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Trump enacts anti-opioid abuse package in rare bipartisan step

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Medical treatment will be more widely available to opioid abusers while mailing illicit drugs will be more difficult under a measure to fight drug addiction that was signed into law on Wednesday by U.S. President Donald Trump.

In a year more typically marked by partisan gridlock, Trump signed the rare bipartisan package passed by Congress earlier this month to tackle a problem that led to a record 72,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017.

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The legislation expands access to substance abuse treatment in Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled; cracks down on mailed shipments of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, a synthetic opioid far more powerful than heroin; and provides a host of new federal grants to address the crisis.

The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 98-1 in September after a 353-52 vote in favor in the House. The bill had 252 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, more than almost any other bill in recent years, according to website GovTrack Insider.

Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency last year, which enabled the government to respond more quickly to crises. But addiction experts, advocacy groups and Democrats said the administration was not doing enough.

On Tuesday, Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Patty Murray released a U.S. Government Accountability Office report that they said showed Trump’s emergency declaration fell short of his promises. The report said the government has used few of the powers it could use, under the declaration.

“Hand waving about faster paperwork and speeding up a few grants is not enough. The Trump administration needs to do far more to stop the opioid epidemic,” Warren said in a statement.

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Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said the criticism from the senators was “predictable and unfortunately very partisan,” noting that both voted for the opioids legislation.

In addition to educating the public and expanding access to treatment, Conway said the administration was also focused on securing the border with Mexico to stop drugs from coming into the United States.

Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Cynthia Osterman

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Can it happen here? Bill Moyers says it’s happening right before our very eyes

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At 98, historian Bernard Weisberger has seen it all. Born in 1922, he grew up watching newsreels of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler as they rose to power in Europe. He vividly remembers Mussolini posturing to crowds from his balcony in Rome, chin outthrust, right arm extended. Nor has he forgotten Der Fuehrer’s raspy voice on radio, interrupted by cheers of “Heil Hitler,” full of menace even without pictures.

Fascist bullies and threats anger Bernie, and when America went to war to confront them, he interrupted his study of history to help make history by joining the army. He yearned to be an aviator but his eyesight was too poor. So he took a special course in Japanese at Columbia University and was sent as a translator to the China-Burma-India theater where Japanese warlords were out to conquer Asia. Bernie remembers them, too.

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2020 Election

Republicans fear Trump’s boast the economy is roaring back will blow up in his face before the election: report

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Republican campaign consultants and advisers are hoping Donald Trump will tone down his boasting that the economy will quickly come roaring back as businesses begin re-opening due to COVID-19 concerns.

With the White House preparing a "recovery summer" roll-out that will tout the economic recovery as a way to reverse the president's collapsing poll numbers, some GOP officials worry Trump's words could come back to haunt him in November.

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‘Bye Felicia’: Sheriff says Buffalo cops resigning from emergency unit should be booted from the force

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On MSNBC Saturday, Philadelphia County Sheriff Rochelle Bilal laid into the Buffalo police officers who resigned from the emergency unit, allegedly to protest the disciplinary action against two cops who shoved an elderly man to the ground.

"As far as those officers resigning out of protest, I would say to that, Bye Felicia, because they should go," said Bilal. "Because if they didn't see anything wrong with that, then they shouldn't have been on the force from the beginning. We are not run by a Gestapo type of community. This has been going on for decades. So at this point now, we should be fighting for those who want to be on this job to treat people fairly and for those who don't, say bye. Get them out of here, those of us who want to do this job right want them gone anyway."

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