The Fix is In

America's Drug Lab, Pence Oozes

We begin today with a visit to America’s largest drug lab. This isn’t a lab where drugs are manufactured, instead, it’s a petri dish where the state of Oregon is studying whether one of America’s most intractable problems—compounded by decades of one of its most ineffective policies—can even begin to find a fix. The fix will not come easily nor quickly. And, sadly, the already complex mix of contents in this toxic petri dish has a relatively new and particularly deadly element, one that is roughly fifty times more powerful than heroin. “Every state in America has a fentanyl problem, but only Oregon has decriminalized drugs and sent hundreds of millions in legal-weed tax dollars to organizations that are trying to heal people. In Portland and a rural county nearby, there is both chaos and hope.” In Esquire, Jack Holmes takes you to The Land Beyond the Drug War. It could just as easily be called the land of the lost. “It’s more than fifty years on from our declaration of a war on narcotics, and people are getting higher on more destructive sh-t than ever.”


Pence and Sensibility

We’re due for another day of nonstop coverage of a Trump arraignment. You can follow along with CNN or The Guardian. While the coverage will be breathless and hurried, the wheels of justice will move slowly, and Trump will do everything possible to slow things down even more. These cases are incredibly damning and the evidence is strong. Trump’s best bet is slow the roll, win the election (or hope some other GOP candidate does), and get to work destroying the case with pardons and a manipulation of the Justice Dept. Robert Reich: Here’s how Trump will try to avoid jail.

+ Meanwhile, it’s looking like Mike Pence is emerging as a key voice in the case against his former boss, even if his newly formed fetal backbone is growing out of a cesspool of oozing, syrupy unctuousness that is so smarmy I had to squeegee my TV screen several times during his latest interview. In response to one of Trump’s lawyers suggesting that the conspirators only asked Pence to “pause” the voting on Jan 6, Pence said, “Let’s be clear on this point. It wasn’t just that they asked for a pause. The president specifically asked me, and his gaggle of crackpot lawyers asked me, to literally reject votes, which would have resulted in the issue being turned over to the House of Representatives, and literally chaos would have ensued.” It’s worth keeping in mind that Pence was all in on the Big Lie up until the hours before the insurrection. From my book, Please Scream Inside Your Heart: “Pence had supported the president’s lies about election rigging, both tacitly and verbally. In Georgia, the day before the Senate run-offs, Pence was met with chants of, ‘Stop the steal!’ He responded: ‘I know we all have got our doubts about the last election. I want to assure you that I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities. I promise you, come this Wednesday, we will have our day in Congress.'” Pence basically dropped a couple sacks of cash on the way out of the bank robbery and then covered for the crime’s ringleader for years. How heroic. Remember, as I wrote yesterday, we’re talking now about a crime that you witnessed in real time. You saw exactly what you thought you saw.


Hybrid: Half Vehicle, Half Home

“Nearly 20,000 Angelenos live in RVs, vans, or cars, a 55 percent increase over when the count first started, in 2016. As the housing shortage deepens, thousands more will likely be forced into this lifestyle. Many of these people do not have the mental-health or substance-abuse issues eagerly trotted out to dismiss the homelessness crisis. A significant minority have jobs—they’re people who stock shelves or install drywall but simply can’t afford a home. Like most Angelenos, I was repulsed by the homelessness crisis, vehicular or otherwise. Early in the summer of 2021, I temporarily joined the 20,000. Amid COVID-19 lockdowns, I was paying half of my income for a bedroom in a shared student apartment furnished like a doctor’s office waiting room. My lease was set to expire, and I had to travel for work, anyway. Moving into my Prius seemed like the best bad option.” M. Nolan Gray in The Atlantic (Gift Article): The UCLA Students Who Live in Their Cars.


Bee Best

“The problem of bees in America is not a question of peace with the environment. It’s not really even a matter of conservation, per se. The bees most folks believe ought to be saved are neither natural to the land nor essential to it. They are, instead, integral to our agricultural system, grocery stores, refrigerators, and pantries. We have built a machine in the span of centuries, and it fits so comfortably together. How and why this happened is a story as much about the appeal, adaptability, and shortcomings of American commerce as it is about the dying of bees.” But to the bottom line is that we need the bees and there are fewer and fewer of them. Here’s the latest buzz: America’s Bee Problem Is an Us Problem.


Extra, Extra

Cyberspace Case: “The Cyberspace Administration of China on Wednesday published the draft guidelines on its site, stating that minors would not be allowed to use most internet services on mobile devices from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and that children between the ages of 16 and 18 would only be able to use the internet for two hours a day.” (I definitely need all the parenting help I can get, but I’m not sure I’ll turn to the Cyberspace Administration of China…)

+ The Day Shift: Time: Extreme Heat Is Endangering America’s Workers—and Its Economy. Is there any upside to climate change? Well … surf’s up.

+ Niger Coup: “U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday called for the immediate release of Niger’s democratically elected head-of-state amid an apparent coup there. Biden released the statement on the 63rd anniversary of Niger’s independence from its former colonial ruler, warning that the West African nation is now ‘facing a grave challenge to its democracy.'”

+ Cinder Knock: “A woman who escaped her kidnapper by punching her way out of a cinder block cell at a home in southern Oregon may have spared other women from a similar fate by alerting authorities to a man they now suspect in sexual assaults in at least four more states.”

+ I Know What You Did Last Summer (and this one): “It’s the summer tradition no one wants to partake in: Covid-19 cases are on the rise again. Hospitalizations from the virus ticked up in mid-July, increasing by 12 percent to just over 8,000 across the US for the week ending July 22. That’s nowhere near the pandemic peaks that overwhelmed health workers, but July brought the first weekly increases in hospitalizations since the US ended the federal Covid-19 public health emergency in May.” Wapo: Nose picking linked to higher risk of covid, study shows.

+ Yeez Nuts: “Adidas brought in $437 million from the first release of Yeezy sneakers left over after breaking ties with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, as the German sportswear maker tries to offload the unsold shoes and donate part of the proceeds to groups fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate.” Even after the relentless hate, people still want their Yeezys. Pathetic. Sorry, but if the shoe fits.

+ Skimming to the Top: “As the apparel company prepares to expand into physical stores and men’s clothing, its latest funding round may spur questions about when it intends to go public.” NYT (Gift Article): Kim Kardashian’s Skims Is Now Worth $4 Billion.


Bottom of the News

You probably associate the Starbucks juggernaut with a large (or venti) cup of coffee. But these days, the company’s business is ice cold. In a good way. Starbucks’ cold business made up 75% of US beverage sales. And they’re only just starting to experiment with ice nuggets.

+ “Somalia’s sports minister publicly apologized Wednesday and ordered that the chairwoman of the national track and field federation be suspended after a seemingly untrained female sprinter represented the African country at the World University Games in China and took more than 20 seconds to finish a 100m race.” (Given this, I’m a little surprised that my high school track performances never caused an international uproar.)

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