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White House program to aim at combating rise in heroin deaths

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With a rise nationally in fatal heroin overdoses, the White House on Monday will announce a plan pairing law enforcement officials with public health workers in an effort to emphasize treatment rather than prosecution of addicts, the Washington Post said.

Citing two senior officials, the newspaper reported on Sunday that the program would initially be funded for $2.5 million by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and cover 15 states.

The plan would focus on tracing the sources of heroin, where a deadly opiate additive blamed for a rising share of recent overdose deaths is being added and who is distributing the drug to dealers, the newspaper said.

The Post said the initiative came in reaction to a sharp increase in heroin use and deaths, particularly in New England and other Northeastern states, which will be covered in the plan.

Heroin overdose deaths in the United States nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, fueled by lower costs as well as increased abuse of prescription opiate painkillers, U.S. health officials said in July.

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Under the White House program, 15 drug intelligence officers and 15 health policy analysts will collect data on overdoses and trends in heroin trafficking for distribution to local law enforcement, the Post reported. It added that the plan would also train first responders about how to use medication that can reverse overdoses.

“Our approach needs to be broad and inclusive,” the Post quoted a senior White House official as saying. “Law enforcement is only one part of what really needs to be a comprehensive public health, public safety approach.”

A law enforcement official told the Post it was a step in “both reducing crime and reducing the number of people who end up in emergency rooms.

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“Heroin is killing people and too often, public health goes one way and law enforcement goes the other,” the official added.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Dan Grebler)


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American, Italian and Russian blast off for ISS

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US, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA's Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.

A NASA TV commentator hailed a "textbook launch" minutes after blastoff in "sweltering" weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

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Megan Rapinoe trashes ‘disgusting’ Trump for his ugly racist tweets in CNN interview

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In an interview with CNN's Van Jones that will air on Saturday night, U.S. Women's soccer champion Megan Rapinoe condemned President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four progressive congresswomen of color.

"It's disgusting, to be honest. To say it's disappointing is ... it doesn't even come close," said Rapinoe. She added, "The more that we just are upset about it and don't accept that kind of behavior from all sides, then the better place we're going to be."

Trump has faced escalating criticism in the wake of his tweet that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) ought to "go back" to where they came from if they disagree with his agenda (three of them were born in the United States). The controversy escalated when attendees of his rally in Greenville, North Carolina chanted "Send her back!" about Omar.

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Conservative suggests Trump’s racist rhetoric will incite worse than ‘send her back’ chants: ‘One shudders to wonder’

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In a column for the Washington Post, conservative Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Kathleen Parker said the refusal by Republican lawmakers and the evangelical community to condemn Donald Trump's racist rhetoric is paving the way for something far worse than mere "send her back" chants.

Under a headline that bluntly states, "Those who don’t condemn Trump’s racism are complicit in his bigotry," Parker gets right to her opinion of the president, writing, "Going out on a limb here: President Trump is a racist. And a sexist. And a xenophobic nationalist. Among other things. Not to name call or anything."

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