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DAILY DOSE: The international engine driving America’s opioid crisis; Depression his new high in America.

America has a serious problem eating away at its core. No, it isn’t politics – though the case certainly can be made. It’s the insidious opioid crisis that has taken countless lives and will continue to do so until some drastic intervention is done. The Guardian has run an investigative piece about the role the link between Mexico and China plays. Here’s a sample,

For a few days in April, news sites across Latin America were running Instagram photos of a glamorous blond woman enjoying trips around the world.

There were pictures of Ana Gabriela Rubio Zea, 32, posing in a blue dress and Yves Saint Laurent handbag outside San Miguel de Allende, ice skating in a miniskirt in Central Park and laughing in the Forbidden City.

The social media images were then followed by more recent photos: Rubio, in a sweatshirt and jeans, flanked by officers from the national civil police of Guatemala, where she was arrested on 17 March for her alleged role in sourcing fentanyl precursor chemicals from China for the Sinaloa cartel.

According to the arresting agency and a federal indictment released on 14 April, for almost 10 years Rubio arranged illegal imports of controlled drug-making substances, sometimes hiding them in food containers and leveraging corruption to deliver the chemicals to the cartel.

“We are the biggest in Mexico so we can purchase a lot,” the indictment quotes Rubio telling Wu Yonghao, a sales representative for the chemical supplier Wuhan Shuokang Biological Technology Co Ltd, in an encrypted message before her arrest.

The way things stand, it’s difficult to see how this problem gets resolved. Buy-side “Just say no” campaigns won’t work because it never has.  https://bit.ly/3Ml5NNP

Imagine having 22 million people living in the shadows of an active volcano that may or may not wipe them out one day. Sounds like a scenario from a movie. Unfortunately, it’s a real life situation. Per the Associated Press,

Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano rumbled to life again this week, belching out towering clouds of ash that forced 11 villages to cancel school sessions.

The residents weren’t the only ones keeping a close eye on the towering peak. Every time there is a sigh, tic or heave in Popocatepetl, there are dozens of scientists, a network of sensors and cameras, and a roomful of powerful equipment watching its every move.

The 17,797-foot (5,426-meter) volcano, known affectionately as “El Popo,” has been spewing toxic fumes, ash and lumps of incandescent rock persistently for almost 30 years, since it awakened from a long slumber in 1994.

The volcano is 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City, but looms much closer to the eastern fringes of the metropolitan area of 22 million people. The city also faces threats from earthquakes and sinking soil, but the volcano is the most visible potential danger — and the most closely watched. A severe eruption could cut off air traffic, or smother the city in clouds of choking ash.

Madness. That’s the only way to describe it. https://bit.ly/45cpfVz

Wildfires have become a serious problem in North America. It isn’t just the United States. Canadian authorities are extremely war of the dangers they represent. Per the CBC,

The Alberta government has closed 12 provincial parks and recreation areas ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend to lower the risk of more wildfires starting and spreading.

The fire danger is expected to be extreme across the northern parts of the province again [Thursday], which could result in some active wildfire behaviour," Christie Tucker, information unit manager with Alberta Wildfire, said Thursday.

"We will manage the wildfire situation in the face of extreme conditions and we ask Albertans for their help, too." 

"Don't be responsible for starting a new wildfire," Tucker said during Thursday's wildfire update.

Tucker and Todd Loewen, Alberta's minister of forestry, parks and tourism, called on Albertans to follow local rules and restrictions to prevent fires. Unseasonably high temperatures are expected to return to Alberta this weekend, threatening to fuel wildfires burning across the province.

Hopefully, without so many people milling about, running the risk of inadvertently starting a fire, Canadian forestland can steer clear of the problem.

America is definitely going through a moment. The Covid-19 pandemic, pending recession, political dysfunction, overseas conflict, and more personal every day stresses weighs heavily on people’s minds. That’s why reports about the state of depression in the United States is anything but surprising. Per CNN,

Depression is more widespread than ever in the United States, according to a new report from Gallup.

About 18% of adults – more than 1 in 6 – say they are depressed or receiving treatment for depression, a jump of more than 7 percentage points since 2015, when Gallup first started polling on the topic.

Nearly 3 in 10 adults have been clinically diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime, according to the survey, which is also a record high.

The Covid-19 pandemic took an undeniable toll on mental health. Rates of clinical depression had been rising steadily in the US but “jumped notably” in recent years, the Gallup data shows.

To borrow a phrase from U2, America finds itself “stuck in a moment.” https://bit.ly/3WmZIVF

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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