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RealClearInvestigations' Picks of the Week
October 31 to November 6, 2021

Featured Investigation:
How the Migrant Surge at the Border
Is Fueling Massive American OD's
From Tiny Grains of a Killer Drug

Unprecedented numbers of overdose deaths throughout the U.S. are being propelled by a major new factor, Vince Bielski reports for RealClearInvestigations: the flood of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border that the Biden administration has done little to stop. Law enforcement sources tell Bielski the surge is a giant feint orchestrated by drug smugglers in Mexico to divert the attention of American law enforcement from the flow of illicit fentanyl made with ingredients from China.

Bielski reports:

  • The consequences of the fentanyl spike are dire: The estimated 93,331 overdose fatalities in the U.S. last year are an all-time high -- nearly five times the murder rate.
  • Smugglers can freely enter Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California carrying the highly lethal synthetic opioid, which is manufactured by Mexican cartels.
  • Overwhelmed border agents diverted to the time-consuming duty of processing migrants have been calling on Congress to send reinforcements. But help is not on the way. 
  • President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have openly clashed with U.S. border enforcement, lashing out at agents on horseback over videos showing them blocking Haitians. 
  • Harris compared the images to the mistreatment of slaves, an inflammatory accusation that agents strongly denied.
  • The administration is embracing a “public health” strategy over a law-enforcement approach to the fentanyl crisis. 
  • But that’s not enough, says an ex-DEA official: “Drug treatment is very important, but you can’t treat someone in the morgue who just died from fentanyl poisoning. It’s too late.”

Biden, Trump and the Beltway:
Russiagate Fabulist Exposed by RCI in 2020 Arrested

The Russiagate hoax may have reached a tipping point for accuracy and accountability this week as Special Counsel John Durham issued his second indictment – accusing Igor Danchenko, a key source for the Steele dossier that falsely alleged Trump-Russia ties, with five counts of lying to the FBI. The big news in the 39-page indictment may be the alleged involvement of a former Hillary Clinton aid turned public relations executive, identified as Charles H. Dolan Jr., in feeding material to Danchenko, who then fed Steele. Dolan illustrates a fact long known but usually ignored or underplayed by major news outlets – that Russiagate was cooked up by the Clinton campaign to smear her opponent through malicious mistruths. As a sign of how things have a changed: Just a few weeks ago, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News aired a documentary suggesting that the Steele dossier might have been mostly true. That story no longer seems operative, as the Washington Post reports:

The indictment is likely to buttress Republican charges that Democrats and FBI agents intentionally or accidentally turned cheap partisan smears into a high-stakes national security investigation of a sitting president. … The allegations cast new uncertainty on some past reporting on the dossier by news organizations, including The Washington Post. [Bold italic emphasis added.]

It shouldn’t have taken the Post so long; the truth was out there. In July 2020, for example, Paul Sperry of RealClearInvestigations reported that Danchenko was a man with a troubled past who fed Steele information “largely inspired by gossip and bar talk among Danchenko and his drinking buddies, most of whom were childhood friends from Russia.”

More Biden, Trump and the Beltway

Jan. 6: Before, During, and After (Parts 1-3) Washington Post
Wisconsin Probe Finds Nursing Home Vote Fraud The Federalist
Meet the Left's Dark Money Manager The Atlantic
400 Private Jets Descend on COP26 Climate Summit Daily Mail

Other Noteworthy Articles and Series

Why Many Police Traffic Stops Turn Deadly
New York Times
Over the past five years, police officers have killed more than 400 unarmed drivers or passengers during stops that began with common traffic violations like broken taillights or running a red light, a New York Times investigation found. Only five of the officers involved have been convicted of crimes in those killings, although local governments have paid out at least $125 million to resolve about 40 wrongful-death lawsuits and other claims.

In case after case, officers said they had feared for their lives. And in case after case, prosecutors declared the killings of unarmed motorists legally justifiable. But The Times reviewed video and audio recordings, prosecutor statements and court documents, finding … evidence [that] often contradicted the accounts of law enforcement officers. … Dozens of encounters appeared to turn on what criminologists describe as officer-created jeopardy: Officers regularly — and unnecessarily — placed themselves in danger by standing in front of fleeing vehicles or reaching inside car windows, then fired their weapons in what they later said was self-defense. Frequently, officers also appeared to exaggerate the threat. … In dashboard- and body-camera footage, officers could be seen shooting at cars driving away, or threatening deadly force in their first words to motorists, or surrounding sleeping drivers with a ring of gun barrels — then shooting them when, startled awake, they tried to take off. More than three-quarters of the unarmed motorists were killed while attempting to flee.

In a separate article in the Times’ series on traffic stops, the paper reports that many police departments see traffic tickets as a source of revenue. The incentive to stop motorists for small violations creates more chances for situations to turn bad.

Police Hurt Thousands of Teens Every Year
Marshall Project/USA Today
Facebook is being criticized for pushing emotional buttons – but what about journalists? This story takes a fact – black youths, both boys and girls, make up the majority of kids on the receiving end of police violence – and blankets it in the highly charged suggestion that racism is behind the disparity. An analysis of violent interactions at six large police departments found that roughly 20% of the teens and children “who experienced force by police” were black girls while 3% were white girls. The story offers the obligatory caveats, noting that the numbers are in line with statistics regarding police interactions and arrests; black girls have more frequent contacts with officers, as both suspects and victims of crimes. But it offers few details about the specific actions that triggered those confrontations creating an impression that a great injustice is occurring. Quote:

“Our deeply embedded biases about Black children being dangerous applies both to boys and girls, and I think we forget that,” said Kristin Henning, a Georgetown Law professor. “We wouldn’t even think about stopping a white girl in quite the way we stop a Black girl.”

Homegrown and Homeless in Oakland
San Francisco Chronicle
The last biennial homeless count done in Oakland, in 2019, tallied 4,071 homeless people – a 47% rise from 2017 and the worst jump in the Bay Area. This article, based on five months shadowing four Oakland natives (one Asian-American, two blacks, one white), asks how residents with good jobs and deep roots in the community wind up among the city’s homeless population. The short answer: A typical home in Oakland now costs nearly $1 million, up from $330,000 a decade ago. The more complicated answer involves personal problems and broader forces:

The four have unique life stories, but each suffered setbacks that are common among the city’s homeless folks: the legacy of racist development policies, job loss, financial troubles, drug addiction, medical crises and mental illness. And all four find that their path back into a home is hindered by insufficient support from the city and astronomically rising housing costs.

At the risk of suggesting that only black people are homeless, or even poor, in Oakland ...

Mayor Libby Schaaf said the “widening gap between income and cost of living is getting unsustainable.” She said blaming homelessness purely on drug addiction, mental illness and personal failures is misguided when “it’s by and large caused solely by poverty and other forms of systemic racism.”

And Now, Climate PTSD
Washington Post
Jess Mercer seems to be a fragile woman. In May 2016, this article reports, she was formally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, largely due to living in a home with a schizophrenic brother. What the article doesn’t tell readers is that Mercer, now in her early 30s, has led a life riddled with instability at least since she was 15 when she left home. Evidently, she patched things up with her parents because, this article reports, she suffered another crisis in 2018 when she couldn’t reach her parents whom, she feared, might have been trapped in the wildfires that were burning through their hometown of Paradise, California. Her parents survived, but Jess was further scarred. This provides the Washington Post an opportunity to use this woman’s pain to sound the alarms about climate change: 

It’s impossible to ignore that climate change is a politicized topic. Not everyone acknowledges it as an existential threat. Maybe that’s why it’s even harder to admit, or easier to overlook, the slow strangle climate change will have on our mental health: that before the pollution from emissions engorges our lungs, it will likely drive many of us mad.

The article, which includes quotes from experts about coming waves of “climate PTSD,” makes no reference a 2020 profile of Mercer in the Chico Enterprise-Record which portrayed her struggles, including those from the fires, as a source of strength. “Her dark life experiences have led to a life of vibrancy. She sacrifices her time and energy for the sake of others’ personal growth.”

In a separate article, the New Yorker stipulates that the bad storms of yore – hurricanes, fires, floods, and tornadoes – are now “climate disasters,” as it follows teams of “exploited” migrant workers who clean up the messes nature leaves behind.

Texas: Dying in Jail Is 'Par for The Course'
Texas Observer
More than 1,100 people have died in jail custody across Texas since 2010, including 124 last year, the highest number since the agency started recording them in 2009. Most deaths are among pretrial detainees, people who were never convicted of their alleged crime. As part of a months-long investigation, the Texas Observer found that state police regularly document jail conditions that can lead to preventable deaths, such as jail staff ignoring people with deteriorating health, taking hours to respond to emergencies, violently restraining detainees in the middle of mental health crises, denying treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, providing Tylenol for liver failure, and mocking people who are moaning in pain. The Observer reports that dozen of cases investigated by the Texas Rangers included documented allegations of mistreatment, including medical neglect, denial of medication, and abuse by jail staff.

A man who later died of sepsis was accused of faking his pain and “just whining” by a jailer. In another instance, a nurse quipped that a man dying from a brain bleed was “just acting” and “should get an Oscar.”

The reports also show law enforcement taking people in medical distress to jail – such as those who had been in a car accident or were in the throes of a drug overdose –  instead of a hospital. Of the 122 suicides examined, more than half involved people with documented histories of suicide risk, such as those who had previously attempted suicide or had been placed on suicide watch at the jail.

In December 2019, a woman was booked into the Travis County Jail on an assault charge, after being hospitalized for cutting her own throat during a fight with her boyfriend. Jailers put her on suicide watch and looked in her cell every half-hour as required but didn’t realize she had opened the stitches in her neck until they saw blood on the wall. 

Coronavirus Investigations

Fauci Staff Flagged Possible Gain-of-Function Tests in '16 Daily Caller
U.S. Overlooks Diet Disease as Big Covid Risk Politico
Did Covid Change How We Dream? New York Times

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