Category: Health Care
Sanders, Mulvaney clash heatedly over Trump budget

Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Finance: Dems introduce minimum wage bill | Sanders clashes with Trump budget chief | Border tax proposal at death’s doorSanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage billLive coverage: Political world turns to Montana special electionMORE (I-Vt.) and White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney clashed Thursday over President Trump’s budget proposal, interrupting each other and raising their voices in a Senate Budget Committee hearing.

Sanders kicked off the hearing by charging that the budget’s repeal of the estate tax would give massive breaks to the country’s wealthiest families — including President Trump’s family, which he estimated would save $4 billion, and the Walton family of Walmart fame, which he said would save $52 billion.

Sanders asked Mulvaney to explain why America’s richest family needs a $52 billion tax break, while people who rely on programs such as Meals on Wheels and Medicaid would be left out in the cold under Trump’s budget.

He also expressed anger that Republicans were impugning the work of Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall, even though he was appointed by Republicans.

Mulvaney began responding to the remark about Hall when Sanders cut him off.

“Your opinion is that the results are terrible, I’m suggesting that it was a member of the Trump administration who appointed this gentleman,” Sanders aid.

“So we can agree that the CBO puts out bad data —” Mulvaney responded, before Sanders cut him off.

“No, we can’t. We can agree that you guys are beating up on a man you appointed because you don’t like his results,” Sanders said.

“That’s not right,” Mulvaney shot back.

Mulvaney and Sanders went on to spar over where Meals on Wheels funding comes from and whether it would cut in the Trump budget, both increasingly exasperated and talking over each other.

Sanders returned to his central question: his contention that the budget gave a $52 billion tax break to the wealthiest family in the country.

Mulvaney attempted to reply that tax breaks were part of ObamaCare repeal, but Sanders interrupted again, coming back to the question of the $52 billion.

“Ordinary people are paying more,” Mulvaney said.

“No, ordinary people don’t have $128 billion,” Sanders interrupted. “You’re not answering the question. Answer the question!”

“We don’t cut Medicaid. We’re talking about ObamaCare repeal,” Mulvaney said.

“Which throws 23 million people off health insurance,” Sanders retorted.

“We’re talking about a CBO number that I think you just agreed could be wrong,” Mulvaney said.

“I didn’t agree to that at all,” Sanders replied.

In the end, as Sanders’s time ran out, they were able to agree on one point regarding the estate tax: that everyone will eventually die.

Bernie Sanders Drops The Stone Cold Truth And Calls Trump Dishonest While Destroying His Budget

Bernie Sanders Drops The Stone Cold Truth And Calls Trump Dishonest While Destroying His Budget

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called Trump dishonest and his budget immoral as he dropped the stone cold truth on what Donald Trump’s budget would mean for the wealthiest and most vulnerable Americans.


Bernie Sanders Drops The Stone Cold Truth And Calls Trump Dishonest While Destroying His Budget

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called Trump dishonest and his budget immoral as he dropped the stone cold truth on what Donald Trump’s budget would mean for the wealthiest and most vulnerable Americans.

Sanders explained how the Trump budget helps people like Donald Trump:

This is a budget which says that if you are the richest family in America, the Walton family, you can get up to a $53 billion tax break through the repeal of the estate tax. $53 billion tax break. But at the same time, it says that if you are a lower income senior citizen you will not be able to get the one nutritious meal a day you now receive through the Meals on Wheels program, or the help you desperately need if you are disabled.

This is a budget that says that if you are the second wealthiest family in America, the Koch brothers family – a family that has contributed many hundreds of millions into the Republican Party – you may get up to a $34 billion tax break. But at the same time, if you are a working class student trying to figure out how you could possibly afford college, your dream of a college education will evaporate because of major cuts to student financial assistance programs.

This is a budget which says that if you are a member of the Trump family you may receive a tax break of up to $4 billion, but if you are a child of a working class family you could well lose the health insurance you currently have through the Children’s Health Insurance program and massive cuts to Medicaid. At a time when we remain the only country on earth not to guarantee health care to all, this budget makes a bad situation worse in terms of health care.

Sanders called out the dishonest rhetoric of Trump, “When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he told the American people that he would be a different type of Republican. That he would take on the political and economic establishment. That he would stand up for working people. That he understood the pain that families all over this country were feeling. Well, sadly, this budget exposes all of that verbiage for what it really was – just cheap and dishonest campaign rhetoric that was meant to get votes. Nothing more than that.”

This budget makes the Republican priorities clear. The Trump budget may not pass in Congress, but many of its ideas are very popular with congressional Republicans. Don’t think that the defeat Trump’s budget will be the end of the assault on programs for poor and the disabled.

In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan has been dreaming up these kinds of budgets for years. The Trump budget may not pass, but something very close to it will.

Sanders and the Democratic leadership are painting the picture of immoral upward redistribution of wealth.

The Trump budget is the first shot in the battle to save programs that benefit millions of Americans, If Democrats are going to take back Congress, they need to educate voters on the reality of the Trump budget and Republican economic ideology.

Majority of US Troops Discharged for Misconduct Diagnosed With Mental Illness
This photo from Saturday, May 17, 2014 shows the Department of Veterans Affairs in Phoenix

Majority of US Troops Discharged for Misconduct Diagnosed With Mental Illness

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A majority of the soldiers discharged from the US armed services for misconduct over the last four years have some form of mental illness, according to the Government Accountability Office, news that’s likely to fuel scrutiny over whether the military is doing enough to support its troops.

In some cases, that mental illness may have occurred as a direct result of soldier duties.

Of 91,762 soldiers dismissed from service for misconduct in the time period examined, 62 percent had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the preceding 24 months, Business Insider observed.

A quarter of US soldiers relieved from service between 2011 and 2015 were tagged with “other than honorable” discharge, which jeopardizes veterans’ ability to get healthcare access through Veteran Affairs.

GAO recommended the Pentagon “increase its assurance” that troops are evaluated for PTSD and TBI before they get slapped with “other than honorable” discharge, particularly since these conditions might make it more likely that a soldier break with standard conduct. It also advises the Defense Secretary to actively monitor the implementation of policies relating to PTSD and TBI.

Republicans Got A Big Laugh Out Of Voting To Take Away People’s Health Care

POLITICS

05/04/2017 08:19 pm ET | Updated 1 hour ago
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/republicans-laugh-health-care-us_us_590ba129e4b0e7021e9620db?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Republicans Got A Big Laugh Out Of Voting To Take Away People’s Health Care

And it could come back to bite them.

On Thursday afternoon, the Republican-led House narrowly passed a bill to repeal and replace significant parts of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, a 2010 law that expanded coverage to about 20 million people.

And, as the pictures show, it was all fun and games for GOP leaders.

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President Donald Trump gathers with Vice President Mike Pence, right, and gleeful congressional Republicans in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday after the House narrowly approved the American Health Care Act.

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President Trump congratulates jubilant House Republicans after they voted to repeal major parts of Obamacare.

That deliberate spectacle — Republican lawmakers chuckling at the prospect of passing into law a measure that would uninsure millions and weaken protections for those with pre-existing conditions — did not go unnoticed.

And in the end, it could come back to bite them, as campaign cash has already begun to roll in for their Democratic opponents.

Before Thursday’s vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned House Republicans that if they supported the measure they will “have this vote tattooed on them.” And after the vote, Democrats taunted their GOP colleagues by singing, “Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey! Goodbye!

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he expects Thursday will be the “one and only celebration” you’ll see from Republicans on this bill.

“Very shortly, I imagine, that [Congressional Budget Office] analysis is going to come out, and it’s going to likely show tens of millions of Americans lose their health care under this plan,” he told CNN. “And the image of those Republican members celebrating that loss of coverage for millions may very well come back to haunt them.”

Thursday’s public celebration was reminiscent of January 2016, when congressional Republicans passed an Obamacare repeal bill — legislation that President Barack Obama, obviously, vetoed two days later.

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), left, laughs along with Republican House members after the vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.

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House Speaker Ryan, second from left, and House Republicans joyfully celebrate at the Capitol after the American Health Care Act vote Thursday.
This Is What’s In The Health Care Bill House Republicans Just Passed

POLITICS

05/04/2017 05:31 pm ET | Updated 2 hours ago
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-is-whats-in-the-health-care-bill-republicans-just-passed_us_590b75b3e4b0e7021e95a5a8?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

This Is What’s In The Health Care Bill House Republicans Just Passed

Millions would lose coverage, protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be weakened and the rich would get a huge tax cut.

The Republican-led House on Thursday narrowly passed legislation to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act and replace them with a new set of policies designed to significantly scale back the federal role in providing health coverage to Americans.

The Affordable Care Act ushered in a historic reduction in the national uninsured rate. By targeting assistance to low- and middle-income families that need health coverage and forbidding health insurance companies from rejecting people with pre-existing conditions, it expanded coverage to about 20 million people.

The American Health Care Act, which is the House Republican bill, would undo both of those things.

The legislation would end the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid to poor adults and drastically cut federal funding for Medicaid overall, jeopardizing coverage for children, people with disabilities and elderly people in nursing homes. The bill also would allow states to permit health insurers to go back to turning away customers because of their health status and medical histories, or charging them higher rates.

The American Health Care Act is also a vehicle for almost $600 billion in tax cuts for wealthy people and health care corporations.

With the support of President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hurried this revised version of the legislation to the floor even though the Congressional Budget Office hasn’t completed its evaluation of how it would affect the number of Americans with health coverage, the cost of private insurance or the federal budget.

That makes it difficult to ascertain what the bill Republicans passed would actually do.

When the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation analyzed the original version of the bill in March, they projected it would lead to: 24 million fewer people covered over 10 years; higher premiums for older customers; and lower premiums for young and healthy people, achieved mainly by pricing out the sick and old. The new version of the bill could lead to even more uninsured and even worse access for people with pre-existing conditions.

Here are the key provisions of the American Health Care Act and what they would do:

Millions more uninsured

The American Health Care Act would reverse the Affordable Care Act’s gains in health coverage by getting rid of the two things that made it possible: expanded Medicaid and generous tax credits for private insurance available to low-income people. Without a CBO report on the language the House passed, there’s no official accounting of how many fewer people would be covered. However, the new version includes the same coverage provisions that the scorekeepers of the old one predicted would cause 18 million people to lose coverage over this year and next year and millions more during the coming decade.

Medicaid cuts

The bill would slash federal spending on Medicaid by $880 billion, or about one-quarter, over a 10-year period. It also would wind down the Medicaid expansion that has provided coverage to millions in the District of Columbia and 31 states that took advantage of this part of the Affordable Care Act.

Moreover, the American Health Care Act would fundamentally transform Medicaid into an entitlement program available to anyone who qualifies ― mostly poor children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and senior citizens ― by capping federal spending.

Instead of the federal government and the states sharing the expenses for covering these individuals, states would receive a smaller lump sum of money each year based on how many Medicaid enrollees they have. Faced with this shortfall, states would be forced to reduce benefits, the number of people they cover, how much they pay medical providers or some combination of those things.

Less help paying for health insurance

The Affordable Care Act provides tax credits that people can use to reduce their monthly health insurance premiums if they earn up to four times the federal poverty level ― which is $98,400 for a family of four. These credits vary not only by income but by geography to reflect variations in health care costs in different regions. The law also offers cost-sharing reductions to the lowest-income enrollees that shrink out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copayments.

The American Health Care Act would get rid of both of those things. In their place, it offers much smaller tax credits that are pegged only to age, and don’t vary by income or geography.

No more mandates

The American Health Care Act would eliminate the individual mandate that says most Americans must obtain health coverage or face tax penalties and the mandate that says large employers must offer health benefits to workers.

Weaker protections for pre-existing conditions

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies are prohibited from rejecting applicants based on their health or medical history, and must charge everyone the same premiums for their policies regardless of pre-existing conditions.

The original version of the American Health Care Act left that popular rule in place, but the version the House passed doesn’t. Instead, states would be permitted to waive that rule for health insurance companies, and allow insurers to turn away people with pre-existing conditions or to charge them higher rates than healthy people. Anyone who experiences a gap in coverage ― say, because of a lost job ― would face these obstacles in states that waive the guarantee of coverage for pre-existing conditions, while people who maintain continuous coverage wouldn’t.

Skimpier insurance policies

The American Health Care Act would permit states to disregard the Affordable Care Act’s “essential health benefits” standards that require insurers to cover basic services like physician visits, hospitalizations and prescription drugs. This would free health insurance companies to sell policies that cover very little.

Higher deductibles

Deductibles in the thousands of dollars are one of the biggest consumer complaints about Affordable Care Act plans, but the GOP bill encourages health insurance companies to sell plans with even bigger deductibles, according to the CBO. The legislation would enable insurers to offer plans that cover a smaller percentage of a typical person’s medical costs, leaving patients on the hook for more out-of-pocket costs.

Higher premiums for older people

The American Health Care Act would enable states to loosen limits on how much extra customers in their 50s and 60s can be charged for health insurance. The Affordable Care Act caps this at three times what the youngest policyholder pays, and the GOP bill would let states increase it to five times a younger person’s premiums.

Lower premiums for younger people

Charging older people more could let insurers reduce rates for younger consumers. Even more than that, however, the CBO concluded that the primary reason some younger customers may pay less is that older, sicker people will find they can’t afford the insurance because the financial assistance is too meager. As a result, many would become uninsured. That takes their medical expenses out of the insurance pool, saving health insurers money and potentially letting them lower prices for healthier consumers. And younger adults would be subject to the same weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions as older people.

Money for states

The American Health Care Act would provide $130 billion that states can use to strengthen their insurance markets. States, for example, could distribute money to health insurance companies that have sicker-than-expected patients. With the state absorbing some of insurers’ financial losses, companies could offer lower premiums to their customers.

The version of the bill approved by the House also includes an additional $8 billion earmarked for states that permit health insurance companies to reject people with pre-existing conditions or charge them higher premiums. The idea is that states could establish high-risk pools or some other mechanism to cover the sickest patients that insurers don’t want.

Combined, however, both these pots of money are inadequate to provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Tax cuts

Much of the money the Affordable Care Act spends to cover low- and middle-income people comes from taxes on wealthy people and health care companies. The American Health Care Act repeals all those taxes ― worth $592 billion.

Alissa Scheller
Paul Ryan Was Right: This Was A Defining Moment For The Republican Party

POLITICS

05/04/2017 06:24 pm ET | Updated 34 minutes ago
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/health-care-bill-republican-party_us_590b8052e4b0d5d9049a7ab5?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Paul Ryan Was Right: This Was A Defining Moment For The Republican Party

It chose tax cuts for millionaires over insurance for millions.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) reportedly delivered a message to his colleagues earlier this week, seeking their support for the American Health Care Act: “This is who we are. This will define us.”

It was one of the more accurate things he’s said in a long time.

The AHCA would expose many millions of Americans, including some of society’s most vulnerable members, to the possibility of crippling medical expenses ― forcing them to choose between financial hardship, medical hardship or both.

At the same time, it would lower taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans, to the tune of $594 billion over 10 years.

Insurance for millions, or tax cuts for millionaires ― that was one of the choices House Republicans faced on Thursday when they voted on the bill. And, with just a small handful of exceptions, they chose the latter.

A $1 trillion cut to programs for the poor and middle class

Overall, the AHCA would drain nearly $1 trillion out of federal health care programs, with most of the money coming straight from people who need it to get health care.

The biggest chunk would come out of Medicaid, a federal-state program that provides comprehensive insurance to people with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty line, or $27,159 a year for a family of three. It’s a massive cut ― one that would force most states to roll back expansions that allowed millions to get insurance, and then gradually ratchet down the program’s funding even more.

The cuts would hit working-age adults hard, since they were among the groups Medicaid had historically excluded ― and, as a result, the group most likely to lose coverage if the AHCA were to become law. But the cuts would inevitably filter down to other groups, including the ones that the program has always targeted: children, elderly and the disabled.

One little-noticed provision would reduce funds that allow schools to cover health services for children who qualify for special education because of physical or mental impairments.

Yes, the AHCA would very literally take money away from disabled kids.

Alissa Scheller

Another chunk of money would come from people buying health insurance on their own, rather than through employers ― and who, for the last three years, have been eligible for tax credits that discount premiums and in some cases out-of-pocket costs as well. Some are relatively poor, others firmly in the middle class. The AHCA would junk those credits and introduce new ones, shifting assistance away from the people with lower incomes and higher insurance costs ― in other words, the very ones least able to pay for insurance on their own.

Some people would be better off ― primarily younger, more affluent people who don’t get much or any financial assistance.

But others would pay more for their insurance, more for their out-of-pocket medical expenses, or some combination thereof. Many would end up with no insurance at all, which is one reason that the Congressional Budget Office predicts the AHCA would deprive something like 24 million people of coverage.

An attack on people with pre-existing conditions

And then there is the matter of protection for people with pre-existing conditions ― the subject that has occupied so much attention in the last few weeks and especially the last few days, culminating in a monologue from the very apolitical late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, whose own newborn faced a life-threatening illness.

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” he said, before expressing the hope that it was a principle on which all Americans ― and lawmakers from both parties ― could agree.

By voting for the AHCA, House Republicans proved how misplaced Kimmel’s faith in them was. Thanks in part to amendments that House leaders made in order to satisfy their most conservative colleagues, the AHCA would allow states to apply for special waivers, so that insurance companies could go back to the days of “medical underwriting” ― that is, hiking premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, making insurance impossible to afford.

In a sign of how far expectations of health insurance have shifted in the last few years, Republicans were desperate to deny that their proposal would harm people with serious medical problems. Just one day ago, White House press secretary Sean Spicer stood up in the briefing room and said flatly that people with pre-existing conditions would not be worse off.

To back up this claim, Republicans have pointed over and over again to provisions of the bill that would, in theory, protect people with pre-existing medical conditions. But their claims do not hold up to scrutiny.

People would not be subject to medical underwriting if they did not let their coverage lapse, Republicans have said ― neglecting to mention that, with the changes in tax credits, lapses in coverage would become much more common. Republicans have also promised a safety net, in the form of high-risk pools ― even though they have been tried before, never proved adequate, and under the AHCA would have inadequate funding.

A big tax giveaway for the very rich

The Affordable Care Act has real trade-offs: The protections for people with pre-existing conditions mean that people in relatively good health pay more for coverage. And the law is clearly struggling in some parts of the country ― as insurers, unable to cover costs in the newly reformed market, are hiking prices further or even leaving the markets altogether.

The latest sign of this came on Wednesday, as the last insurer offering individual coverage in Iowa announced it might abandon the market, leaving tens of thousands of residents with no options. The insurer was pleading for attention from the Trump administration, which has neglected and even tried to sabotage the law, but it was also looking for long-term modifications to help stabilize markets in places like Iowa where they are faltering.

One way to fix these problems would be to leave the law in place, while adding just a little more money ― whether through extra subsidies that could bring more young and healthy people into the insurance markets, or programs that reimburse insurers for people with unusually high claims.

But Republicans have not entertained the possibility of putting even a little more funding into the program, even as they have preparations for their next big legislative action ― which, it just so happens, is a massive tax cut that would give most of its benefits to corporations and the very wealthy.

Of course, the AHCA would be a big down payment on tax cuts for the rich, because it would roll back the tax increases that finance the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion.

The portion of those taxes that fall on individuals fall exclusively on the very top earners in the U.S. ― in fact, according to an estimate by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the wealthiest 400 households in America would get average tax breaks of $7 million each.

These people have no problem buying insurance, for what it’s worth. In fact, they are among that tiny group of Americans who could pay for even sustained medical care without coverage, straight out of their own pockets.

A revealing moment about Republican priorities

Watching the vote Thursday, I couldn’t help but think back to March 2010, when Democrats controlled the House and voted in similarly narrow fashion to enact the Affordable Care Act. I was there in the Capitol on that day, and there was a perceptible feeling of joy among House Democrats, even though many had misgivings about the bill and understood the vote was politically risky.

Undoubtedly some were happy simply because they’d won a partisan victory, or gotten a legislative favor that would help them back home. But many Democrats, particularly the leadership, clearly took satisfaction in the knowledge that the law would help spare millions of people from distress and even ruin ― and that it would do so right when these people, because of medical crisis, were at their most vulnerable moments in life.

From TV shots of Republicans on Capitol Hill and then when they gathered at the White House, they seemed pretty joyful Thursday, too. Undoubtedly some believe their bill lives up to the party’s lofty rhetoric, and maybe they think it will really improve access for the poor while protecting the vulnerable. But it’s hard not to wonder how many of them simply haven’t bothered to learn how their proposal would shift resources from the have-nots to the haves ― and how many, perhaps, simply don’t care.

Thursday’s vote is not the end of the repeal story, of course, and not by a long shot. The Senate has not even begun to take up repeal seriously. Multiple Republican senators have spoken out forcefully against elements of the House bill, from the changes to pre-existing conditions to the cuts to Medicaid. And the party can only lose two senators’ votes. If somehow a bill gets through the Senate, it will likely look very different from its House counterpart, and finding a compromise could be elusive.

But whatever happens to the bill, the Thursday vote will represent a defining moment for Republicans. Just like Paul Ryan said.

Where Does Heroin in the US Come From?
Connecting the Pieces

Where Does Heroin in the US Come From?

Connecting The Pieces

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While large-scale international war has yet to break out, seemingly enough, a domestic war is about to be re-kindled.

The old woman, who was living on social security, hit an unexpected rough patch when she found herself raising her grandchildren after her daughter died and her son became ill. After a while, she realized that this lifestyle was for the birds, so she thought long and hard about what she could do, and like most people these days, began digging among the boxes in her garage for stuff to sell online. Opening an old box, she hit the payload. Getting out a present given to her husband, she immediately began to feel better. Knowing who exactly would be interested in the trinket that could bring in a few needed dollars, she made a phone call, and that is where our story begins. The party that she contacted became interested in what she was selling and agreed to meet her at a local diner at a specific time.The woman went to the meeting and found the buyer in the parking lot. Upon identifying her, six heavily armed officers forcibly took the woman’s paper weight, which happened to be a moon rock the size of a piece of rice, from her by gunpoint. Upon seeing masked men covered in body armor with weapons drawn shouting at her and eventually forcing her to lie on the ground like a common criminal, understandably the old woman peed her pants. As it all went down, the lead officer shouted at her — “Where’s the rock? Where’s the rock? If you don’t tell me, you will go to Federal jail!” Because, that’s right — it is illegal to sell moon rocks and apparently NASA, the space agency, has a specialized team of highly trained commandos ready to stop anyone that tries, even silver-haired 75-year-old women.

This week has been awash in news of war, possible war, and even potential nuclear war. Even though the American people elected Donald Trump to be a president of peace, as opposed to Hillary Clinton, which more than likely would have been a hawkish president, war is what the American people, and the world for that matter, are getting, whether they want it or not. And while international war has yet to break out via false flags, outright provocations, tragic mistakes or even great misunderstandings, there is at least one domestic war that that is also seemingly about ready to kick-off.

Recently, the BBC wrote an article that was headlined — “Officers rue the return of US ‘war on drugs’. That’s right. The so-called war on drugs is back in vogue. The article continued — “Nearly half a century ago, Richard Nixon called for an “all-out offensive” on drug abuse. It was the opening salvo in America’s longest running war. Successive presidents took up the call to arms. Arrest rates soared and mandatory minimum sentences sent young men — particularly black men — away for long stretches for low-level offenses.” Some have even argued that the war on drugs was really a war on minorities, but that is a topic for another time.The article continued — “Then as violent crime rates fell under George W Bush and prisons became clogged, prosecutions eased. The war on drugs fell out of fashion. Barack Obama called it “unproductive” and sent memos guiding prosecutors away from pursuing low-level offenders. Now a new administration looks set to turn back the clock. Attorney General Jeff Sessions likes to reminisce about the aggressive law enforcement of the 80s and 90s and recently labeled cannabis “only slightly less awful” than heroin.”

And speaking of heroin, or hey-ron, as they also call it, Breitbart recently ran an article where — “US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly has largely blamed Latin American drug cartels for the unprecedented 52,000-plus drug overdose deaths in America during 2015 alone, the latest year for which data is available.” That’s right. 52 thousand people died of drug overdoses in 2015. And that’s up from 2014, where 47 thousand people died from similar causes. In total, around 100 thousand people have died due to taking too many drugs, the great majority of them opioid related.

In fact, the Breitbart article noted that — “It’s the highest number of drug-related deaths (America) has ever seen. It’s more deaths than the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1995. In (2015), a single year, nearly as many Americans were lost to drug overdose … in 12 years in Vietnam.” But that’s not all — and here is where it gets interesting.In that article, “Kelly said that most of the heroin in the United States originates in Mexico.” Mexico! While “…the majority of heroin in neighboring Canada comes from Afghanistan”. That’s right. From half way around the world! In fact, a recent “DEA estimate suggests that only one percent of the Afghan-based drug makes it into the United States.” Which seems strange, right? Canada also shares a large unsecured border with America, but apparently, heroin only flows from countries with mostly brown people to countries with mostly white people. Fake news, much?

The Breitbart article addressed this issue when it wrote — “Not everyone agrees with the DEA’s assertion that most of the heroin in the US is cultivated in Mexico. Last year, an article published by the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP), a patient advocacy group, criticized the former US administration and the mainstream media for misleading the American public about the influx of heroin from Afghanistan.” It continued — “In the report, a scientist and author of articles in scientific journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, noted: Heroin from Mexico cannot supply even 10% of US heroin demand. Yet the DEA claims most heroin in the US is from Mexico.” So, where does the rest come from? Could it be that very same Afghanistan that America has arguably occupied for more than 15 years now?So, what do you think dear listeners — “Where does heroin in the US come from?”

We’d love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

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