than the legal, corporate ones.

Follow the pills and you'll find the overdose deaths. 
The trail of painkillers leads to West Virginia's southern coalfields, to places like Kermit, population 392. There, out-of-state drug companies shipped nearly 9 million highly addictive — and potentially lethal — hydrocodone pills over two years to a single pharmacy in the Mingo County town
Rural and poor, Mingo County has the fourth-highest prescription opioid death rate of any county in the United States. 
The trail also weaves through Wyoming County, where shipments of OxyContin have doubled, and the county's overdose death rate leads the nation. One mom-and-pop pharmacy in Oceana received 600 times as many oxycodone pills as the Rite Aid drugstore just eight blocks away. 
In six years, drug wholesalers showered the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, while 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers, a Sunday Gazette-Mail investigation found.

Yep, it seems that nearly 20% of all OxyContin, hyrdrocodone, and other painkillers shipped by the nation's three largest drug distribution companies ended up in West Virginia.

Nearly twenty percent. Just to West Virginia.

Let that sink in.

While the death toll climbed, drug wholesalers continued to ship massive quantities of pain pills. 
Mingo, Logan and Boone counties received the most doses of hydrocodone — sold under brand names such as Lortab, Vicodin and Norco — on a per-person basis in West Virginia. Wyoming and Raleigh counties scooped up OxyContin pills by the tens of millions. 
The nation's three largest prescription drug wholesalers — McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen Drug Co. — supplied more than half of all pain pills statewide.
For more than a decade, the same distributors disregarded rules to report suspicious orders for controlled substances in West Virginia to the state Board of Pharmacy, the Gazette-Mail found. And the board failed to enforce the same regulations that were on the books since 2001, while giving spotless inspection reviews to small-town pharmacies in the southern counties that ordered more pills than could possibly be taken by people who really needed medicine for pain. 
As the fatalities mounted — hydrocodone and oxycodone overdose deaths increased 67 percent in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012 — the drug shippers' CEOs collected salaries and bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars. Their companies made billions. McKesson has grown into the fifth-largest corporation in America. The drug distributor's CEO was the nation's highest-paid executive in 2012, according to Forbes. 
In court cases, the companies have repeatedly denied they played any role in the nation's pain-pill epidemic.

The laws were there.  They were never enforced.  The drug distributors got rich.  Thousands died. This is a massive scandal, period.

Now imagine how bad this will be under the Trump FDA, which wants to eliminate "job-killing regulations" on Big Pharma, and would remain in charge of enforcing what regulations would be left on the books.

And please note, this was a local city newspaper that broke this story wide open, not a national paper, not a online outlet, not a non-profit, but a local hometown paper.

But the problem is still economic anxiety, right?

Invasion Of The Orangemen

Nothing to be alarmed about folks, President Hair Furor is only going to have his own private security force on top of any Secret Service protection, even after he takes office in January, in order to "deal with protesters" at the rallies and events he continues to want to have.

President-elect Donald Trump has continued employing a private security and intelligence team at his victory rallies, and he is expected to keep at least some members of the team after he becomes president, according to people familiar with the plans. 
The arrangement represents a major break from tradition. All modern presidents and presidents-elect have entrusted their personal security entirely to the Secret Service, and their event security mostly to local law enforcement, according to presidential security experts and Secret Service sources.

But Trump — who puts a premium on loyalty and has demonstrated great interest in having forceful security at his events — has opted to maintain an aggressive and unprecedented private security force, led by Keith Schiller, a retired New York City cop and Navy veteran who started working for Trump in 1999 as a part-time bodyguard, eventually rising to become his head of security. 
Security officials warn that employing private security personnel heightens risks for the president-elect and his team, as well as for protesters, dozens of whom have alleged racial profiling, undue force or aggression at the hands Trump’s security, with at least 10 joining a trio of lawsuits now pending against Trump, his campaign or its security. 
“It’s playing with fire,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent who worked on President Barack Obama’s protective detail during his 2012 reelection campaign. Having a private security team working events with Secret Service “increases the Service’s liability, it creates greater confusion and it creates greater risk,” Wackrow said. 
“You never want to comingle a police function with a private security function,” he said, adding, “If you talk to the guys on the detail and the guys who are running the rallies, that’s been a little bit difficult because it’s so abnormal.”

The word you need to be using isn't "abnormal" it's "authoritarian".  Private security details without public oversight and answerable only to Trump, "controlling" protesters?  That's what dictators do, guys.  This is the Orange Brigades here, Trump's private army. These are the actions of a man who knows just how much the people hate him and he doesn't care.

If Obama had done this in 2008 or especially 2012, he'd have been impeached the moment one of these guys tried to cash a paycheck.

This is a serious, serious problem and nobody seems to care to try to do anything about it.

Those Nice Klansmen Down The Road

Seems that in the era of Trump "economic anxiety" that cable television seeks to remain relevant by giving us the fuzzy, warm, homey view of your average KKK Imperial Wizard and his family.

The setup is warm and fuzzy. “Girls, I got y’all some gifts,” says Steven Howard, presenting his two young daughters with prettily wrapped packages, which they eagerly rip into. The cameras then reveal what’s inside: the distinctive pointed hoods of the Ku Klux Klan.

“Giving my girls my legacy,” Mr. Howard says as he helps place them on their heads.

It’s a chilling introduction to “Generation KKK,” an eight-part documentary series, beginning Jan. 10 on A&E, that burrows in with high-ranking Klan members and their families. The series also takes A&E, best known for long-running favorites like “Hoarders” and “Intervention,” into programming waters more complicated — and politically charged — than anything it has shown before.

That meant finding a delicate balance between winning the trust of the Klan members and ensuring the show didn’t propagate views the network’s executives abhor. “We certainly didn’t want the show to be seen as a platform for the views of the KKK,” said Rob Sharenow, general manager of A&E. “The only political agenda is that we really do stand against hate.”

I see.  But we really need to hear why they harbor that hate in their own words in order to understand them, I guess. At least, that's what the pundits tell me.

The series follows Mr. Howard, the Imperial Wizard of the North Mississippi White Knights; Chris Buckley, a Grand Knighthawk with the North Georgia White Knights; and Richard Nichols, the Grand Dragon in the Tennessee Knights of the Invisible Empire.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of independent Klan chapters in the United States (there is no national organization) grew from 72 to 190 between 2014 and 2015. The Anti-Defamation League estimates membership at 3,000, while the law center places the figure at between 5,000 and 8,000. And the indoctrination of young people, members say, is crucial to the Klan’s survival.

“We all here for the same reason: we’re here for the preservation of our race and the preservation of our people,” Mr. Howard says on the show, voicing his dream of becoming the next David Duke. “If we don’t fight this battle, our children ain’t gonna have a future.”

The series follows the adventures of these happy warriors as they learn and grow!

As they sought to capture this relatively unseen world, the filmmakers also incorporated the anti-hate activists Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Arno Michaelis and Bryon Widner as they tried to persuade members to leave the Klan — or at least to leave their children out of it.

That meant introducing Mr. Buckley’s wife, Melissa, to Mr. Michaelis, a former white supremacist now with Serve 2 Unite, which works with young people to prevent violent extremism. Mr. Buckley’s Klan involvement had led his wife into a dangerous confrontation with three African-American women at a Walmart, and she wanted to squelch her now-5-year-old son’s mimicry of his father’s racial slurs and “white power” salutes before he started school.

“I hate to say that I was even at the point of leaving him, because he’s my best friend, he’s my kids’ father, he’s everything to me,” she said in a phone interview. “But it got to the point where, if I’m not safe with him, why be with him?”

For Mr. Buckley, an Army veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Klan offered a band of brothers not unlike the military and an outlet for the rage he felt toward those he blamed for his emotional and financial precariousness.

“People involved in hate groups do so because they’re suffering,” Mr. Michaelis said. “I really draw upon that truth to respond to their aggression with compassion, and doing so makes a very powerful first impression.”

While I'm glad to hear that somebody's trying to deprogram these folks and absolutely support their efforts to do so, I have to admit my personal biases of you know, being black in America in 2016 makes me quite leery of how long it's going to take to try to reform the tens of millions of other Trump voters who may be suffering from this particular strain of "economic anxiety" and that I'm not super stoked to watch a series about humanizing the reasons for their hatred towards me.

I don't need to watch the series.  Thanks to November's election I get to live it instead.

That's more than enough for me.  Thanks.

I'll pass.


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