The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that a lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington can proceed, after relatives of Sandy Hook victims sued the corporation for its marketing of the military-style assault rifle used to kill 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook in 2012. The New York Times reports that the decision ‘represents a significant development in the long-running battle between gun control advocates and the gun lobby. And it stands to have wider ramifications, experts said, by charting a possible legal road map for victims’ relatives and survivors from other mass shootings who want to sue gun companies. In the lawsuit, the families seized upon the marketing for the AR-15-style Bushmaster used in the 2012 attack, which invoked the violence of combat and used slogans like “Consider your man card reissued.”’
California’s first surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, is focusing on the effects of toxic stress on children. The LA Times reports that, “in her new role, Burke Harris said she will push to change a profession that too often settles for quick fixes over unearthing root causes of ailments. The San Francisco pediatrician has been a leading advocate in pushing the state to expand screenings for abuse and extreme stress in children. Gov. Gavin Newsom included $45 million in his January budget proposal to start screening low-income Medi-Cal patients for what the medical community calls adverse childhood experiences, or ACES, beginning in 2020. Burke Harris said that when children are exposed to high levels of stress or abuse often enough, hormones are triggered that can have lasting effects on brain development and the immune system. Burke Harris said that in such situations the body’s “stress thermostat,” which is high during traumatic events, breaks and stress hormones continue to pump into a child’s body. Burke Harris said she wants universal stress screenings for all children as part of their regular physical exams, but that it was too early to say when she would make that push. Too often mental trauma is considered unrelated to medical care, she said, despite studies showing a clear link to physical ailments. “The impact of early adversity gets under our skin in a way that can be invisible, but can have profound impacts on health and development over a lifetime,” Burke Harris said.”
Forty-nine people were killed and at least 48 people, including young children, were being treated for injuries after two mosques were attacked in Christchurch, New Zealand. “The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the atrocity as a terrorist attack and said Friday had been “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” … A “manifesto” was posted online before the attacks, in which the suspected gunman espoused far-right and anti-immigrant ideology.”
Rewire reports on abuse at US immigration facilities: “In the United States, there are two primary apparatuses intended to protect detained immigrants from sexual abuse: the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), a series of procedures and policies aimed at the elimination of sexual assault of prisoners, and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), which provides “independent oversight” of DHS agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But immigrants in federal custody and their advocates see these processes as deeply flawed and loophole-ridden. When Monterrosa finally came forward with allegations against the guard, who she says sexually assaulted her for almost five months at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, nothing changed; the guard continued to work at the facility while a federal investigation was underway. Monterrosa and her advocates were largely left in the dark on the findings or steps taken to prevent such incidents—which data suggests are widespread—from happening again.” The article cites a 2014 brief from Prevention Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that “people who experience or are exposed to one form of violence are at a higher risk for both being a victim of other forms of violence and for inflicting harm on others.”
Young people in 123 countries are participating in a youth climate strike today to demand political action to address climate change. “What [teen activist Greta] Thunberg and her fellow protesters want from their governments is to “keep fossil fuels in the ground, phase out subsidies for dirty energy production, seriously invest in renewables and start asking difficult questions about how we structure our economies and who is set to win and who is set to lose,” as they put it in the Guardian. And they have the backing of thousands of scientists who’ve signed letters of support.”
The Texas Observer reports on the prevalence and severity of diabetes, including a high rate of diabetes-related amputations, in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. “So many people there have diabetes, that ‘In the Valley, there’s a fatalism associated with the disease, often considered an inevitable inheritance.’ …amputations are important indicators that something went wrong with diabetes management, because they’re generally preventable in patients who can access diabetes education and primary care.”
The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, introduced in the US House and Senate this week, would ensure “that every woman who receives her health care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for all pregnancy-related services, including abortion,” which would block the Hyde Amendment that currently bans federal funding from paying for abortion care and ensuring that federal and state policymakers cannot block private insurance from covering abortion. “No woman should be denied the full spectrum of reproductive health care because of her zip code or income level—yet that is the reality for too many low-income women and women of color,” California Representative Barbara Lee, a co-sponsor, said.
National Public Radio reports on the ongoing legal discovery process as civil suits against opioid manufacturers move ahead. "The narrative is clearly shifting on this story," said David Armstrong, a senior reporter with ProPublica, who has covered the drug industry for years. "People want some sort of reckoning, some sort of accounting." One reason for the shift is that cities and states filing these suits are moving more aggressively to pull back the curtain on the drug industry's practices, urging courts to make internal memos, marketing strategies and reams of other documents public.”
A new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology finds that teens and young adults living in the US in 2017 were “more distressed, more likely to suffer from major depression, and more prone to suicide than their counterparts in the millennial generation were at the same age… Researchers also found that between 2008 and 2017, Gen Z’s emotional distress and its propensity toward self-harm grew more than for any other generation of Americans during the same period. By 2017, just over 13% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 25 had symptoms consistent with an episode of major depression in the previous year – a 62% increase in eight years.”
According to a new Vital Signs report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25% of high school students and approximately 1 in 14 middle school students in 2018 had used a tobacco product in the past 30 days, a significant increase since 2017, driven by an increase in e-cigarette use.
California Governor Gavin Newsom implemented a moratorium on capital punishment in the state, granting a temporary reprieve for 737 prisoners on death row.
Health Affairs published a blog from the Blue Shield of California Foundation’s Carolyn Wang Kong and PI’s Alisha Somji and Lisa Fujie Parks that explores the Foundation’s strategy for “breaking the cycle of domestic violence” through a two-part approach to drive domestic violence prevention from within and beyond the domestic violence field, and features the Safety Through Connection project: “Together, these two cohorts will provide valuable insights into how power, systems, community, and collaboration can come together to prevent violence in communities. The ‘within and beyond’ approach allows us to learn about the levers and incentives for change across multiple systems, while unifying diverse efforts toward the shared goal of ending violence.”
The Trump administration released its proposed budget for 2020. Vox summarizes some of the biggest proposed policy changes:
- “$1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid over 10 years, implementing work requirements as well as eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The budget instead adds $1.2 trillion for a “Market Based Health Care Grant” — block grant to states, instead of paying by need. It’s not clear whether that would be part of Medicaid.
- An $845 billion cut to Medicare over 10 years, about a 10 percent cut, to be achieved through targeting wasteful spending and provider payments and lowering prescription drug costs.
- $25 billion in cuts to Social Security over 10 years, including cuts to disability insurance.
- A $220 billion cut to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, over 10 years, including mandatory work requirements. The program currently serves around 45 million people.
- A $21 billion cut to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, an already severely underfunded cash-assistance program for the nation’s poorest.
- $207 billion in cuts to the student loan program, eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and cutting subsidized student loans.
- Increases defense spending by $34 billion next year, to a $750 billion budget baseline. That makes up a 5 percent boost to defense and military spending.
- $8.6 billion in funding for the southern border wall, separated between increased funding for the Department of Homeland Security and funding for military construction.
- Overall, there is a 9 percent cut to non-defense programs, which would hit Section 8 housing vouchers, public housing programs, Head Start, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, among others."