Viewpoints: At This Time Of Year, Reconsider Where Homeless People Are Allowed To Sleep; Research On Gun Violence Needs To Be About Public Health
Editorial pages focus on public health topics and other health topics as well.
The Baltimore Sun:
The Criminalization Of Homelessness
Imagine if sleeping were to get you thrown in jail. Or sitting and lying down in public. Or camping. Or snoozing in your car. In cities across the country, that is exactly what is happening to homeless people who engage in these activities. In an effort to clean up their cities and make residents and visitors more comfortable, lawmakers have taken an inhumane approach to homelessness and made all these actions illegal. (12/23)
Los Angeles Times:
Can A Neighborhood Help One Homeless Woman? Here's One That Tried
The plea came across my Brentwood Nextdoor site on a cold December night: “Will someone please go to the Ralphs at Wilshire and Bundy and provide some help to the homeless woman and her dog? It is raining and cold, and they are both wet and cold.” The writer continued: “I would help but I don’t have any money or resources…Please let’s act like we actually care and help this person out so she and her dog don’t succumb to exposure.” (Carla Hall, 12/22)
Times Of San Diego:
The Streets Can’t Be A Home In America’s Finest City
As we come together to celebrate this holiday season and take stock of what we are thankful for, let us keep the thousands of San Diegans living on the streets in our hearts and minds. ...Salt Lake City all but ended homelessness, and what they did was simple. They created housing that people living on the street actually wanted to live in, provided the new residents with plenty of on-site counseling and services to help them with any substance abuse, unemployment or mental health issues, and lastly, they created a position charged with coordinating government and nonprofit agencies’ efforts. Similarly, Houston decreased its homeless population by 54% since 2011 by focusing on housing. It is time we learn from other cities and fully embrace and implement this proven successful model here in San Diego. (Chris Olsen, 12/22)
Los Angeles Times:
If You Want To Be President, You Must Address The Housing Crisis
There were times when all Blanca Ahumada could do was cry herself to sleep — her mind racing with anxiety over where her family would find a good night’s rest the next day. She’s a mother of seven kids, ranging from a 2-month-old to a 14-year-old son with autism. She lost her job in retail, and her husband only gets occasional work as a day laborer. After a while, their landlord raised the rent — and they simply couldn’t afford to pay it. (LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, 12/19)
The Washington Post:
Research On Gun Violence Shouldn’t Be About Politics. It’s About Public Health.
As part of the government spending deal approved this week by Congress, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health will receive $25 million to study gun violence. This ends an effective ban that has existed since 1996 to prevent federal agencies from identifying trends and preventing firearm injuries and deaths. The National Rifle Association and others have portrayed the measure as a potential attempt to weaken Second Amendment protections and confiscate guns from law-abiding owners. Some activists on the other side have heralded it as a step toward “gun control” to address the rising gun deaths in the United States. (Leana S. Wen, 12/20)
Los Angeles Times:
'Ghost Guns' Need To Be Brought Out Of The Shadows
California has some of the nation’s most stringent gun restrictions, including a law requiring people who build their own firearms from parts to apply for a serial number so the weapons can be traced. It’s a reasonable law, but like many state gun regulations, it can be hard to enforce. The fact is, anyone in California can legally order untraceable parts from out of state and, with a little machine work, assemble a gun. It’s pretty easy at that point to ignore the state registration law if you’re inclined to (as well as the requirement that homemade guns include safety devices).The result: Federal officials say that nearly 1 in 3 guns that police recover at Los Angeles-area crime scenes are just such untraceable built-at-home “ghost guns.” The attacker at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita used a ghost gun to kill two students and himself in November. (12/22)
Tech And Health Care Need Their Own 'Hippocratic Oath'
When a whistleblower revealed the details of Project Nightingale, a collaboration between Google and the Ascension health system, he or she also surfaced critical flaws in the ways that health care and tech work together. As part of the deal, Ascension, a nonprofit Catholic hospital system that operates in 21 states, gave Google access to millions of patient records, including names and birth dates. The goal of Project Nightingale was to build new tools that help doctors extract key information from patients’ medical records and deliver more targeted medical treatments. It would also make it possible for doctors to spend more time with patients and less time combing through endless layers of electronic health data. The problem was that the hospital system gave Google access to this mountain of data without the knowledge of doctors or patients. (Thomas M. Maddox and Simon Macgibbon, 12/23)
Coal Industry Hasn't Cleaned Up 11 Years After Tennessee Disaster
Eleven years ago, in the earliest hours of December 22, 2008, at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Kingston, Tennessee, a dam holding back coal ash slurry — a toxic soup of factory wastewater and burnt coal — broke. The broken dam released over a billion gallons of ash slurry into the Clinch and Emory Rivers and buried about 300 acres of land several feet deep under a poisonous sludge of lead, arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals. The spill was three times larger than the TVA’s initial estimate — in fact, it was more than what the TVA said was in the pond to begin with. Cleaning up the spill took years; a process that was beset by further environmental crimes. The waste was mainly carted away to Uniontown, Alabama, where it was dumped into an uncovered landfill outside of a predominantly black community. Moreover, the company contracted by the TVA to clean up the site, Jacobs Engineering Group, did not provide adequate protective equipment, according to a lawsuit filed by workers, who sat atop piles of toxic waste to eat their lunches. (Tatiana Schlossberg, 12/22)
Los Angeles Times:
California Is Still Stuck In The Past On Medical Malpractice Payouts
California is arguably the nation’s most politically “progressive” state. That’s our reputation. Left coast and all that. But on one issue, no state is more regressive. We’re extremely backward on allowing reasonable jury awards for victims of severe medical malpractice. It’s looking like there’ll be a fiercely fought ballot initiative next November to bring California’s malpractice payouts into the 21st century. (George Skelton, 12/23)
The New York Times:
What Happened To All Those Frozen Eggs?
The potential for egg freezing to allow women to pause their biological clocks is one of the most astonishing developments of recent fertility science. The promise was thrilling: Women could enjoy more time to find the right partners, break up with the wrong ones and become emotionally and financially ready to become mothers. Enthusiasts even fantasized the technology would promote gender equality by giving women control over their fertility so that they wouldn’t have to scale back their career ambitions during their 20s and 30s. “Freeze Your Eggs. Free Your Career” blared a 2014 cover of Bloomberg Businessweek. (Sarah Elizabeth Richards, 12/21)