The Latest – Your Berning Week

 collageGiovanni LoPiccolo

This week on The Latest – Your Berning Week, we discuss states’ actions on gun control, the opioid crisis, North Korea, discovering white supremacy in our schools, the EPA working on an agenda that contradicts its founding purposes, and more. You can find more information on many of these topics on the Berning Media Network homepage, as well as the full articles.

 

Monday, March 5th

  • Dayanna Volitich is a middle school teacher in Florida, and apparently has been running a white supremacist podcast, under the pseudo-name Tiania Dalichov. She proposed that Muslim terrorism will continue to occur until we eradicate Islam, according to our very own Berning Media article, Middle School Teacher in Florida Caught Running White nationalist Podcast by Patrick Vinson.

Racism and white supremacy in this country has never gone away, and many could argue it isn’t dwindling. Upon the election of Donald Trump as President, and even really when he was campaigning, he allowed the wretched and ill-spirited of this country to come out of the shadows. This President has allowed them to feel comfortable in their acts of hatred against our very own, as well as any non-white, non-straight, non-Christian individual. One of our many goals, to maintain the integrity of being American, is to condemn white supremacy and racism back into the cave it managed to crawl out of. Racists decry that the concept of political correctness is dictating their lives, and they’re just being honest – no, that’s being indecent.

 

Tuesday, March 6th

  • Florida State Senate passes gun control measures, including raising the age to buy a gun at 21, and also investing $400 million for mental health services.
  • North Korea willing to discuss “freezing nuclear assets”

This is a step in the right direction, and more recently it was announced that the Florida Governor signed the bill into law. For a state that gave its electoral votes to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, it is relieving to see them tackle gun control. This isn’t all that should be done, for that troubled individual can now wait until he’s 21 to buy an AR-15. Hint: the assault weapon itself is the problem.

The next small issue I have is the attention to mental health. Yes, attention to mental health is important, but it is not such a big factor in these mass shootings. The student who committed the shooting in Parkland, Florida was bullied throughout his high school career and was socially outcasted, it wasn’t about having a mental illness. He was a troubled child who needed someone to talk to. States need to invest in their schools more, invest in proper psychiatrists and therapists in schools, and invest in having many of them for each school. And if your argument is to arm teachers or have armed guards at schools; there was an armed sheriff at the high school in Parkland, and he didn’t go inside upon hearing gunshots.

In regard to North Korea freezing their nuclear assets, this is also a step in the right direction. At this point, North Korea wants the world to know they shouldn’t been seen as a joke, or just a rogue state. They have weapons capable of flattening cities and want to be taken seriously. If the US, or even Donald Trump, does meet with Kim Jong Un, it is imperative they do not come off as threatening and demanding. If Trump’s first thing he says to Kim Jong Un is to get rid of the nuclear program, the talks won’t go far. They need to develop a dialogue by listening to what they have to say, and go off of that.

 

Wednesday, March 7th

  • Former President Barack Obama’s Presidential Library raises property values in the south side of Chicago (has not been completed).

Barack Obama has his heart in the right place, for choosing his home city for his Presidential Library, but it’s having some negative repercussions on the community. I think, what we’re having here, is a situation where there are both positives and negatives to building the Obama Presidential Library in this location. And in this case, the positives outweigh the negatives. When I think of Presidential Libraries, I think of elite and untouchable buildings that represent the person whose been removed from society during their time as President. I can’t speak for everyone with my first thoughts. But what Obama is trying to do is take away that idea of being removed, or placed on a pedestal above everyone else. It’s more about honoring humble beginnings, and giving back to the community that helped you get to where you are.

 

Thursday, March 9th

  • President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agree to meet sometime by May, which would be the first meeting between our two countries’ heads of state.

Kim Jong Un’s goal is to establish international recognition of his power and prestige through the development and success of a nuclear weapons program. Nations around the world, like the US, China, Russia, the UK, and France have become world powers not only because of their economies, but also because of their nuclear stockpile. Kim Jong Un believes he’ll receive a spot at the table as a significant and major world leader if he has nuclear weapons, and the North Korean state will be legitimized upon meeting with the US President. He’s agreed to stop missile testing during the meeting, which shows, he isn’t an erratic or entirely unstable man. Donald Trump will most likely praise himself for establishing a meeting, and also having Kim Jong Un cease the missile tests. There’s nothing we can really change about that, but we really know why Kim Jong Un really stopped. It wasn’t because of Trump’s “fire and fury” comments.

 

Friday, March 10th

  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown spoke on Capitol Hill for the Senate’s special hearing on the opioid crisis and instructed lawmakers to treat drug addicts as patients, not criminals.

Oregon once again shines and leads by showing the rest of the country how to tackle this crisis. The biggest problem we could make because of our ignorance or stereotyping on people who use opioids is that they are criminals, and should be thrown in jail or left to die. The last thing we need is a country that is gearing up to just throw you in a prison for having been prescribed a drug that you’ve become addicted to, or live in such impoverished conditions that the only way to make yourself feel better is to take said drug. For when someone falls over, you don’t kick dirt in their face, you help them up.

 

 

 

 

 

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Oregon Governor tells Congressional Committee to Treat Drug Addicts as Patients and not Criminals

On Thursday Oregon Governor Kate Brown appeared at the U.S. Capitol for the Senate health committee’s special hearing on opioids. Brown told the congressional committee that they should change their focus from treating drug abusers as criminals to treating them as patients.

Governor Brown has experienced the opioid epidemic in her own household. At the hearing she told the story of her son, who would abuse drugs daily to get by. Brown said a teacher caught him abusing drugs in high school, but when the family tried to get him help, their health insurance stood in the way.

In her statement she said;

“He had to go through two separate outpatient and inpatient treatments and relapses before our insurance would cover the residential program he so desperately needed.”


She went on to say how the War on Drugs is continuing to criminalize people who should be getting medical treatment not punished. She also went to to acknowledge that the federal government has taken note of the epidemic.

“That leaves us, the states, to right the wrongs of a war on drugs that has done nothing to address the issues that drive this health crisis, while our prisons and our foster care systems are filled to capacity with its victims, I know that you have held several sessions on the opioid crisis to date, and I applaud this committee for taking such a close, thoughtful look at the issue.”


In 2017 President Donald Trump declared the Opioid Epidemic a national crisis, claiming that his administration would take on the epidemic head on. The White House also recently proposed $13 billion in new funding for treatment with the Department of Health.

U.S. Secretary of State cancels Kenya trip due to falling ill

According to Reuters Rex Tillerson, who is the Secretary of State, has canceled events scheduled for Saturday due to not feeling well. This was announced by the State Departments spokesman, Steve Goldstein.


“The secretary is not feeling well after a long couple days working on major issues back home such as North Korea and has canceled his events for the day.”


Currently no other details have been released at this time to the public. The illness isn’t life threatening that we know of, and will keep the story updated if more information comes out.


Featured photo via Foreign Policy

Trump to meet with Kim Jong-un

President Donald Trump has agreed to personally meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, with the date to be set no later than May. This statement was made by officials at the White House, and would mean an unexpected encounter between the two nations after months of mutual hostility. It would also be the first summit between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

The offer by Kim Jong-un was first passed on to South Korean officials after both countries met in Pyongyang earlier this week. The South Korean delegation then delivered the invitation to Donald Trump after meeting with the American President on Thursday, and praised his influence over the developments. Trump agreed to meet with Kim, after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders announced that the American leader would “accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined”.

According to the South Korean officials, the North Korean leader was “commited to denuclearisation”, a move which China also welcomed. Donald Trump hailed the “great progress” which was being made in the relation between both countries, but said sanctions on the Asian country would remain in place.

Barack Obamas “Presidential Library” causes low income areas Home Values to sky rocket

At the beginning, hearing that former President Barack Obamas Presidential library would be on the South side of Chicago in Woodlawn, many hoped it would create jobs and benefit the community. But this simply was no the case for the situation when renters in the area saw their Home Values rocket.

The OPC is anticipated to bring a major jolt of investment to that part of the city: According to the Obama Foundation, the center will have a $339 million economic impact during construction, and $177 million annually from the three-building campus once it opens. An economic assessment by the Obama Foundation predicted the center would generate close to 5,000 jobs during construction and about 2,500 jobs after it opens, projecting a total economic impact of $3.1 billion through its first decade.

However, that doesn’t solve the issue of renters not being able to afford their rent. Woodlawn is one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, according to estimates by real estate brokerage Redfin.

Redfin reported in 2017 that between February and July, Woodlawn had the third-highest increase in estimated home values compared to that of its metro area in the country.

Redfin estimates home values went up by 23 percent in the first six months of the year, a rate far faster than the 4.6 percent increase in value for the Chicago area as a whole.

Speculation about the construction of the Obama Presidential Center in nearby Jackson Park at the northeast corner of the neighborhood might be driving some of the change.

But Woodlawn had one of the lowest median home prices on the list at $133,800, and one of the lowest percentages of homes selling over list price, at 22 percent.

That may all show that the market in Woodlawn is heating up, but not overheating like North Shoreview in San Franciso, No. 7 on the list, where the median home price is now more than $1 million, and 95 percent of homes sell for more than the asking price.

U.S. Census numbers from last year showed the neighborhood is growing in population again for the first time in decades, driven by an influx of young black families.


Barack Obama stated that the purpose for his library is to inspire visitors and locals “to make a positive change in their communities,” yet the project has already begun to alienate the very community it’s meant to change.

When it’s finished, the center will include a community garden, a “test kitchen,” and a recording studio where visitors will be able to “create their own songs, speeches, short films, and interviews,” according to the Foundation’s website.

But residents from the neighborhood have said multiple times that they do not want any of that. They want their public park, their low-cost housing, and their culture. They want their elected officials to listen when they want to be heard, residents continue to ignored while their communities are destroyed.


It seems that Obama is once again taking executive power for granted: His library will neither contain his presidential documents, which have all been digitized, nor be administered by the National Archives and Records Administration , the two elements that are required for a official presidential library.

In fact, the Obama Foundation has even named it the Obama Presidential “Center,” and the only books it may possibly contain would come from the Chicago Public Library.

In other words, it’s not even a presidential library. It is, in Barack Obama’s words, a “gift to the community” that will spread his message. The Foundation explains this on its website by pointing out that the center itself will be a living testament to the values of Obama’s presidency.


However residents aren’t the only ones let down by the decision of the location. Park preservationists have expressed disappointment about the choice because it means the library will have a bigger footprint in Jackson Park. Like Washington Park and the Midway Plaisance, the strip of green that connects the two finalist sites, Jackson Park was designed by the great 19th-century landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

In a statement Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks, said; “We still don’t think it should be in a park”.

But the group says that it does not plan to challenge the center in court, as it did against the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which caused George Lucas to pull the project from Chicago.

Near the eastern edge of the University of Chicago campus, the 543-acre Jackson Park is a South Side oasis, with a wooded island in a picturesque lagoon, lush woods and a golf course.

Jackson Park’s western edge along Stony Island Avenue connects with Woodlawn, an impoverished African-American neighborhood that is beginning to gentrify. And the Hyde Park neighborhood, just north of Woodlawn and surrounding the university, already is booming.

Many citizens living in the community are worried of the community being gentrified, something former President Barack Obama doesn’t seem to worried about.


Democratic Party IS a Sinking Ship

Broken

Giovanni LoPiccolo

On March 6th, 2018, the United States Senate voted 67 to 32 to open the debate on deregulating the biggest banks and the financial industry. 16 of those who voted to allow the debate were Democrats. The Democratic Party is broken, they have no clear purpose, no vision, and no allegiance to the American people. The progressive wing, sometimes known as the Elizabeth Warren wing, of the Democratic Party is standing on a sinking ship. Some of the notable individuals who voted against it were; Senators Bernie Sanders (Vermont), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein (California), Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer (New York), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), and Ron Wyden (Oregon). Notable Democrats who voted for it were Senators Tim Kaine (our 2016 Dem. Vice Presidential Nominee) (Virginia), Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire), and Doug Jones (Alabama).

The Great Recession of 2008 happened because of George W. Bush’s tax cuts, and then the deregulation of the financial industry. The fact the debate passed in a landslide, means it is almost certain the Senate will pass said deregulation on the biggest banks. The Democrats had originally saved the economy in 2008-2009, thanks to Barack Obama’s stimulus package and increasing spending, so what are they doing now? There could be a long-shot chance that those Democrats who voted for the debate will vote against the bill that comes after it, we really don’t know for sure.

However, this does mean one thing: the Democratic Party stands for nothing. Remember the DACA deadline? That was March 5th, you haven’t heard any Democrat speak of it (thankfully the program is still running). Donald Trump is now using that against Democrats, the party who could set us on the right path for the future. So that brings up the question, what do we do? Well, we make sure a progressive Democrat wins the White House in 2020, and Democrats retake both houses of Congress.

What we need is electoral reform. We need someone like Bernie Sanders as President to open up primaries, allow third party candidates to have a fair shot at winning political offices. This two-party regime must come to an end. People like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders know that the way to fixing many of the problems we see today is to take over the Democratic Party, to infiltrate it, overturn Citizens United, thus beating the DNC at its own game. But it needs to be taken a step further.

Our next President should encourage the breaking up of both major parties. The Republican Party has a moderate wing and more radical wing (Tea Party) just as the Democratic Party has a moderate wing and a progressive wing. Allowing more parties to join the fray of national politics will allow more viewpoints to be represented, libertarians, moderates, conservatives, centrists, and progressives. The two party system has only given us frustration, both to Republican and Democratic voters.

Much of the Democratic Party doesn’t realize what direction America is going. Meaning not what Republicans are doing, but what the majority of people want. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of adults under 30 believe the government should be responsible for giving us health insurance, and 54% of adults over the age of 65 believe so as well. Just a few years ago Bernie Sanders was the only co-sponsor to his Medicare-for-all bill, and just recently only shored up a few dozen more senators to support him when he re-introduced it. They aren’t catching on fast enough. All we want is a government that works for us and protects us.

The fact there are Democrats willing to let this banking deregulation vote happen, shows they aren’t entirely in this fight to give us an America that we deserve. Not all of them are ready to stand up to corporate America. Only a very few Democrats are on the right side of history. Yes, Republicans would have let the debate taken place since they have a majority, even if every Democrat voted no. But, it’s about principle, about your morals, what you believe in and who you believe you’re fighting for. When you run for public office corporations and banks don’t cast a vote, the people do.

We need more Senators like Bernie Sanders, being Independent. Not being bound by an archaic political faction that threatens to ruin your career if you disobey them. Let’s remember, a few months ago, Elizabeth Warren said on CNN that the Democratic Primary was rigged for Hillary… and then backtracked. The DNC won’t last long at this rate.

Opioid overdoses increased by roughly 30% across the US in just 14 months, according to new CDC report

Across the US in just 14 months between 2016 and 2017 opioid overdoses increased by roughly 30%, according to a new report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It recorded 142,000 overdoses in US hospital emergency departments between July 2016 and September 2017, saying this should be a “serious wake up call.”

According to the CDC, overdoses kill about five people every hour across the U.S. with the victims totalling 5,400 more in 2016 then the soldiers who died during the entire Vietnam war.

Not all of the overdoses in the study were fatal, but they are part of the grim toll opioids have taken. In 2016 in the US, illicit and prescription drug overdoses killed 64,000 people.

The CDC’s Vital Signs study looked at two different sets of data. The first set was, the Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance (ESOOS) program, which is a snapshot of emergency department data from 16 states.

Out of those 16 states, eight of those states included saw “substantial” overdose increases of at least 25%. Two states reported overdoses more than doubled, including in Wisconsin with 109% and Delaware with 105% increases. Another dramatic increase occurred in Pennsylvania, where overdoses went up 81%.


Overdoses also increased in “cities and towns of all types”, the report said. Overdoses are often associated with rural America but metropolitan areas with 1 million or more people saw the steepest increase, at 54%.

While the CDC did not look at the source of opioids, Schuchat said illicit fentanyl-laced heroin is “a very major problem right now”.

The CDC’s second data set found that,the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP), which covers 60% of emergency departments in 45 states, to look at regional changes. Researchers said overdose rates in that system increased about 30% in all regions and most states.

Officials said in order to effectively stop our growing opioid crisis, that communities would need more naloxone, a drug that reverses an overdose, better access to mental health services and medication-assisted addiction treatment, harm reduction programs to screen for injection-drug associated diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, and for physicians to use prescription monitoring services.

Donald Trump has recently expressed a desire to “sue” opioid manufacturers, and the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced the justice department’s support of local lawsuits. States like New York have filed suits against opioid manufacturers in recent months, blaming them for the on going epidemic sweeping the country.

the White House has appropriated new funding to treat people affected by the opioid crisis, despite pleas from public health officials, some of whom have put a starting price tag at $6bn.

Some changes to health programs, especially the public health insurance program for the poor, Medicaid, may be counterproductive to treating people addicted to opioids.

A quick example of this would be how the Trump administration has approved work requirements for Medicaid coverage in Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana.

The new requirements put in place are expected to leave thousands of disabled and poor Americans without any health coverage at all, largely thanks to bureaucratic hurdles the Trump administration has put into place.