Welcome to our media digest for the week of June 24, 2016! Below you’ll find summaries of news coverage on the issues of preventing violence, trauma, nutrition, health equity, mental health, and more. The views expressed in these articles do not reflect those of Prevention Institute.
This article from Salon includes insights from Dr. Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who helped uncover the water crisis in Flint, who is working to ensure that the city's ongoing struggles do not disappear from news coverage. The article explains that the water in Flint is still polluted, and unsafe to drink. In the summer of 2015, researchers from Virginia Tech sampled water in 271 homes in Flint, and tests showed lead levels met the Environmental Protection Agency measure of “toxic waste.” The lead count in the blood of children and infants has doubled, based on findings from a September 2015 study .
The Guardian reports on the effects of whitewashing of the victims of the Orlando shooting within the broader movement for LGBTQ rights, and pushback from LGBTQ people of color: “There’s often a rush to decentralize marginalized people at traumatic moments,” [Paulina Helm-Hernandez, co-director of Southerners on New Ground] told me. As a queer Latina, she says, “even when it’s our community under attack, our community is not allowed to set the tone, and I hate to say it, white people just rush in. I’ve watched it over and over again in recent years. The consolidation of gay white power, even in organizations that say they are committed to doing multiracial LGBT work.” Helm-Hernandez told me that all of her Latino colleagues who were arriving in town “have tried to be a part of coalition community programs, and we’ve all been finding that a list of speakers has already been set. And do you think any of them were people of color? And were Latinos? No, we have to elbow in, and maybe they’ll give us one minute – or we have to create our own autonomous people of color spaces, which we have always done. “
According to a new report tracking increasing Islamophobia issued by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the UC-Berkeley Center for Race and Gender, there were a recorded 78 attacks on mosques last year, the highest since CAIR began monitoring such incidents in 2009. Since 2010, many state legislatures have seen bills introduced to prevent the influence of Sharia law on US courts; an effort which critics say has no purpose other than to vilify Muslims. Over 80 similar bills and amendments were introduced between 2013-2015 - all but one was solely sponsored by Republicans.
As BMSG details, in this op-ed for The Seattle Times, Baltimore Health Commissioner Leana S. Wen shares lessons from Baltimore's successful efforts to improve health in the face of poverty, violence and racism. Wen discusses the link between social factors and health and urges Seattle to similarly incorporate a health equity lens into its decision-making processes.
On Thursday, a deadlocked Supreme Court dealt a major blow to President Obama's effort to shield some undocumented immigrants from deportation. The decision upholds the Court of Appeals' November decision to block implementation of Obama's executive action on immigration which would have granted relief from deportation to about four million immigrants, mostly the parents of American citizens.
Watch Bryan Stevenson from the Equal Justice Initiative make the case that if we talked more openly about slavery, fewer African Americans would be sent to jail.
The Chicago Reporter uncovered systemic discrimination in the rapidly growing temp industry, which has been using "code words, symbols and gestures to illegally hire workers by race, sex and age." The article tells the story of how an advocacy group designed legislation to expose such discrimination, and how the bill was killed.
Justice Sotomayor penned a powerful dissent to a 5-3 decision by the Supreme Court to allow police to stop people on the street, demand identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if doing nothing wrong. She writes, “… this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged."
As many as 12,000 prison inmates will be able to use federal Pell grants to finance college classes next month, despite a 22-year congressional ban on providing financial aid to prisoners. The Obama administration selected 67 colleges and universities for the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, an experiment to help prisoners earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated.
On Monday, the Senate rejected four measures to restrict gun sales, with votes divided mostly along party lines. The Democrats’ sit in on the floor of the House chamber forced a temporary recess as part of an effort to compel Republican leadership to vote on gun control legislation. The New England Journal of Medicine editorialized in favor of doctors becoming more active in favor of gun control, joining a growing number of medical professionals to do so. This op-ed explains the American Medical Association's classification of gun violence in America as a "public health crisis." The author states: "between 1968 and 2011, more people in the US died from gun violence than died in all the wars the United States has ever fought." Lois Becket of the Guardian cautions there are far more effective solutions to preventing violence that those being debated in Congress, including focusing on preventing suicides, funding local programs that reduce gang-related murders by 25% to 40%, supporting laws that restrict gun access for people under domestic violence restraining orders, and banning large capacity magazines. And the New York Times editorialized in favor of lifting the ban against gun research – specifically noting the California legislature’s approval of a new center for gun research at UC Davis. The Times notes, “Because of restrictions on federal funding, little is known about the effectiveness of many violence prevention efforts, or about risk factors for committing gun violence….Nonetheless, the research that has been done has proved useful. A 2001 study by the violence prevention research program at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine suggested that California’s ban on sales of handguns to people convicted of violent misdemeanors reduced their likelihood of committing a future firearm crime…and also found that buying a handgun is associated with an increased risk of suicide, and…restricting gun access among people with a history of alcohol abuse would…likely…reduce violence.”
As gun control proponents explore different approaches to identifying potential mass shooters and preventing them from accessing firearms -- from mental health records to inclusion on terror watch lists -- domestic violence advocates argue that domestic violence may be the strongest predictor of mass violence, both in the home and outside of it. More than half of mass shootings in the US -- shooting where at least four people are killed -- are cases of domestic violence, with current or former intimate partners, children and other family members as the primary targets, and many mass shooters who went on public rampages, including Omar Mateen, had histories of domestic violence. Current state and federal laws need to be strengthened to better protect victims of domestic violence. While federal law prohibits the sale or possession of guns for anyone convicted of a DV misdemeanor or DV restraining order, many vulnerable people are left unprotected, including non-married partners who don't co-habitate and family members other than intimate partners and children. Federal law also excludes temporary domestic violence restraining orders, which leaves victims of domestic violence even more vulnerable at one of the most dangerous points in leaving an abusive relationship. Some states permit or require law enforcement to seize guns at the scene of a DV incident, but most states do not. "We know that violence is the best predictor of future violence," said Shannon Frattaroli, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who researches the connection between gun violence and domestic violence. "If someone has demonstrated past violent behavior, it's probably the best indicator we have of the risk of being violent in the future."
A Build Healthy Places blog post at Medium explores how to balance community improvements with anti-displacement measures and looks at the process too many communities undergo when change moves in – as needed services move out or become unaffordable, lower-income residents must stretch their resources to meet their needs and travel more outside of their own community to access, for example, affordable food outlets and laundromats. “Emotional displacement” takes place when “You can’t afford anything in the stores anymore, cops hassle you, neighbors are suspicious, your corner bar is now a juice bar,” according to Mark Joseph, author of Integrating the Inner City. “The question many ask is, how can we make gentrification equitable? Given that money talks, how do you inject all voices into plans for change? The question, says Rick Jacobus of Street Level Advisors, an expert on preserving mixed-income communities, is not an idle one. “It’s not enough to just stop displacement,” he says. “It’s about keeping cities diverse, in both people and incomes.” The same could easily be said for gentrifying neighborhoods. “Everyone wants the same thing,” Joseph says, “a peaceful stable community and a comfortable place to live, for the long term. There’s real potential there for common ground around, which is under-leveraged.”
“Deteriorating public infrastructure fueled by racialized neglect” (via Jamecca) is holding back Detroit’s ability to recover, socially and economically, from decades of disinvestment. Recently, teachers have been staging mass sick-outs to protest conditions, closing down most of the cities ~100 schools. “As we begin to rebuild this city and we’re seeing money and development moving in, people are understanding that there is no way we can improve Detroit without a strong educational system,” said Mary Sheffield, a native of Detroit and a City Council member. “We have businesses and restaurants and arenas, but our schools are falling apart and our children are uneducated. There is no Detroit without good schools.”
The Sacramento Bee points to a string of landmark anti-smoking bills that have passed the California legislature, among them raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21, as evidence of a new "war on tobacco." On the heels of the new bills, Californians will vote this November to add a $2 tax to tobacco and e-cigarette products. (via BMSG)
Advocates for people who are homeless provided eight key tips for covering the issue of homelessness, including avoiding stereotypes, exploring root causes of homelessness (including LGBTQ status as key driver of homelessness among young people, especially young people of color; domestic violence as a key driver of homelessness among families; and paying attention to racial disparities in who becomes homeless and why), focusing on need for stable housing to enable people to meet mental health and health care needs and connect with social services, and reporting on solutions. This story is part of an ongoing investigation into the challenge of homelessness in the Bay Area by a network of Bay Area media organizations.
Mother Jones investigates the series of sex scandals, including accusations of exploitation and statutory rape involving an underage sex worker, in the Oakland Police Department. This week, Oakland activist organizations, including the local branch of Black Lives Matter and the Anti Police Terror Project, called on Mayor Schaaf to resign and demanded an outside investigation by the Department of Justice.
Vox examines the struggles of California cap and trade program, including the problem with tying government spending on needed programs to support active transportation and climate resilience to vacillating carbon markets.
The New York Times investigates the suicide of an Ohio State wrestler. The primary focus is on the fallout from concussions, but the piece also touches on male socialization, competition, pressure, guns, and suicide. “Everything was a competition, so he kept a running score of everyone’s Man Points, awarding or deducting them as he saw fit… And those tattoos. On his back he had Atlas holding up the globe because, he said, he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He had an image of Zeus, and of Hades next to his three-headed dog, Cerberus. Down the back of one arm, he had ‘Pain is temporary.’ On the other: ‘Pride is forever.’ On the inside of his lower lip he tattooed the word ‘Brutal.’
A new NIH study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that non-medical use of prescription opioids more than doubled among adults in the United States from 2001-2002 to 2012-2013. Rates of non-medical prescription opioid use were greatest among men, those with annual incomes less than $70,000, those previously married, and with a high school-level education or less. Use was greater among whites and Native Americans and those living in the Midwest and West. Only about 5 percent of people misusing prescription opioids in the past year received treatment/counseling. Researchers found that opioid abuse is linked to other drug use disorders, and mental health disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder.
KJZZ’ Christina Estes covered U.S. Surgeon General Murthy’s visit to Phoenix, in which he talked about the national campaign to address opioid abuse and visited an addition recovery center. The article suggests Murthy’s remarks focused on treatment but it says he also discussed prevention strategies with doctors. Drug overdoses have been on the rise in the southwest, especially New Mexico. Of note: “In the next year, the Surgeon General says his office will focus on ways to improve mental and emotional well-being in communities.”
Health Systems Transformation
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones last week urged the U.S. Department of Justice to reject a proposed merger between health insurers Anthem and Cigna. Jones said the merger is anticompetitive and would harm California businesses and consumers by lowering health care quality and increasing coverage costs.
On Wednesday, House Republicans revealed their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Central to the plan is its proposal to provide all U.S. residents who purchase individual health plans with tax credits to help offset premium costs.