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Peter C. Earle

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Harvesting the Sickening Fruit of Lockdowns

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According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020. That’s an all-time high, and the steepest year-over-year increase in thirty years. By way of comparison just over 72,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2019.

Some 57,000 of those overdose deaths are estimated to have come from the use of opioids. Cocaine and methamphetamine overdose deaths expanded as well. But it’s not only that drug use (and abuse) rose: as stay-at-home orders were imposed, ongoing counseling, outpatient addiction therapies, and other forms of treatment were interrupted. Opioids have a notoriously high rate of relapse, with estimates ranging between 80 and 95% within the first year of recovery. And with major factors in the likelihood of a return to use including declining mental health, boredom, isolation, and decreasing self-care, lockdowns are a ruthlessly efficient delivery mechanism for the propensity to relapse. 

The tragedy extends beyond an explosion of avoidable deaths. Early in the pandemic, the National Institute of Health froze all research not related to the coronavirus, which crucially included a $1B project investigating opioid alternatives. And in fact, the Trump Administration, in a success that would never be acknowledged by its avowed (indeed, eternal) adversaries, had been making progress in the fight against rampant opioid deaths.
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Lockdowns Have Killed What’s Left of the United Nations’ Credibility

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Distrust of the United Nations is a feeling that transcends political ideologies. Even many who view the UN as an essential institution gripe about the composition of its councils and its mounting listlessness over the last few decades. From charges of appeasement to accusations of moral relativism and beyond, the UN is regularly decried as an ineffectual circus of multinational bureaucrats, purposely or unwittingly promoting the interests of a global elite and undermining the sovereignty of nations. Conspiracy theorists, rarely inclined to subtlety, see it as a Trojan horse for a New World Order, paving the way for a supranational world government.

Nevertheless, many of those complaints (and some of those suspicions, at least circumstantially) are justified. Despite its foundational goal of “maintain[ing] international peace and security” the UN has clung to an increasingly desultory role since its formation after World War II, adding mostly ineffective missions along the way. 

Although the monitoring of human rights has been a part of the US mission since its founding, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up in 1948; during the 1980s it began picking up steam. With the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, that focus was formalized and infrastructure (a High Commissioner, with an office and staff) added.
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