2018 Free Thinkers Headline News
12-12-18 2018 'worst year for US school shootings'
This year, 113 people have been killed or injured in school shootings in the United States. That's the sobering finding of a project to count the annual toll of gun attacks in schools. At the beginning of 2018, Education Week, a journal covering education in the US, began to track school shootings - and has since recorded 23 incidents where there were deaths or injuries. With many parts of the US having about 180 school days per year, it means, on average, a shooting once every eight school days. Another database recording school shootings says 2018 has had the highest number of incidents ever recorded, in figures going back to 1970. That database, from the US Center for Homeland Defense and Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), uses a different way of identifying gun incidents in school, and says this year there have been 94. The idea behind the year-long Education Week project was to mark each shooting - so that attacks should never come to seem "normal" and that every victim should be remembered. But it was also an attempt to fill in the gaps in knowledge, because while there was intense media coverage of multiple-casualty shootings, there was much less clarity about the attacks happening across the country each month. Lesli Maxwell, assistant managing editor of Education Week, said this year has "definitely been an outlier" with two large-scale school shootings, which have contributed to such a high annual loss of life. Seventeen people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. At Santa Fe High School near Houston, Texas, there were 10 killed, with both gun attacks carried out by teenage boys. "This year also stands out because of all the activism that followed Parkland, with students leading the charge," says Ms Maxwell. These included a shooting at a primary school in Virginia last month, when a parent collecting their child was shot in the leg when a gun in the pocket of another parent was accidentally fired. Or in March in a high school in Maryland, when a 17-year-old teenager shot and injured two students and then, after he was confronted, killed himself. One of the injured, a 16-year-old girl, died a few days later. The shootings are a bleak list of teenagers, guns and innocent victims. The perpetrators are as young as 12 but are mostly 16 or 17. (Webmaster's comment: The slaughter of the innocent continues!)
11-29-18 Drug and suicide deaths rise as US life expectancy drops
Life expectancy in the US has dropped once again, thanks in part to rising suicide and drug overdose rates, according to new government reports. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found nearly 70,000 more Americans died in 2017 than 2016, with rising rates of death among 25- to 44-year-olds. Thursday's reports revealed synthetic opioid-related overdose death rates rose by 45% on average, nationwide. The suicide rate is also the highest it has been in decades. Americans can expect to live just over 78 years and six months on average - a 0.1 year drop from 2016, according to the report released on Thursday. "Tragically, this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide," said CDC director Robert Redfield in a statement. "Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wake-up call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable." The top 10 leading causes of death - including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and suicide - were the same as in 2016, accounting for the majority of deaths. Only cancer death rates decreased by 2.1%, while the rates for most other causes increased. US women continue to outlive men, and the death rate did decrease among 45- to 54-year-olds. Between 2016 and 2017, mortality rates also decreased for black women, and there was no significant change in rates for black men and Hispanic Americans. Life expectancy in the US began dropping in 2015. Monaco and Japan currently have the longest life expectancies in the world at 89 and 85 years. The UK's life expectancy is around 80 years. As the US grapples with an opioid crisis, overdoses claim more and more lives, the CDC report found. The age-adjusted death rate has gone up 16% per year since 2014. Drug overdose deaths accounted for 70,237 deaths last year - nearly 10% higher than in 2016 - with a significantly higher rate of death among men, compared to women.
11-30-18 The slow-motion collapse of the American health-care system
Neglect and complexity are killing tens of thousands of people America is in sad shape. Despite the strongest economy in at least 20 years, life expectancy has declined on average for the third straight year — which has not happened since World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic. This is driven mostly by an appalling rate of suicide, which has increased by 33 percent between 1999 and 2017 to the highest level in half a century, and the rate of drug overdose, which has increased by a staggering 356 percent over the same period. There are certainly some cultural and economic factors here, particularly the very high rate of firearms ownership in rural areas (which makes suicide attempts more deadly), and the social dislocation from de-industrialization (where overdoses are concentrated). But another is America's bloated, Kafkaesque nightmare of a health-care system, which is slowing collapsing before our very eyes. Let's examine two facts. The first is the typical cost of health care for a family of four on an average employer-sponsored plan, taken from a Milliman Research Report. It has increased almost $5,000 just from 2014 to 2018, to $28,166. Note the median household income in 2017 was $61,372, and health-care costs have exceeded income growth by a long shot for decades. The second is what is being bought with that increased money. Despite the huge increase in spending, the answer is less health care for everything except prescription drugs. As this chart from the Health Care Cost Institute details, skyrocketing costs have pushed people away from treatment — especially inpatient care, which declined by nearly 13 percent from 2012 to 2016. The American health-care system is a hellish tangle of bureaucracy, the various (often-deadly) inefficiencies and injustices of which would take several shelves full of books to describe. But these two trends paint a decent broad-strokes picture of what's happening: Americans are paying more for less. We are pitilessly soaked for health care — worse than any other country, by far — and getting steadily less actual treatment for our money.
12-7-18 Life expectancy: A nation afflicted by despair
America remains a rich and powerful nation, but millions of our citizens are “wracked with grief and despair,” said David French in NationalReview.com. Stark evidence of that paradox was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest annual report on American life expectancy, which showed our average span either falling or stagnating for the third consecutive year. The last time we saw a downward trend in life expectancy, America was fighting World War I and suffering through a flu pandemic that killed 675,000. Now drugs and suicide are mostly to blame. The overdose rate is up 356 percent since 1999, and the 2017 death toll—70,237—“far outstrips the total American fatalities in Vietnam.” For a large swath of our population, the family structure has broken down, amid rampant divorce, children being raised out of wedlock, and young men unable to find jobs that support a family. “We’re facing not so much a drug problem as a heartbreak problem,” said Mona Charen, also in NationalReview.com. With families and social bonds crumbling, an AARP study found one-third of Americans reported chronic loneliness. Isolation is a state “about as deadly as smoking.” The life-expectancy decline is far worse in rural America, said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. There—where unemployment and poverty rates are higher—the suicide rate is almost twice that of urban counties. President Trump “owes his presidency to rural Americans,” but other than offering them cultural resentment and scapegoats, he’s done nothing for them. In fact, he’s further hurt them with a devastating trade war that shut Chinese markets to U.S. farm products and cost farmers billions.
2018 Free Thinkers Headline News