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A bottle of Fentanyl pharmaceuticals is displayed in Anyang city, central China's Henan province, 12 November 2018.

Friends that fight fentanyl together, stay together

After a four-year hiatus, the US and China have restarted joint talks to fight fentanyl. Chemicals for making the synthetic opioid flow from Chinese companies to drug cartels in Mexico and then to the US – where they are fueling the deadliest drug crisis the country has ever seen.

The talks aim to curb these precursor chemicals through better tracking and labeling, and if the US gets its way, by Beijing cracking down on the chemical manufacturers.

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A bottle of Fentanyl pharmaceuticals is displayed in Anyang city

US cracks down on China’s role in fentanyl crisis

The US Justice Department filed criminal charges against four Chinese chemical companies and eight Chinese nationals on Friday, accusing them of trafficking fentanyl precursor chemicals to the Sinaloa cartel. Two high-ranking employees at the Chinese company, Amarvel Biotech, were arrested in Hawaii. The indictments mark the first time that Chinese producers, rather than cartel members, are being prosecuted for their alleged role in the US fentanyl epidemic.

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Blinken meets Xi in Beijing
Blinken meets Xi in Beijing | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Blinken meets Xi in Beijing

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and Tony Blinken is not. No, he's coming back from Beijing, the US Secretary of State, the once-postponed and now-on-again weekend trip to Beijing. It's the first time he, as Secretary of State, has been there. Also, this was a last-moment meeting that included President Xi Jinping, and that's very important because on the ground in China, no attention being given publicly to the trip until Xi meets with Blinken, 35 minutes long, and then suddenly it is everywhere, and it's over 1 billion views, and it's all over state media, and it's all over social media. In a sense, the Chinese blessing the visit to their public and showing that they want to have a more constructive or at least stable relationship.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: The opioid death toll in US vs. Canada

The US and Canada are the world’s first and second-largest consumers of opioids per capita. And while both would love to relinquish their titles, it gets worse: Thanks to the explosion in fentanyl use in recent years, overdose deaths – as little as 2mg can be fatal – have skyrocketed.

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A chart comparing life expectancy in the US with the rest of the G-7 countries.

Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: No country for old men

US life expectancy has declined two years in a row, meaning that babies born today are expected to live about 2.5 years less than those born in 2019, according to the CDC. Americans on average will now kick the bucket at 76, the lowest age in the 21st century — and more than six years earlier than the rest of the G-7.

The biggest contributor to Americans’ shortening life spans is drug overdoses, especially from fentanyl. The pandemic — and the mental health crisis that ran alongside it — is also to blame. The US saw more COVID deaths than other G-7 nations, while fatalities from suicide and alcohol-induced liver failure skyrocketed. Many of these deaths were of young people, which has a compounded effect on the national average.

While COVID took a toll on life expectancy across the G-7, all but the US rebounded after the first year. The US knocked off a whopping 1.3 years in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 and has continued to slide. The speed of America’s decline marks the biggest two-year drop in life expectancy since 1921.

The common wisdom is that wealthier countries should enjoy higher life expectancies than poorer ones, as they have the resources to invest in healthcare and better standards of living. This rings true for the rest of the G-7, which have a combined average life expectancy of 83 years old. But the US — the only G-7 country without free national healthcare — has lagged behind throughout the 21st century, plateauing at 78 in 2008 while fellow G-7 nations continued to climb.

We compare US life expectancy to the G-7 average (minus America) since 2000.

Seized narcotics at a press conference in Montgomery, Alabama.


Hard Numbers: Fentanyl record in the US, Rohingya refugees stranded, “bomb cyclone” steals Christmas, meet Israel’s new government, SBF pals plead guilty

10,000: The fentanyl crisis in the United States is out of control. The Drug Enforcement Administration said it seized more than 10,000 pounds of the deadly stuff this year, double that of 2021. Federal agents say that’s enough to kill every single American.

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