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Today’s News: January 31, 2020

World News

China’s Viral Death Toll Hits Grim New High as World Health Agency Declares a Global Crisis

Newsmax – The World Health Organization declared the outbreak sparked by a new virus in China that has spread to more than a dozen countries a global emergency after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week, including the record number of deaths in 24 hours reported Friday.

China counted 9,692 confirmed cases with a death toll of 213, including 43 new fatalities. The vast majority of the cases have been in Hubei province and its provincial capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. No deaths have been reported outside China.

The U.N. health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

China first informed WHO about cases of the new virus in late December. Eighteen other countries have since reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

WHO Orders Countries Not to Engage in “Stigma” or Discrimination” in Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

Mass movement of people more important than preventing a global pandemic.

Infowars – Despite declaring a global health emergency, the World Health Organization has ordered countries not to engage in “stigma” or “discrimination” in their handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

In their official statement declaring the emergency, the WHO stressed that they are not recommending “any travel or trade restriction based on the current information available.”

This despite the fact that numerous countries have closed their borders with China and pilots and flight attendants in America are demanding an immediate halt to all flights out of China.

Instead, the WHO appears to rank the threat posed by profiling above that of preventing a pandemic.

“Countries are cautioned against actions that promote stigma or discrimination, in line with the principles of Article 3 of the IHR,” said the organization in a statement.

At the end of their statement, the WHO again insisted that maintaining the “international traffic” of people was essential and should not be interfered with.

At Least Two-Thirds of China Economy to Stay Shut Next Week

Bloomberg – More than a dozen Chinese provinces announced an extension of the current Lunar New Year holiday by more than a week as the nation attempts to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus that has killed hundreds of people and sickened thousands.

Fourteen provinces and cities have said businesses need not start operations until at least the second week of February. They accounted for almost 69% of China’s gross domestic product in 2019, according to Bloomberg calculations.

All the key eastern manufacturing provinces have extended the holiday. They include Guangdong, home to the tech city of Shenzhen across the border from Hong Kong; Shanghai, home to China’s largest port and a newly-built Tesla Inc. plant; as well as Jiangsu, where Nike shoes are manufactured. Henan in central China, which has a large Foxconn plant making iPhones, also announced the extended break.

The extension come on top of other measures including quarantining whole cities that are set to disrupt supply chains and logistics, prompting economists to expect that this virus will deal a more severe blow to China’s economy in the near term than the effect of the SARS outbreak in 2003.

CLAIM: CHINA SECRETLY BURNING BODIES – World health officials, back from a visit to Beijing, expressed great concern that a dangerous new virus was spreading between people outside of China, even as the number of illnesses continue to grow dramatically inside that Asian nation.

The new virus has now infected more people in China than were sickened during the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. On Wednesday, the number of cases jumped to 5974, surpassing the 5327 people diagnosed with SARS.

The death toll, which stood at 132 on Wednesday, is lower than the 348 people who died in China from SARS.

Doubts have been raised about the official death toll, however, with claims Chinese authorities have been cremating bodies in secret.

Coronavirus drone army deployed to spray disinfectant across China cities

The Sun – China has deployed an army of drones to disperse disinfectant over villages and cities in the latest attempt to combat the spread of coronavirus.

At least 213 people have died from the killer disease since it was first contracted from a market in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province.

Coronavirus: Thousands allowed off cruise ship after scare

BBC – Six thousand people on board a cruise ship in Italy have been allowed to disembark after health officials said a Chinese passenger who had symptoms of coronavirus had tested negative.

The 54-year-old as well as her husband were held in isolation on the ship but tests confirmed she was not infected.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a global health emergency.

The death toll from the outbreak has risen to 170 in China.

The Costa Smeralda cruise ship docked in the port of Civitavecchia, north of Rome. The woman who was suspected of being infected had reportedly flown from Hong Kong to join the cruise, and broke out in a fever while on board.

Samples were taken to Rome’s Spallanzani hospital, which specialises in infectious diseases, and returned negative, Italy’s health ministry said.

Civitavecchia’s mayor had asked authorities to prevent people from disembarking until medical tests had been carried out. Late on Thursday, passengers began getting off.

In a separate development, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed the first two cases of the virus in the country, involving two Chinese tourists, and stopped all flights between Italy and China.

We’re Off!’: Brexit Party Leaves EU for Last Time, Carrying Union Jack ‘Home’

Breitbart – Brexit Party MEPs have left the European Union’s parliament for the last time, carrying the Union Jack “home”.

Speaking outside of the European Parliament building in Brussels on Friday, veteran Brexiteer, former Conservative MP, and Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe said: “Today we celebrate our independence: our ability to control our own laws, our own trade deals, our own borders.

“We believe that Britain can now go forward into a future, rejoicing. For the MEPs leaving here today, our duty is done, our harvest is home, and now we’re off!”

Farage to Breitbart: Brexit a Historic Day for United Kingdom, Europe, and the Western World

Breitbart – Brexit leader Nigel Farage has hailed Brexit Day as a time to celebrate, but noted much work remains to be done and vowed he would be sticking around to hold the Prime Minister to his word.

Speaking to Breitbart News Network Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow on the Breitbart News Daily show on Sirius XM on Brexit Eve, Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage reflected on the truly historic events of Friday 31st 2020, as after almost 50 years the United Kingdom breaks free from “Project Europe”.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

US Reports 1st Case of Person-to-Person Spread of Coronavirus

Newsmax – Health officials Thursday reported the first U.S. case of person-to-person spread of the new virus from China.

The man is married to the Chicago woman who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak. There have been cases reported of the infectious virus spreading to others in a household or workplace in China and elsewhere.

The new case is the sixth reported in the United States. The other five were travelers who developed the illness after returning to the U.S. from China. The latest patient had not been in China.

The Chicago woman returned from central China on Jan. 13, then last week went to a hospital with symptoms and was diagnosed with the viral illness. She and her husband, both in their 60s, are hospitalized.

Experts have said they expected additional cases, and that at least some limited spread of the disease in the United States was likely. Health officials think the new virus spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

Head of Harvard’s chemistry department arrested for lying about work with China

Charles Lieber allegedly misled Harvard, the DoD, and NIH

The Verge – The head of Harvard’s chemistry and chemical biology department, Charles Lieber, was charged Tuesday with making false statements about his involvement with China’s program to recruit foreign researchers. Lieber’s contract with the program, Thousand Talents, afforded him a monthly salary of up to $50,000 and annual living expenses of more than $150,000 over three years, according to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint against Lieber unsealed on Tuesday. He was also given more than $1.5 million by the Chinese government and the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) to set up a lab and conduct research at the university.

Lieber is one of the most prestigious scientists yet to be swept up in the FBI’s investigations into scientists stealing research for other countries, most of which have involved China. There are at least 180 investigations looking into intellectual property theft at 71 institutions across the US, The New York Times reported last November. The Thousand Talents program, which aims to bring in leading scientists who “can enhance China’s high-tech industries and emerging disciplines” has been a focus of scrutiny.

Lieber is one of Harvard’s most distinguished professors and a leader in nanoscience and nanotechnology research. He allegedly signed an agreement to work with WUT on behalf of Harvard to conduct research and development of nano-wired lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles — an agreement he didn’t have the authority to sign, according to the affidavit. The affidavit also alleges that Lieber misrepresented his work with WUT through the Thousand Talents program to Harvard and lied to the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health. The DoD and NIH both fund Lieber’s research group at Harvard. To receive funding, Lieber’s research group is required to disclose foreign collaborations and support.

Warren pledges ‘young trans person’ will pick her Secretary of Education

American Mirror – Senator Elizabeth Warren today laid out her process for nominating a new Secretary of Education if elected, providing a glimpse into her educational priorities ahead of the first Democratic primary contest next week.

The deciding factor, Warren said, will be the recommendation of a “young trans person” she tasks with interviewing potential nominees.

Warren explained how it will work during a stop at the NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids.

“For my Secretary of Education, the first, it has to be someone who’s taught in a public school,” Warren told the crowd as she raised her right arm for applause. “Hello!

“And part two, because it came from a young trans person who asked about welcoming community, I said it starts with the Secretary of Education, who has a lot to do with where we spend our money, with what gets advanced in our public schools, with what the standards are,” she continued.

“And I said, I’m going to have a Secretary of Education that this young trans person interviews, on my behalf, and only if this person believes that our … Secretary of Education nominee is committed to creating a welcoming environment, a safe environment, and a full educational curriculum for everyone, will that person actually be advanced to be Secretary of Education,” Warren said with another fist pump.

Folks online were not impressed.

Hillary REFUSES to be served legal papers in $50M defamation row with Tulsi Gabbard over Clinton’s claim the presidential hopeful is a Russian ‘asset’

Daily Mail – Hillary Clinton and her aides have refused to be served with legal papers in a defamation dispute with Tulsi Gabbard, it has been claimed.

Gabbard’s lawyers say they were turned away by the Secret Service and later by Clinton’s attorney when they tried to deliver the paperwork.

The Democratic presidential hopeful is suing Clinton for $50million over an interview last year in which the 2016 nominee suggested that Gabbard was the ‘favorite of the Russians’.

Gabbard’s attorney Brian Dunne told the New York Post that Clinton was ‘so intimidated by Tulsi Gabbard that she won’t accept service of process’.

Dunne, the attorney, said Gabbard’s representatives had tried to deliver the papers in person at the Clinton residence in Chappaqua, New York.

However, they were allegedly turned away by Secret Service agents who protect the home.

Gabbard’s camp says the agents directed them to Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall, who said he could not accept the papers on her behalf.

Dunne said Gabbard’s team was now considering its next move.

Evening News Spin: 100% Negative on Trump Defense, 95% Positive Dems

NewsBusters – Before the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump was gaveled into session, Chief Justice John Roberts presided over a swearing-in ceremony where all 100 senators pledged to be impartial jurors. The liberal media zeroed in on that pledge and decried Senate Republicans who seemed to be siding with the President.

But a Media Research Center study of broadcast evening news coverage of the opening arguments of both sides, found ABC, CBS, and NBC did not live up to the standard they demanded of Republicans. They gave Democrats double the airtime and showered their arguments with mostly praise, while expressing only criticism of the President’s legal team.

Between Wednesday, January 22, when Democratic House impeachment managers launched their opening arguments, and Tuesday, January 28, when the President’s defense team rested, evening newscast reporters and anchors made a total of 34 evaluative statements about the merits and effectiveness of both sides.

Democratic impeachment managers received a total of 21 evaluative statements from ABC, CBS, and NBC journalists. Of that total, 95 percent of those (20) touted their efforts and presentations, which means only one of their evaluative comments were negative. ABC’s World News Tonight had eight positive comments, CBS Evening News had five, and NBC Nightly News seven. NBC had the lone negative comment.

Could DEMOCRATS vote to acquit Donald Trump? Moderate senators in spotlight

Daily Mail – Four Democratic senators are being watched as possible votes to acquit Donald Trump, which would give the president the bipartisan clearance he has been hoping for in his trial.

The spotlight shines on them as the Senate prepares to deliver Trump’s fate a vote that could come in the late hours on Friday night.

The four lawmakers – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Doug Jones of Alabama and Gary Peters of Michigan – hail from states that supported Trump in the 2016 election.

And just one of them voting in favor of Trump would give the president a coveted talking point to crow about. The president often boasts about the two House Democrats who crossed party lines to vote against the articles of impeachment.

But how any of the four will go remains a wildcard factor as the Senate speeds toward its final deliberations.

Economy & Business

What’s Next in Trade Now That Trump Has Signed USMCA?

The New American – Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with Rush Limbaugh on Thursday, praised President Donald Trump’s signing this week of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), calling it “the largest trade deal in American history.”

While the USMCA is receiving almost universal praise in the national media, and has garnered strong support from both political parties, little to nothing has been said publicly, by either media or by politicians, about what should be a very serious question: What will be the long-term effect of the USMCA on America’s national sovereignty?

One would think that this would be an obvious question, considering that in the same week that President Trump was handed his supposed political “victory” of USMCA, discussions were already under way about a potential trade deal between the United States and the United Kingdom. After all, as the United States was entering into an entangling economic alliance with its neighboring nations to the north and to the south, the British were just exiting from the European Union.

The reasons that the U.K. wanted out of the EU should have given Americans, from President Trump down to the average American worker and business owner, pause. The EU began as a seemingly-benign trade deal in Europe among six nations, covering coal and steel. Created after World War II to regulate their industrial production under a centralized authority, it was formally established in 1951 by the Treaty of Paris. From that, it evolved into the European Common Market, and the European Economic Community, each time with increasingly formal economic integration, leading ultimately to the present EU.

U.S. and others tighten curbs on travel to China, virus toll hits 213

Reuters – The United States, Japan and others tightened travel curbs to virus-hit China on Friday while businesses struggled with supply problems from an epidemic that has infected nearly 10,000 people and been declared a global emergency.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross claims coronavirus will help ‘accelerate the return of jobs to the U.S.’ after Donald Trump is given a situation room on the growing crisis

Daily Mail – Wilbur Ross said Thursday that he doesn’t want to do a ‘victory lap’ on economic growth over coronavirus, which originated in China, but proclaims it will help bring more jobs back to America.

‘I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America – some to U.S., probably some to Mexico, as well’ the Secretary of Commerce told Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Thursday morning.

The 82-year-old administration official added that the virus gives businesses ‘another thing to consider,’ and claims it could accelerate the return of some factories to the U.S. and Mexico.

The Fox host was quick to agree with Ross on his take on the deadly virus.

Shares struggle for footing after virus-battered week

Reuters – World shares were heading for their biggest weekly losses since August on Friday and oil and metals markets were showing even more brutal damage, as investors worried over the fallout from China’s coronavirus epidemic.

Farm bankruptcies jump 20% despite federal aid

FB – While well below historical highs, Chapter 12 family farm bankruptcies in 2019 increased by nearly 20% from the previous year, according to recently released data from the U.S. Courts. Compared with figures from over the last decade, the 20% increase trails only 2010, the year following the Great Recession, when Chapter 12 bankruptcies rose 33%.

During the 2019 calendar year there were 595 Chapter 12 family farm bankruptcies, up nearly 100 filings from 2018 and the highest level since 2011’s 637 Chapter 12 filings. Given that there are slightly more than 2 million farms in the U.S., the 2019 bankruptcy data reveals a bankruptcy rate of approximately 2.95 bankruptcies per 10,000 farms, slightly below the rate of 2.99 filings per 10,000 farms in 2011.

During the fourth quarter of 2019, there were 147 Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings, which was up 14% from the prior year but down 8% from the third quarter of 2019. On a year-over-year basis, Chapter 12 filings have increased for five consecutive quarters. The continued increase in Chapter 12 filings was not unanticipated given the multi-year downturn in the farm economy, record farm debt, headwinds on the trade front and recent changes to the bankruptcy rules in 2019’s Family Farmer Relief Act, which raised the debt ceiling to $10 million

Energy & Environment

Unprecedented Threat to Food Security

WSJ – Africa’s Worst Locust Plague in Decades Threatens Millions.  U.N. sounds alarm as swarms consume crops in five countries and threaten to spread further.

State of emergency is declared for ACT as bushfires rage amid horror weekend conditions 

Daily Mail – A state of emergency has been declared for Canberra for the first time since 2003 as the ACT faces its biggest bushfire threat in 17 years.

An extreme heatwave is sweeping across Australia on Friday, with high temperatures and dry winds expected to spark more bushfires over the weekend.

The searing heat is expected to bring severe conditions to parts of New South Wales, Canberra and Victoria, where more than 80 blazes are still burning.

A state of emergency was declared for the ACT on Friday as the Orroral Valley Fire, which is burning in the Namadgi National Park, was upgraded to watch and act.

Science & Technology

An AI Epidemiologist Sent the First Warnings of the Wuhan Virus

The BlueDot algorithm scours news reports and airline ticketing data to predict the spread of diseases like those linked to the flu outbreak in China.

Wired – On January 9, the World Health Organization notified the public of a flu-like outbreak in China: a cluster of pneumonia cases had been reported in Wuhan, possibly from vendors’ exposure to live animals at the Huanan Seafood Market. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had gotten the word out a few days earlier, on January 6. But a Canadian health monitoring platform had beaten them both to the punch, sending word of the outbreak to its customers on December 31.

BlueDot uses an AI-driven algorithm that scours foreign-language news reports, animal and plant disease networks, and official proclamations to give its clients advance warning to avoid danger zones like Wuhan.

Speed matters during an outbreak, and tight-lipped Chinese officials do not have a good track record of sharing information about diseases, air pollution, or natural disasters. But public health officials at WHO and the CDC have to rely on these very same health officials for their own disease monitoring. So maybe an AI can get there faster. “We know that governments may not be relied upon to provide information in a timely fashion,” says Kamran Khan, BlueDot’s founder and CEO. “We can pick up news of possible outbreaks, little murmurs or forums or blogs of indications of some kind of unusual events going on.”

Khan says the algorithm doesn’t use social media postings because that data is too messy. But he does have one trick up his sleeve: access to global airline ticketing data that can help predict where and when infected residents are headed next. It correctly predicted that the virus would jump from Wuhan to Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, and Tokyo in the days following its initial appearance.

Khan, who was working as a hospital infectious disease specialist in Toronto during the SARS epidemic of 2003, dreamt of finding a better way to track diseases. That virus started in provincial China and spread to Hong Kong and then to Toronto, where it killed 44 people. “There’s a bit of deja vu right now,” Khan says about the coronavirus outbreak today. “In 2003, I watched the virus overwhelm the city and cripple the hospital. There was an enormous amount of mental and physical fatigue, and I thought, ‘Let’s not do this again.’”

After testing out several predictive programs, Khan launched BlueDot in 2014 and raised $9.4 million in venture capital funding. The company now has 40 employees—physicians and programmers who devise the disease surveillance analytic program, which uses natural-language processing and machine learning techniques to sift through news reports in 65 languages, along with airline data and reports of animal disease outbreaks. “What we have done is use natural language processing and machine learning to train this engine to recognize whether this is an outbreak of anthrax in Mongolia versus a reunion of the heavy metal band Anthrax,” Kahn says.

Once the automated data-sifting is complete, human analysis takes over, Khan says. Epidemiologists check that the conclusions make sense from a scientific standpoint, and then a report is sent to government, business, and public health clients.

BlueDot’s reports are then sent to public health officials in a dozen countries (including the US and Canada), airlines, and frontline hospitals where infected patients might end up. BlueDot doesn’t sell their data to the general public, but they are working on it, Khan says.

The firm isn’t the first to look for an end-run around public health officials, but they are hoping to do better than Google Flu Trends, which was euthanized after underestimating the severity of the 2013 flu season by 140 percent. BlueDot successfully predicted the location of the Zika outbreak in South Florida in a publication in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Robert Kennedy, Jr. Assembles Legal Team to Sue FCC over 5G and Wireless Health Guidelines

Health Impact News – Robert Kennedy, Jr., Chairman of Children’s Health Defense (CHD) has committed to be proactive on the concerns regarding excessive exposure of our children to 5G and wireless radiation.

To fulfill this promise, CHD will be submitting a lawsuit on January 31st against the FCC for its December 4, 2019 decision to decline to review its 1996 guidelines, and for its determination that the guidelines are protective of human health.

The Dec. 4 determination provides a rare opportunity to sue the FCC and expose its disregard for public health that has been causing so many injuries and deaths, including among children. We will be representing the many children who have been injured. This is the opportunity we have been waiting for; a successful lawsuit on this will be a game changer.

Amazon Software Engineer Calls for Recall of Ring Devices, Citing Security Breaches

The New American – An Amazon software engineer is calling for the shutdown of Ring, Amazon’s smart doorbell and surveillance device, explaining that the service is incompatible with privacy.

Max Eliaser, the Amazon employee insisting that the connected Ring doorbells and cameras should be shelved, posted an explanation on Medium. “The deployment of connected home security cameras that allow footage to be queried centrally are simply not compatible with a free society. The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck. Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back,” he wrote.

Eliaser isn’t alone in raising a warning voice about the potential threats to privacy posed by the popular doorbell camera. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a report revealing substantial breaches to the privacy of users of the Amazon-owned “smart” technology. EFF’s report showed the smart device is a lot savvier than users likely realize:

Ring doorbell app for Android found it to be packed with third-party trackers sending out a plethora of customers’ personally identifiable information (PII). Four main analytics and marketing companies were discovered to be receiving information such as the names, private IP addresses, mobile network carriers, persistent identifiers, and sensor data on the devices of paying customers.


Never Too Late: New Study Finds Lungs ‘Magically’ Repair Themselves After Quitting Smoking, No Matter the Age

Good News Network – This “exciting” new study says that protective cells in the lungs of ex-smokers could explain why quitting smoking dramatically reduces the risk of developing lung cancer.

Cancer Research UK-funded researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and UCL have discovered that compared to current smokers, people who had stopped smoking had more genetically healthy lung cells, which have a much lower risk of developing into cancer.

The study shows that quitting smoking could do much more than just stopping further damage to the lungs. Researchers believe it could also allow new, healthy cells to actively replenish the lining of our airways. This shift in proportion of healthy to damaged cells could help protect against cancer.

“People who have smoked heavily for 30, 40 or more years often say to me that it’s too late to stop smoking—the damage is already done,” said the study’s joint senior author Dr. Peter Campbell from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

“What is so exciting about our study is that it shows that it’s never too late to quit—some of the people in our study had smoked more than 15,000 packs of cigarettes over their life, but within a few years of quitting, many of the cells lining their airways showed no evidence of damage from tobacco.”

He later told BBC News that he and the research team “were totally unprepared” over the seemingly “magical” occurrence of the airway regeneration.

Diets High In Fruits & Veggies Might Lower Risk Of Alzheimer’s

Mind Body Green – It’s no secret that eating fruits and vegetables can have positive health benefits, from encouraging exercise to decreasing the risk of cardiovascular death. New research has also linked the nutrient-packed foods to a decreased risk of one neurological disease.

A study published in Neurology found diets high in the antioxidant flavonol might reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia later in life.

Flavonols are derived from phytochemicals found in plants, which have anti-inflammatory and disease-fighting properties. Now, evidence suggests they might be able to delay the development of Alzheimer’s dementia.

How did they find this?

Researchers analyzed more than 920 people who were around 81 years old without Alzheimer’s dementia. The participants filled out a survey on their diets and how often they ate certain foods. To control for dietary factors, they were also asked how often they spend doing physical activity, reading, or playing board games.

Based on the flavonol reported in their diets, participants were divided into five groups. The group who consumed the least amount ate a little more than 5 mg per day, and the group who consumed the most ate about 15.3 mg.

Participants were followed for up to six years, and in that time 220 developed Alzheimer’s dementia. The people who consumed the most flavonol were 48% less likely to develop the disease.

These results remained the same regardless of genetic predisposition or other lifestyle factors, proving that diets rich in flavonoids might have a direct effect in reducing Alzheimer’s.

Just 1 Percent of Doctors Prescribe Nearly Half of Opioids in US

Newsmax- Nearly half of all opioid doses and more than a quarter of all opioid prescriptions in the United States come from 1% of health care providers, a new study says.

The authors said this suggests that efforts to reduce overuse of prescription opioid painkillers should not focus on strict limits for all doctors but on a small percentage.