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Progressive ‘De-Prosecutors’ Disrupt Criminal Justice System, Experts Say

Authored by Petr Svab via The Epoch Times,A new breed of local prosecutors has taken District Attorney offices around the country by storm in a coordinated campaign that is tearing at the foundations of American justice system. The ideology that underpins their agenda is antagonistic to the traditional conception of criminal justice and, if taken to its logical conclusion, demands its destruction, several experts told The Epoch Times.Such DAs have been variously called “rogue prosecutors,” “de-prosecutors,” or “Soros prosecutors,” based on the fact that progressive billionaire George Soros has prolifically funded their campaigns and support structures. They started to enter the scene around 2014 and have quickly become a major power block, controlling at least 75 DA offices with jurisdiction over one in every five Americans, including half of the country’s 50 most populous cities, according to research by Sean Kennedy, a criminal justice expert at the Maryland Public Policy Institute, a liberty-oriented think tank.“They believe that the criminal justice system is excessively punitive and racially biased and that it is irredeemable,” he said.“And so they’re trying to undermine it from the inside.”The “rogue prosecutor movement” traces its roots back to the “prison abolition movement,” according to Zack Smith, former federal prosecutor who’s been writing extensively on the phenomenon as a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.“There is actually a movement; it’s a Marxist movement that believes we should abolish prisons in the United States,” he said.“Many members of this movement … bought into the idea that our criminal justice system is systemically racist, that we have a problem with mass incarceration, we arrest too many people, incarcerate too many people. And so because of that, they want to lower prison population and they want to basically make many, many things that have traditionally been crimes either not be crimes or make the punishment for them very minor, like a speeding ticket, civil infraction.”Proponents of this idea, however, must have been aware that it would be very difficult to convince legislators to enshrine such a policy in law, Smith suspected.“What is very clever about what George Soros and others figured out is, rather than doing the hard work of getting the legislature to actually change the laws, decriminalize certain things, … they figured out they can elect District Attorneys to office,” he said.“And if the DA won’t prosecute crimes, they won’t seek sentencing enhancements. It doesn’t matter how many arrests the police make, the criminal won’t be held accountable.”The most common tactics of the DAs include establishing policies to not prosecute entire segments of crimes, such as theft under a certain threshold and non-violent offenses more broadly, as well as undercharge crimes to avoid mandatory minimum sentences. They also tend to avoid charges that would lead to “immigration consequences,” meaning serious charges that could trigger deportation of a criminal alien, according to Kennedy.“Victims are particularly ignored and disregarded by these offices,” he noted.Efforts of the DAs are sometimes amplified by state or local legislations that make it more difficult to put a criminal behind bars, such as by preventing judges from setting a bail.FalloutImplementation of the policies tends to coincide with increases in crime, though not necessarily across the board or right away. It appears it sometimes takes some time for criminals to learn the ropes of the new regime. Sooner or later, however, they start to take advantage of it, several experts have pointed out.“The message these individuals are receiving is that there’s not going to be any consequences for their actions. If they’re not going to be held on bail, if they’re not going to be prosecuted, then what’s the incentive for them not to keep repeating the same actions over and over and over again?” Smith said.The policies also tend to demoralize police, who may see their work as pointless if, upon arrest, the suspect is quickly back on the street.“Taking somebody to jail is a hassle because you have to get off your beat, get them in a car, take them down to booking, potentially spend hours filling out paperwork, all for what?” said Thomas Hogan, an adjunct fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute and former federal prosecutor.Some departments have simply ceased to arrest people for the crimes they know won’t be prosecuted anyway, he said.There are exceptions, though.In New York City, crime has increased but arrests have gone up too. That’s because the NYPD deals with five different DAs, one for each borough, according to Hogan. Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg falls into the Soros-backed ranks, but the other ones are not necessarily onboard with the de-incarceration agenda—or at least not to the same extent. Moreover, the NYPD is large and powerful enough that they “do their own thing,” Hogan said.“NYPD’s response was, ‘You make your decisions what you’re going to do after we arrest them, but we’re going to arrest them anyway,’” he said.To some extent, the influx of Soros-backed DAs has “caught pro-public safety organizations, individuals, and the public off guard,” Kennedy said.“These are very sleepy races. Prosecutor races are low-attention, low-spending, low-on-the-ballot affairs.”Soros, however, went in with duffle bags of money.“It’s just unprecedented the relative amount of money he gives,” Kennedy said.“Giving a million dollars to a local DA candidate, what has occurred here in Northern Virginia, and millions of dollars to Philadelphia and Chicago and New York and Los Angeles … that is unprecedented and almost unfathomable.”Over the past decade, Soros and groups he substantially funds dished out over $40 million in direct spending on DA campaigns, according to a June report by the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF), a Virginia-based nonprofit, which Kennedy co-authored (pdf).Before any formidable opposition could mobilize, Soros-backed candidates were sweeping up elections left and right.“He caught people off guard because nobody expected anyone to do that,” Kennedy said….Countering the progressive DAs is no easy task, according to Kennedy, who’s personally helping with one recall effort in Northern Virginia.“And a lot of the jurisdictions where these prosecutors won, they are very difficult to dislodge because they are liberals in big liberal cities where the Democratic primary is the only game in town and all you have to do is appeal to very liberal Democratic primary voters,” he said.“If you have a lot of money and strong ideology, convincing that narrow subset of voters that your policies are just or working, or [that you] just need more time or whatever, is very easy to do.”Indeed, a number of the Soros-backed DAs have easily sailed through reelections already, though they did so “before crime really got out of control,” Kennedy said.“We will see what happens in the next few years if crime stays elevated, especially in these jurisdictions, if the public gets sick and tired of it.”In recent years, though, there has been some successful resistance to the progressive DAs.In Suffolk County, Massachusetts, a more law-and-order-minded DA won against the Soros-backed candidate in the Democratic primary, de-facto guaranteeing her election.In Baltimore County, a “tough-on-crime” Democrat defeated a Soros-backed challenger, Kennedy said.In Little Rock, Arkansas, a Republican defeated the Soros-backed Democrat for the Pulaski County DA office.On the other hand, Soros-backed candidates won in Portland, Maine, and rebuffed a challenger in Burlington, Vermont, earlier this year.Still, Soros’s success rate has dropped significantly, according to Kennedy.“Finally, the tide is turning where these Soros prosecutors don’t just waltz into office every time they go on the ballot,” he said.“When there’s organized opposition—and a good candidate to be honest—to oppose the Soros prosecutor, then we’re seeing success.”Read more here… […]

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‘Just Kidding’: Biden Yanks Student Loan Forgiveness From 770,000 Borrowers

In a jarring reversal, the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday quietly revised its online guidance on who qualifies for the $10,000 of student loan forgiveness that President Biden announced in August. In doing so, it pulled the rug out from under at least several hundred thousand people.  At issue: Borrowers who have Perkins loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL). Those earlier-generation loans were guaranteed by the federal government but were issued and are managed by private lenders. The FFEL program ran from 1965 to 2010; Perkins loans ended in 2017. People who have FFEL loans are older, have families, many obligations and are being crushed by this ongoing debt. Retirement? Gotta keep paying those student loans. New car? Appliances? Kids college? Nope. Nope.
— as the crow flies🐉🌻 (@anandasara) September 30, 2022Previously, the Department of Education’s online guidance said Perkins and FFEL loans could be consolidated into federal direct loans and then qualify for debt forgiveness.On Thursday, however, the Department of Education — without fanfare or a press conference — changed the rules by adding this content to its website: “As of Sept. 29, 2022, borrowers with federal student loans not held by ED cannot obtain one-time debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.”This is no marginal change: An anonymous Biden administration official told Reuters it will affect 770,000 borrowers. That estimate relies on the fact that many of the 4 million total FFEL borrowers also have direct loans and can still qualify for consolidation.  “This is a gut punch, to say the least,” tweeted Betsy Mayotte, president of the Institute of Student Loan Advisors. “This is one of the most harmful decisions I’ve seen come out of the Ed in a long time.”The @FAFSA just updated their website to say that ffel borrowers who didn’t consolidate before 9/29 aren’t eligible for debt relief. As recently as yesterday the site said they were working on a solution for these borrowers. This is a gut punch to say the least…
— Betsy Mayotte (@betsy514) September 29, 2022The Education department says it’s “assessing whether there are alternative pathways to provide relief to borrowers with federal student loans not held by ED.”  The harsh withdrawal of the debt forgiveness from nearly a million or more Americans came on the same day that Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina asked a federal judge to impose an immediate temporary restraining order on entire the debt forgiveness scheme. The suit specifically attacks the forgiveness of FFEL loans, arguing that doing so deprives private lenders of assets and “the ongoing payments that those loans generate.” In their lawsuit, the states also more broadly allege that Biden is overstepping his authority by using the 2003 HEROES Act to wipe away the debt. That legislation focused on aiding active duty military service members serving in the war on terror. “It is inconceivable, when it passed the HEROES Act, that Congress thought it was authorizing anything like the Administration’s across-the-board debt cancellation, which will result in around half a trillion dollars or more in losses to the federal treasury,” the six state attorneys general wrote in their filing. The estimated cost of the debt forgiveness scheme has already soared in just the first month after it was announced. The Congressional Budget Office says it will cost at least $400 billion over three decades, far above earlier estimates of $300 billion. Biden’s loan forgiveness proclamation was in keeping with a 2020 campaign pledge, and the announcement was clearly timed to maximize its impact on the midterm election. However, after Thursday’s jolting move by the Biden administration, some 770,000 to 4 million borrowers may be feeling a little less confident in Democratic governance. Nigga said that student debt relief was a Labor Day Sale only https://t.co/8Zr7jQOMmq
— Roadkill Ricky (@tkm11218) September 29, 2022 […]

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POTD: Remington MSR (Modular Sniper Rifle) in Afghanistan (2013)

TFB’s Photo Of The Day. We go back in time, to Afghanistan in 2013. Above we see Spc. Daniel S. Kennedy, from Tuttle, Oklahoma, with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, as he provides security as Afghan Border Police (ABP) break ground on a new checkpoint, in the Spin Boldak district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The ABP moved to the new location to block an insurgent infiltration route. He’s using the Remington MSR bolt-action rifle. The MSR came out as a winner in the USSOCOM Precision Sniper Rifle competition but was later excluded due to non-compliance.
Photojournalism is the process of storytelling using the medium of photography as your main storytelling device. While a journalist will use their pen and paper to tell stories, a photojournalist will use their camera to capture the visual representation of a story. Just imagine being in the photo above!

Photo by U.S. Army, Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann, 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment […]

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Libertarian Group Sues To Block Biden Student Loan Forgiveness

A California libertarian group has sued the Biden administration over its plan to cancel student debt, calling it an illegal overreach which will end up taxing some Americans whose debt is forgiven.”Congress did not authorize the executive branch to unilaterally cancel student debt,” said attorney Caleb Kruckenberg of the Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed the lawsuit – believed to be the first targeting Biden’s plan, AP reports. The Sacramento-based legal advocacy group filed the suit in Indiana, which is one of several states that plans to tax those whose debt is canceled by Biden’s plan.Kruckenberg says that it’s illegal for the executive branch to create such policy “by press release, and without statutory authority.”(Meanwhile, Biden is yanking student loan forgiveness for more than 750,000 borrowers who took federal government loans that were issued and managed by private lenders)The suit’s plaintiff is Frank Garrison, described as a public interest attorney who lives in Indiana and is employed by the libertarian group.Garrison is on track to get his student debt erased through a separate federal program for public servants. Although most borrowers will need to apply for Biden’s plan, Garrison and many others in that program will automatically get the relief because the Education Department has their income information on file. -APGarrison, the plaintiff, says that Biden’s plan would automatically cancel up to $20,000 of his debt, which would trigger an “immediate tax liability” owed to the state of Indiana.”Mr. Garrison and millions of others similarly situated in the six relevant states will receive no additional benefit from the cancellation — just a one-time additional penalty,” read the suit.Other states which plan to debt forgiven debt under the Biden plan are; Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina and Wisconsin, unless lawmakers act to change their current laws.When asked how people could opt out of the debt forgiveness, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who said ‘anyone can opt-out’ had no answers, after previously saying that roughly 8 million Americans would automatically receive the debt relief.”The bottom line is this — no one who does not want debt relief will have to get that debt relief,” she said.The White House has called the lawsuit “baseless,” suggesting that it’s nothing more than political opponents who “are trying anything they can to stop this program that will provide needed relief to working families.”Biden’s plan will cancel $10,000 in federal student debt for those making $125,000 per year or less, and $250,000 per household. Pell Grant recipients are set to receive an additional $10,000 benefit. Conservative groups have called Biden’s plan legally questionable, and point out that the debt forgiveness unfairly cancels student debt at the expense of Americans who didn’t attend college – or paid off their loans.The Biden administration has repeatedly argued that the plan is on solid legal ground.In its legal justification for debt cancellation, the Biden administration invoked the HEROES Act of 2003, which aimed to provide help to members of the military. The law gives the administration “sweeping authority” to reduce or eliminate student debt during a national emergency, the Justice Department said in an August legal opinion.Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said he has the legal authority to cancel debt for people who faced hardship during the pandemic. Cardona says Biden’s plan will ensure borrowers aren’t worse off after the pandemic than they were before. -AP”Nothing about loan cancellation is lawful or appropriate,” reads the lawsuit. “In an end-run around Congress, the administration threatens to enact a profound and transformational policy that will have untold economic impacts.” […]

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Raiders fans should brace for heavier-than-usual traffic Sunday

Fans planning to attend Sunday’s Raiders versus Denver Broncos showdown should expect heavier-than-usual traffic leading to Allegiant Stadium, the team announced Friday.
A pair of projects are impacting commutes on Interstate 15, the 215 Beltway and Las Vegas Boulevard en route to the stadium.
The I-15 and 215 issues are being caused by the $305 million reconstruction of the Interstate 15-Tropicana Avenue interchange. The daily traffic backup is a result of the on-ramp from the 215 westbound to I-15 northbound being reduced to one lane, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation. That causes traffic to back up on the Beltway toward the airport connector exit at times.
Motorists will have to deal with the traffic congestion through Nov. 2, which means those planning to attend the Raiders-Houston Texans Game Oct. 23 at the stadium should also brace for heavy congestion.
Additional traffic congestion is also occurring daily on the I-15 northbound frontage road near the Beltway and Russell Road. That’s also due to the road being reduced to one lane, and that too will be in place until Nov. 2.
Traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard northbound is also being impacted by road work. At times the road is constricted to one lane, causing major backups in the area.
Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. […]

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YouTube Demonitizes Video Compilation of Democrats Denying 2016 Election Results, Reinstates Day Later

A YouTube video depicting various times Democrat lawmakers and media pundits called the 2016 election results “illegitimate” was demonitized by the company Thursday, only for the decision to be reversed a day later.
The video, a massive compilation created by TK News editor Matt Orfalea, features Democrats including Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and numerous media figures repeatedly claiming Donald Trump “stole the election.”

“After manually reviewing your video, we’ve confirmed that it isn’t suitable for all advertisers,” a message from Youtube to Orfalea stated. “As a result, it will continue to run limited or no ads.”

Within hours, YouTube reversed the decision claiming they made a mistake.

we’ve followed up regarding this here! so sorry about the mistake 😥https://t.co/b1XIXbvJPA
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) September 30, 2022
Look sharp by wearing exclusive gear found only at our store.
Evidently, YouTube may have flagged the video as a possible violation of its “Elections misinformation policies.”
TK News founder Matt Taibi highlighted the double standard, however, in that YouTube has not enforced its rules on the numerous channels that host the source material from which the video was compiled.
“I’d like to thank YouTube for making our point,” Taibbi wrote on his website prior to its monitization reinstatement. “The material in this video does not promote the idea that any election was stolen or illegitimate. On the contrary, it shows a great mass of comments from Democratic partisans and pundits who themselves make that claim, about the 2016 election. Those comments were not censored or suppressed when made the first time around, by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Karine Jean-Pierre, Adam Schiff, Rob Reiner, Tom Arnold, and Chris Hayes, among many others.”

YouTube’s apparent double standard for 2016 and 2020 “election denying” is magnified by the fact they reinstated Orfelea’s video, in blatant disregard of their own policy.
“Whether the firm prohibits such behavior or not, it should be consistent, and isn’t,” writes Taibbi. […]

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Controller For 946C Hotplate Adds Reflow Profile Upload Over BLE

Reflow hotplates are a wonderful tool for PCB assembly if you can keep your designs single-sided. The 946C hotplate in particular has been on hackers’ radar for a while – a 200x200cm working surface hotplate available for under $100 is a decent investment. As with other reflow tools, it was a matter of time until someone made a replacement controller for it. This one, you’ll want to keep in mind – it’s a replacement controller project by [Arnaud Durand] and [Elias Rodriguez Martin], called Reflow946.
Keeping to best practices, the board is a drop-in replacement for the stock controller – swap cables over and go. The host processor is an ESP32, and it lets you can program reflow profiles in using BLE, with a Python application to help. The whole design is open-source and on GitHub, of course – keeping with best 3D printing traditions, you can already order the parts and PCBs, and then assemble them using the hotplate you’re about to upgrade. As far as aftermarket controllers go, here’s no doubt this board gives you way more control in reflow and lets you compensate for any possible subpar calibration while at it.
Since the casing of the hotplate is metal, [Arnaud] recommends an ESP32 module which has an external antenna connector. You also need to watch out for compatibility – turns out, only some hotplates sold as 946C will fit this board, so talk to your seller if you’re about to buy a hotplate capable of this upgrade. Almost makes us wish that these ovens had revision numbers, maybe a letter at the end of the model number or something!
Hotplate reflow has been one of our favourite PCB assembly methods for a while, and hacker ingenuity has given us different ways to do it – frying pans full of sand, PTC heaters with flat surfaces, and even PCBs designed to reflow PCBs. Not yet familiar with what reflow means? Let’s get you up to speed!
We thank [Abe Connelly] for sharing this with us!

Open-source #Bluetooth reflow controller for the 946C hot plate using #ESP32. This controller replaces the original board. https://t.co/zbGDrLhWYW pic.twitter.com/iHjVU38IiW
— Arnaud Durand (@DurandA23) September 20, 2022 […]

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Opioids At Work: Hidden Scourge Sapping The Economy

Authored by James Varney via RealClear Wire,Strung out on drugs half her life, Brandi Edwards, 29, said the longest she held a job before getting sober four years ago was “about two and a half months.”“I worked at an AT&T call center, a day-care center for a month, fast food places, but I had to take drugs to get out of bed in the morning and when I did show up, I wasn’t productive,” the West Virginia mother of three told RealClearInvestigations. “The first paycheck came along and I was out of there.”Fentanyl. Image 4 of 17. United States Drug Enforcement AdministrationIn jail for the ninth time on drug-related charges, and separated from her children, Edwards had an awakening in “looking hard at what I’d lost.” Now clean for four years after rehab, she is married and back in her children’s lives with a home in Princeton, W. Va., and a steady job.But such success stories are too infrequent to offset the massive cost of the opioid epidemic to the American workforce. Only a couple of people in her former addict circle have returned to productive life, she says, while most are dead or incarcerated.That toll on labor, haunting America’s working present and future probably for years — if not decades — to come, is largely invisible and underreported because it is difficult to measure, according to physicians, counselors, economists, workers and public officials. But its staying power is suggested by other lasting national challenges, including the porous southern border — a major conduit for smuggled, Chinese-made fentanyl — and economic and social traumas set in motion by the coronavirus pandemic.In addition to untold years of productivity lost from fatal overdoses, the nation’s labor participation rate has shrunk steadily since 2000. Precise correlation is elusive, but any graph of that decline would stand in sharp contrast to the rise of opioid addiction in the U.S. And while it is difficult to calculate just how much drug use has caused absenteeism, tardiness and stretches of disability, the connection is strong, as Brandi Edwards’ experience suggests.“We’ve been writing about this for years but it doesn’t seem to get a lot of traction,” said Dr. Gary Franklin, a research professor at the University of Washington who served as the medical director of the state’s Department of Labor and Industries. “People have not realized how much opioids contribute to disability and lost productivity, and I don’t know if anyone has been able to put a number on that.” Headline figures on lives lost in the opioid epidemic have been fairly clear for years. In 2021, more than 107,000 people died from drug overdoses, a nearly 15% increase from the year before and more than double the grim tally recorded in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control. All told, overdose deaths are seven times higher than they were in 1999.Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which law enforcement has tracked from labs in China along trafficking routes through Mexico on the southern border, are now driving the overdose epidemic. The CDC attributed 69,000 overdose deaths to synthetic opioids in 2020, 82% of the nation’s total that year. Heroin overdoses, meanwhile, went up 7% in 2020 to 13,000, according to CDC figures.That means synthetic opioids and heroin dwarf cocaine and methamphetamines, although totals for both of those have been rising for a decade and often cause overdose deaths in combination with opioids. The National Institutes of Health shows fewer than 5,000 people killed by cocaine alone and fewer than 10,000 by what it dubs “psychostimulants,” which includes methamphetamines, in 2020. Less precisely, economists since at least 2017 have pegged at over $1 trillion the epidemic’s annual dollar cost in terms of deaths, law enforcement and “lost productivity.” But the amount attributable to deaths – $550 billion of the $1 trillion – is largely conjecture because it is derived from actuarial estimates for lost years; for example, the decades cut from what would have been a normal working life for someone who fatally overdoses at age 45.Then there is the less lethal side of the equation — one that workers and employers grapple with daily. Roughly 8% of workplace fatalities in 2020 – 388 of 4,786 – were attributed to “unintentional overdose from nonmedical use of drugs,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the agency said it is unclear “how many of these deaths involved opioids specifically.” A post on a neighborhood social media platform asking about opioids’ dire impact in the workforce unleashes a barrage of firsthand horror stories. Homeowners speak of an inability to hire handymen, painters, landscape workers and the like.“If I’m lucky enough to have an employee that can pass a [urine analysis] the chances of them doing so after the first check is slim,” wrote a tree surgeon in suburban New Orleans. “Tree men get a terrible rap. People think we are all crazy, wild, no fear having, hard working dopeheads.”But he acknowledged some truth to the stories of workplace abuse of prescription opioids, mentioning laborers’ common habit of relying on increasingly higher-milligram dosages of pain pills like Percocet.Workers “didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Hmmm, great day to go down a road that will cost me it all,’ ” he wrote. “Then it’s inevitable. We get hurt. Usually pretty badly. So we start out getting a few .5 [mg] maybe 7.5. Later, as our careers go so does the pain, so do the amounts needed to consume to keep it at bay.”A National Safety Council study reported that more than 75% of U.S. employers have been affected by employees’ prescription drug use, according to congressional testimony, and the National Institutes of Health estimates some 3 million Americans, including workers, are addicted to opioids. Edwards managed to break her addiction and return to the workforce with the help of Jobs & Hope, a statewide West Virginia placement initiative launched in 2019 that claims more than 1,500 success stories. But with a budget of $3.1 million it cannot handle all of the 200-250 addicts referred to it each month, said Deb Harris, the group’s lead transition agent. Businesses have been largely receptive to such programs, but the state is still trying to regain its footing from the “flood of pills” that hit it early in the 21st century, according to Dr. Matthew Christiansen, director of West Virginia’s Office of Drug Control in the Department of Health and Human Services.“We don’t keep a running tally at the state level, but the numbers have probably stayed pretty consistent or maybe gotten a little bit worse because of an increase in overdose deaths due to fentanyl,” Christiansen said.The Centers for Disease Control does keep a tally, although it hasn’t publicly updated the grim numbers on its “opioid dashboard” since 2017. The figures from that year show that the biggest economic hit has come in the Appalachian states around the Ohio Valley and in New England, two regions where opioids and synthetics have torn a hole through the workforce.For example, West Virginia, long considered ground zero in the opioid epidemic, had the biggest annual per capita loss due to opioids at $7,247, according to the CDC figures that include overdose deaths. That tops Ohio, where the per capita cost in 2017 was $6,226, and New Hampshire at $5,953. Ohio saw the highest overall economic cost, at $72.58 billion, followed by Massachusetts at $36.91 billion, according to the CDC. Fixing opioid disorder costs is complicated by the fact much of it is now driven by black-market synthetic drugs like fentanyl and thus can no longer be tracked through prescriptions. Nor is substance abuse a topic that workers – or many employers – are comfortable quantifying. All those involved in coping with the epidemic, however, peg the cost as staggering.“It’s difficult to measure these things but it’s likely a substantial part of the labor decline,” said Michael Betz, an economist at The Ohio State University who researches opioid disorder issues. “You’re piecing together different pieces of evidence, but when you look at the decline in labor participation rates and opioid disorder figures, they match up pretty similarly.”Franklin’s team did calculate the odds opioids influenced the disability bills Washington state taxpayers foot each year for roughly 100,000 workers, a relatively uncomplicated tally since Washington is one of four states with a centralized government system and not a private workers’ compensation insurance market.“We found that two prescriptions of opioids for more than 7 days in the first six weeks after an injury doubled the risk of a worker being on disability one year later,” he said.Answers to broader questions on opioids’ baleful economic impact, however, are scarce.“Productivity losses due to anything is an extremely complex analysis and is not routinely tracked,” Franklin said.To date, the nation’s prime age labor workforce has not recovered to where it was at the beginning of 2020 and is now the lowest it has been in 45 years. The hit has been especially pronounced among older adults, according to the Government Accountability Office.Between 2015 and 2019, adults 50 years old or older “were an estimated 22 percent less likely to be in the labor force (either employed or actively seeking work),” a GAO report found. In addition, people in that age group “were an estimated 40 percent less likely to be employed; and employed older workers who misused opioids were twice as likely to have experienced periods of unemployment.” Once again, however, pinpointing the precise connection between opioids and lost productivity remained elusive, as “the data did not allow GAO to determine causality.”Middle-aged white men have long comprised the single biggest group of annual overdose deaths, but between 2015 and 2020 the rate among black men skyrocketed to 54.1 per 100,000, topping white men’s 44.2 per 100,000, according to the Pew Research Center. “Local economic conditions play some part in all this but they aren’t the key role; the main driver is the increase in supply,” Betz said.That leads some experts on the topic to conclude that opioids’ catastrophic hit to the United States’ workforce has been misconstrued. For a time, as deaths rose early on, particularly among middle-aged white men, and labor participation rates began their decline, the phrase “deaths of despair” took hold among some researchers.Under this theory, the opioid epidemic fed on declining economic prospects, particularly for middle-aged white men facing unemployment or shrinking incomes.But the “deaths of despair” theory reverses cause and effect, according to some physicians and people dealing with the fallout from opioids, including their more deadly synthetic cousin fentanyl.“We’ve debunked that,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, a faculty member at Brandeis University whose practice has specialized in opioid addiction. “Rather than economic conditions leading to overdose deaths it’s really the other way around – it’s not the economy driving them to death, it’s the opioid crisis affecting the economy.” […]

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Friday Night Lights: Rayvn Rail – PVS14 + FLIR BREACH Bridge

Hello reader. If this is your first time here at Friday Night Lights then Welcome! We focus this weekly column on night vision and thermal technologies. This includes night vision goggles, thermal sights and all the various accessories related to them. This week we take a look at a project I have been helping for the past year. The Rayvn Rail is a bridge to mount a PVS-14 and a FLIR BREACH onto a helmet. Let’s dive in and take a closer look.
Night Vision @ TFB:

Bridging A PVS-14 and FLIR BREACH
Why would you want to bridge a PVS-14 and a FLIR BREACH? This is sort of the entry level for thermal fusion. Thermal fusion is when you combine thermal with light amplification of night vision. Typically this is achieved with a COTI, a thermal device that is clipped onto the front of a night vision goggle like a PVS-14 and the thermal image is projected into the objective lens. The result is seeing thermal and night vision all in the same image. True thermal fusion is where the thermal image is projected behind the image intensifier so you get a color shift between the phosphor color of the night vision and thermal image. However, those options are expensive and have compromises such as fragility and proprietary parts.
Bridging a PVS-14 with a thermal monocular can work but there are things to consider. Looking at two different images in each eye takes getting used to. The FLIR BREACH has become one of the most popular entry-level thermal monoculars. They are typically around $2,000 each. I reviewed one a while back. Click here to read up on it. One thing I did not realize until someone mentioned it was that the FLIR BREACH can adjust the image position. They call it “MARGINS”. This allows you to shift the thermal image. This is important so you can collimate the thermal image with the image produced by your PVS-14. If you do not do this, you will see double and your thermal image will not line up with the night vision image.

The Rayvn Rail has actually been in development for over a year. They reached out to me last August asking if I would be willing to check out their bridge and give feedback. I was under NDA since then so I was unable to post anything about it until now. Now they have their production version ready to go. You can see three evolutions of the Rayvn Rail. It has gone through many changes between these three, but these are the three I have in hand.
The design is rather simple. It is a rail that allows pupillary distance adjustment by sliding the pods left and right. You can also articulate the monoculars out of the way. One pod is for attaching to a typical PVS-14 and the other pod is for attaching to a FLIR BREACH.

Adjusting The Rayvn Rail
At the top of the bridge, near the rear, is a button head screw. This stops the pods from sliding off the bridge.

Look at the back of the bridge, You can see that button head screw poke through the bottom. When you try to slide the pod off the bridge, there is a small rectangular protrusion that will hit that vertical screw. Loosen the screw and you can remove the pods.

The PVS-14 arm is machined aluminum. The screw is 1/4-20.

The tension of the arms can be adjusted by the user. You just need to tighten the bolt here.

The pods slide onto a sort of inverted dovetail. They stay in place by tightening this knurled nut. So you just slide the pod to where you want and tighten that knob.

Rayvn used to use a thumb screw and a nut. This was a bit annoying cause if you loosen the screw, often the nut would fall off. See the photo below of a preproduction sample.

In order to mount the FLIR BREACH, Rayvn has a dovetail adapter. It slides onto the MUM style rail on the BREACH and two set screws hold it in place. Now you have a 1/4-20 screw hole and indentation for an anti-rotation tab.

Then you bolt on the Rayvn Rail sliding adapter.

With a PVS-14 the Rayvn Rail fully built weighs 23 ounces. The one below is a little bit heavier since I am using a DEP HYPER aluminum housing for the PVS-14.

You save over 2 ounces by using a Nocturn Tanto.

Final Thoughts On The Rayvn Rail
The big question I am sure you are asking is “How much will it be?”. I was told they will retail for $350 for a complete bridge. That includes adapters for a PVS-14 and FLIR BREACH. PVS-14 and BREACH are sold separately.
One thing to note is that this is designed for PVS-14s. It worked well with the Nocturn Tanto but I found the arm did not sit flush with my DEP HYPER housing. A minor issue. This is not Rayvn’s fault as the Hyper housing is not common at all and has different dimensions than a typical PVS-14 housing.
DEP HYPER housing on Rayvn Bridge
If you do bridge a FLIR BREACH, I highly recommend getting or printing this lens cap holder.
It is that knurled-looking disc on the side of the BREACH
You can see the lens cap stored on the side of the BREACH using the 3D printed lens cap holder.

You can pre-order the Rayvn Rail off their website. […]