A new study published today in the Lancet warns of the global public health impacts of pollution, which the researchers estimate kill nine million people every year, accounting for 16% of deaths worldwide.
Over 140 women working as legislators, legislative aides and lobbyists in Sacramento signed on to a letter calling out sexual harassment and assault they’ve faced on the job: “Women complained of groping, lewd comments and suggestions of trading sexual favors for legislation while doing business in Sacramento. Their grievances, contained in a public letter and detailed in a series of interviews, mark the latest fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal. The women who drafted the letter say they were flooded with anguished responses from women who reported enduring, or witnessing, sexual harassment from male legislators, aides and lobbyists, after they began circulating their statement in recent days. ‘As women leaders in politics, in a state that postures itself as a leader in justice and equality, you might assume our experience has been different,” the letter said. “It has not. Each of us has endured, or witnessed or worked with women who have experienced some form of dehumanizing behavior by men in power in our workplaces.’”
Lupita Nyong’o joined 50 other women in accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Her New York Times op-ed carefully outlines the ways Weinstein constantly tested her boundaries, and – after she enforced boundaries -- pretended briefly to accept those boundaries so that she would let her guard down, hope that he was respecting her as a person and would stop the behavior that made her uncomfortable, and agree to see him again. She concludes: “I share all of this now because I know now what I did not know then. I was part of a growing community of women who were secretly dealing with harassment by Harvey Weinstein. But I also did not know that there was a world in which anybody would care about my experience with him. You see, I was entering into a community that Harvey Weinstein had been in, and even shaped, long before I got there. He was one of the first people I met in the industry, and he told me, “This is the way it is.” And wherever I looked, everyone seemed to be bracing themselves and dealing with him, unchallenged. I did not know that things could change. I did not know that anybody wanted things to change.”
#metoo trended on social media this week, as women shared stories of harassment and sexual violence. The Me Too campaign was originally conceived 10 years ago by an African-American activist, Tarana Burke, who launched the movement to “provide “empowerment through empathy” to survivors of sexual abuse, assault, exploitation, and harassment in underprivileged communities who typically don’t have access to rape crisis centers or counselors.’
The case of a pregnant teenage girl who came to the US as an unaccompanied minor who wants to get an abortion is stuck in court this week. Vox reports that, “since President Donald Trump took office, policies toward undocumented young people seeking abortions have changed. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit on behalf of Doe, all unaccompanied minors in immigration shelters now need permission from the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement — and he has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent undocumented young people from getting the procedure. In Doe’s case, ORR has prevented her from leaving the Texas shelter where she now lives in order to get an abortion… Undocumented immigrants in general face obstacles to reproductive health care, from fear of encountering immigration officials on the way to a clinic to lack of health insurance. But unaccompanied minors living in shelters face unique challenges. Shelters are typically operated by private organizations that contract with the government, and even before the ORR policy change, some of these organizations blocked minors from getting birth control, emergency contraception, or abortions, according to a fact sheet issued by the National Women’s Law Center earlier this year. This is especially problematic for “young people who have experienced real trauma, and maybe have experienced sexual assault, and are then put in a space where they can’t get access to reproductive health care,” said Kelli Garcia, the director of reproductive justice initiatives at the National Women’s Law Center, in a September interview. “It’s shameful.””
Senators Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander announced this week that they had reached a deal to shore up the Affordable Care Act’s health exchanges. The deal would extend subsidies for low-income people buying insurance on the exchanges, expand eligibility to purchase catastrophic coverage, and grant states more flexibility to implement the ACA.
Almost one month after Hurricane Maria struck, many Puerto Ricans are still struggling to access clean, safe water, compounding a “slow-motion medical disaster” on the island. Health problems connected to contaminated water and lack of electricity include dehydration, water-borne illnesses, and difficulty managing chronic conditions.
Governor Brown signed SB 5 this week, which will place a parks and water bond on the June 2018 ballot. If approved by California voters, the Drought, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 would designate $725 million to build and renovate parks in low-income and park-poor communities, and invest in safeguarding the state’s natural resources, including safe drinking water.
Veterans Administration prescribing practices have fueled veterans’ problems with opioid misuse and led to thousands of deaths, Art Levine reports in Newsweek. Initially, the addictive drugs were overprescribed, contributing to high rates of deaths from overdoses; then prescriptions were drastically reduced without adequate alternatives for pain control or addiction counseling and treatment, leaving veterans desperate for relief, with some turning to heroin and other drugs and others dying by suicide. Employees who have attempted to highlight the problems have in the past experienced retaliation from management, a practice that some fear will continue despite steps to protect whistleblowers.
The New York Times explores the case of Damien Rodriguez, a Marine sergeant major facing charges in connection with an incident in which he allegedly threw a chair at a waiter at an Iraqi restaurant in Portland, Oregon. The incident followed a series of hate crimes in the city, and prosecutors elected to charge Mr. Rodriquez with a felony hate crime. But his family and others who know him believe that Mr. Rodriquez, who underwent four deployments to war zones, including one in which his platoon was caught in a deadly ambush in Iraq, should face lesser charges and receive help healing from the traumas he has experienced.
The wildfires that have burned through northern California threaten to permanently displace up to 32,000 undocumented immigrants. Grist reports that, “undocumented immigrants aren’t eligible for FEMA assistance, unemployment benefits, or welfare. Add to that, housing is already pricey in the region.”
President Trump announced that he will designate the opioid epidemic as a national emergency next week according to The Washington Post, a step that would make more resources available for states to address the problem. The President pledged in August to issue an official declaration, and some officials, including Chris Christie, who headed the President’s commission convened to address the epidemic, have expressed frustration over the delay. The president announced his intentions to make the declaration official during remarks regarding his nomination of Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Representative Marino later withdrew amid reports that legislation he sponsored contributed to an influx of opioids into parts of the country that were particularly affected by the epidemic.
The links between childhood trauma, substance abuse, and incarceration are increasingly well-established and tough to break. The New York Times profiles a man exposed to an array of traumatic events as a child who is struggling to stop the intergenerational cycle and build a healthy relationship with his daughter.
Physicians who experience mental health problems are sometimes reluctant to seek treatment for fear of jeopardizing their ability to practice, according to STAT. A recent study indicates physicians’ concerns are higher in states in which licensing boards ask broader questions, for example whether the physician has ever been treated for mental health