LBN Examiner 01/09/2022


For the first time in U.S. history, more fentanyl than heroin has been intercepted by federal law enforcement at the country’s borders. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, 11,201 pounds of fentanyl was seized in fiscal year 2021, compared to 5,400 pounds of heroin. Other drugs seized include 319,447 pounds of marijuana, 190,861 pounds of methamphetamine, 97,638 pounds of cocaine, and 10,848 pounds of ketamine. 2,158 pounds of fentanyl has been seized in fiscal year 2022 to date, compared to 277 pounds of heroin. The amount of heroin seized at the border decreased from 5,763 pounds in 2020, while the amount of fentanyl seized has exploded from 4,791 pounds in 2020.

“Not only were fentanyl seizures at the highest level ever recorded, but fentanyl overdoses within the United States also hit new highs, indicating the success that transnational criminal organizations had in pushing their deadly products to the public,” reported The Washington Examiner. In December 2021, a DEA investigation identified a “direct link between fentanyl-related overdose deaths and criminal drug networks in Mexico. ”Mexican criminal drug networks are harnessing the perfect drug trafficking tool: social media applications that are available on every smartphone,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said. “They are using these platforms to flood our country with fentanyl. The ease with which drug dealers can operate on social media and other popular smartphone apps is fueling our Nation’s unprecedented overdose epidemic.”

Clinton Foundation Donations Have Fallen Nearly 75% Since 2016:

The Clinton Foundation is witnessing a rapid plummet in donations. According to the group’s most recent financial report, contributions fell from $29.6 million in 2019 to $16.3 million in 2020 – a 45% decline amid COVID-19 and the lockdown-induced recession. In 2016, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ran for president, the group raised $62.9 million, indicating an overall 74% donation decline in a four-year period. The Clinton Foundation works with “strategic partners to develop and implement programs that create economic opportunity, improve public health, and inspire civic engagement and service.” Its programs relate to increasing crop yields, battling climate change, and providing relief after natural disasters. The organization, however, has often been accused of political motives and pay-to-play schemes. Last year, President Trump’s Department of Justice investigated how the FBI dealt with claims of such corruption at the Clinton Foundation.

Delta Passenger on a Flight from Syracuse to Atlanta was ‘Breastfeeding Her Hairless CAT and Refused to Stop’:

A female passenger on a recent Delta Airlines flight stunned her fellow travelers and cabin crew when she was reportedly observed breastfeeding her pet cat and refused to stop. The bizarre incident was said to have taken place on Delta Flight 1360 from Syracuse, New York, to Atlanta, Georgia. The tale of the purportedly unhinged feline lover became public knowledge after a screenshot has gone viral on social media, showing a message that was transmitted by a Delta crew member to their colleagues on the ground in Atlanta, summoning assistance.

“This woman had one of those, like, hairless cats swaddled up in a blanket so it looked like a baby,” the flight attendant recounted. “Her shirt was up and she was trying to get the cat to latch and she wouldn’t put the cat back in the carrier. And the cat was screaming for its life.” According to the airline’s website, Delta “fully supports a woman’s right to breastfeed on board Delta and Delta connection aircraft and in Delta facilities.” It is unlikely that the airline’s pro-lactation stance extends to human passengers nursing animals. The airline allows small dogs, cats and household birds to travel in the cabin for a fee, but they must be kept in a pet carrier that fits under the seat.

Examiner – Lens:

Actress Valerie Bertinelli shared an emotional video about struggling with her body image. “I’m standing out in the rain because I’m doing my best to distract my mind from spiraling to a place of self-loathing, because I saw a picture of myself today that made me want to do that,” the One Day at a Time alum said in the video posted to her Instagram on Friday. Bertinelli, 61, said that she isn’t happy with her body and that she isn’t sure if she will ever get to a place of contentment.

Polish Authorities Use Water Cannons, Tear Gas to Push Back Migrants at Border:

The crisis at the border between Belarus and Poland has escalated in recent days after multiple nights of intense showdowns, with Polish authorities using water cannons and tear gas to push back migrants who they said were trying to get past the border. As CBS News reported, “There were chaotic scenes as a group of migrants charged the fence. One of the migrants told CBS News that Polish police responded with a volley of tear gas and rubber bullets, as well as the water cannon. Migrants were seen hurling rocks and stones at the barbed wire fence.”

California Population Decreases During Pandemic:

California is losing more than twice as many people to domestic migration as it was before the pandemic, a new report from University of California researchers shows. The research shows the change is largely being driven by a drop in the number of people moving to California from other parts of the U.S. and is most acute in the high-cost San Francisco Bay Area. The researchers examined anonymized credit bureau data and found that the downward trend in net domestic migration has been accelerated by a 38% decrease in the number of new arrivals between March 2020 and September 2021. The number of new arrivals declined in all of the state’s 58 counties.

Canadian Court Declares Math Test for New Teachers ‘Unconstitutional’ Because of Racial Disparities in Passage Rates:

Ontario public schools will no longer require incoming teachers to pass a basic math proficiency test after finding racial disparities in passage rates. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled Friday the Maths Proficiency Test (MPT) requirement “unconstitutional” after finding that it impaired non-white teacher candidates and that government schools did not do enough to address MPT-related racial inequity. The MPT was implemented as part of an effort to improve Ontario students’ below-average math scores, according to CBC News.

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by George Vandeman:

** In an effort to improve our Nation’s fighting power, the Air Force goes woke and allows use of gender pronouns in email signatures, saying it’s “authorized but not required.” Just think about what the Air Force could do to enemies when it requires the pronouns.

** A transgender man who gave birth to his son criticizes the medical staff for calling him “mother” and claims that it’s “important” to stop automatically linking pregnancy with being a woman. We can only hope that what happened here does not adversely affect his son throughout his life.

** Here’s one for next year. An MSNBC columnist calls for the end of the NORAD Santa tracker “out of concern for Santa’s safety from the U.S. military.” He claims that it is time to “decouple” Santa Claus from American military culture.

** Scientists have studied the health risks to James Bond in all of his films. They have concluded that 007’s lifestyle shows that the secret agent would have died several times over due to sexually-transmitted infections, food poisoning, and alcohol abuse. What really troubled me here was that they also concluded that Bond failed “to adhere to international travel advice” during the 86 international trips he made.

** Here’s one I didn’t see coming. Fox News is watched by more Democrats than CNN. Data finds that 29% of all liberals watch Fox News, compared to 24% for CNN. MSNBC captured the most liberals with a 46% share of that group. On the other side of the equation, 62% of conservatives watched Fox, 24% for MSNBC, and 14% for CNN.

** Who knew that NASA looks to the heavens for help? The Agency is hiring 24 theologians to assess how humans will react if alien life is found on other planets and how the discovery will impact our ideas of “gods and creation.”

** Researchers have identified sildenafil, which all of us guys know as Viagra, as a promising drug candidate to help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. They found that Viagra usage “was significantly associated with a 69% reduced risk” of Alzheimer’s. This comes from a report published in the journal most of us read, Nature Aging. I am officially coining a phrase right now: “I only use it to stave off Alzheimer’s.”

Examiner – WHAT IS…The Mirror Test:

This test is used to determine whether an animal recognizes itself in a mirror – an indicator of self-awareness. It was developed in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup, Jr., who was inspired by Darwin’s account of an encounter with a captive orangutan that saw itself in a mirror and seemed to show recognition. Gallup refined the test by placing marks on his subjects and then observing their responses to the marks upon seeing their reflections.

Political Correctness?

** A Canadian school district cancels speech by ISIS rape survivor who is a Noble Prize winner due to fears of “Islamophobia.”

Examiner – Lens:

Billie Eilish introduced her new chocolate-brown hair color this month.

Examiner – (Notable) Remarks:

** I loved New York so much, but loving it over the past two years has felt like pleading the case for your terrible boyfriend to your friends. “He takes a little while to open up. Really, he’s not so bad.” You hand over your best picture. “That’s him? You’re putting up with all of it for this?” I will – I already do – miss my glorious, funky, singular New York. But the point of New York was its freedom. I want my kids to feel the way I felt in my hometown in the ‘90s. So we’re moving to Florida. —- Karol Markowicz, columnist at The New York Post

** In a Comedy Central show hosted by progressive radio personality Charlamagne Tha God, Kamala Harris lost her cool (fast forward to minute 18). The question was basically: Why have you let Senator Joe Manchin derail your platform? Who’s really in charge around here? Harris’s right-hand Symone Sanders started shouting that the audio connection was bad, pretending the Vice President’s office was having technical difficulties. “She can hear me,” Charlamagne says, laughing. Her aide’s hands moving into the shot, Harris finally says, “I can hear you…Charlamagne, come on, it’s Joe Biden…It’s Joe Biden and my name is Kamala Harris, and I am the Vice President of the United States.” Progressive Democrats have grown so insulated they can barely handle normal questions from their own fanbase. Lighten up! Harris is a heartbeat away from the presidency. It worries me that Comedy Central is too fierce a foe. —- Nellie Bowles

** Pope Francis became fascinated with a somewhat obscure painting. It’s a Baroque painting of the Virgin Mary in a church in Augsburg, Germany, called “Mary, Untier of Knots.” It shows Mary patiently focusing on a long, knotted ribbon, gently untying each knot to leave a white, untangled ribbon behind. Since Francis’ introduction of a reproduction of the image in Buenos Aires, it has grown in popularity in South America, with the faithful praying in front of it for Mary to “untie the knots” in their own lives. What strikes me about it is how undoing knots conveys a way of being in the world. It begins with a recognition that life isn’t easy, that a smooth and linear path is rarely given to us, that challenges keep presenting themselves. It is not so much the overcoming of these challenges that defines us, but the manner in which we tackle them. It’s possible to get extremely frustrated by knots, after all, as I remember each time I retrieve a set of iPhone earbuds from the black hole of a coat pocket. Your first thought is just anger: how on earth did this get so fucking tangled up? Your second impulse is to grab it and shake it or even to pull on it to resolve the issue in one stroke. But that only makes things worse. The knots get even tighter. In the end, you realize your only real option – against almost every fiber in your irate being – is to take each knot in turn, patiently and gently undo it, loosen a little, see what happens, and move on to the next. You will never know exactly when all the knots will resolve themselves – it can happen quite quickly after a while or seemingly never. But you do know that patience, and concern with the here and now, is the only way to “solve” the “problem.” You don’t look forward with a plan; you look down with a practice. —- Andrew Sullivan

** It turns out that Joan Didion was also remarkably prescient in writing about the fracturing of truth as people increasingly filtered reality through the prism of their own prejudices. And decades ago, she was already pointing to the startling disconnect between much of the American public and the political and media elites who “invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life” – a disconnect that today is fueling populist politics and partisan divides. In 2003 she wrote even more explicitly about how our political process not only spurns consensus but also works by “turning the angers and fears and energy of the few” against “the rest of the country.” —- Michiko Kakutani, former chief book critic of The Times and the author of the book “Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Re-Read.”

** “One of the reasons why the Taliban outsmarted Americans is the fact they set up relations with the whole world while negotiating with the Americans – something that the Americans didn’t want to happen,” said Rahimullah Mahmood, a veteran insurgent commander who served as governor of Wardak province after the Taliban takeover and now is deputy head of the Kandahar-based military corps. “They succeeded in convincing the world that the Taliban weren’t the terrorists as depicted by American propaganda.” —- Yaroslav Trofimov in Kabul and Jessica Donati in Washington

Examiner – Think Again:

Examiner – Investigates:

** The 50 best photographs from 2021. READ
** The best sports photos of the year. READ
** The 51 best (and weirdest) charts of the year. READ
** Mapping the world’s most common illicit drugs. READ
** Vigilante rat hunters are roaming New York City. READ

Mentally Ill Sperm Donor Sparks Debate on Disclosure:

After a family in New York lost their son to an opioid addiction, they started questioning the medical history of the sperm donor they used to conceive their son. When they learned that the donor had schizophrenia – which runs in families – and was an opioid addict, they petitioned Congressman Patrick Gallivan, who has introduced groundbreaking legislation that could forever change the policies surrounding sperm donation, according to The Wall Street Journal. Currently, loose guidelines for donors – who often sell their sperm for fast cash – make it difficult to verify whether they are being truthful about their personal histories. If the legislation passes, reproductive tissue banks would be compelled by law to verify the health history – including mental health issues – of sperm, egg, and embryo donors.

Examiner – Quote of the Day:

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does. —- Poet and novelist Margaret Atwood

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