Category Archives: Health Care

Tourists shocked by what they see on San Francisco streets

san francisco

The streets of San Francisco…

Did nobody bother to Google the city they were about to visit? Before you make a trip to San Francisco, see the following:

From SF Gate: It’s something many San Franciscans see on a daily basis, outside their homes or offices and during their commutes. For better or for worse, locals are used to walking by crime scenes, have seen open injection drug use, and have witnessed mental health episodes firsthand.

But when a tourist lands at SFO, guidebook in hand, that reality can be shocking.

“Is this normal or am I in a ‘bad part of town?’ Just walked past numerous homeless off their faces, screaming and running all over the sidewalk near Twitter HQ and then a murder scene. Wife is scared to leave hotel now,” wrote an Australian Reddit user Wednesday.

That person isn’t alone. On Sunday, another tourist from Canada asked the San Francisco Reddit community, “Why is this city so terrifying?”

“I’d been there for probably less than a day, just wandering around the center, and already seen more than enough poverty and suffering to cause me wanting to leave desperately,” wrote another visitor from London in 2017. “I saw many people talking to themselves, or to things that weren’t there. Even in a Macy’s, and there weren’t any police officers to help them or do anything about it.”

Anyone who has hosted friends or family from out of town may have had to field similar questions.

Just those three Reddit posts garnered more than 650 comments, many of which were helpful suggestions (other neighborhoods to explore, safety tips, and more).

But the city’s own visitors’ bureau is struggling to come up with a good explanation for horrified tourists.

The streets are filthy. There’s trash everywhere. It’s disgusting,” Joe D’Alessandro, president of S.F. Travel told the Chronicle’s Heather Knight in April. “I’ve never seen any other city like this — the homelessness, dirty streets, drug use on the streets, smash-and-grabs.”

“You see things on the streets that are just not humane,” Kevin Carroll, executive director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco, also told Knight. “People come into hotels saying, ‘What is going on out there?’ They’re just shocked. … People say, ‘I love your city, I love your restaurants, but I’ll never come back.'”

DCG

US diplomats in China afflicted with same mysterious illness as in Cuba

On July 20, 2015, three months after the Obama administration removed Cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, the United States and Cuba normalized their relations by reestablishing diplomatic relations and reopening embassies in their respective capitals, Washington , D.C. and Havana.

Beginning in late 2016, U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba, complained about neurological symptoms, including hearing loss, nausea, headaches and balance disorders. Some U.S. government employees had their assignments cut short due to the severity of the symptoms. In October 2017, the State Department ordered non-essential embassy personnel and the families of all staff to leave Havana. Some Canadian embassy employees also reported headaches and hearing loss.

The Trump administration accused the Cuban government, but Havana flatly rejected instigating the attacks and suggested the attacks might be from a third party.

FBI and Cuban investigators couldn’t find any devices or anything suspicious on surveillance tape. After months of investigation, the Trump administration concluded that the American diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences.

The AP obtained a recording of what U.S. embassy workers in Havana heard, akin to very high-pitched metallic crickets.

Now the same mystery illness has afflicted U.S. diplomats stationed in Guangzhou, southern China.

Edmund DeMarche reports for Fox News, June 6, 2018, that a group of U.S. diplomats stationed in China have been brought back to the states for evaluation after being inflicted by a mystery illness resembling the brain injuries previously suffered by 24 U.S. government employees in Cuba.

The New York Times reported that at least two U.S. employees removed from China experienced unusual noises while there. U.S. officials are suspicious that China or Russia may be involved.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee last month that the symptoms being reported in China were “entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba.” Pompeo said the precise nature of the injuries suffered has not been determined and promised a “multi-agency response to the unexplained health incidents.”

~Eowyn

Frustrated AMA adopts sweeping policies to cut gun violence

molon labe

A bunch of feel-good policies that do nothing but infringe upon our Constitutional rights.

From Yahoo:  (Chicago [oh, the irony starts right there]) – With frustration mounting over lawmakers’ inaction on gun control, the American Medical Association on Tuesday pressed for a ban on assault weapons and came out against arming teachers as a way to fight what it calls a public health crisis.

At its annual policymaking meeting, the nation’s largest physicians group bowed to unprecedented demands from doctor-members to take a stronger stand on gun violence — a problem the organizations says is as menacing as a lethal infectious disease.

The action comes against a backdrop of recurrent school shootings, everyday street violence in the nation’s inner cities, and rising U.S. suicide rates.

“We as physicians are the witnesses to the human toll of this disease,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine specialist at Brown University, said at the meeting.

AMA delegates voted to adopt several of nearly a dozen gun-related proposals presented by doctor groups that are part of the AMA’s membership. They agreed to:

  • Support any bans on the purchase or possession of guns and ammunition by people under 21.
  • Back laws that would require licensing and safety courses for gun owners and registration of all firearms.
  • Press for legislation that would allow relatives of suicidal people or those who have threatened imminent violence to seek court-ordered removal of guns from the home.
  • Encourage better training for physicians in how to recognize patients at risk for suicide.
  • Push to eliminate loopholes in laws preventing the purchase or possession of guns by people found guilty of domestic violence, including expanding such measures to cover convicted stalkers.

Many AMA members are gun owners or supporters, including a doctor from Montana who told delegates of learning to shoot at a firing range in the basement of her middle school as part of gym class. But support for banning assault weapons was overwhelming, with the measure adopted in a 446-99 vote.

“There’s a place to start and this should be it,” Dr. Jim Hinsdale, a San Jose, California, trauma surgeon, said before the vote.

Gun violence is not a new issue for the AMA; it has supported past efforts to ban assault weapons; declared gun violence a public health crisis; backed background checks, waiting periods and better funding for mental health services; and pressed for more research on gun violence prevention.

But Dr. David Barbe, whose one-year term as AMA president ended Tuesday, called the number of related measures on this year’s agenda extraordinary and said recent violence, including the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and the Las Vegas massacre, “spurred a new sense of urgency … while Congress fails to act.”

“It has been frustrating that we have seen so little action from either state or federal legislators,” he said. “The most important audience for our message right now is our legislators, and second most important is the public, because sometimes it requires public pressure on the legislators.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Church attendance reduces suicide risk by half

The recent spate of “celebrity” suicides by hanging — actor Robin Williams in 2014; fashion designer Kate Spade and “celebrity chef” Anthony Bourdain this month — are famous examples of the 25% increase in U.S. suicides since 1999.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documented a steep rise in suicides in the United States between 1994 and 2014, among men and women and in all age groups between 10 and 74. Although women are still less likely than men to commit suicide, the gender suicide-gap is closing. Among women between 45 and 64 — the ages at which women are most likely to kill themselves — the rate of suicide in 2014 dramatically increased 80% from 1999.

Speculations abound about the suicides of Spade and Bourdain:

  • Were they depressed from relationship failures? –Spade and her mouse-mask wearing husband were separated; Bourdain might have been dumped by his satanic girlfriend Asia Argento.
  • Was it a case of auto erotic-asphyxiation?
  • Was Bourdain Arkancided (just because he said in a tweet that Hillary Clinton’s operatives harassed him for joining the #MeToo movement against criminally-prosecuted Hellywood mogul Harvey Weinstein?)

There is one thing that Williams, Spade and Bourdain all had in common: They did not have the Light of Christ. Williams and Bourdain were Jews; Spade, who graduated from a Catholic all-girls high school, was not observant.

St. Paul said in his Letter to the Ephesians 6:10-16:

Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

A study by a team of researchers led by Tyler J. VanderWeele of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, confirms the correctness of St. Paul’s injunction.

Published in the August 2016 issue of JAMA Psychiatry, “Association Between Religious Service Attendance and Lower Suicide Rates Among US Women,” the study found that mmidst the wave of despair and suicide, one group of women are bucking the national trend.

Melissa Healy reports for the Los Angeles Times that, using data from 1996 to 2010, the study found the following stunning facts:

  1. Compared with women who never participated in religious services, women who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide. In a study population made up of 89,708 nurses aged 30 to 55, and dominated by women who identified themselves as either Catholic or Protestant, the suicide rate observed was about half that for U.S. women as a whole — only 36 of them committed suicide at some point in the course of 15 years.
  2. Which church, Protestant or Catholic, matters. Although Protestant women who worshiped weekly at church were far less likely to take their own lives than women who seldom or never went to church, Catholic women were even less likely — seven times less likely to commit suicide than Protestant women.
  3. How often one attends church also matters: Among especially devout Catholic women, suicides were non-existent. There was not a single suicide among the 6,999 Catholic women who said they attended Mass more than once a week.
  4. It’s not whether one is Christian; it’s about church attendance: The suicide-prevention effect of religion was clearly not a simple matter of group identity: Self-identified Catholics who never attended mass committed suicide nearly as often as did women of any religion who were not active worshipers.

The study’s authors concluded that church attendance is “a form of meaningful social participation” that buffers women against loneliness and isolation — both factors that are strongly implicated in depression and suicide — and that “Religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that psychiatrists and clinicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate.”

Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, director of the medical ethics program at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, and co-author of The Catholic Guide to Depression, said the lengthy duration of the 2016 study — women were asked about their religious attendance every two years starting in 1996 and then followed until 2010 — “suggests a causal relationship between religious practice and a significantly lower risk of suicide, especially among Catholics“:

“Religious convictions and practices can help people foster a sense of hope, even in the midst of major crises or adversities. Religious faith can help people find a sense of meaning and purpose even in suffering. It’s not our role to ‘prescribe’ religion… or proselytize to our patients. It is safe to assume that religious conviction and faith must be genuine and sincere if they are to provide the mental and physical health benefits that several studies have suggested. [But if patients are inclined to explore religion or spirituality,] doctors can encourage patients to explore such activities confident that religious practices will likely not harm, and may indeed, help, their patient’s mental health.”

The 2016 study confirms and adds to recent research on the potential benefits of religiosity, contrary to Sigmund Freud’s sneering denunciation of religious belief as the “universal obsessional neurosis of humanity.”

See also:

~Eowyn

Lawyer for Houston serial killer Danny Bible says he’s “too sick” to execute

danny bible

Rapist and murderer Danny Bible

Firing squad works for me.

From Houston Chronicle: Lawyers for Houston-area serial killer Danny Bible filed a civil rights suit Friday alleging the aging death row inmate is in such poor health that any attempts to execute him will end in a gruesome, botched procedure.

The so-called “ice pick killer” has Parkinson’s, bad veins and a slew of other medical conditions that raise the possibility of a prolonged and painful lethal injection process his lawyers argue could violate the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The 66-year-old is scheduled to die on June 27.

“Texas will almost certainly join Alabama and Ohio and add itself to the unconscionable list of botched executions in America,” his attorney Jeremy Schepers told the Chronicle.

“Mr. Bible is an elderly, frail man who has been confined to a wheelchair for the last 15 years and his health is rapidly deteriorating,” he continued. “Recent medical evaluations confirm that his veins are inaccessible and unsuitable for placing an IV. Any attempts to carry out the execution will amount to torture, cause excruciating pain, and violate his constitutional rights.”

Bible’s bid for reprieve comes months after a high-profile botch that forced officials in Alabama to call off the execution of Doyle Hamm, a 61-year-old death row prisoner with lymphoma. In February, a lethal injection team there spent hours poking the condemned killer’s arms, legs and groin to find a usable vein before ultimately giving up as the midnight deadline approached.

Previously, Ohio saw similarly botched procedures in the attempted execution of Romell Broom in 2009 and Alva Campbell in 2017. Schepers writes that Bible is in worse health than Hamm, Campbell or Broom.

The Texas lethal injection preparation – a part of the process media and witnesses are not permitted to observe – involves inserting two IV lines, while the prisoner is strapped to a gurney.

But lying down causes Bible shortness of breath, and his lawyers argue that he would “likely be choking and gasping for air” during attempts to hook up IVs that may be “futile” anyway.

Bible’s legal claim, which lays out a “galaxy of medical issues” in detail over the course of 90 pages, names Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials and “anonymous execution team members” among its numerous defendants.

This isn’t the first time a Texas death row prisoner has fought his sentence by questioning the lethal injection process. Thomas “Bart” Whitaker – a Fort Bend man eventually spared by Gov. Greg Abbott – was one of three inmates behind a years-long suit alleging the drugs Texas uses could cause undue suffering.

And earlier this year, hours before his February execution, John Battaglia unsuccessfully tried winning a stay by raising concerns about two allegedly botched executions his lawyers said were caused by too-old drugs.

Both of those cases focused on the possibility that the drugs themselves would cause suffering, a claim that could more generally apply to any death row prisoner. Bible’s argument focuses more narrowly on the possibility that he, specifically, is unfit to execute.

“To my knowledge this is the first suit of its kind in Texas,” said lethal injection expert and death penalty lawyer Maurie Levin, who worked on the Whitaker and Battaglia cases.

In Bible’s case, his lawyers suggest that an alternative method – firing squad or nitrogen gas – would decrease the risk of suffering.

Bible was initially sent to death row in 2003, more than two decades after the crime that landed him there.

A former drifter, Bible’s lengthy string of violence dates back to at least 1979. That May, a passerby found the bloodied, half-naked body of Inez Deaton along the slope of a Houston bayou. She’d been stabbed 11 times with an ice pick before her killer posed her corpse by the water.

For nearly two decades, Deaton’s slaying went unsolved – but Bible’s violent streak continued.

In the years that followed, Bible terrorized women in the Midwest, once setting his girlfriend’s car on fire because he didn’t like her haircut. After he returned to Texas and settled west of Fort Worth, he murdered his sister-in-law Tracy Powers and her infant son Justin. Then, he killed Powers’ roommate, Pam Hudgins, and left her body hanging from a roadside fence.

Following those killings, he fled to Montana, where he kidnapped a woman and raped an 11-year-old girl, according to court records.

Eventually, he was caught and in 1984 he pleaded guilty to Hudgins’ murder. He was sentenced to 25 years for the killing and 20 years for a Harris County robbery. He was released on parole eight years later, under a since-repealed mandatory supervision law.

While still on parole, he raped and molested multiple young relatives, including a 5-year-old. Then in 1998, he raped Tera Robinson in a Louisiana motel room before stuffing her into a duffel bag when he became enraged that he couldn’t maintain an erection. The woman broke free and called for help.

Bible was eventually caught in Florida, and freely admitted to his crimes under questioning.

Weeks after he was sentenced, Bible narrowly escaped death during a head-on-collision on the way to death row. The officer behind the wheel of the prison transport vehicle, 40-year-old John Bennett, died in the wreck, while Bible ended up in a wheelchair.

In past appeals, Bible’s attorneys have used his deteriorating medical condition to argue against his execution, saying he can’t be a danger in his current state.

Texas has already executed six men this year, including another Houston serial killer, Anthony Shore. Aside from Bible’s, there are seven other death dates on the calendar in Texas.

DCG

Seattle to help the homeless safely inject drugs with medical mobile unit

mobile medical unit

King County’s medical mobile unit

Seattle’s homeless crisis is exacerbated by the fact that the local area politicians and government officials believe that enabling an addiction is part of the solution.

Taxpayers are coughing up MILLIONS of dollars to provide assistance to those in need. Yet many of the homeless don’t want help any help.

The inhabitant of the “tent mansion” near Seattle Center has refused help from the city, choosing instead to live on the street, than follow the rules of a shelter. She said, “We don’t want to change our lifestyle to fit their requirements. We intend to stay here. This is the solution to the homeless problem. We want autonomy, right here.”

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office recently offered to help the homeless at an encampment. They brought in agencies to offer services and help with drug addiction. Out of the 50 campers there only one accepted the assistance.

King County already offers medical mobile units.

Yet Seattle, which recently approved a business “head tax” to solve their homeless crisis, is going ahead with their medical mobile unit. Guess they have to spend their recently-acquired taxpayer dollars somewhere.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle council members are looking to get around the dilemma of where to place a safe injection site by making it mobile. The city is now exploring what Human Services Department spokesperson Meg Olberding describes as a “large mobile medical van.”

The van would be akin to the medical RVs the county and city currently use to serve homeless residents. KIRO 7 reports that they will be much larger, however.  The option is referred to as “fixed-mobile.” A medical van would park at a fixed location, but return to a secure location every night.

“It is an option where we would actually lease or go into an agreement regarding a fixed site, and then with that, we would have a mobile van,” said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health Seattle-King County. “… this is potentially a very large vehicle that we would then house the consumption activity in.”

The mobile van would offer consumption booths and recovery space. According to Q13, the safe injection van would cost about $350,000; along with $1.8 million to get the van set up, and $2.5 million to operate it. Seattle has already set aside some money for a safe injection program and the van could be paid for from those funds.

“Obviously, there will continue to be concerns about the neighborhood, security of the neighborhood, about other activities happening in the neighborhood, so we would want to make sure we provide a safe area, not only for the neighbors but for the individuals who are using as well,” Duchin told the council.

The mobile option faces a similar issue that a fixed site does — where to park it. One thing is clear, the council doesn’t want to wait much longer. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said that she favors purchasing a van. The city would then conduct community outreach for potential locations.

“Every day we don’t move forward, people are at risk for overdose and death, so with that in mind and with this sense of urgency for the third time this year alone that you have heard us express this, I am calling on our mayor and our county as a whole to act with urgency so we can move forward this year,” Mosqueda said. “We have the resources in hand; we have the support from the broad public, and we have data-driven solutions.”

(I have researched the validity of safe injection sites and there is a very mixed reaction as to whether or not they work. One can easily choose the data that supporst their opinion.)

“This is a data-driven, public health harm reduction model that is proven to be effective at saving lives and getting people into treatment,” she said.

The city will spend the next two months considering potential locations to park the van (so much for that “sense of urgency”). Officials favor a private lot, and note that most drug activity happens around SoDo, downtown, and the west side of Capital Hill, according to KIRO 7. The city did consider buying property specifically for the van, but found that it was “cost restrictive” inside Seattle.

Read the whole story here.


Enslaving drug users only perpetuates the cycle. And it keeps the taxpayer money flowing to develop more “solutions.”

DCG

Virginia school board: No such thing as biological male/female genders

Yesterday, DCG published a post on Australia considering a ban on the terms “boy” and “girl” in children’s book.

But it’s not just Australia.

A county school board in the disUnited States of America means to radically overhaul public schools’ sex-education curriculum to say that there is no such thing as birth or biological gender, which means children are not born male or female. Instead, gender is fluid.

The Baphomet is transgender: neither male nor female

Cathy Ruse reports for Family Research Council, May 15, 2018, that public school students in Fairfax County, Virginia, are subjected to 80 hours of “Family Life Education” sex ed — on the kids’ evolving “sexual identity,” the proper handling of contraceptive drugs and devices, and how to give consent for sex.

But Fairfax County’s longtime Democrat-controlled school board is set to take things from bad to worse.

In early May, the school board — whose members include a 9th-grade student in braces — voted enthusiastically for the following changes to the sex-ed curriculum, recommended by a committee of hand-picked sex-ed advisors. Only three board members voted against the changes. The revised curriculum will be thrusted on every student unless their parents specifically say no.

These are the changes:

  1. Teach Fairfax kids they weren’t born male or female. The term “biological sex” will be replaced by the gender-fluid term, “sex assigned at birth.” As one sex-ed advisor explained: “Biological sex is meaningless!”
  2. Teach 7th and 8th grade students to embrace transgender identity, but don’t tell them about the health risks and side-effects of “gender transitioning.”
  3. Teach every high school student about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP — a daily drug regimen for people “at very high risk” of contracting HIV, who are identified by the CDC as men who have sex with men without condoms. But the students will not be told that the FDA has not approved PrEP for children under 18, or that leading AIDs experts warn that PrEP will lead to a public health catastrophe for encouraging risky sex.
  4. Stop telling students about abstinence — that it is the only 100% effective method to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). At the school board meeting, the sex-ed advisors mocked abstinence education.
  5. Teach students how to use every available contraceptive drug, device and cream, without telling them about health risks or side effects.
  6. Strip parents of their right to opt their kids out of an 8th grade lesson on dating and family.
  7. Strip the word “clergy” from the list of trusted adults whom students might consult about their sexual identity concerns.

The full report on the proposed revisions to the sex-ed curriculum is available on Board Docs.

Fairfax County School Board members are elected for 4-year terms; one member represents each of the County’s nine magisterial districts, and three members serve at large. A student representative, selected for a one-year term by the Student Advisory Council, sits with the Board at all public meetings and participates in discussions, but does not vote. School Board members are paid a salary of $32,000 per year. The Chairman is paid an additional $2,000 per year.

Fairfax County School Board will vote on the changes at a school board meeting on June 14. The board is soliciting comments from the public about the proposed changes. The deadline for comments is June 8.

To comment on the proposed changes, email FLEcomments@fcps.edu.

H/t FOTM‘s MomOfIV

See also:

~Eowyn