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Hometown: San Diego, CA
Home country: United State of America
Current location: San Diego
Member since: Tue Sep 6, 2016, 02:22 AM
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Journal Archives

U.S. Suicide rate at its highest in 50 years

Suicide Rate Highest in Decades But Worst in Rural America
Demographics, gun ownership and the economy largely account for the regional differences.

A review of the federal data shows that it's rural America that is sustaining the largest increases. The aggregate suicide rate for counties outside of metropolitan areas climbed about 14 percent over the five-year period ending in 2016. By comparison, the rate within metro areas also increased -- but only by 8 percent. The largest metro areas, in particular, experienced relatively small increases compared to everywhere else.

The suicide rate is highest in the Western U.S., with Montana (26 deaths per 100,000), Alaska (25.4 deaths per 100,000) and Wyoming (25.2 deaths per 100,000) recording the highest rates. Rates were about three times lower in the more urban states of Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Regional differences are largely a function of demographics.

White men die at the highest rates -- roughly 10 times that of Hispanic women and black women -- because they tend to have greater access to firearms. Women, on the other hand, carry out more suicide attempts but generally do so using less lethal means.

Gun ownership, which is more prevalent in rural areas, also explains why certain regions have higher suicide rates. Firearms account for about half of all suicide deaths. Research has found that mandating waiting periods, gun locks and other gun control laws are associated with fewer deaths.

U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for Third Year in a Row

Reflecting Rising Drug Overdoses, Suicides
Drop represents longest sustained decline in expected lifespan since 1915 to 1918.

ON average, life expectancy across the globe is steadily ticking upward—but the same can’t be said for the United States. Three reports newly published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight a worrying downward trend in Americans’ average life expectancy, with the country’s ongoing drug crisis and climbing suicide rates contributing to a third straight year of decline.

The three-year drop represents the longest sustained decline in expected lifespan since the tumultuous period of 1915 to 1918. Then, the decrease could be at least partially attributed to World War I and the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic. Now, the drivers are drug overdoses, which claimed 70,237 lives in 2017, and suicides, which numbered more than 47,000 over the same period. Both of these figures rose between 2016 and 2017.

“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health,” CDC Director Robert R. Redfield said in a statement, “and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.”

2015 marked the first recorded drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993, with Americans shaving an average of 0.1 years off of their lifespans. The same proved true in 2016 and 2017, making the latest projection 78.6 years, down 0.3 years from 2015’s 78.8. Broken down by gender, men could expect to live an average of 76.1 years, down from 76.2 in 2016, while women could anticipate living until 81.1, the same age projected in 2016.

Although the country’s aging Baby Boomer population factored into the decline, increased deaths amongst younger and middle-aged individuals (particularly those between 24 and 44) had an outsized effect on calculations.

Kathryn McHugh of Harvard Medical School: “We're seeing the drop in life expectancy not because we're hitting a cap people in their 80s, because people are dying in their 20s 30s.”

The overall number of deaths across the U.S. totaled 2.8 million, or 69,255 more than in 2016. Of the top 10 leading causes of death—heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries (drug overdoses constituted slightly less than half of this category in 2017), chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide—only cancer witnessed a decrease in mortality rates. Seven, including suicide and unintentional injuries, experienced increases.

The rising number of overdose deaths corresponds with the growing use of synthetic opioids known as fentanyls. Deaths involving fentanyl increased more than 45 percent in 2017 alone, while deaths from legal painkillers remained stable from 2016 to 2017. To date, the overdose epidemic has wrought the most devastation in Northeast, Midwest and mid-Atlantic states.

Robert Anderson, chief of the Center for Health Statistics’ mortality branch: “the leveling off of prescription drug deaths may be the result of public health initiatives designed to curb the widespread availability and subsequent abuse of such medicines. Still, the rising prevalence of fentanyl, which is often mixed with heroin or falsely marketed as heroin, means the nation’s drug crisis is far from over.”

More than 32 million pills

Thirty-one doctors, seven pharmacists, eight nurse practitioners and seven other licensed medical professionals across the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia have been charged in schemes involving “opioid pushing” and health care fraud, according to the Justice Department. In one instance, a doctor was writing 100 prescriptions a day. In another, a doctor had a pharmacy operating just outside his waiting room. The cases combined involve 350,000 prescriptions and more than 32 million pills.

Mueller Report:14 Referrals Of Potential Crimes To Outside Offices

Special counsel Robert Mueller referred 14 cases of potential criminal activity to outside offices because the cases were “outside the scope of the special counsel’s jurisdiction,” according to the Mueller report.

We know about two of them: Michael Cohen’s alleged wire fraud and Federal Employees’ Compensation Act violations case and ex-Obama administration official Gregory Craig’s alleged FARA violations. Both were referred to the Southern District of New York.

The other 12 referrals of potentially criminal evidence were all redacted for reasons of “harm to ongoing matters.”
Cohen’s been a key player in Mueller’s probe for some time. As soon as Mueller took over the Russia investigation when former FBI Director James Comey was fired, the federal prosecutors set their sights on Cohen. Trump’s former fixer ultimately pleaded guilty to a slew of financial crimes, lying to Congress, and campaign finance violations related to his role in paying a porn star to keep quiet about an alleged affair with Trump. Cohen received a reduced sentence for cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Craig’s indictment came just last week when he was charged with making false statements to the Justice Department about his work for Ukraine and Paul Manafort. Craig’s case was initially referred to the SDNY, but was then transferred to federal prosecutors in D.C. Investigators believe Craig made false statements to the Justice Department about his work for a Ukrainian political party. The ex-Obama administration official argued in a video released after the indictment that he didn’t intentionally mislead the agency.

Voted for Bernie then voted for Trump

12 percent of people who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries voted for President Trump in the general election. That is according to the data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study — a massive election survey of around 50,000 people.

Political science professor Brian Schaffner of University of Massachusetts released the data on Wednesday.
Schaffner's numbers show that after a bitter Democratic primary, more than 1 in 10 of those who voted in the primaries for the very progressive Sanders ended up voting for the Republican in the general election, rather than for the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

What drove those voters to Trump? Schaffner dug into that, as well. What it wasn't was trade, an issue where Sanders was closer to Trump's philosophy than Clinton's. At least, the issue of trade didn't seem to have that much of an impact.

Party seems to have had something to do with it — Sanders-Trump voters were much less likely than Sanders-Clinton or Sanders-third party voters to have been Democrats. Likewise, approval of President Barack Obama appears to be related — Sanders-Trump voters approved of Obama much less than other Sanders primary voters.

And then there is race. Nearly half of Sanders-Trump voters disagree with the idea that "white people have advantages."

This tracks with broader observations about election 2016 — for example, in general, the larger a state's general-election Trump vote, the less likely its residents are to perceive a lot of discrimination in the world, according to data from the Public Religion Research Institute. And another postelection study — co-authored by Schaffner — found a "relatively strong indication that racism and sexism were more important in 2016 than they had been in previous elections."

To answer the question that many Clinton supporters may be asking: By this data, yes — there are enough of those Sanders-Trump voters who could have potentially swung the election toward Clinton and away from Trump.

Specifically, if the Sanders-Trump voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania had voted for Clinton, or even stayed home on Election Day, those states would have swung to Clinton, and she would have won 46 more electoral votes, putting her at 278 — enough to win, in other words.

But then, it's not as simple as that. First off, this counterfactual world in which these voters didn't vote for Trump rests on a few ifs. If the Sanders-Trump voters in these three states had defected and if nothing else had happened to somehow take electoral votes from Clinton elsewhere and if this survey is correct ... then yes, Clinton would have won. (Some would also argue that if Clinton had campaigned more in the so-called "blue wall" states, she also could have picked up more votes.)

Mueller whacks Trump with evidence of obstruction

Special counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report is more damning than President Donald Trump has publicly claimed, detailing Trump's aggressive efforts to interfere in the Justice Department's Russia probe and declining to rule out that Trump obstructed justice.

Far from the “complete and total exoneration” the president has declared in recent weeks, the report depicts a president who made repeated moves to thwart the investigation into his campaign and presidency, possibly because Trump was trying to hide other, potentially criminal behavior — although Mueller found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy to help Russia influence the 2016 election.

The report, which riveted Washington Thursday, recounts Trump's repeated attempts to fire Mueller and his anger when those efforts became public. It also details an effort to pressure staffers to send an email exonerating him and notes that the president had more knowledge of an aide’s potentially criminal behavior than he may have let on.

One implication of the report is that Trump may have escaped a finding that he obstructed justice only because his top aides refused to carry out his most dramatic orders. Indeed, Mueller’s team describes several of Trump's actions as satisfying all the legal elements of obstruction.

The 448-page report is the culmination of a nearly two-year-long investigation that has cast a shadow over Trump’s time in office as questions swirled around whether Trump’s campaign conspired with Moscow intermediaries to sway the 2016 election, and whether the president tried to impede an investigation into the matter.

While the exhaustive document confirms that Mueller found no conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin, it contains numerous unfavorable observations regarding potential obstruction of justice and sheds light on why the special counsel chose to neither exonerate Trump nor conclude that he committed a crime.

ICE readmits deported illegal alien

Immigration officials last week deported the spouse of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2010, leaving the couple's 12-year-daughter in Phoenix, then abruptly reversed its decision on Monday when the deported man was allowed to return to the U.S.

Jose Gonzalez Carranza, 30, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers last Monday on his way to his welding job and then deported to Nogales, Sonora, early Thursday morning, according to Gonzalez Carranza and his attorney, Ezequiel Hernandez.

Gonzalez Carranza was married to Army Pfc. Barbara Vieyra, who was killed on Sept. 18, 2010, while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. She was 22.

During an interview, Gonzalez Carranza told The Arizona Republic he was allowed to re-enter the U.S. through the DeConcini port of entry in Nogales, Arizona Monday afternoon.

He said he was then driven back to Phoenix where ICE officials dropped him off at the agency's headquarters near downtown.

ICE officials offered no explanation for the decision to allow Gonzalez Carranza to return to the U.S. But Hernandez believes the reversal was triggered by media attention the deportation received.

Gonzalez Carranza said he was eager to see his daughter, who lives with her grandparents.

He said he had not told her he had been deported because he was afraid she would be further traumatized after the loss of her mother.

Reached by phone earlier Monday in Nogales, Gonzalez Carranza said he had been living in a shelter for deported migrants in Nogales, Mexico, a city he didn't know, and was worried about his daughter, Evelyn Gonzalez Vieyra, a U.S. citizen.

"I feel so bad," Gonzalez Carranza said. "I'm thinking about, I might never see her again."

Hernandez said it seemed cruel for ICE to inflict additional pain on the man and his daughter, noting the trauma they experienced after the death of his spouse.

"There are plenty of people you can go after but not a guy whose wife died in Afghanistan," he said.

Vieyra was mortally wounded when insurgents attacked her unit using an improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenade fire in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, the Pentagon said at the time. Her unit had been sent to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director at the ACLU, said she could not recall a similar deportation. She said the deportation was unnecessary.

“It’s the height of cruelty for ICE to deport the father of a child whose mother died while serving in the U.S. army in Afghanistan," Wang said. "The government can exercise its discretion not to pursue deportation against the sole remaining parent of a U.S. citizen child under these circumstances."

Gonzalez Carranza said he came to the U.S. illegally from Veracruz, Mexico, in 2004, when he was a teenager. He said he and Vieyra married in 2007.

After his wife was killed in Afghanistan, Gonzalez Carranza was granted what is known as “parole in place,” which allows immigrants in the country illegally to remain in the U.S. without the threat of deportation, Hernandez said.

An immigration judge then terminated deportation proceedings against Gonzalez Carranza based on the parole in place, Hernandez said.

However, ICE refiled the case in 2018, Hernandez said.

A judge ordered Gonzalez Carranza deported in December 2018 after Gonzalez Carranza didn't show up for his court hearing, Hernandez said.

But the reason Gonzalez Carranza didn't show up is because he never received the notice, Hernandez said. He said ICE sent it to the wrong address.

Gonzalez Carranza didn't find out a judge had ordered him deported until ICE officers came to his house last Monday and took him into custody, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he filed a motion to reopen Gonzalez Carranza's deportation case. The motion triggered an automatic stay of removal, but ICE deported him anyway, Hernandez said.

Wang also said it Gonzalez Carranza should not have been deported if there was a stay of removal. She said, however, it is "not uncommon" for ICE to violate stays of removal.

On Monday, Hernandez sent out a news release to draw attention to Gonzalez Carranza's case.

Hernandez said he can't understand why ICE deported him. Gonzalez Carranza has no criminal record, he said.

Republican congressman under investigation

Schweikert joins two Republican congressmen who are currently under federal indictments: Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins.

Representative David Schweikert is running up big legal bills as the House Ethics Committee investigates the Arizona Republican's dealings with his former top aide and other employees.

Schweikert owes more than $229,000 to law firms, according to his just-released campaign filings. And that's on top of the tens of thousands of dollars he has already paid his defense team during the ethics probe.

The House Ethics Committee — following an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent ethics watchdog — launched a formal probe last year into allegations that Schweikert misspent official funds and received illegal campaign contributions from his former chief of staff, Oliver Schwab, and other employees, according to a statement from the panel.

The Ethics Committee said in December that it was looking into whether “Representative Schweikert may have used official resources to benefit his campaign or pressured congressional staff to perform political activity,” whether Schweikert “authorized compensation to an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with his House employment,” whether Schweikert or his campaign committee “received loans or gifts from a congressional employee” and whether Schweikert failed to include information on his annual financial disclosure reports or FEC filings.

Schweikert has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in his dealings with Schwab, dismissing it as a matter of “clerical mistakes.”

Trump Favorability Ratings Average: 3/13 - 4/9– 41.2% favorable/53.1% unfavorable
The Economist/YouGov: 4/6 - 4/9 1267–Registered Voters 44% favorable/53% unfavorable
Politico/Morning Consult: 4/5 - 4/7 1992– Registered Voters 40% favorable/55 unfavorable
Georgetown University Politics/Battleground: 3/31 - 4/4-1000 Registered Voters 40% favorable/55% unfavorable
InvestorsBusinessDaily/TIPP: 3/28 - 4/6 907 Adults 42% favorable/51% unfavorable
Public Policy Polling (Democratic polling firm): 3/27 - 3/28–846 Registered Voters 42% favorable/54% unfavorable
NBC News/Wall Street Journal: 3/23 - 3/27–1000 Adults 40% favorable/51% unfavorable
Harvard-Harris: 3/25 - 3/26–1437 Registered Voters 39% favorable/56% unfavorable
CNN: 3/14 - 3/17–914 Registered Voters 42% favorable/53% unfavorable
USA Today/Suffolk University: 3/13 - 3/17–1000 Registere Voters 42% favorable/50% unfavorable

Trump Job Approval Average: 3/23 - 4/14 43.3% approve/52.4% disapprove
Emerson College: 4/11 - 4/14–914 Registered Voters—43% approve/49% disapprove
Rasmussen Reports: 4/10 - 4/14 1500 Likely Voters 50% approve/49% disapprove
The Economist: 4/6 - 4/9-1267 Registered Voters 43% approve/55% disapprove
Reuters: 4/5 - 4/9-2667 Adults 39% approve/56% disapprove
Politico: 4/5 - 4/7-1992 Registered Voters 40% approve/56% disapprove
Gallup: 4/1 - 4/9-1012 Adults 45% approve/51% disapprove
Georgetown University Politics: 3/31 - 4/4–1000 Registered Voters 43% approve/52% disapprove
Investors Business Daily/TIPP: 3/28 - 4/6-907 Adults 41% approve/52% disapprove
The Hill: 4/1 - 4/2–1000 Registered Voters 46% approve/54% disapprove
Public Policy Polling (Democratic Pollster): 3/27 - 3/28–846 Registered Voters 42% approve/52% disapprove
NPR/PBS/Marist College: 3/25 - 3/27–834 Registered Voters 44% approve/50% disapprove
NBC/Wall Street Journal: 3/23 - 3/27–1000 Adults 43% approve/53% disapprove
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