13 Myths About Society Too Many People Believe

I am to science what Albert Einstein was to trap music. All I can do is defer to the experts, and what the experts say is alarmingly different from what I’m hearing from friends and headlines. So here’s a pile of commonly believed things which people smarter than me, using scientific methods, have said are probably bullshit.


Myth: Millennials Are Both Lazy And Refuse To Buy Homes

What I love about science is its ability to quantify things that could otherwise remain the subject of lazy jokes and shitty pundit rants forever. For example, a study found that there’s no measurable difference in work ethic among Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials.

I think the reason for the misconception, aside from people turning into dicks as they get old because their backs hurt, is that they cling to an outdated idea of what kind of work is “hard.” There totally are Millennials who don’t want to shovel coal all day, but there are also grizzled old miners who would have a stroke if they were forced to spend all day doing phone tech support for entitled, abusive morons.

Also, you know how there was that joke that Millennials don’t buy homes because they spent all of their money on roasted avocados or whatever it was? And how the rebuttal from Millennials was that it’s because they’re too buried in debt and the American Dream is dead forever? Well, it turns out Millennials are in fact buying houses, and home ownership is growing faster among them than any other group. Hey kids, the next time your bathtub fills with poop, you won’t have a landlord to call! Wait until you see the bill! The American dream is alive, but it’s your plumber who’s living it.


Myth: Certain Political Ideologies Embrace Science, Others Reject It

Let’s try an experiment:

Nearly 3.7 billion birds a year are killed due to emissions from a certain type of offshore oil drilling (known as Bulk Uncapped Thermal Transfer), along with another 21 billion(!) mammals. At least one species of bird was rendered extinct by this. Knowing that, would you support banning this technique, or at least tightly regulating it?

OK, now what if I told you that those 3.7 billion birds and 21 billion mammals are actually killed by house cats, and when a few feral cats were introduced to an island off New Zealand, it took them all of two years to totally wipe out a local species of birds? And that, in fact, cats may be more destructive to wildlife than any other human-linked cause?

All of that is true. So did you just now think, “Well, I definitely need to see how they came up with those numbers!” and if so, why didn’t you say the same when I blamed oil drilling for those deaths, especially considering that “Bulk Uncapped Thermal Transfer” is just a string of words I picked because they spelled BUTT?

See, it’s not that we don’t demand to see sources for claims; it’s that we only demand to see them for things we don’t agree with. And studies show that, yes, liberals and conservatives are equally prone to this. This is becoming worse in the information age — avoiding information that upsets us is a really common stress management technique. Consuming information that reassures us is calming, it’s like a gentle brain massage. Hell, I just watched an entire two-hour video confirming my belief that Breath Of The Wild sucked, and it’s been six months since I played it. Your weapon breaks after every enemy!

Of course, that is an objectively terrible way to process information, and I need you to keep that in mind as you read this next one …


Myth: Some Rare Exceptions Aside, Sexual Assault Perpetrators Are Men, Victims Are Women

Holy shit. We’re … just jumping right into this, aren’t we?

All right. Here we go: Toxic ideas about gender roles, sex, and consent threaten everybody.

One study of college-age males found that half of them had been sexually victimized in some way since age 16, and half of those said the perpetrator was female. That same link points out that in prison, female inmates are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted by another woman than an inmate in a male prison is to be assaulted by another man. And if you’re reading this, I hope I don’t have to tell you that this is not a fucking contest. This is not a rebuttal to those raising awareness of male-on-female assault. This is an addition. The epidemic is more insidious than we think.

One study found that 21% of sexual harassers are women. Those aren’t exactly rare, once-in-a-blue-moon occurrences. As this insightful writeup points out, it means that all of us probably have a friend who is a harasser, whether your friends are male or female. But as that author points out, nobody mentions Mariah Carey as part of the #MeToo movement, even though her male bodyguard publicly accused her of sexually harassing him.

The problem is that outdated gender role bullshit infects everybody, even those trying to fix it. We’re still stuck with the idea that women can’t be aggressive or have raw sexual urges. We fall back to the idea that physical strength is the only true form of power, when if anything, #MeToo has taught us that coercion involves all forms of power (money, job status, emotional manipulation), and that much of the trauma is psychological or emotional. And while women are discouraged from reporting sexual misconduct, men are even less likely to report. Again, it’s not a contest. Gender roles screw everybody!


Myth: Sexual Assault Is Becoming More Pervasive

Now here’s the good news: Sexual assault has dropped in half since 1993. Culturally, we’re doing an incredible job of fighting this problem, even if there’s lots more to do. As with the thing about Millennials earlier, issues sometimes get louder in the national conversation as they improve. The same factors that reduced assaults cause us to notice them more, which causes us to talk about them more, which causes them to seem more common.

That’s good in the sense that it encourages people to keep doing something about it (assaults still happen with horrific frequency, I surely could have left that unsaid), but bad in the sense that it can create the impression that nothing has worked so far. It totally has. I’m telling you as a kid who grew up in the ’80s, these conversations about consent did not used to happen. I watched comedies that played rape as a punchline. It was a whole genre.


Myth: Harassment Is Definitely The Reason Not Many Women Work In Male-Dominated Fields Like STEM

It’s true that only 24% of science, tech, engineering, and mathematics jobs are held by women, and everyone agrees this is a problem, partly because it’s a self-sustaining cycle. Male-dominated workplaces would logically be a deterrent to women, as it sends a message that they don’t belong and, let’s face it, boys clubs aren’t any fun if you’re not a boy (and in many cases, even if you are). There are all sorts of initiatives to get more women into these fields right now, since those will be the only good jobs once everything is robots. This is good and should continue. Also, there is no evidence that the millions of women who aren’t working in STEM wish they were.

Only 16% of teenage girls say they’re “very interested” in computer science, even though 48% say they think they could do it if they wanted to. So it’s true that only 18% of CS degrees go to women, but that’s actually higher than the percentage who show lots of enthusiasm for it earlier in life.

Also, the data shows that in countries where women have more equal rights and greater ability to make choices, they’re actually less likely to choose STEM careers than in countries where women have fewer rights (like Algeria, where 41% of STEM graduates are women). If something is still steering women away in these more progressive countries, it apparently starts early, way before they’re even thinking about a career. The link in the paragraph above does show that boys get more encouragement in school (teachers suggesting they could grow up to be engineers or whatever), and in fact, boys tend to be more confident in their ability to do science even when they’re worse at it than the girls.

It might also be that most women just don’t want to work in STEM.

If so, we can surely agree that the goal is to A) make sure every workplace is welcoming, regardless of gender and B) make sure nobody is being made to feel weird about their choices, whether they want to be an engineer, housewife, soldier, or Instagram butt model. That goes for everyone — another study found that when women are mistreated at work (insulted, berated, etc.), it’s more often by other women. This happens, according to the subjects, when they act assertive or dominant — meaning that when they broke traditional gender norms, it was usually other women who punished them. Does anybody sell a “Toxic Gender Beliefs Screw Everybody” T-shirt?

Let’s see, what else is in the news these days …


Myth: School Shootings Are Rampant

Ah. This.

Well, you’ll be happy to know that the rate of school shootings has been dropping for decades, and today kids are about ten times more likely to be killed walking or bicycling to school than they are to be fatally shot. Actually, most people are not happy to hear it, but we’ll talk about that.

Now, you may have recently seen a stat claiming there have been 290 school shootings since Sandy Hook, but that’s incredibly misleading. Half of those are accidents, nonfatal incidents, or suicides, mostly on college campuses — which are a huge problem, but not what a single person imagines when they hear “school shooting.” (Note: The real public health hazard of firearms is suicide, but apparently everybody thinks that’s boring.)

Anyway, I know why people hate seeing stats like this. They’re afraid positive news will rob the gun control movement of urgency. But I never want to be relying on weaponized ignorance as a strategy, and there’s something extremely important to note here: A single huge news event shouldn’t be treated like a statistical trend. These shootings should be treated like terror attacks, because that’s what they are. And just as we shouldn’t harass Muslims after every ISIS attack (since that’s precisely what ISIS wants), we shouldn’t target socially isolated kids as potential mass shooters.

(Related: Incidents of bullying at school have been dropping since 2005, when the government started keeping track. That’s another supposedly unsolvable, inevitable part of life that turned out to be neither of those things.)

While we’re on it, I guess we have to get this one out of the way …


Myth: Mass Shootings Are A Significant Danger To The Average Person

I became such an asshole after 9/11 that it retroactively made me become an asshole for my previous 25 years of life prior to the event. It took me a solid five years to figure out that terrorists are manipulating this particular flaw in the way information is spread: Humans tend to mistake the spectacular for the common.

The target isn’t the victims, it’s the viewers at home. They know that due to a glitch in the human brain, seeing 100 news stories about one terror attack equals 100 terror attacks. That’s how a rare, statistical blip of an event can make 100 million people afraid to leave the house. Mass shooters, like all terrorists, know this.

The reality is that assault rifles account for about 2% of gun deaths in the USA, even with all of the mass shootings lumped in. Rifles of all types — including hunting rifles and such — only account for 3%. It’s just not convenient to commit crimes with a rifle; it’s only the most dedicated who’ll take the trouble.

By the way, I don’t care if you want to heavily regulate assault rifles or high-capacity magazines. Go right ahead. Make every gun owner pass six months of training and a Voight-Kampff Test. But if you’re worried about gun deaths (including the two-thirds of those that are self-inflicted), handguns are literally 97% of the problem. You’re statistically more likely to be killed by someone’s bare fists than by an assault rifle, and you’re more than 100 times more likely to die of any other cause than to be murdered by any method. Those numbers keep going down because what we’ve been doing the last couple of decades to fight these problems has been working.

Not that the average person realizes it. Experts can tell you that fear of crime isn’t spread by crime — it’s spread by other people who are afraid of crime, even in low-crime communities. The whole reason mass killings occur in clusters is that (we think) the media attention triggers the next potential killer who’s lying in wait. If they’re living a power fantasy, their true power isn’t in dealing death, it’s in dealing fear. What psychopath can resist the prospect of a whole culture cowering before them?

You may say that the news should just stop covering those shootings, but that’s again talking about using structured ignorance as a problem-solving strategy. What needs to change is how we choose to react to it.


Myth: Putting Body Cameras On Cops Keeps Them In Line

So as I’m writing this, news broke that another young, unarmed black man was shot in his back yard, by officers who claim they mistook his cell phone for a gun. Click that link if you want to watch the body camera footage of the whole thing, from the cameras the officers knew were on when they pulled the trigger. Or you can check out this story of two cops beating the shit out of a black man for jaywalking, captured clearly on nine different body cam videos.

That brings us to the data none of us were hoping to hear: The largest study on the subject, done in Washington, D.C., found no change in citizen complaints or use of force by the officers after they started wearing body cameras. Prior studies had shown mixed results — in at least one case, fatal shootings actually went up. Like most data, it can be interpreted in any number of awful ways. You can say that this proves the system is so corrupt that cops know they’ll get off even with video, or that it proves cops always believed they were making the right decision in the moment, and that if anything, they were holding back before.

You know what did reduce citizen complaints and result in fewer suspects being killed, according to one study? Providing military gear to police.

“There must be something those studies missed!” you say, and so do I. I don’t want my police to have tanks, because I prefer not to live in a motherfucking dystopia. But this is the data we’ve got to work with, and we don’t get to just hand-wave it away if we claim to believe in science. Oh, and while you’re arguing among yourselves about this, go ahead and talk about that other huge study that found no link between poverty and violent crime.


Myth: Racism Is On The Rise In America

That “Mistaking the spectacular for the common” mechanism that makes Americans in quiet towns fear being gunned down by a mass shooter or beheaded by MS-13 is at play here, too. And everywhere, really.

Racists want you to believe they’re taking over, but all that’s growing is a fringe of highly visible, spectacular racism. The number of hate groups in the USA has gone up about 7% since 2015, and that’s right in line with the FBI’s data showing hate crimes rose by about 5% last year, though reporting is spotty. I guess you could say that a 5-7% increase in extremism isn’t exactly an explosion, but I don’t want to downplay it, and it really does feel like white nationalist YouTube channels have exploded by 5,000%. Nice algorithm you’ve got there, guys. I love seeing these in my recommendations:


But overall, racist attitudes continue their sharp decline, even in the Trump era. You’re not seeing a turning of the tide in racism. You’re seeing increasing polarization, the losing side getting louder and crazier. This includes intentionally staging appearances they know will draw protests so that they can play victim. The fact that the rest of us find them repulsive is what generates the noise.

We’re seeing the same thing happen with religion. This is maybe the least religious generation in the history of America, but what remains is the hardcore Evangelical Christians, who are going to get louder and more strident as this trend continues. The fact that they’re losing ground is the very thing that drives them.

Wait a second. It just occurred to me why the NRA has gotten so flamboyant and cultish in recent years. Let me do a quick check … yep, gun ownership in the USA is at its lowest point in 40 years. Never forget: The losers get louder.


Myth: White People Are Happier, Because They’re On Top

I bet you’ve never heard this stat before: Polls show low-income blacks are more optimistic about their futures than poor whites. The ones living in the South — the worst place to be a poor black person, I’d assume — are the most optimistic of all. More optimistic than rich people of the same race, even.

This isn’t new. One reason Bernie Sanders couldn’t get much traction among minorities in 2016 is that black Americans were much more likely to rate the economy as “good” in polls. Latinos, too — they were much more likely than whites to say they expected their fortunes to improve in the next year. The most pessimistic group was the white people. In fact, the white suicide rate is surging, even though their prospects are statistically still much better.

But statistics don’t matter. Perception matters. That’s what this whole article is about. It matters so much that people will take this bleak, false depiction of reality to their fucking graves.

That same “No, this can’t be right” reaction you’ve had to who knows how many of the points in this article is the exact same one white people have when they hear that they’re still getting the best of everything. Related …


Myth: The Lower Classes Are Getting Killed In This Economy, And It Keeps Getting Worse

Hey, did you know that for the last couple of years, wages for low-income workers have been growing faster than rich people’s? Blue-collar jobs, service jobs, manufacturing — their pay has been surging. Some industries are struggling to find workers. We’ve been in a booming economy for years now.

See? Do you feel yourself rejecting that news? Do you feel like it threatens you somehow, puts you in a weaker position? Like it’s just ammunition for the bad guys? That’s how it works! We have all sorts of reasons to believe or not believe things, and “What does the data say?” ranks way down on the list.

If you were able to swallow that one, how about …


Myth: Sweatshops Are Bad

“What?” you say. “Implying that sweatshops are good is like saying Breath Of The Wild wasn’t a tedious pile of shit.” OK, but then why do 85% of the people in developing countries say it’s a good thing when foreign companies build factories there?

It’s complicated. Look, if you find out your favorite product is made by sweatshop labor in a third-world country, you have every right to demand they stop. But it’s only good if it means improving conditions in that factory. If they just move the jobs elsewhere, that’s a fucking disaster for those workers. Ignoring that doesn’t make us noble.

Even the shitty factories improve their standard of living because those sweatshops didn’t replace good jobs, they replaced abject poverty. More jobs means other employers have to offer more to compete for those workers. That’s why wages in general go up and more jobs tend to also bring improved work conditions. Poor countries with liberalized trade see less absolute poverty, lower child mortality, and improved gender equality. The data is overwhelming.

That can seem confusing if you’ve heard that globalization brings with it inequality, but remember that inequality doesn’t necessarily mean the poor are getting poorer — they can both be rising, the rich just rising faster. If you want to do something, then tax those people, don’t take the jobs away. And don’t pat yourself on the back if you lobbied a company to stop using sweatshop labor, only to have them use robots instead.

One more …


Myth: Politicians Just Do The Bidding Of Corporate Lobbyists

Wait. That … no, that can’t be right. I may know even less about politics than the creators of Breath Of The Wild knew about weapon durability mechanics, but I know this. We just saw Net Neutrality get repealed because big internet providers threw cash and lobbyists at the government. Right?

Well, this 2017 study found companies didn’t benefit at all when the candidates they supported took office (meaning there were no return favors). This even larger study spanning 18 years of data found that corporate lobbying efforts made no difference, and that companies were basically wasting that money. There was an earlier study that found the opposite, but was roundly debunked by multiple experts.

This has to be a flawed study, or looking at the wrong thing, or … something. Yeah, I’m just going to refuse to believe that one. You know what, just forget I said anything.

David Wong is the Executive Editor at Cracked, follow him on Twitter or on Facebook or on YouTube or on Instagram.

Wouldn’t hurt you to pick up a copy of The Science of Positivity, maybe make some sense of things.

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For more, check out 5 Things ‘Smart’ People Believe (That Are Totally Wrong) and 19 Commonly Held Beliefs, Debunked With Statistics.

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Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/13-myths-about-society-too-many-people-believe/

Trump Is Freaking Out About the Wrong Border: Killer Fentanyl Is Coming From Canada

President Donald Trump has made building a wall along the southern border the backbone of his anti-drug policy to keep deadly narcotics like fentanyl from entering the country from Mexico.

But last month, as the president was delivering remarks at yet another public listening session on the opioid crisis, focusing his attention on a multimillion-dollar security investment on Americas southwest border, law enforcement officials in Canada announced they had shut down a massive flow of deadly narcotics coming to the U.S. from the opposite direction.

The trafficking operation, based in Calgary, Albertajust a three-hour drive north of the Montana borderwas capable of producing an estimated 18,000 counterfeit pills an hour for export to the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Cutting dyes on seized pill presses bore the stamps 80 and CDN, which are commonly associated with the prescription painkiller OxyContin. But there was no oxycodone (the active ingredient in Oxys) to be found. Instead, investigators from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Clandestine Lab Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) Team discovered 18 kilos of suspected fentanyl in two different locations.

The investigation began in 2016 when police near Provo, Utah, pulled over a pickup truck carrying three men and 200 pounds of methamphetamine. Press reports at the time described it as the states largest ever meth bust, valued at $1.5 million on the street.

The men were all Canadian, and police would soon learn that meth trafficking was just a small part of the bilateral flow of drugs the group was moving across the U.S. border with Canada.

Had their trip been successful that day, the men would have continued traveling north on I-15, through Montana, and into Canada for their final stretch into Calgary. Thats where the leader of their group, Allistair Chapmanonce a rising star in Albertas competitive amateur ice hockey communityhad assembled a multi-national narcotics enterprise that exported counterfeit pills from Canada to the U.S. and returned home with cocaine and methamphetamine trafficked from Mexico. Primarily this group acted as a wholesale drug distributor. Were talking about large scale drug shipments at the multi kilo level, said Staff Sgt. Barry McCurdy, a spokesperson for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) in Calgary, at a press conference on March 1 announcing the arrests of Chapman and five associates on drug and firearms charges.

At the time of the raid authorities said the pill presses were being used to manufacture steroids, but tests showed they were contaminated with fentanyl.

By dismantling this lab we cut off a significant amount of fentanyl, McCurdy said.

Investigators believe the group was also responsible for a double homicide committed in 2017 outside a Calgary shopping center that they believe was tied to a drug dispute.

The bust was the third major fentanyl seizure in Alberta in less than a year, and the second since January. Last July, police in Edmonton raided five homes in what was then-touted as the largest fentanyl seizure in Canadian history: 130,000 counterfeit pills along with two presses capable of producing 10,000 pills an hour. Then in January, rescue personnel responding to a house fire discovered 16 kilos of carfentanila powerful synthetic opioid believed to be 10,000-times more powerful than morphinemixed with a cutting agent in the basement of another house in Edmonton. The powder was dyed pink and blue (indicating is was prepared to be pressed into pills).

For the Edmonton Police Service, in respect to carfentanil, its the largest seizure that Im aware of, Inspector Shane Perka of the Edmonton Police Service told reporters after the bust. This is a very substantial seizure.

Last July, police in Edmonton raided five homes in what was then-touted as the largest fentanyl seizure in Canadian history: 130,000 counterfeit pills along with two presses capable of producing 10,000 pills an hour.

Some of that fentanyl is making it onto U.S. soil. From 2013 to 2016 fatalities linked to illicit fentanyl in the U.S. rose more than 500 percent; most of those who died, including the musician Prince, didnt choose to take the drug.

A report this month indicates that Prince, who died in Minnesota (which shares a border with Canada) had exceedingly high levels of the synthetic narcotic in his system. Authorities found an assortment of counterfeit pills in the musicians home.

Investigators have not revealed where the fentanyl that killed Prince came from or how he obtained it, but the Minnesota Department of Health has identified Canada as a primary conduit for Chinese-made synthetic opioids entering the state.

As The Daily Beast reported in 2016, in recent years Chinese labs have become a supplier of powerful fentanyl analogs designed to skirt U.S. law by modifying the chemical structure of the drugs.Last year China banned more than 100 of these analogs, and over the past two years the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has scheduled dozens of new novel opioids with close chemical structures to fentanyl. However they were unable to keep up with innovative clandestine chemists, and in February the DEA classified all chemicals with a structure similar to fentanyl under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Canada is hardly a new player when it comes to satisfying demand for contraband in the U.S.

Long-established smuggling routes exist across Americas notoriously porous northern border, which has 120 points of entry, and stretches more than 5,500 milesencompassing large areas of remote wilderness and numerous waterways.

The Northern Border doesnt always make headlines, but for too long it has been understaffed and there have not been sufficient resources to effectively combat drug trafficking and other crimes that can come across the border, said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), who has sponsored legislation to strengthen security at the U.S.-Canada border.

During Prohibition, its estimated that 60-90 percent of booze entering the United States came from distilleries and breweries north of the U.S. border.

The border between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit was a nexus of post-war drug trafficking; and until the early 1980s, heroin traffickers associated with fragments of the French Connection were still funneling large quantities of heroin from French-speaking Quebec to distribution networks in New York.

In 1987, federal prosecutors in Florida indicted 49 people in a massive cross-border conspiracy that was responsible for supplying 3.5 million counterfeit quaaludes to the U.S. market, or 70 percent of the illegal trade in the drug, according to prosecutors. And in 2008, authorities shut down a marijuana smuggling operation that had been shuttling hundreds of pounds of high-quality pot across the border from Ontario and into Western Pennsylvania disguised as commercial food shipments.

In recent years, Canada emerged as a global epicenter of synthetic and counterfeit drug manufacturing and processingwith everything from MDMA to fake Viagra flowing from clandestine labs north of the U.S. border. A 2005 State Department cable identified Canada as a significant producer and transit country for precursor chemicals used to produce synthetic drugs, and a hot spot of rising clandestine lab activity.

From 2012 to 2015 more than 500 pounds of MDMA was seized at the northern border, accounting for more than 90 percent of all Customs seizures of the drug.

We are increasingly concerned about the multitude of routes of travel these illegal and grey-market synthetic drugs are taking as they come into the region, and Canada is one route we feel bears watching, said Jeremiah Daley, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), a program run by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. While cross-border cooperation remains very strong with Canadian law enforcement, with so much focus being placed on our Southern Border, with good reason, we still need to be vigilant about threats coming from the North.

In 2016 alone, U.S. Customs officials reported 2,015 drug arrests at land crossings at the U.S.-Canada border, while Canadian officials made more than 18,000 drug seizures. Trafficking groups routinely engage in so-called double exchanges in which designer drugs passed from Canada to the U.S. are exchanged for other narcotics, such as cocaine, for shipment back to Canada.

Trafficking groups routinely engage in so-called double exchanges in which drugs passed from Canada to the U.S. are exchanged for other narcotics like cocaine for shipment to Canada.

A dozen U.S. states share a border with Canada, including some of those hit hardest by the overdose crisis, such as New Hampshire and Vermont.

A State Department document published in 2011 describes the difficulty of policing the flow of drugs over these border crossings:

The stealth with which both natural and synthetic drugs including marijuana, MDMA, and methamphetamine are produced in Canada and trafficked to the United States, makes it extremely difficult to measure the overall impact of such transshipments from this shared border country, although U.S. law enforcement agencies record considerable seizures of these substances from Canada.

For years hockey bags have been described as a favored means of moving drugs from the U.S. to Canada, and in some cases they have been literally thrown across the border for pickup on the other side.

A story published in the Canadian news magazine MacLeans in 2009 refers to Canada as The New Global Drug Lord, citing data showing that more than 60 percent of the methamphetamine seized in Japan and more than 80 percent in Australia is synthesized in Canada.

While the fentanyl crisis is often treated like a monolith in the U.S. press, there are wide geographical variations in supply of the drug. Mexico remains the dominant supplier of illicitly manufactured powdered fentanyl in most major heroin markets, but the first wave of fentanyl overdoses following the crackdown on prescription-drug abuse in the U.S. was driven largely by a wave of adulterated pills, many of the them from Canada.

Part of the blame lays with the pharmaceutical industry.

When Purdue Pharmaceutical introduced a new abuse-deterrent OxyContin in the U.S. in 2010which made it more difficult to crush for snorting and shootingthe original formulation remained on the market in Canada for another two years.

Smuggling of OxyContin from Canada to the U.S. spiked.

Im talking about trafficking organizations that are bringing in a thousand pills or so at a time, said James Burns, assistant special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administrations operations in the state of New York.

Then, suddenly, OxyContin dried up in the Canadian market as well. In May 2013, just months after Purdue began withdrawing the drug from the Canadian market, authorities in Montreal seized 10,000 pills made of acetyl fentanyl in a microwave oven and toaster that were destined for Colorado. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration enough additional material was seized to make three million more pills.

The RCMP blames much of the trafficking on criminal groups with connections to Asian source countries, where the precursors for most synthetic drugs are sourced. The Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada says Asian gangs are especially strong in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Torontoall cities where fentanyl is endemic. According to published reports, the powerful 14K and Sun Yee On triads are suppliers of precursor chemicals to Mexicos Sinaloa Cartel.

Much of the focus is on transnational shipments of the drugs and their precursor ingredients from China. And Asian organized crime groups in Canada have been implicated in a number of cross-border drug trafficking schemes over the years. A 2011 report from the Department of Justice said Vietnamese and Chinese gangs produce tens of millions of [MDMA] tablets for the U.S. market, smuggling the drugs through border crossings in Washington, Michigan, New York, and Vermont.

Last year, when federal authorities in the U.S. unveiled their first indictment of Chinese nationals for trafficking fentanyl they traced shipments to from China via Canada. The investigation was launched following the death of an 18-year-old North Dakota man.

Five Canadians were arrested as part of the trafficking ring.

Fentanyl is easier to synthesize in a lab than MDMA, and Canadian syndicates are not only pressing pills but also manufacturing the drug.

Between 2011 and 2015, six clandestine labs were identified in Canada where illicit fentanyl production occurred or was intended to occur, according to Health Canada.

In 2015 authorities in Alberta seized 100 kilograms of the fentanyl precursor N-phenethylpiperidinone (NPP) at the Edmonton International Airport. They said the precursor was capable of producing 38 million fentanyl pills. The seizure led to a nine-month investigation dubbed Project Alchemy that ultimately turned up four kilos of the synthetic opioid W-18, 3,200 fentanyl pills, 2.5 kilos of methamphetamine, and more fentanyl precursor chemicals.

Canadian authorities are so concerned about transnational trafficking in designer opioids that they issued an advisory in January describing red flags for exposing money laundering tied to the importation of fentanyl or precursors used to make the drug.

The Department of Justice declined comment on the administrations commitment to northern border security.However, the emerging threat of synthetic drugs trafficked from Canada has not gone unnoticed by officials in the U.S. In 2016, President Barack Obama signed the Northern Border Security Review Act, which was sponsored by Sen. Heitkamp and passed Congress with bipartisan support. As a result of the law, last year the U.S. government issued its inaugural Northern Border Threat Assessment identifying bilateral drug trafficking as the single greatest threat along the U.S.-Canada border.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) has just one agent at the northern border for every nine patrolling southwest points of entry, despite the Canadian border being more than twice as long.

With fentanyl on its way to replacing heroin in most major drug markets, its not a matter of if, but how traffickers will get the synthetic opioid on U.S. soil. President Trump seems intent on closing one window for traffickers, but it will have limited effect as long as another, even bigger window, remains ajar.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-is-freaking-out-about-the-wrong-border-killer-fentanyl-is-coming-from-canada

Dear America: Kids doing active-shooter drills is not normal.

Image by Tatiana Cardenas/Upworthy.

As thousands across the nation prepare to take to the streets on March 24, 2018, for The March for Our Lives, we’re taking a look at some of the root causes, long-lasting effects, and approaches to solving the gun violence epidemic in America. We’ll have a new installment every day this week.

I was teaching in a high school classroom when the Columbine shooting happened.

In between periods, a student rushed into my room and turned on the television. As other students shuffled in, they caught the scene on TV and stopped in their tracks.

Together we gaped silently at aerial footage of teens pouring out of their school, covered in their classmates’ blood. News reporters struggled to offer details about the shooter or shooters, still unclear if the carnage had ended. Still unsure of the body count.

I looked around at my 15- and 16-year-old students, their eyes wide with a mix of shock and fear. Even the goofy class clown stared somberly at the screen. I considered whether it was prudent to let them see all of this, but the only difference between that high school and ours was geography. Those bloodied students could have been my students. They knew it, and I knew it.

It seems commonplace now, but that was a feeling I’d never felt as a teacher before. And I’d only felt something similar once as a kid.

Tom Mauser walks along a wall at the Columbine High School Memorial; his son Daniel was one of students killed in the Columbine shooting. Photo by Don Emmert/Getty Images.

I remember when I was little, sitting huddled in a ball under my desk, imagining the classroom around me exploding.

It was the early 1980s. I must have been 6 or 7. My class was doing a nuclear-blast preparation drill, a hallmark of the Cold War era in which I was born. I remember staring at the thin metal legs of my desk, wondering how they were supposed to protect me from a bomb going off.

Nuclear annihilation — not being gunned down in school — was the big concern of my childhood. Such duck-and-cover drills disappeared by my middle elementary years, so the threat felt short-lived. Of course, a nuclear blast is always a terrifying thought, but somehow, I just knew it wasn’t likely to happen.

I imagined it, though. And the imagining alone shook me as a young child. Sometimes I look back and wonder how Americans lived like that for so long.

A kindergartener in Hawaii hides under a desk during a lockdown drill. Photo via Phil Mislinski/Getty Images.

Kids in high school now have been doing active-shooter lockdown drills their entire childhoods.

The year after Columbine, my husband and I started our family, and I left teaching. I chose to homeschool my kids, and though lockdowns weren’t part of that decision, the lack of active-shooter drills has been a significant perk of homeschooling.

Unlike nuclear preparation drills, active-shooter drills are meant to prepare kids for something they know has happened multiple times. They’ve heard the news stories. Some kids have been through the real thing themselves.

I try to imagine it — my sweet 9-year-old boy huddled in a closet with 20 of his classmates, forced into unnatural silence as they wait for the sound of a would-be shooter trying to enter their locked classroom. I can see his face, the very real fear in his eyes. I can honestly feel his racing heartbeat.

It guts me just to think about it.

An elementary school teacher (who requested anonymity because the internet is ridiculous and she’s received death threats) posted a description of a recent active-shooter drill in her classroom. The post has been shared close to 200,000 times and for good reason. It’s a simple description of an unfathomable reality.

“Today in school we practiced our active shooter lockdown. One of my first graders was scared and I had to hold him. Today is his birthday. He kept whispering ‘When will it be over?’ into my ear. I kept responding ‘Soon’ as I rocked him and tried to keep his birthday crown from stabbing me.

I had a mix of 1-5 graders in my classroom because we have a million tests that need to be taken. My fifth grader patted the back of the 2nd grader huddled next to him under a table. A 3rd grade girl cried silently and clutched the hand of her friend. The rest of the kids sat quietly (casket quiet) and stared aimlessly in the dark.

As the ‘intruder’ tried to break into our room twice, several of them jumped, but remained silently. The 1st grader in my lap began to pant and his heart was beating out of his chest, but he didn’t make a peep.”

Image via Facebook, used with permission.

Seriously. These are babies we are putting through this. (Well, not literal babies, but still.)

And these drills can be even more terrifying than you might imagine.

At a high school in Anchorage, Alaska, an officer used the sound of real gunfire — blanks shot from a real gun — during active-shooter drills. The idea was that kids would learn what actual gunfire sounds like so they can act quickly when they hear it.

“We don’t want to scare them,” the principal, Sam Spinella, told CNN affiliate KTVA. “We want this to become as close to reality as possible.”

I am dumbfounded. Those two sentences make zero sense together. We’re not talking about a police training academy here — we’re talking about an average day in high school. The reality they are trying to prepare them for is scary — how could a preparation “as close to reality as possible” not be?

A recent article in The Atlantic examined the psychological effects of active-shooter drills on kids. Surprisingly, not a lot of research has been done on the subject. All we really have are reports of young adults who grew up with them.

One interviewee described a memory of his classmate coughing during a lockdown drill when he was 12. Their teacher reacted by telling the class that in a real shooter situation, they’d all be dead now.

Yeah, probably not the best way to handle that.

But what is the best way to prepare children for the possibility of a gunman trying to kill their classmates, their favorite teacher, their best friend?

We want kids to feel safe and secure. We don’t want to scare kids as we prepare them for something that is undeniably scary. But is it smart to scare them a little bit in order for them to understand the seriousness of the drill? And if kids aren’t scared at all — if they are totally unfazed by active-shooter drills — how can we justify them being so desensitized?

Ugh. This is not normal. This should never feel normal.

And yet, this is normal. In fact, some people tell me they feel comforted by the preparation.

I talked to a handful of teens and young adults who grew up with lockdown drills. One described a series of bomb threats at her high school, which she said were scary at first, but eventually became a “boy who cried wolf” situation. Another described intruder drills as simply preparing for the unexpected, not much different than an earthquake or tornado drill.

One high schooler, Joe Burke of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, told me about the first lockdown drill he remembers in the fifth grade. He and his classmates huddled under computer desks along the wall, knees hugged to their chests, with the lights off and door locked:

“When we were sitting under the desks, I had a slight bit of doubt in the idea. To my fifth-grade self, it didn’t seem like the best idea to just be hiding if someone were to come in and try and hurt us. It would only take a few seconds of searching to find 25-plus kids and a teacher all cramped under those tables. … At the time, I automatically assumed that the adults knew more than we did. I figured that we were much safer than I realize we actually were, in retrospect.”

Burke said the new ALICE training his high school has implemented has made him feel better prepared and is “a massive step in the right direction.” (ALICE is a for-profit training program that has been implemented in schools across the country. Here’s an interesting analysis of the praise and criticism of it.)

Joe Burke spoke at his high school’s walkout on March 14, 2018. Photo via Christine Burke, used with permission.

Joe’s mother, Christine Burke, said that she has made it a point to talk to her kids about active shooter situations in detail:

“After Parkland, I sat with my 15-year-old son and showed him the footage of the shooting inside the building. We talked about how the smoke from an AR-15 would disorient his way out, that the gun would be loud, that screaming classmates would make it hard to hear instructions. We talked about how his phone need not be a priority (no filming the scene, no taking pictures) but that he should use it as a means of communication only if he could. And we talked about how the ALICE training would feel in a real situation. That conversation with my son chilled me to my bones because I realized that this is the world we live in now. I have to talk to my son about his algebra grade and about how loud an AR-15 sounds when fired in a classroom.”

Christine, like many parents, finds herself navigating surreal waters. We have accepted the inevitability of school shootings to the point where we actively prepare our kids for them.

Generally speaking, preparedness is good. Preparedness is smart.

And yet, how can we accept that this is the reality for children in America? Parents across the country constantly say to themselves, “We shouldn’t have to do this. Our kids shouldn’t have to do this.” And yet, they do.

Christine Burke (left) and her friend Jen were the only two parents who joined her son’s school walkout for National School Walkout on March 14, 2018. Photo via Christine Burke, used with permission.

Is this really the price we have to pay for freedom?

We’re supposed to be a fantastic, developed country, aren’t we? We pride ourselves on being a “shining city on a hill” a leader among nations, a beacon of freedom to all people.

There is no official war happening on American soil. We are not a country experiencing armed conflict or revolution or insurrection. And yet we live as if we are.

People in other countries look at our mass shootings and what we’ve attempted to do about them and think we are out of our ever-loving minds. I’m right there with them. As a former teacher and current homeschool parent, I feel like I’m peering in from the outside with my jaw to the floor at what we’ve accepted as normal for our children.

I’m a fan of the U.S. Constitution and don’t take changes to it lightly, but maybe it’s time to accept that the Second Amendment has not actually protected our freedoms the way it was designed to. We are not a free people when our children have to hide in closets and listen for gunfire as they imagine themselves the next victims of a mass-murdering gunman during math class.

This is not normal. This should never feel normal.

Kids who have repeatedly and systematically prepared for carnage in their classrooms are taking to the streets, to the podium, to the media — and soon to the polls — in a way we haven’t seen in decades.

It’s easy to see why. These teens have spent their childhoods watching the adults in charge respond to the mass murder of children by simply preparing for more of it. And they’re done.

I’m unbelievably proud of the way these young people are organizing, saying #NeverAgain and pushing for effective gun legislation. Their efforts have convinced the governor of Florida to break with the National Rifle Association and sign a sweeping gun control bill. (Though not perfect, it’s a big step for the “Gunshine State.”) Companies feeling the pressure and momentum have broken ties with the NRA as well.

I can’t help but note how these kids’ successes highlight previous generations’ failure on this issue. The time for taking real action was long before Parkland, Sandy Hook, or even Columbine. But I feel the sea change coming.

These young activists give me hope that maybe future generations will look back in wonder at how we lived like this for so long.

For more of our look at America’s gun violence epidemic, check out other stories in this series:

And see our coverage of to-the-heart speeches and outstanding protest signs from the March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/dear-america-kids-doing-active-shooter-drills-is-not-normal

Apple releases iOS 11.3 with new Animojis

Apple just released an iOS update for your iPhone and iPad. 11.3 introduces a ton of bug fixes but also a bunch of new features. If you forgot about Animjois, today is your lucky day as Apple is adding four new Animojis — a dragon, a bear, a lion and a skull.

But that’s not all. Apple already shared a preview of iOS 11.3 a couple of months ago. There’s a big ARKit update to ARKit 1.5. It can recognize more objects and surfaces.

And iOS 11.3 is also the battery update we’ve all been waiting for. There’s some new info in the settings about the status of your battery. It tells you the overall capacity and if it’s time to change your battery.

You can also choose to disable Apple’s controversial decision to throttle performance with old batteries. Apple says it’s a beta feature for now.

Apple is also introducing a new feature in the Health app. You can now centralize all your health records in the app. It’s only limited to a handful of clinics for now.

Apple is adding customer support conversations to Messages. You can initiate a conversation with a business to order something, book a table and more. Discover, Hilton, Lowe’s and Wells Fargo are already on board. Health Records and Business Chats are only available in the U.S. as a beta for now.

You’ll also see a new privacy icon across the operating system. A new website to export all your data is coming in May as well. Apple needs to add those features to comply with GDPR.

Finally, Apple Music is getting a new video clips section, the App Store Updates tab now shows you the size of each update and more tiny little things. And if you care about security, it’s always a good thing to update to the latest version of iOS. Unfortunately, iOS 11.3 still doesn’t include iMessage in iCloud.

Back up your iPhone or iPad to iCloud or your computer using iTunes before updating. You can then head over to the Settings app, then ‘General’, then ‘Software Update’. macOS, watchOS and tvOS updates are also available today.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/29/apple-releases-ios-11-3-with-new-animojis/

Gay and Single? Bisexual? Transgender? The 2020 Census Still Erases You

Late last week, as NPR reported, the U.S. Census Bureau revealed in a congressional report that they will create a clear distinction on the 2020 Census between opposite-sex partners and same-sex partners.

But when it comes to LGBT inclusion on the Census and other federal surveys, that move appears to be the very least the governmental agency can do.

Although gaining a more accurate estimate of the number of same-sex couples will be an important milestone for both research and policymaking, the 2020 Census will still leave out most bisexual people, unpartnered gay men and lesbians, and transgender peopleor, in other words, the vast majority of the LGBT community.

Bittersweet, is how Laura Durso, an LGBT researcher and the vice president of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, described the Census Bureaus announcement.

Its a good thing that we are now going to improve the way in which we ask people about their relationships, and whether theyre married, and to whom theyre married, she told The Daily Beast. And then, of course, that comes with real disappointment that we are still lacking questions about sexual orientation and gender identity that would let us see the full spectrum of the LGBT community.

Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity made a brief appearance on a 2020 Census proposal last March, shortly after President Trump took office.

But, as the Associated Press reported, the Census Bureau quickly withdrew the questions, saying that the document had inadvertently listed them. The withdrawal dashed the hopes of Durso and other advocates, who wanted to see more accurate federal data collection so that researchers and public policy makers could better serve the LGBT community.

Indeed, as The Daily Beast and other outlets have previously noted, we still have no way of knowing exactly how many LGBT people are in the country, relying instead on estimates derived from various federal surveys.

As it stands, researchers believe that LGBT people comprise about four percent of the population, of which the slight majority are bisexual.

But as demographer Gary Gates previously told The Daily Beast, that estimate is still incomplete and it could one day prove to be close to 10 percentan unsubstantiated figure once proposed by mid-century sexologist Alfred Kinsey as younger generations come out of the closet.

The same-sex couple question on the 2020 Census, while important, will not even come close to clarifying this figure.

Questions about relationship status wont capture gender identity, thereby omitting transgender people. And the lack of a distinct question about sexual orientation will also obscure the existence of bisexual people, most of whom find committed relationships with opposite-sex partners, according to the Pew Research Center.

If youre a bisexual person and youre in a different-sex relationship, weve lost you entirely, Durso explained, referring to data collection through the 2020 Census, adding that even if youre in a same-sex couple, we dont know, for example, whether a woman identifies as lesbian, bisexual, queer, or something else entirely.

Knowing same-sex couples tells us something but it doesnt tell us everything about all of the range of sexual orientation identities, she noted.

Indeed, researchers like Durso want to know much more than the raw total of LGBT Americans, because the people represented by each of the letters in that acronym have different needs.

Bisexual people, for example, tend to have worse mental health outcomes than gay and lesbian peers due to the heightened stigma against bisexual identity. And as the past year and a half has proved, we still lack hard data on the numbers of people that targeted anti-transgender initiativeslike the Trump administrations rollback of Obama-era school guidance or the more recent transgender troop banwill affect.

Data from the 2020 Census will tell us how many people are in same-sex partnerships and marriagesa fraction of the LGBT community with an unknown denominatorand thats about it. Still, says Durso, thats no small feat given how spotty this data has been in the past.

Its a good step and a long time coming, she told The Daily Beast, noting that although the Census has asked about unmarried partners since 1990, the lack of a distinct same-sex couple option left more room for human error.

Because some percentage of people incorrectly mark their own gender, Durso explained, a lot of different-sex couples were incorrectly classified as same-sex couples and thats not good for anyone.

In fact, as Pew noted in 2015, the Census Bureau had to revise an initial estimate of 252,000 same-sex marriages down to the 170,000 range due to various inaccuracies.

Having a clearer estimate of that numberespecially in 2020, which will mark five years since the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriagewill prove vital to policy makers and advocates who work on LGBT-related issues like adoption, childrearing, and income inequality.

Indeed, Durso suspects that one of the main reasons the relationship question will appear on the 2020 Census is because of the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, and the momentum that it put behind pre-existing efforts to pursue data collection on same-sex couples.

By contrast, Durso noted, with the sexual orientation and gender identity questions, because they really hadnt started too far down the road, political ideology was the thing that was able to stop them.

Political ideology, Durso added, also appears to be behind the decision, revealed last week, to re-introduce a citizenship question on the 2020 Census some 70 years after it was last asked.

But although she is dismayed by the inclusion of the citizenship question and the omission of questions about sexual orientation and gender identity, Durso hopes that the same-sex relationship checkbox will be a step toward a more inclusive Census.

It provides an entry point for people who might not understand what sexual orientation is or who the LGBTQ community is, she said. Even with these limitations, you can at least open the door to those kinds of conversations.

Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/gay-and-single-bisexual-transgender-the-2020-census-still-erases-you

Every single teacher on a crowd-funding site just got their wishes fulfilled

(CNN)When it comes to educating America’s children, how much of a difference could $29 million make? Could it send a second grader on a school trip to the museum, or provide updated equipment to a class of budding scientists?

Ripple, a cryptocurrency and international payment company, has donated $29 million in cryptocurrency to DonorsChoose.org, a donation platform that connects people to classroom needs across the country. With the money, Donors Choose was able to fulfill every single classroom project request on its site — 35,647 requests in all, from 28,210 teachers at 16,561 public schools.
“It’s fair to say there’s never been a day that this many classroom dreams have come true,” Donors Choose founder Charles Best told CNN.

    The Colbert bump

    The massive donation is the culmination, or grand finale, if you will, of the site’s #BestSchoolDay project. Two years ago, Stephen Colbert, who is a member of the Donors Choose board of directors, announced he was going to pay for every school project request in his home state of South Carolina.
    His act of kindness set off a movement that became known as #BestSchoolDay.
    “More than 50 actors, athletes and philanthropists were inspired to fund classrooms in their states,” Best told CNN. “Together, those 50-plus people gave more than $14 million, and to use, that represented the idea of a best school day.”
    Best says the response has been overwhelming — in a good way.
    “An outpouring of joy would not be an overstatement,” he said.

    The Ripple effect

    Best says when the organization connected with Ripple, the cryptocurrency management company was “inspired to think of the impact” of such a significant gift.
    “At Ripple, we care about giving back to our community and we collectively value the importance of quality education in developing the next generation of leaders,” Ripple’s SVP of Marketing Monica Long said in a statement.
    “DonorsChoose.org’s track record speaks for itself — they are highly effective at improving the quality of education and the experience of teachers and students across America. We’re proud to work with them to support classroom needs across the country.”
    According to Ripple’s company site, the donation will affect approximately 1 million public school students.
    Best says the “classroom projects” requested on the site represent specific missions or activities that teachers have for their students.
    “It’s a public schoolteacher requesting a classroom library. A field trip. A set of art supplies. A pair of microscopes. It’s about requesting experiences or tools to provide a student learning experience,” he said.
    “We believe in the wisdom of the front lines,” Best added. “Hardworking, passionate teachers know their students’ needs better than anyone else in the school environment. If we can tap into their needs, we can unleash smarter solutions and empower those people on the front lines.”

    Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/29/health/donors-choose-ripple-donation-stephen-colbert-trnd/index.html

    Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Opens Up About His Daughter’s Recent Trip To The ER WATCH!

    Every parent’s nightmare…

    On Wednesday, at the Los Angeles premiere of his new film Rampage, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson spoke to Extra‘s Mario Lopez about his daughter Jasmine Lia‘s health scare last month.

    Related: The Rock Explains What Caused His Feud With Vin Diesel!

    While the little girl initially had “a croupy cough,” the former wrestler noticed something more serious.

    The 45-year-old dished:

    “So we experienced that, and then she also had a problem breathing in that moment… it got a little hairy… Called 911. LAFD came so quick and I was very proud of them and very grateful for them, too.”

    Luckily, after her trip to the ER, the two-year-old has fully recovered.

    “She’s great… She’s really good.”

    Johnson previously opened up about the incident in a March 6 Instagram Story where he was heard saying:

    “This past Saturday night something happened to me and my family that I would never want to happen to any of you guys out there… Of course, emergencies do happen. We were up all night in the emergency room, we had something scary that happened to our little baby girl Jasmine — she’s okay now! — thank God.”

    WATCH his interview (below):

    [Image via Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson/Instagram.]

    Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-04-06-dwayne-the-rock-johnson-jasmine-lia-emergency-room-cough

    No signs of foul play in death of CDC scientist

    Atlanta (CNN)There were no signs of foul play in the death of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist who likely drowned, officials said Thursday.

    The remains of Timothy Cunningham were discovered Tuesday in the Chattahoochee River in northwest Atlanta, police spokesman Carlos Campos said.
    Cunningham, 35, was last seen on February 12.
      The preliminary cause of death is drowning, Fulton County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jan Gorniak told reporters. The manner of death has not been determined, she said.
      Authorities made a positive ID of the remains by using dental records, Gorniak said.
      Police are awaiting a final report from the medical examiner, but unless new information comes forward, the investigation is expected to conclude soon, officials said.
      Cunningham’s family released a statement Thursday night saying, “We sincerely thank all of you for the support and kindness you have shown our family during this difficult time. We are processing this incomprehensible loss and request time and space to grieve.”
      Cunningham’s disappearance prompted a high-profile police search and a $10,000 reward for clues. As days went on, internet rumors circulated that the case was tied to his alleged role as a flu vaccine whistle-blower. The rumors were debunked by police and his family.

      Body found wearing running shoes

      Maj. Michael O’Connor of the Atlanta Police Department stressed that “things are fluid and things can change,” but as of Thursday afternoon, there were no indications of foul play.
      Cunningham’s home is not far from the river, O’Connor said. Cunningham was also known to be a jogger, and was wearing his “favorite jogging shoes” when he was found.
      According to O’Connor, Cunningham was also an avid collector of “crystals,” and three were found in his pocket.
      The condition of the body is “consistent” with Cunningham having been in the river since he first went missing, Gorniak said. There were no signs of trauma on the body.
      “We may never be able to tell you how he got into the river,” O’Connor said.

      Area has been searched before

      Sgt. Cortez Stafford, a spokesman for the Atlanta Fire Department, said the department had searched the area of the river where the body was found on February 23. At that time, Stafford said, there was no sign of a body.
      But that wasn’t the case on Tuesday, when two fishermen called 911 to report a body.
      “It was very difficult terrain, very difficult to access the location of where Mr. Cunningham was found,” Stafford said. “It was in a remote area that’s not easily accessible by walking trails, by vehicle or by people just being around there.”
      The body was found along the riverbank, Stafford said, and was “stuck in a lot of mud as well.”
      Stafford couldn’t say whether the body had been in the area when it was canvassed on February 23. It could have been there or it could have moved there later, he said. “There’s just no way to tell due to the rise and fall of the river,” Stafford said.
      Assuming no new information is brought to investigators, O’Connor said, the case will likely be closed “fairly soon.”
      According to O’Connor, police feel they’ve spoken to “everyone of importance” in Cunningham’s life, and believe they’ve obtained all relevant information over the course of the investigation.

      Disappearance perplexed investigators

      Cunningham, of Atlanta, was last seen February 12, shortly after a CDC supervisor told him why he was being passed over for a promotion, police have said.
      The CDC’s director in mid-March issued a statement denying that Cunningham hadn’t gotten a promotion and noting that he’d been promoted in July. Atlanta police responded by doubling down on their version of events, citing the CDC as the source of the information.
      The case perplexed investigators because Cunningham’s keys, cell phone, credit cards, debit cards, wallet and all forms of identification were found in his house, along with his beloved dog.
      Co-workers told authorities that Cunningham had been “obviously disappointed” on the morning of February 12, when he learned why he wasn’t getting the promotion he’d hoped for, police have said. He left work quickly, saying he felt ill, they said.
      Earlier that morning, at 5:21 a.m., Cunningham’s mother had received a text message from him, she has said. “Are you awake?” her son asked. But her phone was on silent mode. “I wish I had that opportunity to answer that text,” she said later.
      Cunningham also called his mother at 9:12 a.m. that day, but she did not answer, Atlanta police have said. He did not leave a message.

      ‘This is extremely hard’

      Cunningham was a highly respected epidemiologist at the CDC, having risen through the ranks to become a team leader in the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He earned a spot last year in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 list, a who’s who of the city’s young standouts.
      The CDC said in a statement sent to CNN that Cunningham’s “colleagues and friends at CDC are deeply saddened to learn of his death.” It called the doctor “invaluable” to the agency’s work.
      “Tim’s impact will be felt not only through his significant contributions to CDC’s mission, but also through his influence on the lives of his colleagues and friends,” the statement said.
      With more than 16 years of experience in public health, he’d co-authored 28 publications on topics ranging from sleep deprivation to pulmonary disease, with a special focus on how health issues affect minorities. He worked on public health emergencies including Superstorm Sandy, the Ebola outbreak and the Zika virus.
      Friends said Cunningham was smart and caring, with a big grin and big hugs to match.
      Fliers circulated across Atlanta in the weeks after he disappeared. They showed his magnetic smile and urged anyone with information to call 911.
      Cunningham’s parents, Tia and Terrell Cunningham, recently said they shared a worrisome series of text messages and a phone call with their son on the evening of February 11.
      “We’ve shared that with the detectives, and we’ve kept that as a private matter,” his father said. “As a parent, you have indicators when things are just not right with your child, and that was the case.”
      When they arrived at his house a few days later, Cunningham’s parents said, they knew something was wrong because his Tibetan spaniel was unattended. The dog, known as Bo, had twice accompanied Cunningham to Harvard, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees.
      Four times since their son went missing, Cunningham’s parents have been told that a body had been found. Each time, they felt heart-wrenching agony, they said, only to learn it wasn’t their son.
      “It takes you to a place that the light is not shining in,” Terrell Cunningham said. “I won’t call it a dark place, but they are lows. This is extremely hard.”

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/05/health/timothy-cunningham-cdc-body-found/index.html

      Male Birth Control Pill Is Effective And Safe, According To A Recent Trial

      Scientists are one step closer to achieving gender parity, at least as far as birth control is concerned. While there are currently several contraceptive options targeted at women, there are only two for men – condoms and vasectomies.

      The good news is that there are various reversible male birth control prototypes currently undergoing clinical trials. And the latest, a male oral contraceptive called dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), appears to be safe and effective when taken daily for a month. The results of a recent study were presented by researchers at ENDO 2018, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago, on Sunday.

      “These promising results are unprecedented in the development of a prototype male pill,” Stephanie Page, professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said in a statement.

      Eighty-three men aged 18 to 50 completed the study, which tested the effects of different doses (100, 200, and 400 milligrams) and formulations inside capsules (castor oil and powder) of DMAU. The men took the contraceptive or a placebo once a day for 28 days with food.

      At 100 milligrams, the contraceptive was comparable to effective male contraception in long-term trials, Page said. At 400 milligrams, it produced “marked suppression” of testosterone levels and two other hormones necessary for sperm production.

      So, how does it work? The drug combines the activity of a male hormone (or androgen) such as testosterone with synthetic progesterone. The pill also contains a long-chain fatty acid called undecanoate, which slows the breakdown of the testosterone so that it remains effective all day in contrast to older editions. These cleared the body too quickly and would, therefore, have required at least two doses daily to make it as a viable form of birth control.

      As for any negative side effects, the volunteers did show signs of weight gain and a decrease in good cholesterol but these were mild. All passed safety tests including those suggestive of liver and kidney health, a hurdle previous attempts at male contraceptives have failed to meet.

      “Despite having low levels of circulating testosterone, very few subjects reported symptoms consistent with testosterone deficiency or excess,” Page said.

      This is excellent news. Previous studies on male birth control have been cut short, not because they were ineffective but because they may have produced side effects such as depression, changes in libido, and acne. All of which, incidentally, happen to be well-known side effects of female birth control. 

      While the results so far are promising, the next step is to see how DMAU stacks up efficacy and health-wise when taken on a continuing basis. According to Page, longer-term studies are already taking place.

      Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/male-birth-control-is-effective-and-safe-according-to-a-recent-trial/