The end of the world as we know it.
Life expectancy in the United States has dropped 2 years in a row. Yikes.
In this piece, I’d like to cover the in-depth reports outlining 2017, and then we will get into the overview for 2018 in the next piece. Three reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that in 2017, it was the longest decline in U.S. life expectancy at birth since World War I. Sadly, the dismal reports show that rising suicide and drug overdose rates were among the main contributors to the decline.
Between 1915 and 1918, WWI and a flu pandemic killed 675,000 people in the U.S. and an estimated 50 million people worldwide. That was the last time there was such a startling drop in the number of years Americans could expect to live. In most developed nations, life expectancy has continued to climb over the decades.
The reports suggest that American society is quite sick.
Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, said: 
“Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health 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.”
Joshua M. Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice and community engagement at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: 
“I think this is a very dismal picture of health in the United States. Life expectancy is improving in many places in the world. It shouldn’t be declining in the United States.”
S.V. Subramanian, a professor of population health and geography at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, asked:
“After 3 years of stagnation and decline, what do we do now? Do we say this is the new normal? Or can we say this is a tractable problem?”
An American born in 2017 can expect to live 78.6 years at birth, down 1/10 of a year from 2016, according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Men can expect to live 76.1 years, down 1/10 of a year from 2016. Life expectancy for women remains unchanged from 2016, at 81.1 years.
The overall number of fatal drug overdoses rose from 63,632 in 2016 to 70,237 in 2017 – an annual record. Opioids sold on the street caused 47,600 overdoses in 2017 – another record, driven largely by an increase in fentanyl deaths. President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency in August, 2017 
The number of fatal drug overdoses has more than quadrupled since 1999. Deaths from opioids were nearly 6 times greater in 2017 than they were in 1999.
There was no increase in overdose deaths from legal painkillers in 2017. As well, heroin overdoses did not rise. Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the Center for Health Statistics, said that efforts to keep legal painkillers off the streets and out of the hands of drug dealers, as well as prescription drug monitoring programs, may have contributed to the steady numbers.
Authorities have been cracking down on so-called “pill mills,” unscrupulous doctors, and states have been going after drug companies that belched out suspicious amounts of pills to states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
Anderson also credits the wider availability of the opioid antidote naloxone, efforts to educate substance abusers as they leave jail, more treatment programs, and expanded Medicaid programs for the lack of an increase in legal opioid and heroin overdoses.
As 2018 draws to a close, provisional data for the first 4 months of the year hints at a plateau in overdoses and possibly a slight decline.
But the plateau in heroin deaths doesn’t necessarily mean fewer people are dying from hard drugs. According to Sharfstein, it reflects the fact that fentanyl has overtaken heroin on the illicit drug market.
In fact, the reports show that fentanyl-related deaths climbed from 19,413 in 2016 to 28,466 in 2017.
Yet, despite all this death and chaos, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently decided to approve a powerful new opioid that is 5 to 10 times more potent than fentanyl.
West Virginia continues to lead the nation in overdose deaths, followed by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, the data show. The state least affected by drug overdoses was Nebraska, where there were just 8.1 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents. By comparison, West Virginia had 57.8 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents.
As doctors and researchers work to find ways to expand Americans’ life expectancy, it seems that many Americans simply want to “check out” and do so by taking their own life.
Suicide has been the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. for the last decade, increasing from 10 suicides per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 suicides per 100,000 people in 2017. Female suicides increased more sharply than male suicides, though more men than women die by suicide each year.
Between 1999 and 2017, the male suicide rate increased by 26% – from about 18 suicides per 100,000 to almost 22 per 100,000.
The suicide rate among women during that period rose from 4 suicides per 100,000 to nearly 6 per 100,000, or 53%. Women between the ages of 45 and 64 experienced the highest suicide rates in both 1999 (6 suicides per 100,000) and 2017 (nearly 10 suicides per 100,000).
Suicide rates in rural counties were significantly higher than in urban counties.
“We must all work together to reverse this trend and help ensure that all Americans live longer and healthier.”
He added that the CDC “is committed to putting science into action and to protect U.S. health.”
This news is obviously unfortunate, but hopefully with more awareness being risen around the country, we can collectively take measures improve quality of life across the board.
The world looks on America as something very different than it really is. Much of what is told of America, both good and bad, is simply as Donald Trump says, “fake news.” Americans themselves know little about America. Few travel within their own country. America, you see, if 50 little countries, some like California or Florida or Texas, a virtual “Europe” in themselves, with regions unidentifiable as part of anything at all.
Keeping America divided has been a game for a long time, perhaps since the earliest beginnings when great corporations like the Virginia Company, financed by Europe’s banking elites, unleashed Europe’s excess population, and Europe’s military prowess as well, on an unsuspecting population of 10 million native Americans who, two centuries later, would become a remnant of walking ghosts.
Today I was sent a documentary on Seattle, Washington filmed by KOMO News, a local television station. Seattle has long been seen by other Americans as a gleaming city, moderate weather, startlingly robust economy, mountains and oceans, pure vistas, a cultural mecca that openly discourages even moderately well-to-do professionals from settling there.
But that changed. You see, the rest of America has become a toilet. Cultural degeneration, drugs, economic disaster, a nation with untreated mentally ill, tens of millions of addicts and the largest prison population in the world couldn’t hide it forever.
The “great toilet” of America had to “flush” sometime and when it did, certain cities, bastions of permissiveness and liberal values, where there to accept the effluent. Among those, San Francisco and Seattle, now America’s leading cities in property crime, addiction and homelessness.
These are also cities where a moderate working-class home can cost $1 million.
I sat through an hour of trash heaps and streets lined with the shadows of human beings, who have flocked to “Free-Attle,” the name that has spread across a secret network of addicts, petty criminals and homeless that have been told that laws aren’t enforced, police are helpless, food and medical care is free and the local population exists only to be stolen from and fed upon.
In other areas of America, the behavior seen in Seattle would be met with force. In Seattle things are different, this is the Northern Silicon Valley, a land of tech giants and, let us not forget, Boeing Corporation, the land where Starbucks rules. As much as we all may well love our devices and our coffee, those who deliver both, those who see themselves as “Masters of the Universe” because of their control of the internet, our political races, our news and even our private lives, are the great “solvers.”
Yes, people who have lived their lives writing code and playing video games have been handed an entire region of the United States to rule as they will.
Driving the politics of ignorance that has led to the destruction of what had been two of the planet’s greatest cities is the tech giants, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and a thousand others. America educated a generation of programmers and “fake entrepreneurs,” and created a hell from heaven and, as we are also noting, a New World Order of surveillance and social manipulation.
Their efforts can be seen in how they treat where they live and work, cities whose streets teem with endless armies of screaming paranoids, “meth-heads” and “stoners.” Twenty years ago, the people of San Francisco got used to seeing AIDS victims dying on the sidewalks, learned to look away or step over the bodies.
One might wonder if the video game industry, that “other” drug culture, along with the insular existence on social media created a mind set where engineering human degeneration might well be considered a competitive sport. Then we have drugs, we can’t forget that. Drugs are a key component to the lives of every American, millions of methamphetamine addicts and tens of millions of opioid addicts, legalized marijuana and a culture based on gratification and ambivalence.
The culture of drugs that is now running America had its beginnings long ago. A century ago, heroin was sold over-the-counter as a “relaxant” and pain reliever and cocaine was in soft drinks. When the 1960s arrived, a generation of Americans, driven to rebel against decades of self-righteous repression in the midst of a divided racist culture, was primed for being unleashed.
Along with the cultural upheaval of The Beatles and the music revolution came LSD and a general acceptance that altered reality led to human growth. Though this message may well have value, there is little doubt that it opened a floodgate.
By the 1970s, Vietnam veterans became the prime offenders, self-medicating for PTSD or going to university where they joined several million “displaced” or “throw-away” children of the “greatest generation.”
The 1980s saw America flooded first with cocaine, and anyone who doesn’t see the hand of the CIA behind this is blind. Cocaine soon emerged as “crack,” a highly addictive form that flooded America’s inner cities, destroying them in ways no nuclear weapon could approach, with “crack addicts” a virtual army of “walking dead.”
Drugs had always been the business of America’s “Mainline” families, the Cabots and Astors, or rather the Cabotas and Astorgas were one to trace their real origin to the ancient Sephardic banking consortiums of 16th century Italy. These great shipping families of America’s Northeast, centered around the universities, Harvard and Yale, ran the slaves, carried China’s opium for Britain and profited from every war as “Americans,” just as they had when they funded Napoleon and his foes.
As is so often the case, when you open a door, there is so much behind it, lending toward recognizing those who profit from despair and suffering, but our story is a much smaller one today, or is it that small? As it plays out, the story enacted in San Francisco and Seattle is also London and Paris or Berlin.
We return then to America and the generation after what Russians call The Great Patriotic War. In America it was a “watershed,” where those born in its wake would find themselves
Parents of “baby boomers” were the veterans of World War II or survivors of the Great Depression who managed to put their lives together at age 50, starting families late in life.
When I was a child growing up in Detroit, most of my friends had fathers old enough to be World War I veterans, dropping like flies from heart attacks and years of cigarettes and working in factories laden with the stench of carcinogens. Washing one’s hands with carbon tetrachloride (Google never heard of it) was common.
For Americans, the rural South and West, the teeming cities, the only hedge against cultural decay and rampant crime is economic isolation. For that, moderate to great wealth is required or to simply stay silent.
Americans share, though many are unaware of this, the suffering that America’s global policies inflict on others. America’s economic wars, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, China, and the list grows hourly, our misguided war on terror, have lowered standards of living around the world, generally assumed to foster unrest and dissatisfaction. Why then is it being done at home?
That answer is also simple, to foster unrest and dissatisfaction.
One might ask why a nation would subject itself, its own people, particularly those who blindly support political leaders whose policies are destructive to their own supporters and constituents, to a life of hopelessness and potential radicalization.
Why would a nation assume political and economic policies that put millions on the streets to parasite off of and embattle those around them fostering anarchy and crime.
This is what we saw in Seattle, the “gem of the Pacific,” mountains of trash, armies of the unwanted, not sent to but rather openly welcomed in, “come steal from us, kill us, spread filth on our streets, defile our parks and monuments.”
The end result of what we have seen is telling. Behind it is fear, as in the lessons many Israeli’s have learned, that walling out the Palestinians has, in truth walls them in. There is no being “above” suffering.
When suffering is engineered, be it greed or social experimentation, perhaps those choosing lives of suffering for others might be held to task.
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War that has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades and consulted with governments challenged by security issues. He’s a senior editor and chairman of the board of Veterans Today, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
Whilst the rate of absolute child poverty has decreased gradually since 2012, figures have begun to rise again, new UK government data revealed on Thursday.
Roughly 3.7m children are living in absolute poverty across the UK, an increase of 200,000 in a year, new data from the UK government has revealed.
The new figures have challenged claims from British cabinet ministers who said last year that absolute poverty rates had been falling.
The news comes after a Resolution Foundation study showed last month that the number of children living in poverty would instigate a crisis by 2023 — 2024 if the government failed to implement effective changes to universal credit and other UK benefits systems.
The Resolution Foundation said that the main factors driving UK income inequality were benefits and tax credit cuts, which hit lower and working class families with over two children the most.
Research from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in line with the new data also showed that the Cabinet’s four-year freeze on child benefits would result in losses of roughly £240 per year for families.
CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: “Despite high employment, today’s figures reveal that 70 per cent of children living under the poverty line have at least one parent in work. That is not an economy that is working for everyone.”
She added that the increase in child poverty for working families had been “widely anticipated and could have been avoided” but that the government chose to ignore the dangers and missed “another opportunity to do the right thing for children and families despite the fact that the freeze had already achieved its planned savings”.
“At this critical point in the UK’s history, we need to step back and ask what kind of country we want for our children.”
Such cuts to social welfare systems, in addition to Brexit, were fuelling the increasing poverty numbers, according to a report in November from the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
UK ministers were “looking at what more can be done to help the most vulnerable and improve their life chances,” a government spokesperson said. “Tackling poverty will always be a priority for this government, and we take these numbers extremely seriously.”
“Employment is at a record high, wages are outstripping inflation and income inequality and absolute poverty are lower than in 2010,” the spokesperson added. “But we know some families need more support, which is why we continue to spend £95bn a year on working-age benefits.”
A new report reveals that some 3,000 minors are among the 14,000 people who are currently engaged in prostitution in Israel.
A new report has revealed that some 14,000 people in Israel are currently engaged in prostitution, including 3,000 minors.
Citing figures presented at the annual conference on the status of women held last week, Israeli daily the Jerusalem Post said 95% of sex workers in Israel are women.
The conference was held on Thursday by the Gender and Feminism Studies, M.A. at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem al-Quds, the paper said.
The age of entry into prostitution in Israel is as low as 13, and only 20% of the women engaged in the vocation ultimately manage to escape the cycle of prostitution, it said.
Most of the women engaged in prostitution have experienced severe sexual abuse in childhood, according to testimonies from women caught up in the cycle and those who have left it.
Na’ama Goldberg, founder and director of the Don’t Stand Aside (Lo Omdot Mineged) organization, said women entering prostitution in Israel are those who have no choice.
“In many cases we are talking about severe traumas such as incest, girls coming from non-functioning homes, complete with neglect of their emotional needs, running away from home and straight into the arms of pimps with the aim of seeking love. That’s where the vicious circle begins.”
With permission from
March 8, 2019
In November 2015 two Princeton economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton (a Nobel Prize winner), released a revealing study, “Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among whitenon-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century.” It was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The economists’ findings were scary: “Over the 15-y[ear] period, midlife all-cause mortality fell by more than 200 per 100,000 for black non-Hispanics, and by more than 60 per 100,000 for Hispanics. By contrast, white non-Hispanic mortality rose by 34 per 100,000.”
In one of their few non-technical digressions, the scholars acknowledge: “After the productivity slowdown in the early 1970s, and with widening income inequality, many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents. Growth in real median earnings has been slow for this group, especially those with only a high school education.”
In a 2017 follow-up, Case and Deaton published a revealing, if scarier, study, “Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century.” Their findings are alarming:
We find that mortality and morbidity among white non-Hispanic [WNH] Americans in midlife since the turn of the century continued to climb through 2015. Additional increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcohol-related liver mortality — particularly among those with a high school degree or less — are responsible for an overall increase in all-cause mortality among whites.
They persuasively argue that this developed is “triggered by progressively worsening labor market opportunities at the time of entry for whites with low levels of education.”
While most Americans are ever-fearful of cancer and heart disease, the scholars note that declines in these conditions has been offset by “increases in drug overdoses, suicides, and alcohol-related liver mortality in this period.” They identify this growing condition as “deaths of despair” and it is leading to increased mortality among middle-aged NWH men and women. Sadly, many of these people are Trump supporters.
In their rigorous study, Case and Deaton argue, “deaths of despair are a large and growing component of midlife all-cause mortality.” They repeated stress that this is very much a U.S. phenomenon and is in marked contrast to the mortality rates of “other wealthy countries” (i.e., Europe and Japan).
They show that between 1998 and 2015, the mortality rate for men age 50–54 with less than a bachelor’s degree increased by 14 percent (from 762 to 867 per 100,000) while the rate for men with a bachelor’s degree or more it fell by 30 percent (349 to 243.)
Equally significant, one of their observations challenges widely held conventions about race in the U.S. “Mortality rates of BNHs [Black Non-Hispanics] age 50–54 have been and remain higher than those of WNHs age 50–54 as a whole, but the rate for BNHs have fallen rapidly, by about 25 percent from 1999 to 2015.” They add, “as a result of this, and of the rise in white mortality, the black/white mortality gap in this (and other) age group(s) has been closing.”
Going further, they are pessimistic about the state of the nation: “Traditional structures of social and economic support slowly weakened … . Marriage was no longer the only socially acceptable way to form intimate partnerships, or to rear children.” They point out that “these changes left people with less structure when they came to choose their careers, their religion, and the nature of their family lives.”
Stepping back, they warn, “when such choices succeed, they are liberating; when they fail, the individual can only hold himself or herself responsible.” They add, “In the worst cases of failure, this is a Durkheim-like recipe for suicide.”
They also address a common assumption promoted by Joseph Stiglitz and embraced my many “progressives” – that the rise in suicides, overdoses and alcohol abuse is due to rising income inequality. “Our preliminary conclusion is that, as in previous historical episodes, the changes in mortality and morbidity are only coincidentally correlated with changes in income.” Going further they add, “We suspect that more likely causes are various slowly moving social trends — such as the declining ratio of employment to population, or the decline in marriage rates.”
Even more pessimistic, they conclude:“Ultimately, we see our story as about the collapse of the white working class after its heyday in the early 1970s, and the pathologies that accompany this decline.”
Case and Deaton are not alone in examining the growing concern of “deaths of despair.” Shortly after the 2016 election, Shannon Monnat published a revealing study, “Deaths of Despair and Support for Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.” Her analysis is pretty straight forward: “Much of the relationship between mortality and Trump’s performance is explained by economic factors; counties with higher economic distress and larger working-class presence also have higher mortality rates and came out strongly for Trump.” She adds, “In many of the counties where Trump did the best, economic precarity has been building and social and family networks have been breaking down for several decade.”
Equally telling, she details the toll the “deaths of despair” phenomenon is taking on the American public:
Over the past decade, nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. died from accidental drug overdoses and drug-induced diseases. Nearly 400,000 more committed suicide, and over 250,000 died from alcohol-induced diseases like cirrhosis of the liver. Approximately a fifth of these drug, alcohol and suicide deaths involved opiates (prescription pain relievers or heroin), suggesting that opiates are part of a larger problem.
One needs to add the nearly half-a-million deaths over the last decade caused by cigarette smoking to the list.
Monnat details how Trump over-performed the most in counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates. And that he performed best in counties with high economic distress and a large working class. She notes that “many of the counties with high mortality rates where Trump did the best have experienced significant employment losses in manufacturing over the past several decades.”
Monnat concludes on a cautionary note: “Clearly there is an association between drug, alcohol and suicide mortality and Trump’s election performance.” But she warns, “However, this relationship should not be interpreted as causal. No single factor (including race, education, income, rurality, or health) can explain this election outcome.”
That was 2016 – it’s now 2019 and the 2020 elections are beginning to heat up.
The overlapping problems of drugs, alcohol, suicide and despair kills thousands of Americans every year. Last year, the CDC reported that between 2006 and 2016 life expectancy in the U.S. rose from 77.8 to 78.6 years. However, it warned that the death rates for Americans aged 15 to 44 years rose by around 5 percent each year between 2013 and 2016.
It identified drugs, alcohol and suicide as the principle culprits and reported the following:
+ Drug overdoses killed more than 63,600 people in 2016; women saw the largest increase with those aged 45 to 54 having the most overdoses overall, but those aged 15 to 24 saw a 19 percent jump per year between 2014 and 2016.
+ Alcohol is a major public health concern with liver disease replacing HIV as the sixth-leading killer of adults ages 25 to 44 in 2016.
+ Suicide is on the rise, now the second-leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 24 between 2014 and 2016 as well as third-leading cause of death among people ages 25 to 44 killing almost 17 of every 100,000 people in 2016.
The concept of “deaths of despair” has not entered the political debate among any of the announced candidates, whether Trump or the Democrats, but the issues associated with it likely will play a critical role.
Earlier this year, Trump drew attention to the issue of drug overdoses. “Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War,” he noted. However, his concern about drug overdoses was driven not by the humanitarian issue but by the campaign promise to build “the Wall.” “Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl,” he said.
One can only wonder when the Democratic candidates will discover “deaths of despair” and, hopefully, begin to meaningfully speak to Trump base, thus further eroding his support and likely ending his efforts for reelection in 2020.