Wednesday, January 16th, 2019


According to ‘Script

Americans are now more likely to die from opioid overdoses than car crashes. So it's a reasonable time to look back and see how we got here. Many of today's deaths are associated with heroin overdoses and illicit, synthetic fentanyl. But in the beginning, there was Oxy. And behind Oxy, there was Purdue. And behind Purdue, there were the Sacklers. Now, thanks to some state-led lawsuits, we're getting a look behind the scenes of what has grown into an American tragedy. Stat: Documents reveal new details about Purdue's marketing of OxyContin. "As questions were raised about the risk of addiction and overdoses that came with taking OxyContin and opioid medications, Sackler outlined a strategy that critics have long accused the company of unleashing: divert the blame onto others, particularly the people who became addicted to opioids themselves. 'We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible,' Sackler wrote in an email in February 2001. 'They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.'"

+ "The Sackler family behind Purdue Pharma knew that its painkiller OxyContin was causing overdoses, yet continued to cash in as deaths mounted." NPR: Massachusetts Attorney General Implicates Family Behind Purdue Pharma In Opioid Deaths.


ISIS Still At Work in Syria

"U.S. service members were killed during an explosion while conducting a routine patrol in Syria today. We are still gathering information and will share additional details at a later time." US service members killed in ISIS-claimed attack in Syria.

+ "Military commanders warned President Donald Trump on December 26 during his surprise visit to Iraq that -- despite his claims to the contrary -- ISIS was not entirely defeated in Syria."

+ "Jason Spindler was one of those rare men who was loved by pretty much anyone be touched in Kenya and around the world. Today he was killed in the terrible al shabab attack in Nairobi." American Jason Spindler was among fourteen people killed in a terror attack on a hotel in Nairobi.


Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

"Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued that Mrs May's 'zombie' administration had lost the right to govern during a six hour debate on his motion." Yet, a day after her Brexit plan suffered a historically lopsided defeat, Theresa May's government narrowly survived a no confidence vote. (Congrats! Your prize is that you get to restart Brexit negotiations...) Here's the latest from the BBC.


Essay Test

Nancy Pelosi's latest salvo in the shutdown wars looks to hurt Trump where it counts: Screen time. Citing security concerns, the House Speaker suggested that the president should delay the State of the Union address or deliver his remarks in writing. (An essay is a lot of work, but it's not like we can give this president a true/false test.) "I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing." (Something tells me we should prepare for all caps.)

+ There are a lot of border walls in a lot of places (including across much of the US southern border). Here's a look at Border Barriers Around the World.



"Like many survivors of stroke, his speech became slurred and he sometimes stuttered. His personality also seemed to change. He suddenly became obsessed with reading and writing poetry. Soon, Hershfield's friends noticed another unusual side effect: He couldn't stop speaking in rhyme. He finished everyday sentences with rhyming couplets, like 'Now I have to ride the bus, it's enough to make me cuss.' And curiously, whenever he rhymed, his speech impediments disappeared." Jeff Maysh in The Atlantic: How a Stroke Turned a 63-Year-Old Into a Rap Legend. (Maybe medicine can help explain my headlines. For this one, I also considered MD Hammer, Snoop Doc, Brain Steminem, Busta Vessel Rhymes, Chuck MD, Hay Z, Sir Mix-a-Clot, Drool Moe Dee... I better stop. After all, the rap name Big Pun is already taken.)


Siren Song

"As these communities become grayer and less populated, there are fewer people left to drive ambulances, and fewer people left to pay the taxes that keep the ambulances in service." Nathan Kohrman in The New Yorker: In Rural America, There Are Few People Left to Drive the Ambulances.


Sobriety Test

"What they have in common is that they are all, by their own account, for now, living sober. And quite evidently they all strongly believe—whatever their varying reasons and circumstances and perspectives and challenges—that sobriety has made life better." GQ's Chris Heath on Steven Tyler, Julien Baker, Ben Harper, Jason Isbell, Joe Walsh on Creating While Clean. (Once the Trump era is over, I'll try writing an edition of NextDraft sober.)


Mexican Spilling Beans

"The testimony was made by Alex Cifuentes, a convicted drug trafficker who worked for Guzmán as part of the Sinaloa cartel, and became so close that he described himself as the drug lord's 'right-hand man, his left-hand man.'" Buzzfeed: A Witness Testified That El Chapo Paid Former Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto A $100 Million Bribe.


Parole (Room and) Board

"On one level, it's all normal, life-with-roommates kind of stuff. But it's new for Jones, 35. Released From Prison Again, After Criminal Justice Reform Became Law
He recently was released on parole, serving nearly 14 years in a series of California prisons for felony assault with a deadly weapon." NPR: From A Cell To A Home: Newly Released Inmates Matched With Welcoming Hosts.


Bottom of the News

"If you use social media, you've probably noticed a trend across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter of people posting their then-and-now profile pictures, mostly from 10 years ago and this year." Kate O'Neill in Wired: Facebook's '10 year challenge' is just a harmless meme—right? (Just in case, I decided to play it safe with my submission.)

+ Japan's robot hotel just laid off a bunch of its robots.