Wednesday, June 13, 2018

FISE against child labour

More than 73 million children all over the 
world work in hazardous labour and 218 million children between 5 and 17 years old are in employment. These children work in mines, industries and households, they are exposed to pesticides and other toxic substances, they move heavy loads or work many hours. Many of them suffer under lifelong physical and psychological consequences. Their own lives may be exposed to danger.

The World Federation of Teachers Unions FISE invites the teachers’ trade unions, the workers’ trade unions to intensify the struggle for abolition of child labour. It invites them to strengthen the struggle against imperialistic wars, against unemployment and poverty, against the exploitation of human by human. There lie the means for abolition of child labour.
The governments that stand in many ways by the NATO, the EU, the multinational companies and the monopolies can only give false promises and wishes regarding the issue of child labour.
The struggles of FISE, the struggles of the trade unions through The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) can and must be intensified, so that the children of the working class can acquire the life they are entitled to.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Suicide has been in the news, and the stats from Allegheny County are getting worse

County data shows a 66 percent increase in suicides here since 2010
If you live in Allegheny County and you were saddened by the suicide deaths this week of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, or troubled by a new federal report that found a 25 percent increase nationally in suicide over nearly two decades, the story locally is similarly troubling.

Data from the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office shows that suicides in the county have increased 66 percent over just eight years from 2010 to 2017, with 215 people dying by suicide last year, compared to 130 in 2010.

Dramatic increase in suicide rate in Allegheny County A CDC report Thursday showed that the national suicide rate increased 25 percent between 1999 and 2016 and by 30 percent in Pennsylvania during that time. But data from the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office found that in Allegheny County the suicide rate increased 66 percent just between 2010 and 2017, when the number of suicides here increased from 130 to 215 cases.
Created with Highstock 

“It’s a striking number,” said Jack Rozel, medical director of re:solve Crisis Center, the designated Allegheny County crisis center that works with people who need mental health support, “and it really begs the question of are our resources enough?”

The county increase over just eight years is far higher than the 25 percent national increase, or the 30 percent increase in Pennsylvania over 18 years between 1999 and 2016 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a report issued Thursday.

“This is really upsetting to me because for so long our [suicide] rates were going down,” said Lisa Pan, a psychiatrist and University of Pittsburgh researcher who works with adolescents dealing with depression.

A 2016 Allegheny County Department of Human Services study of the county’s suicide data from 2002 to 2014 found that suicide rates were stable and then began dropping from 2003 to 2010.

Dr. Pan and other local experts wondered if the large increase in Allegheny County’s suicides since 2010 was tied to the recent even more dramatic increase in opioid overdose deaths.

But the county’s Chief Medical Examiner Karl Williams said because of the focus in recent years on the opioid issue, he has closely examined opioid death cases, and maybe “only a couple” of them were confirmed suicides.

“So I don’t see [suicides by opioids] as something of a trend,” he said.

The county’s 2016 study did find that poisoning or drugs was the third leading cause of suicide in the county from 2002 to 2014 after firearms/explosions (which are the cause of nearly half of all suicides) and asphyxiation (one-third of all suicides).

But Dr. Williams said in the overwhelming majority of overdose suicides the drug used is an anti-depressant, not an opioid.

Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said, however, that while the surge in suicides here may not be directly related to opioids, it could result from some of the same trends that researchers have been finding among death data over the last decade.

“So much of this [increase in certain death rates] is being driven by the white, male, middle class population,” she said. “They’re calling these ‘diseases of desperation,’ and they include opioids, suicide and even alcoholism.”
Such diseases and mortality increases are tied to economic issues and “feeling left behind by the economy,” Dr. Hacker said.

Another factor related to the stories this week that experts are concerned about is the issue of “contagion” that occurs not only when people who are at risk of suicide, see or hear about someone they feel affinity with who has also committed suicide.

Ms. Spade, 55, the designer behind her successful namesake label Kate Spade New York, was found dead in her New York apartment on Tuesday morning. Mr. Bourdain, 61, host of CNN’s “Parts Unknown,” was found dead in his Paris hotel room Friday morning. Both were ruled suicides by authorities.

“I was heart sick this morning when my husband told me Anthony Bourdain died,” Dr. Hacker said, “because he was a role model for older men who want to try different things and take risks in their lives.”

“I am particularly worried right now; the ripple effects [after celebrities commit suicide] are important and real,” she said.

study published earlier this year found a large increase in suicides — among men in particular — in the months after actor Robin Williams killed himself in 2014.

That just reinforced prior studies that showed that not only can news of celebrities’ suicides lead to other suicides, but so can the suicide of someone familiar to a person who has dealing with depression.

“We do know that when there are widely reported and widely shared deaths, in particular involving details about how they died, those stories can actually be very provoking for those struggling,” said Jennifer Sikora, area director for the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “and that can lead to them considering suicide rather than seeking help.”

In Allegheny County, Dr. Rozel points out that his facility, re:solve Crisis Center in Point Breeze, is a 24-hour operation that can provide not only counseling by phone, but has a mobile unit that can come to someone’s aid at any time with professional care, “or just a shoulder to cry on.”

And all of it is either covered by insurance — government or private — or paid for by Allegheny County, for anyone who lives in the county.
Dr. Rozel said he “does worry about knowledge of resources” like re:solve. But one of the big services they provide is navigating the variety of mental health services available in the county from hospital-based care, to private facilities, to county-based services.

The re:solve facility is always busy — with 300 to 400 calls a day and 30 to 40 mobile responses a day — so Dr. Rozel said he is not sure what impact the news of Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain’s deaths may have.

“But I do know that we’ve already been hearing about the content of their story” in calls from people seeking re:solve’s help.

Dr. Pan said she has been checking with her patients to see what impact those stories may have on them, in particular because both Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain presented images of people otherwise in control of their lives.
“Their stories just show again that no one is safe from the risks of depression,” she said. “It can happen to anyone.”

Sean D. Hamill: or 412-263-2579 or Twitter: @SeanDHamill

Correction, posted June 8, 2018: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect percentage for the increase in suicide rate for Allegheny County.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Great news!

We just won our class-action lawsuit to protect funding for the evidence-based $100-million-a-year Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

The Trump administration had sought to pull grants previously committed to local programs around the country and divert the funds to pay for abstinence-only programs.

We sued on behalf of 62 program grant recipients.

Now the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has held that action to be unlawful, preserving funding for the grant recipients.

This is a big deal.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program has helped drive a historic decline in teen birth rates.

By contrast, ideologically driven abstinence-only education is a proven failure.

Here’s what Evelyn Delgado, president and CEO of Healthy Futures of Texas — the lead organization in the class action — said about our victory:
With this decision, our youth now have the chance for better health, educational attainment and economic opportunities that will change their lives. The decision enables us to continue making significant progress in reducing teen birth rates in Texas and across the country.
To satisfy ideological extremist demands, the Trump administration was willing to throw that away.

We stopped them.

That's what happens when we come together and fight for accountability, justice, health and equality.

Thanks for all your support, and for all you do.


Robert Weissman
President, Public Citizen

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Cyprus in danger of becoming an aggressive launching pad instead of a bridge of peace

Statement by Yiorgos Loucaides, AKEL Political Bureau member and AKEL-Left-New Forces Representative

AKEL C.C. Press Office, 4 June 2018, Nicosia

On the occasion of the news report published in “Kathimerini” newspaper about Cyprus entering NATO’s waiting room and the government’s subsequent silence on the issue, questions arise which the Presidential Palace is called upon to give an answer.
Firstly, has the policy with regards Cyprus’ accession to the waiting room of NATO returned, as this report mentions?
Secondly, is the government’s official strategy the transformation of Cyprus into an outpost of the West and NATO?
Thirdly, have the country’s armaments been subordinated to the US and NATO warmongering plans for the South East Mediterranean?
Fourthly, are the above, as well as the reports referring to the increase in arms spending in “Kathimerini” newspaper linked to the commitments made by the government in relation to the Permanent Structured Cooperation on security and defence (PESCO)?
To the extent that this report of “Kathimerini” is indeed confirmed, instead of becoming a bridge of peace and solidarity in our troubled area, our country will be in danger of being transformed into an aggressive launching pad of NATO and into a firing and training ground for foreign armies, with all that this would mean for the future of Cyprus.

At the same time, these developments violate the Greek Cypriot side’s long-standing position for the demilitarization of the Republic of Cyprus with the solution of the Cyprus problem. By pursuing such a policy, substantial arguments are provided to the Turkish side to seek the permanent staying of its troops in Cyprus after the solution of the Cyprus problem. We wonder, what are the Anastasiades government’s goals?

Guns and Suicide

Guns and Suicide
May 2018

Guns claimed more than 38,000 lives in the United States in 2016. Yet unknown to most people is the fact that the most common type of gun death in our nation is suicide, not homicide. Equally unknown, and just as misunderstood, is the fact that the vast majority of suicides are preventable. People who use a gun to kill themselves aren’t necessarily more suicidal than those who use other means, they just have the tragic misfortune of having the most lethal means available to them in their time of depression and turmoil. Below are key facts regarding suicide and firearms.

##  In 2016 (the latest year for which complete national data is available) there were 44,965 suicides in the United States: 123 suicides per day; one suicide every 11.7 minutes. Of these 44,965 deaths, more than half (51.0 percent) used a firearm to take their own lives.

    *  Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Homicide is the 16th.

    *  Nearly three out of five people who die from gunshot wounds take their own lives.

    *  In 2016, the number of gun deaths by suicide in the United States was 22,938, whereas suicide by suffocation resulted in 11,642 deaths and suicide by poisoning resulted in 6,698 deaths.

##  A common argument is that a suicidal person will find a way to kill himself or herself no matter what — and a gun just happened to be available. However, the Harvard School of Public Health notes that “virtually every other method is less lethal than a firearm so there’s greater chance the person won’t die in their attempt...With a firearm, once the trigger is pulled, there’s no turning back.”

    *  Approximately 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal. Many of the other most widely used suicide attempt methods have case fatality rates below five percent.

    *  Guns, unlike other methods, require less preparation and planning. Nearly half (48 percent) of suicide attempt patients reported less than 20 minutes elapsed from first thought of suicide to actual attempt.

    *  “Attempters who take pills or inhale car exhaust or use razors have some time to reconsider mid-attempt and summon help or be rescued. The method itself often fails, even in the absence of a rescue.”

##  Every study that has examined the issue to date has found that within the United States, access to firearms is associated with increased suicide risk.

    *  “Merely having a gun in one’s home increases the likelihood that someone living there will commit suicide by a factor of 2 to 10.”

    *  States with higher rates of gun ownership tend to have higher rates of suicide than states with less gun ownership.

    *  One analysis found that, in total, there were almost twice as many suicides among people living in high- gun states as there were in low-gun states even though non-firearm suicides were about equal.

##    The Harvard School of Public Health created the Means Matter Campaign because “means reduction” has been proven to reduce suicide rates.

    *  When lethal means are made less available or less deadly (“means reduction”), suicide rates by that method decline, and frequently suicide rates overall decline. This has been demonstrated in a number of areas in the context of suicide: bridge barriers, detoxification of domestic gas, pesticides, medication packaging, and others.

    *  Firearm owners are not more suicidal than non-firearm owners; rather, their suicide attempts are more likely to be fatal because of guns’ heightened lethality.

    *  Nine out of 10 people who attempt suicide and survive will not go on to die by suicide at a later date.

    *  A lethal weapon available to a person in the depths of despair can end a life in an instant. Firearms are used in five out of 10 suicides in the U.S. Removing lethal means from a vulnerable person, especially a youth, can save a life.


Comment by Don McCanne

Although we desperately need to improve our health care financing system because of its high costs and mediocre performance, leaving too many out, we need to intensify efforts at improving public health and prevention. It would be great to have an improved Medicare for everyone, but that is of little help when presented with someone who just died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. For that problem, prevention is an imperative.

Guns are a public health hazard. In 2016, guns claimed more than 38,000 lives, and almost 23,000 were by suicide. Understanding the facts, as listed in this report from the Violence Policy Center, lead to some obvious conclusions as to interventions that would help. Some can be accomplished in the private sector, but others clearly require public policies and regulations.

What do gun regulations and a single payer national health program have in common? We've known for decades the public policies in both of these realms that we need to enact in order to improve the protection and preservation of our health, and yet we have failed to act. Yes, we have many regulations for both health care and guns, but they are so feeble that they have failed us.

Are we going to continue to let America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) obstruct the reforms that we need? Or are we finally going to let our elected representatives know that we are serious about wanting action now.

Today is election day in California. I'm about to vote, and these issues will certainly influence my selections. I hope that they will influence yours as well.

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