5 things to know for November 18: Opioids, Congress, gas prices, Covid-19, Olympics

Your next Disney cruise is going to require a little more than magic. Starting in January, Disney Cruise Line will require all passengers ages 5 and up to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

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1. Opioid crisis

More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the US between May 2020 and April 2021, provisional data from the CDC shows. That’s the deadliest year on record for America’s drug epidemic and represents a 28.5% increase from the same period a year earlier. Drug deaths have nearly doubled in the past five years. Synthetic opioids continue to be a leading cause, blamed for nearly two-thirds of drug deaths in the latest 12-month period. The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to the historic and deadly rise, experts say. So has the increased use of fentanyl, a stronger and faster-acting drug than natural opiates. President Biden lamented the new data, saying, “We cannot overlook this epidemic of loss.” Last month, the Biden administration released its plan to combat drug overdoses, including addressing opioid prescription practices and removing barriers to treatments.

2. Congress

Republican Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger broke ranks yesterday to join all Democrats in voting for a resolution that both censured GOP Rep. Paul Gosar and stripped him of his two committee assignments. The vote came after Gosar posted a photoshopped anime video to his social media accounts showing him appearing to kill Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Biden. The action is a huge rebuke to Gosar and underscores the rift between Cheney and Kinzinger and their GOP colleagues. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of hypocrisy over the move and suggested Republicans would use similar actions to rebuke Democrats if they retake the majority in next year’s midterms. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Republicans are “free to do that” if they win back control of the House.

3. Gas prices

Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether illegal activity by oil and gas companies is pushing up prices at the pump. Biden claimed in his request that costs for oil and gas companies are declining, even though gas prices are rising. Prices have indeed hit record numbers in some parts of the country, and while the move to investigate won’t provide immediate relief, it could provide long-term solutions if evidence of wrongdoing is found. The oil industry has pushed back on the investigation, calling it a “distraction.” A recent rise in crude oil supply could also provide some gas price relief soon for the US and parts of Europe.

4. Coronavirus

We already know flu season may complicate Covid-19 pandemic recovery. But experts are now pointing out that a flu pandemic, like the one that killed at least 50 million people worldwide in 1918 and 1919, could be even worse than Covid-19 if the world isn’t prepared. In a series of reports, the National Academy of Medicine said work needs to begin now on next-generation vaccines and other safeguards to avoid another catastrophe. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is looking to boost Covid-19 vaccine production to increase the global supply, especially in developing nations. And the functional definition of “fully vaccinated” may be changing soon, now that the first full rounds of immunizations are wearing off. The UK has already said a “fully vaccinated” vaccine status may soon include a booster dose, and other European countries are following suit.

5. Olympics

The Biden administration is on the verge of implementing a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province. If it happens, no government officials would attend the games, though US athletes would still participate. Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have advocated for a diplomatic boycott, and Biden already is expected to take a pass. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the US is talking with allies about their participation. China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims has been a point of great concern for the international community, and a diplomatic show of disapproval would deprive China and its President Xi Jinping of the usual show of international leadership that comes with hosting the Olympics. The games are set to run from February 4 to 20.


‘Tiger King 2’ isn’t grr-reat

Well, it’s hard to replicate the … unique experience of the original.

Adele debuts devastating new song ‘To Be Loved’ 

Adele, we can’t take much more of this!!!

TJ Maxx is raising prices on some upscale brands

Wait, we just wanna look fancy. We don’t want to pay fancy. 

Los Angeles’ Staples Center is becoming the Crypto.com Arena

It really just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Tourists break into Rome’s Colosseum to drink beer

Are you not entertained?!!”


Biden will convene a summit of North American leaders today at the White House. The meeting between the US, Mexico and Canada has come to be known as the “Three Amigos” summit, and this is the first time it will take place since 2016.

Two men convicted of the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X are to be exonerated after more than half a century, according to their attorneys. The lawyers say they will file a joint motion today to vacate the 1966 convictions.



That’s roughly how many workers at John Deere will end a five-week strike and return to work after voting nearly 2-to-1 in favor of an offer very similar to the one they rejected at the start of this month. The United Auto Workers union announced that 61% of its members at Deere voted for what the company described as its last and best offer.


“We arrived in Spain, alive, healthy and with our ideas intact.”

Cuban activist Yunior Garcia Aguilera, who arrived in Spain on a tourist visa, along with his wife. Garcia Aguilera, organizer of protests that were thwarted by Cuban police, had not been seen since a mob of hardline pro-government supporters surrounded his house on Sunday.


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It’s the exquisite hour

I have a working playlist of songs that are great to cry to in the car. Reynaldo Hahn’s “L’heure exquise” is at the top of it — this version specifically, performed to divine perfection by Susan Graham. Truly, there are no words. (Click here to view.)

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