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"“It is not difficult to make microbes resistant to penicillin in the laboratory by exposing them to concentrations not sufficient to kill them… There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to non-lethal quantities of the drug make them resistant.” —Alexander Fleming, 1945"

Prescient words from his acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize for discovering antibiotics, we’re seeing the dangerous outcome of his predictions prove more and more these days. It’s so easy to forget that simple infections which can result from any number of daily exposures to bacteria could cut down healthy individuals in the prime of their life prior to antibiotics. And overprescription and, as Fleming warned, ignorant usage, and abuse by agricultural livestock industries have rendered most of the ones we have near useless and lead to the emergence of dangerously treatment resistant bacteria. Medicine is driven by capitalism, and given that antibiotics are designed to be used post-infection, responsibly for short regimens, there is little capital gain in investing in their development, especially as the initial investments grow larger with the degree of difficulty from these new strains, as such, in the past few years the last corporation to have an antibiotic development team shut it down. We live with the increasingly real possibility that our future could be just as the past was, simple infections claiming countless lives.

Watch now: FRONTLINE | Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria | PBS Video

You can always count on Frontline to exemplify cutting issues through intimate human stories and efficient research reporting. A topic that has long needed to be at the forefront of conversations about today and posterity, not idiocy in Washington. Without public health security, all other debates are philosophical. Before things have really started to take a turn for the worse, drug resistant infections already claim more lives than HIV, and are so much harder to prevent the spread of even in the first world, and there is little hope for treatment. Misuse by overprescription and abuse by livestock farmers have rendered so many antibiotics useless and helped instill drug resistance, and now (as this episode does a great job of illuminating) no pharmaceutical companies research antibiotics because they’re designed to be readily available but prudently used for short regimens, meaning they’re cheap and not a source of perpetual customers.

Failing to live up to the rules you hold over others

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon claims diplomatic immunity for the UN against the charge that it caused the cholera outbreak in Haiti & will therefore not answer to the case against it. 

They’re not following the very convention they’re invoking.

Article V, Section 20 of the Convention he’s using to shield the UN from answering to it says its his duty to waive immunity in any case where the immunity would impede the course of justice.

And Section 21 reads: “The United Nations shall co-operate at all times with the appropriate authorities of Members to facilitate the proper administration of justice, secure the observance of police regula- tions and prevent the occurrence of any abuse in connection with the privileges, immunities and facilities mentioned in this Article.”

Here’s the convention:

http://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/1946/12/19461214%2010-17%20PM/Ch_III_1p.pdf

Important elements of the administration’s gun plan that will probably get lost because of the debate of the controversial ones.

Whatever your stand on gun ownership is, I implore you to note these apolitical highlighted provisions in the plan/recommendations laid out by the administration that could be the great boon to public health and safety we’ve needed for sometime before you throw the baby out with the bathwater. Our national dialog tends to get obfuscated by both sides playing distractive or reductive arguments against one another, no actions by the state will prevent actions taken by individuals if they so choose, and yes there are ways outside the lines to obtain weapons (though a large portion of “illegal guns” are obtained through licensed dealers acting inappropriately with little recourse, or through straw purchases) but the idea that if you can’t stop everything from happening you should do nothing is absurd. Yes, more than legislative controls needs to be done, which is exactly what I’m choosing to highlight here. I do wish more attention had been placed on the responsibilities of gun dealers, too many rules look the other way while misuse of that vocation leads to greater availability of “illegal” weapons. Not to mention that control on federally-licensed entities is less of a political hassle to wrestle with than those on individuals, given the language of the 2nd Amendment, and the gun lobby’s prerogative to continue to appear as if their vested interest is in individuals’ rights rather than businesses’ outlook. The highlights on catching mental health problems before they escalate & working to remove the stigma of mental illness in our culture are extremely important. I do wish the language leaned away from only talking about the threat of mental illness leading to mass shootings and focused on where the majority of gun deaths arise from: suicides. Suicide has become so commonplace that 15-20,000 people using guns to kill themselves in this country each year does nothing to spark the kind of national attention mass tragedies do. Every single suicide is a tragedy. But this is a problem that is endemic, not isolated incidents like Aurora or Newtown, and one that requires more sweeping measures to curb as a result. The elements of the recommendations that will be more controversial are just that, recommendations, not executive actions, should they be enacted it will be by the will of Congress, so don’t start raising Cain in apprehensive objection yet. Though I would assume the majority of gun owners & those wary of controls are not among those who find it necessary to build personal arsenals of weapons of war (the type of person the media on both sides loves to give voice to as if they represent average gun owners, feeling it mutually advantageous to their arguments to imply that), those types of weapons and fully-implementing the background checks that have been a part of national legislation for nearly 20 years are the only real stakes for individuals here. Though I have to wonder why anyone without a financial stake in gun companies, or fear that their own irresponsible activities would be curbed would be averse to background checks, and ensuring the sharing of proper documentation to make those checks effective. You can read the entire document here, and I would encourage you to if you want to participate in an informed national dialog. http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/wh_now_is_the_time_full.pdf ———- Create serious punishments for gun trafficking: Today, criminals can easily buy guns from unlicensed dealers, or acquire them with the help of so-called “straw purchasers” who pass the required background check to buy guns from licensed dealers. But there is no explicit law against straw purchasing, so straw purchasers and others who traffic guns can often only be prosecuted for paperwork violations. We cannot allow those who help put guns into the hands of criminals to get away with just a slap on the wrist. Congress should close these loopholes with new gun trafficking laws that impose serious penalties for these crimes. Take executive action to enhance tracing data: When law enforcement recovers a gun during a criminal investigation, they can trace that gun’s path from its manufacturer, to the dealer who sold it, to its first purchaser. This gun tracing process helps law enforcement solve violent crimes by generating leads in specific cases and can reveal gun trafficking patterns when large amounts of tracing data are combined. However, not all federal law enforcement agencies are uniformly required to trace all guns they recover and keep in custody. The President will issue a Presidential Memorandum requiring them to trace all such firearms. Finally give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) a confirmed director: The ATF has not had a confirmed director for six years. There is no excuse for leaving the key agency enforcing gun laws in America without a leader. It is time for Congress to confirm an ATF director. End the Freeze on Gun Violence Research There are approximately 30,000 firearm-related homicides and suicides a year, a number large enough to make clear this is a public health crisis. But for years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific agencies have been barred by Congress from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control,” and some members of Congress have claimed this prohibition also bans the CDC from conducting any research on the causes of gun violence. However, research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need. Better understand how and when firearms are used in violent death: To research gun violence prevention, we also need better data. When firearms are used in homicides or suicides, the National Violent Death Reporting System collects anonymous data, including the type of firearm used, whether the firearm was stored loaded or locked, and details on youth gun access. Congress should invest an additional $20 million to expand this system from the 18 states currently participating to all 50 states, helping Americans better understand how and when firearms are used in a violent death and informing future research and prevention strategies. Analyze information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement: The Department of Justice will publish an annual report on lost and stolen guns to ensure that data collected by ATF is available. This report will include state-by-state statistics about guns reported as missing. Making this data available will provide valuable information to law enforcement about how to target its resources, and give states and cities the information they need to pass laws and take other effective steps to make sure that lost and stolen guns are reported. The Department will also identify best practices that are working today and encourage states and cities to follow those models. Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way. Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms. We need to do more than just keep guns out of the hands of people with serious mental illness; we need to identify mental health issues early and help individuals get the treatment they need before these dangerous situations develop. Make sure students with signs of mental illness get referred to treatment: Project AWARE also includes $40 million to help school districts work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to assure students with mental health issues or other behavioral issues are referred to the services they need. This initiative builds on strategies that, for over a decade, have proven to decrease violence in schools and increase the number of students receiving mental health services. Provide “Mental Health First Aid” training for teachers: Project AWARE includes $15 million for training for teachers and other adults who interact with youth to detect and respond to mental illness in children and young adults, including how to encourage adolescents and families experiencing these problems to seek treatment. Launch a national conversation to increase understanding about mental health: The sense of shame and secrecy associated with mental illness prevents too many people from seeking help. The President is directing Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan to launch a national dialogue about mental illness with young people who have experienced mental illness, members of the faith community, foundations, and school and business leaders. Finalize requirements for private health insurance plans to cover mental health services: The Administration will issue final regulations governing how existing group health plans that offer mental health services must cover them at parity under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires all new small group and individual plans to cover ten essential health benefit categories, including mental health and substance abuse services. The Administration intends to issue next month the final rule defining these essential health benefits and implementing requirements for these plans to cover mental health benefits at parity with medical and surgical benefits.

Tonight, while my prayers are with anyone who’s ever had their life impeded by the firing of a gun, public health is the concern sticking in my mind. We live in a country where tens of millions of people suffer from mental illness, and yet even the most effective treatments are cost-prohibitive & those who’re suffering are often embarrassed by stigma or left feeling like they don’t have anyone to turn to & so problems persist, lives are made painful instead of beautiful, potentials are limited, and from particularly sad cases like this, tragedy can be borne. Don’t ever make someone feel ashamed of problems they didn’t cause in themselves, or without hope, really mean it and be prepared to listen when you ask people “how are you?”, & if you feel isolated, depressed or especially held in the grip of worrying mental issues, speak up & take charge, with a concentrated effort on your part most people can recover. I’m living proof depression doesn’t have to damn you.