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Here is a question you may never have thought about: What do heroin and jobs have to do with one another?
We ask that in the context of a well-done albeit hard to read Web article by cable network CNN. You can find it at http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/16/health/huntington-heroin/index.html.
The article is about Huntington, West Virginia. You may have heard of the town. It is home to Marshall University. The community was the backdrop for "We are Marshall", the inspirational movie about the rebuilding of the university's football program after a plane crash killed the entire team.
Huntington is a town in Appalachia that in some ways resembles our own. The city sits on the banks of the Ohio River. It is home to 49,000 people, roughly midway between Paducah's population and that of the city and McCracken County combined.
But one thing about the town is decidedly not like Paducah. CNN says that one in four people there -- 12,000 in all -- is hooked on heroin or another opioid. One of the city's hospitals has a neonatal therapeutic unit for babies born addicted. One of 10 newborns there comes into the world addicted to heroin or some other substance. The CNN story says parents of those children are usually absent from the ward, presumably off shooting up somewhere while nurses deal with their inconsolable children.
Police in Huntington have little time for traditional police work. Nor do firefighters spend the bulk of their time fighting fires. Rather they serve as medical first responders saving members of the local populace from overdoses.
CNN says Huntington officers have become expert in administering Narcan, a prescription drug that can reverse opioid overdoses. It has generated a terminology in the addict community, where the question posed is: How many times have you been Narcanned? CNN says the answer not infrequently is 3-5 times.
How does a town -- a college town at that -- get to such a state? Some of it is cultural, with generations of families having histories of substance abuse. But what really stands out about the town is the job losses. Between 1970 and 2010 the town lost 25,000 residents as factories tied to the region's coal mines closed amid a prolonged slump.
The result has been blight in many once-vibrant middle class neighborhoods and falling incomes. The median household in Huntington now earns just under $28,700 and one-in-three people live in poverty. The story from there is not unlike what has been seen in pockets of eastern and northern Kentucky. With despair came drugs. First it was opioid pills. Then when legislatures cracked down with "pill mill" legislation, cheaper, more-potent heroin took root.
The late Fred Paxton, longtime publisher of this newspaper, often intoned a belief that: "There are not many problems in life that a good job won't solve." What we see in Huntington and parts of Kentucky as well is the reverse side of that. When people don't have hope and the dignity provided by good jobs, entire cultures can be laid waste.
That is why on a broader scale Americans' fears that good jobs are disappearing have produced so much political upheaval, as evidenced in the current presidential race. The political establishment has failed to deliver quality jobs, and the social consequences have been far-reaching. The presidential nominees falter when they focus on other things. Jobs and the economy are the issue that will decide the 2016 election.
By Jim Paxton
The Paducah Sun
By Glenn Mollette
Is Bush 41 a backstabber? The Republican Party has carried his family throughout their entire lives. Now at the age of 92, is this what he has to offer a party that has so elevated he and his sons their entire lives?
However, George H.W. Bush may have just accidentally sabotaged Hillary Clinton's Presidential race. Unfortunately for the Republican party Bush 41 wants Clinton to win. Sadly for Clinton, Bush 41 has come out for her. She probably would rather have a group of people with Ebola embracing her than Bush 41. Please don't get mad at me because I agree that George and Barbara are good and decent people. They spent their lives in service to his country. Most people in America are just sick and tired of the Bushes and the Clintons.
When George and Barbara were running for reelection for President I sat at an outside banquet table close to Barbara one night and kept the flag from blowing in her face. She was so kind to look at me and say, "Excuse me Reverend," every time she said damn. Every time she did that I wanted to say, "Grandma, please, don't do that out here in front of all these Christian people, who were sipping on their bourbon whiskey.
Bush 41 naturally supported his son Jeb. This was the right thing to do. How embarrassing to not support your son. Right? He didn't help him any. Jeb had a hundred million dollars behind him to handedly win the Republican primary and become the next President of the United States. Unfortunately neither all the big money nor the influence of his President brother George W nor his President Dad could help him to rise from the bottom. We've actually mostly forgotten this because it's the kind of stuff we really don't care to remember.
Understandably it hurts to lose. Jeb Bush was beaten so bad by Donald Trump that he probably will never get over it nor will his family.
It would be nice to see a unified Republican party. Unfortunately conservatism seldom unifies one hundred percent. There will always be one or two splinter groups in conservatism. They will be a little more conservative than the larger body and they will pull off to the side to do their own thing pulling a small percent with them. This small percent usually finds a way to beat down the larger body over one or two issues. This happened in the nation's largest Protestant denomination back during the eighties and nineties. The Southern Baptist Convention was a great denomination that had thousands of full time career missionaries, a thriving membership and multi-millions of dollars in financial support. A strong conservative thrust successfully took over the convention and then unfortunately they began to fight among themselves. Today, the Southern Baptist Convention barely resembles what it was in the early eighties.
Is Donald Trump worried a whole lot about Bush 41's decision? He wasn't worried much about the Bush family a few months ago. I doubt that he is now. For Bush 41 he will most likely go out of this life being remembered as someone who lived off the Republican Party his entire life with his entire family and then went out of this world knifing the Republicans in the back.
Glenn Mollette, originally from Inez, Ky., is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states.
By Glenn Mollette
Hillary Clinton has been sick, as the media has reported. We've heard about her pneumonia, seen her coughing at the podium and struggling to stay afoot as she was escorted to her car. The strenuous pace of campaigning for President of the United States would surely take its toll on any human body.
Clinton has been accused of hiding her illness. Secrecy has been a pattern with her when it comes to emails, Whitewater, Secretary of State activities, the Clinton Foundation, mega-dollar speaking fees from none other than Wall Street and a sloughing off about the lifestyle shenanigans of Bill. She has denied being the woman in Tammy Wynette's song titled "Stand by Your Man," but she did do a good job of standing by Bill during some tough years of adversity. Bill is now standing with her and what a better place for him to have eight more years to solidify millions and millions more in contributions to the Clinton Foundation. Even if money was refused from Middle Eastern powerbrokers during Hillary's Presidency, continued relationships will be built for donations for years to come.
Maybe this is part of Hillary's health condition? Sometimes there is simply too much on the plate. Possibly, there have been too many powerful Saudis calling on the telephone with political suggestions. Too much loss of sleep wondering where Bill is and what he is doing. Maybe there have been too many late hours deleting emails and trying to cover up massive contributions to the Clinton Foundation. No one knows for sure what is going on with Hillary Clinton's health.
She looks tired. Her schedule is crazy. She is probably just worn down. It happens. This can happen to anybody. Anybody can get sick. Trump may turn up with the flu. They just need to say, "I'm sick and I'm going to bed. I'll be back out when I'm feeling better."
All of us battle physical ailments. We are all one heartbeat from death. Flu, viruses, sore throats, happen to us all. Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralytic problems began in 1921 when he was 39 years old. Roosevelt was diagnosed with poliomyelitis although years later there were other diagnoses. He was left with permanent paralysis from the waist down, and was unable to stand or walk without support. He laboriously taught himself to walk short distances while wearing iron braces on his hips and legs. He supported himself with a cane , and he was careful never to be seen using his wheelchair in public. His troubles with illness were well known before and during his Presidency and became a major part of his image, but the extent of his illness and physical condition were kept from public view. In other words, he wouldn't call CNN, Fox or NBC for a full video analysis and report of his condition.
Of course, it was a different day. People judged Roosevelt by who he was and what he could do in spite of severe physical limitations. They believed him. They had faith that he was the person to lead this country. He was a proven leader.
Americans aren't that worried about Hillary's pneumonia or Trump's tax returns. If one of them ended up on a walker or in a wheelchair it would be a moot point. Americans want somebody to have faith in and believe. Right now, that's our biggest problem.
Glenn Mollette, originalluy from Inez, Ky., is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states.
As the coal industry declines, rapidly in Central Appalachia, there are "clues suggesting that health and mental-health issues will pose enormous challenges to the affected coal communities, and will linger for decades," Georgia State University biology professor Roberta Attanasio writes for The Conversation US.
Appalachia's death rates are higher than in the nation as a whole, Attanasio notes: "A study that examined the elevated mortality rates in Appalachian coal mining areas for 1979-2005 linked coal mining to 'socioeconomic disadvantages' and concluded that the human cost of the Appalachian coal mining economy outweighed its economic benefits."
Attanasio notes research showing correlations between mountaintop-removal mining and poor health: "They show that when mountaintop removal increases, well-being decreases. However, they do not show that mountaintop removal directly causes a decline in well-being because of the nature of the pollutants and the nature of the exposure to them. Despite the intricacy of studying this area, links to adverse outcomes such as birth defects, cancer, and lung, respiratory and kidney disease, are undeniable."
Mountaintop mining may also affect some people's mental health, Attanasio writes: "People who gain a strong sense of identity from the land are most likely to experience negative outcomes. Environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the term solastalgia as 'a feeling of chronic distress caused by negatively perceived changes to a home and its landscape,' which he observed in his native Australia due to the effects of coal mining. People who experience solastalgia lack the solace or comfort provided by their home; they long for the home environment to be the way it was before. In a study of Australia published in 2007, Albrecht and collaborators documented the dominant components of solastalgia linked to open-cut coal mining in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales – the loss of sense of place, the feeling of threats to personal health and well-being, and a sense of injustice and/or powerlessness."
Attanasio notes a survey-based study in Central Appalachian areas with and without coal "indicated that individuals who experience environmental degradation caused by mountaintop-removal mining are at increased risk for depression. The study showed that the odds of a score indicative of risk for major depression are 40 percent higher in areas subjected to mountaintop-removal mining when compared to non-mining areas. Furthermore, the risk of major depression is statistically elevated only in mountaintop-removal areas, and not in areas subjected to other forms of mining, even after statistical control for income, education and other risks."
Written by Al Cross
Lots of things have happened this week that have made me think out loud, almost...
While I was looking at the video Glenda took of the parade Saturday and posting it on a Lazer story, I noticed a car with a sign on it that said Tony Skeens, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney and there was Tony riding along in the parade. Of course Lawrence County's assistant CA, Kim Compton was with him but where was Commonwealth Annie? I never have seen an assistant riding in a parade when the office holder wasn't also in it. Must be a new fad.
Current Commonwealth's Attorney Anna Melvin, 66, who has held the position since I was a little boy it seems, is in the middle of a six year term and I've heard rumblings that she plans on retiring soon. Skeens has been her lead assistant for at least twelve years now and does most of the work in the courtrooms and the plan, I've heard, is for him to take over when Melvin retires and if she waits till the year is over, the governor can appoint him and he can serve the remaining three years of the six year term and won't have to run until then. Compton says she is not interested in the head job.
The three year head start would give Skeens more time to get his politicks in order for a run for a full six year term. Lawrence County Attorney Mike Hogan came within a cat's whisker of unseating Melvin last time and would have had there not been a three way circuit clerk's race going on in her native Johnson County which brought out a better than average vote allowing her to win the three county race with mostly Johnson County votes. Hogan carried both Lawrence and Martin.
Hogan says he won't make another run for CA but the Skeens move would keep him from getting the chance anyway, if he changes his mind. But, Hogan is very close to Gov. Matt Bevin and was offered administration jobs in Frankfort, I'm told, but did not want to leave Louisa. What if Bevin foils Skeens' plan and appoints Hogan if Anna resigns?
Oh, well, I love a parade.
...Requested some information this week about what has stalled the three state road projects in Lawrence county including the extension of Rt. 32 to the golf course, the new connector exit from WalMart to 2565, and the Dead Man's Curve project. Two of them have been "in the works" since I moved back to Louisa in 2001 and I've heard Rocky Adkins swear at least 20 times that they would be finished this summer...but summer never comes.
This time the word is Governor Bevin stopped the projects because the road fund is low because of the drop in the price of gasoline. I just wonder if all the projects in the state are stalled, too. And if they're not, where is our state representative and state senator? I did send a copy of the letter to Jill York and her democrat opponent in November, Josh McGuire, to see what they say but I haven't heard back yet from either one. I think I'll try the governor himself next...
Last week I was sitting here in my office chair when a guy called and said he needed to make a media connection in Lawrence County because he had a big announcement coming later this month.
He gave me his name and said he is on a board of directors for an oil and gas energy conglamorate that has purchased $50 million worth of oil and gas in Lawrence County and twelve surrounding counties.
The mystery man didn't offer many details but he said to just wait and the news will be coming out. There won't be many jobs like the coal industry used to provide, he said, but there will be a lot of severance tax money for the counties involved. He had been reading The Lazer and noticed how interested I seemed to be in an alternative to the lost coal jobs and also the potential adverse effects on county government services. He didn't say how much of the mineral being bought is in Lawrence County but he did say "a lot" and more than the other counties some of which are in W.Va. and Ohio.
I hope he was for real and we get a repreive for at least long enough to get our infrastructure into the 21st century and our roads paved but you never know...
Wonder what is going on with the county's solid waste committee of which I am a member, or I was anyway, since director Darrell Ratliff got sick and was replaced by committee member Randy Woods? I haven't heard anything about a meeting in two years and commission chairman Colleen Stone said she hasn't, either. The job pays $1,400 a month and insurance, I think, so it's not bad if you're retired like Woods is. But as I was going into town the back way Monday I noticed the fence we required the junk yard owner at the end of Preece Avenue is gone. It wasn't great when he put it up but now we're back to the rusty and wrecked vehicles within two feet of the street. Yuck!
I don't know if they've kicked me off the commission or not, but I wonder as a taxpayer what is going on with it. This county needs to be cleaned up constantly because a lot of people don't care. What do you think?