Archive | Disastrous

On the campaign trail with Trump…

When will Donald get the notion in his head that he won the election?

He does not have to campaign anymore. Now he is proposing an immigration law that is already in place…

President Trump in a rally on Wednesday evening said immigrants who enter the United States should not be eligible for welfare benefits for five years, though such a law has already existed for 20 years.

“The time has come for new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years,” Trump told a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the U.S. Cellular Center.

The president said his administration would be “putting in legislation to that effect very shortly.”

But such a law is already in effect and has been in place since 1996.

Known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the legislation was passed during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and said that an immigrant is “not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit” for 5 years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country…”

I try very hard not to go the route of ad hominem attacks on his advisors, but, for real, who is driving this bus?



Opioid Deaths Skyrocketing …

Yesterday, the Washington Post report that opioid deaths in the U.S. have skyrocketed since 2005 according to a government report issued this month by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

The 2014 numbers, the latest available for every state and the District of Columbia, reflect a 64 percent increase for inpatient care and a 99 percent jump for emergency room treatment compared to figures from 2005. Their trajectory likely will keep climbing if the epidemic continues unabated.

The report, released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), puts Maryland at the very top of the national list for inpatient care. The state, already struggling with overdoses from heroin and prescription opioids, has seen the spread of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which can be mixed with heroin or cocaine and is extraordinarily powerful. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) this year declared a state of emergency in response to the crisis.

The roots of the problem of opioid addiction are as old as history, but, the recent spike in opioid addiction and overdoses are attributed to two main factors, pain becoming a vital sign that a doctor looks at during an examination (remember the introduction of the smiley face posters for pain) and an extended release version of oxycodone released in 1996.

Fifteen years ago, a report by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, a nationally recognized medical society which accredits hospitals, stressed that pain was vastly undertreated in the United States. The report recommended that physicians routinely assess pain at every patient visit. It also suggested that opioids could be effectively and more broadly used without fear of addiction. This latter assumption was entirely mistaken, as we now understand. The report was part of a trend in medicine through the 1980s and 1990s toward treating pain more proactively.

The report was heavily publicized, and today it is widely acknowledged that it led to massive – and sometimes inappropriate – increases in the use of prescription opioid drugs to treat pain.

With more opioids being prescribed by well-meaning doctors, some were diverted from the legal supply chain – through theft from medicine cabinets or trade on the black market – to the street for illicit use. As more opioids leaked out, more people started to experiment with them for recreational purposes…

The second major factor was the introduction of an extended release formulation of the potent opioid oxycodone in the 1996. You may know this drug by its brand name, OxyContin. In fact, you might have been prescribed it after having surgery.

The drug was designed to provide 12-24 hours of pain relief, as opposed to just four hours or so for an immediate release formulation. It meant that patients in pain could just take one or two pills a day rather than having to remember to take an immediate release drug every four hours or so. This also meant that OxyContin tablets contained a large amount of oxycodone – far more than would be found in several individual immediate release tablets.

And within 48 hours of OxyContin’s release on the market, drug users realized that crushing the tablet could easily breach the extended-release formulation, making the pure drug available in large quantities, free from harmful additives such as acetaminophen, which most recreational and chronic abusers find irritating, particularly if they inject it intravenously. This made it an attractive option for those who wanted to snort or inject their drugs. Surprisingly, neither the manufacturer nor the Food and Drug Administration foresaw this possibility.

When one looks at the states that have the highest death rates for opioids, one can easily correlate this to the high number of prescriptions per 100 people. West Virginia,  Ohio, and Kentucky have a rate of 96 to 143 prescriptions written to people. New Hampshire has a rate 72 to 81 prescriptions per 100 people. These numbers just astonished me. But, the sources of people that abuse these drugs vary widely.

Most people who abuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative. However, those who are at highest risk of overdose (using prescription opioids nonmedically 200 or more days a year) get them in ways that are different from those who use them less frequently. These people get opioids using their own prescriptions (27 percent), from friends or relatives for free (26 percent), buying from friends or relatives (23 percent), or buying from a drug dealer (15 percent). Those at highest risk of overdose are about four times more likely than the average user to buy the drugs from a dealer or other stranger.

What will the Trump administration do about the opioid crisis? Well, not much that will be productive.

The White House is calling for a 95 percent funding cut for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the agency leading the charge against the country’s opioid epidemic, according to sources knowledgeable about the White House’s draft budget for the coming fiscal year. ONDCP is responsible for coordinating drug prevention programs across federal agencies and was slated to fund President Donald Trump’s much-lauded opioid commission.

The budget would slash ONDCP’s $380 million budget to $24 million. It would eliminate the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which coordinates local, state, and national efforts to reduce drug trafficking and has a $250 million annual budget. It would also cut the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, which funds community-based youth substance abuse prevention programs. The budget calls both programs “duplicative of other Federal programs.” The budget is a “passback” draft: it was cleared by the White House budget office last week, but will still need to be approved by Congress.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to “spend the money” to address the opioid epidemic, but his proposed budgets and policies thus far would drastically cut federal funding to tackle the issue.





Don’t people get tired of this?

Deepwater Horizon memorial on Elysian Fields, New Orleans

Being lied to about these disasters? I realize the people who live there are dependent on the fishing industry, but Gulf seafood is most likely unsafe to eat:

Scientists have already reported finding what they called a 1,235-square-mile “bathtub ring” of oil on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico left over from the huge 2010 BP oil spill.

Now it appears this ring is part of a washroom set: A different team of scientists has found that up 10 million gallons of oil have created what can be called only a “bath mat” beneath the sediment of the gulf’s floor.

First the ring. David Valentine and colleagues from the University of California at Santa Barbara wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October that about 10 million gallons of the spilled oil settled on the gulf’s floor. Its size: about the size of the state of Rhode Island.

But what about the rest? As much as 200 million gallons of oil were spilled after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., exploded off the coast of New Orleans, killing 11 workers on the rig, injuring 17 more, and allowing oil to gush into the gulf for nearly three months.

All that oil has been hard to find. But a team of scientists led by Jeff Chanton found between 6 million and 10 million gallons buried in the sediment at the bottom of the gulf about 60 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta. Chanton is a professor of oceanography at Florida State University.

In planned EPA cuts, US to lose vital connection to at-risk communities


By Nicole Smith Dahmen, Assistant Professor of Visual Communication, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon and Deborah Morrison, Professor of Advertising, University of Oregon. Activists, federal workers and union representatives rallied for environmental protection policies at the EPA. American Federation of Government Employees, CC BY Recent headlines point to a relentless undoing of policy… Continue Reading →

None of that pussy stuff

Grand Canyon National Park

Like hiking and camping! Real men drill!

A leaked document says that extracting coal, oil, and natural gas from public lands will be the top priorities for the Bureau of Land Management under President Donald Trump, a sharp reversal from the previous administration.

The five-page list of “BLM priority work,” reported by E&E News, begins with a page on “Making America safe through energy independence” — which the administration says means opening up more land for energy development.

“It is extremely disappointing that in their first 100 days, the Trump administration has made it clear that they are going to rig the system in favor of Big Oil companies at the expense of Western stakeholders and local leaders who wish to craft smart and balanced forms of energy development on our public lands,” Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project, a western conservation group, said in a statement emailed to ThinkProgress.

The priorities document and its accompanying communication guidancecalls on the agency to streamline oil, gas, and coal leasing and permitting and to streamline pipeline, transmission, and solar and wind projects. The document also has priorities for conservation, military and law enforcement activities, bureaucratic efficiencies, and “serving the American family.”

BLM was in the news last week, as well, after it replaced a picture of a child and an adult at a park with a picture of coal as the lead image on its website.

Saeger called the memo a “not-so-subtle wink” at Big Oil and “confirmation that we have indeed returned to the days of “Drill Baby Drill,” when lawsuits and conflict ruled the day on Western public lands.”

Tribes: Hundreds march to White House in pipeline protest

Hundreds marched from the Washington office of the U.S. Army Corps to the White House in protest of the Dakota Access pipeline this morning. Photo by Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder.

Hundreds of protesters this morning marched from the Army Corps of Engineers office in Washington to the White House, where they held a rally against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Throughout the week, Native American protesters and their supporters have been holding water blessings, cultural workshops and presentations at a ceremonial teepee camp set up by the Washington Monument.

This week, tribes and other groups were outraged by a federal court’s decision to reject arguments from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe that the project violates their religious freedom rights.

During the march that was organized by Native Nations Rise, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dave Archambault II and Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy read a proclamation that questioned the separation of church and state when dealing with tribal matters.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline crisis is a direct result of the United States government using the religious underpinnings of U.S. federal law against our Nations,” Goudy said in a statement.

Cheyenne River and Standing Rock still have pending legal cases against the pipeline, although the pipeline could start moving oil as soon as next week.

“In order for us to take the steps necessary to assure our own future, we have to understand historically what has happened to us and understand what is currently happening to us,” Archambault said.

Earthquake on the beach: Scientists think a 7.4 temblor could reach from L.A. to San Diego


LOS ANGELES — The discovery of missing links between earthquake faults shows how a magnitude 7.4 earthquake could rupture in the same temblor underneath Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, a new study finds. Such an earthquake would be 30 times more powerful than the magnitude 6.4 earthquake that caused the 1933 Long Beach earthquake,… Continue Reading →

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