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Anti-drug campaign in South Dakota

Chop suey with a side dish of racism

Coming up with nine nominees to the Board of Freeholders that St. Louis aldermen and Mayor Lyda Krewson can agree on is proving to be harder than anyone imagined. Alderman Sam Moore, 4th Ward, did his best to make it even harder. During debate on Tuesday, questions were raised about the repeated substituting of names on the nominees’ list and the shifting levels of diversity that resulted with each change.

Alderman Bret Narayan, 24th Ward, expressed disappointment that the “conversation regarding these nominees has been so single-handedly about black folks and white folks, north side and south side” and that other groups hadn’t come up, the Post-Dispatch’s Mark Schlinkmann reported.

“There’s not a single Bosnian … there’s not a single Latino … there’s not a single Asian” among the nominees, said Narayan, who is Asian American.

Moore responded by identifying polarization between blacks and whites as the central issue of contention. He added: “On the north side of St. Louis, we don’t have any Asians unless they’re selling rice in the chop suey place.”

Krewson’s chief of staff, Steve Conway, later told reporters that he was “appalled” by Moore’s comments, as the rest of the city should be, including Moore’s constituents. Had such a gross, sweeping characterization been leveled at Moore or the majority of the community he represents, the streets would justifiably be filled with protesters.

Moore tried to backtrack by explaining that the Asian Americans he knows of in north St. Louis “are the ones operating the Chinese restaurants. They come and leave and go about their business; that’s no disrespect to them.”

Sure. No disrespect at all.

The whole state?South Dakota embarked on a public-awareness campaign about state efforts to fight methamphetamine addiction. And what slogan did the state’s leaders get for the almost half-million dollars they paid an ad agency? “Meth. We’re on it.” It was meant to convey that the state is dealing with the issue, but as all of the internet has pointed out in unison, it sounds as if the entire state is on meth.

Gov. Kristi L. Noem announced the awareness campaign Monday. It included photos of various people with the words, “Meth. I’m on it.” stamped around their images.

One marketing expert calls it “a colossal blunder,” but you probably don’t need to be a marketing expert to reach that conclusion. “I’m sure South Dakota residents don’t like being laughed at,” Bill Pearce, School of Business dean at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Washington Post. “That’s what’s happening right now.”

Failure in the eyes of the beholderWhite House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN that when the Trump team took over in January 2017, outgoing President Barack Obama’s staff had left the offices full of multiple notes saying taunting things like, “You will fail,” and, “You aren’t going to make it.”

Funny, but that doesn’t sound the least bit like the no-drama-Obama crowd. It does, however, sound a lot like something the current crowd would say. It’s also interesting that the Trump team has been obsessed from the start with trying to destroy Obama’s legacy wherever possible (remember Trump’s bogus wiretap allegation?). Yet no one thought to take some evidence photos of these petty notes? And no one has previously mentioned these notes during three years in office?

On this one, we’re with New York Magazine’s analysis: “So we have an administration known for constant lies making an implausible accusation for which it has no evidence despite having a high opportunity and likelihood of having produced some. Sounds legit!”

Epstein’s jailers heading to jail?Two jailers who allegedly failed to monitor wealthy accused sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, then tried to cover their tracks after he killed himself, have been criminally charged. This is the proper response to grotesque official incompetence — and it may have the welcome side effect of finally dispelling the conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s death.

Epstein was known for two things: His sexual abuse of underage girls (for which he’d previously received a controversial plea deal from prosecutors), and hobnobbing with luminaries like future President Donald Trump and past President Bill Clinton. So naturally, when Epstein hanged himself in his Manhattan jail cell in August, the conspiracy trolls went wild.

Sorry to disappoint them, but the federal charges offer a more plausible alleged scenario: The jailers browsed the internet, took naps and otherwise failed to monitor Epstein, then falsified records after his death to make it appear they’d been doing their jobs. There’s your conspiracy.

It’s about timeGoogle and Clayton-based Ascension Health last year secretly entered an agreement to data-mine the medical records of millions of Americans without telling them. If there was ever a situation crying out for congressional investigation, this is it. Now House Democrats are doing just that.

This was part of Google’s attempt to edge into the lucrative health care sector. The search-engine giant wanted to use medical records to create artificial intelligence tools to improve clinical effectiveness. So far, so good. The problem is, the data includes names and other identifying information without the knowledge of patients or doctors.

The two companies insist they were just acting in the best interests of medicine. Perhaps, but then why keep this a secret until The Wall Street Journal exposed it? The answer is clear: They know Americans have had it with their personal information being treated like a corporate asset. The congressional probe is long overdue.