In late February, a Maryland university president was ordered to step down. Formally a financial industry executive, Simon Newman served as the president of Mount Saint Mary's in Emmitsburg for one year. A student newspaper article quoted the president comparing struggling freshmen to bunnies that should be drowned or shot. Newman fired few faculty members who did not agree with his view, including philosophy professor Thane Naberhaus and provost David Rehm. Two student journalists of The Mountain Echo, Rebecca Schisler and Ryan Golden, reported the incident, stating that the university was planning to cull struggling freshmen as part of an effort to improve retention numbers and thus improve their ratings in national publications like US News & World Report. The students quoted Newman, who was attempting to convince an incredulous professor last fall of the idea. "This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can't. You just have to drown the bunnies." He added, "Put a Glock to their heads."
Source: New York Times
Death rates from drug overdoses are climbing across America, reaching levels similar to the HIV epidemic of the 1980s. In 2014, 47,055 people died in drug-related overdoses—nearly 125 people every day. While HIV was mainly a problem of the cities, these drug overdoses "cut across rural-urban boundaries," resulting in an outsize number of rural deaths. More than 61 percent of these deaths in 2014 were related to the use of opioids. In New Hampshire, 326 people died in 2014 from an opioid, including heroin and fentanyl, a painkiller nearly 100 times as powerful as morphine. The chairman of the New Hampshire Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Timothy R. Rourke, stated that the high death rates were signs of a bigger problem: the lack of funding for substance abuse treatment.
Source: New York Times
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick seeks to create the first supervised heroin injection facility in the United States. Only two of these facilities currently exist—both in Vancouver, British Columbia. According to a study done in 2011, heroin-related deaths have decreased by 35 percent within a 500-meter radius of the center, compared with only a 9 percent decrease elsewhere throughout the territory since their launch. Vancouver Coastal Health's Anna Marie D'Angelo said, "It's a harm-reduction model. You do reduce the harm that illicit drugs are doing to you, but you're also connecting the client to care. It's just not some place where you inject; there's a whole kind of process." Myrick notes that creating the supervised heroin injection facility is part of a four-pillared comprehensive plan to combat drug addiction, involving treatment, harm reduction, public safety, and prevention. The intention behind the center is to reduce the risk of disease, overdose, and deaths surrounding drug use, as well as decrease rates of incarceration, save taxpayers money, and expand access to treatment.
Source: Ithaca Journal
According to a University of Michigan study done last February, cheese is highly addictive. Some scientists have referred to it as "dairy crack." Cheese affects the brain the same way opioids do. A chemical called casein triggers the brain's opioid receptors—which are linked to the control of pain, reward, and addiction. Milk contains a small amount of casein, but the chemical is more highly concentrated in cheese—it takes 10 pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheese. According to the University of Illinois Extension Program, caseins compose 80 percent of the proteins found in cow's milk. Doctor Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said that casein "breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates called casomorphins." Casomorphins stimulate the dopamine receptors in the brain, making one more susceptible to addiction.
Source: Good, Daily Mail (UK)
Steven and Dwight Hammonds, two ranchers in Oregon, received thousands of dollars from the federal government to kill coyotes. Five coyotes were shot from the air by a USDA official at the Oregon ranch, costing taxpayers more than $11,000. Since 2000, Wildlife Services has killed nearly one million coyotes, using traps, snares, and poison, as well as guns. Many critics claim that the US agency's policies do not recognize the importance of predators in ecosystems. When coyotes are killed, females reproduce more rapidly, often at a younger age. Nearby coyotes also move into the unoccupied territory and hunt livestock. Critics also note that Wildlife Services has a "kill-first" approach that has resulted in the accidental death of many birds, otters, black bears, and other animals. Kathleen and Brian Bean of Lava Lake Ranch in Idaho use nonlethal methods to prevent predators from attacking. They use a combination of night shepherds, dogs, high-intensity lights, and brightly colored fences. "Wildlife Services funds the lethal control methods, but they don't fund the nonlethal. That in and of itself disincentivizes nonlethal methods, and incentivizes the reliance on the federal government for predator control," says Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote.
According to Japan's most recent census data, the country's population has declined by one million people over the past five years. By 2060, Japan's population is expected to decrease by one-third—with almost half the population being over 65. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has introduced new policies to increase the population—some of which are giving tax incentives to families that have children and increasing access to child care. Abe does not intend to promote foreign immigration—which has been propping up population numbers in other industrialized countries with decreasing birthrates—he wants Japan to remain an "extremely homogenous" country.
A recent study has shown that the number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in the United States increased by 6 percent in the first 6 months of 2015, though the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates the number to be closer to 10 percent. The increase in deaths has been linked to cell phone usage and an increase in the number of people driving vehicles, due to low gas prices, and walking, due to health benefits. Alcohol has also been a factor in the crashes: In 2013, 34 percent of cases revealed pedestrians to be under the influence, while drivers were under the influence in 15 percent of the cases. In 2014, 21 states had a decrease in their pedestrian fatality number, while 26 states saw an increase and three remained unchanged.
Source: Boston Globe
A report released in March by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that an estimated 12.6 million people had died from unhealthy living environments in 2012. Most of the deaths were in Africa and Asia. Environmental factors like air pollution were the primary cause, which led to heart disease, strokes, cancer, and lung and respiratory illnesses. Water pollution and poor sanitation have major health risks, such as diarrheal diseases and malaria. Chemical exposure, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation are other elements that have caused death. WHO is working with countries to create cleaner environments—both indoors and outdoors. At the World Health Assembly in May, WHO plans to present a proposal for reducing the negative health effects of air pollution.
Source: New York Times, World Health Organization