Pharma Execs Arrested in Shockingly Organized Scheme to Overprescribe Notorious Opioid

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—the drug that killed Prince—rose by nearly 75 percent in 2015. On the same day, federal prosecutors in Massachusetts announced the arrest of six former employees, including a former CEO and two former vice presidents, of the Phoenix-based and NASDAQ-traded fentanyl producer Insys Therapeutics. The individuals are charged with bribing doctors and otherwise conspiring to induce the overprescription of a fentanyl product called Subsys.

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Can A Russian-Funded Cable Network Actually Promote Free Press In The U.S.?

Sophia A. McClennen, Pennsylvania State University

With the recently announced shutdown of Al Jazeera America, the alternative cable news scene is in flux.

Launched as a corrective to the politicized and spectacle-heavy programming of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, Al Jazeera America positioned itself as a fact-based, unbiased news source. Even though the network won awards for reporting, the Qatari government-funded channel suffered from the public perception that it had an anti-Western, pro-Islamic stance. Amid lowering gas prices and reports of other financial woes, the channel announced it would shut down its U.S. operations at the end of April.

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Why So Many Americans Think They're #Blessed

Joseph P. Laycock, Texas State University

Last month, my colleagues and I were moved by a beautiful and tragic New York Times editorial by Kate Bowler, a religion professor from Duke Divinity School who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

Bowler recently wrote a book – Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel – that has been hailed as the first monograph tracing the history of the prosperity gospel in America. The prosperity gospel, Bowler explains, is “the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith.”

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Are We In The Midst Of A Public Space Crisis?

Zenovia Toloudi, Dartmouth College

Public space that encourages dialogue and welcomes everyone – regardless of age, wealth, race, religion or sexual orientation – is a core aspect of democracy. As artist and social activist Krzysztof Wodizko put it, these places exist for both “the privileged and the unwanted.”

But few of today’s public spaces adequately prioritize this mission.

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Rival Fantasies: Dungeons & Dragons Players & Their Religious Critics Actually Have A Lot In Common

Joseph P. Laycock, Texas State University

Religion-fueled conspiracy theories continue to pervade our culture.

Today, some claim energy drinks are Satanic plots. Others argue that shape-shifting reptiles secretly rule the world. And musicians from Kanye West to Katy Perry have been accused of conducting occult Illuminati rituals disguised as harmless stage performances.

But one of the strangest – and most persistent – conspiracy theories in American culture is the claim that the popular role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is actually a recruiting tool for Satanism.

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Facebook's Problem Is More Complicated Than Fake News

R. Kelly Garrett, The Ohio State University

In the wake of Donald Trump’s unexpected victory, many questions have been raised about Facebook’s role in the promotion of inaccurate and highly partisan information during the presidential race and whether this fake news influenced the election’s outcome.

A few have downplayed Facebook’s impact, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said that it is “extremely unlikely” that fake news could have swayed the election. But questions about the social network’s political significance merit more than passing attention.

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