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Vox Sentences: $57,000 for a crisis that has killed 64,000

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President Trump declares the opioid crisis a national public health emergency; Twitter bans Russian state media from advertising on its site; an explosion at an Indonesian fireworks factory leaves more than 40 dead.

Trump’s emergency opioids declaration contains a lot of promises, but no money

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  • President Donald Trump declared America’s opioid crisis a national public health emergency today, more than two months after he initially said he would. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • This designation basically gives the federal government more flexibility to deal with the addiction crisis and will do a few other important things, like allowing doctors to prescribe medication-assisted treatment via telemedicine and grant waivers to let treatment facilities expand their numbers of patients. [Stat / Andrew Joseph]
  • But Trump’s announcement doesn’t do one big thing that states and addiction advocates have long been clamoring for: It doesn’t direct any new money to treatment or prevention programs. [Politico / Sarah Karlin-Smith]
  • Trump’s speech today focused on the severity of the opioid crisis. Drug overdoses killed a record 64,000 people last year and are now the leading cause of death in Americans under 50. [CBS News / Dean Reynolds]
  • America's drug crisis started with doctors overprescribing prescription opioids to aggressively treat pain, and it shows in how we continue to consume these pills. For instance, while the US makes up just 4.4 percent of the global population, we consume about 30 percent of the world’s total opioid supply. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]
  • While prescription opioids are to blame for starting the crisis, many of these new deaths are being driven by fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid often laced into heroin. [NYT / Joseph Katz]
  • Treatment experts, lawmakers, and public health officials all say that Trump’s declaration is a start, but a lot more help is needed to actually make progress in the opioid crisis. A lot of states hit hard by addiction need more resources, and Congress approving more federal money would help. [Vox / German Lopez]

Twitter cleans house

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Twitter is barring two of Russia’s biggest state-run media companies, RT and Sputnik, from advertising on its platform. [BBC]
  • To be clear, Twitter isn’t suspending the companies' actual accounts, just their advertising on the site. RT wasn’t too happy about it, posting a pitch it got from Twitter to do political advertising in 2016. [RT]
  • The social media giant said it made its decision after a US intelligence report showed the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election and named RT and Sputnik as an arm of Kremlin messaging. [NPR / Miles Parks]
  • The company is also promising more ad transparency, and said it’s donating the $1.9 million it would have made off the advertising to independent research on the role of Twitter in elections. [Business Insider / Natasha Bertrand]
  • The decision also comes a week before company officials are set to appear in front of Congress for a hearing on election interference, and lawmakers could be poised to slap new political ad regulations on social media and internet companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google soon. [Washington Post / Elizabeth Dwoskin]
  • Twitter has had its share of issues separate from political advertising. For instance, Russian-linked bots spread false and hacked information on the social media platform to try to get the information onto Twitter’s trending page, essentially to get more eyeballs on the stories. It’s difficult to quantify how well this worked. [NYT / Scott Shane]

Up in flames

Solo Imaji / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
  • A fireworks factory near Jakarta, Indonesia, exploded on Thursday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens of others. More are still missing. [Al Jazeera]
  • There were reportedly two separate explosions that happened within about three hours of each other and were followed by a fire that swept through the building. Officials said because of the strength of the explosion, workers had very little time to escape. [CNN / Angela Dewan and Alex Stambaugh]
  • Authorities said they weren’t yet sure what caused the fire but were looking to see whether the fireworks factory itself was illegal. [NYT / Richard Paddock]
  • The factory had been operating for just about two months, and officials said it had obtained the proper permits to be operating. [Jakarta Post]
  • Indonesia is known for loose safety standards at factories, and safety rules there often aren’t followed. But this explosion is one of the worst Indonesia has seen, which could prompt a change in rules. [Reuters / Kanupriya Kapoor]


  • US senators have been using the same tiny ivory gavels to call the chamber to order for more than 200 years, and they're still holding up pretty well, considering the wear and tear. [Atlas Obscura / Eric Grundhauser]
  • Thousands of documents on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination are being made available today, to the great anticipation of historians ... and apparently, President Trump. [CNN / Jeremy Diamond]
  • More than 100 years ago, Britain really committed to making sure no one was drinking alone by nationalizing its pubs and turning them into focal community points. [Jacobin Magazine / Phil Mellows]
  • The late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej is going out with a bang; thousands showed up to watch the king’s ashes parade by in a massive golden crematorium depicting scenes from the monarch’s life. [The Guardian / Oliver Holmes]
  • Department stores like Macy's and JCPenney have been on a downward trajectory for a while. Now one Macy’s in Woodbridge, New Jersey, is serving as a "petri dish" for all of the store’s experiments on ways to appeal to a new generation of shoppers. [Racked / Amanda Eisenberg]


Watch this: How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history

The United Daughters of the Confederacy altered the South's memory of the Civil War. [YouTube / Coleman Lowndes]

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